Oh my... an emotional response to marketing technology

Brian Macreadie opens up about how he feels about the proliferating industry that is martech

Embracing the phrase 'sharing is caring', I've recently been going through one of those phases where marketing technology ('martech') has occupied a LOT of my time. Specifically, my team mates and I been navigating changes to our website tech, which has had knock-on effects on our CRM, marketing automation and analytics platforms and processes. I suspect many of you go through similar phases from time to time.

Personally speaking, focusing on martech is not the part of being a B2B marketer that I love the most. I far prefer conjuring-up dastardly plans to win customer preference and to steal market share from our rivals (*cue maniacal cackling, mwahahaha*). But I also appreciate that our dastardly B2B marketing plans are unlikely to succeed without the effective use of martech. Our ingenious plans for world domination will be helped or hindered by the martech choices we make. By whether we under-invest or over-invest in it. By whether we under-rely or over-rely on it.

That chart

As my team-mates and I have pondered our recent martech choices, I've been reminded several times of perhaps the most famous chart in modern B2B marketing - the martech landscape chart published annually by chiefmartec.com.

Just in case you needed reminding, the 2018 version of the chart listed a mind-boggling 6,829 martech solutions available to us marketers, delivered by 6,242 unique vendors. It's well-documented, but still never ceases to amaze, that just three years ago, there were 1,876 martech vendors. And three years before that, there were only around 350. The inflation of options has been so dramatic that it has exploded more rapidly than most arguments on Twitter (and that's saying something).

I admit to being a little bit fascinated by the sheer scale and speed with which the sector has spread. I'm fascinated in both a positive, "this is the land of opportunity" way, but also in a negative, "this is a bit excessive" way. I've found the wealth of options available to be both a help and a hindrance. And so, given that the starting theme of this blog was about sharing, I thought I'd share some of the thoughts, feelings and emotions that flash through my mind whenever I see this chart.

I expect that many of you will have quite different reactions to the chart - particularly, I presume, if you work in martech - but I'd be genuinely interested in other points of view.

Oh my...

So here goes, my rational and emotional responses to the wealth of martech options available to us marketers (in absolutely no order whatsoever)...

  1. "Oh my... what a time to be a B2B tech marketer! The job market must be buzzing!"
  2. "Oh my... I wish I had a little bit more time (and budget) to check out some more of these."
  3. "Oh my... I wish quite a few of these tools existed when I was starting out in marketing." [Bitter, twisted, green with envy moment]
  4. "Oh my... how are we meant to keep up with all of this?" [Trick question: we're not]
  5. "Oh my... what does all this stuff actually do?! In among the volume of chaff, I must be missing out on at least one gem that'll help my business grow. But how am I meant to spot the needle in amongst the mountain of hay?"
  6. "Oh my... it would be a pretty good consultancy opportunity for someone to match-make clients with their ideal martech solutions. Martech Tinder, even?"
  7. "Oh my... I wish there were easier 'try before you buy' options."
  8. "Oh my... no wonder I've got a gazillion martech mails flooding both my inbox and my LinkedIn invite list, all trying to sell me stuff."
  9. "Oh my... how many pieces of 'kit' are too many in the average marketing department?" [More sharing: My team actively uses about 12 pieces of martech. It feels manageable, but I wouldn't want a dozen more].
  10. "Oh my... given all of these vendors are making noise, no wonder there is such a pervasive narrative about martech saving the day."
  11. "Oh my... no wonder there so much tech jargon plaguing our industry."
  12. "Oh my... no wonder aspects of tech philosophy have entered our profession. Things like 'agile', 'scrums' and 'sprints'."
  13. "Oh my... no wonder many of us lose so much time working on integration issues with our IT teams."
  14. "Oh my... no wonder many marketers' data is so fragmented. No wonder it's so tough to get a single, joined up data view of the customer." [More sharing: That's why I'm currently reading up about 'data lakes'].
  15. "Oh my... is this stuff all data privacy-compliant?"
  16. "Oh my... does anyone actually believe that simply plugging this stuff in will help them win?"
  17. "Oh my... coming up with a distinctive, IP-protectable name for a new piece of martech must be a nightmare! (No wonder a bunch of them just take a word and simply stick 'ly' or 'fy' on the end of it"
  18. "Oh my... if ever there was an industry that needed some help with brand distinctiveness, brand differentiation and brand building, this is it."
  19. "Oh my... this can't be sustainable. How many of these will still be viable in 3 years?"
  20. "Oh my... there must be a lot of venture capitalists and angel investors making serious money from marketing departments (or banking on the promise of making money from marketing departments)."
  21. "Oh my... am I likely to be disadvantaged if I don't embrace some of this but my rivals do?" [My perspective: probably].
  22. "Oh my... will any of this stuff give me an actual competitive advantage if my rivals are also licensing the same tech?" [My perspective: probably not].
  23. "Oh my... is this stuff the first place to start when I'm looking to win market share?" [My perspective: absolutely not].
  24. "Oh my... no wonder us marketers are getting so distracted from focusing on strategy, pricing, positioning, product development, long-term brand building and the like."
  25. "Oh my... which one of these will actually help me to eat my rival's lunch?"
  26. "Oh my... what will the 2019 version of the chart look like? How big can the bubble grow?"
  27. "Oh my... thank goodness for those wonders among us that spring out of bed each morning to get the most out of our martech". [Yes Larry, Sinead, Megan, Ellice and others - I'm talking about you, and those like you in our industry].

What do you think?

So those are my thoughts and questions  questions each of us marketers will have different answers to, dependent upon the specific circumstances of our companies and markets, and dependent upon our own personal experiences and biases.

Personally, I subscribe to the view that martech is a significant enabler for efficiency and effectiveness, but it's not a silver bullet. I subscribe to the view that we should have a business and marketing strategy enabled by technology, not a technology strategy. And I subscribe to the view that we need to achieve the right balance between investing in technology to help us become efficient and effective, and between investing in product innovation, pricing, positioning, persuasive communication, brand-building, creativity and all of the other tools and techniques that are essential to success. Tech can help us win, but it won't make us win on its own. Only having a strategy to win in the market will help us to win in the market.

But that's my humble point of view. I'd love to learn yours. Because sharing is caring.

Good luck with it all fellow marketers. This blog post was brought to you by Apple, Wordpress, Google etc...

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