1st quarter - results

Revolution in the Arab world. Disasters in Japan, both natural and manmade. The ongoing spectacle of government in Washington. And to top it all off? Charlie Sheen. There you have it, the first quarter of 2011. If you’re feeling a touch untethered, you’re in good company.

Some days it seems that the craziness in the world is perfectly reflected in the craziness that is marketing. The upheaval in the media landscape continues. Consumer confidence is wavering. And companies are struggling to find their balance.

Through all of this, we’ve been reflecting on the best ways to connect with people today. Here’s how we see it, the conversation we’ve been having among our teams in Burlington, Boston and New York:

Branding used to work like this. A brand identified a target audience, talked to those people, and hoped the listen.

Talk. Talk. Talk.

Things are different now.

Now, the people are doing the talking. Talking to brands. And talking to each other about brands.

Right now. All the time. Whole interconnected networks of them. Talking and listening to each other. We call these Network Markets.

Target audiences are dead. Network markets are alive.

For brands to succeed today, they have to live and breathe within those networks. They have to do what people in those networks do. Talk and listen.

It’s not like a conversation. It is a conversation.

And just like in any conversation, the best talkers are also the best listeners.

After all, it’s the listening that creates understanding and leads to measurable results.

If you’re struggling to figure out how to step into the conversation about your brand, remember these three words:

Talk. Listen. Repeat.

Just a little sanity and simplicity for a second quarter that’s certain to need it.