Skip To Content

Hard Time Cracking the Martech Puzzle

Recently, I had the chance to attend two very different conferences back to back. First, I went to the ASAE Marketing, Membership and Communications conference (ASAE MM&C), followed by MarTech San Francisco. I came away from this transition with a very unexpected insight…a universal truth in the broad world of marketing technology.


At the MM&C Conference, I spoke with lots of people in the Non-Profit and Association sector who were just starting to understand what technology could do for their efforts to communicate their vision, market their value, and grow their membership. I heard lots of statements such as:

"We know we need a new website, but we don’t even know where to begin."

"We have to make sure that we can be reached by a mobile audience."

"We could really use some help understanding our web traffic and prioritizing what it means."

"I would love it if I had more control over my content without having to go through a developer."

"We want to look into using campaigns and some marketing technology, but we just don’t know how to get started."

five identical doors


At the MarTech conference, by contrast, I expected to see the opposite end of the spectrum: Shining examples of fully integrated ecosystems of platforms, able to optimize traffic, qualify leads, engage customers, and increases sales. To be sure, some of that was definitely on display.

Additionally, there were vendors peddling everything from collaborative marketing platforms to artificial intelligence systems that interpret your leads’ social media activity in order to pinpoint the ideal time to reach out to them with a value proposition. It was truly a showing of the frontiers of digital marketing.

However, two back-to-back talks in one session really stuck out to me more than any others:

First, there was "How to Build a Martech Stack that Fits your Company’s Needs", presented by Daryl Hemeon, Marketing Technologist at Unum. This was followed by "How IBM Re-Platformed the Core of its Martech Stack in 18 Months" presented by Tom Hannigan, Director of Global Marketing Programs for IBM.

Both were filled with advice that can be universally applied, regardless of the size of your organization. Ideas to live by, such as:

  • Hide
  • Deny everything
  • Don’t get anyone else’s opinion
  • Refuse to do any PowerPoint presentations

Obviously, these tips were tongue-in-cheek, but it led me to realize a universal truth in Martech:

This stuff is hard. It’s hard for a small nonprofit, and it’s hard for an $80 billion technology behemoth.

woman climbing over a wood barrier

It’s so tempting to tackle everything at once, get every department’s buy-in, and start customizing things right out of the gate. The advice from these guys was to start small, start simple, and start stock. Do your due diligence on platform selection, and your highest priority should be selecting a powerful, stable core platform that will enable long-term growth.

Once your platform is selected, implement it as plain vanilla as possible, train your organization to the platform’s practices, and start using it. Prioritize and plan future phases for increasing your complexity and maturity. If you must customize…only customize AFTER your team has used the out-of-the-box system for a while, to allow the time to determine what they really need (and don't need). With the right approach, the impossibly hard may not become “easy” per se, but it becomes very possible.

old dart board


Considering all of the automation, content personalization, and artificial intelligence on the forefront of marketing technology today, it’s easy to forget what a paradigm shift it can be just to give your marketing team ownership of your website’s content.This is why we love the platforms that we work in, such as Kentico and Sitecore. While they may at first glance appear as simple content management systems, delving deeper you realize they are in fact stable hubs of marketing technology power.

Content Management Systems are the original marketing technology, because they allow the owners of the content – the marketers and subject matter experts – to update the digital face of your organization in real time, responding to changes in industry climate, current events, and engaging your users in a way that was never before possible.

An all-in-one CMS will also result in a quality website that’s accessible to mobile devices, has great usability, and contains powerful editing tools for content owners. This is a huge win for a lot of organizations, and when the platform that you select to accomplish those goals also has the power to grow with you…into the realm of personas, user segmentation, and marketing automation, then you're on the right path to evolving your marketing team into a more optimized and adaptable department. You'll be able to respond to your members’ needs in real time while also maturing in the use of the tools at your disposal.

person jumping


Remember that the magic of Martech is that it’s evolutionary. Trends change, audiences change, and even your interpretation of your traffic, statistics, and users will change as you grow and mature and collect more data to analyze.

If you slam an enormous solution into place in one fell swoop and then walk away, you’re going to fail. Not only will you fail, but you’ll be miserable trying to do everything at once, right up until everything comes crashing down.

Our team at BlueModus knows that the roadmap of growth, starting from “just getting our website out the door” to “sophisticated marketing machine” never really has an end point. However, no matter at what point our clients are on their digital journey, helping them define their own unique roadmap and stay on course is what get our motors running.

It’s these hard problems that get us out of bed in the morning, and like I said: This stuff is hard. Though with the right guidance, it’s very possible.

What's your Martech challenge? Contact BlueModus today and we'll solve it together.