Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Marketing is NOT Dead. It's Just Goes By A Different Name

There are so many articles, podcasts and chats lately proclaiming the “Death of Marketing!” or “Marketing is Dead!” Rest assured, my marketing cohorts, marketing is very much alive and in my opinion, enjoying quite a resurgence, if not a bit of rebranding.

Have you ever hated the name your parents gave you? I did. I grew up as an only child and looked for community and comradery and a large group to belong to for much of my childhood. Admittedly, this carried into many of my early adult years as well, as I struggled to find my identity. I eagerly searched through magnets and souvenirs to find something with my name on it to proudly take home with me, often to no avail. “Lucy is an old lady name!” I’d complain loudly and often. Then there was my last name. Two long names hyphenated into one. It never fit into Scantron boxes and I rarely could find myself on lists, never knowing “which last name” I was filed under, as if it were indeed two more names, rather than the one long one that it is. I yearned to change it, later on in life taking the initials of my “two last names” and spelling them out phonetically to create a new name for myself.

We are doing the same thing to marketing. While Millennials appear to think they’ve reinvented the wheel, discovering a “whole new way to market!” the truth is, they’re simply renaming what we’ve always done. Does marketing now sound more hip? Maybe. Are the new names a new way to connect? Absolutely. I believe that inherent to each of us, is the internal desire to ‘be a part of,’ and while I also believe we can and most often do enjoy what makes us each unique, we really want to find our tribes. Social media does this for us – it gives us a way to connect to like-minded people that we never would have been able to find without an unlimited expense account to travel the world and spend time with as many people as we could possibly see and talk with. Instead, we now have the opportunity to connect with all of these people in real time, with no distance felt between us. Renaming “older marketing” processes is yet another way to connect with each other. As each new term becomes the buzzword of the day, people hashtag it out and find others using the same language we now do. While I’m not a fan of all the new terms, I do not think they’re ‘bad,’ or shouldn’t be used. Marketing is all about speaking to people in THEIR language, how THEY want to be spoken to, and if it’s through a new word, it’s our job as marketing people to adapt to the changing landscape.

Here are some examples:

1.      FOMO is the new envy: Without a catchy acronym, FOMO is nothing new. Aristotle described it. Kant wrote books about it. Even the Book of Genesis names envy as one of the 7 Deadly Sins. FOMO is just more fun to say, and if you look at the word itself, FOMO simply looks better than envy, as we have come to associate envy as something ugly. Interesting to note - I find people are very reluctant to share their feelings of envy, perhaps because they feel they will be judged if they exhibit this character defect, yet everyday on social media, people proudly proclaim their #FOMO for people, experiences and situations. Don’t believe me? Check out the tweets associated with the hashtag. Then google #envy and noticed the marked difference.

2.      H2H is the new 1:1: Confession – I’m not a huge fan of the term H2H. I feel like it is a bit offensive – after all, I’m already human, and I only know how to communicate with other humans, so to tell me that there’s this new way of doing business or conducting my personal life in a “human to human” fashion, makes me feel as though I’ve previously been incapable of speaking to people. I also find it a tad demeaning, in that it ‘assumes’ a lack of intelligence when looking at brands that (for example) tweet. I’ve been in brand marketing for just over 15 years. I’ve been a consumer of brands for most of my 36 years. I don’t think there’s ever been a second where I misunderstood that a tweet, or a commercial or an ad from any brand came from the logo of the brand. Inherently, I just knew that someone BEHIND the brand was speaking for the brand. Example – I have worked both in-house for brands from the startup phase to multi-million dollar companies. I have run their social media. Whether I was tweeting from my laptop or my cell phone, I, as a human, was writing the correspondence. While my goal was always for everyone seeing my content to know that it was Lucy writing it, (until the communities got to know me personally) I think everyone still figured out that a human was somewhere out there, actually writing or typing out each letter in whatever they were reading. It has been a long time strategy and tactic of marketing to try to speak to smaller groups if the brand wants to be able to truly have an open back and forth conversation with them, to introduce, talk about or answer questions about their product. It’s been referred to as 1:1 Marketing, and I still relate to that term more.

3.      Social Listening is the new paying attention: If you work in branding or marketing, I believe you’ve always done this to at least a small extent, without having a term to easily describe the process. Social listening refers to looking at and identifying what is being said about a person or product or brand on both the internet and in print (and definitely via WOM, but unless it’s searchable, it’s hard to find mentions of something as it leaves peoples lips). It’s becoming increasingly more important to spend more time giving social listening credit. How else will you know messaging resonates within your community and is reaching the right consumer at the right time? You just can’t. If you delve into your community and have open honest conversations daily with them, they will tell you everything you need to know.

4.      IRL is the new um…it’s ALL IRL: Full disclosure: I don’t really “get” IRL. As opposed to WHAT? What’s the alternative to living IRL? I’m real, therefore my life is real, right? If it’s referring to in person vs online, what I do online and the people I speak with are still also living their lives IRL, so unless I’m missing out on a whole new universe that others are enjoying, I’m going to keep living my life in IRL, and hope you are too, because otherwise I don’t know where you are!

5.      Transparency is the new being who you are: I started smoking when I was 17. I was scared to death that my mom would find out, so I hid my cigarette pack in what I thought at the time, was a most brilliant hiding spot – underneath the driver’s seat in my car. You know what comes next – she found the pack. She was more upset that I wasn’t honest with her than she was about the idea of my smoking (don’t get me wrong, she does NOT in any way condone smoking). She said “Be who you are. If you smoke, then be honest that you smoke.” The first part of that has stuck with me to this day, and while some days are easier than others to outwardly be who I am, that’s what transparency means to me.

Are there any terms you aren’t familiar with that you’d like to see added to this list? Do you find yourself frustrated by the “rebranding of marketing as we know it?” Let me know in the comments, or send me a tweet @lucyrk78 and let me know your thoughts!


  1. The need for people to make up new terms for what has been around already shows:
    -they didn't RTM (read the manual). My attempt at being funny by using another term of the Internet era. They didn't read books and learn these things, they think they're inventing them.
    -they are insecure with building off of the knowledge of others. They want to figure it all out themselves.
    -maybe they're just jerks who want to make themselves famous by trying to take credit for what was long ago figured out by changing terms and sticking hashtags of front of them.

    It makes me think of existentialism. I'm a big fan since a class in college on French existentialists.

    If you think of Fight Club - you are not a unique and beautiful snow flake.

    Ecclesiastes - there's nothing new under the sun.

    People want their observations to be new and unique. They want to be justified in their envy.

    People don't need to learn how to be human. They need to learn how to be themselves.

    1. I agree, Josh. (yet I do reference Fight Club in a lot of my writing) thanks for your support with this :)

  2. Just stumbled upon this post from your Twitter stream, Lucy. Really enjoyed it.

    It's funny because I've been pondering the idea of branding a new term for a particular task/strategy on social media around which I'm building my startup, @Topicurious. In a very crowded "social tools" industry, I feel like the idea of branding a "buzzword" that encapsulates what Topicurious is good at would help to differentiate.

    But, you're giving me pause to reconsider! :)
    - Craig (@craigthusiast)

    1. Hi Craig! Thanks for checking this out (and for the follow) I'm checking out @Topicurious right now!