Essentially, I went from talking about the tools that marketers should be using and went back to being a marketer who has to use the tools for himself.
This has been an eye-opening experience for me. For years, I thought I was helping marketers better understand the ways they could use technology and data to drive a better ROI. I might have been helping them, but I now understand I was also confusing them.
Adtech and martech companies love to overcomplicate things with new language each year, talking in circles and in terms of technology. In truth, the adtech and martech space is led by product marketers, not true craft marketers.
Product marketers talk in terms of speeds, feeds and technology. Marketers talk in terms of benefits. Marketers’ eyes glaze over when you talk tech. The industry behind adtech splits hairs consistently, attempting to differentiate one product from another by how many data transactions occur or how many segments or attributes are being tracked.
These companies talk about the number of integrations they have, which is not important marketers, who really only need between five and 10 partner integrations — and everyone already has them.
Average marketers really only use a small set of data segments and don’t care if you have 35,000 to choose from. They run between 10-20 pieces of creative at a time, so they don’t create them on the fly. They don’t care if you have 100 billion data transactions a day; they only care whether working with you will have an appreciable lift on their campaigns.
Ad tech is going to continue to consolidate, since the majority of dollars are being spent on a small group of companies. The numbers suggest that Google and Facebook account for close to 80% of all online advertising dollars already. If you factor in around 10 other companies, I would imagine that the total percentage spend is close to 90% or even a little higher.
The race has been won, and the winners are already past the finish line. Any other company that’s going to join them has to speak the language of its customers.
You have to simplify your story, you have to talk in terms of benefits and you have to stop talking about technology-oriented metrics as your primary measures of success. You also have to understand whether your customers would see the value in what you bring at their current stage of development.
I am now one of those marketers again, and I want partners who are able to provide massive increases in ROI. I am not looking for iterative change. I want step-function improvement. I don’t listen to people prospecting me who offer one- to two-point improvement for a “modest investment” — and many marketers are in the same boat.
Know your audience, speak their language and understand their perspective when you are trying to sell them a product or service. Differentiate yourselves based on case studies and customer testimonials. Show marketers specifics relevant to them, rather than trying to pummel them with broad statements. Most marketers are cynical by nature; you have to bust through the B.S. to get them to listen.
If you do that, you can succeed in 2018. If you don’t, you’ll become a part of history quicker than pets.com did.
Good luck in 2018!