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Is Marketing Dead? My Keynote at the IAA Summit In NYC

Posted by Bill Lee on April 30, 2013 at 01:40 PM

I had a blast keynoting at the 2013 International Advertising Association's Global Summit in NYC last week. The IAA invited me to kick things off based on my Marketing is Dead piece on HBR from last August (we called it "Is Marketing Dead?") I can't imagine a better way to start a day at work then to step outside a hotel room on 56th Street, walk through Central Park about 4 or 5 blocks to the Time Warner Building on Columbus Circle, head up to a 10th floor ballroom with spectacular views of the city and Central Park, and politely try to shake up representatives of NY's famed adverstising community (as they'd asked me to do!.

Here were some of my main points to the assembled:

- Traditional marketing is an unnatural act. in an age when buyers increasingly expect to communicate with their peers as they progress through their decision process, traditional marketing is an unnatural act. (By "traditional marketing" I mean people who don't come from the buyer's world, don't share his interests, aren't his peer--and want to get his money to boot--trying to convince the buyer to purchase.) Actually, it always was unnatural--it's just that now buyer's can increasingly avoid marketers and access their peers.

- What are we getting for those billions you spend on sales training? I mean, how many sales people do you encounter that you would describe as helpful, much less persuasive? 

- You don't have to train my neighbor to talk to me. On the other hand, no one has to train a customer on how to talk to their neighbors or friends or colleagues about your product or service.

- Stop tring to convincre. Build peer infuence. Advertisers have a big opportunity to do for companies what Crispin + Porter did for the State of Florida in getting teens to quit smoking (stop trying to convince, start building peer influence or pressure).

- Geeks are in charge of the dance! Is is just me, or does it seem rather odd that the ones who are attempting to establish social norms in social media communities are, well, techies. Not the ones we normally assoiciate with social skills. Just saying. (This is an area that advertisers, with their backgrounds in teh social sciences, might be able to contribute. Like Crispin Porter did)

- A suggestion for Sheryl Sandberg. Why not commission some research, and perhaps devote your next book, to the previous bullet point?  

- Find your Rockstars. Don't interrupt, overstimulate. Find Rockstar customers (the ones particularly willing and able to build peer influence). And then help them do so.

- Build their social capital. Don't do this by bribing them. Build their social capital. It will preserve the integrity of their recommendation or referral. And they'll value it much more.

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