Scott Brinker, Author of Hacking Marketing


I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Scott Brinker, creator of the now famous Marketing Technology Landscape Supergraphic, and author of Hacking Marketing to hear his views on how marketing is changing as a result of technology.

Your book provides a novel way of rethinking marketing, what is it?

Marketing is becoming more and more entangled in software as everything becomes more and more digital. Marketers are now paddling water up to their chins in websites (software), analytics (software), social media (software), marketing automation (software), interactive content (software), mobile apps (software), and so on.

Software has eaten the world – and marketing too. My goal in writing this book is to help marketers at all levels – even those with no technical background or inclination – adapt marketing management to the wild whirlwind of a world dominated by software.

Your technology landscape infographic sums up the modern marketer’s dilemma; so much technology available it can be hard to stay across it all…

You’re exactly right. Marketers are facing a huge challenge and it doesn’t seem to be getting any easier. Maybe one day it might, but it’s not on the immediate horizon. Every marketer I know is facing some aspect of the unknown and is trying to figure it out. The flip side of that is that it is a great time for context. Marketers need help figuring out and wrestling with all of these changes.

What do you see as the most pressing challenge for marketers today?

A: I think it’s this incredible disruption in the channels and touchpoints that marketers have with their audience, their prospects and their customers. This isn’t even about marketing technology per say, it is about these innovations coming up, the Internet of Things and how this is going to change the nature of communications between marketers and their audiences.

Right now there’s this explosion of chat bots and bots and using messenger interfaces as a way to interact with audiences, and when you have this constant stream of innovations and disruptions it creates tremendous opportunities for new products which then makes the landscape even more complex for marketers.

How do you suggest marketers navigate this technology maelstrom?

In my book I briefly describe one approach that most marketers can take to this which is to divide ones marketing capabilities, technology stack and operations into two fields: “the Core” and “the Edge”.

The Core are the fundamental operations which we know for a fact provide relationships for customers today and generate business today – that should be where the majority of investment should go, say 70%. In the Core, you are best served by using the smallest number of technologies that are effective in achieving what you want to achieve. You want to simplify and get really good at leverage these capabilities to the fullest.

At the same time, you can’t deny that there is this tremendous disruption and innovation taking place in the market, and it would be ill advised for brands to ignore it. So ideally, you should also be able to allocate a portion of budget, talent and resources to experimentation on the Edge – driven by specific customer opportunities.

You want to look at technologies in the Edge through the lens of the customer – what new technologies and channels are consumers starting to experiment with – and to be able to allocate enough resources so that that your marketing team can run experiments.

Frankly, the idea is that most of these experiments won’t work out, you don’t want to over think, you don’t want capital investment, the intention is to create a lab like mentality that allows marketers to continually stay abreast of some portion of that innovative field. If you have selected your experiments well, a subset of them will hopefully prove to be worthy candidates to eventually move into the Core operations over a 12, 18, 24 month period.

The important thing is to do both of these things in parallel. The key in the Core, for keeping the management of the marketing technology stack as rational as possible, is to SIMPLIFY the technologies. In the Edge – don’t worry about the number of technologies in that space.