Beware the Ides of Martech: 6 adages to heed as you begin using martech in earnest

Being late to the martech space has its advantages. Besides learning from the industry's experience in ad tech, says contributor Malcolm Cox, you can also draw upon these six old adages.

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Wise Owl Teacher Ss 1920Late last year, Gartner published a report that predicted that CMOs would spend more on technology than CTOs or IT directors this year.

Seismic reverberations resonated around the business community. Had we reached a tipping point? A transfer of power from the tech team to the marketing team?

Additionally, some CMOs wondered if they were missing out if they weren’t yet spending more than techie colleagues. Just as the soothsayer warned Julius Caesar of his impending death, should the CMO –- yet to embrace the full advantages of martech –- fear for their life (or at least their longevity in their current position)? Should we beware the Ides of Martech?

This idea came to mind when I was discussing upcoming marketing programs with the CMO of a global snacks firm recently. He was telling me how he was using sports associations to drive trial and loyalty regionally.

I asked him how he stored and managed customer data, and he said, “Oh, we’re a bit late onto all that.” Upon reflection, we agreed that many marketers find themselves in the same boat that he was — fashionably late.

Just like when you’re going to a party, being fashionably late has its advantages. You have a better idea of what you’re walking into, and you can learn from others who showed up early.

Arguably, the martech industry is in its infancy. Automation and programmatic trading have driven the media world for the last five years, so perhaps those checking into the martech space can pick up some tips from those who’ve dived into ad tech.

Here are some olden-day proverbs adapted for the modern marketing era.

1. Forewarned is forearmed.

Research! Have a plan and be clear about your purpose and objectives.

Collecting data? Managing data? What do you intend to do with it? Look before you leap!

2. Beware those bearing gifts.

Apparently, there are 5,000 vendors in the martech space. Just like in the ad tech space, there will be consolidation. So, choose your friends wisely.

We marketers enjoy flashy salesmanship. So make sure you look beneath the surface for strong, robust technology tested over time, not just a shiny service layer.

3.  A friend in need is a friend indeed.

The CTO or IT director may be feeling unloved if their budgets are making way for yours. Yet, you’ll no doubt benefit from their skills and experience with technology buying.

They could even help you integrate tech into stacks smoothly and efficiently. Looking at marketing tech budgets holistically with the IT budget seems a smart tactic.

4. Out with the old, in with the new.

Media agencies, which were once the most profitable part of the agency ecosystem, must change or be changed.

Is your media agency best placed to assist you? Which tasks will you take in-house? Many CMOs are recalibrating their agency relationships. Which will suit you best?

5. Different flowers make a bouquet.

Think about the composition of your team. Bringing in engineers and helping them understand marketing could be valuable, just as it’s valuable to encourage marketers to learn about software.

Celebrate team members with methodical, deterministic skills. People with process management and behavioral management skills will be invaluable to assist with organizational change.

6. It’s my party (and I’ll cry if I want to).

Well, it’s not exactly a proverb. But remember that you’re in control and leading the change.

Ensure you’re driving the changes with a customer-first, better-experience agenda. The fundamental role of marketing remains unchanged. The technology is there to make our jobs easier, freeing us to focus on delighting customers faster, easier and smarter. Let’s get on with that.

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily MarTech. Staff authors are listed here.

About the author

Malcolm Cox
Malcolm Cox is CMO of Grapeshot, a role he took on after gaining experience in the media, music and agency worlds. Malcolm spent thirteen years working with music and media company Emap, where he created the Magic brand and launched Kiss -- both radio stations -- and reinvigorated weekly music magazine Kerrang! After Emap, Malcolm founded brand activation agency Naked Lunch. Here he created award-winning work for Sony, Nokia, Kickers, IKEA and Nike, staying on at the Naked Group as a director after selling the agency in 2008.

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