The MarTech Transformation: Notes from INBOUND 16.
Nov 21, 2016
In a session at INBOUND 16 , Sheldon Monteiro (CTO of SapientNitro) focused on seven key business activities that must be reinvented in order to successfully market for “today.” It was a deeply engaging exploration that went beyond just listing big picture trends; it delved into the “why” behind the trends. And it went as far as to talk about the type of skills agencies and companies will need to develop in order to truly implement the changes.
Below, I’ve listed the seven shifts to be made that Sheldon articulated. And I’ve added some of my own thoughts about what each means, and how to go about addressing the necessary changes. Because, as these shifts are all in the formative stages of thought, discourse is the best means to hone in on the right thinking. So I’d be very interested in your take as well.
1. Brands need to shift their marketing organization goals from being CUSTOMER-FOCUSED to EXPERIENCE-LED.
This is more than just changing the types of marketing we create and how our sales and customer service operate. It’s about focusing all customer touch-points toward one greater effect. Marketing isn’t just about building awareness of product. Customer service isn’t just about solving problems. All the touchpoints should be driven from the perspective of understanding the needs of an audience so well that it’s impossible to tell the difference between the type of communication.
2. Brands need to shift their marketing content from MASS COMMS to PRECISION TARGETING.
New ways to collect and parse data, and new channels that allow for more human interaction, mean we can better understand our audiences as individual humans. And that’s really cool, because that means we’ll be able to communicate with precision and personalization. But… we (marketers) have to learn that to do that, you can’t always plan ahead. We’ll have to learn to act in the moment (just like humans do, all day every day). And that means we have to change some of the approaches of understanding the data, like when we try to “average” our audiences out through personas rather than listening to the individual members of the audience and taking action.
3. Brands need to shift their marketing content promotion from POINT SOLUTIONS to OMNI-CHANNEL.
In many ways, this feels diametrically opposed to the previous item because making precision targeted communications is easy when you’re talking about one human in one channel. When you try to scale that person-to-person communication across all the touchpoints that each individual may have, things get daunting. So wrestling with how to be both personalized and everywhere is going to be a fun challenge to overcome – for years to come.
4. Brands need to shift their offering mix from PRODUCTS to SERVICE ECOSYSTEMS.
Let’s focus on what “service” really means. If you sell a product, you sell a physical thing. A service is typically thought of as selling a solution that is as much about you applying what you know to a problem as it is involving physical assets to solve the problem. But in this sense, moving to a service doesn’t mean you stop selling product, or only sell product along with consultation. It means redefining service as value. And then thinking about the value you provide as an ecosystem of service and product and process and experience. Many things coming together that provide an aggregate value that’s craved by an audience.
5. Brands need to shift their approach to data from BACKWARD-LOOKING to REAL-TIME IMPACT.
No doubt you can learn a ton by looking at the past; by studying the entire lifecycle of a situation, from a problem arising to wrestling toward a solution to the solution being implemented to the satisfaction of that solution. It can tell you if what you offer and how has worked in the past and suggest what *might* work even better in the future. But what’s more important is recognizing how things are working right now. Real-time data collection, thinking and action. Because, as fast as things move these days, lessons from the past might not be applicable to the future. Lessons from “right now” can be acted upon.
6. Brands need to change their approach to technology from INDUSTRIAL IT to MULTI-SPEED.
This is about operationalizing the last couple of lines from above. How do you construct systems (rapidly built and potentially disposable systems) that allow you to act for now, rather than trying to build big systems that might become central to operations, and also completely obsolete. It’s “just in time” tech – tech built to handle situations for the amount of time the situation may exist. Some of that will be big systems for the long haul. Just as often, it will be hacked together—just good enough—systems to take advantage of fleeting arbitrage.
7. Brands need to change their functional marketing groups from SILOS to COLLABORATIVE ECOSYSTEMS.
This is about the human systems built to operationalize #1 above (shifting from customer-centric to experience led). By removing silos, and empowering rapid, group decision making—amongst the makers!—you can market at the speed of the marketplace. On the other hand, if one group (let’s say marketing) doesn’t work hand-in-hand with another (let’s say social) then messages and action won’t be aligned. And, worse, marketing actions will miss the timely context in which they could have succeeded.
What are your thoughts? What activities that are ripe for reinvention are missing? Let me know what you think, I’m @johnvlane.
Be on the lookout for our #INBOUND16 Recap blog, coming out this Friday – @samanthacibelli‘s offering up a breakdown of what she learned while attending.
Watching TV as a kid, I used to run to the bathroom during the shows so I could make it back for the commercials. Those days launched me down a path that included layout and writing for the college paper; communications strategy for political campaigns; marketing strategy and graphic design for Gensler (a global design and architecture firm); and the implementation of new programming, animation and design techniques for Centerline. Today I specialize in content marketing strategy and building digital deliverables to execute those strategies. But it’s about more than just creating killer digital content. At Centerline, we help clients succeed in the digital marketplace using a three-pronged approach: strategic (message creation, brand strategy), tactical (design, development), and analytical (measurement and adaptation). This experience-tested approach allows me to build campaigns that are both well-designed and effective for clients like IBM, GE and National Instruments.