There’s no question that marketing is changing. Advertising is dying and getting reborn all over the place, and word-of-mouth is leveraged by technology tools. The problem is how, how much, how fast and how does it affect your business? It’s a new world, with a changed landscape.

For idea leadership in this realm, look to Seth Godin: his books and his blog. He’s redefining advertising as “shouting.” And he looks to a new kind of marketing built on being remarkable, in a very literal sense of the word: remarkable, as in something that people will talk about. And for practical how-to leadership, I recommend John Jantsch, Duct Tape Marketing founder, redefining marketing as getting people to know, like and trust you.

And for actually working rapidly changing marketing assumptions into your own business plan, frankly, it’s hard these days. It’s complicated because the landscape is built on sand mines; it crumbles fast.

I recommend you use a methodology somewhat akin to following the money for the financial portions of your plan. But for the marketing portions, you follow the attention. You could call that eyeballs (a popular web term), or mindshare, if you prefer.

Start with attention. Ask yourself what makes people aware of a need, a problem or a want that you solve. You could call that an itch, because need is misleading: People buy a lot of goods and services they don’t really need. So you want to understand what gives people the itch that leads to you when they scratch it. And then you understand how to scratch the itch: Where do they look for solutions? Is it habit, the shop next door? Do they look in some repository in their mind or memory, like some ad they’ve got stored in the back of their mind? Or do they open a web page and do a Google or some other search?

I read about an IBM study called The end of advertising as we know it on Michael Glass’ Fuel Lines advertising blog. This is very interesting stuff. He quotes the IBM study:

Imagine an advertising world where … spending on interactive, one-to-one advertising formats surpasses traditional, one-to-many advertising vehicles, and a significant share of ad space is sold through auctions and exchanges. Advertisers know who viewed and acted on an ad and pay based on real impact rather than estimated “impressions.” Consumers self-select which ads they watch and share preferred ads with peers. User-generated advertising is as prevalent (and appealing) as agency-created spots.

And Glass adds his own commentary, from his advertising professional’s point of view.

There is no question that the future of advertising will look radically different from its past. The push for control of attention, creativity, measurements and inventory will reshape the advertising value chain and shift the balance of power.

And what can you do about it? Follow the attention. Follow the eyeballs.

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Tim BerryTim Berry
Tim Berry

Tim Berry is the founder and chairman of Palo Alto Software and Bplans.com. Follow him on Twitter @Timberry.