The Technology Gap: Marketing’s Dirty Little Secret

November 11, 2014 | Justin Gray | No Comments |

Marketing people are doers. We never want to admit we don’t know something. Given the chance, we prefer to just figure things out on our own and make the best decision with the information at hand. But in this industry of doers, a dirty little secret lurks. I’ve seen it in so many of the companies I’ve worked with.

The truth is, we sometimes suck when it comes to using technology effectively. When people who don’t understand what it takes to properly run these technologies try to be in charge, they can’t accurately predict how long something will take. Managers are especially notorious for assuming something like nurturing or scoring can be done in a week (not super feasible without a Marketo ninja), simply because they just don’t know better. The management team needs to set expectations, but also be sure those expectations are reasonable and clearly understood by the doer.

This little secret is a big problem, because it causes costs, resources and frustrations to spiral out of control. Projects that start out promisingly ultimately end up devolving into a convoluted, low-performing mess. This is usually for one of three reasons:

  •        The marketer/project manager leading the project doesn’t understand the technology in play, so they make unreasonable demands.
  •        The developer has narrow platform expertise and can’t recognize when a different one might work better for the project
  •        There’s a lack of “right people in the room” kind of planning at the start

The problem with all of these scenarios: planning out timeframes and budgets becomes a serious hassle. And that’s how good projects go bad. 

You can take steps to fix this, guys. You don’t have to accept being technological dunderheads, ignoring the snickers of our more knowledgeable counterparts (mmmm, Snickers…brb). Instead you can move in a more knowledgeable direction and do stuff like:

Invest in some training. You don’t have to become expert coders, but having SOME understanding of what goes into creating a landing page or a website or an app will go a long way toward understanding why one request is doable while another elicits laughter.

Arm your developer(s) with the right knowledge. Developer expertise is a bit tricky. Most developers will have some experience working with more than one platform, but not all—and you certainly can’t expect them to be experts at every platform on the market. Training in this instance is good, if only so your developer can make strategic decisions about platform use. This can help you forecast whether you can build campaigns in-house or need budget for outside help.

Get everyone in the same room. Creative teams love coming up with “the big idea.” And a lot of times, that big idea gets pretty far along in the creation process before someone consults a developer or tech expert. Bad move, my friends. Try this instead: kicking off projects with a stakeholder from every area that will be involved—a developer, a social media expert, a marketing automation admin—and keeping them apprised along the way. This will eliminate a lot of those ugly surprises that tend to divide teams.

Go agile. There’s a reason the agile methodology is so popular with product developers: it breaks projects down into clear, manageable chunks, delivered on a regular schedule. Bonus—if you have the budget for it, spring for an experienced agile project manager to help you set up the process to work for your needs.

The days of hiding our lacking technical prowess are over. With some strategy and training, we can change marketing’s dirty little secret to something else – like Dave the lead gen guy and his weird obsession with The Real Housewives of Orange County. Come on, that’s way more fun to uncover than missing the mark with tech – right?


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