In his first piece in a nine-part series, contributor Peter Ladka defines what martech enablement is and discusses how an organization should approach the process to gain a competitive advantage.
Welcome to Part 1 of this series: “A Nine-Part Practical Guide to Martech Enablement.” This series will outline a process to building a data-driven, technology-supported marketing organization within your company. Much is being written about martech, digital transformation and digital maturity, but there’s scant guidance on how to actually go about this journey. This series is about the process of martech enablement.
Defining martech enablement
I define martech enablement as follows:
The process of bringing marketing and technology together to create the team, define the strategy, identify, implement and integrate the tools, and execute the strategy that enables an organization to engage most effectively with their customer. Ultimately, it’s getting the right information at the right time into the hands of marketers so they can effectively engage their customers to build brand, market products and services and assist the sales organization.
Transform and mature, huh?
As I said earlier, a lot is being said about “digital transformation” and “digital maturity.” These two phrases are putting tremendous pressure on CMOs to evolve their departments to stay relevant in an increasingly competitive marketplace. I hear this from CMOs every day. There are several common themes to these conversations:
- A desire or need to gain an advantage over competitors through martech, as well as concerns about delaying martech adoption.
- Upper management wanting quantification of marketing spend or ROMI (return on marketing investment), which is propelled by the shift of martech budget from IT to the marketing org’s budget.
- Growing customer expectation regarding digital interaction with your brand.
I have five children. Parenting is a huge part of my life. I can tell you through lots of trial and error that telling your kids to “GROW UP!” doesn’t actually make them grow up. Everyday guidance, interactions, careful learning, listening, nurturing and sharing are what create better results. Incremental, methodical growth that happens through these experiences causes children to gain wisdom and eventually reach maturity. Do you see where I’m going with this?
The industry is yelling at marketing organizations to “TRANSFORM and MATURE.” This is like yelling at my children to “MATURE” and expecting them to actually mature magically at that moment. Silly.
Transforming and maturing are a result of a process of change that happens over time. Transformation and maturity (both nouns) are a destination, not a process.
What is needed is an incremental process that transforms and matures the marketing organization. Martech enablement is the process of change that matures and transforms your marketing organization resulting in “digital transformation” and “digital maturity.”
A practical approach
As we embark on this journey, the interesting parallel between personal transformation and maturity and their digital counterparts continues. We ultimately identify a person’s maturity based on what they do and how they think, as demonstrated by their insights into the world and their actions based on those insights.
So, too, is the measure of a company’s maturity and transformation judged — by their insights and actions.
Like any journey, this starts with a plan. Knowing where you are and where you want to go is the first critical insight.
Driving without a plan will certainly take you somewhere, but that somewhere isn’t likely going to be where you’d hope to end up. Identifying where you are and where you want to go are your first critical insights.
After the journey begins, insights come constantly from many areas; your view out the windshield will provide you with the feedback you immediately need to steer. Though understanding the immediate insights provided by watching the road is important, this isn’t the only place you receive insights from. Your dashboard, navigation system, passengers and a whole host of other information can provide you insights about your journey along the way.
Now comes time to take action based on the initial and continued insights. The actions that marketing organizations take leveraging martech can be broken down into two basic types: direction and speed
Direction is fairly simple to understand. You can hold your course or you can pivot or turn. In other words, you can point your organization in the direction of the road ahead of you, which at times is a long straightaway and other times a winding road. Additionally, to stay on course to reach your desired destination, you must be flexible enough to also be able to turn directionally.
The second component of actions is speed. A martech-enabled company needs to be able to accelerate, decelerate, maintain speed and stop. It allows for creating the optimal velocity for each and every given effort or initiative that your marketing organization is engaged in.
Together you drive
With insights and actions, you travel. A martech-enabled company is very similar to the analogy I just shared. An agile organization leveraging martech allows your marketing organization to gain insights and take actions in the marketplace.
But the marketplace isn’t a leisurely drive through winding country roads without a care in the world. It’s a highly competitive race being run across ever-changing and challenging courses and terrain. Finishing the race isn’t the goal or destination. Winning races — many races, demanding races — is what marketing organizations are facing.
Intro to Part 2: The race team metaphor
Martech enablement is the process of building a winning race team leveraging marketing technology to run the race. As this series unfolds, we will create the race team, define the race and race series strategies, build, improve and maintain the race vehicle (your martech stack) and run the races (execute the strategy). In the end, martech enablement will give you the team, the tools and the process to win.
I look forward to sharing the next steps in Part 2 of this series.
Some opinions expressed in this article may be those of a guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. Staff authors are listed here.