Gun Toting Gurus Claim Marketing Is Dead
I find this over-exaggerated claim that Marketing is dead rather disingenuous as these same gun slinging gurus make their living doing what? Marketing.
Which gurus am I referring to? Kevin Roberts, CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi Worldwide is one, who at The IoD’s Annual Convention in London this month claimed marketing as dead as a door nail with his comments that in today’s crazy world strategy is dead, the big idea is dead, management is dead and marketing, as we know, is also dead.
Are these gun toting gurus telling the truth or are they just using some public relations melodrama to attract some “marketing” attention?
I think it is the latter and here’s why I think they’re full of PR hooey.
Definition of Marketing
I want you to hold on to your chaps and spurs when I say this…but many don’t know or simply forgot the definition of marketing. I first noticed this with our move from Chicago to the West Coast 20 years ago. In the West, “Marketing” is the term often used to gussy up a sales job.
It is treated like a “soft” skill by hard nosed engineers in the high tech industries…right up there with basket weaving.
Out where the doggies roam, if one says they are a “marketer” it seems to imply that they know how to do graphics, work Photoshop, rope a website, sell, speak in several languages and can do telemarketing.
All of these skills are related to marketing, BUT this is NOT MARKETING!
Not where I come from.
Call me an old fuddy-duddy, but where I come from we really believed in Drucker’s words…
“Because the purpose of business is to create a customer, the business enterprise has two–and only two–basic functions: marketing and innovation. Marketing and innovation produce results; all the rest are costs. Marketing is the distinguishing, unique function of the business.”
In my words, marketing is the combination of actions that connects a customer to a company’s products.
Yes, this can involve a website or a brochure, but way before that flashy website and glossy brochure are created, someone has to sit down and THINK!
Someone has to define their business in a way that sets them apart from all other businesses selling to the same customers = USP, Unique Selling Proposition, Differentiation, Branding, Positioning
Someone has to create and deliver a product or a service that fills a want or need for a defined set of customers = Research, Product development, Targeting
Someone has to communicate with customers and give them a reason to want or need that product = Communications, Media (which today includes website and social media) and Sales
Someone has to figure out how to deliver it in a way that makes the customer walk away satisfied = customer service, post sales communications
Someone has to repeat this process over and over.
Marketing is not static. The need for marketing doesn’t rise and fall with the size of an audience for a particular media channel.
Marketing is always present and it is very, very dynamic. Smart marketing evolves just like science evolves with more discoveries, or as technology evolves through increased capacity. And just like the customers being served because good marketing is based on the premise of meeting the customers’ needs.
Bill Lee’s Says This Is All DEAD
If you listen to Lee, he flatly claims that “traditional marketing” is dead. He supports this claim by identifying three facts.
1. Customers aren’t listening to traditional media
Lee says this as he points to a McKinsey research study (a.k.a. part of the marketing process) that outlines how consumers are evolving and identifies the impacts this has on the way companies communicate and market their products. You’ll find this interesting video below this post.
He claims that the Internet and word-of-mouth have greater influence.
HELLO? Is this really a news flash? Word-of-mouth or WOM has been the holy grail for companies since the beginning of time. Referrals from friends and associates, testimonials, etc. have ALWAYS had far more influence on the customer than advertising or public relations.
Does the Internet change how people capture their information and their referrals? Absolutely. That’s been obvious for the last 10 years, which is about the amount of time it took to make the Internet a mainstream communications channel and far less novel than Lee infers.
2. CEO’s are losing Patience with CMOs
Lee goes on to point to a study of 600 CEOs complaining 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“.
Really? And we’re to start shaking in our boots because a bunch of overpaid, city slicker CEOs are griping about what marketing is costing today? I don’t think so,
Show me one of these 600 CEOs who has ever gotten in a gully with a customer or been actively involved in the development of their products and services and I’ll listen. Otherwise, I don’t really care about their opinion.
Most are not concerned about the customer, which should be held in god-like esteem by true marketers. Most CEOs only focus on the stock price because their bonuses are tied to the vagaries of Wall Street and the size of their golden parachutes when they mess up. They run their businesses on the quarter-to-quarter mind set. This is hardly a group of cowboys I want to ride with into marketing territory.
3. Extending traditional marketing logic into the world of social media doesn’t work
Lee claims that instead of “traditional marketing”, companies should be applying peer-to-peer marketing efforts and he goes on to cite several examples where such efforts have helped to make inroads into new sales, curb smoking, etc.
Let’s get something straight. I really don’t know of anyone in marketing worth their salt who isn’t well aware of the need for more active involvement online or of the value of peer-to-peer marketing strategies.
This “new” community approach Mr. Lee is espousing is not new. It is the same elixir that has always moved marketing.
Marketing has always been a big gulp of common sense and in answering the following questions
- Who do I want to reach?
- What do I have to offer them?
- Why should they believe me?
- Where will I find them?
- How can I best reach them?
There Are Changes – But It Isn’t the Death of Marketing
In my mind, there are two things that have and will continue to change.
1. Marketing is stronger than ever.
The smart companies are discovering, perhaps for the first time, that marketing really is very important to the growth of the bottom line. It isn’t some sissy sport like riding a horse backwards or slapping a snazzy brochure together. It is more, much more.
Marketing is serious business.
It involves a number of different disciplines (sociology, mathematics, art and design, business, futuristic thinking, etc.) rarely found in one individual.
When done right, it makes all the difference in the world. Ala Apple.
When ignored or done poorly, it makes all the difference in the world. Ala Netflix, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Verizon, Best Buy and the list of corporate bloopers goes on.
2. Customers are empowered, finally.
What is dead, truly dead, are the days when companies could say one thing and deliver something inferior and not pay a price.
What is dead are the days when corporations could arbitrarily raise rates to make their bottom lines prettier at the customer’s expense and the customers would quietly accept it.
What is dead are the days of when corporations could ignore the customer and deliver shoddy service or inferior products.
With the Internet and social media, customers are realizing their real worth. They have ceased acting like herded cattle and are demanding that companies deliver on their promises. They are taking to the Internet when service stinks and when companies try to take advantage of them.
They are become true customers, who are demanding respect from corporations – long over due.
To that, I take off my hat. ’bout time.
The McKinsey video is below and I do suggest you view it. It is sharing some interesting research findings about how customers’ purchasing process is shifting.
How do you feel about the death of marketing? Truth or fiction? Share your thoughts in the comments section.
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