Marketers must keep up with the growth of martech

CMA president and CEO John Wiltshire on why even seasoned pros could fall behind if they don't adapt with new skills.
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By John Wiltshire

Nearly every industry is undergoing major changes and that includes marketing. Gone are the days when Mad Men-like characters made all the decisions. People are still running the show, but technology is now playing a big part in how companies develop messages, target audiences and deploy their marketing assets. Marketing technology is only going to become more prevalent as new, more tech-savvy individuals rise through the ranks.

According to Warc, brands and agencies are spending, collectively, about USD$100-billion on martech, while brands in the U.K and North America increased their martech budgets by 44% over the last year. With companies only spending 23% of their total marketing budgets on technology, it’s safe to say those numbers will grow.

Technology has been a boon to the marketing profession. Analytics software helps us better measure the efficacy of a campaign, brainstorming technology lets marketers share ideas faster, project management programs facilitate better collaboration, while customer relationship and social media management tools make it easier to deploy messages. Numerous other programs are being utilized as well.

There is one downside to technology’s rapid adoption: companies are spending much less on in-house training than they did a few years ago. I know several that have cut internal programs and while some have money to spend on external training, those dollars end up going unused. Why? Because firms are moving so much faster and needing to respond to issues and opportunities as quickly as possible that there’s no time, and fewer dollars, to dedicate to training.

Many companies expect their new hires to be more knowledgeable about tech and marketing than maybe they should be. With so much information at our fingertips, people should already know the ins and outs of their industry, right? That thinking will get firms into trouble. Marketers may know how to navigate their way around some software, but they need the strategic know-how that comes with learning, watching and doing. Less training will result in fewer strategic thinkers in our industry.

Don’t take my word for it. In a recent consultation document, the federal government noted that for companies to succeed in an innovation economy, their staff need to have the right aptitudes, competencies and experience. In today’s world, marketers must combine marketing knowledge with technology, while still understanding what clients want and what messages will resonate with their organization’s customers.

In January of this year, the Canadian Marketing Association launched its Chartered Marketer designation to give up-and-coming marketers – employees of brands and agencies – the opportunity to enhance their marketing skills. The curriculum is designed by leading marketers and is updated in real time to reflect the industry’s changing trends.

We created this program not only to help marketers stay current, but to ensure they understand where marketing innovation is headed.

While the future is still unfolding, there’s no question that technology will continue to upend traditional ways of thinking. Companies, and marketers themselves, need to do all they can to adapt and stay ahead of their peers.

John Wiltshire is president and CEO of the Canadian Marketing Association.