The Hierarchy of Marketing Needs

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” This saying made famous by Charles Dickens may one day describe the current state of marketing technology.

We have more technology today than ever before. Scott Brinker’s now-famous Marketing Technology Landscape lists over 2,000 technologies (up from around 1,000 in 2014) available to marketers. Marketers are now faced with more products, more opportunities and – unfortunately – more risk as marketers shop for technology to help build out their programs.

For most, the ultra-saturation of marketing tools will lead to success. Armed with a historically generous budget to spend on tech, successful marketers will procure the appropriate tools that move the needle of the business.

For others, the answers aren’t so obvious. Unfortunately, no playbook or grocery list exists for buying marketing tech. Each marketing department’s “stack” is determinate on their customer base, market, organizational competencies and budget (amongst other factors).

So then how should a CMO decide the best place to invest? Where should a marketer start when evaluating solutions?

In 1943, a psychologist named Abraham Maslow categorized and prioritized human needs in a book named “Motivation and Personality”. In this publication he designed a “hierarchy of human needs” layering each need from the most critical, starting at the base. Maslow identified the base level as physiological needs, such as air, water and food. At the peak of the pyramid is self-actualization, a need for sure but hardly as necessary as requirements of the human body.

What if we applied this methodology to marketing technology? In other words, what solutions are most critical in sustaining a successful marketing program?

As I constructed my pyramid, I thought about marketing needs. What was the food and water of marketing tech? What was the base level of the layer cake that all other technologies could build upon?

After careful consideration, I couldn’t envision a scenario where a marketing program could thrive without effective data management as a core solution.

Here’s why.

Marketing automation and email service providers are powerful tools in connecting with an audience and pushing leads through the various phases of the marketing funnel. However, without the appropriate lead data, segmentation goes away or goes awry. Am I marketing to a prospect or a customer? What role is this lead in? Which industry? And where the heck is this customer or prospect?

Despite the traditional adage of “content is king”, today content is finely tailored to maximize engagement, and tailored content can’t be delivered appropriately without the guidance of data.

Analytics and dashboards are essential in gauging the success of your program. Predictive analytics runs even deeper, reliant on historical data before any insights can be surface. Each are vital to ongoing success, but are reliant on operational programs.

Data management is the most essential solution in the marketing stack.

Whether it be maintaining data hygiene and enriching data to uncover valuable insights into your lead and contact data, data is the new king. In essence, it’s about knowing your customers and prospects through good data. And what’s more important to a marketer than truly knowing customers?

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