Spent a few days away... thinking. Lots of stuff needs to be sorted out and I'm getting there. Much of it has been inspired by Seth Godin's book Tribes, which has been incredibly encouraging personally and I highly recommend it. But another large chunk came out of a story that Craig Ferguson told about buying a rug in Turkey.
He said he found this rug in a shop, liked it and asked how much it was. The shop owner quoted a price and Craig reached for his wallet. The shop owner said, "Let's have a cup of tea first." They sat, drank tea, chatted, and then dickered on the price of the rug. An agreeable price was set and Ferguson walked out with the rug at a price less then was originally quoted. It's the way things are done there.
What was not talked about was the reason it was done. the merchant just didn't want to sell something that had taken so much effort to create to just anyone. He wanted to know who his customer was. If the customer is a jerk, no amount of money is enough.
That is the essence of micromedia marketing.
In mass media marketing. You push out tons of information to tons of people hoping you get a positive reaction from a very small percentage. As long as you get a few "qualified leads" it was worth the effort. Once you have those qualified leads, you bombard them with the message until they give in. You really don't know the customer other than what his budget is and you try to get as much money out of them as you can before moving on to the next lead.
In micromedia marketing, done properly, you are in relationship with your customer. You know what he is going through and you really care about his success. Why, because you've spent time listening to him before you ever bring up the contract. This means your customer base is going to be much smaller, but much more profitable and, in the end, spiritually satisfying. The customer/client is no more. He is now your partner and you are his. Your mutual success is intertwined. And the people you call partners; those you bring in to land the deal, are part of your organization, or what Godin calls the tribe.
This is what I've come to realize in the past year. My model has changed from trying to sign clients and more to engaging with partners. It's probably not for everyone. I had a client describe by service to him as one who "drinks the koolaid." The meaning being that once I commit to a client, I truly believe in the goal. And if I don't believe, I don't commit. This way of doing business means walking away more often then signing new clients. It isn't easy, but it's starting to pay off.