So, you wanna be a CMO? Great, I’m sure you’ve got a lot of creative ideas, but being a marketer today means being able to get your head around a plethora of tools, platforms and services all built to help you and your team do your jobs faster and more efficiently. Sounds great, right? Well, there’s a little problem. The Marketing Tech ecosystem is completely out of control. Scott Brinker, co-founder over at Ion Interactive blogs about this from his Chief Martec site and earlier this year he dropped the Marketing Technology Landscape Supergraphic on us:
Still want to be a CMO? Because it’s cool if you want to bail out now, I get it. But let’s say you’re determined to stick it out and make a go of it. Fantastic. In fact, I’ve got a little something that might help. In my role as Head of Global Marketing at Unmetric I have to deal with this stuff every day. So, before I headed off to the MarTech Conference this year I asked 10 experts for advice on building a Marketing Stack. These pros represent a new breed of marketer that more accurately might be called CMTOs – Chief Marketing Technology Officers. These people may still be outliers, though I don’t think so, but they certainly won’t be for long:
Now, putting these pieces together, a couple of things need to happen. First, we’ve got to see a shakeout. 1,876 vendors is just too many. Consolidation and the law of survival of the fittest should take care of this. But there’s something else that I think we need to see maturity in and that’s the way we collectively think about marketing technology. Let’s go back to Scott Brinker, and his recently concluded “Stackies.” Scott asked marketers to visually represent their marketing stacks and share them with his audience. It’s a fun idea, but it also reveals some interesting insights.
While the growth of the CMO service industry has exploded, it may have outraced our collective ability to discuss it. The entries Scott received, and I encourage you to study them, run the gamut:
I caught up with Scott via email to get his take on the various entries. I asked him if he thought a more formalized framework was necessary and he didn’t think that was necessarily the case at this time:
I was very interested to see how different marketers conceived of their marketing technology stacks. I think it’s important to note that these are not necessarily technical diagrams — actually, most of them aren’t. It’s more conceptual. The high variance among them, I believe, mostly speaks to the different businesses, markets, strategies and processes represented among them.
Scott brings up fair points, and I certainly respect his knowledge in this area. I do however think our ‘grammar’ needs to coalesce around some sort of standard for mapping out a marketing stack. Having a certain established and accepted way of talking about this, visually, would be of great help to everyone. Sure, one company’s needs are going to vary from that of another, and you may not be able to create a single universal ‘one-size-fits-all’ form, but having some type of structure would allow those just building stacks to have a sorely needed foundation.
While I don’t have an answer for this issue, I would like to put forth the elements I think are key in the development of this framework. Any visualization would have to take into account the following:
- Interconnectivity – Where is the handoff made from one tool to the next? Understanding these connections highlights the need for smooth integration as well. If you have great tools that don’t work well together, you’re going to be in trouble. A framework helps work this out in advance. You don’t want to find out Tool A and Tool B don’t speak the same language after you’ve made that 12 month commitment.
- Customer Journey – Related to the above, not only should you understand the connections between the tools, but also how they connect to the customer. This will help when you are building your marketing strategy. Understanding the order in which a prospect sees your search ad, landing page, retargeting ad, email, etc. can help ensure you are properly moving them through the funnel with a coherent message.
- Future-proof – Chances are the marketing stack you build today will be different than the one you have in 16 months. Don’t build a framework that fits together so tightly that it leaves no room adaptability. If you remove one piece as the features of another grow, will you still have a coherent system?
- Elegance – If your framework is so convoluted that you can’t make heads or tails of it, it’s not much good to you. This is often overlooked by non-coders who tend to believe that complexity connotes intelligence. In fact, a simple, clean and easy to scan framework will be the most helpful. On some levels this is the hardest element. Taking what is potentially a very complicated issue and keeping it from becoming something unmanageable.
- Aesthetics/Design – Different than Elegance, aesthetics is more about form and less about function. Font/logo size, color-coding, shapes, lines… all these things play an important part in putting together a framework as well. Even the best thought out system will suffer without proper consideration given to design.
If you’ve got a great idea for designing a marketing technology stack framework, I’d love to hear from you.