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The circle is complete – brand is back in fashion

I’ve just had confirmation that marketing is, after all, a fashion industry. This ‘road to Damascus’ moment took place at the...

I’ve just had confirmation that marketing is, after all, a fashion industry. This ‘road to Damascus’ moment took place at the Association of Online Publishing’s first B2B event, listening to a panel discussion of media agencies about buyer trends. The panel seemed particularly keen to talk about the growing relevance of emotion in engagement, so I asked the question, “Are buyers still preoccupied with leads, or are they starting to refocus on their brands?” The answer, pretty universally, was that there is a migration back towards brands.

While hardly a scientific analysis, this response confirmed what I had been hearing anecdotally for some time: the obsession with leads that began with the rise of demand generation in the mid-noughties, and fuelled by the credit crunch, is starting to wane – and may even be on its way out. Branding is back in fashion – marketing has gone full circle.

But while hem-lines may rise and fall just because they can, changes in marketing fashion are not entirely fickle. Therefore, the key question regarding this apparent swing back towards brand is ‘why?’. The panel suggested it was because B2B companies were simply unable to make use of the leads they were getting, because they didn’t have the right processes and tech in place. Consequently, much marketing investment was wasted.

They also pointed out there’s only so long that any organisation can focus purely on leads – ultimately it will need the brand equity to justify the investment and convince the client to chose one organisation over another.

So, is the writing on the wall for demand generation? No, certainly not. But it does reflect a rebalancing of priorities – and I’m sure it’s no coincidence that it comes at a time in the economic cycle when the worst appears to be over.

Demand generation has taught marketing much about how to prove its worth to the organisation, and – barring another credit crunch – the resonance and relevance of these lessons is unlikely to dissipate any time soon.

 

Click to view our video report from the AOP B2B event.