Old school branding is dead. If strains of Roger Daltry screaming "Won't Get Fooled Again" won't stop playing in your head, count yourself in touch with the buying zeitgeist.

For marketers, the key to staying alive in 2003 is an ability to get closer to sales, the ability to demonstrate the financial effectiveness of their offering, and the credible positioning of your products and services in the right vertical segments.

We used to love sitting in meetings, sipping cappuccinos, and talking about "the brand," too. In 2003 it's time to jump into the trenches with the "great unwashed:" your sales people and your company's prospects.

No whining. While you're at it, you'd better brush up on the ol' finance and math chops too.

Getting Close to Sales

In 2003, marketers will get a full dose of "sales empathy." Do you know your company's prospects' biggest objection? Have you crafted responses to it? Are those responses easy to remember?

Do your sales people know how to demonstrate the validity of their response to the objection?

Ask to go to the next sales meeting and feel the burn. It's tough carrying a quota these days--especially when you know if you don't close, you don't eat. Put yourself on the front lines and you'll make yourself a better marketer.

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Tom Barnes is CEO of Mediathink (www.mediathink.com), a consultancy specializing in media and marketing strategy and implementation. Contact him at tom@mediathink.com.