Marketing author Bill Lee triggered a firestorm of controversy when he declared recently in a provocative Harvard Business Review blog post that traditional marketing – including advertising, public relations, branding and corporate communications – is dead.
What do you think? Is it time to sound the death knell for traditional marketing? Is traditional marketing still alive and well? Are paid, owned, and earned media merging?
Bill Lee: Marketing is Dead (his thoughts below)
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.
The way that marketing is perceived by customers has dramatically changed. Buyers aren’t paying attention. They’re increasingly doing research on their own through online resources and social media before ever engaging with your brand.
According to a Corporate Executive Board study, 57% B2B customers buying decisions are complete before they engage with the supplier. By then, they don’t need to consult with any sales people. Instead they want to know what their peers and other customers think of the company.
CEO’s have lost all patience with CMO’s. 73% say CMO’s lack credibility and ability to generate sufficient business growth. 72% are tired of being asked for money without explaining how it all will generate increased business. 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.
The traditional marketing approach to marketing and sales doesn’t make sense especially in today’s connected world. Employees, consultants, partners, etc don’t come from the buyer’s world and they don’t share the buyer’s interest. This is not a promising arrangement to persuade people. Social media makes it easy for prospects to connect with buyers.
Stop trying to persuade buyers. Get skilled at getting your customers to persuade and influence your buyers using four pillars of new marketing:
- Restore community marketing
- Find customer influencers
- Help them build social capital
- Get Advocates involved in the solution
Mitch Joel: Marketing isn't Dead. Marketing is Everything (his thoughts below):
Marketing (which encompasses everything from product, price, place, promotion) is not only alive and well, it’s core to a business’ success. In short, marketing isn’t dead. Marketing is everything.
Everything is with, not instead of. While some things might become antiquated or less powerful, they’re still very relevant.
Some brands in the pharmaceutical or finance industry, for example, have to live in the domain of creating a level of persuasion because they're regulated by law or have products that have incremental difference to their competitors.
Advertising is not dying. In fact, it’s not on life support, it’s not sick, and it probably doesn’t have the sniffles.
Just because you trust your peers more than advertising, doesn’t mean you can’t see an ad. I don’t need peer reviews to decide to switch toilet paper. Some brands need to put the message into the general zeitgeist of the world that their product now has variance on it- it’s now on sale or has a new feature.
Brand advocacy programs are absolutely critical. However, the challenge we face is that if they’re successful, it takes a lot of work. It’s the difference between dropping a bomb and doing hand to hand combat door to door. Brands must be prepared for the success that will come with engaging Advocates.
If you want to inform a large audience about your brand, advertising is still very much alive (as is marketing, thank you very much). Saying that marketing is dead is like saying that product development is dead and that branding is dead. It may get a lot of clicks, but there's no substance or truth behind it.
Bill Lee (@bill_lee)
Bill is the President of Customer Reference Forum and Executive Director of The Summit on Customer Engagement. For the last nine years, his conferences have drawn leading customer engagement and advocacy practitioners from top global firms as well as dynamic smaller firms. In addition to its widely respected conferences, Bill and his team at Lee Consulting Group provide workshops, consulting, research and other educational and community building services to help clients reinvent customer relationships and achieve dramatic growth. Bill is the author The Hidden Wealth of Customers (Harvard Business Review Press, June 2012), which has been featured in Forbes Online, Fast Company Online, Marketing Magnified (CMO Council), CRM Magazine and other publications.
Mitch Joel (@mitchjoel)
Mitch Joel is President of Twist Image - an award-winning Digital Marketing and Communications agency (although he prefers the title, Media Hacker) and author of Six Pixels of Separation (Business Plus, 2009). He has been called a marketing and communications visionary, interactive expert and community leader. He is also a Blogger, Podcaster, passionate entrepreneur and speaker who connects with people worldwide by sharing his marketing insights on digital marketing and new media. In 2008, Mitch was named Canada's Most Influential Male in Social Media, one of the top 100 online marketers in the world, and was awarded the highly prestigious Canada's Top 40 Under 40. Most recently, Mitch was named one of iMedia's 25 Internet Marketing Leaders and Innovators in the world. His next book, CTRL ALT DEL will be published in May 2013.
Rob Fuggetta (@robfuggetta)
Rob Fuggetta is the world’s leading expert on brand advocacy. Fuggetta is the author of the ground-breaking new book, Brand Advocates: Turning Enthusiastic Customers into a Powerful Marketing Force. Published by John H. Wiley & Sons, Inc., a major business publisher, Brand Advocates shows how companies are leveraging Brand Advocates to build their brands and businesses – and how you can too! Fuggetta is the Founder & CEO of Zuberance, a social media marketing company that powers Brand Advocate programs for top consumer and business brands. Prior to founding Zuberance in 2008, Fuggetta was the Chief Marketing Officer at Genuity, a Verizon spin-out. He also was formerly a partner at Regis McKenna, Inc., the legendary high tech marketing and communications firm in Palo Alto, where he co-led the global Apple account.