Secret Marketer: Marketing is powered by technology but not all marketers need to be technologists

Marketers need to understand how to piece together products, platforms, solutions and suites but not everyone in marketing needs to be a technologist.

Anybody working in marketing is dealing with marketing technology (martech), since digital by its very nature is technology-based. The customer and their adoption of digital is driving this change. Marketers need technology to harness the data from digital, mobile and social touchpoints, operate marketing automation tools, implement customer relationship management systems and so on. Marketing is now a technology-powered discipline because software is how marketing ‘sees’ and ‘touches’ customers in a digital world.

Some recent experiences have caused me to stop and think more deeply about what is going on in the world of martech. Like any marketer, I get a regular stream of would-be vendors trying to chase me on the phone or in person. However, in the past year the number of calls from martech vendors has risen from a trickle to a tsunami and it is not going to slow down.

Silicon Valley is betting billions of dollars to create martech ‘unicorn’ companies. Scott Brinker, writer of the blog, has an incredible infographic that he updates every year. His March 2016 version shows the number of martech companies has increased from 2,000 in 2015 to 3,500 this year.

You have really got to understand how martech tools work. Not only that, you have to try to make sense of them for the team, for peers, and of course, the boss. It can be difficult to know what to give our attention to given the cacophony of noise that is often competing and definitely confusing. So how do we marketers navigate the complexity of a “fragmented and confusing digital marketing landscape”, as Gartner put it so well?

You can’t really think in terms of the four Ps any more. Instead, you should think about piecing together the products, platforms, solutions and suites for the software and services that power marketing. Think of selling as influence and marketing as storytelling. The new world of martech offers the ability to deliver both influence and storytelling at scale. Martech has also changed design and copy. We now need to design for distribution through, for example, a retail store and be found by a search algorithm.

I do wonder about the effect of martech on our careers as marketers. Is Silicon Valley trying to replace us through the rise of the marketing robots? Should we become martech geeks to preserve our careers?

Well, here is my take on it: while marketing is now a technology-powered discipline, not everyone in marketing needs to be a technologist – just like not everyone in advertising has to be a creative.


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