The “Martech King” Scott Brinker discusses the power duo of “art” & “science” of marketing along with discussing his idea of evergreen content collaterals
Chandrima: [00:00:03] In today's podcast, we are going to discuss the journey of Martech internal marketing world, along with focusing on the shelf life of content and how content marketers can keep up with the joys of driving value and maximizing traction in the same race. We're also going to focus on the current burning topic of the pandemic's effect on the marketing sector. And we're trying to understand why marketing needs to be humanized now more than ever. Our guest for today's podcast is Scott Brinker. Scott is currently the VP Platform Ecosystem at HubSpot. He also publishes Chief Marketing Technologist Blog, which is known as the Chiefmartec.com, and is the program chair of the very successful Martech Conference series. He's the author of the book Hacking Marketing, which is published by Wiley. Previously, he was the co-founder and CTO of Ion Interactive. He has degrees in computer science from Columbia University and Howard University, along with an MBA from MIT. Scott is what we term and known as the ultimate market guru. As his work not only helps people across the world to take a smarter approach to choosing and implementing Martech, but also in maximizing marketing technology. Welcome to the podcast, Scott.
Scott: [00:01:20] Hi, thank you for having me.
Chandrima: [00:01:22] So while I was doing my base homework for this podcast, I realized you are one of those people who ventured into their hobbies and found a tunnel to link your passion to your career. I would really like to know what your journey was like from the gaming industry into the marketing world.
Scott: [00:01:42] Yeah. So for me, starting in multiplayer games many years ago, it was kind of a weird mix of three things. Just as I as a young person at the time, I obviously enjoy games. And so creating your own was kind of the next cool thing to do. I certainly also enjoy the art of software development, so I really started out as, yes, a software developer, software engineer. But then, you know, any time you're going to be in the mode of creating something, you know, whether it's software or anything else, the next question becomes like, OK, well, how do you let the world know about that? And so, you know, that sort of entrepreneurial energy naturally directed itself into marketing. And over time, yeah, I became really fascinated by the art and the science of marketing as a profession. And then, yeah, what happened is my two loves the world of software and the world of marketing, really, over the past 20 years they've just intertwined so deeply with each other. The business of marketing is such a software driven business at this point that, yeah, I feel like one of those lucky people that, you know, the two things they love have come together like peanut butter and chocolate.
Chandrima: [00:03:13] That's an interesting combination.
Also, I ventured into Martech space in the last two to three years, I was into analytics and everything before that. So my prime source of information about Martech, as soon as I Google Martech, the first thing that comes up is what is Martech from Chiefmartec.com, then Scott Brinker and then his infographics and the landscape. So these things like this is my basic, I think this is anybody's basic introduction to Martech. So I want to know while my prime source of information about the Martech stack and the companies that are catering to the Martech stack came from referring to industrial landscapes that you have created. So I wanted to know, while you ventured into the info graphic creation, was it to viscerally communicate the massive tech domination that the marketing world had started to see around 2011?
Scott: [00:04:12] Yeah, so certainly I remember very clearly when I put together the first version of that slide, I was going to be giving a presentation to a group of CMOs, and I was trying to persuade them that they should think about hiring more technical talent onto the marketing team. This idea of having like a marketing technologist or what now has become for a lot of companies, a part of the marketing operations pillar. And so I put together the slide really just as a way to help them appreciate, like look at how many different capabilities are now a part of the marketing mission, all the software that you're now relying on to deliver your outcomes, to achieve your objectives. Given all that recognizing like, OK, all this software is such an integral part of marketing now, and doesn't it make sense to have someone who can really be your right hand, your leader of that market stack? And so that was the original slide. And I mean, there was only one hundred and fifty some odd tools at the time. But even that I remember being, like, amazed by, like, wow, a hundred and fifty different technologies. This is huge. And then the path that's taken over the past 10 years where the landscape has really grown exponentially, I don't think I would have predicted that. But I think in hindsight, you look back and you see like, OK, well, this is just the natural evolution of, how did Marc Andreessen put it? Like, software is eating the world just like software is everywhere. Everything is software.
Chandrima: [00:05:59] So it's been an interesting journey. Exactly. It is. And the massive boom that we have seen with Martech, it's unbelievable. If I especially compared the first infographic and now it has grown and dimensions that we cannot imagine together. Also, we have been following Chiefmartec.com for a long time, like I take a lot of my references from there and I have been reading mostly I read all of the articles that are put out there. So one thing that I have always observed that chiefmartec.com has produced a very different stream of articles, even though they are focusing on technology. A very recent read for me has been an article which is named ‘Martech is Meaningless Without Our Humanity’, and that was a phenomenal read. So I just wanted to understand, what was your thought process before penning out that article? And also, why do you think that humanizing the marketing aspect is really important?
Scott: [00:07:03] Yeah, well, I'm really happy to hear that that article resonated with you. It was a very personal one for me where, you know, I mean, 2020 has been a really hard year for everyone, obviously, with the pandemic. But here in the US, you know, really a whole bunch of challenges around social justice that have long been problems but really came to the forefront over these past months. And it just is very humbling for me to realize that there's a lot of work to be done here. I think sometimes being a techie, you know, I sometimes get a bit what would be the word like myopic, almost like, OK, what's happening in the innovation and WOW isn't this cool, the world is a wonderful place? And to sort of step back and realize that, wow, you know, there's a whole bunch of other aspects of how our society is working and how the world is developing that that need attention to. And I spent a lot of time reflecting on what I wanted to do to be able to just apply my energy better in that direction. And so, yeah, sharing that post was... Yeah, I you know, I'm happy it resonated with the audience, I hope it helps it.
Chandrima: [00:08:36] It did. It resonated very well with me because generally, like we are into the tech space and marketing is, it's so time consuming that we always we are chasing behind pieces of content, then you know how to derive value from it.
Sometimes I think we forget that that is a total humanizing component around it as well as we can maybe work towards that as well.
Tom: [00:04:22] I think, for one thing, the Customer Data Platforms are becoming more of a kind of ubiquitous thing, something that people need to have because they realize that none of the other Martech tools really handle this functionality. And trying to add it as an afterthought to another technology is not really a recipe for success in a way that's scalable and in a way that's designed from the ground up to manage the data safely, securely and effectively. So one is I think it's something that all companies will have because it's such a critical function to unify the customer data and to be able to see what that journey is. The other thing from the marketing team standpoint is the CDPs are getting easier to use for the marketers.
Scott: [00:08:59] Yep, and I think that is, yeah, you know, the connection to the broader Martech world that I'd like to think I know a little bit better is like, yeah, you know, I mean, all this automation, not just marketing technology, but I mean, certainly Martech is a big part of this.
[00:09:19] There's a lot of power in this and there's a lot of way of making it make life more efficient for companies that can even make experiences better for customers. But at the same time, it's really easy and dangerous to let some of these automation's, you know, and these AI controlled patterns, you know, run amok without recognizing that, wow, OK, no, you know, the way algorithms work and the way human beings thrive together, there are gaps there. And of our role in Martech really needs to be, I think, being aware of those gaps and helping identify them and fix them and not let people get too carried away on the automation at the expense of.. Yeah. What makes us happy employees, what makes us happy customers?
Chandrima: [00:10:17] Exactly. Also, I work as a content creator and content marketer. Now I have observed from how much ever years I have been into the content marketing space that there is this growing sense of urgency that had started developing for just creating content and putting it out there as soon as a trend logs in. And so do you think that content marketing content creation of late has inclined more towards mere SERP rankings than driving actual value for the readers?
Scott: [00:10:49] Yeah, I mean, it's hard, it's, you know, like anything there's like a distribution curve of how people do this.
And I think, you know, if you look at the top end of the distribution curve, you would say there are people who do both right there. They're both catching timely trends, but the work that they're doing to contribute there is incredibly valuable and readers are likely to get a lot out of it. And that works really, really well. But then, you know, further down the distribution curve, yeah, you definitely have other folks who, you know, it's just it becomes about. Yeah, like responding, you know, like the news jacking, you know, to a trend. And it's very almost mechanical and cranking things out. And I think not only is there not a lot of value in that, but one of the just challenges to it is anybody can do that, write software and automation makes it easier to do that at scale than ever before. And so if you're just doing the mechanics of it, I think it's really hard to even get that to work for you is like, know, top page of the SERP.
So I think I guess I would say it this way is, I think there's a lot of art and science coming out and the people who are really doing it well, yeah, they deliver tremendous value to the audience because they understand that's how they actually win. Like, the real goal is to have an audience as a reader to be like, wow, that was awesome! Thank you!
Chandrima: [00:12:29] And I think marketing is the only field where you get to combine your art and science together and create something amazing in that sense
Scott: [00:12:39] There is such a wonderful blend between the left brain and the right brain and the fact that you can do this in marketing and people pay you for it, it's a wonderful career. I love marketing. I admire marketers.
Chandrima: [00:12:56] So I want to shift the focus to the shelf life of content as well. I feel that the shelf life of each and every piece of content is decreasing with each preceding day. So how do you think that content marketers or dynamic, content driven publication like that of ours, Martech Cube, how do you think we should go about in either increasing the shelf life of the content piece or maybe in trying to derive maximum value with each and every content piece? Do you have like some quick fixes that all of the content marketers can jump in to try and try and save themselves from this misery?
Scott: [00:13:35] I like the way you posed that question out there, but yeah, I don't know if there's a quick fix, but I think there are there are two different things going on there.
There's this notion of timeliness, you know, and there are certain content sources that that is their claim to fame. It's timeliness. Like, OK, listen, I want to get what's happening now. It's almost like news, but it might be not just news, it might be a perspective. It might be something a little more qualitatively different there. But but the real value is like, OK, this is it's a stream, right? Like you're not going to go back to the stream and see what that person was talking about a month ago, because that's past. You know, what you appreciate is what's happening really in the present.
And I think that's one kind of content marketing. I think there's a different kind of content marketing that is really looking to create these reference points that are going to, by the very nature, have a longer shelf life. And they tend to be longer pieces.
They tend to have a lot more work that went into the creation. Yeah, yeah. You know, I mean, in fact, like my Martech landscape with all those logos on it in some ways to me that I can't say I planned it that way. But I mean, that's become one of those pieces where that's a really evergreen piece that, you know, having it as the reference slide. The industry has been just enormously helpful for me in building my audience. And so I think I mean, there's so many things happening in the world that people are looking for an expert to help explain and give them a resource that they can turn to.
And so, yeah, I think that is also a very compelling content marketing strategy. As which content marketing strategy should you adopt? I think it kind of depends on your audience, your strength, you know, but yeah, I'm not sure either one of those is a quick fix.
Both of those are pretty hard to execute. Well, I guess.
Chandrima: [00:16:00] And but I think I still think that the focus should be on evergreen content that's going to help, you know, help everybody in the longer run at the end.
Scott: [00:16:10] I think that is more differentiated, because almost by its very nature, you have the time you can invest in the development of the content to make it really special versus when you're in that sort of, you know, like real time News Stream because you've got so much time constraints. There's really only so much depth you can offer on that content. And as a result, you know, it's perhaps easier for other people to copy that. You know, again, it almost becomes, as we were saying earlier, a little bit of that mechanical process that is perhaps a little bit harder to differentiate or, you know, sort of defend against some other content marketer trying the exact same playbook on you.
Chandrima: [00:17:03] Exactly. Exactly. And so with the current state of pandemic that we have, marketing has seen a visible slump. But do you think that this slump will ultimately mark a phase shift for marketing with respect to its recovery and hitting the proverbial golden age for marketing maybe?
Scott: [00:17:24] Yes, I think, you know, being respectful, that we still aren't on the other side of this pandemic, so I want to be careful that, you know, I don't want to be overly optimistic, I don't want to be pessimistic. I think we're just in a moment right now where the world is still trying to make its way through this crisis. And so, yeah, it's hard to predict exactly what the exit from this crisis is going to look like and how long it's going to take. But that being said, I think one of the things we've seen from the pandemic is this realisation by so many businesses that they really need the ability to connect with their customers in a digital world because, you know, you never know. I mean, this I'd like to hope this is the last pandemic in the world ever faces, but it may not be, you know, and I think even if we face other crises like this in the future, even in the days when, yeah, you know, we have the ability to, like, travel and meet people and do stuff in person, the efficiency of being able to do more and more things over digital channels, one-to-one. Yeah, I think a lot of companies are realizing there's a lot more value there and it's a lot more accessible than they maybe previously thought. And so I think all of that sets up an environment where Martech, which is very much a collection of tools and capabilities to empower companies to have that ability to engage with their customers through these digital channels to have a distributed workforce that's managing that marketing and sales infrastructure, all those things are basically in the favor of saying, yeah, wow, I mean, the next 10 years from our tech could be just an incredible second golden age, hopefully.
Chandrima: [00:19:26] Hopefully! We hope so.
Also, in terms of the marketing requirement, do you think that other marketing requirements are going to change after the pandemic? And if they're changing, what aspects of these requirements do you think would be scary and exciting for the marketers in upcoming times?
Scott: [00:19:46] Yeah, again, I think the pandemic, I don't think it fundamentally changed the way things are headed.
I think it's more that it's just kind of accelerated it.
And I think, you know, the challenges that we know we're wrestling with in the marketing and Martech community is the technology is getting more Com-plex, and you hear me hesitating in how I say this, because it's kind of this weird thing happening where on one hand, you know, software for the most part is actually getting easier to use. User experience, design has become a much more mature field, you know, a lot of the products that you can now buy as a marketer, they're really well designed and they're like so much easier to use than what Martech used to look like, you know, like ten years ago.
But even while individual tools are becoming easier to use and more accessible, there are so many different SaaS tools that companies are connecting together. And there are so many different digital touch points that customers are engaging with us, that the interaction of all these different tools and touch points is... It is a more complex environment. And so I think that's on one hand, going to be a great source of innovation and success and competitive differentiation for companies, on the other hand, I think it's going to be a really challenging process to figure that out.
Chandrima: [00:21:37] I think so, too, also I really wanted to know your super graphics are THE thing. I think whenever they release, it's like everybody knows that Scott Brinker super graphic has to be.
So I just want you to know that, you know, how do you go about marketing your super graphic? I obviously know there are some secrets. I just want to know your basic approach towards putting out any piece of content and how do you spread the word around it?
Scott: [00:22:07] Boy, it's a good question. I'm afraid my answer is going to be probably very disappointing, which, is boy, I don't do a lot. To be honest, I'm a terrible content marketer. Like for the most part, I would say 90 percent of my energy goes into the creation of and then maybe only about 10 percent is like, OK, well, how do I make sure I get this distributed and know I do a certain amount? I do a lot of like, well, webinars and podcasts.
I'll do a lot with social networks around that. But the truth is, yeah, I don't do anywhere near as much as I could or probably should. So yeah, I don't I would not hold myself up as an example of a great content marketer. I think I probably have a lot to learn from people who are much better at it than I am.
Chandrima: [00:23:04] I really would like to be just as terrible as you, I would say. If this is the level of terribleness, I would really love to be there. Yeah. okay Scott, coming to my favorite and my last question, what would be your go to quote for any situation in life, like with marketing without marketing, in life, what's your goal to go or a go to saying that has always resonated with you?
Scott: [00:23:34] Oh, I love this question.
Chandrima: [00:23:37] It's my favorite question, too.
Scott:n[00:23:39] Yeah. So there's a quote from Shakespeare that I've always sort of stuck with me and goes something like, There is more in heaven and earth than is dreamt of in your philosophy, you know? And so I might be mangling that a bit.
But this sort of idea of, you know, I kind of feel like it's so easy for us to have like a world view of, like, OK, you know, we know what is happening. Like, we have a world view of like, OK, this is what's possible, this is how something should be done, this is the best practice,this is what's going to work, this is what's not going to work. And I think the thing about that quote that always makes me pause and reflect is like, you know, we don't always know as much as we sometimes think we do. And I think this willingness to just constantly have an open mind to, wow, there's maybe more possibilities here than I've been considering. And I find every time, like when I feel like I'm stuck in a corner between like, oh, now you you don't have any choice, you kind of have to do X, which can be a very uncomfortable place to be at, I find that if I can just really step back for a moment and say, really, is there no choice or is there perhaps a broader set of choices than I was originally considering originally? Almost every time I'm like, yeah, actually there are a lot of choices. There's a lot of different ways to tackle this. And so it's maybe a bit of an optimistic view on this. But anyway, that's what inspires me.
Chandrima: [00:25:27] That's amazing. I think I have read this one. This one is from Hamlet, I suppose I have read this quote. It has resonated with me as well for quite some time since I was reading Shakespeare in high school. But yeah, it's sometimes as if we fix ourselves in a mold and we just don't want to get out of it. So it's really nice to step back and see the situation and resonate as an outsider.
Scott: [00:25:54] It's the beginner mindset, you know, as they might say. Yeah, that's just it. There's some wisdom of the ages here that we can all learn from.
Chandrima: [00:26:06] We have covered an entire spectrum here, from marketing to content marketing to pandemic to the way of life. So I would say that this was rather inspiring and this marks us to the end of our podcast. Thanks a lot for joining us for this wonderful session's Scott. We really look forward to hosting you on Market Cube, one way or the other very, very soon. And we really hope that our audience enjoyed it. And I really hope that you enjoyed it as much as I did. And I really hope to see you again soon.
Scott: [00:26:41] Awesome. Thank you so much for having me.
Chandrima:[00:26:43] Thank you, Scott. Please stay safe and stay vigilant and thank you.
Scott: [00:26:45] All right. Bye-bye. Bye.
1) [00:09:19] But at the same time, it's really easy and dangerous to let some of these automation's, and these AI controlled patterns, you know, run amok without recognizing that, the way algorithms work and the way human beings thrive together, there are gaps there.
Martech Cube’s Take – With automation taking over the marketing industry and companies leveraging technologies to deliver optimized customer experiences, there is something missing, and that is humanity. Marketers need to realize that there is a gap between what the technology is delivering and what actually makes customers happy. Humanizing the tech is the need of the hour.
[00:11:38] And I think not only is there not a lot of value in that, but one of the just challenges to it is anybody can do that - right software, and automation makes it easier to do that at scale than ever before. And so if you're just doing the mechanics of it, I think it's really hard to even get that to work for you to top page of the SERP.
Martech Cube’s Take – To get your content trending and have your audience engage with it, you will need the automation along with information or data that provides them with some sort of value. It’s not just about what the writers write, it’s more about what the readers want to read. So, when you are working towards developing any piece and form of content, keep it value-driven and ensure that, that is something that would be of use to your audience-base.
[00:18:55] And so I think all of that sets up an environment where Martech, which is very much a collection of tools and capabilities to empower companies to have that ability to engage with their customers through these digital channels to have a distributed workforce that's managing that marketing and sales infrastructure, all those things are basically in the favor of saying, yeah, wow, I mean, the next 10 years from our tech could be just an incredible second golden age, hopefully.
Martech Cube’s Take – The pandemic has led to a number of firms realizing that their businesses need to have an online presence that is accessible when face-to-face interactions are not possible. With the world moving to digital spaces, we can say that the tech arena will grow exponentially and provide marketers with exceptional capabilities that can combat several complexities.
[00:22:22] For the most part, I would say 90 percent of my energy goes into the creation of and then maybe only about 10 percent is like, OK, well, how do I make sure I get this distributed and know I do a certain amount?
Martech Cube’s Take – It the content that lies at the heart of content marketing and marketing strategies. When you develop something that is well-researched and extremely insightful, you will be giving your content the ability to market itself. Scott’s idea of content marketing does just that! He develops something that delivers extremely high value and then makes sure he distributes it evenly across.
And so I think all of that sets up an environment where Martech, which is very much a collection of tools and capabilities to empower companies to have that ability to engage with their customers through these digital channels to have a distributed workforce that’s managing that marketing and sales infrastructure, all those things are basically in the favor of saying, yeah, wow, I mean, the next 10 years from our tech could be just an incredible second golden age, hopefully.
Scott Brinker is the author of chiefmartec.com, a blog that examines the intersection of marketing, technology, and management, and he's the program chair of the MarTech conference series. A practicing marketing technologist, he is also the CTO of ion interactive, a marketing software company that provides a platform for producing and delivering interactive content. He is currently The VP of Platform Ecosystem at Hubspot. Like a magician who dawns on many hats, Scott has also created the “Marketing Technology Landscape Supergraphic” a widely dispersed vendor blueprint for marketing professionals in every industry vertical; and categorizes solution providers for each and every marketing category; middle-ware; infrastructure, and marketing platform. He has degrees in computer science from Columbia and Harvard and an MBA from MIT.
Chandrima samanta is a Content management executive with a flair for creating high quality content irrespective of genre. She believes in crafting stories irrespective of genre and bringing them to a creative form. Prior to working for MartechCube she was a Business Analyst with Capgemini.