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Harvard Business School professor John Quelch once said, "The purpose of marketing– should be geared to changing and reinforcing customer actions rather than customer attitude." I recently revisited this quote and feel it still holds true. But in the age of social media, it is likely to come under siege.

Within his quote is the idea that we as marketers need to focus on driving fundamental shifts in customer behavior. Using tactics like pay per click advertising, you can effectively do just that. One well-placed Google AdWords can get prospects to engage in the exact behavior you want them to! It's short. It works. And John would be pleased!
Other forms of media, however, can no longer deliver a captive audience. Customers and prospects have plenty of reasons to dislike media these days: irrelevance, interruption and just plain clutter.
But now factor in social media. The media balance is shifting from push to pull. Content creators represent 13% of all U.S. adults online. That means command and control of exact behaviors just gets harder every day.
So to think marketers can really affect customer behavior with social media is a dangerous idea to hang your hat on these days. Sure, marketers can perhaps influence behaviors with forms of social media like communities. But to me, it seems like we are getting further and further away from where Professor Quelch was directing us.
What's your view?

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Paul Dunay is director of global field and interactive marketing for Bearing Point (