Brian Solis is principal at Altimeter Group, a research-based business advisory firm in San Francisco. Solis is globally recognized as one of the most prominent thought leaders and published authors in new media.

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I invited Brian to Marketing Smarts to discuss his most recent book, What's the Future of Business: Changing the Way Businesses Create Experiences.

Here are just a few highlights from our conversation.

Create the experiences your customers want (4:28) "If our customer is sharing experiences about the products or services that they have or that they're using, how can we better understand them? Not just their expectations, but how can we take those and...create the experiences we want them to have and, in turn, to share... It is these shared experiences that are getting louder and louder and more concerted and concentrated with every day that passes. At some point, those shared experiences are going to outweigh and out amplify the things that we say about us and the things that we spend money to say about us. what's going to affect and influence consumer decision-making in the long term."

Social scoring and influence marketing are raising consumers' expectations (18:40): "People do believe that they are influential. I call it—lovingly, of course—the 'egosystem,' where people literally surround themselves by the businesses and people that they want. They are at the center of their individual universes. With that comes this great sense of connectedness. With that comes the ability to be more informed and engaged and empowered. As people become more empowered, their expectations escalate. Businesses are already dealing with a customer that expects more than they realize."

When making buying decisions, connected consumers trust the opinions of peers with similar interests more than they trust the opinions of friends and family members (20:06): "You're not the only influencer as a brand. Traditional media isn't the only influencer. Traditional marketing isn't the only influencer. If there's one thing 'Generation C' thrives and lives on, it's the shared experience of people like them. because those are they people they'll trust."

Customers expect real-time responses (23:20): "There's this sort of window. When someone asks a question, regardless of where it is, if that answer doesn't come within minutes or even hours, the likelihood or propensity to make a decision is greatly reduced, and at 24 hours you can forget it... Your business needs to be structured around every one of [the] four moments of truth in real time, because that's where it's going."

The future of business requires leaders, and lots of them (26:37): "Realize that how [businesses] are running the operation today, even if they're profitable, they're not competing for the future, they're competing for the moment... We are actually much more like managers than we are leaders, right now, with this incredible transformation that's taking place. The way the world's going to be ten years from now—or even five years from now—is not like it is today. We need leaders. We need people to start looking at things differently, to start looking at blank slates and not necessarily best-practices or case studies. We need people to start paving the way, so they become the case studies that other people look at."

My conversation with Brian included much more. I encourage you to listen to the entire show, which you may do above, or download the mp3 and listen at your convenience. Of course, you can also subscribe to the Marketing Smarts podcast in iTunes or via RSS and never miss an episode!

Marketing Smarts is brought to you by the MarketingProfs B2B Forum, taking place October 9-11 in Boston, Massachusetts. The 7th Annual B2B Marketing Forum is the premier event for B2B marketers worldwide. This two-day event is packed with 42 sessions, 4 keynotes, tons of networking opportunities, a lot of fun, and more B2B business smarts than you'll find anywhere else this year. Marketing's full of choices. Choose B2B.

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Music credit: Noam Weinstein.

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