Here at the Web Content 2008 event today, one of the first break out sessions is being given by Michael Silverman of Duo Consulting on Marketing in a Connected World. Very simply, he provided five new rules for marketing. # Engage or be Tivo’d There is a need now to directly interact and engage the audience or risk being ignored. # Content Matters As Chris Anderson explained in “The Long Tail,” the combined sales of the “long tail” could very well exceed the revenue generated by the hits at the head of the tail. Companies such as Amazon, eBay and even KitchenAid, which provide a tremendous amount of content that resides in the “long tail” are good examples of how content affects success. # Marketing is a Conversation This rule was something we heard repeatedly during the first two keynote sessions too. Michael recommended leveraging existing social networks and communities, leveraging a variety of channels (e.g. blogs), or simply subscribing to Google Alerts to hear what’s going on. Zappos.com’s customer service is a great example of how marketing is now a conversation and the conversation now IS the content. The Dash Express GPS system is another example of how the value of data grows exponentially. Although the conversation can’t always be controlled, brands need to relinquish the control and get plugged in. # Open Your Brand Hand in hand with the shift from marketing as talking to customers, to talking with customers, is the need to be open. It won’t be possible for a brand to engage in conversation with its customers unless it is open to both the positive and negative responses. Some examples of companies that have successfully opened up their brand are: Starbucks with mystarbucksidea.com, Salesforce IdeaExchange, and IBM’s Global Innovation Outlook. # Always Learn The usual suspects, Google and Amazon, were highlighted for their spirit of always learning – Google with Google Labs and many products being in perpetual beta stage, and Amazon wit the many tweaks that they’ve made to their website over the years. A less well-known example was Senseo by Sara Lee, a product that tapped into its user community to decide which coffee pods to stock shelves with. Michael also touched on social media, pointing out that social media is not something that companies should absolutely be doing, but that companies really need to assess what their objectives are and the nature of their audience. “Groundswell” by Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff goes into more detail. A funny example of social media just for the sake of it was Imodium’s Bathroom Finder. Later, someone in the audience asked a tough question: How is Duo Consulting shifting from a Web 1.0 to a Web 2.0 company, where the websites themselves are less important than the conversations they engender? Michael responded that Duo has shifted its focus from pure graphic design to usability and interaction design, with graphic design layered on top of that. The company has also, in recent years, worked with its clients to figure out their comfort zones -- just how social they want to and can be. This session provided a good primer to the major Web 2.0 trends that are affecting the marketing industry. But these five rules are not the panacea for all companies and should not be implemented flippantly, without fully understanding the company’s core values and strategy. For every success story there are also hundreds of flops.