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Don't plan the funeral yet - marketing is not dead!

CasketflowersAs social media and all things digital/mobile become more mainstream, I've been seeing a rash of articles declaring that traditional marketing is dead. And this isn't from some hack with 12 blog readers.  We're talking  Forbes, Harvard Business Review and many other reputable publications have announced the passing of marketing.  

Here's what HBR had to say, in part:

Traditional marketing — including advertising, public relations, branding and corporate communications — is dead. Many people in traditional marketing roles and organizations may not realize they're operating within a dead paradigm. But they are. The evidence is clear.

First, buyers are no longer paying much attention. Several studies have confirmed that in the "buyer's decision journey," traditional marketing communications just aren't relevant. Buyers are checking out product and service information in their own way, often through the Internet, and often from sources outside the firm such as word-of-mouth or customer reviews.

Second, CEOs have lost all patience. In a devastating 2011 study of 600 CEOs and decision makers by the London-based Fournaise Marketing Group, 73% of them said that CMOs lack business credibility and the ability to generate sufficient business growth, 72% are tired of being asked for money without explaining how it will generate increased business, and 77% have had it with all the talk about brand equity that can't be linked to actual firm equity or any other recognized financial metric.

A few things to note:

  1. It's ironic that publications that exist because of traditional advertising revenues are making a big deal out of this.
  2. Didn't we say the same thing about radio when the TV came on the scene?
  3. Aren't we painting marketing with a pretty wide brush?

Is marketing changing?  You bet.  Should it?  You bet.  But that hardly means it is dead.  It means it's evolving.

It's suggested that most consumers (both B2C and B2B) do about 60-70% of their shopping online -- BEFORE they ever contact the company or visit the store.  So is having a strong search strategy important?  Of course.

As smart phones become ubiquitious, can we ignore being ready for the mobile invasion in terms of our web presence, payment options etc?  Not if we want to stay in business.

But that doesn't mean marketing is dead.  Marketing's job is the same as it always has been.  Marketing's purpose is make sure your product, service or company gets on the short list.

Most people consider three options before making a purchase.  Whether it's a car, a toothpaste or a new accountant -- most of us have the capacity to study and consider up to three choices.

Marketing's purpose is to make sure that when your consumer is ready to start their consideration -- you're on the list of three.  If your marketing is really strong, it might trim that list down to two.  And if you're Apple or Harley -- your marketing and branding efforts may mean you're the only one on the list.  If they can't have you, they don't want anything.

Today -- with consumers doing more of their shopping on their own -- marketing, if anything, is even more important.  

What consumers are telling us is that they want our marketing to be less intrusive, more helpful and more accessible -- when and where they want it.  So that's the evolution we're seeing.  

But have no fear -- marketing is just as vital and valuable as it's ever been.

-Drew McLellan



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Right on Brother. If the only way businesses marketed to me was social media they would be out cold. I use the internet but funny my buying decisions probably go back 20 years to brand awareness.

What is CMO?

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