Mark Schaefer is a well-known marketing consultant, speaker, author, and educator. He teaches social media and blogging in the mini-MBA program at Rutgers University.

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Mark has won international awards for his marketing blog, Grow, and he has written several marketing books, including Social Media Explained, Born to Blog (co-written with Stanford Smith), and bestsellers Return on Influence and The Tao of Twitter.

He also hosts The Marketing Companion podcast with Tom Webster of Edison Research, which always features a spirited discussion of hot marketing topics.

I invited Mark to Marketing Smarts to discuss "Omnichannel marketing" for brands, how it differs from multichannel marketing, and what it means for promoting your brand, online and offline.

We also explore Mark's theory on "Content Shock," or the idea that shrinking attention spans and exponentially increasing amounts of content will collide to create an increasingly difficult challenge for marketers. We discuss what you need to know to keep the audience you've earned, and how to grow it despite the increasing competition for people's attention.

All that and much more, in a rich exchange with everyone's favorite marketing professor!

Here are just a few highlights from our conversation:

Forget "Big Data" and think small (04:55): "The data is just increasing, and we've got access to more data than ever. Everybody talks about 'big data, big data,' but I think the real winning strategies are going to come from small data, because everybody is seeing the same stuff. They're seeing the same headlines and the same averages. The people who are really going to gain a competitive advantage are those that dig in, that know what questions to ask, and look for the small things that may create an edge, the small things that may indicate something is changing. Attitudes are changing. Habits are changing. Views are changing. Tastes are changing. How do we find that? How do we dig in? I think that's really where competitive strategy is going to come [from] as we go forward."

Marketing strategy is not "set it and forget it"—monitor trends (08:06): "I think the biggest mistake you can make in business is creating a strategy based on incorrect data or assumptions. I just had this conversation the other day. I think even if your data set is a year old, you constantly need to be revisiting and requestioning and saying 'is that still true?' because there are just cataclysmic shifts going on right now. I just saw some data from a survey of college students that showed how Twitter is red hot right now. It's like the preferred channel, and it just kind of blew me away. That has changed so much just in the last 12 months. Are people adjusting to this? Are they watching for this?"

Be everywhere, but don't use the same content everywhere (10:15): "I think this is a natural evolution. I mean multichannel, everybody has been thinking, 'well, we've got traditional advertising and now we need to be in social and now we need to be in mobile, and now we need to be on Instagram, we need to be visual. I think the shift is that companies are now putting themselves in the customer's shoes instead of trying to figure out 'how do we sell through multichannels?' The view of the omnichannel is 'what is the customer experience? How do we create a seamless and consistent message…wherever they may follow us along this path?' There are some pretty interesting implications of this. The first one that comes to mind is that you can't keep putting the same stuff on all these channels, or it's going to get annoying.... We need to aim for 'distinctive ubiquity," so we need to be everywhere but we need to continue to surprise and delight our customers in a relevant and consistent way wherever they are."

To learn more, visit, or follow Mark on Twitter: @MarkWSchaefer.

Mark and I covered quite a bit of ground in this action-packed discussion, so be sure to listen to the entire show, which you can 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!

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Music credit: Noam Weinstein.

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