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Amy C. CosperIin 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.

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