Marketing Is Not Dead

Forrester Research claims that 2010 is the year marketing dies. I mostly agree with the article and its conclusions. However, I do not think that marketing is dead: I just do not think it means what you think it means. The article conflates three distinct concepts: marketing, media, and advertising (although media, advertising, and public relations do overlap). It assumes that media exists to serve advertising and that advertising in turn exists to serve marketing. The second part (advertising serving marketing) is fairly accurate since advertising is a marketing tactic. The first part has mostly been true in the past (media serving advertising). I think it would have been more accurate to say that 2010 is the year we decouple marketing from advertising and advertising from media.

The cost of producing and distributing media has become much cheaper in the digital world. It is no longer assumed that media cannot be produced or distributed without advertisers footing the bill. The decoupling of media from advertising has opened up the door for all sorts of creativity (and arguably a lot of garbage, too). Public, educational, and governmental media have been producing and distributing content free from advertising for years.

On the flip side, it is no longer assumed that marketers need to spend a lot of money on advertising to get their messages in front of eyeballs (or ears or whatever). If you have a good message then people can hear that message without the need for paid media gatekeepers. Word-of-mouth has long been an effective marketing technique which requires no media buys. With the Internet, Web 2.0, social media, or whatever you want to call it today word-of-mouth marketing takes on a whole new dimension.

Sure, if you have a product or message that does not resonate with people then you may still need old media and advertising to get your product and message in front of them. Of course, once people try your product and are disappointed with it they will share their thoughts about your product with other people. I hope that 2010 is the year that old media and advertising wanes and that good old word-of-mouth has a resurgence in influence. This is the kind of marketing we focus on at Found Line: marketing as a form of communication and education. As the Forrester Research post concluded, “Marketing is dead. Long live marketing!”