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Marketing is a Software Problem. Get Hacking.

by | May 2, 2016 | BIA, Blog

Martech’s unofficial but authoritative chief evangelist, Scott Brinker, just released Hacking Marketing, a book that essentially provides a recipe for adapting software’s agile philosophy and methodology to marketing problems. And since marketing is now dominantly a software and data problem, this is a sensible and very useful framework for rethinking the marketing function. BIA/Kelsey’s welcomed Brinker to our community last year as one of our keynoters and we’ve commented elsewhere on his martech work.

As marketers more fully embrace the “consumer journey” by layering in first, second and third party data to create comprehensive and personalized consumer graphs, the marketing game has changed to be much more data-driven. Nothing handles data better than software, and so, marketing is a software problem. So goes the thinking. And we see this reflected in corporate spending and where the IT budget and management of tech initiatives increasingly resides – with the CMO.

What Brinker does is offer CMOs the keys to the kingdom of agile software development. Indeed, he was one of the first to advocate adopting agile management in marketing projects building on work by Matt Blumberg back in 2006. We now have the “Agile Marketing Manifesto” as a resource for marketers. Brinker really builds on this with his book to provide a contextual introduction and detailed guidance for hacking marketing.

Gartner analyst Laura McLellan predicted in 2012 that, “in five years CMOs will have a bigger budget than CIOs do.” We’re seeing this bear out. According to CIO magazine in assessing opportunities for CIOs related to McLellan’s study, “The adoption of marketing technology has grown in a number of areas, including CRM, digital marketing, database marketing, marketing automation, customer analytics, mobile marketing and ecommerce. Digital marketing has experienced major growth, according to the study, with companies now viewing marketing and digital marketing as one cohesive strategy.”

Brinker sees the promise in tech and marketing coming together, particularly if marketers take the time to embrace learnings of the software industry to make projects more agile, iterative, and driven by specified outcomes. A core issue for Brinker is “Martech’s Law” whereby he sees that while technology changes exponentially, organizations change logarithmically. This “pace layering” is something he discusses in the book as different functions adapting to change at different rates. CMOs are being held more accountable to managing that gap among layers in the marketing stack to achieve corporate goals. Brinker offers a means to bridge that gap in a meaningful way.

Bottom line, for marketers to really be able to embrace data-driven marketing and the complex mix of martech platforms and solutions that can help them be more successful, it makes sense to adopt a hacker attitude (in the positive light Brinker defines hacking).