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What Marketers Can Learn From Software Developers

What marketers can learn from software developers

Marketers face an ever-expanding array of available technology and a need to harness it to improve their work. At the same time, senior marketing executives are simplifying their customer and lead generation experiences. These two themes emerged from our speakers in our February MOCCA event in New York featuring CMO Margaret Molloy and ChiefMarTech Scott Brinker.

B2B buyers are people too. How do B2B brand stay relevant in a world where buyers crave connection?
Fortune 500 CMOs are wanting to bring more order to chaos through simplicity, according to Margaret Molloy, Global Chief Marketing Officer for Siegel+Gale in her opening remarks. Margaret shared recent research on a worldwide study with close to 9,500 consumers and 450 business decision-makers to assess 64 B2B-focused brands.

She also illustrated the connection to simplifying the brand experience and being able to command a premium price wise for products in enterprise companies such as Google, Microsoft, and Intel referencing the intersection of a traditional lead generation funnel to the direct correlation to brand. In addition, Margaret had valuable insight also tying stock company performance to brand.

Molloy says, “Savvy B2B brands are now recognizing that all buyers are people and must be marketed to accordingly. The opportunity is to communicate authentically and simplify relentlessly. The most relevant B2B brands make their impact tangible; foster customer-centric cultures of innovation, generate demand through cohesive brand experiences, and use simplified design to clarify their offerings.”

What can marketers learn from software developers?
Marketers are beginning to borrow from the software developer playbook, according to Scott Brinker, editor of and founder and CTO of ion interactive, in his remarks at the MOCCA event.

As it becomes a software-powered profession, Brinker said marketers can learn to adapt and “think like an engineer” using the classic agile and lean approach developers have refined over time. That approach, namely taking the time horizon of a given project and breaking it down into smaller, iterative cycles, can be applied to great effect by the marketer community.

“It is still good to have high-level strategy, but marketers have gone to a more agile approach,” Brinker said, with phased sprints along the way.

He explained that each sprint is an opportunity for marketers to:

  • Respond to new events and information
  • Deploy viable work into market sooner
  • Adjust the approach based on feedback
  • Stop wasting time on ineffective programs
  • Experiment with innovative new ideas

“This is a great example of marketing borrowing the ideas and improvising agile to work within their organization,” Brinker said. The idea is also the foundation of his new book set to publish in March, called “Hacking Marketing.”

Brinker explained that marketing used to be created at the intersection of messages – “what you say” – and media – “where you say it,” but that now marketing has added a third element: mechanism. The mechanism can be things like blogs, e-books, reports, webinars, assessments, calculators and quizzes.

That combination, he said, “is the art of communications in a digital world and the art of customer experience.”

Brinker cited a recent Dell B2B project as a good example of incorporating the third element. Dell wanted to target IT managers responsible for BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) management in their organizations. Rather than a static content asset, they devised a set of questions for this audience, which touched on concerns such as use of personal devices in the corporate network and additional questions with increasing complexity around device management. The user could take the quiz and then click to see their results. At the same time, Dell provided additional information and links to relevant Dell as well as third-party content. The campaign was successful and Dell has continued to develop similar interactive content.

Experimentation and testing, he said, is central to an agile approach to marketing. The access to data affords marketers the ability to leverage software to see patterns in the data that were not available in the past. Brinker said, “To be able to activate data, you have to run tests.” And those tests can provide “meaningful learning that is more valuable than optimization,” he said.

He cautioned that marketers should make sure there is senior management support for testing and experimentation and a culture that encourages it.

“When you look at the way SaaS companies are doing product development, it’s all about… testing,” Brinker said. “What ultimately matters [for marketers] is using data and testing to develop remarkable customer experiences.”

Contributed MOCCA Article written by Jon Russo East Coast Operations Board Member of MOCCA and Carol Krol, Editor-in-chief of DemandGen reports

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