Marketing is Too Damn Complicated

In 2010, Jimmy McMillan was running for the Governor seat in New York. Unlike other candidates, he stood out and even went viral with a simple message. The rent is too damn high. The party, which bears the same name, only had one issue. Understandably, he did not win.

I wish there was someone like Jimmy saying the same thing about marketing technology. Jimmy went viral because the message resonated with voters. A recent report by Anteriad found that “60% of B2B marketers say martech stack is too complex”. 

It’s easy to see why. You have an ever increasing number of channels, the promise of AI and a shifting landscape that seems to change every six months. 

Among the deafening winds, it can be easy to forget the fundamentals. Here are three decisions that marketing teams need to make that can fundamentally change how they approach marketing technology.

Are You Thinking from First Principles?

First principles isn’t just another fancy trend, born on the streets in Silicon Valley. Aristotle defined first principles as “the first basis from which a thing is known.” In other words, it is an idea that cannot be broken down any further.

Behind all the technology, there are first principles. Next time you find yourself designing a ten-level automation journey, think of what you’re trying to accomplish. Are you aiming to deliver value to a customer? Build a brand? Drive sales? 

An even better question is if there are easier ways to do it. Technology has changed the focus from “what should we do” to “how do we do it”. Almost everything is possible in technology so the second question is endless. 

If we go back to the first principle of value, we may discover simpler solutions for delivering it. Customers don’t care about the complexity of your marketing campaigns. They just want a product or service.

Are You Building a 100-year Old Brand?

There’s a special kind of FOMO that marketing teams experience when they see a young competitor killing it. They may think they missed the boat on a specific channel or they can’t compete. 

If you expand your time frame—even by years—things can look drastically different. I recently got a chance to visit the Vatican and there was something humbling about interacting with an organization that has been around for two thousand years. You may not believe in religion but you can’t deny the effectiveness of their marketing.

You make drastically different decisions if you think about how to build brands for the long term. I recommend clients to think on what it would take to build a 100-year brand as a brainstorming exercise. You likely interact with 100-year olds brands regularly, such as Coca-Cola (130), Tiffany & Co (135) and Macy’s (164).

Are You Wasting Your Time?

I talk to many marketing teams who are spending an enormous amount of time making digital transformations. I’m not against digital but businesses need to carefully think through their efforts. 

Marketing technology should be helping you, not holding you back. Losing time because something broke somewhere in your tech stack—and no one knows why—is not contributing to first principles or a long term brand.

At some point, teams need to make decisions on what is essential and what is a nice-to-have. The decision starts with an honest assessment on what is actually driving business outcomes.

Who’s Advocating for the Business?

All teams need Jimmy McMillan. Someone who can advocate for the important issues. Marketing can be disconnected from the business, and technology isn’t solving it. 

Force your team to return to the first principles of marketing. Ask yourself if technology is truly helping you with them or getting in the way. Consider if you’re doing the things that will build a 100-year brand. You may discover that you’re too caught up in the weeds of automation, losing time and money. 

As Jimmy would say, Martech is just too damn complicated. 

One more thing before you go!

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