That’s the headline from a recent HBR (HARVARD BUSINESS Review) article — Marketing is Dead!. Huh? Have the bean counters at HBR finally LOST their marbles? Marketing? Dead? Do they propose transitioning from capitalism to a command economy, such as the one rejected by the former Soviet Union and even China finds untenable? Because, without marketing, there is no consumer choice and, without consumer choice, there’s only room for a single firm in each industry — a monopoly.
Maybe HBR was simply trying to create engagement by generating controversy — which they did. Nearly 200 readers commented on what a stupid statement this was — Marketing is Dead. Plus, even the article didn’t support the notion that marketing is dead — merely that it’s transitioned from traditional media to social media.
And, while I acknowledge social media’s place, I don’t
think even traditional media is dead.
The Role of Traditional Media
I really think social media is the world of the future. Businesses who ignore the power of individual influence on consumer behavior are naive. I think firms should move more aggressively into social media and contribute more resources to social media.
That said, firms still need traditional media marketing. That’s because many folks aren’t on social networks and you still need a way to reach them.
Done right, your traditional media marketing
supports your social media marketing
Yesterday, I saw an update from a friend who checked in at a theater to see a movie. Now, unless I’m seeing a movie with friends, it takes more than a casual statement that you’re watching a movie to motivate me. In this case, I’d already seen several commercials for the new movie and thought it sounded interesting. The endorsement from my Facebook friend, I might have forgotten about the movie or decided to see another movie I found interesting. Working together, my motivation to see the movie is greater.
Users are beginning to distrust “friends”
As more firms take shortcuts by compensating consumers for favorable endorsements, social media users are becoming jaded and beginning to distrust their friends’ opinions. A recent research study by Robert Kozinets found both anger and distrust generated when bloggers were compensated for their product reviews by as little as free products.
I experienced this first hand when a Facebook friend, who is also a dear personal friend, began sharing his love for a particular furniture brand. He went on for days about how superior the brand was, how innovative, how stylish …I began to get a little suspicious since he’s never gotten so enthusiastic about a brand before. After some investigation, I discovered his partner recently accepted a sales position with the firm. Now, I’m much less likely to consider his opinion when making brand choices. I don’t check out pages he “Likes” or follow links he posts. Heck, I don’t even “Like” his posts anymore. He’s lost all credibility for me. (Surprisingly, this guy also writes and consults on social media marketing — yet another lesson in being careful when selecting your social media marketing firm).
The same is true for contests. Firms who get entrants to stir up support from their social network so they can win something generate little interest on my part. I may go to the page and “Like” it or vote for the entrant to show support, but I’m NO more likely to actually spend any time on the brand’s page or read their posts. In fact, if they show up on my newsfeed too much (like ever), I’ll just go back in and “unlike” them. The firm has wasted resources getting engagement from folks who don’t really care about their brand and who might not even be in their target market.
So, firms must exert care in the tools they use to motivate favorable brand mentions in social networks. And, consultants or employees who advocate for using contests and paying influencers for favorable mentions are dangerous. Here are some ways to get influencers to promote your brand:
- Give them tools to promote your brand — especially content tools. Give them infographics, press releases, and other resources to make it easy for them to mention your brand.
- Set up press conferences and other events for social media influencers. Make influencers feel important — just like traditional media outlets. For instance, NASA recently invited Twitter users to a launch giving them the same access normally reserved for newspapers and broadcast media. Firms need to stop thinking of influential bloggers and Tweeters as an annoyance and treat them like legitimate media.
- Recognize their efforts to mention your brand — an “atta boy” goes a long way toward encouraging future mentions.
- Uncover detractors and offer solutions to prove their previous negative opinions wrong.
Do you think marketing is dead? Or have the rule simply changed?