How to unlock marketing’s creative side for martech success

Marketing technology is essential to achieving business outcomes, but many marketers feel intimidated or put off by it. Columnist Scott Vaughan argues that to truly maximize martech’s business impact, we need to make it more more accessible, creative and even fun for marketers.

B2B marketers think of marketing technology (martech) as a necessary evil. Understandable. Most marketers got into the profession because of the ability to create, connect and communicate. Not many want to deal with tools, integrations and bits and bytes all day.

According to a recently released research report by the MarTech Council, the number one reason marketers avoid martech is that it’s NOT fun. They prefer to work on the creative side of things: programs, campaigns and so on. Yet they admit that martech is essential for success in today’s customer-focused, data-driven world. We have a major disconnect.

We know that, done well, marketing technology provides incredibly powerful capabilities that can increase business impact by:

  • arming marketers to better engage and serve our customers with unique experiences.
  • guiding us on where to invest precious marketing spend.
  • automating mundane, time-sucking tasks that take away from creative work.
  • getting us a seat at the executive table by equipping us with intelligence and ROI data.

To truly maximize martech’s business impact, we need to make it more fun. Here are ways to increase martech adoption and impact by making it more accessible, creative, and even fun.

Hire dedicated marketing technologists and/or martech trainers who teach and inspire

Many organizations are hiring marketing technologists to be the super-brain behind tech investments. That’s important, but not enough. In addition to these pros being super-savvy about the latest and greatest technology, make sure they, or somebody else on the team, are dedicated to making technology adoption easier through hands-on tech training. You shouldn’t have to rely solely on each vendor you buy tech from. The most advanced marketing departments are hiring dedicated professional trainers who focus on the human side of tech.

Invest in martech that empowers marketers to be more creative

The worlds of creative and tech are colliding. It’s a perfect time to take advantage. Empower marketers to make their work more impactful, arm them to create smarter, more interesting programs and campaigns, and even to think more creatively about what’s possible. For example, many marketing teams are investing in digital and content marketing tech. We spend hundreds of creative hours creating high-value content, and then it quietly sits on your website, goes into a sale enablement library or just gets pushed out via syndication. We can be much more creative. These new tools enable marketers to create unique experiences by personalizing content, snack-sizing creative information and delivering impactful work in more interesting ways.

Show, don’t tell

When it comes to martech, many of us talk about “UX,” “tech stacks,” “APIs” and “ROI.” Nobody in marketing really cares about that stuff. Drop the geek-speak systems language. This is not the IT department! Our marketing teams are rebelling before even sitting down to use the new tool the company just spent a bazillion dollars on.

One very effective approach to generating enthusiasm for tech adoption is to emphasize how other marketers are using the technology to creatively advance their capabilities and their career. Show application examples to provide perspective for marketers before you dive into the multitude of its bells and whistles.

Another idea is to eliminate the coldness of the new machines by breaking the new platform’s capabilities into digestible chunks, starting with the most important capabilities. Don’t review everything that the tech is capable of. This is especially true around marketing platforms that are behemoths, promising everything from personalized engagement to leading-edge predictive analytics (“it slices, it dices, it…” you get the idea!).

Make heroes out of marketers who creatively apply martech for business & customer impact

Now that you have more marketers leaning in and starting to see the potential, identify those “champions” who get it and are making big things happen with your martech investment. The power users who get it often see this as an opportunity for them and the company. Empower, challenge and incentivize these marketers to think creatively about how they can apply tools to make them better marketers. Reward them for sharing and inspiring others by setting the pace and showing what’s possible.

Most importantly, share the strategies, outcomes and learnings being driven by new tech investments. But don’t overhype or be a Pollyanna saying everything is perfect. Keep challenging the marketers to creatively apply and own the outcome.

Creativity with technology is needed and more important than ever in marketing. The reality is that to be an effective marketer and to scale what’s possible, marketing must fully embrace technology. By thinking differently and applying tech more creatively, we could even make martech fun! Imagine that.


[Article on MarTech Today.]

Some opinions expressed in this article may be those of a guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. Staff authors are listed here.


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