If there’s anybody in the B2B marketing world who’s evangelizing and leading the intersection between marketing and technology, it’s Scott Brinker. Most who read his consistently impressive blog know of him as @chiefmartec (short for Chief Marketing Technology Officer).
His ideas, perspectives and content is always spot on, and this morning he’s released his first book – A New Brand of Marketing: The 7 Meta-Trends of Modern Marketing as a Technology-Powered Discipline.
I got a few minutes with Scott last week to talk more about marketing and technology – why so many marketers are still afraid of tech and what new marketers can do to accelerate their own learning curves.
Why are so many marketers afraid of technology?
I think it’s perfectly natural for people to be uncomfortable with something that they aren’t experienced with — particularly when it’s suddenly thrust into their field of responsibility. I picture Dr. McCoy in Star Trek saying, “Damn it, Jim, I’m a marketer not a systems administrator!”
Of course, the only way to get comfortable is to start getting that experience. Like wading into the cold water of a pool, you can find yourself wincing a few times along the way. But once you’re in, you’ll find that it’s not so bad.
I think one of the most valuable things that tech-savvy marketers and hybrid “marketing technologists” can offer is helping their non-technical marketing colleagues get their arms around these new tools and capabilities. It’s a great opportunity for peer-to-peer learning.
Do you see marketers confusing technology with strategy? What’s the best way to think about them together, successfully, in a symbiotic relationship?
While I believe that technology can empower marketers with tremendous capabilities, I’ll be the first to emphasize that technology is the means, not the end. Ultimately, what matters is delivering remarkable customer experiences — and doing that consistently and profitably. Strategy is all about achieving that end.
So I think it’s fair to be wary of “shiny object syndrome” or expecting that technology, by itself, will give you a strategy.
However, at the same time, the pace of innovation in marketing technology is absolutely breathtaking. If you’re not allocating at least a little of your attention to how new technologies can enable new strategic options, you’re almost certainly missing opportunities.
What do you really think of the Chief Technology Marketing Officer role? Isn’t that just the CMO of the future?
It depends. Marketing is a huge mission, and its scope is expanding every day. I think there’s real value in having specialists on the team who can lead different facets of marketing. A chief marketing technologist, or CMTO, can help bring more depth to your marketing technology management and operations.
However, I do agree that every CMO should become comfortable with technology — at least at the level of being confident that they can lead an organization that has become so dependent on it.
And, of course, in smaller companies, the head of marketing inevitably has to wear multiple hats. “Marketing technology manager” just becomes one of them.
Who are some of the companies doing the best job of using technology to enable their sales & marketing strategy today?
I’d turn that question around and ask you and your readers: which companies do you interact with on the web and via mobile apps where you have a really great experience? Those are the companies who are doing the best job of leveraging technology in marketing and sales.
One that comes immediately to mind for me is Amazon. Granted, we can’t all be Amazon. But we can learn a lot from how they’ve applied technology to creating an effective customer experience.
Let’s say I’m a marketing newbie. What’s my first 30-day plan to get smart about marketing technology? Your blog? Vendor blogs? What do I read and do first?
So I wrote A NEW BRAND OF MARKETING — a very, very short book — as an introduction to the role of technology in the big picture of marketing. My hope is that would be a great place to start.
Beyond that, there’s no lack of resources for learning more. Blogs from many marketing technology vendors are actually quite helpful — as long as you keep in mind that they’re tilted through the lens of their own solutions.
But the best way to learn marketing technology is to start working with some of the great marketing software products out there. There are so many entry-level versions and free trials available, that you can usually learn a lot with just an investment of your time.
You don’t learn to cook by reading a cookbook. You learn by getting in the kitchen and making things. By all means, use a cookbook as a guide. But you have to get hands on. It’s an experiential skill. So is marketing, and for that matter, so is the smart use of marketing technology.