Fireside Chat with Scott Brinker

Scott Brinker
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Scott Brinker talks about his Martech journey.

The March of Martech 

Marketing is quickly becoming one of the most technically advanced professions in the business world. That’s still pretty surprising to many people, as marketing historically had been on the opposite end of the spectrum — highly creative, but not particularly technical.

This blend of technical and creative skills is fascinating, and we’re only going to see a greater entwining of those talents in the years ahead. It will be more than creative and technology in two separate buckets. It will be how you creatively apply technology — and how much technical and analytical rigor you can bring to your creative.

Martech is in a period of tremendous innovation, and I think we’re only in the third or fourth inning of where it’s headed. The more ideas from science fiction start to become real in people’s lives, the more amazing opportunities marketers are going to have to leverage that technology to deliver remarkable customer experiences.

The biggest draw at the MarTech Conference

MarTech Conference

The whole mission of MarTech is to assemble a vendor-neutral program of presentations by real-world practitioners. I love martech vendors — I work for one myself — but it’s easy enough to get polished vendor narratives from their marketing and sales teams.

For MarTech, I want attendees to hear the unpolished ground truth.

What is it really like to run a multi-vendor marketing technology stack as an engine of growth and customer delight in a variety of different businesses? What’s your marketing operations architecture? What’s your marketing strategy to harness these capabilities? How do you change the way you manage the marketing organization to take advantage of them?

I think this vendor-agnostic, anti-hype program is the biggest draw to the conference.

 Convergence of marketing, sales and data analytics technologies

Convergence of marketing

The most powerful concept in digital transformation is the breaking down of organizational silos from the last century. While you still have different teams and different specialities, they’re now continuously connected through common systems and data. Everything revolves around continuity for the customers, from marketing and sales, to service and operations.

This is a huge change in the way in which a company runs. While the technology to enable this is already available today, most organizations are finding that the changes to their processes and management structure — and even more so their culture — are the really hard challenges of digital transformation.

This is one of the reasons that we feature a “management” track in the MarTech conference. I think digging into the issues of how we adapt our management approaches to this new environment is incredibly important — and often overlooked. It’s not about flashy marketing campaigns or cool new technologies. It’s about the reinvention of work in a digital world. But that’s where companies stand to unleash tremendous innovation within their teams.

Read Also: Dreamforce TechBytes with Scott Brinker, VP Platform Ecosystem, HubSpot

Marketers should focus on …

Every technology in your marketing stack should be connected with driving ROI. Some may be easier to attribute than others. But if you don’t have a rational explanation for how a particular tool impacts your company’s performance, then why are you wasting time on it?

Don’t underestimate the power of getting core systems right — CRM, marketing automation, web content management. If your foundation isn’t solid, both technically and operationally, then adopting more niche tools on top of it will almost certainly create more problems than they solve.

Biggest threats to the adoption of Martech

Martech is challenging for people for two main reasons.

First, it’s continuing to change — and change rapidly. There’s so much innovation happening out there that it is difficult to keep of it all. (I know, I’ve tried.) So it’s easy for people to feel overwhelmed and feel defensive about what they’re adopting. There isn’t a magic bullet here, and you can’t just close your eyes and wish it was simpler. You need to learn to adapt to a world of constant change.

Second, as we discussed above, success with martech is much more about changes to your marketing and management than it is the technology itself. And the management changes required to unlock the value of these technologies doesn’t come easy. People tend to underestimate the effort that will be necessary for that transformation, and it can be frustrating trying to push that boulder uphill.

Expand Your Marketing, Sales and Ad-Tech stacks

Occam’s Razor — or, maybe it should be Occam’s Martech Stack? — other things being equal, the simplest martech stack is best. You don’t want to overcomplicate things. But at the same time, you don’t want to oversimplify them either.

Keep your marketing stack as simple as it can be — but no simpler.

When expanding your marketing stack, make sure you have a clear vision of the capability that you want to enable for your organization. Don’t get distracted by slick demos and cool features. Stay focused on the marketing muscles that you want to develop and the use cases that are directly relevant to your business and your customers.

Tackling Ad Fraud

Ad fraud

I’m going to go out on a limb. I believe that adtech is going to be thoroughly disrupted by blockchain technologies within two years. And on the other side of that disruption, we’ll have a much more rationalized and reliable digital advertising ecosystem.

What startups in the tech ecosystem are you watching/keen on right now?

I’m fascinated by “citizen” technologies — tools that enable citizen developers, citizen integrations, citizen data scientists. I’ve been looking at Airtable as one of the more recent companies in this space.

I think this is an incredibly powerful paradigm for enabling non-technical marketers to craft new kinds of customer experiences and reinvent the way they do their work in much more innovative and efficient ways.

One of our keynotes at the upcoming MarTech conference will be a special panel on these citizen technologies that I’ll be hosting with the CEO of IFTTT, the CEO of Zapier, and the CMO of Tableau.

The combination of new low-code/no-code platforms, a digital transformation mandate, and the embrace of agile management methodologies is a perfect storm for empowering marketing operations staff, power users, and — in some very interesting cases — even customers and partners to tailor marketing’s “digital operating system” to their needs.

Thank You, Scott, for answering all our questions. We hope to see you again at MTS, soon.