About a year ago, I wrote a gentle but firm breakup letter from CMOs to the marketing funnel. They have a more attractive love interest who is in the relationship for the long haul; the perfect partner for the age of the customer. For many, calling it quits with the marketing funnel has been messy and difficult, leaving a lot of marketers desperate to move on, but pulled back to the familiar comfortable arms of linear, campaign-driven, transaction-oriented marketing.

Like your best friend who was willing to be patient and forgiving as you repeatedly returned to your ex, it’s time I throw down the gauntlet: Commit to the customer life cycle or be left behind by your peers who get that the terms of engagement have changed. Loyalty, context, and relevance are the new black as customers outrun campaigns, have heightened expectations for brand interactions, and use mobile technology at remarkable scale. This is not the customer Elias St. Elmo Lewis was dealing with. Fundamentally different customer behavior demands new tools.

In the age of the customer, companies must be customer-obsessed, putting knowledge of and engagement with customers ahead of all other strategic and budget priorities. The customer life cycle is the framework that puts the customer at the heart of all activities, allowing the customers’ unique context and set of interactions define what their brand experience is.

We’ve given the customer life cycle we first introduced in 2010 a makeover for 2014, to make it an even more appealing partner for the reluctant convert. The upgraded life cycle will be revealed in my track session at Forrester's Forum For Marketing Leaders in San Francisco, on April 10th and 11th — and in some new research that attendees will have first access to. I’ll be giving a similar presentation with European flavor in London for Forrester's Forum For Marketing Leaders EMEA, on May 13th and 14th, as well. Both presentations will share best practices and examples of marketers and business leaders who have embraced the customer life cycle and found true happiness in the process. I hope to see you at one of these events!