I confess I am a bit of a nerdy geek when it comes to technology and marketing technologies in particular. Scott Brinker’s brilliant Martech Market Landscape makes me feel all giddy inside. There, I've said it. Please don’t think worse of me for doing so….
At Technology For Marketing 2016 in London last week a bewildering, dizzying, dazzling variety of solutions all promising nirvana were touting their wares. All of them pledging untold riches of customer engagement, audience reach and ROI.
Yet I spent most of my conversations asking the vendors ‘yes, I see what your solution claims to do, but why do you do it?’ without any terribly reassuring responses. I spent a painful 15 minutes playing 'Marketing Automation Bullsh!t Bingo' by reading all the stand graphics and freshly minted pull-up banners – but only ended up depressing myself.
Attending TFM it would be easy for today’s marketer to believe they can simply outsource their jobs at the click of a mouse to a series of point solutions that will effectively do their marketing for them with no human intervention required. Marketing untouched by human hands! Who wants to go to the trouble of genuinely engaging with customers - why not let them there 'puters do it for you?
Even 'The Marketing Cloud All Stars' panel, moderated by the great Joe Pulizzi, had people scratching their heads. Are marketers really abdicating responsibility for understanding customers to algorithms? Rather than ensuring we have a differentiated, well-articulated brand proposition substantiated by deep customer understanding aren’t we are being encouraged to outsource out marketing souls to a series ever increasingly richly featured technologies in the desperate hope it will make up for our lack of genuine customer understanding.
This is no critique of TFM: it is clearly tapping into the marketing zeitgeist, the show was buzzing and I loved it - but we, as marketers, need to get to grip with the basics before we worry about the next shiny bauble. Know your customer, clearly define why your brand exists and articulate your value proposition. Then, and only then, seek the undoubted efficiencies and deep insight that some of these amazing solutions can bring to your marketing efforts; but not before then.
There is no point in automating a marketing process if, by doing so, you just get better and quicker at being anonymous and ordinary.
Image: Technology For Marketing