For whatever reason, I follow the blogging efforts of Debbie Weil. This individual spent about one year writing a blog, always talking about concepts congruent with her book. Next thing you know, she has somewhere between 500 and 1,000 visitors a day, based on traffic data from Alexa and my estimates of their reach per million visitors.
So after a year of faithful blogging, her book debuts highly ranked on Amazon.
This example illustrates how marketing has changed. Via hard work, authenticity, creativity, dedication, reputation, and talent, she was able to build an audience that was very ready to buy her book the day the book was available.
Imagine the two-way conversation companies can have with their most loyal customers, and the benefits derived from such a conversation. Obviously, there are risks involved. But companies have a huge opportunity to obtain information about their best customer's interests and preferences, all for free. At minimum, the database marketer could capture the fact that avid customers are willing to comment, and figure out how best to use this information to better serve the customer.
Over the next five years, companies are going to figure out how to replicate this blogger's success in their business model. It should be interesting to see how this develops.