7 Barriers to Humanising Martech

By Ben Shapiro on September 26, 2019

We recently spoke about Martech’s paradox of tradeoffs, where we’re all being asked to centralise, de-centralise, automate and humanise our activities. Doing all four at once is hard, so we’re breaking down the barriers to each in this upcoming blog series to help organisations understand how Triggerfish is attacking the Martech landscape.

In our last blog we touched on the barriers that need to be broken down in the Humanise step:

  • Dots are rarely joined so that product owners and users are on the same page;

  • The Job-to-be-done for the Customer is poorly understood and are rarely, if ever, documented;

  • Bets are too big – they become so big they are black holes and suck everyone into them;

  • It’s hard to be operationally-minded – projects, campaigns and short-term thinking are pervasive and safe;

  • Experience is varied – a large percentage of the people in senior marketing positions today are promotions experts – not to say that will stay forever;

  • The speed of operations is hampered by the risk of technology change;

  • Picking or discovering the ‘right’ investment for Marketing ROI requires teams to make mistakes.

Here, we’re unpacking these in more detail.


Joining the dots

It is important, particularly in organisations that are complicated (and even ones that aren't complicated), is that most people aren't on the same page. Because of this, the humanise bit is really important. It should be the point where you spend time talking and being clear about what people need to get done so that you can be on the same page.

Once you're on the same page, it's a lot easier to start talking about what processes need to be put in place to make things happen. The dot-joining is hindered by the fact that we’re all so busy in day-to-day activity and requirements, that teams aren’t stepping out of the day-to-day in order to have the conversation about whether their goals and ambitions are aligned.

The job-to-be-done

Customers buy and hire products and services, and have experiences in order to get something completed for themselves. They're often looking to get a job done that's personal or emotional, to make them either feel better, move themselves personally forward, or just get to the point where they're in a better frame of mind to make decisions. So, jobs-to-be-done for customers is a different type of thinking compared to business outcomes.

Not clearly understanding the business’ job-to-be-done is generally symptomatic of not stopping. It also speaks to what sort of customer experience we want to have for customers, and understanding what customers are looking for in what we’re talking to them about.

At Triggerfish we try to make sure that we're clear about understanding why customers hire our service or our products, or why our customer's customer is hiring their service and products. This means being clear that we're being very purposeful about what their job-to-be-done-is and executing on it. We see one of the biggest struggles in focusing in on this comes down how ‘busy’ teams are, causing them to be short-term-minded.

Bets are too big

There is the perception that in order to drive leads and conversions, you need a lot of infrastructure in place with digital channels and build funnels (that are quite invisible), so you can start ‘doing’ activation activity. To do this, teams often need to build a lot of capability in order to drive conversions at the speed that they would typically or previously have done. On the face of it, this seems like a huge task and as a result, organisations will reach roadblocks to getting started because the goal is too big and costly.

This is where operational thinking helps.

Being operationally minded

It’s quite rare to find people who think operationally and who are playing the long game. Placing long bets does require small incremental goals being moved forward, on a quarterly basis for example. Everyone has a requirement to get something done right now, today. Operational thinking tends to ensure that any capability that's put in place, is for the betterment of a longer-term goal, which isn't necessarily the same as the current short-term thinker's goal.

A lack of operationally minded people within the team will result in teams getting caught in a trap where they’re just doing capability projects - looking for tools to get stuff done right now which often results in wrong decisions.

We commonly see that the tools are seen as the main player, as the ‘thing’ that will solve for a problem the business is facing. Realistically, the tools are just players in getting capability done. Buying a tool is not the answer unless you have the capability to support it on an ongoing, operational basis.

Experience is varied

A lot of the activity we’re undertaking using Martech is nurture. The conversation around nurture has sat within the Sales or Account Management departments previously. Now, this responsibility is coming squarely back into marketing’s remit. 

Now, Marketing is the other half of Sales, and the Sales and Marketing alignment is something that the whole business needs to be clear on, too.

The Risk of Technology Change

Because of the “Tech” word that goes with Martech, people get worried about change. Fundamentally, Martech is a basis of some level of business transformation in its purest sense. We’re changing the entire way we engage with our customers and the way they engage with us – we can see them, categorise them and put them in and out of buckets. Naturally, the Tech piece will always carry a lot of hesitation with it.

As soon as you introduce Martech, you’re linking different departments in the organisation that probably typically didn’t work together before, and make that work, too. So, before you assume the tool is going to solve for a problem you have, make sure that all those processes need to be clearly defined, understood and organised.

ROI requires mistakes

Leaders find it hard to understand where their ROI is going to come from. There is a lot of investment upfront on Martech. Platforms like Sitecore and Hubspot aren’t cheap, so a lot of teams struggle and say, "Yeah, I'm going to spend $10K and I've got to get a return straight away."

With marketing tech, we have to make the bets that aren't going to work and feel comfortable with that. We need to feel comfortable that we can change fast enough so our mistakes aren’t years long, but rather a quarter's worth.

To feel comfortable doing this, you have to figure out how to organise internally, to work out where things went wrong and quickly change to adjust for the next quarter going on. This concept of being able to pick a bet that may not be the best one is cultural - businesses need a risk appetite, or an appetite to be able to change quickly, in order to succeed.

It's actually quite hard to deal with humans generally, but the thing with humans is that you do have quite a huge capacity to have insightful conversations and insightful ways of dealing with problems.

So this place -- the Humanise step -- is a great place to put problems in, work on the best ways to solve them and come out with ways that we agree on how to solve them. After that, you can then useMartech tools to actually capitalise on, and let you play the long game.