Martech enablement series: Part 3 — Assembling your team members

In his third piece in a 9-part series, contributor Peter Ladka takes a look at the similarities between a race team and a martech team, explaining how to model your team to help it win in the martech enablement race.

Martech enablement series: Part 3 — Assembling your team members

Image Credit: EvrenKalinbacak /

Welcome to part 3 of “A Nine Part Practical Guide to Martech Enablement.” This guide is focused on outlining a process for building a data- and technology-driven marketing organization within your company.

In Part 1 of this guide, I outlined the case for a process to take full advantage of marketing technology. This process is called “martech enablement.” In Part 2, I introduced the basics of “The Race Team Analogy” as a way to demonstrate the key elements of martech enablement.

In the next two parts, we’ll be digging into the members of the race team. In this part, Part 3, we will be identifying the specific team members and their individual roles and responsibilities and how they correspond to a well-rounded martech-enabled organization. In Part 4, “Building the Team,” we will look at ways to evaluate the state of your current organization and some simple steps to begin the process of martech enabling your team members and partners to create a winning team.

Intro to the race team/martech team parallel

Martech enablement series: Part 3 — Assembling your team members

When creating a successful race team, the most important step is forming your core team. Not all of the team members, like your pit-crew, need to be in place on day one.

But assembling the core team at the earliest stage is critical to success. Specialist roles can round out the team later when their skills are necessary for success.

Big idea

The need to assemble this core team is simple. It establishes both strategic and tactical responsibility and oversight for all critical areas required to create a winning team.

Business operations, creative execution (the art), and technology (the science) of the race team work cooperatively to achieve a common goal of winning the race. A competent, skilled, cross-functional core team is key to the overall team’s success.

As I outlined in Part 2, there are three primary groups with differing areas of responsibility within the race team. They are the Executive Team, Drive Team and Crew. Within these three groups, there are both core and specialist roles.

Let’s first establish the core members in each of these groups for both the race team and the martech team. After that, we’ll draw the parallel to your marketing organization.

Core race team

The executive team is focused on the “business” of racing while the drive team is zeroed in on the “art” of racing and the crew on the “science” of racing. Sound familiar?
Martech enablement series: Part 3 — Assembling your team members

Executive team (the business of racing)

  • Owner – The team’s owner and president.
  • Team manager – Administrator, organizer and overseer of the operation of the team.
  • Partners – Though not a direct part of the overall race organization, partners and sponsors play a key role in strategic development and execution.

Drive team (the art of racing)

  • Driver – A self-explanatory role on race day, but the driver is a key player in developing and delivering on the race team’s mission.
  • Navigator – Not necessarily part of every type of race team, but in longer, trek-like races a navigator provides strategic support prior to racing and sits in the passenger seat during the race providing the driver with directions and race insights.

Crew (the science of racing)

  • Crew chief – Responsible for participating in the creation and execution of the team’s technical strategy, including the car and all supporting technology as well as owning the delivery of analyzed data to the drive team.
  • Car chief – Responsible for the tactical creation and maintenance of the actual car and supporting technologies.

These core team members represent the critical personnel required to participate in the next step of building the race team: strategic development.

Now, let’s explore how your marketing organization parallels the core race team players above.

Core martech team

As with the race team, getting the core team established at the outset is critical to success. The parallels between your martech team and the race team are somewhat remarkable to me.

Martech enablement series: Part 3 — Assembling your team members

Within your martech-enabled organization, you have the executive team focused on the business of marketing with the drive team engaged in the “art” of marketing and the crew focused on the “science” of marketing.

In smaller organizations, some of these roles could be filled by the same individual, whereas in larger organizations each role will be a different person. This is influenced by the organization’s size, budget and needs.

When a company commits to bring martech enablement to their organization, it’s common for the existing staff’s roles to morph as transformation and maturity occur.

Additionally, it’s common for creative and technical partners to provide support in areas where the marketing organization has skill deficiencies. We’ll cover this in much more depth in “Part 4 – Building the Team.”

Executive (the business of martech)

  • CEO/brand owner (race team owner) – The CEO or brand owner will contribute high-level organizational strategic direction that will provide the basis for the CMO to make martech decisions. It is rare for this individual to be involved in any way beyond that when considering martech enablement.
  • CMO (team manager) – The CMO has primary ownership over budget and the largest influence over the team’s strategic direction. Like the team manager of the race team, the CMO will create and manage the cross-functional team.
  • Other key stakeholders (partners) – An important factor in the success of martech enablement is creating synergy between key stakeholders and departments within your overall organization. For instance, depending on your company’s organizational structure, the CIO or CTO will be critical in achieving martech enablement because of the need to blend the art and science of martech. Additionally, it is very valuable to involve your CRO or SVP of Sales as creating a cohesive experience with your sales department is a valuable result of martech enablement. Other potential roles could include executive management over compliance, legal, data or similar departments.

Drive team (the “art” of martech)

  • Customer engagement executive (driver) – The primary responsibility of the customer engagement executive to create the initial customer strategy, customer narratives and language as well as define each customer’s journey within the organization. Additionally, he or she provides continued oversight and direction as martech initiatives are being executed to ensure that they’re “staying on the road.” The fact that this role corresponds to the driver in the race team should lend weight to the critical role they play in staying on course from a strategic standpoint. Other familiar titles for this role are VP (or director) of customer engagement or engagement marketing manager.
  • Digital marketing strategist (navigator) – The digital marketing strategist is truly like a navigator in long, trek-like races. Their role is as a strategic and tactical adviser in the area of digital marketing techniques. Just like a race team navigator will give the driver directions to stay on course and instruction on hazards, sharp turns and challenging terrain, so too will the digital marketing strategist share types of approaches, insights and instruction on what type of digital marketing efforts should be executed to move the customer through their journey.

Crew (the “science” of martech)

  • Chief marketing technologist (crew chief) – The chief marketing technologist is that beloved character that Scott Brinker is always chatting about. It’s the chief marketing technologist’s role to provide complete technical strategic and tactical oversight for the martech-enabled company. In large organizations, this role may be fulfilled by the chief digital officer. The responsibilities of this individual are vast (tech strategy and execution, R&D, vendor management, etc.), but ultimately the primary responsibility is to provide ideas for what’s possible with martech and then deliver the technology to support the organization’s strategic imperatives. This includes the entire martech stack.
  • Senior solutions architect (car chief) – The senior solutions architect is a total geek. This individual plans all the nuts, bolts and components, then builds and maintains the martech stack. They take the technical strategy and turn it into a well-oiled machine ready for competition.

As you can see, there is a nice one-to-one relationship between the race team and the martech team members, with deep similarities in their roles and responsibilities.

This race team construct has been used in the broader racing world for decades with great success. It’s a winning structure for marketing organizations that want to get real value from their martech stack.

Specialist roles

There are other specialist roles that are critical to the success of a race team and a martech team. Each role is required to develop a strategy based on the overarching vision developed by the core team. These roles primarily fall within the drive team (the art) and the crew (the science) of the race team and marketing organization.

For example, within the race team’s drive team, there are race engineers who map out, to the smallest detail, the execution plan of each race — things like what tires and pressure to use or which shocks and springs are best for that race.

They are responsible for planning when and how pit stops are made, which (if any) tires will be changed, and how much fuel is needed to get the car to the next pit stop so as not to over-fuel the car and add too much weight. In executing their duties, they are critical to the team’s success.

Similarly, in the martech-enabled company’s drive team, you will have content marketing planners and creators, experience designers, segmentation specialists, social marketers, search and ad marketers, and research analysts — each with their own segmented expertise and responsibility.

The crew also has many specialists within its team: engine specialists, aerodynamic specialists and tire specialists, to name a few. The drive team race engineer may decide what tires to use in a race, but the tire specialist needs to provide the information about tire type performance pre-race to make that decision.

Additionally, the tire specialist monitors the performance of the tire during race-day and feeds that data to the drive team as insight for influencing actions. The crew specialists are critical to helping the crew chief and car chief build the car and supporting technologies as well as monitor their performance during the races.

Likewise, the martech crew needs additional marketing technologists, implementation specialists, data analysts, security specialists, a data protection officer (we’ll discuss General Data Protection Regulation in a later part), dev-ops and more to assist with the construction and maintenance of the martech stack as well as provide tactical support during execution.

It’s important to note that the roles your organization needs will be highly dependent on many factors, such as company size, target market, compliance requirements and market conditions.

Intro to Part 4: Preparing the team

In part 4 of “A Nine Part Practical Guide to Martech Enablement,” we will begin taking a detailed look at how to incrementally move your organization towards martech enablement. This process requires a continued agile approach towards change, education and training to successfully transform your marketing organization into a data-driven, martech-enabled one.

I look forward to continuing to share the concept of martech enablement with you in part 4 of this guide.


[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.


Marketing Land – Internet Marketing News, Strategies & Tips