A well-informed employee is the best salesperson a company can have. E. J. Thomas

How to Set Goals for Your Advertising

In setting goals for your advertising, remember at all times that your results must be quantifiable. Depending on your competitive situation and specific business goals, list the expected results as a definite number or percentage—not “more sales,” but, for instance, “5 percent more sales during the week following the ad.” If you, like many newcomers to a certain kind of business, have no idea what to expect, put down the number that will justify the cost of the ad if it meets your list of objectives. Regardless of the actual results, whether you like them or not, keep a record in writing. It is your benchmark for future planning and programs. How to use such a record will be discussed shortly.

Put It in Writing

Put into writing your reasons for advertising—all the reasons—and the results you expect the advertising to bring. You need this list to give a sharper focus to the ads you are going to create and, probably even more important, to have a method of evaluating results. Don’t expect any one ad to do ten different things or you’ll get one-tenth the results . . . or none at all! Set priorities, then focus on the most important.

Preparation and Inspiration

When Thomas Edison was asked the secret of his success, he replied, “Two percent inspiration, 98 percent perspiration.” You won’t have to work nearly that hard. Think of your task as “90 percent preparation, 10 percent inspiration.” That preparation starts with a systematic look at why you advertise and what you expect to get out of advertising.

What This Means to You

People have more power today in our dynamic world. They act as both consumers and producers and work creatively on everything they purchase to make it their own. Have you experienced people sampling and mixing, cutting and pasting your products and marketing to make them their own? How does your company proactively respond to the cultural trends that have given people more power?

People have developed a brand immune system, as they are exposed to over 3,000 branded messages a day. How have the effects of this immunity challenged your branding efforts?

As the dynamic changes happening all around us continue to accelerate, your company must take steps toward building a deeper relationship with newly empowered customers. Do you understand the factors causing customers to approach your company differently and carry new expectations for that interaction? How is your company thinking about your customers’ fragmented lifestyles? In a world where people are both consuming and producing, how do you fit in? Can you help your customers in their quest to become active participants in developing their own products and culture?

If your company is feeling disconnected or left behind as people react to having greater freedom, too much information, more choices, and less time, what steps can you take to begin to understand and participate in the changes taking place? One important step in becoming more proactive is paying attention to the developing reputation marketplace that surrounds all companies today.

Unique Selling Proposition

A unique selling proposition (USP) is one of the fundamentals of effective marketing and advertising. It refers to a particular quality, feature, or benefit offered by a product or service that is important to customers and not available from the competition.

Too Many Choices, Not Enough Time

Just as people are creating filters and using other tools to make sense of the many messages that bombard them every day, they’re reacting in a similar fashion to a culture that offers far too many tangible offerings. In every category of business, there are more product choices than anyone could ever try, let alone purchase. No matter how much branding or advertising a company does, it’s increasingly difficult to wade through the clutter. I was in Russia recently, and many of the people I met in my travels had visited the United States. Their general impression was that the number of choices here, whether at the supermarket or the shopping mall, was simply overwhelming. In some fascinating recent research, Dr. Sheena S. Iyengar, an assistant professor at Columbia’s business school, and Dr. Mark R. Lepper, chairman of Stanford’s psychology department, have demonstrated that providing too many options—particularly when the real distinctions between them are small (there are over three dozen different flavors of Crest toothpaste, for example)—can cause people to feel overwhelmed and overloaded and, as a result, less likely to pursue any of the options available.[11] People want variety, but they want companies to be reasonable at the same time. When the products available to them are relevant to their needs and their lifestyles, customers will feel that the companies behind those products have actually done their homework. Throwing out dozens of choices and assuming that people will find something they like doesn’t foster feelings of intimacy between companies and their customers. People don’t necessarily need more choices; they need choices that are personally relevant.

The reality is that, in response to this product overload, people are suggesting that more isn’t always better, that perhaps quality—or at least relevance—is more important than quantity. The only possible exception to this way of thinking is in people’s ongoing quest to find, somehow, more time.

Do you remember the articles in the 1960s and 1970s about the rise ofleisure time we would experience by the year 2000 because of increased productivity following the development of technologies like the computer? Remember how many futurists accepted the notion of a four-day workweek as the norm for most of us at the turn of the century? What happened? With our infinite choices, from 500 television channels to 125,000 new books every year, among others, we’ve filled up our “extra” time pretty fast.

If there is one constant for all of us, it is our lack of time, whether real or perceived. I look at it this way. I’m 43. The average American male lives 72.3 years (according to the National Center For Health Statistics). That’s 26,390 days, so I’ve got about 10,694 days left. If you’re like me, you sleep 8 hours per day (if you’re lucky)—that’s 3,565 days, eat 2½ hours per day—1,114 days, spend half an hour per day in the bathroom (hot showers rule!)—223 days, work 8 hours per day (25 years, maybe, maybe not)—3,042 days; work out 1 hour per day (hopefully)— 446 days, commute 1 hour per day (at least)—446 days; hang out with the family 2 hours per day—892 days, do things you don’t really want to do (pay bills, listen to telemarketers, do yard work) 1 hour per day—446 days. That leaves 516 days, or about 1 hour per day, left for following your bliss. I don’t know about you, but anyone hoping to get my attention these days better make it really mean something to me, especially if it infringes on that one sacred hour.

Visibility

A desired result from brand investment is to gain greater visibility and awareness. This is the first step in communicating with desired audiences to try the brand and gain first-hand experience of its tangible and intangible benefits. Visibility has often been tied to traditional advertising but now has wider meaning in brands being used visibly by category influencers, such as personalities and characters in television and film.

Visual Identity

This is extending a company’s brand in every possible way with every element contributing to a distinctive visual style. This includes where and how a logo is used, colors, type fonts and sizes, and imagery. The purpose of a company’s visual identity is to set it apart from its competition and, in order to be effective and memorable, it has to be consistent across all media.

The Music Industry

The music industry is a sobering example of an industry caught in the crossfire of disruptive technology’s radical changes. The industry’s model has always been to find new musicians and make them into stars by controlling the distribution of the music. With the development of the Internet and file-sharing services such as the groundbreaking Napster and its followers Kazaa, Morpheus, and Grokster, record companies, trying desperately to control distribution, were thrown for a loop. In May 2003, more than 11 million Americans used Kazaa, the most popular file-sharing software, according to Nielsen/Netratings.

In September 2003, in a reaction to the popularity of various programs, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) brought lawsuits against 261 users of file-sharing programs. Each defendant in the first round of suits (including a 12-year-old girl and a grandfather whose grandson used his computer) had more than 1,000 songs in accessible folders that allowed millions of strangers to copy them. While these lawsuits were initiated to give the music industry some short-term relief, people reacted by digging in and demanding access to what they really wanted—not just what record companies wanted to sell to them.

One of the main reasons given for initially taking such drastic measures was protecting the rights of the musicians. But many of these “protected” musicians found themselves in the middle, watching helplessly from the sidelines as their fans were taken to court. Many artists felt that the actions went too far and negatively affected their relationships with their fans.

One artist, Moby, had an especially hard time understanding or endorsing the record industry’s aggressive tactics. On his Web site (http:// www.Moby.com), he suggested that music companies might want to think about treating users of file-sharing services like fans instead of criminals:

How can a 14-year-old who has an allowance of $5 a week feel bad about downloading music produced by multimillionaire musicians and greedy record companies? The record companies should approach that 14-year-old and say: “Hey, it’s great that you love music. Instead of downloading music for free, why don’t you try this very inexpensive service that will enable you to listen to a lot of music and also have access to unreleased tracks and ticket discounts and free merchandise?”

The singer David Bowie envisions an even more radical paradigm shift. “I’m fully confident that copyrights, for instance, will no longer exist in ten years, and authorship and intellectual property is in for such a bashing,” Bowie said in an interview last year. “The future of the music industry,” he suggests, “is that songs are essentially advertisements, and artists will have to make a living by performing on tour.”[4]

The idea of suing the record industry’s fans was really the industry’s last-ditch, desperate effort to react to disruptive technology. Many executives in the record industry agree that their problems go much deeper than file swapping. These problems include the consolidation of radio stations, which makes it harder to expose new bands to the public, and the lack of a popular music style, like teen pop and its packaged stars such as the Backstreet Boys, N’Sync, and Britney Spears. Other factors include the economy and the ongoing competition for people’s time in a world full of video games and DVDs.

Ironically, while file sharing is seen as the embodiment of evil in the music business, many companies within the industry currently benefit from the services of Big Champagne, a company that uses its software to see what Internet users are sharing on peer-to-peer file-swapping services (like Kazaa) in greater detail. They have the ability to watch all filesharing activity, segmented by artist and zip code. This is an extremely powerful tool for music companies. They can monitor what’s being traded versus what’s playing on the radio. If there is a discrepancy, they can use the information to convince radio stations to give their acts more play time. Big Champagne sells subscriptions to its service for between $7,500 and $40,000 per month. Not many record companies will admit to using Big Champagne’s services, yet their client list reads like a “who’s who” of the record industry, including Atlantic, Warner Bros., Interscope, DreamWorks, Electra, and Disney.[5]

Additionally, there is some overt hypocrisy in the music industry’s actions. Josh Bernoff, the principle analyst covering media and entertainment for the research giant Forrester Research, got a call about some industry-specific research from a record industry executive whose company aggressively discouraged file sharing. After listening to the executive’s questions, it was obvious that he had read the report. Bernoff asked him if he was a subscriber and, if not, how he had seen the report (Forrester sells it for $895). Apparently, the executive had gotten his copy from a colleague at one of the movie studios.

On a more positive note, some musicians have come away from the experience with a renewed interest in connecting directly with their fans. Pearl Jam has made an effort to reestablish this relationship, and it has paid off.

In 1995, Pearl Jam became frustrated with the high price of concert tickets and decided to put pressure on Ticketmaster to cut ticket prices. Since then, the band has become innovative and proactive in their relationship with their fans. Additions include producing live, band-produced bootleg CDs, lower ticket prices, and online ticketing for fan club members. Even though Pearl Jam has not produced a music video since 1993 or had a top-ten radio hit since 1999, their concerts are among the best-selling events in the industry. In September 2000, Pearl Jam released its first wave of bootleg, contra CDs produced by the band. The CDs were so well received that 5 of the 25 albums hit the billboard top 200 chart in their first week.

This powerful relationship with their fans has given them the ultimate freedom. The band is considering dropping Sony Epic, its record label of 12 years, and getting out of the corporate music world altogether. And promoters have a love/hate relationship with the band’s policies, especially the policy that dictates that fan club members get the best seating at concerts. It must be a shock for some music industry executives to sit behind the fans at a Pearl Jam concert.

While some may feel that the music industry’s experience is unique, no industry is immune. The founders of Kazaa, Nikolas Zennstrom and Janus Friis, and the same team of programmers who wrote the code for Kazaa, reunited in the fall of 2003 to create and launch Skype, a way for people to make free, high-quality phone calls over the Internet. Skype relies on technology called “voice-over Internet protocol” (VoIP). It routes calls through the Internet, turning computers into phones. VoIP is being used by a number of new, small phone companies and is becoming incredibly disruptive for traditional telecommunications companies, because these new companies can charge next to nothing for their service. Mr. Zennstrom has a big ambition with Skype: to make it the global telephone company.

Visual Language Concepts

A number of alternative visual strategies used to articulate different but related elements of the brand. Each concept will reflect the brand positioning and create a story using visuals rather than words.

Viral Marketing

Viral marketing is spreading a brand’s message person to person via word of mouth. It encourages people to pass along marketing messages to friends, colleagues, and/or family, thereby creating exponential growth in the message’s reach. It is nicknamed “viral” because the exposure to a message mimics passing a virus from one person to another. Typical techniques include email messages, jokes, web addresses, funny film clips, and games that get forwarded electronically by recipients.

Wordmark

A wordmark is the way you write a name that is unique and ownable. It also refers to a logotype. It typically incorporates one or more unique characteristics such as a custom designed font, symbol, or graphic device.

Wear Out

The point reached when a communications campaign loses effectiveness, due either to repeated overplay or the audience’s wants and needs no longer being met by what is promised in the communication.

The Power of Reputation

All too many irrelevant messages are floating around the cultural ether and getting in the way oflistening. People are becoming much more sensitive to the amount of information available and much more discerning about where they will focus their attention. This happens for people at work as well; there is an abundance of information to absorb about markets, competitors, and customers. All of this secondhand data can perhaps be useful, but not if the time required to digest it precludes sitting down with customers and getting to know them. People within companies, just like their customers, must actively prioritize both their sources of information and the data itself. Having access to vast amounts of information might seem ideal, but the real value lies in the messages themselves. Don’t allow yourself to become distracted by trying to listen to everyone and everything being said in the marketplace. Find the right voices, and commit yourself to really listening to them.

It’s a big challenge for individuals and companies to filter the messages they receive on a daily basis. Nobody wants to overlook something important or give too much attention to something oflittle value. One tool that has played a vital role in human evolution, and that is gaining more power in our complicated world, is reputation. People are placing a great deal of importance on the reputations of the companies with which they choose to interact and are actively networking with others to share information. Given the immediacy of shared knowledge (remember Apple’s experience?), companies are starting to realize that their long-term success will be based on a combination of intimately knowing their customers, doing a consistent job of satisfying these customers, and simultaneously upholding positive corporate reputations.

To understand the power behind reputation, it’s important to look at it as more than just a persistent “image” people hold for each other or for companies. In the context of our evolving society and the demands placed on each of its members, reputation carries weight largely because it springs from the cooperative, word-of-mouth transfer of information between people. Remember how important your reputation was to you in high school? We all have at least some concern about how others view us; for any company, this is especially important. We know that customers are demanding more authenticity from companies and their products, that people want to be heard by companies, and that people value corporate commitment for the long term, not just for quick financial gains.

If companies fall short in any of these areas, people will talk about it. They’ll share their opinions with as many people as they can reach— and, as we saw with Apple’s iPod “mistake,” the power of the people is abundantly clear. Two “small” voices reached the ears (and eyes, in this case) of over a million potential Apple customers. Apple’s reputation— and some very quick acting on their part—saved them from serious trouble. The power of reputation comes from building a good one in the first place, then being able to defend it legitimately. When your customers expect more of your company, you’ll be more likely to meet, or exceed, those expectations. Henry Ford, one of the greatest businessmen in the history of this country, claimed, “You can’t build a reputation on what you are going to do.” He knew that a good reputation is one of the greatest assets a company can have.

For a couple of decades, companies have had the ability to capture and analyze their customers’ reputations through formal gossip networks or credit reports. It’s easy for any company to view a person’s credit rating and see what type of customer reputation they have. If you have a frequent shopper card at your local grocery store, the grocer is collecting information about what you buy as you save a few dollars on those purchases. People’s individual buying habits are becoming widely tracked and just as commonly traded. This trend of gaining intimate knowledge of customer’s behavior has only just begun.

Today’s newly empowered customers—already active in gaining market knowledge—are also using their power to aggressively pursue and share information about specific companies. After decades of being the specimens under the microscope, today’s shoppers have pulled off a role reversal. Your company is just as likely to be squirming on the slide under the watchful, critical eye of your customers. Can your reputation survive this close scrutiny?

As our world continues to be more complex, the power of reputation will grow even stronger. There are already many examples of reputation marketplaces playing an integral role in our lives. If you live in a U.S. city and enjoy shopping and eating, chances are you have read or own a copy of a Zagat’s Guide. Tim and Nina Zagat have built their business by providing diners, shoppers, and theatergoers with a forum to express their opinions about restaurants, shops, and entertainment. The Zagat Survey’s power is in the reputation of the grassroots methodology, which allows customers to write reviews and share information about their experiences. If you are a restaurant owner in New York City, you care immensely about your reputation in the Zagat Survey.

Today’s electronic culture feeds on this grassroots buzz. As society becomes networked through the proliferation of new technologies, the process of reputation sharing is being greatly accelerated, while the cost is decreasing dramatically. A perfect example of how a reputation marketplace functions on the technology playing field is eBay. Often called the world’s largest flea market, eBay is a fluid marketplace that allows transactions to happen with less friction between people—and more trust. Much of this trust may be attributed to its reputation system. Paul Resnick, an associate professor at the University of Michigan’s School of Information, describes the power of these systems: “Reputation systems seek to restore the shadow of the future to each transaction by creating an expectation that other people will look back on it. The connections of such people to each other may be significantly less than is the case with transactions on a town’s Main Street, but their numbers are vast in comparison.”[6]

Resnick has been a leader in the field of online reputation marketplaces for over a decade. In 1992, he and a few of his colleagues created a software program called GroupLens. The idea behind GroupLens was to give online bulletin board readers the ability to rate messages and make those ratings available to other readers. Today, Resnick runs a Web site devoted to academic research on the subject of online reputations, Reputations Research Network (http://databases.si.umich.edu/reputa tions/). This network was created “. . . for researchers who are studying how reputation systems should work in theory, how they actually work in practice, and how they could work better.”

With its over 50 million members, eBay is an excellent example of a marketplace that has been greatly enhanced by the sharing of reputation. Resnick puts it this way:

At eBay, for example, a stream of buyers interacts with the same seller. They may never buy an item from the seller again, but if they share their opinions about this seller on the Feedback Forum, a meaningful history of the seller will be constructed . . . Through the mediation of a reputation system, assuming buyers provide and rely upon feedback, isolated interactions take on attributes of a long-term relationship. In terms of building trust, a vast boost in the quantity of information compensates for significant reduction in its quality.[7]

Epinions.com is another example of a Web site that uses the power of reputation as a central business strategy. Contributors to Epinions are paid for their opinions about everything from movies to cars. It is a reputation marketplace. Visitors to Epinions.com rate contributors and opinions. The better the rating, the more you are paid for your reviews. “Epinions is one of the most active and varied ecosystems on the Web,” Wired editor Mark Frauenfelder wrote. “It has evolved into a diverse community populated by cliques, clowns, parasites, symbiotes, self-appointed cops, cheaters, flamers, and feuders. It’s swarming with people who were English or journalism majors but ended up stuck in other careers. And it has produced member-generated site refinements, such as the Web of Distrust.”[8]

The power of these reputation markets increases as these forums continue to use more sophisticated self-regulation techniques, like rating the quality of reviewers’ comments and keeping out blatant self-promotion or excessively negative comments.

The phenomenon of Web logging has also contributed in a major way to the online reputation marketplace. Web logging is a term used to represent the activity of writing a hypertext diary online. Millions of people keep Web logs, or “blogs” as they are affectionately known, to express their opinions. Bloggers can offer not only their own points of view but also links to other sources. Henry Jenkins, a Professor at MIT, sees the power of blogging as the power to reframe issues. Jenkins believes there are two kinds of media power. One comes through media concentration: a message gains its authority by being broadcast on network television. The second kind of media power comes through grassroots intermediaries: here, a message gains momentum only if it is deemed relevant to a loose network of people. “Broadcasting will place issues on the national agenda and define core values; bloggers will reframe those issues for different publics and ensure that everyone has a chance to be heard,” says Jenkins.[9]

Companies are beginning to realize the power of these self-selected reputation markets and are both seeding products to user/reviewers and using their reviews in their marketing. For instance, on their company Web site, Laplink Software lists a review by “lucie30,” the username of an individual user from an Epinions forum, right alongside reviews from traditional media.

What would you do if you found out that there was a grassroots protest against the highly anticipated launch of your new product? Intuit launched its Turbo Tax Deluxe in January 2003. Soon after the launch, the buzz throughout the Internet was decidedly negative, largely because of the software’s antipiracy features, which made it difficult to install. Intuit had also decided to make each copy of its new version installable on only one computer.

A firestorm of negative comments flowed through reputation markets from Epinion.com to Amazon.com. Amazon alone carried 587 negative comments about the software. One customer wrote, “After using Turbo Tax for 13 years, I’m switching to Tax Cut.”[10] Quite simply, the Internet has thrown open the doors to reputation marketplaces. Now customers can share and contribute to companies’ reputations as easily as companies review their customers’ credit ratings. This democratization of reputation marketplaces has significant implications for companies.

With these new online tools, people have begun to exercise their significant power. With this leveling of the playing field, companies must now dedicate their resources to really listening and responding to these reputation marketplaces.

By understanding the power of the reputation marketplace, Intuit’s CEO, Stephen Bennett, was able to react in a positive, proactive way to a potentially damaging situation. Mr. Bennett e-mailed angry customers to reassure them that he would take care of the problems and that Intuit was not trying to do anything malicious.

The power of reputation has the potential to have a dramatic effect on traditional marketing, also. “The more consumers come to trust the opinions posted in online forums, the less effective traditional advertising will become in influencing consumer behavior,” said Chris Dellarocas, a Professor at MIT. The fluid reputation marketplaces of the future will certainly challenge the power of branding.

In direct response to these reputation markets, Amazon has cut its traditional advertising budget and focused its energies in other areas, offering free shipping for orders over $25, for example. By listening to what their customers have to say and offering to give something back to them, Amazon is taking a step toward deeper trust and a more honest, intimate relationship.

The Culture of Copying and Sharing

Most Americans don’t need more stuff. There are already enough televisions in the United States to supply each home with two. A great many of us live in houses several times the size of our grandparents’. Most families have more than one car. We are now living the old perception of “the good life.” We have greater freedom to personally decide which products, companies, and brands might best fulfill our needs; we can ask ourselves, for instance, what kind of car might best project our unique personality. The flipside is that, in this quest to become self-actualized, people regularly exercise the freedom to copy and take what they want from brands, constantly reinterpreting how brands fit in the context of their lives. In this environment, brand loyalty only happens if and when people truly connect with both a brand and the company behind it—and both stay relevant to their lives.

The Internet has been disruptive for many businesses due to its major impact on how people do things today. People have more power to easily compare products, make more subjective purchasing decisions, and exploit price variances; all these factors radically alter the traditional business environment. In addition, people are actively participating in a new culture of copying; there is a new ethic that, as long as you can get it, it doesn’t really matter how. The Internet has become a metaphor for a new cut-and-paste morality. Some would argue that the Internet is only one factor contributing to the rise of copying. A much larger factor is the pervasive trend of copying by corporations.

People have become fully aware that companies often buy products and simply copy their brand name onto them. For many companies, production has come to be viewed as a liability rather than an asset. Naomi Klein, in her book No Logo, calls this a “race towards weightlessness.” In today’s culture, a product itself does not always hold value, but prominently displaying a company’s logo on any product automatically produces a perception—and expectation—of certain brand attributes.

This internal focus on improving productivity and efficiency has spawned many companies that don’t actually make anything at all. Enron was a classic example of an American company that accomplished the “weightlessness” that Klein mentions. With higher productivity has come higher profits and more financial rewards for corporate executives such as Martha Stewart, Dick Grasso, Bernie Ebbers, and Ken Lay. Such executives, even in today’s consumer culture, epitomize the disconnection between some executives and their customers and companies that are better known for their greed and corporate malfeasance than for understanding their customers and running a good business.

Today’s culture supports the mentality of DJs, file sharers, and product cloners, who are all doing what has become a cultural norm: reproducing things at a cheaper cost (or in less time) that were originally produced somewhere else. “Somehow everybody makes out,” said a woman on the streets of New York after buying two copied Louis Vuitton handbags. “I don’t see any poor rock stars. I don’t see any poor designers.” All of a sudden, buying fake is cool. Shopping for copies has become a trend in itself.

This culture of copying, or a cut-and-paste view oflife, is affecting all levels of society. It engenders a “think globally, act selfishly” attitude and is a natural result of people having access to more information, more choices, and the technology to combine the two for personal benefit. It also speaks of the connection people are striving to make with one another in the face of a very disjointed and frenetic environment.

While the Internet has certainly made global business transactions much more efficient, it has simultaneously enabled this new culture of copying. People’s ability to download something from the Internet, remix it, and immediately distribute it has directly contributed to their power.

Linux and open-source code is a wonderful example of this cooperative, creative ethos. In reaction to Microsoft’s stranglehold on the software market, software developers have cooperatively developed open-source software, such as Linux, giving everyone the ability to access and modify the source code, instead of hiding it as a corporate asset. This open-source philosophy is not only a challenge to Microsoft but can be seen as a challenge to many other industries as well. Lawrence Lessig, a professor at the Stanford Law School, has called open-source software an example of “creative commons,” or a place where intellectual resources can be shared.[3] In effect, it is a way of creating a healthier democracy through the open sharing of knowledge.

The Internet has created the ability to share information on a global basis, and as importantly, it offers people a new forum within which to borrow, sample, and remix information quickly and easily.

The Rise of People Power

People today have incredibly fragmented lifestyles; we all feel the pressures ofliving in a fast-paced, busy, and often chaotic world. While there are countless benefits to technology and most people appreciate having instant access to information, products, and services, the downside is that we aren’t always able to step off the fast-moving treadmill; the world just keeps humming along whether we like it or not. To capture people’s attention in this dynamic environment, companies need to take the time to view the world from their customers’ point of view. The passive “consumer” of the past is disappearing; your customers are educated, well-informed, creative people who want a voice in the shaping of the products and services available to them. With so many companies trying to get their attention, people need to feel that companies are listening to what they have to say.

Three cultural factors are contributing to the rise of people’s power. First, people today have greater freedom, which manifests itself in a growing culture of copying and sharing. Second, people are bombarded with too much information; in response, they seek out or create filtering mechanisms for sifting out what is relevant to them. This tendency has greatly increased the importance of reputation in the success or failure of a business, product, or service. Lastly, people are faced with too many choices at every turn, which leads them to be very protective of their time as well as of their financial and emotional resources. Today, quality oflife is an important daily goal.

CMO magazine

CMO magazine reported that 58 percent of chief marketing officers surveyed agree or strongly agree that the marketing function is changing and that their primary challenge is to define their place in the organization.

Website

A website is a collection of linked, interconnected pages on the internet used to provide information about a company, organization, cause, or person. Websites can be purely informational, can serve marketing and advertising functions, and/or can be a point of interaction or sales. Another touch point in the brand experience, a website is an opportunity to communicate all that makes the brand unique.