All things being equal. They are not.

Customers are more connected than ever before and brands are finding it harder than ever to reach them. Some brands cut costs to make a quick sale. Others believe that storytelling creates more profits in the long term. Some brands are hunters. Others are farmers.

Ever since the world started to consume more products, marketers have been waiting in the sidelines, ready to pounce on their next conversion. Never before have consumers had more choice, and never before have marketers had more shiny tools to help them make that choice. But customers are complicated creatures. No two act alike. They are unpredictable. And they are really good at hiding. Finding them requires a special set of skills.

Good marketing is about communication. Great marketing is about listening.

Good marketers engage with their fans, followers and subscribers . Great marketers build communities.

Good marketers understand global market demographics. Great marketers act like local market traders.

Being a good marketer is not hard. Being a great marketer is incredibly hard. One creates compelling content to win the fleeting attention of their audience. The other try’s to earn their attention by providing exactly the right message at the right time. The difference between good and great is knowing when to sell and when to serve. Great marketers understand that the value of their network, is greater than the value of the products or services that it provides. They know that the goal in business is not to sell to people who need what you have, but to work with people who believe what you believe. They also accept that most of their customers do not want a relationship with their brand (they just want them to be there for them when they are needed).

Great marketing simplifies complexity. It interacts at the right point in the customer’s journey, it doesn’t interrupt them at the wrong time. It measures the metrics which matter, but it understands that it shouldn’t try to measure everything. (Because many of the things which count the most, can not be counted).

Good marketing sells stuff. Great marketing builds loyalty. Loyalty beyond reason. And that loyalty that comes from friends sharing their experiences with each other, not from discount codes or vouchers.

To a great marketer, the only thing that matters more than the commercial value of their customer, is the attention of their audience. And they start each day knowing that they have to earn that attention all over again.

Because it’s better to have one hundred people who love you. Than one million people you like you.

Audiences over algorithms.

People over pixels.

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Evangelist @IBM • IBM Watson • Travel Around Talking about AI, Big Data and the Future of Marketing • Lover of Old Business Books and Good Bourbon • Based in London, UK.

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