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Some of the most exciting Connections moments are the live presentations from digital marketing's greatest thought leaders. ExactTarget's own Jeff Rohrs, bolstered by Trendline's Morgan Stewart, spoke at Connections on the concept of proprietary audience development as the new core marketing responsibility. Jeff details this concept in the pages of AUDIENCE: Marketing in the Age of Subscribers, Fans & Followers, his new book releasing in November.

Speaking to email, social, and mobile marketers, you might think the concept of audience growth would be old hat. But Jeff asserted that few marketers are approaching audience development as the foundational responsibility connecting all of their efforts. If marketers are not building proprietary audiences in a strategic fashion, then they're broadcasting content to an empty room.

For more info on AUDIENCE, visit the book's official site, and check out these highlighted points from Jeff's talk.

Email, mobile, social, and content marketing are all built on audiences. Content marketing is hot right now (did you get a glimpse at Content Marketing World last week?), but content is only one side of the coin.

Content needs audience; audience needs content. If you don't have an audience, all you have is a nicely designed and written content tree falling in the forest that no one hears.

The Internet has democratized the distribution of creation and content. Marketers can be their own broadcasters and creators. The tide is turning, but an audience is crucial to any marketing success.

Audiences are assets. Technology is moving us toward an era of greater transparency where marketers take an asset-based mentality on their audiences. This is a good thing for marketers who assume this responsibility; they'll secure more respect, budget, and opportunities this way.

Meh, Don Draper; this is actually the golden age of advertising. Today, there are more ways to advertise than ever before (just think of all the opportunities granted to marketers by in-app ads, search ads, and social ads). Advertising spends are actually up this year, yet we're not asking our advertising to do enough for us.

Advertising is fossil fuel. Advertising is an addictive cycle. Companies rely on a third party (such as a TV network) to go aggregate the audience for them to talk to people for a small period of time. With advertising, brands pay to be in front of audiences for a few moments.  This isn't a renewable energy source. Push-button audiences are the renewable energy source.

Who's building, nurturing, and engaging your audiences?

If you buy into the argument of content marketing, you can't just have an editorial department. You need someone looking out across all channels and asking, "How do we get more attention for this content and build more audiences?"  Audiences need to be protected as assets with real value. 

How do you combine the Internet of things to better energize your audiences? Jeff's challenge to Connections guests: get the most energy out of your audiences, however you decide to combine the channels of paid media, social, mobile, and anything else that comes along.

Are you channeling your audience's energy efficiently? That's the question this presentation begged us to answer. When marketers manage audiences, they manage something extraordinarily powerful and important. Going forward, the audience asset will need to be handled by trained, responsible, and well compensated professionals who understand this DNA-level change in marketing.

Long after Connections closes, follow the ExactTarget blog and AudiencePro.com for more on asset-based, proprietary audience development.

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