marketing technology

As digital marketing becomes more powerful and marketing automation pounds away at our inboxes, it feels like marketing is struggling to make an impact.

Marketing technology is turning marketing into a game of digital bombardment. You barely touch someone’s Website and an email immediately asks if you want a demo. C’mon, we’re having a nice, casual chat and you want to elope to Las Vegas! Down, boy, down!

These days, marketing is more about eroding a consumer’s defenses than getting them excited about the value delivered by your product.

It’s not marketing. It’s unmarketing.

In a recent blog post, Mark Schaefer rightly declares that marketing technology is “sucking the life out of the marketing profession”.

The heart, the soul, the truest pulse of marketing is vaporizing because our profession is turning into a glorified IT function. Marketing strategy is being derived from data scientists, SEO gurus, and statisticians doing A/B testing in a back room somewhere. We are implementing strategies and tactics based on what statistically is supposed to work, instead of what customers really want.

Meanwhile, OpenView Partners’ Ashley Minogue suggests that one of the SaaS trends of 2018 is that marketing “becomes more human”.

B2B marketing has moved away from a “spray and pray” approach to a more personalized conversation that treats leads like people. And this trend is so much more than just account-based marketing. More than ever, marketing in 2018 will be focused on storytelling and education all in an effort to build trust (and, of course, win deals)

The proliferation of online marketing tools is making life easier for marketers. At their fingertips, they can quickly create and distribute content, engage on social media, and launch campaigns. It is a marketer’s playground with cool and inexpensive toys at their disposal.

At the same time, however, marketing technology is making marketers fat and lazy.

Why be creative and strategic when there are tools to assault consumers. Marketing is now a quantity rather than a quality proposition. If you pester people long enough, some of them will eventually surrender.

In my consulting business, my efforts to convince startups and fast-growing companies about the power of storytelling often fails to resonate. Many entrepreneurs believe success and all the answers are solved with marketing technology and data.

They pore over their dashboards and analytics. Decisions are made based on slight changes in traffic and data as if marketing is a science experiment. If the right levers are pulled, three cherries appear and they hit the jackpot.

Meanwhile, marketing suffers or doesn’t happen. I’m talking about marketing that is creative, customer-centric, highlights benefits and triggers emotions. Maybe this is an old-school approach to marketing. But it’s marketing that meets consumer needs rather than treating consumers as data points to be manipulated and hacked.

Marketers need to focus on the fundamentals. We need to know our customer’s interests, pains, dreams, and how they research and make buying decisions. We need to talk to our customers on regular basis rather than taking them for granted.

Marketers must think strategically, tactically and creatively. It means putting aside the data and technology to create marketing that resonates. It’s marketing that inspires, excites, motivates, scares, intrigues and tantalizes.

It’s marketing that tells compelling stories. It is marketing such as Starbucks’ Upstanders film series, spearheaded by Howard Schultz and Rajiv Chandrasekaran, a former Washington Post editor and now Starbucks’ VP, public affairs.

In a Forbes column, Chandrasekaran says that storytelling is central to the growth and development of brands. “Humans relate to story. If they can be moved by powerful stories, funny stories, inspiring stories, stories that bring joy into their hearts or get them to see things differently, they will develop a deeper affinity to a brand.”

Chandrasekaran touches upon a crucial element of marketing that is pushed to the background by marketing technology. Many decisions by consumers, including purchases, are triggered by emotions. And storytelling is a powerful way to make that happen.

When a brand’s marketing is underpinned by strategy, storytelling, and creativity, marketing technology spreads the word far and wide. Success happens when marketing is more than just software, data geeks, automated messages and never-ending pop-up boxes.

As Mark Schaefer says, marketing technology is becoming more ubiquitous but marketers should be lasar-focused on what consumers love.


I make marketing work for fast-growing companies…and companies looking to grow faster.

Through strategic and tactical services, I create marketing that drives brand awareness, customer engagement and sales growth. My approach to marketing is underpinned by storytelling, creativity, and proven frameworks.

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