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Gini Dietrich

Marketing is Dead?

By: Gini Dietrich | August 23, 2012 | 
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We live in really interesting times.

Technology is coming at us more quickly than ever before.

It took the following technologies to reach 50 million users: Radio – 38 years; TV – 13 years; The Internet – four years; iPod – three years; Facebook added 100 million users in just nine months; and iPod app downloads hit one billion in nine months.

Last year we had two big social networks introduced – Google+ and Pinterest – and the latter is the fastest growing social network…ever.

It’s no wonder “experts” continue to claim certain things are dead. SEO is Dead! Public Relations is Dead! Advertising is Dead!

Marketing is Dead?

The most recent?

In a Harvard Business Review blog post, Bill Lee claims Marketing is Dead and he’s not being cynical; he’s really serious.

He makes a good case. He says buyers are no longer paying attention (half true) and CEOs are losing patience. In fact, he quotes a study of 600 CEOs who are frustrated with their chief marketing officers.

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.

This complements some of what we hear from clients and prospects, as well. But it certainly doesn’t mean marketing is dead. It just means marketers are under even more pressure to measure return-on-investment instead of brand awareness and credibility.

What Should We Be Measuring?

I have for-profit experience so the efforts we’re accustomed to measuring at my integrated marketing communications firm are: Increased revenues, shortened sales cycles, and/or improved margins.

In order to do that, we integrate social media, the web, and traditional marketing disciplines – media relations, advertising, direct marketing, and more.

Take Catalytic Products International as an example. They make oxidizers, which are not something you a) buy online or b) use the social networks to connect with the business leaders. If marketing truly were dead, they wouldn’t be doing anything to support their sales.

We used a combination of online advertising, trade shows, email marketing, content (white papers, case studies, educational newsletters), search engine optimization, media relations, and search engine marketing to market their business.

Notice the traditional and new marketing tactics in that list?

Last year, the marketing program generated $2.2 million in new revenue or an 8:1 return-on-investment. As it compared to margins, the return-on-investment was 3:1.

Marketing is long from dead. Don’t let the shiny, new penny distract you. Learn about it, figure out how it can be implemented, find ways to measure the results around the efforts of using it, but always integrate it into what is already working really well for you.

This first appeared in my weekly Crain’s column.

About Gini Dietrich


Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, a Chicago-based integrated marketing communications firm. She is the lead blogger here at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro. She is the co-author of Marketing in the Round and co-host of Inside PR. Her second book, Spin Sucks, is available now.

81 comments
JTCattle
JTCattle

@MKTGdrA : Agreed. Much more to MKTG than Social Media, but hard to show ROI from a pic on Instagram and such

elijahmay
elijahmay

@lizscherer @ginidietrich let's hope so :-)

Rodriguez247
Rodriguez247

And that is why I'm so against the term "unmarketing" While engaging with your customers is the ideal way to carry out your business, it requires planning, strategies and most importantly an understanding of the various ways to possibly market an 'unconventional' business like your example. The way that people are used to marketing is definitely dead, but I believe that it is evolving into a new form... 

barrettrossie
barrettrossie

It would be helpful if the author offered a definition of marketing. I like @Leon 's definition:  "marketing isn't everything but everything is marketing."  So if marketing is dead, the Mayans are right. Let's just drop everything and party till the end. 

mitchellfriedmn
mitchellfriedmn

@mdbarber @ginidietrich Hey Hey my my marketing will never die (thank you, Neil Young)

jeremyvictor
jeremyvictor

@ginidietrich me too Gini ... that article made my blood boil.

largento
largento

Someone ought to tell the CEOs how frustrated we are with them!

JayDolan
JayDolan

Perhaps the better argument is that "Marketing is Undead." It has changed into a form that is recognizable, yet wholly different. It still functions in many of the same ways, but we need to approach it differently.

 

Otherwise it might take a bite out of our arm.

mdbarber
mdbarber

I am so tired of the ____ is dead posts from people who really don't understand but instead want to promote their latest shiny penny. There are so many more important things in our world to be concerned about that which communications discipline is dead this week. But, as long as these folks continue to get business this way, and keep the rest of us frustrated, it will continue. I really appreciate your writing this post and hope it will make a difference. 

Latest blog post:

Leon
Leon

G'Day Genie,  

Of course it's not dead!  I've run a business for over 30 years. I coined---I think_--- the phrase "marketing isn't everything but everything is marketing." a while back. Lots of people seem to like it includins Al Ries and John Jantsch.

 

I suspect that lots of managers have lots of different ideas about what constitutes "marketing." So I'm a tad suspicious about surveys tellling us what CEOs think of marketing.

 

It's also true that surveys may not provide the totally objective data they claim

 

A survey done here in Australia a couple of years ago suggested that about 70% of surveys came up with a result consistent with the position of the organization commissioning the survey. They didn't say this was deliberate. But Self Fulfillling Prophecy is a reality. Incidentally, neither Steve Jobs nor Henry Ford believed in surveying customers about their requirements for new products. When asked about  why he didn't conduct a survey to see if people were demanding a motor car, Henry's said to have replied, "If I'd asked them they'd have wanted a faster horse."

 

A long-standing client of mine recently conducted  lots of workshops in country towns for small- medium business owners and managers. He himself has built a very successful business. Over coffee recently he told me that far and away the biggest single problem these managers had was lack of focus.

 

Marketing may or may not be dead. But even if it is, really successful businesses still need a crystal clear focus and a narrow specific target market. Just ask Borders.

 

 

Make sure you have fun.

Best Wishes

Leon

 

 

kristathomas01
kristathomas01

Great post and conversation Gini; appreciate your work.

jonmikelbailey
jonmikelbailey

Why can't bloggers kill really evil things like racism, hunger or that "Call me Maybe" song???

 

Great post. I tend to question any statement or argument that is based on absolutes. CEOs are frustrated with CMOs? Is this new???

INBlaqkInk
INBlaqkInk

@ginidietrich that was a very informative article!

ginidietrich
ginidietrich

@amarie5304 The "dead" memes drive me nuts

DavidRM
DavidRM

I would be more apt in agreeing that home-grown full-time marketing departments are not meeting expectations.  It's like any competitive industry, a company's full-time employees can get complacent and stagnant.  They don't have to grow their knowledge base to stay on the bleeding edge, they get in grooves of "that's how our boss wants it done".  

 

While, on the opposite end of the spectrum, are the companies that look towards finding relationships with external firms (The external firms have to stay bleeding edge or risk becoming obsolete.).  By partnering with these firms, they hopefully find not only more success in seeing ROI, but also have a competitive edge on being being nimble.  

Carmelo
Carmelo

"What should we be measuring" how do we measure it, what does it mean? "What to leave out, what to leave in?" as the song goes ... And yes, the blending of the old and the "new." It really does get confusing if you keep it all at arms length but to honestly insist that marketing is dead is like saying food is no longer necessary now that we all take vitamins, fiber supplements and protein powder.

 

Is Marketing Dead? Pffft! Those 600 frustrated, detached, confused, crying meat-heads might want to relax, add a bit of fiber to their diets and perhaps ask some better questions?

djordon
djordon

Welcome back, @ginidietrich.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich moderator

 @Rodriguez247 It's definitely evolving...all of it is. But none of it is dead. It kills me that people forget about email marketing, but it's still one of the most effective ways to do direct marketing (if done well). And, because no one is mailing anything anymore, it turns out to be pretty darn effective. 

mdbarber
mdbarber

@mitchellfriedmn exactly!

amarie5304
amarie5304

@ginidietrich Agreed. All too often it's used as a "must read" headline.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich

@djordon I want to move to Maine. For good.

Rodriguez247
Rodriguez247

 @ginidietrich I think it was Gary who said that email was the original social network. I think that is the reason that I was so drawn to your book, you explain all the different tools from a different perspective. Part of our strategy is to build and maintain an email database in case any of those networks in which we currently have a community decide to close shop (I'm sure it's not going to happen, but email will be around for a long time...) 

DavidRM
DavidRM

 @ginidietrich  @DavidRM You are my superhero.  Nothing about you could ever remotely be mistaken for complacent.  Miss You.  

Carmelo
Carmelo

 @ginidietrich  @DavidRM 1000 extra points to anyone who can show me the last time ... ANY time Gini was complacent. Hmm? Anyone?

djordon
djordon

@ginidietrich I felt the same way after a few days on the Oregon Coast. Sounds like you had a blast!

DavidRM
DavidRM

 @ginidietrich  @Carmelo No, you have just transcended activities that you shouldn't have to do.  The universe, is just saying you need a personal assistant with you at all times (to search for things for you.  and remind you of your phone needing charging.)

djordon
djordon

@ginidietrich There's a lot to love about that part of the country!

ginidietrich
ginidietrich

@djordon We were south of Portland, right on the coast. My dad lives in Portland, OR and I've done the mountain to coast ride with him.

djordon
djordon

@ginidietrich I mean, how could you not? Where in Maine did you visit?

ginidietrich
ginidietrich

@djordon Ohhh. I love the Oregon coast, too

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