grim reaperFor years, I've believed that the notion of a marketing 'campaign' is dead. And I’m not the only one who thinks it. In the words of Joseph Jaffe, “Marketing is not a campaign, it's a commitment.” And Eric Wheeler wrote in the AdAge article "Ad Campaigns Are Dead," “Power has shifted away from brands to consumers ... Suddenly, it's no longer about the campaign.”
Paul Dunay has written, "there is no campaign in social media," while Joe Pulizzi said in a video interview that "content marketing is not a campaign, it is a promise to our customers." Even Bill Lee, in his Harvard Business Review article, "Marketing Is Dead," said, "Traditional marketing may be dead, but the new possibilities of peer influence-based, community-oriented marketing ..." (which some of us might call 'inbound marketing' ... wink wink) “... hold much greater promise for creating sustained growth through authentic customer relationships.”
Finally, three years ago, Brian Halligan wrote in his 2010 marketing wish list, "My blood curdles every time I hear someone talk about doing a 'social media campaign' or 'blog campaign.' Blogs and social media behave like compound interest, so if you treat them like 'campaigns,' you lose all the benefits. Marketers should be permanently creating, optimizing, promoting, converting, and analyzing."
So, if the marketing campaign is dead, why is it dead, and what do we do now? Let’s start off with some of the reasons why it's dead ...

Campaigns are temporary, but today, the internet is forever.

Traditionally, ads would last as long as you paid for them to be aired on TV or printed in a newspaper or magazine. Now, people can read your blog posts from 2006 and watch your music videos from 2007. So what exactly does this mean? Well, it means that you might not want to use an animated lizard in a campaign for six months, and then use a spotted dog in some ads for the next three months ... and then use a talking baby in some ads for the next four months. Consistency and commitment to your brand, message, and voice is increasingly important when all the content you've ever created is completely accessible to anyone at any time. If you're all about the talking babies campaign now but what pops up for people in Google is lizard videos, are you really promoting the campaign you think you are?

Campaigns are about you, but today, (inbound) marketing is about the customer.

Marketing used to involve a company deciding what they wanted to brainwash their potential buyers with, and then programming that message into advertisements they would force feed to people because they had no choice. Now, the consumer is in control. Consumers have more and more technologies like DVRs, caller ID, and spam blockers that enable them to avoid unwanted advertising and messages. This means that, in order to get their attention, you have to earn their permission. As a result, your marketing needs to be about them, not you -- at least until they trust you enough to want to know more about you and your products. If your campaigns are about what your company wants to tell people, then you’re doing inbound marketing backwards.

Campaigns are planned and slow, but today, conversation is dynamic and responsive.

In the old world of marketing, you could run a campaign of ads that promoted your product, and then you could turn off all of your marketing for a while. You could stop and start on a whim. Today, once you start engaging with people, they expect you to be there in the future. And when you do inbound marketing right, you become a publisher or a media company for your industry. Imagine if you started publishing a business blog, or engaging with potential customers on Facebook, and then one day you just stopped showing up? In today’s inbound world, that would be akin to a TV network going off the air one day just because they got lazy. Sure, you can do it -- but it is not a great idea. People expect responses when they contact you on your website or blog or in social media, and when they subscribe to something you publish, they expect to get regular updates on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis -- whatever you promised them. Joseph Jaffe is right. "Marketing is a commitment."

What next? Where do I go from here?

Start by making a commitment to inbound marketing. Stop the madness of coming up with an entirely new theme and creative concept every three months. Start having a long-term view of your brand, message, and voice -- and what value your company can add to your industry. Stop blasting and interrupting people with advertisements about you. Start being helpful and interesting. Start listening. Start communicating. Start publishing. Stop advertising. Start marketing.
What do you think? Is the marketing campaign dead?