Is Marketing A Zombie?
Things are always changing in the marketing world, but columnist John Paul Mains argues that marketing has actually died and been newly reborn.
I thought about titling this post “Marketing is Dead.”
But the more I thought about it, the less I agreed with that quick judgment. Marketing is not dead, of course, but it is also not what we’ve come to think it is, and this is causing confusion for corporate leadership.
Marketing is far more than what it used to be just ten years ago. It may be more appropriate to say:
- marketing died,
- it wasn’t aware of its own death and
- it came back as something more powerful than its previous self.
Traditional marketing is the practice of building awareness for a brand so that people will be more likely to purchase a product or service. It’s that simple.
Radio, TV, magazines, newspapers and classic websites are all efforts of true marketing. Marketing, up until the last decade, was primarily a one-way communication strategy. It was the sales team that engaged with buyers and tried to make the sale as quickly as they could.
But in this recent digital age, we’ve lost sight of what marketing was meant to be and added a bunch of stuff into marketing teams that really shouldn’t be there, at least in the classical sense.
The lines between sales, customer support, product management and marketing have blurred because of the power of customer engagement. The last five to seven years have seen the evolution of a Marketing Team into the Engagement Team.
What Should Engagement Marketing Focus On?
The concept of engagement marketing started gaining some steam in 2012, but you still won’t find many executives with a clear picture of what it means. At its core, engagement marketing is focused on interacting with prospects, customers, the media and channels.
Imagine being at a conference where you have rented part of the facility to talk with people, give presentations, run a class and go to a social later in the day. This is the basic idea of engagement.
You are communicating from a distance, but getting elbow-to-elbow with customers. It means answering questions, educating your audience, apologizing when you do something stupid, and helping people feel empowered and involved in their favorite brand.
Sports teams are awesome at this type of engagement online and offline. The players find all sorts of ways of interacting personally with their audience, and fans will follow them, even when they are doing terrible.
The audience becomes invested in their team’s brand, making it part of their own DNA. This is what an Engagement Team should be focused on — turning everyday customers into stark raving fans.
What Does An Engagement Team Do?
A better question may be, “What do they not do?” Here is a quick list to show that marketing teams are no longer just about building awareness to improve sales leads.
I’ve personally been involved in all of these projects for big and small marketing teams over the last few years, and as you can see, it is much more about engaging with prospects than simply building awareness.
- Content Marketing. This is much more in line with traditional marketing, but with a digital twist. The idea is to make as many people aware of the great materials (text, graphics, videos, etc.) that you’ve published and to encourage them to click through and share it.
- Engagement Marketing. Another new twist on building awareness, engagement marketing has much more to do with directly engaging with an audience, which makes it less about marketing and more about getting to know your customers.
- Lead Generation. More and more these days, marketing teams are being measured on their ability to deliver leads to sales teams. This is a role classically held solely by Sales, but the borders have definitely been blurring.
- Nurturing. Turning known conversions into sales leads faster using email and social communications has nothing to do with expanding awareness and more about behavioral influence to get a sale to close faster.
- Digital Advertising. Being able to specifically target your competitors’ customers through social media advertising is engagement marketing, personalization, lead generation and just plain fun all rolled up into one.
- Adaptive Web Design. More web teams are coming out of IT and becoming part of marketing team. They are bringing agile methodology and recognizing that websites must be adaptive and constantly improving to drive business value and investment.
- App Development And Modification. Creating new apps that are both a product and a marketing vehicle, or simply being involved in product modifications, turning them into self-marketing vehicles.
Engagement Is The Evolution Of Marketing
We are all connected. People spend more time in social media than looking at email. Younger generations live and breathe “connectedness” with their devices, which they prefer over actual face time with other people. To be successful in marketing, the old ideas of marketing teams must be let go and begin embracing Engagement.
Now that I think about it, traditional marketing really is dead after all, or at least it’s one of those unsexy vampires or something resembling a walker. Engagement Teams are much more alive than their predecessors, with far more responsibility to the bottom line and the ability to impact company growth.
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. Staff authors are listed here.