Extra Extra Read all about it Marketing is in deep trouble

A few months ago I wrote a blog Is Marketing Dead which was in response to the controversial article by Bill Lee in the Harvard Business Review which proposes that traditional marketing — including advertising, public relations, branding and corporate communications — is dead. Lee states that many people in traditional marketing roles and organizations may not realize they’re operating within a dead paradigm.

My take on this article was marketing is clearly not dead, like many disciplines it’s constantly evolving. Just because a field is changing does not make the actual discipline dead. Is there a lot of money wasted on marketing? Yes there is. Are there people in marketing resistant to change? Of course there is and that is true of every field.

In a devastating 2011 study of 600 CEOs and decision makers 73% of them said that Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs) lack business credibility and the ability to generate sufficient business growth, 72% are tired of being asked for money without explaining how it will generate increased business, and 77% have had it with all the talk about brand equity that can’t be linked to actual firm equity or any other recognized financial metric. The Fournaise 2012 Global Marketing Effectiveness Program,  which interviewed over 1,200 CEOs from across North America, Europe, Asia and Australia found that 70% of CEOs Admit They May Be Responsible for Marketers’ Poor Perceived Performance:

  • 80% of CEOs were not very impressed by the work done by Marketers and believed Marketers were poor business performers.
  • CEOs thought Marketers could not adequately prove the positive business impact their marketing activities.
  • CEOs thought Marketers had lost sight of what their job really was (i.e. to generate more customer demand for their products/services).
  • CEOS thought Marketers were not business performance-obsessed enough.
  • 70% of the same CEOs admitted they may be somewhat responsible for Marketers’ poor perceived business performance and reputation – but purely as a consequence of:
    a) Having steadily lost trust in Marketers’ business abilities; and b) Subsequently having given up on holding Marketers accountable.


Mitch Joel points out that marketing departments have liquidated themselves over the past two decades by focusing all of their energy on advertising and promotions. They have forgotten about the need for marketing 101 – the basics of the four Ps and the value that a well-rounded marketing department brings to an organization. We suddenly have revenue departments instead of marketing leading and nurturing the pricing strategy of the business. We suddenly have product managers instead of marketing leading the product development and placement. So, what’s left? You guessed it, just the promotion.

He adds. Can digital save the day? I believe it can . What’s required are both much more education within the marketing departments of the world (to better understand digital, measurement and analytics) and a shift in philosophy that marketing doesn’t need to be dominated by advertising? Marketers can win back the c-suite trust, so long as they’re willing do more real marketing, instead of simply focusing on the advertising (which is still important, it’s just not everything).

Now in a recent article we have marketing guru Al Reis writing an article in which we find that Too Many Marketers Are Going Soft.

He refers to the disease of major corporations around the world  spending huge amounts of time and money thinking up soft, emotional positioning slogans. He gives an example of one of the most prestigious business schools in the world Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management coming up with a very lame slogan for their school “developed by hundreds of alumni, students and faculty”. With all due respect, the last people I would have developing positioning and branding lines for a business school are alumni, students and faculty.

As I have pointed out in over 150 blogs there is good marketing and bad marketing. And I have been very critical of the bad marketing observed in my career as a practioner, academic and consultant.  The secret is to be open to new ideas,  be strategic i.e. strategy before going headlong into tactics, and most important  listen to the people you are trying to reach and influence . Sounds simple doesn’t it?

Let me know what you think.


Get out your calendar and insert the dates of exciting events at the Centre of Excellence for Public Sector Marketing

1. World Social Marketing Conference

The Centre of Excellence for Public Sector Marketing is delighted to be involved with the World Social Marketing Conference, which will take place in Toronto, Canada from April 21-23, 2013.

The conference attracts participants from many countries and you will get the opportunity to meet social marketers from Australia, Africa, Asia, Europe, South and North America. This is a tremendous opportunity to learn from social marketers around the world and most important the opportunity to network with social marketers like yourself.

Note: The Centre of Excellence for Public Sector Marketing will be running a pre-conference 1 day social marketing workshop entitled: Social Marketing Planning: Implementing an Effective Campaign

For more information go to:   http://wsmconference.com/

2.  MARCOM Professional Development

The dates are set: May 28 & 29, 2013
Mark your calendar and start your training plan!
The location is set: Ottawa Convention Centre

Plan now to attend the only forum of this kind in Canada!

3. Professional Certificate in Public Sector and Non-Profit Marketing

The only Canadian university certificate program for government and non-profit marketers.

Feb. 13 – May 23, 2013

7 Course Modules – 8 days over 4 months

Register Today!

4. Social Marketing Strategies that Change Attitudes and Behaviour… Moving Beyond Awareness

When: February 6, 2013

Where: Delta Barrington Hotel

1875 Barrington Street
Halifax, Nova Scotia
B3J 3L6

(902) 429-7410


To learn about all of our training programs

Go to our web site Cepsm.ca



2 Replies to “Extra Extra Read all about it Marketing is in deep trouble”

  1. Unfortunately we marketers let the ‘feather merchants’ with MBAs take over. I’ve seen it happen since the 1980s where marketing’s gotten divorced from the business and well-rounded, experienced, practical marketers have been forced out for the latest fads, e.g. ‘new media’, ‘online’ and now ‘digital’ and ‘earned media’ mechanics

    In fact I don’t believe that digital will save the day at all, but compound the problem because it’s seen now as a strategy while it is only a tactic. Companies are hiring ‘mechanics’ to work on small parts of marketing without bringing on board any integrators who think about the overarching positioning and strategy. This accounts for the mixed messaging you’re seeing from huge companies, the short term buzz stuff, the over-niching and the death of brands. And product managers only are concerned about THEIR product, not the brand or other products.

    My own definition of marketing is ‘finding out where your product or service fits in the mind and pocketbook of the customer–and getting it there.’ It may sound simple, but it forces you to think lean, focused and integrated with sales and operations. It also implies measurement and analytics (the getting it there part–are you?)

    Your point is well taken that slogans should never be done by committee. Slogans are an end point, not a start.

    1. Yes the latest fads are killing marketing . I have no problem with digital , our organization is very involved with digital but if the digital is not part of an integrated marketing strategy it is next to useless. Much of the work I do is play the role of the “integrator”. With respect to MBA’s , I taught MBA’s for many years as a part time professor. The problem with most MBA programs with few exceptions is marketing is a very small part of the MBA program and unless the MBA student has a undergrad in marketing , they rarely have a grasp of marketing .

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