Market to Verbs, not Nouns

Marketers have always believed in targeted marketing. In the past, targeting has meant building a database of customers and their attributes, especially demographic attributes like first & last name, gender, location, and more. In this notion of database marketing, the databases describe nouns, like customers and products, and attributes of these nouns.

I wrote an article today in CMS Wire on how marketers should market to verbs, not nouns. Today’s leading edge marketers are finding that targeting based on nouns is outdated in the world of “Perpetually Connected Customers”, who are accessing information every second on web & mobile. The Perpetually Connected Customer’s actions & behavior are an indicator of their needs and wants desires, and marketers are confirming something that we have always suspected: that customers are multi-dimensional, and behave differently at different times.


Why are verbs more important than nouns in targeted & personalized marketing? And why is their importance increasing over time? The two primary drivers are related to how customers have changed over the recent years, and how media has changed:

  • Perpetuals are not the same consumer from moment to moment: Perpetuals’ willingness to consume, changes depending on what they are doing. When describing people or customers, you could choose to describe them using static attributes like location or gender, that don’t change over time. However, people are multi-dimensional, and their interests and desires shift over time. Understanding the customer’s stream of actions is the only way to react to the changing desires of the perpetually connected customer.
  • The death of mass-media and the drive towards 1:1 personalization: Customer attention spans are shifting away from mass-targeted media (like broadcast TV) towards truly personal mediums where people consume content on their own terms. Correspondingly, marketers and advertisers need to shift their framework away from describing people in ways that are hangovers from the mass-media world –using attributes like gender, location, education etc. Instead, marketers need to concentrate on understanding the set of actions that truly set every individual apart, as no two customers rarely ever follow the same sequence of interactions with the same items.

To read more, head over to CMS Wire.