The Biggest Mistake Marketing Leaders Will Make This Year with Their New Marketing Tech

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This year, marketing departments and agencies will funnel nearly $26 billion into brand new marketing tech. And a huge portion of that investment will go to waste because those same firms will neglect to support that technology with the necessary talent and expertise to actually take advantage of it.

Last year saw a staggering amount of tools and software at the disposal of marketers, with nearly 1900 vendors in myriad categories supplying CMOs with unprecedented tech options. Those tools have tremendous potential to help businesses grow and wring better ROI from their marketing budgets. But that capacity can only be unlocked if those assets are applied under a well-assembled strategy and executed by competent marketers properly trained to use those tools.

From marketing automation suites to analytics and reporting apps to cutting edge data security infrastructure, your tools are only as good as the people you have using them. Yet while many businesses seem all too willing to purchase into a flashy new marketing tool, we frequently see that they drag their feet when it comes to making the even more important investment into the talent and capacity to use it.

Erring on the Side of Talent

In a perfect world, all firms would have the resources to acquire both the cutting edge marketing tools they need as well as the expert marketers required to use them. But we operate in the real world where budgets are finite, headcounts can be limited, and new acquisitions may be tightly restricted.

If you can’t afford both a fancy new marketing technology and the requisite expertise to use it, then you’re better off choosing the new talent than the new tool.

When a marketing department is limited in what it can bring in, it should always err on the side of talent. In other words, if you can’t afford both a fancy new marketing technology and the requisite expertise to use it, then you’re better off choosing the new talent than the new tool.

A talented marketer will find ways to provide value and drive results even with limited tech. But a tool without someone to use it is just dead weight.

Giving Your Arrows a Target

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Every technology a business acquires should have a specific purpose. It should serve as one of many arrows in a quiver, all ready to be aimed at a specific target. No tool, no matter how powerful, will pay off if it’s not integrated into a broader growth-oriented strategy.

So the first and most important talent pieces needed to make use of a new piece of technology are the leadership and strategic marketing roles that define marketing goals, determine the best path to reach those goals, and then consider which tech and tools will help them get there.

It’s easy to be lured by the bells and whistles of a promising new piece of software or technical infrastructure. But if it doesn’t fit into that wider strategy, then it should be disregarded for alternatives that actively bring you closer to your goals. Businesses should acquire tech assets that fit their strategy, rather than shoehorn a strategy around a tempting new tool.

This kind of big-picture perspective and focus is hard to come by; it requires both a mastery of marketing strategy as well as a thorough understanding of a business’s technical needs. There are many strategically-minded marketers and plenty of tech-savvy geniuses–but very few people have the capacity for both.

Your business may be lucky enough to have this rare kind of executive leadership already. But more likely you’ll need to train and educate key decision makers in technology capabilities, bring in new expertise with a digital marketing executive search, or make use of a marketing technology consultant to ensure you’re making the right purchases and effectively integrating your tech acquisitions into your business. Organizations with large enough marketing and technology budgets may even benefit from hiring a dedicated chief marketing technologist to manage this challenge on an ongoing basis.

Manning the Ship

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Almost as important as the development of your marketing technology strategy is the actual implementation and day to day execution of it. Advanced marketing technology calls for advanced marketers to deliver the best possible ROI.

The exact kind of talent you need to leverage those tools will vary depending on your situation and the nature of the technology. In some cases, thorough training of your current staff in the new tech is enough if it’s replacing a current system, perhaps supplemented with marketing technology staffing during peak times of need. Consistently recruiting elite digital marketers that keep themselves on the cutting edge of marketing tech will minimize the amount of additional team members you need to add to fully realize the potential of the new tools your department is acquiring.

But if the technology was acquired for an entirely new endeavor, you’ll probably need to bring on additional staff to implement and maintain it. This can be challenging, especially for brand new technology that does not have a wide user base yet. You’ll have to carefully target your talent acquisition efforts and potentially turn to a marketing recruiter with a large talent pipeline to find the right fit for your company.

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