The Old Rules of Marketing are Dead

In a post-Great Recession world of constant and unrelenting technology-driven change—change that has impacted so many around the world, not only in the developed countries and the emerging BRIC nations (Brazil, Russia, India, and China) but also the third world—one thing has remained firmly rooted and mired in the past: the way products and services are marketed and sold.

Marketing Then

You are undoubtedly familiar with the old ways of marketing. You were taught them in undergraduate or graduate school, as an intern or first-year junior marketing or sales associate. Consequently, you have probably seen the old rules put into practice. The old way of doing things can be summarized as: (1) Budgets define strategy. (2) A brand is just a brand. (3) It’s all about the qualitative research. (4) Advertising is the answer. (5) Marketing results cannot be measured. And, (6) Technology isn’t for everyone.  

As a result of the rapid advancements in technology and the depth and breadth of information that is readily—if not instantaneously—to buyers, as well as available to marketers to power and propel profitable sales and increase revenues, marketing should have changed. But it hasn’t. It remains rooted in the not-too-distant past.

The New Age of Marketing


Marketing in this new data-abundant, Internet-oriented world order requires more than a shallow or superficial understanding of the customer or consumer—and more than simply “getting on” the new technology. It requires understanding that the old ways of marketing are dead. The fundamentals have changed, as have the means and methods to define targets, to create more productive encounters that provide more opportunities to sell, to develop deeper and more significant insights, and to exploit singular points of difference.

The Rules of Reinvention

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Reinvention begins at a brand’s core essence and is constructed from there. It is not change that is artificially created or imposed externally—nor is it change for its own sake. Rather, it is rooted in six overarching rules (and 23 underlying principles) that encompass a new way of examining and scrutinizing marketing—and undertaking and optimizing revenue growth initiatives.

Rule One: The Core Is Everything

Reinvention begins with understanding just what a product or service is at its core. More often than not, lost in the new go-to-market processes, distribution channels and sales methodologies is the need to define the true core essence of the product or service that is being marketed.

Rule Two: You Have Nothing Without the Foundation

Reinvention is not an art, nor is it a science—it’s both. Once the core essence of a brand, product, or service has been determined (that’s part of the art), it’s necessary to develop the foundation for creating and reinventing a brand’s unique points of differentiation, positioning, value proposition and architecture (that’s part of the science).

Rule Three: There Are Many Choices but Only One Customer

Reinvention does a product or service no good if it’s not effectively and efficiently conveyed and shared with the key audience—the potential buyer or acquirer of that product or service. In this new world of ever-propagating web sites and social networks it’s crucial to determine the all-encompassing plan for going to market and creating the metrics (and on-going continuous evaluation and refinement) to ensure or exceed a targeted return on investment.

Rule Four: Do The Right Things for the Right Reasons

Reinvention requires an understanding of the circumstance and context in which the product or service is taken to market. There are no shortcuts or easy fixes. There is a need to make sure there are no unexpected or unanticipated barriers or constraints. These could involve regulatory issues; reputational concerns; shifting customer, client, or prospect relationships, wants and desires; and new emerging technologies and competitors.

Rule Five: Infrastructure Is More than Just Pipes

Reinvention begins with a product or service, but it does not end there. It directly impacts and shapes the operating infrastructure that supports it. Today, as a product or service is taken to market, it becomes critically important to focus on the type of new technology-oriented support necessary for successful implementation. There must be a clear and undiluted understanding of the role marketing is to play in the company or enterprise and the creation of the right type of marketing organization­—and utilization and exploitation of Internet-centric and business analytic-based tools.

Rule Six: Lead and Others Will Follow

Marketing must demonstrate leadership to make certain that reinvention is not only seen as contributing to the bottom line, but in fact does so successfully. Beyond that, it must continue to contribute time-and-time again over a long period with ever-increasing efficiency and effectiveness to drive profitable revenue growth.

The Memo Marketers Missed

In this new world order, marketers have no choice but to reinvent their brands to keep pace with a changing and global marketplace. They need to know what those brands are at the core because if they don’t, in all likelihood target audiences won’t know either. The result of failure at any level is that audiences simply won’t buy the products or services—initially or with the frequency that the company or enterprise desires. Remember, the all-critical goal is profitable sales, growing brands, and increased market share.

Simply, there is a new way of doing things and when executed properly and successfully, marketing can help businesses reinvent themselves to win in this new global marketplace. But, it requires that marketers throw out much that they hold dear and embrace technology, a new role, and real accountability—wholeheartedly. Reinvention requires fundamental change.

Author: Timothy R. Pearson is founder and president of Pearson Advisors || Partners, a marketing management consulting firm serving Fortune 1000 and brand-driven clients; a highly sought advisor to senior management; and a frequent keynote speaker at industry conferences, at leadership meetings, and on the lecture circuit. The rules that are summarized in this post along with the 23 underlying principles are explored in greater depth in his new book  The Old Rules of Marketing are Dead: 6 New Rules to Reinvent Your Brand & Reignite Your Business. (McGraw-Hill 2011) Visit

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