Why Time Is the Real Barrier to Marketing Technology Adoption and What To Do About It


Share on LinkedIn

I split my time this week between two conferences, Sailthru LIFT and Marketing Profs B2B Forum.  Both were well attended, well produced, and well worth while.  My personal highlights were:

– Sailthru introducing its next round of predictive modeling and personalization features and working to help users adopt them. As you probably don’t know, Sailthru automatically creates several scores on each customer record for things such as likelihood to purchase in the next week and likelihood to opt out of email. The company is making those available to guide list selection and content personalization for both email and Web pages.  One big focus at the conference was getting more clients to use them.

– Yours Truly presenting to the Sailthru attendees about building better data.  The thrust was that marketers know they need better data but still don’t give it priority. I tried to get them so excited with use cases – a.k.a. “business porn” – that they’d decide it was more important than other projects. If they wanted it badly enough, the theory went, they’d find the time and budget for the necessary technology and training. I probably shouldn’t admit this, but I was so determined to keep their attention that I resorted to a bar chart built entirely of kittens.  To download the deck, kittens and all, click here.

– Various experts at Marketing Profs talking (mostly over drinks) about the growth of Account Based Marketing. The consensus was that ABM is still in the early stages where people don’t agree on what’s included or how to evaluate results. Specific questions included whether ABM should deliver actual prospect names (at the risk of being measured solely on cost per lead); what measurements really do make sense (and whether marketers will pay for measurement separately from the ABM system); and how to extend ABM beyond display ad targeting. Or at least I think that’s what we discussed; the room was loud and drinks were free.

– Me (again) advising Marketing Profs attendees on avoiding common mistakes when selecting a marketing automation vendor.   My message here, repeated so many times it may have been annoying, was that users MUST MUST MUST define specific requirements and explore vendor features in detail to pick the right system. One epiphany was finding that nearly everyone in the room already had a marketing automation product in place – something that would not have been true two or three years ago.  These are knowledgeable buyers, which changes things completely.  (Click here for those slides which had no kittens but do include a nice unicorn.)

You may have noticed a common theme in these moments: trying to help marketers do things that are clearly in their interest but they’re somehow avoiding. Making fuller use of predictive models, building a complete customer view, focusing on target accounts, and using relevant system selection criteria are all things marketers know they should do. Yet nearly all industry discussion is focused on proving their value once again, or – usually the next step – in explaining how to do it.

What’s the real obstacle?  Surveys often show that budget, strategy, or technology are the barriers. (See ChiefMartec Scott Brinker’s recent post for more on this topic.)   But when you ask marketers face to face about the obstacles, the reason that comes up is consistently lack of time. (My theory on the difference is that people pressed for time don’t answer surveys.) And time, as I hinted above, is really a matter of priority: they are spending their time on other things that seem more important.

So the way to get marketers to do new things is to convince them they are worth the time.  That is, you must convince them the new things are more important than their current priorities.  Alternately, you can make the new thing so easy that it doesn’t need any time at all. The ABM vendors I discussed this with – all highly successful marketers – were doing both of these already, although they were polite enough not to roll their eye and say “duh” when I brought it up.

How do you convince marketers (or any other buyers) that something they already know is important is more important than whatever they’re doing now? I’d argue this isn’t likely to be a rational choice: MAYBE you can find some fabulously compelling proof of value, but the marketers will probably have seen those arguments already and not been convinced. More likely, you’ll need to rely on emotion.  This means getting marketers excited about doing something (that’s where the “business porn” comes in) or scared about the consequences of not doing it (see the CEB Challenger Sales model,  for example). In short, it’s about appealing to basic instincts – what Seth Godin calls the lizard brain – which will ultimately dictate to the rational mind.

What about the other path I mentioned around the time barrier, showing that the new idea takes so little time that it doesn’t require giving up any current priorities? That’s a more rational argument, since you have to convince the buyer that it’s true.  But everything new will take up at least some time and money, so there’s still some need to get the buyer excited enough to make the extra effort. This brings us back to the lizard.

I’m not saying all marketing should be emotional.  Powerful as they are, emotions can only tip the balance if the rational choice is close. And I’m talking about the specific situation of getting people to adopt something new, which is quite different from, say, selling an existing solution against a similar competitor. But I spend a lot of time talking with vendors who are selling new types of solutions and talking with marketers who would benefit from those solutions. Both the vendors and I often forget that time, not budget, skills or value, is the real barrier to adoption and that emotions are the key to unlocking more time. So emotions must be a big part of our marketing if we, and the marketers we’re trying to serve, are ultimately going to succeed.

Republished with author's permission from original post.


Please use comments to add value to the discussion. Maximum one link to an educational blog post or article. We will NOT PUBLISH brief comments like "good post," comments that mainly promote links, or comments with links to companies, products, or services.

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here