Make Martech Matter: Change the Human Software First

By / Data + Analytics, Marketing, Technology

The world is moving fast. Technology is moving even faster. And Arthur C Clarke wasn’t wrong when he famously proclaimed, “advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” Indeed, today’s tech is nothing short of awesome. But as large enterprise brands search for growth hacks and increased efficiency through automation, we’d like to remind you that one size doesn’t always fit all. To be more specific, going all in on a martech software that claims to answer all of your problems is rarely the one-step solution you had hoped for. Everyone wants tech now, but fast doesn’t always mean effective, especially if you’re moving forward before you know where you’re going. With more than 8,000 martech tools available today (according to, it’s more important than ever to be more thoughtful about what we implement.

Martech Isn’t A Silver Bullet

Despite what the SaaS sales rep would love for you to think, you can’t simply buy answers to your marketing problems. Just like you, they’re trying to convert leads into customers — which means the demo they just gave you is likely overly optimistic about what their software can accomplish. But hey, they’re just doing their jobs. It’s on us to remember that people and process come before any meaningful technology transformation. So if you haven’t invested in the first two, successfully implementing new martech will feel like using a giftcard to Home Depot to build yourself a house. Sure, everything you need is there, but you’re more-than-likely not equipped to use it. Our businesses are more unique and beautifully complex than that. We owe it to ourselves to make smart, informed decisions about where to take them.

Strong Marketing Starts With Process

Everybody wants to automate something. But most clients forget that a process needs to already exist for “something” to be automated. What do we mean by that? If you’re not already sending emails, you’re probably not ready to deploy an entire marketing automation system designed to take those emails off your hands. If you don’t already have a process for getting marketing campaigns out the door, you’re probably not ready to implement a software built to A/B test every touchpoint of that campaign. If you’re not ready to automate, you can’t skip a step to get there. Most processes need to be run manually (with testing and validation) before being sprinkled with magic automation dust.

The Cost of (Unused) Tech

You might think your budget was built to handle the endless monthly payments you just agreed to, because the tech stack you’re about to implement is going to “change everything.” It’s the months that follow that start to expose not what you’re paying, but what you’re paying for. In fact, according to MartTech Advisor, CMO’s are saying martech stacks command more than a quarter of their company’s budgets, but nearly 40 percent of that tech goes unused. Great marketing doesn’t simply equal chatbot or AI or whatever other solutions that monthly cost is getting you. Great marketing is great ideas and execution, and the tech we buy is simply meant to facilitate and enhance those ideas. Take Salesforce, for example. If you’re a company that deals with customers, you’ll likely jump at the opportunity to plug this proven and reputable juggernaut into your business. But Salesforce, for all of its deserved success in the marketplace, brings similar challenges to the table as other martech solutions:

It’s Costly When you’re looking for the best technology solution out there (or the one that everyone else uses), you’re going to pay a premium.

Unused Bells & WhistlesRemember, this tech stack was built for everyone. So don’t be fooled by the long list of features you’re receiving, because most of them have very specific use cases and will sit on a shelf collecting dust. 

It’s Not For YouTo be clear, in the same way it’s built for everyone, it’s also not specifically for anyone. They’re building the best tech they can to serve as many customers as possible. You don’t expect every T-shirt at the mall to fit you. You try some on based on your size, style and preference, thoughtfully considering each option. The same discerning approach should be taken when shopping for tech.

Despite the vision casting and general optimism behind purchasing a solution like Salesforce, the truth is the tools don’t all work together. Most big marketing technology suites grow through acquisition, which means they’re picking up disparate features and making them fit. The results are fragmented solutions, where the tech and the data rarely “talk” to each other. Throw a coffee maker into a new car and watch people’s eyes light up, but what is that really solving for you? It’s simply a cool feature that you don’t need.

Human Software: Invest in People First

Technology should be driven by people, not the opposite. If you don’t have the right people in place that are prepared to support the tech you invest in, the gaps are inevitable. They’re the ones that create the systems and structures that need to be automated. They’re the ones crafting content strategy and creating the playbooks that you’ll optimize. They’re the software that needs to be optimized before adopting new martech. But remember, investing in people means investing in individual personalities and skill sets. All human beings are capable of change, as long as you’re empathetic and personal with your approach.

Meaningful Change Is Supposed To Be Hard

Why is human software so hard to change? Because we’re ignoring it entirely. We’ve become so reliant on catching the latest technology waves that we’ve lost confidence in how we got here. Before we all had tiny supercomputers in our pockets, creating change across people was the only move we had. It’s always been a challenge, just not one we’re up for anymore. At the end of the day, we know the hardest part of any change effort isn’t purchasing new software, it’s changing the mindsets and behavior of the people that will be using that software. We have to do the work to get there.

Technology Scared Us Away

With Silicon Valley whiz kids getting rich off of the software companies that are seemingly promising and delivering the world, it’s easy to get excited about what feels like a cheat code. But somewhere along the way, we lost confidence in our instincts. The more we look to software solutions to bail us out, the more our people fall victim to a familiar case of FUD: Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt. Don’t forget that human software is what got you into your business in the first place. And more importantly, it’s essential to solving exactly who you are.

Get Back to Marketing Basics

Why did you get into this space to begin with? How are you separating yourself from your competitors? What are you setting out to do better than everyone else? We could rattle off more questions, but you get the point. Because the answer is painfully simple: Dust off the old business textbooks and get back to the basics of marketing.

Product, Price, Promotion, & Place

Remember those 4 P’s? As fundamental marketing principles that still hold true today, these are the healthy exercises that create clarity when deciding what martech solution is actually right for you. And despite our best efforts in leaving them behind, they’re especially important in the digital world.

  • Product – Whether it’s a tangible good or an intangible service, it needs to be something that fulfills a need or want of a certain consumer. Most importantly, you must have a clear grasp of what makes your product unique before you can successfully market it.
  • PriceWhen you’re considering how much you’re going to spend on tech, your entire budget leads back to one thing: How much are you selling your product for in the first place? Price determinations impact profit margins, supply, demand and marketing strategies as a whole. It also determines how much you’re willing to spend on software.
  • Promotion – As everyone’s favorite P, promotion gets into the meat and potatoes of your marketing strategy. Advertising, public relations, social media, email, SEO, and more can all be folded into whatever strategy works for you. But that’s the key, we have to figure out what works before we purchase technology to support it.
  • Place – Having the right product, at the right price, at the right place, at the right time is a simple equation for success. That’s why it’s critical to evaluate what the ideal locations are for turning leads into customers. In a lot of cases today, that “place” is a special corner of the wild, wild web.


Find Your Competitive Advantage

Along with the 4 P’s, you’ll want to figure out where your product stands within the context of your competitive landscape. That’s where you’ll find your “white space,” or where unmet needs are met to uncover opportunities for you to innovate. Like when McDonald’s discovered they could serve a simple burger faster than anyone else, or HelloFresh bringing exact ingredients to your door, or even Instagram getting better at photos than Facebook. Whatever it is, it’ll dictate the people and processes you put into place to exploit that advantage. And once those processes are locked in, you can feel good about getting that SaaS sales rep on the phone, because you’ll know exactly where you’re headed, and what you need to get there.

People Were The Answer All Along

In conclusion, there is a new earth-shattering software that we all need to implement to keep up with our competitors—it’s just not the software you were expecting. People are the answer, and you should invest in them first before signing up for an unfocused martech solution. No matter how great our data and AI tech evolve to create brand alignment, there’s a simultaneous mindset change needed—and now is the time. We need to change our human software before adopting new technology software. 


Interested in this article? Contact us today and we’ll get to work on what marketing strategies work (and don’t work) for you.

Written by / Data + Analytics, Marketing, Technology


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