We live in a world defined by connectedness, a world in which we increasingly rely not on organizations or institutions, but on ourselves and people in our network neighborhoods, to validate potential courses of action. Yet as marketers, we continue to respond to communications challenges almost instinctively by "turning up the volume." We hope our particular message will somehow cut through the clutter.

Behaving like this, we are the clutter.

The majority of the advertising we're exposed to each day is a "let me tell you" proposition pushed out through a one-way channel. This approach can be off-putting with contemporary (read "desirable") consumers seeking a more participative role in what's new, what works, and what they want to buy tomorrow, today, right now.

Twenty years ago, the consideration cycle -- the part of the classic buying process that sits between awareness and purchase -- was pretty much off limits, at least partially because we lacked the technology to effectively leverage it. Now, with the Web, instant messenger, desktop agents (think Southwest Airlines' Ding!), mobile phones, iPods, and RSS (define), some of the most sought-after consumers now come to you to do research.

For savvy marketers, this opens up consideration opportunities in the buying cycle and beyond. It occurs where opinions are actually formed and sustainable word of mouth begins.

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