Basically his point is that we do have control on driving customers to buy from us, it's just a different lens. There are different levers and controls. Marketing has to move more upstream. The best part of the article is this Consumer / Marketer Control Framework:
At the end of the day, we still control the message and the business processes that shape it, but we may need an alterative path to get there. Product quality, customer service, accurate claims, and employee empowerment are all within our control. And these are the input types that really matter, and always have.Our problem is we viewed our world of control through a narrow, increasingly dubious, lens: traditional advertising and paid media.
I spoke at a Forrester Conference a few months ago and the audience asked what companies weren't doing as it related to User Generated Content. My co-panelsts suggested that more companies need to listen. My follow on to that was more companies need to ACT based on that listening. Notice the control levers below "Listening" in the right column above. All of them imply that action must be taken based on what consumers control.
The fundamental difference in Customer-to-Customer (C2C) marketing is that
1) Our marketing lens and sphere of control needs to be widened
2) Our strategies, actions, initiatives, programs, tactics and measures (things we control) need to be centered on how the customers are controlling their experience and sources for product decisions ('marketing').
I think Pete's title, "We're Still in Control", was interesting and ironic. We hear that "customers are in control". His point is the way we have traditionally thought about control (media, advertising, company-to-customer marketing) is too narrow. I think the phrase has struck a chord because of this narrow view. If we listen, act, and build our strategy based on this fundamental truth (customers are in control), then ultimately, we have more control.