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Iin the olden days--say, four or five years ago--marketing your business meant crafting a snappy one-liner, offering a 20 percent discount on a glossy direct mail flyer, then sitting back and hoping for the long-held standard 2 percent return. But even that wasn't guaranteed. And measurable? Eh, not so much.
Back then, customer service and marketing were two different things. That was a long time ago. We are now in the colorful, quirky era of Twitter, Facebook, Lady Gaga and Betty White. It's a place where the newly minted hipness of Miracle Whip bumps into the classic-turned-on-its-ear relevance of Old Spice. It's as much customer service as it is fancy logos. And it is, above all, a place where a brand not only understands community, but actually is community.
In this new age, music is branding--and Lady Gaga pushes it to new levels. Her fans are not merely pedestrian buyers of her music--they are her "Little Monsters." Meat dress and all, the lady knows how to identify with her tribe, and her tribe hangs on her every word. She connects with her audience because she affects them emotionally.
"We call it the age of the human touch," says Entrepreneur columnist and blogger Chris Brogan. "Excellent customer service is better than marketing."
You may not be Gaga (and that's probably a good thing), but how you react to customers is essentially how your brand will be perceived. "People who are exposed to your brand will bring your message back to the tribe," Brogan says. "The key to excellent marketing is to make your message about your buyer and not about your own rhetoric."
Consider this a core tenet of modern marketing.
The goal of this issue is to help you craft innovative, tactical marketing strategies that not only give you a competitive edge, but also bring you closer to your tribe. In Jason Daley's piece "How to Make Marketing Brilliance", we break down the genius behind the hottest marketing campaigns--from the iPad to jetBlue to the frenzy of Angry Birds. We look at why they worked and the lessons you can glean from them. And, of course, no brilliance in marketing story would be complete without a companion piece examining some of the not-so-brilliant marketing flops. (New Gap logo, anyone? See this article.)
For those of you who are squeamish when it comes to marketing, this may be your moment. Creating buzz around your brand no longer requires a Madison Avenue budget. All you need is a clear, concise and consistent message, along with a deep understanding of your customers and where they are. Watch the conversations, listen to the complaints and respond as quickly as possible.
Above all, be a little Gaga. Your ability to grab your customers emotionally and personally is what separates greatness from mediocrity. Now get to it, Little Monsters.
Amy C. Cosper,
Editor in chief
Follow me on Twitter, @EntMagazineAmy