Marketers’ Community debut event a success

Originally posted in Minnesota Business Magazine

Yesterday, was the debut Marketers’ Community event curated by Laura King. The event sold out in two days and had a long waiting list, signaling that the marketing community is looking for alternative ways to learn and network.

The first topic, in a series to follow, focused on MarTech: Lessons learned in the trenches, and was hosted at Indeed. A packed room engaged with a panel of five MarTech experts including Jennifer Zink from Authentic Brand, Melissa Kane from Thomson Reuters, Kevin Quinlan from Land O’Lakes, Tracey Ellis from Leadous, and Mike Benard from Reeher.

The discussion covered everything from the vast landscape of MarTech options marketers can chose from to getting back to the basics of marketing. Overall, the panelists agreed that most companies, big and small, are struggling with marketing automation for a number a reasons. It could be that a company has too many disparate systems that don’t work well together or the perception that marketing automation automates marketing.

One of the biggest struggles is a disconnect from the top leadership to the marketing executors. The term marketing automation insinuates that spending big dollars on a top-of-the-line tool like Marketo, Eloqua or Pardot will automate your process. In reality, you will probably need more staff to manage the process from content developers to campaign architects to marketing technologists.

They suggest asking yourself these questions as you look at your marketing automation:

  • What is your message and who do you want to hear it?
  • Do you have the right content to support your marketing campaigns?
  • How’s your database? Do you have good contacts or does the database need to be scrubbed?
  • Who’s going to manage the campaign architecture and who’s going to manage marketing automation tools?
  • What features do you really need in a tool and is the tool you want designed to do what you need?

One panelist commented that most companies are only using about 20% of their marketing automation tool’s features while others are using tools for things they aren’t designed to do. There is so much efficiency to be gained, but marketers need to step back and think about strategy: What are you trying to do, and how are you going to do it? Instead they are caught up in getting campaigns out the door.

One panelist shared that they see so many companies, “creating content to feed the beast just to keep up, but the content ends up not being good.” In response, Jennifer Zink from Authentic Brand shared a quote from her former boss: “The only thing a good MarTech stack does if your message sucks is make it suck faster.”

Marketing automation is far from automatic. It takes a team of people to make it successful. Big businesses are able to hire specialized talent to think about data, content and tools but that can get complicated when they are matrixed across organizations. Smaller businesses are able to keep the strategy within a smaller group, but they struggle with finding talent that has skill sets to do it all.

The panel closed the session out talking about what to do with all the data MarTech tools collect. First, they instructed marketers to define and agree upon what a qualified lead is with sales.

Second, marketers need to establish one source of truth for data that sales and marketing can reference, allowing marketing to link to sales and show their value in revenue generation. “At the end of the day the only metric that really matters is revenue explained,” said Mike Bernard of Reeher.

Third, marketers need to understand what the data is saying, so they can create a comprehensive story to share with leaders in their organizations. Until they control the story, they should expect to get bombarded with data requests from the top that don’t really tell executives a complete story.

The next Marketers’ Community event is coming soon, but a date has not been determined.

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