Consultant Bill Lee declared the death of marketing at the Harvard Business Review last week, and he has some pretty fierce facts to back up his bombastic claim – most notably that buyers buy very differently today than they did a decade or so ago, and that CEOs think most marketers are dimwits.

If you’re a marketer and neither of your two key audiences has any confidence in what you do any longer, yeah, maybe you’re dead.

And that’s how I would parse Lee’s claim that marketing is dead – I’m saying that marketing is not dead, but rather that old school marketing thinking is.

Back in the day, CMOs needed a big advertising budget to succeed. They needed money to hire an ad agency, money to hire a PR firm, money to buy media, and money for two hour lunches. They were glorified project managers – and the ones who were glorified were the ones who had the biggest budgets.

Now, marketing is relationship-based – what is the relationship your brand has with your customers? Do you offer them value and demonstrate that you care? Or do you make it clear that your main objective is winning advertising awards?

You used to be able to bludgeon your audience into buying your product with a gargantuan ad buy. Now, you can raise brand awareness this way, but the sales process is much more consumer-directed than ever before; customers move along the sales funnel at their own pace, educating themselves a long time before you ever hear from them.

The people who buy your product or service already have a voice in your industry; thanks to social media, they can build you up or take you down. Of course, everybody already knows that. At least intellectually.

But do you act on this realization? Or are you applying old school marketing principles to today’s finesse-oriented consumer-driven marketplace?

If so, then marketing isn’t dead; you are.