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Mini-epiphany time. Last week I was sitting on a call with Aldo Castaneda and Eric Norlin discussing Digital Identity amongst other things....




I brought up the idea of "Abundance" (Hat Tip to Sanford Streim for pointing me to "Musings of a VC in NYC") as a primary differentiator between the "offline" and "online" worlds. Where the offline world trades in scarcity, the online world thrives in abundance. More about that another time–

If Abundance is one of the primary differentiators, here is another one: Access.

The recent hoopla about Seth Godin accepting or not accepting comments is ultimately about Access, is it not? To thrive; to grow–or to continue growing–.access needs to increase, not decrease; ability to access needs to be open and not closed.

As a fellow author/consultant/pundit/self-proclaimed visionary/megalomaniac/delusional David Ogilvy-wannabee (you get the point), one of my primary focuses is my own brand. I have to be cognizant of my exposure (avoid over-exposure) and quite selective of my speaking engagements (strive for keynote slots above other opportunities).

That world is the offline world.

At the same time, I live and breathe in the social media world. This is a world where I can meet a complete stranger in a virtual world, exchange gifts, ideas and generosity and become a friend for life. This is a world where I readily give away my cellphone number, wear my e-mail address tattooed on my forehead and thrive on input from my readers and listeners to my blog and podcast respectively.

This world is the online world.

In one world, I limit and control my exposure. In the other I cede it to the community I belong to; in one world I am less accessible; in the other I am more.

For my brand to continue to grow I need to be more accessible; readily accessible and most importantly able to respond. What's the point of never replying to e-mails or ignoring comments for example?

Here's the catch–.with growth and relative success comes immense challenges .... particular with respect to remaining accessible and maintaining that direct link to those which ultimately fuel my life-force.

Whilst I believe that maintaining a blog and even producing a podcast is one way to keep up an element of personal contact (think about the following 3 words: personal; personable; personalization), is it enough? On one hand, consumers have unprecedented access to authors, celebrities, inventors, leaders today through various social media nodes .... shouldn't that be enough? On the other hand, human contact is like crack cocaine .... the more you get, the more you need. (Is that even accurate, or should I have chosen a sleep metaphor?)

The implications for brands and branding should (at this stage) be "self-evidently obvious."

Brands that remain aloof, distanced, separatist and siloed will loss ground and momentum to consumers hungry for engagement. On the flipside, brands that open up themselves to their consumers .... from enemies through prospects through customers through loyalists .... will allow themselves the possibility to be internalized, taken to heart and essentially elevated to a new and very different place in the heart, mind and collective consciousness.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

One of the most sought-after consultants, speakers and thought leaders on new marketing, industry thought leader and author of “Life after the 30-second spot” (Wiley/Adweek) Joseph Jaffe is President and Founder of jaffe, LLC, a new marketing consulting practice (www.getthejuice.com). The consulting practice focuses its efforts on prolific thought leadership and helping its clients evaluate, customize and implement alternative approaches to traditional marketing into their existing communications mix, and measuring the impact/ROI of these efforts.

Prior to consulting, Joseph was Director of Interactive Media at TBWA/Chiat/Day and OMD USA, where he worked on Kmart, ABSOLUT Vodka, Embassy Suites and Samsonite.

Jaffe’s popular blog, "Jaffe Juice”, provides straight-shooting commentary on all things new marketing. You can join the conversation at www.jaffejuice.com. He also hosts a weekly new marketing podcast called “Across the Sound.” You can subscribe at www.acrossthesound.net or through iTunes.

His first book, ”Life After The 30-Second Spot: Energize Your Brand With A Bold Mix Of Alternatives To Traditional Advertising” (Wiley/Adweek) was released in June 2005 and focuses on how advertising is evolving in a world ruled by an empowered consumer and no longer governed solely by the 30-second spot.

jaffe’s consulting and speaking engagements include the likes of The Coca-Cola Company, P&G, Dunkin’ Brands, Pioneer, Cendant’s Ramada Group, Motorola, Omnicom’s GSD&M, TiVo, AOL Media Networks and News Corp’s Fox Interactive Media.

Joseph is a Senior Fellow at the Center for the Digital Future at the USC Annenberg School and he has also lectured part-time at NYU's Stern School of Business, Cornell's Johnson School of Business and Syracuse University.

Hailing from South Africa, he lives with his wife, daughter and son in Westport, CT.