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How microtrends change your Internet marketing

Having trouble focusing on everything all at once? Identify a few microtrends and get moving on setting up matching landing pages to capitalize on them. You may find with a bit of segment tweaking that your widget will succeed in entirely new segments than you have addressed before. Microtrends are not Paris Hilton’s latest choice in swimwear. Microtrends: The Small Forces Behind Tomorrow’s Big Changes by Mark Penn and E. Kinney Zalesne covers a variety of trends that could be useful to anyone setting up segmented online marketing. Many businesses have a clear vision of who their customers are and how to speak to them about their products. Other businesses don’t, or have spent so long trying to figure it out that they’ve forgotten what they set out to accomplish in the first place. If you’re struggling trying to identify what landing pages to create and what groups to target, try a few of these on for size.

How can Internet marketers use knowledge of microtrend groups? Penn calls it Microtargeting, which is really just exquisitely tiny segmentation—something that search engines like and customers love. Not all of these will fit your product or niche service, but experiment with one or two and carefully track your conversions to see which one works better. You may find that your manly Handheld Cordless Dremel Tool is a favorite among Pet Parents for filing Fido’s nails, and you could open up a whole new segment just by re-targeting. (It is true about the Dremel, btw!)
Penn covers a large range of microtrend groups. In the spirit of scientific inquiry I subjected myself to the Microtrend online quiz and it parsed me into the following microtrend group, shared (in part) here to give you an idea of the many categories Penn covers.
Your Results:

  • Social Geek. You love Blackberrys and phones and IM—how else would you know how to meet up with your friends? You’re part of the growing group of Americans who’ve made computers (and their offshoots) incredibly cool—not geeky and loner-ish like those machines used to be.
  • Tech Fatales. You’re a major driver in the technology field—women actually outspend men on technology 3:2. But chances are, you don’t feel that way. Aren’t you bored with the designs, functionality, and marketing of most tech products in America? Seriously, aren’t there any colors out there besides gray and black …?
  • Video Game Grownups. Welcome to the growing group of grown-ups who love video games—and are tired of being made to feel like that’s somehow shameful. Games are challenging, exciting, and creative, and a LOT more adults are doing them than the ad-makers would have you think. The average age of computer/video gamers in the U.S. is 33!
  • Numbers Junkies You may not be a math and science genius, but you truly love numbers in your daily life. Whether it’s watching Numb3rs on TV or solving Sudoku puzzles, you find that science- and numbers-based entertainment challenges you and sharpens your thinking.
  • Pet Parents. As you arrange the family for the annual holiday photo, Fido is front and center. If you have kids, your pet probably gets at least as much attention as they do—and if you don’t have kids, well, all the more reason that Fluffy gets birthday parties, manicures, and kitty vacations. The best-loved pets in America live better than 99 percent of the world’s population.

In the good ol’ days, we worked with a careful set of customer segments in mind: the urban-up-and-comers, the empty-nesters, the barely-making-its. It was helpful. It was unifying. And most interestingly, it was measurable; having the customer segments identified, we could easily see whether a new central office product such as privacy manager was doing well or poorly in any group. Marketing spends could then be shifted to put momentum into a growing segment, or support a slacking one. And then you measure again, and start the cycle once more.
So, let’s say your widget is easy to install, has above-industry-average safety features, and looks really neat. All of these features are vaunted on the product page, each given equal time. Why not make a landing page focused on the Pampering Parents microtrend, and focus on the safety features? Make another page focused on Second-Home buyers, touting the ease of installation into a second residence. Make 30 pages if you like, and make each uniquely search-engine friendly and time will be on your side as traffic starts to flow. Don’t forget to measure what’s going on; Google’s Web Optimizer is a good tool to work with if you haven’t got something else set up already. As Sun Tsu says, know your strengths in order to succeed. Go Darwinian; kill off the non-performing pages and build up a microsite around the ones that are excitingly active. Stand back and receive the applause at the next staff meeting. (Well, my co-workers don’t applaud at meetings but maybe yours will.)
points to the authors for tapping into social marketing and setting up the spiffy facebook quizzes—so much more interesting than simply the “I’m a fan of” applications. For a quick idea of the microtrends, check out that facebook quiz. And Microtrending staff, take note: Why not add a feature to the quiz so that I can send the results to my friends and have them confirm my self-assessment ? Or tell me I’m wrong?
That would cover one microtrend that got missed in this book: the Hypercritical Fan. You know who you are, whether you watched Star Wars frame by frame or got agitated over a literary character’s inexplicably changing eye colors in a George R.R. Martin book. Speaking of hypercritical fans: Mr. Penn, the Wii game is pronounced “Whee!” as in fun and together, not “Why” as in “Why did the audiobook fact-checker miss this?”
So, if you have a perfectly well-oiled hinge of a segmentation strategy set up, let me know because I would love to see such a unique creation. For the vast majority of us who are working on setting up segmentation, or refining our existing targeting, take a look through this book for some ideas on where to get some traction.

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