If marketing is dead, it's a self-inflicted wound

What's going on when two of advertising's brightest luminaries come out within weeks of each other stating that their industry is "dead?"

What's going on when two of advertising's brightest luminaries come out within weeks of each other stating that their industry is “dead?”

Bill Lee, president of the Lee Consulting Group and author of The Hidden Wealth of Customers: Realizing the Untapped Value of Your Most Important Asset, was not the first pundit to trot out the “marketing is dead” trope, but he was certainly one of the loudest, strongest, and most respected authors to do so. In his article “Marketing is Dead” for none other than the Harvard Business Review, he certainly had one of the biggest pulpits to preach from.

Lee spoke at length about the death of traditional marketing and led an online call to arms for embracing new, interactive, social media, relationship-based marketing ideas such as “community marketing,” finding “customer influencers,” and one last business buzz term for the ages, “help them build social capital.” Brilliant stuff, eh?

But Lee isn't alone in his “marketing is dead” message. Recently profiled in The Drum, an online publication from the UK, Kevin Roberts, CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi Worldwide, went Bill Lee one further. He made the equally bold claim that “in today's crazy world, strategy is dead, the big idea is dead, management is dead, and marketing, as we know it, is also dead.”

After years of interrupting consumers with a “look at me” mentality, marketers, like Lee, Roberts, and others, are realizing the world really has changed.

Marketing, of course, isn't dead - and the headline-seeking authors know it.

When 92% of all consumers report, according to Nielsen, that a recommendation from a friend, family member, or someone they trust is the leading influence on the purchase behavior, it's clearly time to course correct your marketing mix. Unless you are already there.

Stay tuned for more on the power of positive recommendations.

Paul Rand (@paulmrand) is the president and CEO of Zócalo Group, a word of mouth, social, and digital marketing agency, and a division of Omnicom Group and Ketchum.

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