Connected marketing (CM) is an evolutionary approach to marketing communications – and to all business operations. It involves businesses connecting and collaborating with people (employees, customers, consumers, etc.) rather than commanding and controlling them.

The journey to define, manage and measure CM, and evolve into it the marketing – and increasingly business – theory and methodology it has become today, started in 2002 when Justin Kirby founded an online discussion forum. The forum comprised a global group of academics, consultants and agencies working in ‘non-traditional/alternative marketing’, as anything other than ‘traditional’ PR, DM, sales promotion and advertising techniques was then called.

The forum participants debated long and hard about viral, buzz and word-of-mouth (WOM) marketing – definitions, similarities, differences, ethics, measurement and more. They also shared their practical experiences of research and work projects conducted during 2002-2003.

A core group of people in the forum decided to form the international Viral + Buzz Marketing Association (VBMA) which was launched in May 2003. The crystallisation or connection of its members’ thinking resulted in the VBMA issuing the first set of official trade body guidelines about the definitions, uses and usefulness of viral, buzz and WOM marketing. The VBMA members also continued to pool experiences and resources, and share them with other practitioners in their emerging field.

In 2006, the book ‘Connected Marketing: The Viral, Buzz and Word of Mouth Revolution’ was published, after its creation was driven by co-editors Justin Kirby and Paul Marsden. Practising what it preaches, the book was the result of a year and a half of connection and collaboration between 17 CM academics, consultants and practitioners (all VBMA members) from around the world. Their opinions, analyses and hands-on experiences are described therein, representing the first holistic presentation of the principles and practices of CM.

The book not only launched CM as a theory and methodology, but also launched the term ‘connected marketing’ (coined by Dave Chaffey during a discussion with Justin), describing it as “an umbrella term for any kind of marketing – from product research and development, through production, to promotion by any means, including traditional advertising – that creates target market conversations that add measurable value to a business”.

CM is now evolving to espouse core changes not only in marketing principles and practices, but also ultimately in the way businesses operate at every level across every role, leading to a customer-driven ‘connected business’ model.

To find out more, stay connected to this site. It is managed by DMC, and was launched in 2005. It was redeveloped in 2007 in response to CM industry research feedback, which has highlighted several emerging themes that are being explored further in Series 2 of our exclusive podcast interviews with specialist CM academics and practitioners.

Justin Kirby

Justin started his career in the mid-80s working on groundbreaking multimedia installation projects, including the famous Herbie Hancock video robotics models.

Justin founded CM consultancy Digital Media Communications (DMC) in 1994, and he co-founded the international Viral & Buzz Marketing Association in 2003.

He is co-editor and author of the 2006 book ‘Connected Marketing: The Viral, Buzz and Word of Mouth Revolution’. He writes regularly for international publications about various aspects of CM, and is invited to speak about CM at conferences around the world.