5 Ways to Avoid a Martech Disaster

A recent report by Bynder and OnBrand found that 90% of brands cite struggling to “identify the right technologies to serve as an extension of their brand” as their biggest challenge. That’s significant, revealing, and not at all surprising. Brands realize that Customer Engagement Optimization is critical. The Martech space has exploded; from 150 to over 5,000 vendors in about 5 years. As we all know, the amount of customer data has also exploded. And customer expectations have grown with it—setting the stage for not only higher satisfaction in the experience, but also more integrated automation platforms with AI-driven content. Finding the right technology to use your customer data and communicate your brand voice authentically is daunting. It’s hard to know where to even start.

Wilson Advertising specializes in Customer Engagement Optimization and creating strategies that turn it into a competitive difference. We have identified five keys to ensuring that your brand personality is aligned with your Martech solution or platform.

1. Stop Thinking About Yourself for a Minute

Think, “What does my customer want to talk about?” Not what do you want to tell them. This means listening.

Start by asking these three simple questions: What do they want? Why do they want it? How can I help them get it? That will direct you to what customers want and what role they want you to play. If you don’t get to those questions and their needs, you’ll at a minimum be tuned out, worse, possibly break their trust. For example, consider text messaging. Is yours the type of product or service where the customer would really appreciate a text from you? Will it make their day better? Or is that how you want to communicate with them?

2. Focus on the Customer’s Purpose

Isolate and separate transactional communications from the brand and conversational communications. Keep it simple. Don’t push your transactions into the conversation. Always remember to stay in your element, Donnie.

From the brand’s perspective, it’s logical to extend the conversation. “While you’re here,” thinks the brand, “let me tell you about …” But that’s taking advantage of the relationship and making it awkward. For example, when I use the ATM at my bank (that will remain nameless) they put up a series of screens with offers for other products that I’m forced to read before I can complete the transaction I came for. Let me do my business, get out, and not hold up the line. There’s a time and place for the message; the busy line at the ATM is neither. And I have to do it every time. You know my answer from the last 100 times we’ve done this. At least the “no thanks” button is in a consistent place.

3. Marketing ≠ Implementing Tech Projects

Ask yourself: if you had all the best data actively and harmoniously living in a utopian integrated-automated Martech environment … what would you do next? Take your answer to that question and focus on it NOW AND FIRST.

If the majority of your daily challenges and issues are technical, you’re not giving your brand and its strategy the focus it deserves. Technology will enable you, but it won’t solve the marketing and communication problems at the heart of your business. In fact, it will often just make your real problem that much more apparent. Put another way, the goal of marketing shouldn’t be to check off new technology implementations. It should be to improve the engagement with customers.

Understand where each tool fits in relation to your customer engagement challenges. Determine what you can accomplish now, what’s missing, and what needs to happen most urgently. This will organically prioritize your steps.


4. Cut One Thing from your Marketing Stack Today

Let something go now. Why? The process of picking one to cut will be one of the most valuable things you can do today. It’s tough, costs nothing, saves money, and it makes you think strategically about which solutions provide real value that you can’t live without.

The first step is to conduct an assessment of what you have, a valuable exercise in its own right. Not only do you need to know what your organization currently has in place, but where it goes, what it’s attached to, and who uses it. That’s how you’ll determine the overall impact. You’ll likely be surprised. The 2017 Internet Trends report found that the average enterprise uses 91 marketing cloud services.

I’ll go out on a limb and say with some confidence that there is no way that these 91 platforms are integrated or were even considered the brand voice when they were adopted. It was a new shiny toy that marketing could play with, didn’t need IT to implement, and away they went. And most of these aren’t enterprise-ready from either a security or scalability standpoint according to the same report. Want more? Sales has another 43 services you need to consider in your assessment because they could impact the brand as well.

5. Understand Time and Apply it to Strategy

Many industries (financial services, for example) have been criticized for being “slow” to the digital table. Hogwash. It’s more like being a mature brand in a digital arms race.

Every new SaaS Martech propaganda version will have another version, and another version and another … and each one will probably come with cleaner, more effective implantation and integrations with other data sources and platforms. Be clear about the difference between what is cool and hip now versus what is strategically important and possible. Don’t forget that it’s what is important to your customer and that you are traveling on that journey with them. Remember when banks forced new chip-card debit and credit cards on U.S. consumers? They rolled out before the e-readers and technology were ready because it solved a problem for the banks, not customers. Don’t make your problem the customer’s problem.

Parting Words: Be Intentional and Don’t Give It Away

If we could offer some last words of advice, never under-negotiate your software license contracts: it’s SaaS software for crying out loud (remember Facebook is free). Ask for the world tactfully, and in a way that you see your world in the future. Share your vision and know that you have options—almost 5,000 of them. That’s why we’re having this discussion. All and everything imaginable is negotiable.

One thing that our clients have found especially valuable is a custom Martech Roadmap. It includes a Playbook on how to navigate different routes to achieve stated goals, along with a Decision Tree that details how to operationally execute the journey. This has proven to be an invaluable resource, a veritable Martech GPS. And guess what? It’s about the customer and the destination … not the satellite or blue ball.

Look ahead. Seriously imagine your brand and its personality in the future. What does that look like to you and what would your customers see as authentic? AHHH, feels good being a marketer again, doesn’t it? What would make your brand authentic and magic in its interactions with customers? Then work back to what you need to make it happen. You can’t control time, but you can control what fills it, how and when. It’s your strategy, don’t let Martech vendors hijack it.

For more information and insights about the Martech stack and Customer Engagement Optimization, check out and subscribe to the Wilson Bridge, a video show focused on the topic.

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Sources / Notes:

Mary Meeker Internet Trends: http://www.kpcb.com/internet-trends
Bynder and OnBrand Report: https://onbrand.me/state-of-branding-report-2018/
Scott Brinker Martech Landscape: https://chiefmartec.com/2017/06/average-enterprise-uses-91-marketing-cloud-services/