A recent article from The Harvard Business Review claims, “Marketing is dead, and Loyalty killed it.” This is a bold statment and also completely wrong and misguided. One sentence illustrates the author’s need of a dictionary, “Instead, there is loyalty, which requires communicating brand values that people want to be affiliated with.” Uh, last time I checked “communicating brand values” is one of the tenets of marketing.
The author’s proof that Marketing is dead – Apple had record earnings last quarter fueled by their unmatched customer loyalty. Other examples include J. Crew and Chipotle. These are well-established brands that got to where they are by (Here’s a shocker!) great marketing. By the way, Apple’s advertising budget for FY 2012 was a measly $1 billion. I wonder why the author left this out.
Most businesses and startups can’t rely on the loyalty of their small or, in the case of start-ups, non-existent customer base to keep their doors open. They need to continually attract new customers while delighting their existing customers.
Any good marketer will tell you that loyalty is an integral and many times overlooked part of a well-designed marketing plan. Right down the road from Harvard, two guys from MIT will teach you that what the author is really talking about is the final stage of the Inbound Marketing methodology.
Inbound Marketing leads strangers down the sales funnel with relevant, informative and timely content. You attract strangers, turn them into leads and ultimately into customers, aka the buyer’s journey. Once they are customers, only then, can you turn them into loyal promoters of your brand with surveys, promotions and customer service.