Hacking Marketing

Summary Written by Anand Thaker
The good kind [of hacking] makes new inventions— in fast, fluid, and fun ways. It imagines what's possible, figures out clever ways to realize those ideas within the tangle of real-world constraints, and above all, celebrates the courage to try, tinker, and learn.

- Hacking Marketing, Kindle Edition, locations 398-402

The Big Idea

Instill the ‘Hacker Way’

"The Hacker Way is an approach to building that involves continuous improvement and iteration. Hackers believe that something can always be better, and that nothing is ever complete. They just have to go fix it— often in the face of people who say it's impossible or are content with the status quo."- Hacking Marketing, Kindle Edition, locations 453-455

Hacking Marketing is about inspiring an innovation culture across your marketing organization. Marketing technology has long been a cross-pollination from other disciplines such as psychology, data science, industrial engineering, traditional marketing, sales, and computer science. Brinker describes several reasons that marketing can and should emulate software development strategies and tactics. Why is ‘hacking’ necessary?

Modern marketing requires managing many projects, tactics and responses necessary to keep up with today’s customer driven marketplace. These marketing challenges parallel many found in current software development.

While referring to Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg’s IPO filing on the ‘Hacker Way’, Brinker points out that the culture of hacking was originally and still is a positive force in discovering better services through smaller and iterative releases rather than trying to get everything done all at once. In doing so, the service and the teams that develop them become fluid, impactful and open to innovative concepts keeping pace with a changing landscape. Brinker covers different areas of the ‘Hacker Way’ including:

  • An in-depth examination of agile and lean management methods applied to marketing.
  • An exploration of opportunities and techniques for innovation in modern marketing.
  • A collection of ideas to tame digital complexity and achieve new kinds of scalability in marketing.
  • A closing chapter on managing marketing talent in this digital environment.

Insight #1

Become Customer-Obsessed

"Like software, this customer centricity has combined with the adaptability of a digital canvas to encourage greater experimentation."- Hacking Marketing, Kindle Edition, location 1091

Customer centricity and customer experience (CX) describe an opportunity for marketers to deliver their messaging and engagement with greater control and granularity at scale. Various studies have shown that it is many more times expensive to acquire a new customer than retain a current one. Becoming customer-obsessed changes the mindset of an organization, marketing and beyond, to consider how their process, temperament and responses impact the perception and lifetime value of a customer.

Hacking Marketing describes the dynamic machine required to manage the customer experience. With a focus on the customer for positive growth, an organization recognizes that everyone is not the same. Selecting the right tools and people are critical to ensure any customer based goals are achieved. Being adaptive at scale can be a fundamental, but necessary, change for many organizations.

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Insight #2

Seek out ‘T-Shaped’ People

"These [full-stack marketers] are T-shaped people: deep in at least one area but proficient across many."- Hacking Marketing, Kindle Edition, locations 4248-4249

Marketers take on more roles and skills than ever before. Having to be knowledgeable from fundamentals to the already digital orchestration tools and tactics takes on a new meaning of Renaissance marketer. How can anyone person or team manage both the breadth and depth necessary in a dynamic environment?

Brinker believes that hiring for the right marketing technology roles requires a team of generalists who have some select specializations. These ‘T-shaped’ hires would have complete understanding of the entire process and collaboratively solve for any clarification that come their way. The collective also provides multiple insights, perspectives and opportunities to learn from one another.

Aside from their skills, ‘T-shaped’ people have attributes of curiosity, high emotional quotient, and strong sense of teamwork.

Brinker’s overarching theme of curiosity and adaptability in marketing are critical to meet the ever-changing marketplace. Marketing now oversees the broader customer journey which rarely begins with an in-person conversation and certainly never ends at the sale. The groundswell of a direct digital consumer engagement can deliver greater impact than a multi-million dollar Superbowl ad.

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Scott Brinker

Scott Brinker is the editor of the popular Chief Marketing Technologist blog (chiefmartec.com), where he covers topics at the intersection of marketing and technology, and he is the program chair of the MarTech conference series. He is also the cofounder and CTO of ion interactive, a marketing software company that serves leading brands such as Dell, DHL, Dun & Bradstreet, eHealth, General Mills, Iron Mountain, Paychex, Pearson, and Symantec.

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