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Martech is mainly about relationships

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Martech is mainly about relationships


My approach to the marketing technology field has been geared toward focusing on human topics like relationships.  Marketing technology, however, is certainly a technical discipline, and my route to this field began by working closely with web developers and designers as well as software programmers.  Further, it obviously involves marketing acumen, which I’ve picked up on the job.  Granted, one can certainly argue that most – if not all – professions are mainly about relationships, but I can certainly speak to martech.

I’ve tried to focus some of my columns on the relationship aspects of our field for a few reasons.  First, there are so many other experts and voices who provide great technical and marketing insights.  There isn’t a shortage of those.  Second, it has provided me with a niche to fill.  Third, my work experience has really impressed upon me that the technical and business aspects of working in this field are the easier (certainly not always easy) parts of the job; relationships, on the other hand, can be much more difficult.

Relationships are important – particularly, as Milton Hwang argues, where marketing operations and tech leaders have become modernizers.  Darrell Alfonso also provides some valuable insights into how practitioners handling the day-to-day and tactical aspects of marketing operations can better understand the leader’s perspective.  Alfonso weaves relationship tips throughout his piece.

You’re not alone

How often have you had a straightforward project get held up by bureaucracy or office politics?  Have you ever tried to get a colleague to slow down so that you all could more thoroughly evaluate a need or problem?  Ever been involved in training or providing other enablement to end users?  How about trying to jockey for organizational funding and priority for your project over your colleagues’ projects?  Is it just me or is persuading other people to your position not always easy peasy?  Moving and shaking is fun until the pushback, right?


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Change and project management

There are many tools and strategies out there for addressing the tricky parts of relationships.  For instance, I’ve written about the value of change management and project management methodologies to martech practitioners.  

Change management acknowledges that resistance is inevitable – regardless of whether people perceive that a change is positive, neutral, or negative.  It provides tools and tactics to anticipate, evaluate, and address such resistance.  If that doesn’t involve relationships, I don’t know what does.  Hopefully, when change management is used correctly, no one will need to even fret that resistance is futile as people will feel that their perspective and input are considered.  There’s a reason why the Borg aren’t popular.

Project management on the other hand provides structure to getting stuff done.  It establishes roles and responsibilities along with cadences, ceremonies, definitions, measurement standards, and artifacts to assist a group to collectively work together to accomplish tasks.  The agile philosophy and its accompanying Scrum framework are rather popular, and my fellow contributor Stacey Ackerman has written about how to apply them in martech contexts.  By clearly establishing a framework for action, people are better aware of roles, expectations, and schedules — and that all helps promote healthy relationships among the people involved.

Winning & influencing

I kid you all not.  While I was drafting this column, a senior leader here at my employer Zuora shared his notes regarding Dale Carnegie’s seminal work “How to Win Friends and Influence People.”  He shared them since he believes that its principles are critical to individual and collective success.  Not only is it easier to accomplish things when people choose to get along but typically the results are superior as well.

It is important to note that Carnegie’s principles are related to leadership.  Unlike managing, anyone can participate in leading — no matter how junior or senior they are.  Focusing on establishing and maintaining positive relationships can help junior individuals punch above their weight, but when senior individuals foster healthy relationships, they too can shine as people respect and value positive leaders.  I’ve seen individuals across the seniority spectrum both fail and excel when it comes to relationships, and based upon how my colleagues have responded and reacted, my unscientific and anecdotal sample shows that it is better to strive to be likable.

Carnegie’s philosophy can certainly help martech practitioners excel if they choose to incorporate it into their work.  Working in martech involves changing things and influencing others, and failing to consider the importance of interpersonal relationships will likely hinder a practitioner’s ability to thrive.

I can also personally attest to the senior Zuora leader’s focus on fostering positive relationships and on placing people first; he walks the walk.  He’s proof that being nice can lead to success.  His resume shows that he has advanced and thrived professionally at companies of significant consequence like SAP.  If he can, so can all of you.

The difficult stuff

Don’t get me wrong.  Integrations, RFPs, measuring KPIs, and similar activities are not always easy.  However, relationships are involved in all of them, and if my experience is representative, relationships are the toughest aspects of martech.  Why not try to make this aspect not only more tolerable but enjoyable and effective to boot?


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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily MarTech. Staff authors are listed here.


About The Author

Steve Petersen is a marketing technology manager at Zuora. He spent nearly 8.5 years at Western Governors University, holding many martech related roles with the last being marketing technology manager. Prior to WGU, he worked as a strategist at the Washington, DC digital shop The Brick Factory, where he worked closely with trade associations, non-profits, major brands, and advocacy campaigns. Petersen holds a Master of Information Management from the University of Maryland and a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations from Brigham Young University. He’s also a Certified ScrumMaster. Petersen lives in the Salt Lake City, UT area. Petersen represents his own views, not those of his current or former employers.



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Hootsuite joins TikTok’s Marketing Partner Program

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Hootsuite joins TikTok’s Marketing Partner Program


Today, social media management platform Hootsuite announced it has joined TikTok’s Marketing Partner Program. Through the partnership, Hootsuite has launched an integration that allows brands to manage, execute and optimize TikTok content at scale.

About 38.5% of  Hootsuite’s customers have planted a flag on TikTok, with the rest (around 63 %) planning to launch TikTock content some time this year, according to an internal Hootsuite study.

What it does. Hootsuite brand customers will be able to schedule and publish TikTok content within the Hootsuite platform. This will allow marketers the ease to manage TikTok alongside efforts on all other social media platforms in one place.

Read next: Ultimate guide to social media marketing

Marketers will also be able to moderate and engage with comments in real-time. They will also gain post-performance and user engagement insights informing future campaigns.

Educational resources. Additionally, Hootsuite is rolling out TikTok-related resources for marketers. They include:

  • A culture guide that highlights key TikTok trends, including sound, aesthetics, types of videos and slang;
  • A blog content series that promotes best practices on growing business and building customer relationships on TikTok;
  • Workshops and webinars to walk through video content development with social media marketers and
  • A newsletter that provides tips and highlights successful video efforts on TikTok.

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Why we care. TikTok isn’t only about reach. It’s also a place for authentic organic discovery and not just paid exposure for advertisers. With this added layer of realness comes a certain amount of risk for brands as they venture into uncharted territory. This Hootsuite partnership and rollout adds some needed structure and predictability to a brand’s debut on this rapidly growing social destination.


About The Author

Chris Wood draws on over 15 years of reporting experience as a B2B editor and journalist. At DMN, he served as associate editor, offering original analysis on the evolving marketing tech landscape. He has interviewed leaders in tech and policy, from Canva CEO Melanie Perkins, to former Cisco CEO John Chambers, and Vivek Kundra, appointed by Barack Obama as the country’s first federal CIO. He is especially interested in how new technologies, including voice and blockchain, are disrupting the marketing world as we know it. In 2019, he moderated a panel on “innovation theater” at Fintech Inn, in Vilnius. In addition to his marketing-focused reporting in industry trades like Robotics Trends, Modern Brewery Age and AdNation News, Wood has also written for KIRKUS, and contributes fiction, criticism and poetry to several leading book blogs. He studied English at Fairfield University, and was born in Springfield, Massachusetts. He lives in New York.



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The Ultimate Guide to Human Resources

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The Ultimate Guide to Human Resources


Remarkable Human Resources (HR) employees are critical at every company. They handle all employee relations so you can focus on your side of the business.

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Getting started with the Agile Marketing Navigator: Aligning on a Guidepoint

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Getting started with the Agile Marketing Navigator: Aligning on a Guidepoint


We recently introduced you to Agile Marketing Navigator, a flexible framework for navigating agile marketing for marketers, by marketers. We also held a Zoom meeting to discuss the Navigator with members of the agile marketing community.

The Navigator has four major components: Collaborative Planning Workshop, Launch Cycle, Key Practices and Roles. Within these categories, there are several sub-pieces for implementation. Over the next several weeks, we’ll dive into each piece and give you practical, actionable ways to use them at your company.

The collaborative planning workshop

To begin with, we’ll start at the top with the Collaborative Planning Workshop. The Collaborative Planning Workshop brings alignment to what the team is trying to achieve and empowers marketers to focus on customer value and business outcomes over activity and outputs. This session should happen quarterly or at the start of any large campaign or initiative.

Where most agile frameworks begin with the backlog of work for the team, we found it very important to start at a higher level and ensure alignment is happening between the agile marketing team and the key stakeholders asking for work from the team. 

One of the biggest challenges we’re addressing with the Collaborative Planning Workshop is the disconnect between the stakeholders who ask for work and the team on the hook for delivery. Way too often, the people setting the marketing strategy and the designers, copywriters, social media specialists and others don’t have a seat at the adult table. Work comes to them in the form of the creative brief via an electronic system, but there’s no conversation. They aren’t being treated like marketers but rather as producers of output. 

The Collaborative Planning Workshop is just what it says—a collaborative conversation where everyone is on an equal playing field and striving towards successful outcomes.


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The Guidepoint

This framework begins with everyone understanding the actual business reasons for success and alignment on a Guidepoint. Here’s how we define the Guidepoint in the Agile Marketing Navigator:

“The Guidepoint helps the team and stakeholders navigate what success looks like for an upcoming campaign or project. Stakeholders come to the workshop with a business goal for the organization. During the workshop, the group comes up with a short written description, called a Guidepoint, of what success looks like for this marketing initiative and how it aligns to the organization’s goals.”

The Guidepoint is the connective tissue that rolls upward and downward in the organization. It’s often the forgotten middle layer between what the stakeholder is on the hook for and the tactics executed by the marketing team to achieve success.

The Guidepoint aligns the agile marketing team and stakeholders on a shared purpose and creates a focus on the team’s outcomes. It also helps with prioritization, so work that’s not aligned gets a lower priority or isn’t done at all.

Read next: Freeing agile marketing from its software development roots

Here are a few example scenarios to get you started:

Industry: Healthcare

Business Goal: Acquire an additional 5,000 new patients during the first year after the grand opening of our new hospital.

Guidepoint: Create a campaign targeting elective surgery candidates that generates 1,500 leads that ultimately generate a higher than average conversion rate than the industry average.

Industry: Retail

Business Goal: Increase cart checkout dollar amounts by 10 percent over last year.

Guidepoint: Launch a campaign targeting suggestive add-on purchases, moving the average cart checkout price to $50.

Industry: Financial Services

Business Goal: Generate a 25% increase in our personal finance app downloads in 2022.

Guidepoint: Generate an average of 50 new downloads apps with an activation rate of 25%.

Ideally, you have an agile marketing team formed with a straight line to a stakeholder and business goals that need to be achieved, which makes it pretty easy to focus on a single Guidepoint at a time. 

However, many marketing teams haven’t streamlined this way and must support multiple lines of business at once. In those cases, we suggest no more than three Guidepoints at once for the team, or they’ll quickly lose focus. If this becomes problematic, the marketing owner on the team will need to work with key leaders to determine the most important business goals for the organization and prioritize them accordingly. Some teams have had great success determining percentages of time each stakeholder gets based on the business value of their line of business.

We can only succeed for a clear, focused outlook on what success looks like for the marketing team and the organization as a whole.


Many marketers struggle to apply agile marketing in a way that adds value to team members. Learn how to break that pattern in this free e-book, “MarTech’s Guide to agile marketing for teams”.

Click here to download!



Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily MarTech. Staff authors are listed here.


About The Author

Stacey knows what it’s like to be a marketer, after all, she’s one of the few agile coaches and trainers that got her start there. After graduating from journalism school, she worked as a content writer, strategist, director and adjunct marketing professor. She became passionate about agile as a better way to work in 2012 when she experimented with it for an ad agency client. Since then she has been a scrum master, agile coach and has helped with numerous agile transformations with teams across the globe. Stacey speaks at several agile conferences, has more certs to her name than she can remember and loves to practice agile at home with her family. As a lifelong Minnesotan, she recently relocated to North Carolina where she’s busy learning how to cook grits and say “y’all.”



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