The Rise of the Marketing Technologist Part 3: People, Process, Content and then Technology
I was sitting in some client meetings recently going over their Demand Generation Strategy, and something struck me as out of the ordinary…but in a good way. All of the usual suspects were in the room – head of marketing, head of sales, marketing automation power users, demand generation leads, content marketer … but also present were the head of their CRM install and the lead project manager of their website and web analytics team — both IT roles in this particular company.
In most B2B marketing planning sessions, the technical team is not involved in any of the strategy discussion. They usually get their marching orders after the fact, and a few things normally happen … there is some pushback on requests because they don’t understand the strategic thinking behind them, timelines are called into question as they have no skin in the game on trying to make things happen, and there is a continuing disconnect between the two departments as a lack of communication has hindered the forward progress of a holistic Demand Generation Strategy.
Guess what, marketers? As much as we would like to push our failures off on an unresponsive technical team, it is your fault for not involving them sooner, and helping them to understand the drivers behind your requests.
Having the technical team in the room was incredibly helpful, for all of the parties involved. With IT included in the marketing strategy, their roles in the tactical requirements of the plan make sense to them as they understand not only the what, but also the why.
As I mentioned in my last post, the Marketing Technologist role is a difficult one to fill, and would likely not be as effective as a CMO acting as the “Chief Marketing Technology Strategist.” I spoke about the CMO’s need to spend more time building and owning the strategy for the usage of marketing technology tools before deployment, understanding the depth and breadth of these offerings and how they work together, and perhaps most importantly effectively managing the individual “power users” of their technology stack. And as I said last time, the CMO needs to own the strategy, and understand (but delegate) the tactical.
There is no doubt that the role of the B2B marketer has changed and this change has been led by the change in the buying process and the access to information that is at the finger tips of todays B2B buyer. In order for marketing organizations to be successful, they must adopt a Demand Process approach which involves aligning their people, process, content and technology around their target buyers so they can better support that buyer’s purchase path.
This path to change is not an overnight fix and will not be accomplished in a few quick steps, but if enterprise organizations are going to improve their overall approach to their buyers and the results they are getting from Demand Generation programs, there must be a transformation.
Step One: People
Moving from tactics-based marketing to strategic Demand Generation will most likely require the development of a new skill set within your team. The Focus-MAI 2013 Marketing Skills Study shows that marketers are ill equipped to tackle this:
- 70% of B2B Marketers receive no training or are self-taught
- Over 65% of orgs spend less that $1,000 annually on skills training
- Only 21% of organizations will provide training for their B2B marketers
- Only 18% of B2B marketers rate themselves as “highly effective” in Demand Generation
CMOs must understand that in order for transformation to happen and for the change to be effective, investing in training and enabling their teams with the right skill sets must be a priority.
One of the more ridiculous trends I have seen develop over the past few years is the “justify my trip” letter to technology user conferences. If you are using Salesforce.com, for example, and you have doubts about sending you administrators to Dreamforce there is a serious problem. Ignore the fact that there are parties and concerts (not that there is anything wrong in having fun at an event), and focus on the learning and training available at an event like this, as it will help your team grow professionally as they leverage the new skills learned and trends observed while improving the ROI on your technology investments.
Having one person as the “marketing technologist-in-residence” is not a replacement for a team of people focused on getting the most out of their individual technology assignments, and being supervised by a CMO who encourages their professional development and rewards innovation and return on investment.
This goes for the non-technical marketers on the team as well.
Step Two: Process
There are two levels of process to discuss here, the Demand Process as well as the technology stack – and any decisions about the use of technology must be made in support of the overall plan, not the other way around.
As I said two weeks ago, when you let the architecture of the technology outline the strategy of the program, it’s not really a strategy. The focus of the content, process, people and technology components in any Demand Generation Strategy is the buyer, and their purchase process must be the backbone of the plan. An effective Demand Process Architecture aligns people, process, content and technology to the Engage, Nurture and Convert sequence of the buyer’s purchase path.
The second aspect of the “process” component is continued improvement. As you enable the professional growth of the teams in charge of your technology stack, you need to constantly leverage their learnings and experiences on the technology side to help inform the evolution of your overall strategy.
Consider quarterly meetings of your technology leads, sales lead and marketing strategy team to discuss how their respective tools work together. Play a little game called “what if…?” where the intersection of integration and innovation comes into play. What if we could roll up all of the interactions tracked in our marketing automation platform to the account level so we can see if there is large-scale activity at that account? What if the web analytics platform could notify the account manager when one of their major accounts hits the support page? What if we could automatically post to social media when a new content asset and landing page are built out?
These are the kind of cross-channel incremental improvements a synchronized technology team can accomplish.
Step Three: Content
Great content doesn’t just happen – it must be well thought out and planned, aligned with each Buyer in the Buyer’s Journey, written to address specific pain points, produced and distributed across all relevant channels and in all relevant formats. Your content needs to address the Buyer’s needs and be something they want to read, as good content drives engagement, which then generates Demand.
Why am I talking about content in this discussion about technology? Because content is the fuel in your technology gas tank. The website is a content delivery mechanism designed to engage new prospects. Marketing automation platforms send nurturing content to your identified prospects and then track their interactions with it. Content conversion measurements and ROI are tracked in marketing automation as well as the CRM system. Social media is content. Business intelligence connects the dots about interactions with content across different channels.
Step Four: Technology
So, finally, we get to the technology portion of this discussion about technology … because there are a lot of steps we need to take before we consider technology. Technology is not the beginning of the process, it’s a tool that can be used to enable a successful program. It’s the roads we choose to drive on after we have planned our trip. If you pick the wrong roads, you take twice as long to get there – if you don’t get lost.
The key to any successful marketing technology deployment is to know where you want to go, plan the most effective route, select the drivers and gas up the car before you hit the road.