I was going to write about Long Tails today since I just picked up the updated version of Chris Anderson's book on the subject.

But I had a very interesting comment to my Wednesday article on Buyer Personas submitted by Heather Margolis, Director of Marketing at Kadient. My article mentioned Kadient because they have created a number of such Buyer Personas and have gone so far as to give these personas names (one is named "Anya" and another is named "Luke").

Heather's comment indicated that when they are brainstorming at Kadient, they will ask questions like, "What would Anya do?" or "What would Luke do?"

This gets to the heart of why segmenting your prospects/clients/customers/voters/supporters/constituants etc into distinct groupings fits right into the concept of the long tail.

The internet has made it possible for businesses to offer a lot of options to a lot of different people. Want proof? Take a look at Amazon.com. No physical bookstore in the world could offer the incredible variety and selection Amazon offers.

But Amazon makes its bundle by selling lots and lots and lots of books no one else stocks. Sure it also sells the odd Stephen King blockbuster, but its real success comes from selling small amounts of a lot of different products (sorry, I keep making the error of calling Amazon just a bookstore).

Amazon succeeds because it has lots of "Anyas" and "Lukes" that they keep cater to. Perhaps they sell only one or two copies of some obscure tome written in 1963. But it makes a lot of such sales.

My 73 year old mother bought eight dishes on Amazon yesterday. They were Correll patterns that have long been discontinued, but we found them available on Amazon after we struck out looking at the manufacturer's site.

My mother's name is "Zella" and Amazon now has a file on her and now knows her taste in dishes. I'm fairly sure that particular pattern is not among Amazon's top sellers, but they make a lot of sales to purchasers like my mother who buy items they cannot get anywhere else. In other words, Amazon makes a lot of money selling a few items to a lot of "Zellas" out there, simply because they have access to products that may not even be available from the original manufacturers.

So you could say Amazon succeeds by asking, "What would Zella do?"

COPYRIGHT © 2008, Charles Brown
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