Intelligent Marketer Podcast Episode 23: Marketing Technology Tools with Jeff Shearer
Chris Nixon |
Strategy is the core of marketing.
But technology is the force multiplier.
Jeff Shearer is a Marketing Operations and MarTech strategist based in Seattle. Most recently, he served as Director of Marketing Operations Technology at Nintex, a workflow automation company. He has also been with Expedia's corporate travel division and just struck out on his own as an independent marketing operations and technology consultant.
"I describe marketing automation tools as Legos in business," he told me, "because you can build anything with them."
I asked Jeff about those Legos. We talked about MarTech affects organizations at all levels, ways to get the c-suite to invest, what guides his decisions, how to evaluate marketing technology, and what Jeff sees in the future.
MarTech's Organizational Effects
Marketing technology is a tool that's part of your larger strategy. It's a force multiplier. Without solid marketing operations in place, the opportunity to scale just isn't there. Scalability is especially relevant to smaller startups who may hesitate to invest in marketing technology only to find it's harder to scale later on. While you can't build all your systems around scale when you're really small, you do have to think in terms of growth.
MarTech's value also shows up in its ability to mend rifts between sales and marketing. A rift is almost always an alignment issue. Marketing operations solves this issue by aligning sales' needs with marketing's goal. After all, the end performance of marketing isn't clicks, leads, or opens. It's revenue. It's what's in your pipeline. And that matters to sales.
For example, when you are building a marketing dashboard, you can focus on the opportunity data first. That's what sales cares about. "I think there's a huge opportunity in the marketing ops and mar-tech space to mend rifts between sales and marketing," Jeff told us.
Finally, Jeff said that marketing is shifting from soft skills - the creative pieces - to hard skills - data analysis and testing. The next generation of VPs and CMOs is looking for a data-driven effort. Having the technology and operations in place can help you be that rocket scientist marketer. It puts credible data behind what you're doing.
"I describe marketing automation tools as Legos in business because you can build anything with them.” - Jeff Shearer
Getting the C-Suite to Invest in Marketing Operations
How do you get your company to invest in marketing operations technology? You show them the data.
Marketers are infamous for wanting technology that will enable them to do cool new programs. Don't say that. Instead, justify purchasing mar-tech by saying you'll expose more valuable insights to the sales team and help them be more opportunistic with their outreach efforts.
Once marketing understands sales' needs and what they're trying to do, the better it can help solve their problems.
Simply put, validate the purchase of your tools.
Evaluating Marketing Technology and Operations
It's time to choose a new mar-tech product. How do you decide what you need?
It's hard to break through the clutter when everyone's using the same strategies to market to you. As a buyer, it's equally difficult to say what actually matters because of the noise of unsolicited emails and cold calls.
Jeff said he leans on his network of other professionals. They can explain the products they chose, why the chose them, and how they use them. If a product passes the test with those guys, then by the time Jeff reaches out to a company about their mar-tech product, he's close to sold.
Always ask: Is this a platform that has multiple arms to its functionality or is this a point solution that does one thing? While it can be helpful to have a focused tool, the bulk of your budget should be consolidated around a couple of core platforms. You don't want a bunch of tools that have heavily overlapping pieces of functionality since these are challenging to manage. New MarTech products should solve today's problem but also look ahead to problems you'll need to solve in the next 6-12 months.
"I feel like part of the renaissance that's happening here around technology has to be somewhat of a return to the basics.” - Jeff Shearer
The Future of MarTech
Today's functionality typically either focuses around building out the buyer profile or personalizing the buyer's experience. That will likely continue but in a way that is more evolutionary than revolutionary.
No matter what, solid marketing practices must stand behind our technology. "The marketers who are winning," Jeff told us, "are applying (technology and data) with good solid marketing sensibility - good copy, good messaging, and ultimately a good product behind it."
The technology is important, but foundational marketing behind the scenes is critical. In fact, we may see the softer sides of marketing innovate more in the next few years than the data and technology sides.