Will the real ‘Total Market’ please stand up!

Since the re-introduction of the Total Market topic in 2010, I’ve witnessed and watched countless members within the marketing and communications community make career ending decisions when adopting this innovation.

This article is the first in a three-part series about the Total Market topic.  This article series provides evidenced based learnings about the topic  and a foundation for practitioners looking to modernize their workplace and marketplace.

Misperception #1 – “Total Market Is Very Confusing

For most marketplace practitioners the ‘Total Market’ topic is confusing.  Here’s why.  There is the total market topic, the total market industry vertical and the total market approach.  With all of the “totals”, it can get a little confusing especially if you are just starting out on our change journey.

Whenever you hear or engage with someone about the total market, you should seek clarity and specificity about which ‘total’ is being referenced. Below is a breakdown of all of the ‘totals’:

The Total Market topic.  It is thought leadership published to addresses the origins and development of the thinking from the 1966  McKinsey white paper introduced to Chief Executive Officers (CEOs).

The Total Market industry vertical. For starters, let’s define what is an industry vertical.  An industry vertical is a market in which vendors offer goods and services specific to an industry, trade, profession or groups of customers with specialized needs.  The total market industry vertical describes vendors who offer goods or services for the total addressable audience.  Therefore, if you are a vendor that provides goods and services within the “general” market or “multicultural” market,  you cannot categorize your business within the total market industry vertical.  See the visual illustration in the article header.

The Total Market approach.   If  you understand the topic, the vertical and now we will define our Reframe approach. It is important to understand this innovation began from a white paper in 1966.  At the time America was a very mono-cultural society and vendors were focused on ‘mass’.  Because America is moving from a multi-cultural nation to cross-cultural nation, it is important to have an evidenced based ‘approach’ or operating  model.  There is no one right or wrongTotal Market approach.  Just like there are many approaches to social media, it can be the same for the Total Market approach.

If you are evaluating a service provider or vendor’s Total Market approach you should ask for a framework or operating model for their approach.  Having case studies further demonstrates who is making false claims versus proven outcomes.

Within the marketing and communications industry there is a lot confusion about the Total Market topic, the industry and the approach because there are industry associations, service providers and brands trying to squeeze this innovation within the two existing industry verticals.  What cannot happen is we go another  50 years with only two industry vertical options for buying services segregated based on race and identity or better known as the ‘general’ market and ‘multicultural’ industry verticals.  The ‘total market’ industry vertical is a third option every company should consider for modernizing their workplace for the new marketplace.

Interested in learning more about how to #closethegap between your workplace and marketplace? Please be sure to check out these posts:

Why Total Market: Why Now

Mind The Gap: You’re Not Engaging 40% Of Your Market

Do You Have a #closethegap Action Plan?’

or get  the industry’s first full report on The State Of The Total Market Industry Vertical here.