Why the old rules of marketing are dead

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By Eric Fulwiler, Executive Director, London, VaynerMedia

Change offers opportunity and vulnerability depending on how you react to it. Those who do not adapt to changes in the market will lose – those who take advantage of change will win and those who take advantage of change quickly, will win more.

We are living through a massive time of disruption in the marketing landscape. The disruption that is being driven by technology; the mobile phone in particular. Mobile has completely restructured how people consume content, shape opinions, and make purchases.


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This isn’t the first time this disruption has happened. In the 1960s we lived through a similar upheaval in the consumer and business landscape when the television became mainstream. As the television replaced the radio as the primary device for consumer attention, the change created opportunity and vulnerability for brands of the time.

Some of the biggest brands in the world that had been built on the back of radio and print advertising started to go into a decline. Challenger brands who adapted quickly to the new landscape of TV grew into some of the biggest brands in the world today.

This cycle is happening all over again with the mobile device. Businesses that cling to the status quo of TV and digital 1.0 will be challenged by businesses who understand how to leverage modern marketing.


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The world of consumer attention is a massively different place than it was ten years ago, and yet so many businesses are marketing like it’s 2008, not 2018! Businesses who want to win in 2018, 2019, 2020 need to adapt to the realities of today and not be beholden to the status quo of marketing, which was a model built for another time.

Brands that are challengers are winning, which are those who rewrite the rules of modern day marketing to be mobile-first, consumer-first, and built for speed. These challengers are building their businesses by buying underpriced attention in places like social media.

They are making content that adds value to consumers, not commercials that steal people’s time. They hire talent, structure teams, and appoint partners who are able to move and react quickly in a world of constant change (and therefore constant opportunity).

As a business and marketing leader, a good mantra to live by is “try to put yourself out of business before someone else does”. Everyone but the category leader is a challenger (and even the leader should act like a challenger to keep that position).


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Challengers take advantage of the opportunity change presents by moving quickly, not being beholden to how things have been, and taking smart risks. They look at their own business, identify the vulnerabilities and try to attack them before a competitor does. So many businesses are vulnerable right now because they are following the old playbook. The status quo might help you not lose today, but it won’t help you win tomorrow.

Challenge the status quo by:

– Investing in channels that offer underpriced attention

– Thinking consumer-first in all your marketing

– Hiring and managing for speed above all else

Eric Fulwiler is the Executive Director of the London office of the digital agency VaynerMedia. He will be speaking at the 14th edition of Arabian Hotel Investment Conference, being held 17-19 April 2018 at the AHIC Village, Waldorf Astoria, Ras Al Khaimah.