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February 12, 2009
Indirect Competitors are the New Direct Competitors
And you thought you were special. OK, you are. But, let's take a look at the horizon so that we can work together to help you keep and actively demonstrate your edge, value, and differentiation.
In an earlier example, we shared how Web 1.0 created a new generation of Web marketing professionals. In the era of the Social Web, many existing disciplines are expanding and evolving their roles to both capitalize on new opportunities and also maintain relevance in the bigger picture of internal transformation. As you survey the landscape, you will quickly discover that you now have a greater array of competition. It's easy to blur where Socialized Marketing ends and each existing discipline, and associated conditioning and training, assume responsibility. And at the same time, we're witnessing the creation of new roles in order to satisfy immediate needs and to also lead experimental initiatives while the rest of the teams figure everything out.
Community managers are quickly becoming the switchboard of all things Social. They keep an ear to the ground and either respond directly or feed each opportunity back into a communications loop to ensure appropriate and timely engagement. Ultimately, what they learn and share impacts each and every division throughout the organization. It's how we improve what we say, what we develop, how we sell, and how we create or amend policies.
No matter which branch of marketing you represent, you now face direct and indirect competition from new hybrids or mashups of talent, real time capabilities, and strategy. Facing this reality will help you discern how to adapt to the environment you represent as it exists in the current state of a real world as well as a highly competitive and rapidly evolving marketplace.
Everything starts with unlearning what it is you think you know and embracing everything you need to know in today's advancing social climate.
Interactive marketing is clashing with advertising.
Inward-focused Web marketers are grappling with digital content creators.
PR is contending with outsourced relationship managers.
Inbound customer service is wrestling with outbound community outreach.
The point is that we all need to determine what we need to know to compete for the future as professionals while helping the brands we represent compete for mind share in the face of this dispersed attention economy.

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Brian Solis is the author of "Engage," a new book that helps businesses build, cultivate, and measure success in social media. You can follow him on Twitter or Facebook.

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