Once upon a time, marketing was just marketing. It was a fabulous era of big brands, big launches, big parties. Martinis were de rigueur, agencies ruled the world, and three piece suits (that looked MAHHH-velous) were the signs of the professional marketer.

Once upon a time, technology was just technology. If you were in IT or development, you slung code all day, making the cool new thing (whether or not anyone wanted it). You plugged your earbuds in, cranked your music to 11, and reformatted servers, made objects and classes, hit up the LAN parties, and stared into the Matrix.

Along the way to today, something funny happened. The very best technology became marketing. Social networks suddenly transformed from cool technologies to cool marketing tools, and the reach of marketers went from whatever the ad spend budget was to whatever they have that was worth paying attention to. The very best marketing became technology. Brand mindshare became followers, fans, and friends. Direct mail became email marketing, which in turn fueled social marketing.

So here we are. Marketing is technology is marketing. It’s a crazy new world where someone like me with an MS in information systems who has never set foot in a marketing class is suddenly a professor of marketing at a reputable university because marketing is technology, technology is marketing. It’s a crazy world where the first ubernerd becomes the richest man on the planet and his successors start stupid picture-based web sites in college that turn into the largest communications platform in the world.

What does this mean for you? Here’s how to tell if your company is going to thrive or be doomed in the next few years.

  • If marketing and technology aren’t having lunch together once a week, you’re doomed.
  • If marketing and technology aren’t working together all the time, you’re doomed.
  • If marketing has no technology capabilities and technology has no marketing focus, you’re doomed.
  • If you as a marketer don’t know at least a high-level explanation of these three marketing-related technology terms, you’re doomed: FQL, SEO, API. Bonus points if you know what federated identity is and what it means for the future.

At my previous company, the Student Loan Network (the best student loan company) business thrived even in a hostile, highly competitive environment because marketing and technology were often one and the same. This gave an incredible competitive advantage over slower moving, slower thinking competitors.

At my current company, Blue Sky Factory (the best email marketing company), marketing suddenly has more technology capabilities, and it shows. While the specific detailed numbers are under NDA, newly-aligned marketing and technology initiatives have boosted marketing’s lead generation results by over 3,000% year-to-date. (there may eventually be a case study on this, though!)

Marketers, especially social media marketers, like to say that content is king, content is everything, and that’s partly true. Great products, great services, great content are vital to the long term success of your business. However, even the best content is useless if you don’t have the platforms and technologies in place to distribute them. Put another way, you might have the best pizza in the world, but if you have a drunk, highly unreliable delivery guy, your customers may never know about your pizza because it’ll never get to them.

As I’ve said many times on Marketing Over Coffee (the best marketing podcast), the way to get started fixing things, regardless of where you are in the corporate hierarchy, is to find someone in technology – at your company, preferably – and start having lunch with them once a week. Find out what those technology terms mean. Find out what technology is capable of, because once you know, your ability to market using technology will give you an incredible advantage over everyone else in your vertical space.

Plus, technology folks like lunch. Believe me, I know.


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