Simplify your martech stack

I attended the Marketing Association’s B2B meetup and here’s my write-up on the event.

Key learnings

  • Use what you have to the fullest extent – all functionality
  • Simplify your stack NOW
  • Check your use case matches your technology
  • Bring the team with you – upskill them to be confident using technology

Match your MarTech Stack to your needs

Technology is an essential component for successful B2B marketing – but the plethora of choices is beyond confusing – it’s daunting.

The Marketing Association’s Special Interest Group for B2B marketing hosted a panel discussion “Does your martech stack fit your needs?” to tackle this giant question head on.

Ably led by Cassandra Powell (Assurity), the panel shared their insights and experiences using technology to support marketing activity.

Find the right tools

Half the panel confessed that they were in the process of simplifying their technology at the moment. Traverna Addenbrook (Spark) assesses each based on whether it supports Spark’s data unification goal while Sharn Piper (Attain) always matches the tool to the job which needs to be done and then tries to use that tool to its fullest extent.

Datacom’s Alex Mercer confessed that when she joined they had 220 websites! Her team are integrating platforms in support of their brand development. Getting the data talking across platforms is a sizeable job. Simon Wedde (Stitch Tech) strongly advocated seeking native integrations between different software tools and to never use custom integrations, because one software update can cause you headaches. He also recommend to use your own data when doing demos of new tools so you can assess tech platforms’ suitability to your unique use case.

Bring the team with you

Many marketers inherit ‘hangover’ software which is already in place. This is not necessarily a disaster because if you assess the adoption rates for each, you’ll quickly be able to make a case for getting rid of the ones you don’t like or have become outdated. By surveying your team and understanding the landscape of actual use Travena managed to simplify her stack and improve both the integrations and the processes which support the marketing team. She had a word of caution about fear. Some team members may not use technologies which are in place and you need to understand your team’s capability around each tool before deciding which to sunset out of the tech stack.

Get the most out of your stack

Many marketers already know that we use only a small percentage of the capability of the software tools we buy. Relax says Simon, just use that part really well – but also build your use cases to confirm that the tools are aligned with business needs.  It’s important to understand where your data is and how clean and up-to-date it is says Traverna. She reminded the meeting that sometimes things turn out in unpredictable ways – this isn’t a disaster. Don’t blame the model is her advice. If you understand data lag and the implications you will not have any trouble explaining to stakeholders what happened and why. If you’ve already done your internal PR with these folks you can remind them why they invested in this tool, that they should trust your marketing process and trust you. Marketers need to be comfortable around technology so they’re empowered to make informed decisions.

What about AI?

Sharn is not worried about AI tools replacing marketers, but he is worried about a marketer who knows the AI tools better than you replacing your job. The AI itself is not what you should be concerned about. His team is already running tests using AI to save time or money in the business. Get it done, know what works and what fails and build your knowledge about how to write AI prompts.

Rebecca Caroe

Member of the B2B Special Interest Group Board

Adoption curves for MarTech

This past week has seen a “Sweeper Wave” of coinciding reading and researches which tell me one new thing – podcasting for business content marketing is now going mainstream.

First let me explain the sweeper waves – I was on holiday on the Coromandel Coast and a sea swell off the west coast caused occasionally huge waves to come right up the beach nearly to the high tide mark – even when the tide was half out.  These had large volumes of water inside them and so had great forward momentum and a strong undertow when they receded.  While I watched, people paddling knee deep got caught off guard and swept off their feet and the wave also soaked their clothes higher up the beach – one lady broke her hip being tumbled by the wave and the air ambulance was called out.

podcast studio, auckland podcast, podcast for business, NZ podcasts

I reflected on the sweeper waves and see them as a metaphor for change in marketing and business.

Hemingway’s insight into change (or bankruptcy) is that it happens slowly and then all at once.  They key is knowing whether what you are seeing is at the early-adopter or just-going-mainstream stage.  I have followed the rise of electric vehicles assiduously since watching Tony Seba’s illustration of Fifth Avenue, New York.  These two photos are taken 13 years apart.  What happened in between?  Change.  Disruption.

[Side note, Tony is an investor in New Zealand startups]

Like a sweeper wave, some people get caught unawares.  My attempt to avoid this is to watch out for “recurring themes” in tech, marketing, and business.  The rest of this article is about my recent finds.  Some connect, others are remarkable for different reasons.  

I’ve been podcasting since 2013 and during the latter part of 2018 I saw major brands using the medium for their content marketing – McKinsey, The Economist Intelligence Unit and CapGemini.  This tells me that content marketing is expanding into the audio medium.  There are advantages and disadvantages to this.  Few brands have enough to say that doesn’t involve their competitors (which they are probably unwilling to discuss in public forum) compared to independent commentators who can speak more freely.  And this fact alone will deter many brands from podcasting.  There are other opportunities for content marketing using audio which are less ’traditional’ than a weekly radio show which brands can usefully use.

My podcast interview with Bob Weir author of “Why Businesses Fail” was published by Access Granted NZ.  His book is a must-read for founders, investors and board members for the insights into the human psyche and how it contributes to business. Business failures are usually preceded by identifiable problems.  Analysing problems at the macro level was an observation which led to me writing Problem Solving for Marketing. The insight connecting these is that correctly identifying the type of problem first, aides finding the right solution.  Is your business situation a “mess”; a “problem”; or a “puzzle”?

If you use email marketing and CRM in your business, here is a very nicely written summary of how one startup uses funnels, lead nurturing, and incorporating Net Promotor Score too.  I don’t know the team but they are a young venture and so starting from scratch has advantages.  A word of warning; anecdotally, Active Campaign is said to be less user-friendly than other comparable software.  [If you want to compare software user views, always check out Trust Radius run by Vinay Baghat – it’s independent and user-led.] 

And although this case study looks amazing, very few brands that I meet use automation, business process flows or sales funnels to this extent.  How does this reflect on the adoption curve for CRM, which I was working on with Peppers and Rogers back in 1997?  Maybe some firms will never use marketing automation or sales lead scoring.

Writing a presentation for the Penrose Business Association brought me to confront my lack of skill using traditional presentation software.  I have found two alternatives Beautiful and Stun, one American and the other Kiwi.  

Finally – the joke’s on you for the Mars Rover whose batteries may have died after 15 years – Brendan Boughan’s Cartoons by Jim captures it perfectly. and flashes back to 1997 when we first got Mars fever and the creatives at HP had a similar vibe going.  One of my favourite laugh-out-loud adverts of the time.