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APAC Experts Share Martech Tips

Words of advice from two APAC B2B martech heavyweights: Ansell’s Mitchell Mackey and Telstra Wholesale’s Glenn Flower.

Marketing technology tends to evoke one of two reactions in B2B marketers. There’s praise for its ability to target qualified sales leads and improve customer personalization. And there’s frustration because it can be difficult to set up, synchronize, and use effectively.

Mitchell Mackey understands why marketing technology polarises marketers. That’s why the Marketing Director at Ansell Healthcare prefers to use direct language when discussing matches, which he says works best when people understand its potential and apply fundamental principles.

Telstra Wholesale’s Glenn Flower and Ansell Healthcare’s Mitchell Mackey

“Everyone talks about innovation, transformation, and business-model change,” Mackey says. “I think for most enterprises of any size and structure, the real value comes from consistently getting the basics right.” He’s firm on one thing: don’t leave martech decisions to your IT department. “You must make these crucial decisions with your IT colleagues in a genuine partnership, with business in the lead.”

Mackey says he introduced marketing and sales automation to Ansell seven years ago. Even after that time, it remains an evolutionary process. “Ansell’s a global company, and we use Marketo for marketing automation and Salesforce for customer relationship management (CRM),” he says. “We must constantly drive for improved adoption and process maturity across our regions.”

Another established martech expert in the Asia-Pacific region is Telstra Wholesale’s General Manager of Marketing, Glenn Flower. In Telstra’s vast and complicated marketing environment, Flower and his team are building a martech stack that reduces costs, improves sales and marketing alignment, and promotes engagement. “For example, we’ve been able to automate a lot of our communications through dynamic content and ongoing personalization,” he says.

But Flower admits to having “a real passion” for technology but believes there are no magic, off-the-shelf solutions. “No one [martech] brand can deliver 100 percent of the value because each brand has something unique and compelling that brings something to the table,” he says. “You need to be able to tie all the brands together so they are the best fit for your business.”

Here are 11 tips from Mackey and Flower to help B2B marketers get on top of their martech planning and execution.

  • Start now, not tomorrow

“The market is moving so quickly that if you plan and plan and plan, you’ll find the plan is very quickly out of date,” Flower says. “You’ve got to be learning as you move through the process.”

  • Don’t leave it to IT

“These are business decisions that must be made by business people, in partnership with your business technology partners – not your IT people alone,” Mackey says. “You need to partner with them, but you are in the lead. You must sit with an IT professional and have a challenging, robust conversation. You must focus on getting the basics right and innovating your business model, not simply maintaining the status quo.”

  • Ensure you’re IT literate

“To have a senior role today, it’s always assumed and expected you’ll have financial literacy,” Mackey says. “Today, you must also have business technology literacy. That doesn’t mean you need to know how to code HTML5. But it does mean that you understand the importance of making the right business technology decisions that will come together in an integrated sales and marketing front-end connected with your transactional enterprise resource planning (ERP) back-end. If you don’t do that, you won’t differentiate around the customer experience because you’ll have too many constraints and legacy systems, and legacy attitudes inhibit the flow of value.”

  • Adopt a sophisticated approach

“You must understand your CRM and what marketing automation is all about,” Mackey says. “Your CRM – your engagement engine – is the heart of the business. You must make the right choices there. CRM is no longer just sales automation and account and contact opportunity management. It’s service automation; it’s your community. It embeds all that with artificial intelligence (AI) to help you make better and smarter decisions. And it’s ensuring that your CRM platform integrates with your enterprise network, your environment – your central nervous system. You must get this right. If your people go into battle with second-rate weapons systems, well, good luck.”

  • Begin with customer experience in mind

“That’s a great way to prioritize the 360-degree decision-making marketers need to make,” Flower says. “It helps them understand what’s critical.”

  • Spend the budget on training and support

“A lot of people have spent a lot of money on marketing automation systems and data management platforms and not seen the business value,” Mackey says. “I would argue that these poor decisions highlight the need to be business technology literate. And don’t spend $1 on the software subscription license fee and 5 cents on training and change management. When this happens, it should be no surprise that people wonder where the business value is in these tools. I firmly believe that if you spend $1 on the software subscription license, you must spend $3 on planning, change management, and support. The lack of training and skills is a huge issue.”

  • Seek help: there’s plenty around

“Salesforce, the leading CRM platform, has invested big-time in Trailhead, their online learning management platform,” Mackey says. “They see that as a huge differentiator for them. They have a huge, dynamic library of training programs and courses. People in the Salesforce world are trying to get their credentials and achievement badges in Trailhead. This is something to highlight now on LinkedIn profiles. Overall, a corporate and a personal commitment to enabling training and learning on what modern marketing and sales are all about – using innovative, 21st-century platforms – is critical.”

  • Stay optimised and aware

Flower says martech is a journey, not a destination. “This is a continual improvement and refinement process because not everything is mature today and not everything works perfectly,” he says. “Through experience, trialing, and failure, you learn to combine different things that work.”

Mackey points out that Salesforce releases three waves of functionality and features every year. “You should be thinking: ‘How do we take advantage of Salesforce’s new Einstein [AI] capabilities? Is this relevant to us? What resources, money, effort, and people do we need to get switched on there?’ And if you’re using another platform, from, say, Microsoft, you should adopt the same mindset.”

  • Don’t get distracted by shiny things

Mackey says marketers must resist the temptation to choose the latest technology, especially if they inherit a martech stack. “They will be looking at it, thinking, ‘Well, did my predecessor make the right choices? What is the conversion cost if we move to another tool?’ One of my weaknesses is that I’m always interested in the next shiny new thing. Which, of course, can be a distraction.

“Most companies don’t get the basics right. Focus on identifying the constraints that are causing frustrations for your customers. Take those constraints out and focus on delivering this flow of value – end to end.”

  • Don’t just concentrate on new customers

Similarly, it’s easy for marketers to set up their march to focus on acquisitions, treating potential new customers as more critical than existing clients. “For most of us, recurring revenue is huge,” Mackey says. “It’s not just all about acquisition, net new customers. Retaining customers, especially in the B2B game, is often about how easy we are to do business with. It’s a reputational issue, too. Marketing must be aware of these factors and influence [the business]. You’ve got to have as few barriers and silos as possible. I like to say it must operate as an orchestra, where every player has to perform in synch to deliver a smooth flow of end-to-end value to customers.”

  • Remain patient

“Make sure you don’t think that you’re going to get it right come tomorrow because you won’t,” Flower says. “It’s a challenge. Sometimes, we still get caught up in our processes and operations and focus on delivering something. We [Telstra Wholesale] are still learning on the job. But we’re lucky we had these assets available, and it’s been awesome. Now we’re just finishing that process of tying them all together.”