How does Martech Stack messaging stack up?
A weekend update for your reading pleasure
Nearly every Enterprise faces inconsistent, unpredictable growth. Yet, marketers are tasked with generating demand.
Sidebar: demand is located or discovered from hidden unmet needs in the market. Marketers simply tap into that demand if they have a product that addresses those unmet needs. They don’t create it.
Their reward comes from revenue even though they play a single role in a larger cast of required characters that are all essential in creating revenue. We have to look beyond marketing to solve the problem of sustained growth, but we can look at their outputs to learn what they know about the objectives of the markets they are targeting.
Why am I talking about this? Well, here’s how I used to start my presentations:
While I haven't updated the data in these slides lately, this is still true today. Companies are in search of the evasive formula for successful long-term growth. So why doesn't someone solve this problem?
Many have tried. I worked for a company who leads on the front-end of innovation. Their process results in outputs that make product development and marketing more effective. But, it doesn’t work in a vacuum. Why isn't anyone systemizing approaches like these and integrating them into end-to-end digital business platforms?
We are at a critical juncture in the digital transformation of Martech, and CRM in general. I believe vendors (current or future) should be focusing much less on the theater of marketing and sales, and much more on the front end of innovation and marketing planning, where modern day marketers are struggling.
The end result is that marketers are forced to rely on broad and confusing messaging that could apply to almost anything; leaving the customer to figure out if it solves their problem.
Powerful alone. Better together
For decades now, we have promoted the message of functional integration. It makes sense, because we (companies) want to better enable our ability to track customers over the entire life of their relationship with our brand. But the obvious flaw in the thinking is that it focuses primarily on observable customer touch points, and the company's backstage activities that align to them. That sounds good, right?
More coming soon on this
What about the things marketers have to do before they can realize those touch points? I addressed that in my last piece. But more importantly, what activities do prospective customers engage in that happen before, during and after our interactions with them? Can we see them? Do we measure them?
If you haven't asked your customer, or prospect, the question "How are you doing?" you will likely never find ways to facilitate these hidden prospect objectives. If you could, it would be a game changer. How might we find those, and then message marketing teams (our customers) with solutions to the problems they are actually frustrated with, but just haven't articulated on their own.
How do you define powerful? How do you define better? Where is the purposeful messaging that will resonate effortlessly with prospects?
Personalize Buyer Experiences / Orchestrate Journeys
The opportunity that I presented in my last post relates to the front-end of marketing. Planning, analysis and design of marketing tactics require inputs that could be systematized by CRM vendors, but are not. As a result, you can sing to the people who believe that a personalized buyer experience will translate to more revenue; but if you don't facilitate the development of the correct inputs, the personalization will become expensive, and fail.
Orchestrating journeys has less to do with figuring out how to drive prospects to lower cost channels than it does with understanding what the core customer objectives are in a market segment. With this understanding, we might accelerate their decision-making process by addressing under-served outcomes in our messages, and the resources we provide at touch points. Configuring channels and touch points is simply a means to an end. Analyzing the interactions without truly understanding the "Why" is cool, but irrelevant...if you are seeking sustained, profitable growth.
And it's not all on marketing. Everyone in the company should focus on a common objective and work seamlessly to that end.
Make experience your business
Are we selling experiences, or are we selling accomplishments wrapped in experiences? I once had to take a train to work in Manhattan. I was forced to do this because of the traffic, the cost of tolls and the cost of parking. Taking the train was simply the most practical means to commute. I hated it. Back then, I couldn't listen to the radio or communicate via text (or phone) because we weren't yet in that age. I often had to walk through sketchy neighborhoods to and from the train station (e.g., South Bronx circa 1988). I had to be around sketchy people for many hours a day.
Positive: I learned to properly fold the Wall Street Journal
No matter how many smiles I saw, or how many beers I could drink, there was no way that the experience was going to make me happy. My goal was to get to whatever bank I was assigned to, and get home. But I also had related jobs that needed to get done during the week as well. I couldn't stop along the way to pick up groceries, pickup dinner, or workout. I was unable to get them done on the platform I was forced to choose. Experience matters, but only if the core objective is satisfactorily met.
Make the customer's core objective your business - achieve sustained profitable growth. What if your goal was to make that happen for your customers (and you)? Stop saying “we can’t” and start ask “what if?”
Use data to create irresistible connected experiences
Getting back to my point above, experience doesn't matter, if you're not addressing a customer's core objective with your solution - or your messaging. I wrote a piece about what I view as the 14 Universal Journeys of Customer Experience, as well as My initial layout of journey integration. To me, those are what connected experiences are and follow many of the logical rules of process integration. Nothing too surprising there.
The data we have grown to love is backward looking. It assumes that we can manage, or react to the intent of buyers buy watching the pathways they take. The problem is that when decisions are being made by prospects, and they abandon your pathway, assumptions take over as to why. Is it about the experience they just had?
Well, yea. You didn't address their core objective and they made the decision to drop out. They may come back and enter at some other point. It's great if you can track that. But, we still don't know why they are here, where they left, why where they left wasn't good enough, etc.
The data you must demand in order to create perfect connected experiences should inform you as to what a group of prospects are trying to accomplish and how well they believe current solutions are helping them. If you haven't done that well, there's no experience that will make up for it. Sorry.
We bring companies and customers together
This sounds like the definition of "platform" and is extremely generic. Diners Club brought restaurants and consumers together, malls bring retailers and consumers together, hospitals bring physicians and patients together.
Taking the platform play, what if vendors could help their customers achieve sustained profitable growth on a single platform? Imagine, no more consultants, agencies, or subject matter experts continually experimenting with new, untested approaches in product planning, growth strategy, messaging, and experience design. Just imagine that.
If these groups were so good at what they do, why not systemize the methods? Likely, it's because it's theater. I've read the books. The white space is blinding. And there's money to be made filling in the gaps, regardless of the shelf life of the output. After all, books are often used to sell consulting.
But there are systems that could work. It's just that no one is digitalizing them because there is too much critical mass in these cottage industries, and it’s moving in the opposite direction. And they aren't as sexy as the theater.
The messaging we see is often the result of solutions that do not have a specific target problem. That’s not the fault of marketers, but it results in marketing theater. We have a lot of work to do.
I know, it’s a bitter pill.