January 30, 2020

Best practices vs the Supply & Demand Law of Marketing tactics

Marketers are fond of using best practices and copying widely know growth hacks. However, the more widely those are used, the less valuable they become.

Economics has some very basic rules around supply, demand & price.

If the supply is low and the demand is high, the price will be high.
If the supply is high and the demand is low, the price will be low.  
Supply and Demand - Basic Economics

I had never really given much thought in terms of marketing.

But the talk that I saw from Emil Martinsek (CMO of GetYourGuide) at the Marketplace Conference made me realize that, if your replace price with value experienced, you can also apply this to marketing channels & tactics.

If a channel is new, the first movers there will see incredible success. If a tactic is fresh, the first ones to utilize it will get amazing returns. But as more and more companies move into a channel, or start using the same tactic, the value that the potential customer experiences will rapidly decline.

For example, when Dropbox was the first one to hand out 500MB (I know, LOL) of storage space, this had massive value and the tactic was extremely successful. No one was given out anything like that. But as competitors (Google Drive, Box etc) started to also hand out storage space, the value quickly declined.  

When you got your first Farmville invitation on Facebook, you might have been tempted. When you were flooded with game invitations from your aunt, it made you hate facebook games intensely forever.  

I believe this probably will be true for almost everything: advertising, email marketing, podcasts etc.  

Why does this matter?

As marketers, we are suckers for “best practices”, or simply copying what the competition is doing.  

Besides the fact that those tactics or channels might not even apply to your market, audience, business model etc, just the fact that they are known probably means that they have already significantly reduced in value. It is unlikely that you will see as much success as the cases that are being used for reference.

Next time you are thinking about applying a 'best practice', give it a quick think through: is there still demand, or is your audience saturated with supply?