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.

Gini Dietrich

Gini Dietrich is the founder, CEO, and author of Spin Sucks, host of the Spin Sucks podcast, and author of Spin Sucks (the book). She is the creator of the PESO Model and has crafted a certification for it in partnership with Syracuse University. She has run and grown an agency for the past 15 years. She is co-author of Marketing in the Round, co-host of Inside PR, and co-host of The Agency Leadership podcast.

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