Interruptive marketing bad? Disruptive marketing good?

Or is it the other way around?

Interrupt and disrupt both derive from the Latin word rumpere, meaning “to break.” Some say interruptive marketing is bad because it breaks into consumers’ daily routines. Some say disruptive marketing is good for the same reason.


Interruptive marketing is the term lead-generation (aka content and inbound) advocates use to denigrate every other marketing channel in existence except search and social media.

Their point is this: Interruptive marketing reaches consumers at inopportune times and without their permission. You are watching a TV show and a commercial interrupts. You are out for a drive and a billboard interrupts. You are catching up with friends on Facebook and an ad interrupts. Lead-generation proponents say consumers are rejecting interruptive marketing in growing numbers.

This, despite the fact that, historically, interrupting someone in order to get their attention has been the first step in selling.

Instead of interrupting, lead-generation marketers recommend engaging with prospects at the moment they are actively looking for relevant information — typically when searching online.

Interrupting is bad, they say. Disrupting, however, appears to be good.

At the Disruption in Marketing blog, disruption is defined as anything that interrupts behavioral patterns and makes consumers reconsider their buying decisions.

The term disruptive marketing may be a spinoff of disruptive innovation, a phrase coined by Clayton Christiansen, professor at Harvard Business School, in his book, The Innovator’s Dilemma: When New Technologies Cause Great Firms to Fail.

He says disruptive innovators create new markets and value propositions, and eventually replace companies who are content to deliver a consistent brand experience for the sake of sustaining profitability.

His concept has been picked up and applied to branding strategy.

Jean-Marie Dru, chairman of TBWA Worldwide, wrote Disruption: Overturning Conventions and Shaking Up the Marketplace, a book about breaking down barriers to innovation in order to create revolutionary marketing strategies.

Richard Branson, founder and chairman of Virgin, said, “Disruption goes way beyond advertising. It forces you to think about where you want your brand to go and how to get there.”

“Dru’s advertising theories in Disruption are nontraditional, which is exactly what you need to regain the interest and trust of today’s consumers,” said Scott Bedbury, SVP of marketing at Starbucks.

Levi’s CMO, Jaime Szulc, told Direct Marketing News, “You not only have to be disruptive, you have to be disruptive in a way that is relevant on a very personal level. It creates energy so that people will get engaged.”

So are interruptive and disruptive bad or good? Consider the source of the opinions.

Most of those who disparage interruptive channels make a living as lead-generation, search engine, blogging or social media marketing consultants.

And most of those promoting disruptive marketing are brand strategists.

A post at Digital Tonto says, “… the question isn’t whether disruptive marketing is better than conventional marketing or the other way around, the question is how do we identify unconventional opportunities?  The answer is that you simply look for data that doesn’t make any sense.”

Disclaimer: Book titles in this post link to the Amazon Associates Program.

This entry was posted in advertising, interactive marketing, lead-generation marketing, mass media, roi, search engine marketing, social media, strategy.

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