Marketing technology: it is confusing but it is going to be big

This post is a marker.  It is post-it note that says “remember to watch this space and try and get your head around it because this is going to be big”.  It also is an excuse to log what I think is a very useful, if slightly mind-bending post by Scott Brinker.

My current mantra for marketing folk is that the future of brands involves getting your head around three things: the shift from the audience to the individual, the fact that community is becoming the new media, and the emergence of the world of the algorithm (i.e. Big Data).  I also continually bang-on about social media being a process, and of course, one of the things we use technology to do is management of process.

To a large extent, eveything that Scott is talking about in his post plays against these  issues.  To manage relationships with individuals at any sort of scale will require a process supported by technology.  Scott also talks about tag management – which (as I have already written about) will become the foundational process for the operation of communities.  Likewise, it is clear that the algorithm will become the tool that makes sense of the data that could be seen to live within the marketing cloud.  And, as Scott points out, Amazon is already starting to offer algorithmic products to do just that.

Scott also observes that things are currently very complicated and confused.  Or, as I flagged in my previous post, this stuff is ‘legitimately difficult’.  I definitely do no know enough about it – but from what I can see, I think I know enough to say that this is the future.  Technology is going to play a huge role in the management of the relationship between brands and consumers – because technology facilitates process, and this future relationship is going to be defined by process (behaviour identification and response) not by channel and message.

I think I can also predict that the key to really embracing this future is to shed yourself of the snakeskin of the past.  Big data is totally different to small data, to the extent that you can’t build your way to a big data future from a small data starting point or mindset.  Likewise, current marketing technology deals with stuff like CRM but the only way you will be able to deal with the new marketing technology is to free yourself from a CRM mindset (and possibly your CRM people).  If you look at this new stuff through the lens of the old stuff, you will probably fail to see or understand its potential.


  1. Mark Higginson

    Hi Richard, could you elaborate a little on what you see as ‘a CRM mindset’? It’s one of those black box acronyms that gets casually thrown around in conversation and I often have a hard job getting people to define how they’re actually going to use ‘CRM’ to meet the objectives under discussion.

  2. RichardStacy

    CRM – Customer Relationship Marketing / Management) – is basically database marketing. It involves capturing data about individual customers and using a database to segment the customer or consumer audience in a way which is more precise that the relatively crude segmentation that happens when delivery of message occurs within mass media channels. This is why the delivery of CRM is managed outside of mainstream media via things that can be personalised, such as direct mail, email, vouchers, in-store offers etc. Loyalty cards are a classic example of CRM.
    CRM is very much a small data activity – i.e. trying to find out as much information about individuals in order to shape the way a brand deals with them, rather than finding out information about everybody in order to predict the way a brand should deal with them. It is also just a more refined form of targeting, which is why I say this mindset doesn’t have a future in the marketing world which is shifting from targeting customers to responding to customers. In the future the brand will become the target, and it is learning how to adapt to this change in the direction, or instigation, of the relationship which will become a core competence for brands.
    Doc Searls has proposed a word for this change in direction, which is VRM, as in Vendor Relationship Management. He has set this out in his book The Intention Economy – which proposes that customers can use technology to manage their relationships with vendors (i.e. brands), rather than the other way around. Personally I am little sceptical of this, ( at least in the way that Doc suggests it is going to happen, partly because he is looking for a techy, code-based solution. I think it will happen, indeed is already happening, but within ‘soft’ forms of community (such as Trip Advisor or Airbnb).
    Hope this clarifies things!

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