The buzz is deafening.

It’s a wonder a marketer can sleep anymore, what with the barrage of information that effects our craft being bandied about by gurus and pundits on what seems to be a minute by minute basis.

With all of these insights and good old b.s. whirring in my head, it’s time for me to put a stake in the ground around what IMHO marketers need to focus onĀ  – NOW – to succeed in building businesses (or whatever your marketing objectives may be šŸ˜‰

It starts with the fact that the landscape has dramatically changed. Media choices, marketing tactics, and customer behaviors are radically different than when you or I took Marketing 101.

On the media side, digital has taken hold. On the tactical side, we hear of crowdsourcing, social media, and engagement – to name a few. For customers, they are more well informed consumers who voice their opinions regularly and can hurt or help a brand exponentially within minutes.

There is a dizzying array of choices for customers as well as marketers, which has led to a new paradigm for the customer experience.

I firmly believe that the customer experience is the linchpin of marketing in the here and now. The integration point if you will. And it’s not simply the experience that the customer has with your brand. It is the experience she has with all brands. And what I refer to as customer experience is the end to end experience a customer participates in from research, to intent, to purchase and re-purchase.

Today’s customer is researching brands with lightning speed, thanks to the web, mobile, and social media. Via a combination of each, with a dose of non-digital interaction thrown in (dependent on the category of course) customers make purchase decisions more quickly, and decisively.

As a marketer working within this new and ever-shifting paradigm, we need to know much more about our customer; from which mediums they use to how they interact with these mediums to inform and decide on purchases. We also need to know more about who they are interacting with and the types of information shared in those interactions. And finally, if we’re really smart, we’ll begin to understand where purchase intent comes into play – or not – and learn to effect that at the moment it is about to occur.

Clearly our customer wields more power and influence than they have in the past. However, this by no means indicates that the paradigm shift to focus on is simply one of crowdsourcing or allowing consumers to own the balance of power so to speak.

Rather our job as marketers in the here and now is to consider what we know about our customers and this new balance of power, and to evaluate how to engage them in the right media, in the right conversations, at the right time. Then our brands can wield the influence they deserve from inducing purchase, to positively influencing a detractor, or re-focus a negative customer-service conversation based on facts.

Yes, a lot has changed. What doesn’t change however, is the need to be strategic. To not just jump into using a tactic, say Twitter, just because it’s gettingĀ  a lot of press and it seems like your customers fit the Twitter user profile.

Nor has it changed the need to integrate.

Now, I’m not suggesting that this is the integrated marketing of the 80’s which focused on using a variety of the tactics available at the time to message and promote with. Rather, it is how to integrate new tactics – like social media – with this new level of understanding and interaction with customers to create a marketing mix that meets your brand’s objectives.

This includes using these new tools not only in a strategic manner, but a responsible one. Responsible in that there are only so many resources – financial and human – available. And as such, you need to consider what you can support in a meaningful way.

For example, it’s relatively easy to set up a Twitter account. It gets a little harder to determine how it fits in the overall marketing schema, and a little more so when you consider messaging and the complete purchase cycle.Now consider the amount of work it takes to utilize Twitter correctly and strategically, and it begins to put pressure on resources. Add another social medium – or two – and you may find yourself in a situation that is unsustainable – not unlike the early days of web site maintenance. And that, is simply unacceptableĀ  – to your customers, your management and to you.

In summary, Marketing in the Here and Now is about 4 main themes and how becoming steeped in them will result in building business:

1- A more complex end to end Customer Experience

2-Ā  Being Strategic

3 – Integrating, and

4 – Being Responsible

Sound easy? Well what are you waiting for?