If you want an insightful summary of what modern marketing is about and where it's headed, you have to read this Forbes article about Proctor & Gamble's marketing chief, Jim Stengel, and his approach to marketing, which is all about building relationships with customers. Stengel summarizes the P&G approach this way:
'"We need to think beyond consuming ... and to really directly understand the role and the meaning the brand has in their lives," Stengel told The Associated Press in an interview. "If you're always asking that question, 'How can I be more relevant, how can I have a deeper meaning, how can I build this relationship between brand and consumer to a higher level' your marketing gets better, you innovate.'
In its effort to be more relevant, P&G marketers are immersing themselves in customers' day-to-day lives to find out where they fit and what people really need. Their on-the-ground investigations yielded amazing insights into women's lives, for example, and inspired innovations like decorative tissue boxes, Tide "To Go" stain removal sticks, and cleaning wipes that dispense like tissues. They even found that bunco's renewed popularity among women offered some unique sponsorship opportunities.
In modern marketing, the name of the game is dialogue, and to engage in conversations with customers, you have to be able to speak their language by understanding who they are beyond the surface level - a lesson P&G learned and that librarians should act on as well.