Marketing Without Marketing: Consumers are harder than ever to reach, but don't make it obvious that you're trying harder than ever to reach them.
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Many companies, argues columnist Dick Martin, are using communications and marketing strategies straight out of P.T. Barnum's playbook. They may have a broader concept of media than the penny press of his day—about a quarter of their marketing budgets go to digital media—but they're still plying the same old tricks: advertising and publicity. Both put a premium on intrusiveness, which today's consumers find as appealing as sharp elbow jabs, especially in the sanctity of their online sanctuaries. Reaching people today requires more sophisticated strategies.