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We’ve now completed ROUND ONE of the Era of Online Conferences as we adopt new strategies to help live events survive through Zoom.

I’ve been honored to be the keynote speaker at many online conferences over the past nine months and attended a few as a participant.

By now we should be adjusting to these times of crisis but unfortunately, I see too many organizers trying to recreate a traditional conference in a Zoom-like format.

One friend attended a leading marketing event that moved to a digital format and said “It was miserable. …

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Last week I was honored to participate in The Global Peter Drucker Forum, a prestigious annual gathering of business thought leaders in Vienna. Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, it was obviously not in Vienna and was a typical Zoom-style gathering! While I missed the elegance of Austria, I did enjoy soaking up some new insights!

The content was superb, and something struck me in a presentation called “The Path to Humanocracy.” This session featured awe-inspiring case studies of companies on the forefront of “being more human” through strong corporate values — and of course I was glowing over that!

But this discussion also led to an insight about a pressing leadership issue: — connecting to customers through values-based marketing in periods of social upheaval. …

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I’ve taught at Rutgers University for nearly 12 years and I’ve received some form of this question in most of them: “I’ve learned a lot, and I know we need to modernize our marketing, but how do I convince my boss?”

Most of my students in these university classes are mid- to senior-level marketing professionals and are frustrated about being locked in an outdated business mindset. They want to move ahead to a process that is more human-centric, rather than advertising/broadcast-oriented, but how do you move an organization along with you?

Here’s the good news. I know how to do it and I’ll tell you today. …

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A while ago, I had an encouraging email from a woman that represented a small but extraordinary marketing victory. It’s worth considering today as a marketing lesson in consumer habits.

Her message to me:

“Mark, I start my day with you. I get a cup of coffee, open my laptop, and see what you sent me that day.”

This is a remarkable statement because it shows that I have become a habit, part of the fabric of her daily life.

Becoming a habit is really the Holy Grail of marketing (here is a very useful treatise on the subject).

The idea of building and reinforcing new consumer habits is an extremely complicated subject and I don’t want to minimize that, but I do think content can play a role in the process. A new habit begins with a trigger and is reinforced through repetition. That’s an important lesson for content marketers regarding quality and quantity. …

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Vulnerability is a hot topic these days. I’m seeing this connection between vulnerability and leadership in all types of business literature and posts.

So it’s not surprising that in conversations about creating a more human brand, vulnerability is often a primary topic of discussion. The other day, a person I was helping on a coaching call mentioned that he appreciated how vulnerable and empathetic I seemed.

You may be surprised that vulnerability was definitely a learned trait for me. I am not an open person by nature, let alone a vulnerable one. I thought this might be an interesting subject to cover since I believe that some measure of vulnerability is essential in business and leadership today, especially in this prolonged period of pandemic suffering and crisis. …

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For the rare few who may have missed the most “human commercial,” Nathan Apodaca of Idaho Falls posted a TikTok video featuring him skateboarding to work, drinking Ocean Spray Cranberry Juice, and singing along to “Dreams” by Fleetwood Mac.

Although this happened a few weeks ago, I’ve been unable to get this quirky little video sensation out of my mind as an example of the radical industry transition I described in my book Marketing Rebellion: The Most Human Company Wins.

In this book, I explained the inevitable decline of traditional marketing/advertising and the rise of the consumer as our marketer. Already two-thirds of our marketing is occurring without us. Marketing today requires a new mindset — how do we get invited to that two-thirds? …

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I was minding my own business when, unprovoked, these digital marketing statistics snuck up and attacked me the other day. The nerve!

After I dusted myself off, I realized that these were harmless and rambunctious numbers meant to educate, and possibly amuse me. Perhaps you will have a similar reaction.

A few digital marketing statistics that made me go wow:

1. 93 percent of U.S. traffic comes from Google search, Google Images, and Google Maps.

If you think about the competitive nature of business in general, it’s hard to believe that one company owns 93 percent market share of anything.

There is an interesting dichotomy of human nature. We demand choice but love convenience even more. The concentrated nature of search concerns me, but not enough to use something other than Google! …

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In 2008, Kevin Kelly wrote one of the most famous blog posts in the history of the web: “1000 True Fans.”

This famous treatise has been quoted hundreds of times on the web and has even become the core idea behind books about audience-building and monetization. Here is the core idea from his famous post:

“Here’s how the math works. You need to meet two criteria. First, you have to create enough each year that you can earn, on average, $100 profit from each true fan. …

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“For some of us, teaching is itself a mode of scholarship. Continually revised lectures amount to new if unprinted editions of a book.” — R.K. Merton

I’ve taught at Rutgers University’s extraordinary immersive digital marketing program for more than 10 years. It’s rewarding — and a lot of fun — but there are also solid business reasons why teaching a college class is good for you and good for your business.

Have you ever considered teaching a college class? It might seem out of reach, but there are lots of opportunities out there to share your experience (even as a guest lecturer) and with the move to online formats, there opportunities to teach globally from the comfort of your home. …

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I think “customer community” is one of the most misunderstood phrases in the marketing language.

On one hand, it represents the most powerful source of customer emotion and loyalty imaginable.

On the other hand, when marketers use the term, it can mean anything from a loose list of customers to a Twitter Chat. It’s probably not a customer community at all.

Yet the customer community may be one of the most essential concepts as we consider the future of marketing, and it’s worthy of deeper exploration.

The belonging crisis

There is an overwhelming need for community in our world.

A mountain of evidence suggests that the quality of our relationships has been in steady decline for decades. In the 1980s, 20 percent of Americans said they were often lonely. Now it’s 40 percent. Depression rates have increased tenfold since 1960. A study found that an epidemic of loneliness in the workplace is leading to lower job performance and less commitment to the organization, and an individual’s loneliness even influences the performance of people around them. …


Mark Schaefer

Chieftain of the blog {grow}, strategy consultant, educator, podcaster, author of Return On Influence, The Content Code, and The Tao of Twitter.

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