This important article is by my good friend and business colleague Scott Hornstein. Scott is an incredibly astute strategic thinker and while this article doesn’t necessarily fall under the sales “umbrella” I do think that it contains valuable information.
Here you go and thanks Scott!
The advances in marketing technology are awesome, as are the sheer number of marketing technology providers.
ChiefMartec began tracking this space in 2011, identified about 150 players, and presciently started their eponymous infographic. Their 2017 chart is above, and it encompasses almost 5,000 companies. It’s as if the 2011 chart exploded.
Yet, the question looms – is this growth sustainable? Interviews we’ve conducted with martech executives, and our own experiences, indicate that the “demand” side of the equation may not be able to uphold its end of the bargain.
Inherent in the business model of, I’d guess, each one of these martech companies is the assumption that a profitable customer is one with a long and deep lifetime. To make this wish come true, their customers, especially B2B, must have complete and effective marketing strategies whose impact would be profitably multiplied by the power of the marketing technology.
The reality is that many B2B companies lack this strategic readiness to truly benefit from much of these advances. As one martech executive said,
“This doesn’t surprise me one bit, as it is the immediate pattern we saw as we began. Based on all the brouhaha around content, content-driven experiences, marketing automation and lead nurturing, we assumed there were many orgs out there who could take advantage of what we’d created. We were wrong.”
Interviews we’ve had with martech executives indicate that their biggest business problem is that many clients are awed by the power of the platform and adopt it as the strategy going forward – that this will provide the framework for success, a seat on the rocketship. This “new” marketing would have us think that strategy is dead and we can A/B test our way to nirvana. This platform is automated growth hacking, and agility trumps plodding preparation.
However, when you’re a B2B company, all those sub-optimal B tests means that you are putting out sub-optimal messaging to your finite market. You may be A/B testing to oblivion.
Then, when programs underachieve, customers blame the martech platform and do not renew.
When a Drip Campaign Becomes Chinese Torture
In my first test drive of a major MarTech platform, I was shown the ability to orchestrate, to automate every aspect of a campaign. If we take a very simple example, a drip campaign, communications are sent to qualified prospects delivering specific value at specific points in their consideration journey (or certain time intervals). The object is to move that prospect from tire kicking to conversation. The platform tracks results of the individual and aggregate effort, and adjusts the lead grade of each prospect accordingly.
The technology is the tool, but if the strategy is off, it persistently delivers perhaps the wrong message at the wrong time to the wrong person, until the campaign has indelibly convinced the prospect that they do not appreciate your brand and do not want to do business with you.
For B2B marketers this can be a hurricane’s worth of damage.
Companies, especially B2B, must bring come to the martech table with the prospect integrated into the marketing planning process. Information from 3 sources must be combined to enable marketing to begin to provide value as the prospect defines value:
- Data Analysis. What has this executive done before, what have other decision makers in the organization found valuable, what actions has they taken? Analysis of the data brings a critical aspect to our understanding of the person and the organization.
- Internal Intelligence. Sales has feet-on-the-street knowledge of the industry, the players, and the personalities that can’t be found anywhere else. They must contribute or they will never agree.
- Persona Research. Prospect personas, when created from new, independent qualitative research, validate the data analysis, personalize the internal intelligence, and provide insight into motivation. We need to understand the confluence of personal and professional responsibilities to be able to effectively communicate from a unified marketing and sales perspective.
Then, and only then, will the martech platforms provide the magic carpet ride to success, for everyone.