Scott Brinker on stage during his keynote at MarTech Conference East in Boston.
Scott Brinker on stage during his keynote at MarTech Conference East in Boston. PHOTO: MarTech Conference/Hill Media Group

BOSTON — Is marketing technology (martech) in a “trough of disillusionment,” to borrow a term from Gartner’s Hype Cycle? Scott Brinker said he hopes so. The author of the Chief Marketing Technologist blog says the martech hype is finally dying down, allowing marketers to do “real work.”

That was one of the MarTech Conference founder’s messages at this week’s conference at the Hynes Convention Center. Brinker also is creator of the Marketing Technology Landscape Supergraphic, which claims marketers have 7,040 marketing technology solutions from which to choose.

Being in a martech trough of disillusionment gives marketers the sense to build and manage tools with sense and purpose, according to Brinker. It’s leading “marketing tech up the slope of enlightenment,” Brinker told the Tuesday morning crowd at the 2,000-attendee conference in his opening keynote. 

Time to Celebrate Martech's Disillusionment

Marketing technologists such as marketing ops leaders and marketing executives should be celebrating the dive into the “trough” because the hype is finally dying down and marketers are focusing on real work, real skills and real talent to get real marketing work done, Brinker said. Marketers have come to the realization that martech will not do all the heavy lifting for you and that real work on integrations and collaboration across multiple departments is the new reality.

The hype, Brinker said, can be “way beyond anything the technology can actually deliver.” Forget all the wild claims in martech about what the technology can do and focus on doing real work and how we can get better, he encouraged marketers.

Related Article: What Does Martech's Ecosystem Evolution Mean for Marketers?

The Eight Principles of Marketing

Brinker also outlined the case for living beyond the “four principles of marketing”: product, price, place, promotion. Brinker bumped his own version up to eight principles of self-service marketing. Marketers must consider technological and personnel when working with their martech stack. A self-service marketing model allows for many diverse ideas among marketing teams, learning that is widely distributed and the overlying goal of adaptability rather than “controlled efficiency” in an “embedded” marketing model where learning is limited to a few. Self-service marketing is “absorbed” into the martech process and not “embedded," Brinker added.

Brinker emphasized that in his eight principles, marketers need to be thinking about governance in their martech stack, teaching people and learning from one another, and empowering passionate team members. Marketers must also remember to think about their brand’s most important principles with each and every decision they make.

Related Article: Why the New York Times Merged Martech With Engineering

Are You Really Doing Agile Marketing?

Speaking of doing the work in marketing, Matt LeMay followed Brinker Tuesday morning and discussed the values of bringing agile work methodologies into marketing. Lemay is the author of Agile For Everybody and co-founder and partner of Sudden Compass.

One of the first steps on the path to agile is for marketers to recognize agile is not about a framework, technology or software. Rather, it’s an opportunity to understand each other’s work and bring people together around continuous delivery of value. It’s not easy to listen to other teams in a cross-functional setting, but the benefits outweigh the degree of difficulty, he added. 

Why work together? Marketers too often think only they truly understand the customer. At the same time, product managers will tout the same virtues — only we understand the customer and how they’re using our products.

It’s when teams “embrace that everyone has their own perspective on the customer” and when we can “understand the customer through a different lens” that teams work better together and customers benefit.

Hiring for Agile Remains Challenging

Hiring for talent that fits into an agile framework represents a big challenge for organizations and marketing teams, according to Anand Thaker, principal at IntelliPhi. Catching up with CMSWire at the MarTech Conference Tuesday, Thaker said his big takeaway at MarTech on Day 1 Tuesday was agile. 

“Now that more organizations are in it, we're trying to understand how to define it, and how to hire for it, how to evolve for it, and how to be more productive with it,” Thaker told CMSWire. “And that's what we're seeing — the change with what agile really means.”

If you’re data driven or analytics driven, how do you prioritize? “So the big gap now with new agile teams is how do you hire for leadership inspiration, and being able to understand how to bring all of it together, not just being technically proficient. The pendulum continues to swing back, again, in terms of managing people, plus the technology, not just managing the technology.”

Related Article: The Components of a Martech Dream Team

Martech Vendors: We’re Part of the Problem

OK, so the martech vendors didn’t say that directly, but we caught up with multiple vendors at martech who discussed the challenge of sorting through the thousands of available martech solutions. Each of them discussed the landscape of martech being so crowded, it's difficult for marketers to know where to invest.

Adrienne Joselow, senior product marketing manager at Mailchimp, discussed the availability of more than 7,000 martech solutions and how it’s a “huge challenge” for marketers. Understanding their single source of truth for data and whether to consolidate solutions remains challenging, too.

Brian Warrick, senior sales manager at Magnolia, also mentioned the “plethora” of martech solutions facing marketers and noted the challenge of orchestration. How do you actually get it all to work together and fulfill your promises?

Another problem in martech is building a large marketing stack where tools go unused, according to Mary Bruce, director of demand generation at Swrve, who added, “Being able to figure all those (martech tools) out and get them into one place is a challenge.”