This issue, we find ourselves peering over the balcony pondering the fate of the idea that “more tech will fix it”. We hear from a queue of folks on hand to help, will it make a splash?

This month, inspiring our trip to the balcony of the Rockstar CMO penthouse is Ian Lowe, VP Marketing for web content management vendor CrownPeak and the view he shared with us in his Backstage Q&A that technology is often seen as a panacea for marketing problems:

Digital transformation suites are not a panacea for digital marketing. There’s this idea out there that you can just buy a technology and all of your digital marketing problems can be solved – personalization, optimization, content. Companies that buy in to that often find, years and millions of dollars later, that they haven’t achieved any of the promises.

There’s no substitute for the hard work of marketing: creating great messages and finding your audience. Figure out your strategy, then select the best of breed technologies that let you deliver that strategy with maximum speed and agility.

This is perhaps a surprising assertion from a leader of a marketing software company, but it’s something we’ve heard from his peers. Tom Wentworth, who was CMO of RapidMiner when we interviewed him for our fifth issue and is now SVP Product Marketing at Acquia shared this:

Technology. I’m done obsessing over my marketing tech stack and the endless vendor pitches I receive about how some random product I’ve never heard of is going to reinvent or transform something. I’ve got a simple tech stack and plan on keeping it that way.

Tom Wentworth

The point here is not about throwing all marketing technology into the Swimming Pool. That would be crazy. We can’t close Pandora’s technological box and besides, marketing technology has been a marvellous asset to the craft as we’ve explored before.

What we need to do is get past the obsessive idea that tech will solve a specific marketing problem in the absence of a strategy. This was wonderfully observed by The Content Marketing Institute’s Robert Rose in The Ghost of the Machines issue:

Today, in many cases I see the marketing strategy complying with whatever technology is available, rather than creating differentiating experiences. By some estimates marketing practitioners in business now spend up to 30% of their time either purchasing, implementing, learning or configuring new marketing technology. That’s a third of our time we’re NOT spending in creating great experiences for our customers.

Robert Rose

This is supported by data from Gartner which shows that not only are we spending a third of our time on technology, but also a third of our budgets.

It seems I have witnesses queuing round the block for the prosecution. Even those peers whose role it is to convince us marketers to slip a bit more technology into our lives understand the benefits will be short-lived for both if all the tech does is delay the realization it’s the message or the strategy that’s flawed. Or – worst case – the technology allows us to make our mistakes bigger, faster or louder.

So… YES, with a bit of a heave and the help of a few of our Rockstars, spiralling down to our portal to marketing hell is “More Tech Will Fix It”.


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