The End of Marketing | TepFu: Marketing Strategy & Coaching

The End of Marketing

If you’re in marketing then this week will be remembered as a really really important point in time.

Carlos Gill the fantastic social media commentator (and this isn’t just an arse kiss by the way) has released a fantastic book. It’s due out in October he’s told us the title, it’s seriously exciting and I wanted to share with you my thoughts on what I know about the book, and what that plays into over what I’ve seen over the last twenty years. Also how this is going to impact directly on your business, and how his book is a warning sign, a shot across the bow, and a signpost for things to come. Ways that you and your business can be reacting and coping with the disruptions that are ahead.

The title of his book is ‘The End of Marketing

Which is a really clever title for two reasons;

First of all he is saying that marketing as we know it is going to end. I totally agree with him, I think it’s actually been ending for a while and more on that in a moment.

The second meaning of the book title, the end of marketing, is around the teleological end of something. What is the purpose of marketing? And he’s questioning this in the book, I can tell already.

Carlos if you’re reading this, given that there’s very little out there on the book, do let me know if I’m on the money or not.

My take is that he’s questioning the purpose of marketing, and the premise of the book is that everything that’s changing around marketing across all of the disruptions, across AI artificial intelligence, everything else is having a profound effect on the way, not only how we communicate and what but what we communicate about.

One of the key words I’ve heard in relation to Carlos Gills new book is humanization.

I’ve been banging that drum for quite a few years, I know Carlos has, I know quite a lot of people have as well. The reality is that the way businesses behave has radically changed because of the internet.

In 1999 the Cluetrain manifesto first told us that markets are conversations and what that means, and think about that markets are conversations.

What that means is that the operating space in which businesses behave isn’t an economic one it’s a human one.

Markets are conversations.

Ever since I heard about the Cluetrain manifesto and in the few years prior to that in the late 90s, when I was doing my Master’s dissertation on the future of the publishing industry, I discovered a quote by Frank Zappa and the quote was:

“An algorithm can tell you a story but it can’t tell you the whole story, it just doesn’t have the eyebrows.”

The eyebrows, it’s all about the eyebrows.

What Frank Zappa meant was it’s about the nuance, it’s about the emotion, of course he was pointing to a future of humanization. He wasn’t commentating on marketing or was he? He was commentating on everything.

Cut forward to where we are today and over the last 10 years – we’ve certainly witnessed a whole pile of humanization. We’ve seen brands really change the way they focus on and look at people and individuals. But more importantly we’ve seen a massive transition to how brands internally behave and conduct the conversation both internally and then externally out to the market.

I think one of the things that Carlos is talking about is how we utilize the best assets we have, the people in the business, to engage in the marketplace.

Humanization really is about devolving marketing, and I’ve said this very recently as well, away from structures in the business, and away from silos of control and command and dominance in the business to actors in a conversation.

I think that is what Carlos has pointed out, and I can’t wait to read this book, straight on to pre-order and that’s why it’s number one bestseller because lots of people like me are jumping all over the book. I can’t wait to read it because it’s going to reaffirm so much of what I think and it’s going to point at Carlos’s view of how marketing is going to be massively disrupted, more than it already has.

Don’t forget it’s on two levels, it’s on the level of marketing is ending as we know it.

I don’t think in twenty years time we’ll necessarily have strategic leadership in businesses the way we have it today,

I don’t think we’ll have operational activity the way we have it today.

I think operational activity will be devolved across multiple departments, across multiple skill sets, will all be joining in the marketplace the conversation.

In the same way that things have changed over the last 20 years, when we look back in 20 years I’m pretty confident (and I’m pretty confident that Carlos agrees) that marketing will be much more devolved across the business.

By the way when I say 20 years that’s me talking about people getting to the trough of despair in the hype cycle curve. I think it’s 5 years away, I think it is now for some companies, I think some companies right now already doing this and I think over the next 5 to 10 we’ll see the early adopters and I think 10 to 20 will see everybody catching up.

So you need to think about how you’re getting ready to devolve marketing through your business, that’s why I’m all in on marketing leadership, that’s why everything that I’m about and that TepFu is about, is about creating the opportunity for business leaders to become marketing leaders.

One of the other flip sides of this is that we’re starting to see senior marketing leadership become the CEO of businesses, because of course the primary value to the business is its place in the marketplace conversation. We’ll see more CMOs become CEO, we’re starting to see that already. We’re seeing marketing leadership move up into the leadership of the business, we’re seeing marketing operations move down into the everyday reality of the business.

The end of marketing is definitely nigh, Carlos Gill is absolutely bang-on, and it’s pointing at a totally devolved marketing future.

I can’t wait and just briefly to talk about the second meaning of his title, the end of marketing.

The end of marketing speaks to the purpose of marketing and the purpose of marketing ultimately is to be a part of the conversation because that’s what our marketplace wants. Our marketplace and our audience just want to hear from us.

Nobody wants to be sold to;

Everybody wants to buy.

The era of outright selling on the basis of control of information is over. The ubiquity of knowledge and information is so prevalent now, that before we buy anything we know everything about it, about the company, about the salesperson on the phone, about the reviews.

Yes there are plenty of people and evidence, there are plenty of people evidencing that reviews get gamed. But the majority of the time they don’t. Because the reality is, you can’t fool all the people all the time. Most reviews are going to be legitimate for the majority of the time.

We will become more adept at judging the marketplace, at judging the conversation in the marketplace, we’ll be more adept at judging a brand’s role in that conversation and its authenticity.

It’s a very exciting time ahead.

If anybody wants to talk about marketing leadership in their business, about authenticity and about the end of marketing and how marketing is devolving through their business I’d love to talk to you more.