Brand marketing is a discipline powered by technology. These days there is no denying that the digital world has moved in on many aspects of the technology field. Not to mention that everything digital is controlled and managed by software — from social media monitoring to analytics, to bidding for advertising, to web content. These are the tools modern brand marketers need to engage their audiences.
More and more, marketing teams need someone who can manage all the digital assets they generate, including brand content. Just ask Scott Brinker, Co-Founder and CTO at Ion Interactive and evangelist for marketing technologists, who recently asserted that, “It makes sense for marketing to have people in the ranks [who] deeply understand technology and can help with strategy; help other marketers in the department to leverage technology to maximum advantage.”
As businesses strive to keep up with the competition — and their use of the latest digital marketing tools — technology products and solutions have begun to eat up more and more of their marketing budgets. Therefore, marketing leadership needs to empower someone to govern those products; someone who can understand how those products align with the company’s overarching marketing mission and can intelligently discuss both the technology and brand marketing sides of the equation. Though a CMT should collaborate closely with a company’s IT team, it is absolutely a distinct role, with distinct responsibilities. Enter the emerging role of chief marketing technologist (CMT) — an essential part of any successful brand marketing team.
While companies can approach this role in different ways — and designate it using many different job titles — the important thing is to appoint one person to the job of leading technological change as it relates to the marketing department.
Responsibilities of a CMT
Whatever title you give it, according to Brinker, the person who fills this role should be responsible for three critical tech-related functions within an organization:
- Advice: The CMT must advise the chief marketing officer about the strategic operations of technology and collaborate to identify technology solutions that will help achieve the organization’s marketing mission. The CMT should be the point person for continually evolving and improving the company’s use of technologies, systems, and innovations as they relate to marketing.
- Operations: The CMT should serve as the senior manager of the marketing technology stack, including selecting technology solutions, integrating them into existing systems and processes, and providing support for their use by the marketing team.
- Education: The CMT must continually educate marketing team members on the latest technologies in order to raise their level of expertise, as well as their understanding of how creative and technology can best work together for brand marketing and marketing in-general.
Recommended skills and capabilities
Whether you’re focused on business-to-consumer or business-to-business; a large, multinational corporation or a small mom-and-pop boutique store, any organization with a significant digital marketing presence should consider putting a chief marketing technologist — or its equivalent — in place. For example, smaller companies might not have the resources to staff this role as a separate position, but they can still designate one member of the team to be responsible for the technology considerations involved in brand marketing.
Similarly, the specific responsibilities of a CMT will likely vary by industry and by individual company goals. For example, a consumer-facing retail operation might require expertise in e-commerce, where a B2B company might require competency in marketing automation, demand generation, and lead nurturing.
But regardless of your company’s particular size, industry, or focus, there are some critical skills you should look for in any potential candidate for the role of chief marketing technologist:
- Depth of technological experience: The person who fills this role should have hands-on experience in working with technology — e.g., having worked in software development, as an IT analyst, etc. In addition, this person should have experience in and a solid understanding of the challenges involved in technology management, such as vetting vendors and selecting and implementing technology solutions.
- Depth of marketing experience: Potential CMT candidates should also have a clear understanding of your organization’s marketing mission, and a passion for contributing to it through the strategic use of technology. Brinker himself feels particularly strongly about this point, asserting: “This is why the collaboration between IT and marketing isn’t enough. No matter how skilled or willing the IT team is, you need someone who is really excited about using technology in marketing and knows how to blend the two.”
- Depth of management experience: A potential CMT should also have solid general management skills, because on a fundamental level, the chief marketing technologist’s core responsibility is to manage change. Because brand marketing strategies and techniques are continually evolving, a CMT must be adept at ushering a team and its processes through the changes it will inevitably encounter.
The CMT in action
One company that is leveraging the CMT role successfully is Kimberly Clark. The company’s marketing and IT departments are highly collaborative, in part, because of Global Head of Marketing Technology, Mayur Gupta, who believes strongly in the value of the role he plays in his organization.
In his words, marketing technologists are not “just the enablers of an idea or a step that comes once the box has been incepted and designed. For me, a marketing technology is part creative, part strategy, part technology.”
He recognizes that the challenge for marketers lies outside the core technology. As he told Scott Brinker in an interview in early 2013, “There are too many shiny disco balls out there… I think many marketing organizations are sucking things in like a vacuum — a tendency to pick up every shiny object out there: big data, mobile first, predictive modeling, and so on. The challenge is a lack of connected thinking that brings all these different pieces together in a cohesive and well-knit machinery.”
There are a lot of technology products available across the marketing landscape. And it can be overwhelming to understand how to choose, integrate, and implement the right ones. That’s where a chief marketing technologist comes in handy.
We are living in a digital world and marketing technology is a strategy, not a tactic. Will your marketing department go along for the ride, or drive change by integrating your brand marketing and technology seamlessly?
For more guidance on selecting and implementing the right technologies for your brand marketing goals, read CMI’s eGuide: How to Choose Technology that Drives Better Content Marketing Results.
Cover image via Bigstock