Paul Greenberg, the so-called ”Godfather of CRM”  believes that the battle in advertising today is not between competitors but against consumer attention spans that are rapidly diminishing.

Traditional “shotgun style” marketing just doesn’t work anymore and has pushed marketers to go to where consumers actually are getting together, listening or congregating in some way and then offering them something valuable for personal to get their attention.

Today’s marketer obviously needs to be skilled in a wide range of aspects but there are four essential capabilities that all must possess (outlined below) that will play a big part in any marketing campaign created for 21st century consumers. Without them, any campaign isn’t going to produce the ROI or CTR needed to be successful.

Capability 1 – Increase Engagement. When you consider that upwards of 70% of the buying process is actually completed before a consumer actually speaks to a vendor, it’s easy to see why engagement is so important. A recent survey showed that, for CIOs, as little as 20% of the time they spend making a purchase decision is with the actual vendor.

The best way to increase engagement is to create interesting, entertaining or valuable content for users to consume that’s related to the product or service. Speaking of which…

Capability 2 – Create interesting, entertaining or valuable content. Today the task of marketers is not to find a customer but make sure that the customer finds their product, service or company. Today’s consumer has been empowered by the Internet, and technology, to go seeking what they want on their own. Using content to draw them in is akin to using cheese to catch a mouse. The better the cheese, the more mice you’ll catch, and the better the content, the more consumers will come to the brand.

Simply put, humans respond to attractive, humorous and entertaining content and use of this type of content will keep them looking in the right direction. “Content Marketing,” according to BtoB Magazine, is one of the top priorities for marketers in 2014 and was listed as the top priority in a recent survey of CMOs, 78% of whom believe that the future of marketing is content.

Capability 3 is simply to use the latest technology to make marketing as personal as possible.  The holy grail of segmenting, a ‘segment of 1’, has finally been reached but few marketers are using it to their advantage.  Those that are, like Netflix and Amazon for example, are able to convert an individual visitor into a long-term, high-value customer that comes back again and again.

The reason is that Amazon and Netflix have created real conversations between their company and the individual, which is amazing really when you consider their immensely huge customer base. These personalized conversations increase the affinity consumers have for them and, even better, greatly increase sales, referrals and positive ‘word-of-mouth’ online and off.

Capability 4 deals with conversations as well, or more specifically the ability to listen and respond to consumer wants and needs using automated tools. Using Amazon as an example again, the fact that they have literally millions of conversations going on at once, almost all of them automated, and respond to them quickly, is a testament to the fact that they have almost completely automated their conversation (i.e. customer service) process.

Without this automation mastery a business that grows too large will eventually implode (we’re speaking to you, Walmart).

We could spend all day talking about these 4 competencies but, suffice to say, without them the success rate for any business online or off is going to be much lower.

In a nutshell, any company that can engage consumers with personalized and valuable content that creates meaningful conversations on autopilot is going to have the upper hand in any industry, no question.