People-based marketing is grounded in the ability to really know the person to whom you are marketing. It’s not a new concept. From its earliest days with the postal service through its evolution into telemarketing, email, SMS and push, it has evolved.
Now, marketers have the ability to directly match first-party customer and prospect data anonymously with the first-party data of publisher networks. This has brought true people-based marketing within our reach in the digital world. As a result, brands are shifting budget from low-fidelity cookie-based marketing to known audiences. A tremendous opportunity is in front of us.
The issue is that in the real world where the work gets done, you need people to deliver on this promise. Good people.
I have run large services businesses, and the key differentiator among them has always been the quality of the people doing the work. Technology is important, but you need people to operate the technology and make informed decisions. I think we all know this, but I see two disturbing trends worth examining.
1. Tech investment without people investment
The first troubling trend is that marketers have been lulled into believing technology can do it all. Whether you call it a “cloud” or describe it with an acronym (e.g., the marketing DB, ESP, DMP, DAM, CMS), technology has been the focus of much discussion and investment.
If you’re in the marketing world, you’re bombarded with messages about marketing technology and its many benefits, many of which are true. The issue is that these messages are generally put out by technology companies that want you to buy their software. Believing what they say, you buy with the intention of improving your company’s revenue and profit.
Nobody is wrong in this equation. What’s wrong is the belief that the value comes from simply implementing the technology. It doesn’t. Unless your objective is straight cost reduction, the value comes from your ability to use the technology to its fullest.
The tech investment business case must include people to actually use the technology. And, in my scenario, those people must be in the marketing department. When you don’t match a new tech investment with an incremental people investment, you essentially just do a “lift and shift.”
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