When companies merge, they often find different organizations have different marketing procedures and technologies.
In an ideal world, the leadership is able to consolidate and align people, process and technology for a more efficient organization. That’s what happened to Allison Schneider and it’s also how she got her start as a marketing technology (martech) executive.
I first met Allison at an Alpharetta Business Networking event (Alpharetta is a high tech hub just north of Atlanta that’s home to more than 600 technology companies) and had a chance to speak with her about her experiences.
She is my guest for this edition of the Off Script series.
1) What has changed the most about marketing technology (martech) over the course of your career?
Data, data and more data. The depth and breadth of data availability is incredible. Knowing what to do with it is both an art and a science. The curse of data is that it rarely answers questions… it just helps uncover more.
We are in a time where the capability and cost of technology is reaching a place where understanding customer behavior is far more precise. Translating that insight and executing on it is key.
2) Do you think martech is really making a difference in marketing effectiveness?
My gut answer is: absolutely! Even when I take a step back, it’s still my answer though a bit harder to quantify.
Martech provides an incredible capability to process massive amounts of data, to transform that data into knowledge for enhancing the relationship between your brand and the customer – and then being able to measure the results.
Understanding the customer behavior is integral but learning how to use that insight to help guide a customer at the right place and time is far more precise than ever before. Of course, any attempt at influence needs to have the right metric to determine effectiveness.
Martech moves the needle – the next question is: “Are you sowing the right seeds?” See? Always more questions!
3) Marketing shops run at an incredible pace. It seems the more martech we add, the faster we have to run. Martech promises us efficiency, but when we get it, we wind up with another yet another content or data mouth to feed, and we have to run even harder. Please comment.
Yes, but it’s a good problem to have. Solving one problem doesn’t necessarily create new problems, it just allows you the time to recognize the others out there and devise a strategy to solve them.
Those problems existed but were ignored because the manpower was focused on the most pressing problem. So, while there are new challenges to conquer, the technology has allowed you to relieve a previous problem.
Don’t forget to acknowledge your progress! Now, you have an opportunity to improve your brand exposure and recognition even more, ultimately improving the bottom line. If we aren’t improving the bottom line, what are we here for?
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4) The array of options in the marketing technology landscape is dizzying; to which categories do you recommend marketers really pay attention?
Sometimes the best answer to a question is there is not one good answer to the question. I am going to have to use that one here. Dizzying is an understatement. It really is a question to be evaluated based on your strategy and ecosystem to fill the right gaps at the right time. What’s the most important goal and what’s stopping you from conquering it?
5) How has martech affected the relationship between the CIO and CMO, or by extension, between the marketing ship and IT department?
This is a big shift. Marketing has had a budget, typically used with external vendors. This allows for a lot of autonomy when you can pay for help.
In my experience, budgets were rarely, if at all, moved between the internal business departments, so dollars didn’t provide influence. The price of influence was based on a business case and ROI.
That’s a harder one to come up with and justify to win the fight for finite resources against lots of competition for well deserving initiatives. Having a solid understanding of both marketing and IT strategies and a trusted relationship to collaboratively define and execute an aligned strategy is key.
It sounds easy in a few words, but the time of that investment is big and not usually quick and easy. You both need to agree on the best way we can work together to move our business forward.
6) When marketing departments choose technology solutions, what are some of the mistakes you’ve seen made that should be avoided?
Here is where my alignment on the technology side of the house will sway my answer. Marketing technology is just that: marketing and technology.
Don’t go into the evaluation and decision process in isolation. Engage the other parts of your organization in the process.
I know it sounds daunting… more people means more opinions and that takes time. You need a solution now. However, gaining the support of your other business partners is imperative for success and will cost you time. For a successful implementation, this time investment must be made.
Obtaining support and buy-in before and during the product selection process is optimal. If the decision is made in isolation by one group, the implementation will be impacted due to factors which will likely be missed in either the technical or operational needs.
The good faith you gain in engaging these teams early on is far more valuable than making a siloed decision quickly. The hard but essential questions are:
> Does this solution hit the 80/20 rule for all the impacted organizations?
> Is the missing 20% able to be reasonably mitigated?
7) What role does talent – especially technical skills play – in a marketing shop today? What do senior marketing leaders need to do to fosters that talent?
This would be second on my list of the changes in martech. The gray area between marketers and technologists is becoming far less gradient.
Marketers are becoming far more technically savvy and IT is becoming an integral part of the process. It’s an area that is still lean in expertise in the marketplace – if you have folks with the skills or the aptitude, invest in them in training, culture and respect.
Really good marketing technologists are an asset you will be hard-pressed to replace.
8) Just for fun…fill in the blank:
- A person you recommend following on Twitter is… Ryan Reynolds – simply for a good laugh at his parenting tweets.
- One publication or blog you read regularly is… Seth Godin (Seth’s Blog) and Scott Brinker (Chief Marketing Technologist).
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She is currently considering her next career move; you can connect with Allison Schneider on LinkedIn.
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