Becky Carroll recently engaged in a bit of nostalgia at the Customers Rock! blog—nostalgia for the 2008 MarketingProfs Digital Marketing Mixer last fall. "While there, I spent a lot of time talking to my fellow speakers [and attendees] about what social media means to customer loyalty," she recalls. "If we think about the '4 Ps of marketing' (product, price, place, and promotion), they are all still applicable to the new-media world we are working in today," she notes. But there's a new, 5th P, she adds: participation.

"If we get our customers to participate with us on an ongoing basis [instead of just talking at them], we learn so much more about them. … This will lead to (on the customer's part) trust, better engagement, preference, word-of-mouth, and ultimately brand loyalty," she argues.

She then offers a short video of her fellow 2008 Mixer panelist Chris Brogan, who gives his take on today's customer empowerment: "We all have generations [before] us who [yelled] at their TV … and [threw] their radio across the room. But now, they can shoot back," he warns.

So, how do today's marketers best serve these newly enabled consumers? By engaging them through community. "I think an audience is something that you talk at," Carroll concludes. "[A] community is something that you talk with and participate in."

The Po!nt: Add some give-and-take to your repertoire. Today's marketing landscape is a level playing field, on which the seller and the consumer participate equally, through community.

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