We've all been hearing a lot about how the old way of doing marketing—talking at consumers ("broadcast marketing")—is over. That because there is so much noise in the digital space, no one is paying attention.

But even if broadcast marketing reaches 1% of its intended target audience, it has succeeded in generating some awareness, attracting some prospects, and converting some customers. Sure, it may be wildly inefficient, but it's not a complete failure.

I would argue that it's a (partial) success even when measured against the standards of the new way of doing marketing. And that brings us to what this article is about: What marketing is now really all about.

Relationships Are the New Currency

Let's go back to that 1% idea and pretend that it represents a single person out of 100 (admittedly,not a great conversion rate). Why did the other 99 people ignore the messaging? Of course, it could be for various reasons: the messaging was wrong, it reached those people at the wrong time of day, it reached them in the wrong channels, they weren't in the market for that product or service, they deliberately ignored it, etc. Whatever the case, the message produced the wrong reaction (i.e., they didn't click or read or share or follow). It only produced the right reaction in the one person who converted.

Let's take this a step further.

What does a reaction really mean? Some current brain theories, like those explored in Social: Why Our Brains Are Wired to Connect by Matthew Lieberman, propose that our brain reacts the way it does based on social connection. Everything that we do is about how we connect—or don't connect—to other people. We imagine what they are doing, how they are doing it, and why they are doing it. Of course, all of that happens in the blink of an eye, but it happens.

A reaction to marketing, then, is the response to an attempted connection. Those 99 people know, deep in their brains, that someone crafted that message to appeal to them, to get them to do something (like click or read or buy a product). But it didn't do it in the way that those people wanted it done. Hence, the reaction is to shun the attempted connection.

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image of Jason Thibeault

Jason Thibeault is the senior director of marketing strategy for Limelight Networks and the co-author of the award-winning marketing thought-leadership book Recommend This! Delivering Digital Experiences People Want to Share.

LinkedIn: Jason Thibeault

Twitter: @_jasonthibeault