If you catch any contemporary marketer and ask them if they are doing a good job, most of them will tell you they’re struggling. It’s no surprise. Mass market communication is in decline. In the last five years marketing has moved from being ostensibly one way messaging using a few tried and tested media, to the art of curating conversations on a multiplicity of new and evolving apps and platforms.
So many new tools have been built to ‘help’ visualise and manage these conversations but managing thousands of simultaneous conversations in real-time isn’t easy. A typical CMO may find themselves responsible for digital platforms to manage CRM, marketing automation, email marketing, website content and analytics, data analytics, market research, creative development, programmatic ad serving, social media listening, mobile marketing etc. etc.
Welcome to MADtech. Marketing and Advertising Technology. It’s a step change evolution from Adtech because it includes much more than automated targeting and ad serving. Even though advertising expenditure has never been higher, advertising has never been less effective. The explosion in media and messaging formats, ad blockers and ad blindness have all taken their toll. Besides, people just don’t like most online ads.
Marketers now have to embrace the new opportunities that social platforms have created. Peer group recommendation is simply much more effective than advertising. 92% of consumers trust word of mouth over advertising. The challenge is to get recommended in the first place. Great user experience creates great advocates and fanning the flames of positive testimonials is what social is designed for.
This may all seem rather irrelevant if you are a startup with no customers and no product but trust me, it is. Here’s a salutary lesson.
Company X had a genius idea but their execution was old school. They raised decent chunk of money and spent it building a deeply sophisticated platform but totally neglecting the community it was aiming to serve. By the time they launched, the founders had burnt through all their cash and had no metrics to prove the business model would succeed. With no meaningful metrics, they could raise no new funds and the original VCs walked away leaving the business in the hands of receivers. Smart startups understand the importance of product market fit but do they grasp the idea of pre-launch marketing?
Now let’s dive into the story of the Nebia Shower. Like many Kickstarter projects, the company engaged with a community of potential buyers before building anything. I challenge anyone to watch this video without wanting to buy one. The point is, their story is compelling and catalytic. I’m sharing it now. You too will probably share it. Even though none of us have had a customer experience, we feel we know what it will be like. Kickstarter is a new way of marketing which, in my book, makes it MADtech.
One can argue that everything a company does is marketing. The way you answer the phone (if you have one) is marketing. The way you deal with your rubbish is marketing. The way you hire, and fire, people is marketing. Everything that is of interest to your customers is marketing because people share, and talk about, what interests them. The old truth of branding “it doesn’t matter what you think, all that matters is what they think” has never been truer.
MADtech thinking turns the traditional sales funnel upside down. Rather than filling the hopper with leads, hoping for a few highly qualified opportunities to flop out of the bottom, the upturned funnel requires you to pour a small but steady flow of curated, catalytic thoughts into the small aperture at the top. The art is to spark conversations that feature your brand. If you can provoke references to positive customer experiences, your brand will gain influence. Then social referrals and peer group recommendation will build a sales pipeline.
MADtech can help. For example a Chicago based MADtech company called eContext has written 55 million rules that process the firehose of Twitter in real-time, identifying the topics that interest individuals. You can serve ads against these topics or you can create content that would resonate with specific audiences reached via their social handles.
User Generated Content (UGC) is becoming a mainstream way of creating unbranded videos on a given topic. Companies like Seenit offer a customisable app that lets brands generate quality content pretty much to order – even the BBC are using it.
As mobile has become the platform of choice, we tend to reveal our precise location to almost anyone, so geo-targeting is becoming much more sophisticated. Beacon technology is such a cheap way of delivering hyper-local information and offers, yet it’s hardly been deployed. Expect MADtech solutions to automate discounts for being a regular in Starbucks or your local pub any time soon.
Marketing is the key to success in so many businesses and technology is transforming it. We’ve seen how analytics changed the way we build websites and craft user journeys. The future will be about predictive analytics – modelling future outcomes based on historical data. Brands will know what you are going to buy before you do. There is one outcome I’m certain of. MADtech is the new battlefield for successful businesses. Overlook it at your peril.