I feel the post, which has received wide attention, is flawed on a number of points. Firstly, traditional marketing is not dead by any definition, especially in economically developing nations. Secondly, an over reliance on social media as the solution is too limited and simplistic for the complexity of marketing in today’s day and age.
What I found missing from the post was the discussion that marketing has been surpassed by brand strategy and management: traditional marketing is about communication to identified markets but brand strategy is about ensuring the most relevant, effective and evolving engagement with the market. It is, essentially, the business of the organization delivered through constant innovation, agile organizations strategies, etc.
The HBR blog post briefly touched, but did not elaborate, on this need for marketing to become more strategic and answerable in the following paragraph.
“In a devastating 2011 study of 600 CEOs and decision makers by the London-based Fournaise Marketing Group, 73% of them said that 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.”
Simply stated, marketing needs to become more strategic and concerned with the top-line growth than marketing metrics that number of followers or likes but fail to translate into profitable engagements.
Marketing isn’t dead, but it the traditional definition of a communications-based function has been superseded by the need for strategic business management. Marketing, I believe, should be a subset of brand management and those marketing managers failing to evolve are the ones finding their role, contribution and appreciation dwindling.
The HBR post inadvertently offered support for this view by offering an example of how National Instruments helped mid-level IT managers get into the C-Suite by offering them research and financial proof to position themselves as strategic thinkers.
Whilst the post used the example to describe the creation of social capital and networks, it also underlined that fact that managers, across the organization, need to become more strategic to advance.
Marketing managers should take note.