Creativity-driven marketing has been a central driving force behind brand marketing for years. Creative theory and concepts, I believe, categorize all marketing that is done without technology, data or process. Digital marketing is sexy, but AdAge says MarTech is boring. Boring? Digital marketing, data and technology have become intertwined with creativity. In fact, our most successful clients look at both business and creative needs when assessing MarTech investments.
Creativity and the Mad Acquisition of MarTech
An editorial in AdAge (the bastion of the “Mad Men” era), MarTech is So Boring – And it Should Stay That Way, encourages the schism between creativity and technology.
I disagree with this viewpoint on so many levels. My career started in advertising and I admit: the creative and multi-dimensional campaigns were exciting. Digital marketing came along and creativity merged with science. Marketers following the innovations were inevitably led into three similar fields: digital, advertising technology (adtech), and MarTech (none are boring IMHO).
The marketing technology landscape is exciting primarily because it is creative. That’s right — Technology = Creativity. Let’s dig into this a little further.
DemandGen has been fielding questions from clients on MarTech for many years, so much so that our founding CEO David Lewis blogged on the topic with a reminder when selecting tools: “put strategy first.”
I have found, through my own experience as a marketer and as a consultant, that to identify, procure and utilize the next generation of marketing tools, creativity is an absolute must. Yes, marketing is a technology-driven discipline. Marketers, however, are in most cases creatively motivated professionals, constantly looking for the next great innovation.
Innovation/Creativity/Technology: The Marketing Trifecta
Marketers must be knowledgeable in many areas. We have helped many successful marketing organizations navigate this environment with a MarTech onboarding management process. It involves a systemic approach that starts with identifying categories of MarTech with qualifying criteria. Let’s apply this to the 7 categories of marketing technology:
Content Creation Tools:
- Business Needs – The ability to create, manage and edit the organization’s messages and content.
- Creative Needs – This one is easy. The ability to write, edit, visualize, display and most importantly – tell a cohesive story about your brand(s).
Content Management Tools:
- Business Needs – Most identifiably, the corporate website(s). More and more, content management systems are being called on for personalization, content distribution, and responsive design.
- Creative Needs – Flexibility and ease of use for business users to share and enhance multiple content types at scale.
Marketing Automation Systems:
- Business Needs – Most identifiably, the company email channel. It is far more than that. Automation systemizes processes and repeatable tasks. It also is a data aggregator around prospect behavior. We have seen more point solutions focused on industry specific needs like retail and government.
- Creative Needs – The ability to create email and landing pages (with responsive design). The testing capabilities need to be intuitive. The reporting systems need to be easily accessible. Marketers talk about testing and adjusting on the fly — these tools allow that.
Account-Based Marketing Systems:
- Business Needs – The ability to target and manage your key accounts
- Creative Needs – Ability to hyper-focus on a small segment, understand the key insights and talk to them like they are close personal friends. “Old school” tactics like direct mail become relevant again.
Lead Management Tools:
- Business Needs – Manage your prospect and customer pipeline in a scalable manner with a focus on quality, prioritization and sales enablement.
- Creative Needs – Insights on content and communications engagement. Enablement tools for your sales development team might include nurture and social selling components.
Data Management Tools:
- Business Needs – The most challenging aspect of the MarTech environment. This is not an IT-only responsibility. Marketers must understand what data they are acquiring, and its impact and utilization, as well as what’s next.
- Creative Needs – Big data is no good without analytical chops to make sense of it.
- Business Needs – The ability to see the health of your business. Marketing accountability is a constant. Some sophisticated organizations have limited or no visibility into their pipeline (from unknown to known to a customer). This is business-critical now. Campaign reporting has become more and more complex with the multitude of channels in which marketers are invested.
- Creative Needs – Accessibility and visualization are paramount.
I don’t think this is an easy process by any means. The first step after a strategy is determined is to build out a marketing technology roadmap to establish the foundation. I am guessing a number of these 7 essential categories will be identified. DemandGen can help with your roadmap as well as your onboarding process. Assessing and piloting new tools and technology have become increasingly complex. The development of a detailed yet flexible process is critical in navigating the ecosystem, keeping costs down, and fully leveraging the capabilities available.
Will Waugh is a consultant for DemandGen focused on helping clients with demand generation, lead management and leveraging marketing technology. He genuinely believes that data can change the world. Follow him on on Twitter. Other articles by Will Waugh: What is a Marketing Technology Roadmap?