Adapting To Marketplace Democratization No Easy Feat

Steve Rubel wants brands to “get down with the people.” What Rubel left unsaid, is that to successfully do so, marketers must first get down off their thrones. And while this makes perfect sense, what royal wants to freely give up their seat to save the kingdom?

Today I participated in a meeting with a group of senior marketers from one of the largest global companies in the world. At one point the exec who convened the team asked me point blank, “Steve, what’s the most important thing we need to do as marketers in this new world?” My answer? “Get down with the people.”
The time for analysis is over. Cluetrain is no longer a concept. It’s reality. Consumers are forming their own “mecosystems.” They’re fusing matter from all corners of the consumer-generated and traditional media universes into a solar system that revolves solely around them. With this shift, the best way to persuade is now to engage with them one-on-one as individuals, not as demographics, targets or markets.
Still, I am concerned that more marketers are concerned with forging a deeper relationship with consumers than helping them do so with each other. The companies that can bring together communities and get then out of the way are the ones that are going to be the most successful in this new world.

About David Burn

Co-founder and editor of AdPulp. I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. I worked for seven agencies in five states before launching my own practice in 2009. Today, I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.


  1. It’s all about marketers realizing our place in the world. We aren’t in total control anymore. The consumer will find their own path, and as Steve suggests, we can either get to know them and help them reach their destination, or get left behind.
    The days of pushing products on consumers are long gone. Now we are being PULLED by the consumer. We can either resist this change and get left behind, or embrace it and clear the path for the consumer so that it’s easier for them to reach the place that they will get to with or without us.