Marketing plan technology is like playing guitar

Peter Desmyttere
May 17, 2018
⏱ 4 min. read

When I was a teenager, I wished I could play guitar and be just like my favorite rock heroes. All I needed was a good guitar. And if at all possible, a Gibson, because this was what my heroes played. Although my dream soon became reality, it quickly turned into a nightmare. It became clear that a professional guitar was no guarantee of good guitar playing, meaning that this impatient teenager gave up after many trials and tribulations.

Professional technology (a Gibson guitar, in this case) is no guarantee of professional guitar playing. Just like having a professional Leica camera will not make you a world-class photographer. There are two elements crucial to success when it comes to technology: the human factor and the processes. This is something that many marketeers wanting to get started with technology within their marketing department run up against. In this article I would like to explain how to avoid frustration with technology.


The human factor or the behavior of marketing planners

In the end, everything turned out okay with me and my guitar. Today, I am a passionate bass player who can find his way around his instrument pretty well. However, I never repeated the mistake I made as a teenager. I bought a cheap bass guitar and went in search of a guitar school and – later on – a guitar coach. My playing got better and better, thanks to my unwavering discipline, which prompted me to practice 20 minutes a day for many years.

Now, this is where technology can lead to problems for many marketeers. The demand is clear and market research has been conducted thoroughly, but … choices made with regard to marketing technology at a later stage do not have adequate support within the team. You must always understand that people (your co-marketeers) are the determining factor for the success or failure of your technology choices. Whether this means marketing planning technology, CRM technology, marketing automation technology or marketing production technology: if a team is not ready for it, insufficiently motivated or does not agree with a particular choice, things will inevitably go wrong.

In this case, not only do you  invest your valuable marketing budget in marketing technology, but you also set processes in motion that will end up being quite short-lived and sow a seed that will lead to potential topic heated discussion and frustration within the team. The result? Back to the drawing board (in marketing planning this generally means "back to Excel") after extensive investment in human and budgetary resources.

"A fool with a tool is still a fool."
Grady Booch

An example of how we at Husky support this transition: we provide strategic training (how do we set up the architecture of the technology?) and operational training (how do we use the various features?) in the onboarding phase. After this, we provide the technology's individual users with regular feedback and support.

The role of processes when purchasing technology

After six months of guitar school I started encountering problems. My bass guitar (the technology) worked perfectly and my personal attitude or discipline (the human factor) was in order. Nevertheless, I had the feeling that I was lacking a certain component, that I was not making enough professional progress. I was playing songs – but not making music. I found the solution in a guitar coach who taught me the right processes. He taught me how – by following certain steps and using certain techniques – I could attain a level of continuous improvement in the next few months. 

In marketing technology (and other technology) it is no different. Once the software is on board and the users are convinced of its merits and enthusiastic, the long process to starting to use the new technology as a resource for improving the organization will start. It is precisely for this reason that you need the right processes, workflows or procedures. If you are doing the same things with the same people, but are using different technology, you will still get the same output as you did before.

"If we keep doing what we're doing, we're going to keep getting what we're getting."
Stephen Covey

An example of how we at Husky support this: our tool includes processes for regular personal consultation (marketing meetings) within the team and we together with we consider the best way to compile reports and create dashboards for the management team.

All good things come in threes

There is also a holy trinity in the world of marketing technology. 

  • Choose the right technology
  • Make sure that people (the users) are prepared to follow you
  • Develop processes to ensure that the use of the technology will be successful

Anyone who has these three components in order can expect to use marketing or other technology in a sustainable manner. At least: as long as the technology sufficiently meets all the demands of the marketing team. Also: understand that technology is "only" technology and therefore only a means to an end. The use of technology must have the support of the entire team and there have to be enough solid processes to guarantee its sustainability and success.

In the next article I will give you 10 concrete tips for turning your investment in marketing technology into a success.

With thanks to Peter Snauwaert of Sentia.

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