Marketing is dead or at the very least it is dying.
Let’s get this straight at first. I am a firm believer in the old school principles of marketing. Twenty years long helping, companies, start-ups, SMB and large internationals, in getting the right message out to the customer via MPC. I was born and raised with the 7Ps, a firm believer in creating multiple points of contact with a target customer on which you have gathered tons of information.
Marketing has always been one of the things that I have had a passion for. Working with my teams to creatively get the message out there in a variety of ways. I have seen the advertising world change a lot over the past twenty odd years. From being communication consultants to creative hubs to digital marketing consultants. I have followed the trends, the craziness in this world with great interest. That said, I do not live and breath marketing and communications. Nor am I consumed by the craze of digital marketing/communications. To me, marketing has been a tool to support sales effort by building brands. All focused on ensuring that my target has the right information at the right time and at the price they want to pay.
Therefore, me saying marketing is dead is something that feels odd to me and maybe also to you. You might say marketing is evolving, moving towards digital all the time, TV, newspapers will die out etc. etc. The feeling got to me after some years working with companies on their marketing strategy and during the odd interview for a senior digital marketing position. The feeling of, is this really what marketing has become, are my views limited or am I a dinosaur?
Example Nr 1
I could give many examples of this feeling. However, one of the most hair-raising ones would be the following two examples. Subject number one was a small size company working on a new app for business customers. They were asking me to advise them on their marketing. During the meeting, it became very clear that under marketing they understood only advertising on Facebook and doing Google campaigns. They opened the conversation with: “we do not have much money but we want to spend 50K on google and facebook”. Now I have nothing against digital communications but the differences between me and many other are that I see it as one of the promotional tools that you can choose. Just like other channels, digital ones have waste, issues with reaching the right target, they cost money and they do not guarantee success.
When the meeting went on, we discussed the subject “what do you have available on market information, such as target group profiles, do they know where the customers are?” Basically, you already know where I am heading. So I started to ask questions to find out what they do know. After some 30 minutes, it was very clear to me that it would be a complete waste of money for them to try to reach the target group indirectly. They had a great opportunity to market together with partners directly to the target, and at the time their target would need to use that app. It was all sitting and waiting there for them. However, as Facebook and Google were the easiest way than actually doing some real marketing work, they choose another route.
Example Nr 2
Subject number two was an interview I had for a senior marketing position in a large company. In this case, Director for digital marketing. After the usual standard boring introductions on company and products (Yes I did look at your website so I know your company), my first question was, “who is doing the overall marketing strategy?” They looked at me puzzled and answered: “marketing is nowadays done digitally did you not know that!”.
My next question was on the knowledge they had on their customer, how their sales force is integrated into the process and customer service. The informed me that my role did not include sales and customer service responsibilities. Please focus only on getting the message out there, targeting is done through facebook and google and is automated there. In short, the position was, optimize usage of the budget, generate leads and get the message out there, plus building the brand.
At the end of the conversation, I lost interest in this position as it did not have anything to do with marketing anymore. I asked them my last question: When nobody knows your B2B tool, and they do not know that they need that tool for a problem that they did not know they have, how do they look for your solution when you focus only on superficial digital communications? That is when I understood that marketing was dead.
What should it be now and in the future?
To me, especially in B2B, as this is my main background, marketing is and will always be a tool to support sales, being it online or through sales reps, it is at the service of sales. It should build the brand, supply information on the issue that the product is solving, create in-depth knowledge of the potential buyer and where this buyer can be located. This all with the goal to educate the customer on problems that he/she did not even understand that are holding them back. A strong and open brand with products that solve issues relevant to the user is what drives sales.
Focusing superficially on one or the other communication tool to drive your marketing efforts is useless. Build up your marketing plans by using all tools available and correctly, to reach your target in the most efficient way!