Helping Today's Marketer Navigate Technology in Their Ever-Expanding Role
The role of today’s marketer is evolving so quickly that many are feeling immense pressure to stay on top of the converging forces and technology impacting our profession. And with this, the pace of change and widening skills gap are introducing new levels of complexity to our organizations. In an age when we need to do more with less, yet achieve growth, today’s marketers are finding themselves at the helm of some pretty significant change initiatives.
Whether you’re deepening your understanding of the marketing technology landscape, adapting your current skill sets, or looking to increase your company’s marketing capabilities and performance, the overall process might seem daunting at times.
The list below includes six key takeaways and several resources that you may find helpful as you navigate the world of marketing technology today.
1) Deepen Your Understanding of the Marketing Technology Landscape and the Latest Advancements in AI
To gain a better understanding of the ever-evolving marketing technology landscape, it's helpful to start by reviewing the various categories and having a view into the breadth of providers within each. Scott Brinker, a leading expert in the field, has been tracking the marketing technology landscape for over a decade, and his landscape maps can be an excellent starting point for marketers looking to familiarize themselves with the Martech ecosystem.
Today, there are approximately 11,038 providers in the marketing technology landscape. To navigate this vast landscape, an interactive website has been developed, allowing users to search and filter based on their specific needs. Keep in mind that the website is still in beta, so it may improve over time. You can access the interactive version of the supergraphic website at martechmap.com.
The recent advancements in AI are adding a new layer of complexity for marketers due to the rapid pace of change and exponential growth in the world. To address this, it's essential to work together and stay engaged while maintaining continuous learning models in our organizations to find solutions to new opportunities and potential threats.
Paul Roetzer, the Founder and CEO of the Marketing Artificial Intelligence Institute, is an impressive thought leader and changemaker in this space. I share a perspective that he expressed during a recent panel discussion at the Martech Conference, where he emphasized the need to rapidly accelerate the comprehension of what AI is capable of doing and what its limitations are, to ensure that organizations can make informed decisions around staffing and investments.
“ChatGPT woke everyone up to AI, so we're all testing the tools. There’s pressure on CMOs and CEOs, from boards and from investors to figure out AI. Everyone needs to have a plan. And you have a bunch of leaders who don’t understand the underlying technology who now have to make decisions around staffing...And if you don’t understand the underlying technology and that it makes stuff up, doesn’t know facts, and its actually just predicting words - it can’t replace the human knowledge and experience. But if you don’t know that, your just going to make quick decisions. So I think that we need to rapidly accelerate the comprehension of what AI is and what it’s capable of doing, what’s it’s limitations are, but also to come to grips with where it’s going.”
Understanding the underlying technology is key to making informed decisions about which solutions are best suited for your business needs. I highly recommend his course, Piloting AI for Marketers Series. It is well worth the time and investment.
By developing a deeper understanding of the marketing technology landscape and familiarizing yourself with some of the latest strategies, tools, and implications, you can make more informed decisions and stay ahead of the curve.
2) Emphasize the Importance of a Focused Strategy when Exploring Marketing Technology Platforms
Many marketers are exploring marketing solutions that combine products and services. However, it's important to remember that automation alone is not a strategy. While automation can streamline processes and improve efficiency, it's crucial to have a clear strategy that prioritizes customers and users and puts them at the center of your approach.
In my experience, the "shiny new tool syndrome" can pose a challenge when marketing technology platforms and teams aren't properly aligned with the organization or onboarded correctly. Some buyers may hastily decide on a purchase, lured by the promise of exponential growth. However, the absence of a solid strategy, coupled with incomplete business and technical requirements and poor implementation, can strain stakeholder relationships, as well as negatively impact the bottom line. Furthermore, it can damage team morale due to their inability to meet unrealistic expectations. To avoid potential pitfalls when implementing marketing technology, it's essential to follow these key principles:
Develop Your Strategy and Set Expectations: Clearly define your goals and objectives and set expectations before choosing a marketing solution. Without a clear understanding of what you want to achieve, you may end up choosing the wrong solution or failing to utilize its capabilities fully. Implementing a solution requires focus, support, and commitment, so don't underestimate the complexity and resources that might be required.
Ensure Leadership, Partner, and Stakeholder Support: Leadership support is essential to secure the necessary resources, budget, and prioritization to implement the solution effectively. Not only is this important for the enterprise, but this is true for the solution provider as well. Stakeholder support helps ensure that the solution meets the needs and requirements of the organization as a whole.
Select the Right Talent and Team Members with Passion and a Capacity to Learn: Marketing and automation tools require not only strategic marketers but also a certain level of digital and technological expertise to operate and maintain effectively. As the market evolves and new features are added, ongoing learning will be necessary to keep up with the latest advancements and ensure that the tools are being used to their full potential. Additionally, it is important to select team members who are passionate about the work and willing to continually develop their skills in order to drive success for the organization.
Collaborate with IT and Other Teams: As marketing technology continues to evolve and integrate with other systems, it's important to collaborate with IT and other teams to ensure seamless integration and alignment with overall business goals. Make sure not to overlook the importance of data integration and data management, which are crucial for ensuring the accuracy and reliability of MarTech solutions.
Create a Focused Onboarding Plan: Develop a plan to ensure you have the right support and agile processes in place to respond to your insights post-launch.
Participate in Ongoing Training: Include ongoing training for you and your team, as many platforms include this in their offering. Review and customize the right focus areas and cadence for your team.
By following these principles, you will be better equipped to realize the full potential of marketing automation platforms and maximize the benefits of these powerful tools to drive better results for your company.
3) Continuously Develop Your, and Your Team’s Marketing Skill Sets
While marketing leaders may not need to be marketing technologists, there is significant value in understanding the inner workings of some of these marketing systems. By gaining hands-on experience and knowledge, leaders can develop a deeper understanding of a system's functionality and its potential to implement growth strategies. This understanding also enables more effective communication with cross-functional teams and solution providers.
One marketing automation platform that exemplifies this well is Hubspot. In addition to emphasizing the importance of a focused strategy, they align the functionality of their platform to serve the inbound methodology based on unique buyer personas and the buyer's journey. Hubspot's educational resources also provide guidance on best practices and setting SMART goals to ensure a clear line of sight to growth and measurable performance.
Hubspot does an exceptional job of educating its users, creating a community, and reinforcing the need to stay strategically focused. The user interface, educational resources, and customer service are exceptional, making it a valuable tool for launching new capabilities and improving business performance.
These considerations are crucial for those interested in effectively and efficiently driving growth through marketing technology.
4) Develop “Scalable Peer Learning” Solutions and Leverage Resources Created for Today’s Marketers
I have long admired John Hagel, and his ideas about scalable peer learning and knowledge transfer are as relevant today as they were when he first wrote about them. In his writing on The Big Shift, he highlighted the need for new techniques to access and accumulate resources to enable flexible, peer-based learning.
Several platforms mentioned above aim to address this need, providing ongoing support, training programs, content libraries, and niche communities. These solutions are helping to solve the challenges associated with peer-based learning and knowledge sharing. For those interested in exploring this topic further, I recommend reading, Unlocking Innovation and Fostering a Culture of Growth in the Digital Age.
5) Stay Agile and Grow by Adapting at Speed
It is evident that to succeed in today's marketing landscape, it is crucial to possess key traits such as agility, adaptability, and a strong team. However, for sustained growth and success in the future, organizations must also ensure they have the right decision-makers, management, culture, processes, and infrastructure in place.
As the pace of change continues to accelerate, businesses must be prepared to make necessary adjustments to their operations, structures, and business models. A unified marketing team, committed partners, strong cross-departmental relationships, mentorship, training, and effective learning systems are essential for achieving this.
By prioritizing these elements, today's marketers and business leaders will be better equipped to lead, adapt, and thrive in a world of increasing complexity.