MarTech Conference Sees Focus on Customers, Experience

For marketers, there’s no denying that technology has completely changed our industry, the way we do business, and the skill sets needed to survive, let alone thrive, in the modern world. This reality was put into sharp focus at the recently concluded MarTech Conference, where marketers, technologists and companies on the leading edge of marketing evolution gathered to talk about the state of the industry.

Program host Scott Brinker, Co-Founder of Ion Interactive has become something of a legend in the MarTech space with his Marketing Technology Landscape Supergraphic. If the idea of a Marketing Technology Stack is a new one to you, here’s a post I recently put together with insights from nearly a dozen experts in the field.

I was in attendance as an eager student, having spent more than a decade at various agencies, most recently in my role as Creative Culturalist at Young & Rubicam. But now, as Head of Global Marketing for Unmetric, my job is marketing to marketers, which on the difficulty scale ranks just above capping oil well fires and just below hitting a Clayton Kershaw curveball.

So I was also there as a service provider, giving me an interesting perspective on the proceedings. I’m happy to report that technology and its advocates aren’t here to replace the softer side of marketing, but rather that the human element of what we do was front and center. Coming out of MarTech I identified three key themes that were constantly at the center of the event:


1. Technology has to be in service to the human experience

One after another, speakers came onstage to remind the audience that the real value of technology was its ability to help us understand people better. Reinforcing the ‘people first’ approach was Corey Craig, Customer Experience Design & Innovation Lead at Dell.

Her talk, Customer Experience Must Drive Marketing Technology Decisions was a reminder that some things can’t be automated. She explained how she mapped customer experience with with pencil and paper, and through that manual process she gained a greater insight into what should be automated in regards to consumer engagement.

2. Marketers Need To Be Obsessed With Their Customers

Laura Ramos, VP, Principal Analyst at Forrester, highlighted the need for a focus on the customer. Her statement that “customer obsession is your only competitive advantage”  resonated strongly with the audience. How you design and deliver a customer experience is paramount today.

This is in stark contrast to an older paradigm where the focus was on internal process. Now, companies - and marketers - that are focused on the customer are the ones that will succeed. Her reminder that “technology is not a strategy” reinforced the importance of the human element in building campaigns.

3. Your Consumers Can Be Your Best Marketers

Data and technology alone aren’t enough. Great marketing also needs great creativity. Gerry Murray, Research Manager at IDC gave a powerful example of how understanding your customers, and then empowering them with technology can be a creative, and financial, gold mine. The Dominos Australia “Pizza Mogul” campaign is an amazing example of how technology can be a bridge between passionate fans and a brand.

Beyond that, an added bonus of MarTech was a keynote presentation from design legend John Maeda, currently Design Partner at Kleiner, Perkins, and former President of the Rhode Island School of Design. It will take me a good week to unpack all the brilliant insights John shared as he spoke about the intersection of Data, Design and Decisions, but suffice it to say that he made a very credible argument for the appropriate use of Comic Sans.

Finally, I would encourage 4As members, especially those that attend CreateTech, to think about also attending MarTech in the future. The industry leaders of the future will be those that can successfully fuse those two emerging disciplines.

Rick Liebling is the Head of Global Marketing at Unmetric, the only social media intelligence platform focused on brands. You can follow him on Twitter @RickLiebling.

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