Are You Prepared to Handle the Oncoming Martech Consolidation?

For those marketers who rely on marketing technologies while navigating an industry landscape that changes almost daily, here are four considerations to make when adapting to the oncoming martech consolidation.

In previous posts, I have often referred to the vast martech landscape as the land of shiny objects. This was a term of derision and admiration. The landscape is filled with amazing innovations. It also can overwhelm even the most tech-savvy marketers and cloud strategic thinking.

We marketers were often so enthralled by what we could do, we often lose sight of what we should do. Today, as the economic impact of COVID-19 grows, the effect on marketing technology spend will be significant. The martech landscape has been built on billions of speculative investments from private equity. However, most of these products were barely profitable, if at all, before COVID-19. Most of them are now burning significant cash, and they were never capitalized with a pandemic in mind.

Soon, investors will be making hard choices. Many martech solutions will be sold at huge discounts, some will close. I believe the much-anticipated industry consolidation is around the corner. This is not the way we wanted martech consolidation to happen, but this is the painful reality. For those marketers who rely on these technologies while navigating an industry landscape that changes almost daily, here are four considerations to make when adapting to the oncoming martech consolidation:

  1. Hire “The” technology expert. Many martech companies have implantation consultants; the best ones are often held closely and deployed on the most complex projects. This could be your opportunity to hire them. If new hires are not in the budget, perhaps a contracting agreement might work. In either case, if you have invested in the technology, why not invest a bit more for the right talent who will help you get the most out of your investment?
  2. If you are using a niche technology, reach out to your account rep. Find out how they are doing and what their plans are. If you have a good relationship with your rep, they will hopefully share any changes afoot, availability of on-going product support, the possibility of a sale or even closure.
  3. If you need to invest in new technology, look for solution providers with a broad base of active clients. (Notice the word “Active”). In some cases, one or two large clients can support a solution provider just fine. However, if typical license fees are $60,000 per year and the solution provider has a staff of 20 people, a broad base of clients will be critical for survival. (It’s just math.)
  4. The exceptions to No. 3 are cases where the solution provider has recently been acquired by a larger concern, especially post COVID-19. In such cases, someone with deep pockets thought enough of the technology to buy and invest in its survival. Although deep pockets do not always translate into smart money, it is enough of a reason to consider the technology seriously.

Those of us who have been keeping track of the martech universe know that the growth was unsustainable (There were over seven thousand solutions in the market as of 2019). The hope was that the best products would survive and eventually lead to industry consolidation. It seems that COVID-19 will abruptly end the natural evolution of the industry, for the time being. Innovations and investments will return, but exactly when is anyone’s guess.

In the meantime, we need to be kind and helpful to those who will be affected. In doing so, we may benefit from their wisdom, which was often drowned out in the previously noisy clamor of martech.

Is Identity Resolution the New, Must-Have Martech Solution?

There’s a bit of growing confusion and buzz in the martech space around the topic of identity resolution. It’s the new elixir being pitched as the critical additive to make your marketing technology stack work better, faster, and deliver better results. But is it?

There’s a bit of growing confusion and buzz in the martech space around the topic of identity resolution. It’s the new elixir being pitched as the critical additive to make your marketing technology stack work better, faster, and deliver better results. But is it?

For those of you familiar with the marketing technology space, every new solution comes with a blend of real value, hyperbole and needless complexity. Identity resolution is no different. Here I will try to unpack this relatively “new” capability and put it into perspective for marketing leaders. (Why did I put new in quotes? Keep reading to find out.)

What is Identity Resolution?

Identity resolution uses artificial intelligence (AI) to connect customer interactions and achieve a single customer view. The concept of capturing all customer interactions (marketing, engagements, sales, post sales), at the individual level, has been around for many years. However, achieving this goal has been very hard.

The reason is that customers interact with your brand across multiple channels (online and offline) while using multiple devices. Additionally, some interactions are anonymous or only provide limited identifiers. This interaction variability results in very complicated, disjointed customer data.

Until recently, most efforts at achieving a single customer view involved creating rules engines by which each interaction could be matched with other interactions and assigned to a single customer. Due to differences in the technology stack, channels employed, and the customer experience, rules engines had to be custom-built for each organization. This was expensive; enter AI.

Identity resolution uses AI in generating matching logic vs. using a team of analysts. The basic idea is to train the AI algorithm using known matches and then validate future correct matches the algorithm makes. This is why I refer to it as a “new” capability. In reality, it is only new because rules engines have been replaced by AI. For most marketers this change is only relevant if the match rates are better and the solution is cheaper than existing efforts are at achieving a Single Customer View.

What’s the Hype and Confusion About Identity Resolution?

While the addition of AI is innovative, it does not always translate into better match rates. Other major challenges with single customer view, such as the accurate collection of relevant data, still remain. AI, like any other analytic solution, also suffers from bad data and can put out spurious results. Therefore, verifying and validating AI matches is a task in and of itself.

The next issue to keep in mind is that identity resolution is probably not going to be sold as a separate solution in the near future. Within a short period of time, it will be integrated into larger martech solutions such as CRM or marketing clouds. Waiting to implement identity resolution could mean leaving the difficult task of systems integration to the cloud solution providers. However, the trade-off will be losing first mover advantage.

What Is the Value?

Single customer view has been the holy grail in marketing for good reason. With it, marketers can better understand the impact of interactions across the full customer experience life cycle. As an added benefit, marketers could also generate data-driven justifications for modifying or redesigning large segments of the customer experience. This will result in significant growth opportunities for your brand.

Despite the hype and confusion, identity resolution presents a great opportunity to finally achieve a single customer view. In theory, the introduction of AI should make identity resolution a desirable solution with better match rates and lowered costs. This means the evaluation of identity resolution tech is somewhat straight forward (though not necessarily easy).

The core evaluation question becomes, “Is the identity resolution solution cheaper and better at creating a single customer view vs. current efforts?”

Prospect Experience Marketing: Find the Gold in Your Lead Generation Program

I recently caught up with Dan McDade, a longtime B2B practitioner in lead qualification and nurturing. I’ve been a fan of his for years. Here, we talk about prospect experience marketing.

I recently caught up with Dan McDade, a longtime B2B practitioner in lead qualification and nurturing. I’ve been a fan of his for years. Here, we talk about prospect experience marketing.

Prospect Experience Marketing
Dan McDade

Having sold his call center business to a colleague, and started a new venture, McDade offered me some fresh ways of thinking about how to treat top prospects. His new business is called Prospect Experience.

Ruth P. Stevens: You’ve been involved in the lead generation world for a long time. How has it changed?

Dan McDade: The big changes have been in the use of marketing technology. Certainly, technology lets us deliver more leads to sales, faster than ever before. But just as often, these are bad leads. Lead generation success rests on quality — not quantity, and not speed.

Stevens: What are the top challenges that still vex B2B marketers today?

McDade: Companies tend to market too broadly. Messaging is overly focused on features and functions, or what some people call bits and bytes. Narrowing down the target universe, creating a differentiating message and delivering that message with the right media at the right time are all critically important requirements that elude many, if not most, marketers today.

Stevens: What’s working in lead gen and lead development? Your advice, please!

McDade: It is all about balance. We used to say that multi-touch, multi-media and multi-cycle marketing multiplied results. That is now called the “cadence,” and it works. The secret is in mixing up the media. You can’t depend entirely on email. You need balance. Use phone calls, voicemails, emails, and even some direct mail to invite prospects into a dialogue.

In my opinion, too much of the prospecting is being handled by a black box. Not enough marketing is truly one-to-one. For every prospect universe, something like 30 to 40% of those prospects should not be included in marketing automation campaigns, at all. These prospects are just too important to risk with a one-to-many approach. Senior executives don’t want to be treated like a pinball, where they only get your attention after they have hit the right bumpers and scored enough points.

Stevens: I see. That’s a very interesting and important point. How do you suggest marketers identify those high-value prospects early, so they can pull them out of the automated campaigns and treat them differently?

McDade: At the beginning, you need to use your knowledge of the market, and some intuition, to segment the market into logical homogenous groups. Once market outreach begins, you segment and re-segment the targets based on variables like industry, firmographics, and sales history. Let me suggest this article to your readers for more detail.

Stevens: And how, specifically, to you recommend marketers treat these top prospects? Not via email, I gather!

McDade: Email can, in fact, be a part of the equation. But it must be personalized — for real. It can’t be what some folks call “personalization, at scale.” As I said, it is necessary to use cadences to mix up the media, tell the story, and convert the prospect. Using all of the tools available — phone, voicemail, email, direct mail, and social media — is critical to success. You need to be persistent, patient, and professional.

Stevens: You mentioned that you see the keys to success in what you call the Three M’s. What’s that?

McDade: When something is “off” on a program, the first place we look is by analyzing the market, message, and media. On the market, for example, if you start with a bad list, it is very difficult to recover.

The message breaks down into two components: value statements and differentiators.  It takes a lot of time and effort to get these right. And the work is never done. You are constantly testing against the control, or the original message, to fine-tune and improve your story.

Finally, the media issue can be as simple as two different sales development reps producing different results. We have had situations where the difference was just the luck of the draw. But more likely, it turns out that one rep is following instructions, with success, and the other refuses to follow the rules and is losing.

Stevens: What is your new company, Prospect Experience, all about?

McDade: The goal for Prospect Experience is to humanize the process of converting prospects to customers. Prospects today are called by pushy appointment setters, or being read tedious scripts by low-level telemarketers, or being barraged with email. Frankly, prospects are treated like dirt.

Maybe that is why less than half of the salespeople out there are making quota. With the right approach, marketers can convert more prospects to customers for less money than they are currently spending. I developed a process called the “12-Point Prospect-Experience Transformation” to help companies perfect their prospecting and enhance the prospect experience

Stevens: How can people get in touch with you to learn more?

McDade: I am happy to field emails or calls at dan.mcdade@prospect-experience.com, or 770-262-9021. I also encourage people to visit https://www.prospect-experience.com/insights to sign up for our blog.

A version of this article appeared in Biznology, the digital marketing blog.

3 Ways to Better Manage Marketing Automation So the ‘Shiny Object’ Doesn’t Stab You

I presented at the All About Marketing Tech Virtual Conference & Expo on the topic of targeting and automation. One of the themes I hit upon was about how companies are hindering their marketing automation success with needless complexity.

On Thursday, I will be presenting at the All About Marketing Tech Virtual Conference & Expo on the topic of targeting and automation. One of the themes I plan to hit upon is about how companies are hindering their marketing automation success with needless complexity. This topic falls squarely in the “land of shiny objects,” which is a recurring theme in many of my posts.

This theme in my posts and the 1:10 p.m. ET session, “Using Automation + Targeting to Engage and Convert,” focuses on how tempting technology can be to the marketing practitioner and how it can lead to the desire to do too many things — to detrimental effect. However, there are three things you can do to manage automation better.

Step 1 in Marketing Automation

First, make sure you have a customer strategy. If you do not have a solid strategy, then you will be automating a bunch of tactics. Unless these tactics sit under a cohesive strategy, they may work against each other.

For example, a price-focused customer acquisition program may hurt long-term brand development or pricing power. When you add automation to this scenario, it will supercharge the tactic and potentially cause greater harm.

Step 2

Second, make sure you have a test-and-learn agenda. Automation is a very data and metrics-driven process and it is managed by humans, using those same data points and metrics.

Successful marketing automation involves iterative learning to drive growth. Therefore, knowing what you are trying to achieve through automation and running multiple tests to better understand the underlying dynamics is critical.

What tends to happen, however, is that too many objectives are pushed through the automation system and the ability to learn is muddled by an excess of data and a dearth of focus.

The advice I often give is:

“Because you can do something through automation, it does not mean you should.”

Creating a learning agenda you can manage and identifying the critical metrics needed for evaluation are critical first steps before automating a marketing function.

Step 3

Third, make sure you have a pivot plan. A pivot plan anticipates how you will modify your automation program and lists the levers at your disposal.

For example, if results are not coming in as expected, you may alternate content, alternate segments or redefine the automation goals.

Doing all three at once will most likely leave you as clueless as when you began. While this seems like marketing management 101, it is easy to lose sight of this with automation. Automation generally promises rapid decision-making over volumes of interactions and self-learning capabilities.

As a result, it is tempting to get out of the way and let it do its magic. In the near to mid-term, despite automation’s usefulness, this will not substitute for strategic and management thinking.

Conclusion

I am in no way discouraging the use of marketing automation. It is not only the future, but it is also the present and is driving positive results.

Successful marketers need to start experimenting with the technology now.

However, marketing automation is also not so wonderous and awe-inspiring that we forget that it needs management and strategy. That, in turn, means balancing lofty automation goals with what you can managerially digest.

10 Must-Attend B2B Marketing Conferences for 2019

It’s encouraging to see a resurgence in the quantity and quality of B2B marketing conferences and trade shows these days. For a while there, I was worried, as event after event went dark. Part of the upturn is due to the growth of the proprietary client conference.

It’s encouraging to see a resurgence in the quantity and quality of B2B marketing conferences and trade shows these days. For a while there, I was worried, as event after event went dark. Part of the upturn is due to the growth of the proprietary client conference, where B2B companies host clients, and often prospects, with an array of educational and schmooze opportunities.

Sirius Decisions, Terminus and Marketo are prime examples. But other events have emerged, too, to support marketers seeking information on martech, data, personalization, ecommerce, social media and other challenging topics.

Here’s a lineup of top-quality conferences scheduled in the remainder of 2019:

Mostly B2B, featuring a keynote by thought leader Matt Heinz, and sponsored by ON24.

Organized by Demandbase, with a free livestream of the keynotes for those who can’t attend in person.

Worth a jaunt across the pond.

Now folded into the Adobe Summit, this event has grown to 15,000 marketers. Wow.

Chaired by Scott Brinker, focused on technology tools for B2B and consumer marketers. Martech East runs in Boston, September 16-18.

Digital marketing and e-commerce for manufacturers and distributors. Where industrial marketers meet.

Covers the gamut, from product management to channel marketing, and everything in between. Plus, a touch of start-up and innovation content.

Featuring popular speakers like Gary Vaynerchuk and Geoff Ramsey, with an emphasis on brand and advertising topics.

This lively show continues to grow and thrive. Not 100% B2B, but just about.

My favorite. It claims to be “The best B2B marketing conference on the planet,” and as a frequent speaker and attendee, I can attest.

Save the Date for Next Year

 

A version of this article appeared in Biznology, the digital marketing blog.

7 B2B Marketing Predictions for 2019

From chatbots to data-driven marketing, from the inevitable backlash against martech to the broadened use of social media, Ruth Stevens presents her seven predictions for what’s to come in 2019 for B2B marketers.

Crystal BallI am adding my voice to the chorus of observers who predict various developments in 2019 for B2B marketing. My policy is to avoid reflecting on my past predictions, which are likely unrealized and full of errors. Instead I shall boldly go forth, with my sense of what we are likely to see this year, and damn the torpedoes.  My B2B marketing predictions — seven in all — range from marcom to data. Your comments are welcome!

  1. B2B marketing communications become more human. Our field has long focused on selling to entities — accounts, buying groups, with rational, specific needs — and so we tend to stick to the facts. But it’s time to be more human. To talk to the buyers as individuals, in a language that moves them. So Forrester predicts, and I agree. I applaud Gyro for taking the initiative on some very interesting research around this topic. The study reveals the feelings business buyers seek in response to our offerings, feelings like confidence, optimism and accomplishment. Let’s give it to them!
  2. An inevitable backlash against martech. The backlash is already starting, but look for it to pick up. I wrote about this in 2014, saying we must not confuse marketing automation for marketing strategy. As martech grows, inevitably B2B marketers are realizing that it’s not the silver bullet they had hoped for. Justin Gray, founder of LeadMD, points out that only about 1% of deals can be tied to MA. We’ve got some ‘splainin’ to do.
  3. Marketers will finally supply sales with the help they really need. My fervent wish, anyway. Tip of the hat to Gavin Finn, who eloquently explains this need in a recent Entrepreneur article. If we marketers are not helping sales communicate a differentiated value, producing truly effective content, and developing insight into the detailed needs of the buying group, we should all fire ourselves.
  4. Broaden the use of social media. Social is no longer a nice-to-have in B2B. It requires thoughtful strategy, real budget, and a keen integration with the rest of the marketing mix. Plus continued experimentation with new opportunities. Video will continue to grow. And B2B marketers will try new channels, like Quora, a place where people pose questions and get answers from other individuals. It’s ripe for business problems to be solved.
  5. Chatbots go mainstream. Perfect for B2B, chatbots serve global customers, around the clock, with fast, accurate and cheap service. This is all good.  But my favorite benefit for B2B marketers? Chatbots give you a third method for turning your website into a lead generator (after web form-fill and IP address identification). And the AI continues to improve, daily.
  6. Will CX be the B2B buzzword of 2019? Like ABM in 2017, and intent data in 2018. I’m predicting a surge of interest in the power of providing superior customer experiences — not limited to digital, but across all customer touchpoints in B2B. Think about it. We operate with a limited universe of customers and prospects. We are burdened with long sales cycles, but the payoff is high-ticket sales. We can’t afford to lose an account.  CX is the next competitive frontier.
  7. As ever, B2B success is undergirded by data. Marketers will continue to understand, and act upon the need for clean, complete and accurate data coverage of their market opportunity.  This is why Theresa Kushner and I published B2B Data-Driven Marketing, soon to be available via Kindle.  A new study from MX Group confirms: The Number 1 characteristic of top performing B2B firms is “Have good data.”  What’s Number 2?  “Have effective lead follow-up,” of course!

Happy 2019 to us all.

A version of this article appeared in Biznology, the digital marketing blog. 

3 Trends Impacting Marketing and Marketing Technology

This is the year that more becomes less; marketers beware. I’ve put on my marketing and marketing technology prediction hat to share three trends with you.

This is the year that more becomes less; marketers beware. I’ve put on my marketing and marketing technology prediction hat to share three trends with you.

I would like to wish all my readers a happy 2019. At the beginning of this new year, I would like to test my powers and lay out some predictions. I believe (maybe hope?) this is the year that three long-overdue trends will impact marketers and marketing technology. In any case, I am going on the record; let’s see if I have egg on my face in December.

1. There Is Too Much Content Out There

In 2019, I hope we finally challenge the adage that “content is king.” Maybe a few years back it was king, but now there are too many claimants to the throne and too many smaller and smaller kingdoms. For example, just exploring all the great content on Netflix can take up several months of full-time viewing. Then there is HBO, Hulu, YouTube, etc. Maybe saying that content is a commodity would be taking things too far, but content is no longer king.

Having a better understanding of context and timing will be much more important. Delivering the right content at the right time, to the right person is the next king.

2. Marketers Will Finally Agree That Martech Is a Tool, Not a Strategy

Too many marketers have been confusing the latest marketing technology with customer strategy. Many times this misconception is fed by the solution providers themselves.

I believe that the right martech build can provide great dividends and represents an agile, data-driven platform to better engage with your customers. However, it will not make your customer engage with you. Customers have to like you and feel attachment to your brand for them to engage.

Before investing in additional martech, there are fundamental questions that must be addressed. Such as:

  • Why do customers want to engage with us?
  • What is the level of engagement that is reasonable to expect?

Too many times, I see marketers simply push for higher and higher engagement numbers, with no thought as to what is reasonable or sensible. If I gave each relevant brand in my life 15 minutes per week, I would not have time for anything else, In some cases, limited engagement is probably a good thing. For example, my local utility is very relevant in my life, but If I must engage with them, it is probably a bad sign.

3. A Major Shift in Consumerism — From More to Less

With so much content and so many products and services available, literally at the push of a button, many consumers will look to actively filter out products and services that have little or no meaning to them. For example, I recently took a hiatus from my Netflix subscription because I was no longer able to engage with the content. Netflix has really great content, but I am simply overwhelmed and the shows are all blending together. The (anti?) consumer trend of minimalism will be growing. While few consumers are likely to become minimalist, there will be a growing trend to ask the minimalist’s question before every purchase: “Will buying this really make me happier?”

Here’s Your Fortune, Marketers

I believe that 2019 will be the year we have a reckoning between a glut of supply and the inherent limits of our ability to consume. This conflict will not only play out in the B2C markets, but also within B2B markets; especially when it comes to marketing. Most senior marketers I have spoken to readily admit that they are horribly confused and overwhelmed by the marketing tech world. So many choices, so many overlapping solutions and each one claiming to be the “answer.”

In 2019, we need to start asking if we are worthy of the headspace we are asking of our customers and also how we manage our own headspace so that we can become better marketers.

3 Session Highlights for the 2018 FUSE Digital Marketing Summit: AI, Analytics, & How to Size Up Your MarTech Stack

The FUSE Digital Marketing Summit is quickly approaching. Subscribers to the FUSE Digital Marketing Newsletter should already have a sense of what we’ll be covering at the summit, but I just wanted to take a minute to highlight three key sessions that alone warrant marketers spending time attending the summit.

First, a little quick background on the summit:

Where & When: The FUSE Digital Marketing Summit will take place November 27 to 28 in Center City Philadelphia.

Why: With marketers constantly vetting, evaluating, and investing in new technology the two-day FUSE summit is designed to help marketers quickly identify and adopt the most relevant digital technologies. FUSE will dissect the modern martech stack and explore in-depth how the right technologies can enable marketers to achieve real business objectives.

Plus: FUSE Digital Marketing is a free, all-inclusive experience for qualified attendees — senior-level decision makers leading martech strategy and buying decisions. See if you qualify and learn more about the summit here.

Below are three general sessions attendees can look forward to. However, it’s worth noting the unique format of the FUSE summit – attendees will also participate in small-group boardroom case studies and have pre-scheduled 1-on-1 meetings with tech providers. And perhaps most valuable of all are the many networking opportunities with like-minded marketing executives.

3 Key Sessions at the 2018 FUSE Digital Marketing Summit

Keynote: Using AI & Deep Learning to Generate Marketing Results

In this eye-opening session, marketing AI practitioner and BrainTrust Insights co-founder Christopher Penn will explore how artificial intelligence and machine learning are changing marketing. Penn will cover what AI is – and isn’t – and what problems it’s good at solving versus the problems AI solves poorly. This session will use real-life marketing applications to illustrate how AI can elevate content marketing, lead targeting, conversion analysis, and business intelligence. And Penn will share his insight on what marketers need to do to prepare for an AI future.

Speaker: Christopher Penn, Co-Founder & Chief Innovator, BrainTrust Insights

How Do You Stack Up? Practical Advice for Constructing & Managing Your Marketing Tech Stack

In every industry, marketing technology stacks are growing in size and complexity as more products are deployed and integrated, and multiple teams throughout the organization embrace marketing technology in support of digital transformation initiatives. It’s not unusual to see companies using more than 100 different marketing tools at any one time. With a need to integrate many of those tools, building and managing the marketing technology stack has become a tremendous challenge for many organizations.

Leveraging the insights gleaned from hundreds of marketing technology stacks, this session will cover the technologies that companies are currently buying, and the hot technologies that they are looking to integrate into their stack.

Speaker: Anita Brearton, Founder & CEO, CabinetM

How the American Medical Association is Using Analytics to Grow Membership

Content marketing, digital marketing, and consumer marketing have converged to transform how organizations can interact with customers. As a digital change-agent for the past 20 years, Todd Unger, CXO of the American Medical Association, will show how he is transforming AMA’s marketing, using analytics tools to generate insights, quantify content marketing ROI and boost member acquisition and retention efforts.

Speaker: Todd Unger, Chief Experience Officer/SVP Physician Engagement, American Medical Association

Check out the full summit agenda here.

3 Tips for Dealing With the Stress of MarTech-Driven Marketing

As a marketer in today’s data-driven world, it is very hard to keep your head on straight. With thousands of martech solutions in the market vying for your attention, combined with the pressure to make data-driven decisions and justify expenses, it is easy to become overwhelmed by martech-driven marketing.

As a marketer in today’s data-driven world, it is very hard to keep your head on straight. With thousands of martech solutions in the market vying for your attention, combined with the pressure to make data-driven decisions and justify expenses, it is easy to become overwhelmed by martech-driven marketing.

The result is a constant feeling that you are falling further and further behind. While that may be, it is also likely that you are in good company as this is a common anxiety among most marketers.

Here are three tips for dealing with the anxiety from tech-driven marketing.

Understand and Acknowledge the MarTech-Driven Marketing Landscape Is Needlessly Complex

It’s not your job to sort it out. There are thousands of martech solutions out there and you can’t/shouldn’t keep up with all of them.

If you did, you would hardly have time for your day job. It is better that you understand the technologies as broad capabilities (such as marketing automation, CRM, content management systems, etc.) then focus on determining if you need that capability and why.

Then carefully select vendors with that capability to work with on specific solutions.

Ignore the Noise and Get Back to Marketing Strategy

Too often, marketers are letting the marketing technology world dictate how strategy should be run.

For example, when discussing lead development strategy, I had a client tell me that their marketing automation vendor was looking into it. This is akin to having your building materials provider design your dream home. Some may offer basic design services, but the result is likely to be staid and semi-custom, at best.

Similarly, most martech companies do not want to be in the business of developing your marketing strategy, but they oftentimes are forced to do so in order to get you comfortable with leveraging their technology.

No one wins in this scenario, and what often results is a generic marketing strategy.

The key is to understand what broad martech capabilities are relevant for you and to build a custom go-to-market strategy that reflects your brand’s vision and purpose.

Then incorporate data-driven capabilities — and lastly, evaluate a specific solution.

Don’t Be a Slave to Your Data

I often hear marketers ask, “How can we better leverage all this data?”

This is like starting your holiday shopping by asking, “How can I leverage all of the available retailers out there?”

The more sensible questions should be: “What do I want to achieve and how can data help me get there?”

Then, look into your own data to determine if the relevant data is there. If it isn’t, don’t fret. Many times, the relevant data is cheap to generate, and you should begin to understand what it is you specifically need and how best to generate it.

Concluding Thoughts About Tech-Driven Marketing

After many years in consulting with Fortune 500 companies on marketing data and technology strategy, I can confidently tell you that the vast majority of marketers feel overwhelmed and not in control.

What I can also say is that most marketers do not struggle with what to do; rather, they struggle with what not to do.

With a torrent of marketing solutions available today, it is easy to lose focus. Successful marketers understand that martech solutions affect how you think about marketing and customer strategy execution. However, they also understand that smart, brand-centric strategies drive solution selection — not the other way around.