As readers of this blog know, I'm a fan of Chris Anderson and his book, The Long Tail, and I followed, via Anderson's blog, his groundbreaking ideas about the Web’s economic shift away from mainstream markets toward smaller niche products and services well before his book was published in July 2006.
There is no doubt that Anderson's Long Tail thesis is critically important for marketers.
While Anderson's book focuses on product availability and selling models on the Web, the concepts apply equally well to marketing and PR on the Web. There’s no doubt that there is a long-tail "market" for Web content created by organizations of all kinds—corporations, nonprofits, churches, schools, individuals, rock bands—and used for reaching buyers—those who buy, donate, join, apply—directly.
I collect artifacts from the Apollo space program. This obsession of mine is a classic long tail hobby. Check out my Apollo Artifacts site to see some of the items in my collection. Yeah, I know, this hobby is rather odd.
Prior to the Web, it was virtually impossible for people like me to be marketed to or for us to congregate anywhere. We were lumped into general collecting (with the Beanie Baby people - how embarrassing!). I'd estimate that there are perhaps only 1,000 or so hardcore space collectors. We are way too small a market for anybody to care about prior to the Web.
But the Web opens up many more opportunities. Now, we've got our own online community: CollectSPACE.
As consumers search the Internet for answers to their problems, as they browse blogs and chat rooms and Web sites for ideas, they are searching for what organizations like yours have to offer. Unlike in the days of the old rules of interruption marketing with a mainstream message, today's consumers are looking for just the right product or service to satisfy their unique desires at the precise moment they are online.
Marketers must shift their thinking from the short head of mainstream marketing to the masses to a strategy of targeting vast numbers of underserved audiences via the Web.
The space artifact dealers, for example Farthest Reaches, couldn't have done business prior to the Web. The owner, Steve Hankow, could never find his market and we space collectors couldn't find him. Now it is simple to market to people like me.
As marketers understand the Web as a place to reach millions of micromarkets with precise messages just at the point of consumption, the way they create Web content changes dramatically. Instead of a one-size-fits-all Web site with a mass-market message, we need to create many different microsites—with purpose-built landing pages and "just-right" content—each aimed at a narrow target constituency.