February 18, 2015 Tom Allin

If Loyalty Killed Marketing, It’s In Trouble.

When I was still a young advertiser, I came across an article, entitled “Marketing Is Dead.” Still being new to the profession, I panicked and immediately sent the article to the agency’s CEO. I needed to spread the word that The End had come.

Of course, Marketing is still alive. And, if anything, I’ve learned two things: 

  1. Marketing is predicted to die fairly regularly – and, fairly regularly, it does not die.
  2. Articles declaring, “_________ is Dead” are like pop songs. They’re everywhere and, like them or not, we can’t turn away when we see (or hear) them.

So, this past weekend, despite knowing better, I of course took the bait and clicked on “Marketing Is Dead, and Loyalty Killed It.

And, surprisingly, the article was quite good – and matched a number of thoughts I had shared a few weeks ago in a death-themed blog I wrote about loyalty. Specifically, I do agree with the author that “People expect convenience from a transaction, but what they crave is meaning.” This is true – and resonates with our feelings here about finding emotion in every brand with which we work.

That said, comparing traditional advertising to “a marketer’s thundering from the top of a mountain like the voice of God” falls flat. In some cases, sure, marketing can suck and not work, but I would argue that really effective traditional advertising isn’t like that at all.

Consider one of Apple’s early iPod ads. I would argue (if nothing else from personal experience) that this ad (and others in the series) was extremely effective in setting the stage for what Apple was about. It wasn’t a sales pitch; it was an invitation to join a party, and I, for one, wanted in.

Mr. Jutkowitz gives the following advice:

Of course, not every company is Apple. Letting the products do all the talking won’t work for everyone. But here is the takeaway that can work for every brand: try de-emphasizing traditional marketing and focusing on loyalty instead.

Apple is where it is today for two reasons. First, as Mr. Jutkowitz notes, it designs and creates excellent products but, second, it made some totally awesome ads that laid the foundation for what it is today.

So, yes, loyalty is hugely important (and I’m all for tactics that cater to it), but it’s important to remember that consumers don’t just become loyal overnight. You’ve got to show, tell and, yes, market, why your brand is worthy of someone’s loyalty in the first place.

Marketing isn’t dead, and loyalty didn’t kill it. They need each other way too much.

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