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From Barrier to Enabler: Shifting to a New MarTech Perspective

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mrm-mccann logoWhen it comes to MarTech, it often feels like marketers have to navigate between two parallel galaxies simultaneously: the need to get back to the brilliant basics and the urge to continuously evolve and adopt to the emerging tech and channels. For this reason, marketers might often be left with the impression that MarTech is complex and overwhelming. MarTech can quickly become a barrier to growth. I’m listing here the most common pitfalls.

  1. The right solution, the wrong mindset

Marketers have been sold the right solution yet have been given the wrong mindset. When companies are looking for a reset button the idea of having a silver bullet is quite tempting. Companies are ready to pay millions to purchase the tech yet they omit the fact that it might require the same investment to make it work: think strategy, setup, customization and optimization.

Marketers know how to buy tech – even the right tech ­­– but don’t possess the knowledge to use it to transform the way they do their work, whether the goal is to provide seamless customer experience, build a stronger brand or improve efficiency and collaboration.

  1. Short-term focus

I’m not sure if this is directly linked to the short tenure of CMOs, but MarTech is often planned with a limited, short-term view. The reason why so many MarTech implementation projects fail is because they are being treated as IT projects (test, deploy, fix, done, next). Marketers know that building trust and meaningful relationships with customers requires time, just as achieving MarTech success does.

  1. Focus is on the shiny tool, not on the core platforms

The ‘new shiny tool’ syndrome gets worse usually at the beginning of the year, just when the new budgets are released. Marketers start looking at the new shiny tool that’s going to give them a competitive advantage as well as help them transform the way they do business. However, the missing element is that transformation starts at the core. If companies would work on transforming the core systems they use, they’d make improvements so much faster.

There is no one right way of going through a Digital Transformation journey and changing your MarTech from barrier to enabler. I’m adding here a couple of pointers:

Three ways to shift to a new paradigm

1. Build self-awareness

Step 1 is to understand your why: why you’re doing it and what you are trying to achieve as a business. Understand how keeping up and embracing the new trends would add value to your customers and help your business differentiate. Clearly communicate your ‘why’ back to the business.

Step 2 is to conduct a comprehensive audit. Marketers invest a lot of time in creating future-oriented strategies and rightly so. However, in many cases, they need to look back in order to see a better way forward. My recommendation here is to audit often and thoroughly. It might be a painful exercise to look into your past and point out all the things that didn’t turn out as planned. But equally, this is an opportunity to understand the strengths and the best next actions. Your path forward might be defined by the starting point and understanding this will help you to craft targeted growth initiatives.

2. Approach change as a phased journey

Moving from denial to awareness and from acceptance to action is a journey that requires time, dedication and work. Change might be one of the most difficult things to achieve. Humans might like the idea of change, but it’s difficult to actually change, especially at the organizational level. And once we do accept that change is needed, we want it all to happen at the same time, instantly. However, with MarTech, similar to many other areas of our life, it needs to be a phased approach, you do need to grow in stages to ensure that this growth is not overwhelming and suffocating.

A framework that I find useful to explain this concept is the 3S maturity level.

  • Sink
  • Swim
  • Surf

Your own ability to swim or surf is directly linked to your current maturity model, efficiencies, and confidence.

We all want to surf, but it might take some time to fully master the skill. Your learning trajectory is going to be dependent on how agile and how well you manage to align your 4Ps internally (people, platform, planning, processes). That’s why I think a phased approach works best when looking to leverage your MarTech. It takes time to understand what your MarTech strengths are and which gaps you need to fill. Most of the time platforms are not the bottleneck, the process is. And that’s something you learn by managing your own pain points.

3. Be purposeful about your MarTech

As a marketer, you don’t necessarily have to be obsessed with tech. If there is anything that you really need to obsess over, then it should be your clients. This mantra should guide everything, including the way you approach MarTech. It will help you to ensure that every tech solution is making your customer experience better and your brand more memorable.

The availability of MarTech has driven a ‘buy now and buy fast‘ approach to tech, trading long-term sustainability and scalability. Hence, marketers have a huge opportunity and responsibility to be purposeful about MarTech. Embracing MarTech is not a once-and-done effort. It’s about constantly finding better methods to improve existing capabilities. And it’s also about living with change and turning the new challenges into opportunities and MarTech from barriers to an enabler of growth and change.


There is no such thing as achieving success nirvana overnight. Success in the new digital world depends on MarTech literacy which covers everything from Programs, Platforms, Processes, and People. It’s clear that MarTech success really demands an alchemical mixture of strategy, creativity, organizational structure, approach to execution and purpose to fully leverage tech.

Read more: MarTech and AdTech Need to Work Together to Address Attention Fatigue for Enterprise Brands

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