I don’t know many marketers who’ve made the move from the relatively traditional world of brand marketing into the ever-expanding, ever-changing and complex world of marketing technology.
That’s exactly what I’ve just done, moving from a marketing role at a leading consumer health and vitamin brand to one at a data-driven marketing tech company. Moving from popping pills to dropping cookies.
For me, it made complete sense, I wanted to broaden my skillset and become less of a digital dinosaur. One hundred days in and I’ll be honest, I could never have imagined the depth of the chasm between brand marketing and the martech industry.
However, the biggest realisation is the gap between what marketers should know and what they actually do know, which is one of the biggest challenges facing brand marketers in all categories globally.
Why is there such a ‘great divide’? For a start, I think it’s like putting a Model T Ford driver in a 747 cockpit and asking them to fly the damn thing. We’ve gone from the four Ps to a full cockpit interface extremely fast. Some marketers have kept pace and many (including myself) simply haven’t.
My newness to the martech space lends me a wide-eyed perspective on how martech and marketers are apparently working to different playbooks.
I’m sure I’m not alone in admitting I’ve sat for years in meetings pretending to know what various digital experts were saying, only to exit promptly and seek out Google to find out WTF they were talking about. Or avoiding discussions with senior stakeholders about a potential digital proposal because you can’t intelligently explain it. But trust me, I know now this behaviour is common in brand-land and is far more prevalent than the martech industry truly understands. It’s a great opportunity for both parties.
Martech providers should know one thing – broadly speaking, marketers know a lot less about marketing technology than you give them credit for. There’s a serious piece of market education to be done and I’ve no doubt that any investment of time and resources from martech providers will pay off.
Contributing to the ‘great divide’ is the lack of synergy between what the martech industry likes to think and talk about, and what marketers see as their big day-to-day issues. In my short time, key topics such as viewability, fraud, brand safety and cross-device attribution are daily discussions.
Undoubtedly, these are important technical issues we need to solve to enhance the level of service we offer our clients. What’s missing though is simple and agnostic recommendations to brands on what to do about it and why.
What’s being discussed in day-to-day marketing meetings is often topics such as ‘How do we use data to drive insights?’ ‘How do we remain omnipresent to the relevant consumer, at the relevant time, with the relevant message in our fragmented landscape?’ ‘How do we better understand our consumer journey?’ ‘How do we measure success and drive ROI?’ ‘How do we make sure our agency is transparent?’ Notice how viewability, fraud and brand safety aren’t among the top concerns?
So, what would I do differently if I could wave my magic wand?
The biggest recommendation to current brand marketers is simply to be a bit more vulnerable and honest. Fess up to your knowledge gap and stop fearing the technology world. I’d encourage marketers to get much more curious and disciplined in the time they set aside to read/learn/meet experts in the space, to accelerate knowledge gap closure.
Consumer journeys and the marketing ecosystem are now incredibly large and complex, and it’s unwise to rely solely on your agency partners to be your source of advice and education.
Discover who the best players are and invite them in – they would welcome this with open arms and be invaluable in guiding you through the uncertainty. Just be careful not to pick bottom feeders who will hard-sell you to death.
I also strongly believe that agencies have a key role to play here as well. They need to become true partners in this space to facilitate a direct relationship between suppliers and clients. No more keeping your cards close to your chest to maintain control. You lost control some time ago and it’s a good thing. The three parties working together is the future, to create alignment and collective focus on real business outcomes that matter.
These things work both ways. On the other side of the divide, I’d encourage martech providers to bring it all back down to earth – simple language, clear benefits, live examples and proof of effectiveness. The real cut-through is to demonstrate clearly how you can solve real business problems. Assume nothing and avoid the temptation to sell your kit for a quick win!
You’ll also have to drop any reservations about ‘lifting the hood’ on your tech, which marketers will increasingly demand as trust erodes in technologies with a degree of mystery.
There’s so much noise, spin and jargon in the martech space but it’s not impenetrable. In my first 100 days, I’m starting to see the wood for the trees. Even more encouraging, is the amazing work being done to better understand consumer journeys and drive real business outcomes around key metrics such as new customer acquisition, life time value and churn management.
Connecting the dots more closely between brand marketers, agencies and martech suppliers is a great thing, a necessary thing and the good news is it can be done.
By Jodie Koning, APAC marketing director at RadiumOne
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