CRMGuru recently wrote a story that capture the pardigm shift in marketing. The title was "It's No Game: If You Want To Keep Up With Your Customer, You Have To Adapt to New Business Logic" by Paul Greenburg.
Here are a few choice quotes:
The time-weary business concept that the company, through its products and services, produces value, has finally incontrovertibly been replaced by the view of the customer as the core of value….
The world is now run by a customer ecosystem dominated by a personal value chain for each individual. And that, in turn, means that the value chain is not based on just one business and its extended partner and supplier network. It may take many enterprises and many extended value chains in orbit around the value chain of each customer. Why? Because the true business differentiator is the experience the customer has in his or her engagement with that business…
The gaming industry provides gamers with the source code and the tools to modify the games. In this way, the gamers, themselves, can personalize the experience. This "mod" community—for "modification"—is made up of people who have always treated the games as theirs, playing them and adapting them in such a way that they ultimately transform the original game into something entirely different.
The part I like about this is the recognition that customers now make up the ecosystem of the customer experience, and of your marketing. So, in essence, marketing becomes a practice of creating, feeding, and participating in this ecosystem. To the extent you can make your products, your company, your site experience theirs is the extent to which you have engaged customers today.