Martech Stagnation and Innovation with Scott Brinker

Scott Brinker joins our CMO, Jim Williams,
for episode 1 of the Marketing Acceleration Series.


As part of Uptempo’s Marketing Acceleration series

Our CMO Jim Williams sat down with Scott Brinker, editor at chiefmartec and VP of Platform Ecosystem at Hubspot. They discuss the explosion of martech over the last 10 years and what’s been missed: the digitization of the business of marketing itself.

Jim Williams [00:00:06] Excellent. Scott, I am so glad to be talking you to you today, so I’m looking forward to this conversation. Thank you for making some time. 

Scott Brinker [00:00:15] I have been looking forward to this on my calendar for many weeks. My friend, it’s great to be here with you. 

Jim Williams [00:00:19] Yeah, we have it seems like we’ve had many conversations leading up to this one and I’ve been looking forward to get it on record, if you will. So for those of you who are tuning in to this video, my name is Jim Williams and I am delighted to be speaking today with Scott Brinker as part of our marketing acceleration series that’s brought to you by Uptempo. It’s basically a series of conversations where I talk to marketing operations experts and influencers and observers and pretty much anyone else that’s thought about the marketing operations world, and so that’s why I’m really looking forward to this one Scott. 

Scott Brinker [00:00:59] Awesome. You’ve got quite a long history of leadership in the marketing operations world too. So many of our chats tend to dig right into that, so definitely looking forward to it. 

Jim Williams [00:01:11] That’s true. I have been around a long time. So Scott Brinker, if for some reason people don’t know you out there, of course, Scott is currently the vice president of Platform Ecosystem at HubSpot, where he does magnificent work, but he’s best known for, I think, the editor at Chief MarTech, which is just a steady stream of observations on the world of MarTech. And of course, a big part of that history is the publishing every year, every two years of the MarTech landscape, which has grown exponentially over the years. 

Scott Brinker [00:01:45] Yeah, it’s like some sort of Dickens story of like, you know, the best of times and the worst of times. You know, that landscape of all these different marketing technology solutions, I don’t know if it’s the most loved or most hated graphic in the marketing world, potentially somewhere between the two. But yeah, it’s just amazing to watch how this field, you know, has exploded over these past few years. And I think one of the comments I feel about it is, we all know that marketing has been going through crazy cataclysmic changes over the past ten years. I mean, just the scope of what marketers are responsible for doing has, you know, expanded exponentially. But it’s often very hard to quantify, you know, just how significant all this change has been for us. And I think the one thing about the landscape is, you know, it’s by no means, you know, the centerpiece of change. It’s just a small piece of it. But at least it’s one sort of like tangible artifact that you can look at and you can say, well, just the technology component of marketing, look how much it’s changed in the past ten years. You can imagine everything else we do about our organizations around that, you know, has been at least, you know,  as significant. 

Jim Williams [00:03:01] As much of a change. Right. I think I think that’s a really good point. Right. Didn’t it start at 150 vendors and you’re now we’re tracking close to 10,000 or something along those lines? 

Scott Brinker [00:03:13] Yeah. I mean, we’re talking two orders of magnitude. I mean, that’s pretty crazy. 

Jim Williams [00:03:20] Yeah. Yeah. But I think it’s a really good point that just the number of vendors itself, it doesn’t speak to the profound change. Right. That the changing your way of life as a marketer and the things that you do, what you’re responsible for, what you track, what you measure, how you operate is is so much more vastly changed than just the number of MarTech vendors that there are in the landscape, like the whole profession has been radically transformed. This is really interesting. 

Scott Brinker [00:03:49] So you see that much change just in the landscape. You’re like, Wow, imagine now you start to really appreciate why marketing has become definitely an Olympic sport. 

Jim Williams [00:04:02] Well, let’s talk a little bit about the state of MarTech. I know this is a prior conversation we’ve had, and I wanted to bring it up here because, you know, we kind of were speculating and you’ve been asked in the past about is it consolidating MarTech or is it continuing to diversify or is that just a natural ebb and flow that occurs? 

Scott Brinker [00:04:25] Yeah, I mean, the head twisting answer to that is both, you know, I mean, we certainly see consolidation in the tech industry in the sense that, you know, within different categories and different platforms, you know, there are leaders, you know, that emerge in these categories. There are now public companies, you know, that you can look at and say, okay, these are kind of, you know, the 800-pound gorillas, you know, there are companies that are, you know, accelerating towards, you know, going public and, you know, and so you’re like, yes, we see consolidation. We see those companies make acquisitions. I think you might be able to chat a little bit about some of the recent acquisitions you’ve personally been involved with on this, but we’ve seen that consolidation. However, at the same time, you know, because there are no barriers to the software industry anymore, in fact, quite the opposite, you know, through all these like cloud platforms, AWS, and Google Cloud and Azure and, you know, open source. I just, you know, the wherewithal for people to create software, you know, is incredible, you know? And so even while we see consolidation moving up to the head of that long tail of all these MarTech apps, you know, we continually see this renewal of like new startups in the space, whether they’re focused on some particular niche, like a lot of MarTech companies aren’t aiming to become like the multibillion-dollar juggernaut, you know, but they’re serving a particular niche in a particular way that is phenomenal. But then you have other startups said, Yeah, they’re looking to be the next wave of disruptors, and some of them actually will be. And so I think one of the things that’s really interesting is that consolidation and diversification, the way you described it, I thought it was the best I’ve actually heard anyone describe. It is kind of like an ebb and flow, you know, of just how technology evolves today. 

Jim Williams [00:06:14] Right. Right. Because there’s also just the reality that a lot of people want to change the world and then a lot of people actually want to build a business. All great businesses get sold one way or another, either as the public buying it or is another company buying or whatever. Then they sell and then immediately go and start another business and their co-founder starts another business and the VP they brought in goes and starts a business to address them. So you just have this, you know, one company combines with another and then what six spawn from that or something like that. You keep seeing that over and over again in this space. 

Scott Brinker [00:06:47] I think part of it is just yeah, again, speaking to like, you know, it’s not about the technology per se, it’s about the fact that again, just the behaviors, you know, of buyers and the dynamics between buyers and sellers and markets, whether it’s in the consumer space or in B2B like the world is just continuing to evolve. And as it evolves rapidly and, you know, expectations change and channels change and capabilities change, you know, market. Have to adapt. We have to serve the customer where they are. And so as long as there continues to be that just larger force of change in the world, there’s always new opportunities, you know, from our tech startups to say like, oh, and here’s a new piece of that equation we can deliver. 

Jim Williams [00:07:31] That, right? It makes total sense. You know, the other thing we were talking about, which is related to this whole MarTech landscape, is that I think the considerable job that you do to try and group innovative companies together into a quote unquote category, product category, market category, what if a category you want, which it looks like it’s a big job just from just scanning over the landscape. So do you see the same thing or categories getting bigger or do they like you know, they like the amoebas? You know, you kind of get to a certain size and they split and then they split and then they split. How difficult is it to categorize vendors into the number of categories that continue to multiply. 

Scott Brinker [00:08:13] Next to impossible? You know, I can only say like categorization sucks. So the only thing that sucks more than categorization is no categorization. And it’s true because, you know, in many ways categorization at some level, it’s almost like an analyst game. It’s like, okay, we’re looking at this whole industry and we’re just trying to make some sense of it. So we have to create boxes and we put things in boxes too. 

Jim Williams [00:08:41] Gerrymandering? Yeah. 

Scott Brinker [00:08:43] Kind of, actually. I’ve never heard anyone use that phrase, but I think actually that’s a very analogous way of looking at it. But the truth is, you know, and I really believe this very strongly, you know, what matter is for any given MarTech product is is it addressing the needs of its customers? Is it solving the pain points that they have? And those pain points don’t always fit or even the solution. The creative solution doesn’t always fit in one of those, you know, nice, neat analyst boxes. I always take categorization with a really massive grain of salt. That being said, I think, you know, there is some reality to categorization even for, you know, customers, even for the marketers who are buying this stuff in the sense that they need a name in order to search for what they’re looking for, like, you know, the problems they have, you know, if they just type up all those problems and they’re out in the Google search box, you know, they might get something interesting content. But, yeah, it’s, you know, they’re not the fastest back, you know, but if they know a name, if there’s some sort of category that like, oh, this category is generally the thing people have been trying to use to solve this problem. Then they can type that into a search box and then they can start to find who those folks are. 

Jim Williams [00:09:58] So on the category front, I can empathize with you how difficult it is, especially when I always think that. You probably hear from a lot of vendors that don’t like the box they’re being struck in and that kind of analyst curse role. But in general, with this category, there’s also, as part of that, this obsession, I believe, with the notion of category creation in tech in general, but especially in MarTech. Every founder wants to be the category creator because, you know, there’s this general thought that whoever creates the category dominates, which I’m not sure is entirely true, which seems kind of it seems kind of odd because, you know, this constant creation of categories just splinters and splinter and splinters and exacerbates the buying problem that you talk to, you know, like you don’t know which category as you walk into the grocery store, you know, you kind of know the aisle you’re looking for. You might not know where in the aisle. And now it’s like. Every product wants to have its own aisle and it gets to be really challenging. 

Scott Brinker [00:11:00] Yeah. I mean, again, there’s, there’s the seller side and the buyer side, you know, and I think, yes, the incentives on the seller side is if you can pull off category creation. Yeah. There generally tends to be like very strong economic benefit to that. But that being said, I, I also think there is potential benefit. I mean, for buyers, it is a mixed bag, right? Like, if there’s too much category creation happening or attempting to happen, it just becomes confusing for them because they can’t find what they’re looking for. On the other hand, the truth is we are facing new problems and we are discovering new and better solutions to the problems we have. And we need names for what that new solution to, you know, those problems are. And so I think when a category does start to get created, it’s because it really resonates with the buyer. So that they’re like, yes, that label speaks exactly, you know, to what I am trying to solve to, you know. So it’s I think it’s a good thing for everyone to to push in that direction. But I also think, yeah, as you wisely noted, it’s it is a challenge to successfully execute.

Jim Williams [00:12:16] Well, look, let’s put it let’s put a pin in that naming of the problem we solved. I want to come back and have a discussion about that. But first, I just want to turn to something I found really, really fascinating. When you did the state of the MarTech report as part of your MarTech day and then some of the derivative observations you had. And I couldn’t help but note that out of all of these categories and all of the very popular products within them, the products that I’ve spent the last two decades trying to put in my own stack and sometimes evangelize, you know what? What comes to the top of the list for the most popular MarTech tool of all is Excel, Microsoft Excel, which is just it’s shocking and sometimes a little comforting. And I found that really surprising because, as you know, you talk about the emerging companies Uptempo is the merger of three MarTech providers, Brandmaker Allocadia and Hive9, all of which provide marketing operations, software or marketing resource management software. The software that you use to run the business of marketing and. And the number one competitor we run into and the number one competitor we probably lose to the most. Spreadsheets. Spreadsheets. Yeah. 

Scott Brinker [00:13:35] I mean, you know, it’s both surprising and not surprising. It’s like surprising like, you know, for those of us who spend so much of our time thinking about, you know, the tech stack and its evolution and, you know, what are the, you know, sort of the state of the art capabilities that we can bring to bear, you know? Yeah, sort of like, wait, excel. That thing from the eighties, you know, is bit surprising. But then on the other hand, for anyone who actually is, you know, in marketing, you’re like, yeah, now that you mention it I do spend a lot of my time on Excel or Google sheets. Sure. You know, and I think it’s actually really interesting because when you start to break down, like why that is, I mean, certainly that is just a hey, it’s the tool we know. But I think it also speaks to the fact that in many ways it’s been this really flexible way for marketers to both be sort of builders, like they use spreadsheets as a way to sort of model what they think is possible. You know, from an operational perspective, you know, it’s been one of the few tools people have been able to use to. Yeah, just really be able to All right, this is what I’m tracking and this is how I want it to relate to this other thing. And this is the calculation. And those are all like really powerful. In fact, these are things that are so important to marketing, but they don’t always get celebrated because it’s not the sexy campaign. It is the mechanics behind the scene that allows the sexy campaign to actually happen. But that being said, it’s like I think this is one of the areas where there’s enormous opportunity for disruption, you know, because while Excel has been, you know, incredibly useful to us, I also think, yeah, everyone uses like, well, you know, yeah, it is kind of a pain. And now this, this is not the most perfect nirvana I could imagine for all of these aspects of my marketing board. 

Jim Williams [00:15:23] Right? I mean, for better or for worse, it is the so universal martech training wheels, right? Like start with a spreadsheet and you start to get the hang of where you go first. Where do you go next with your investments? The thing that that I find so puzzling is that while the activation side of MarTech, right, how do you actually reach your buyers? How do you track what they do or do you serve up great content to them? How do you put them on journeys or do you get them to convert? How do you all the things that the vast majority of those 10,000 applications? While there’s been so much investment on that side. The actual operations of marketing, right, where you do planning, where you do budgeting, where you plan your projects and work and programs, that is it’s still completely dominated by spreadsheets. And then maybe to a lesser extent, PowerPoints. I mean, everyone has a plan that starts on a spreadsheet, ends up in a PowerPoint, so it can present it to a board and an executive team and then the leadership team and cascade it. But they don’t there doesn’t still doesn’t seem to be this universal system of record for getting those things out of spreadsheets and PowerPoints into like some workbench, some living, breathing, continuous planning system. I’m just curious, as an observer of this space, is there a reason for that? Like, how does that come to be? 

Scott Brinker [00:16:48] Yeah. I mean, again, I think it’s one of these things marketers have just had a ton to, like, learn. I mean, like, just the amount of change, you know, that marketers have faced. I, I wasn’t kidding about saying marketing is an Olympic sport. I mean, the I cannot think of any other profession that over the past 20 years has had the incredible breadth and depth of change that marketing has. I mean, lots of professions, lots of change, marketing, just epic change on every single dimension. And this, as it turns out, is like really hard, you know, and it’s a ton of learning and it’s a ton of adaptation, you know. And so I think out of all the various things that marketers had to, you know, like learn and figure out and adapt to, you know, sort of the internal ops that they were managing with spreadsheets was like, All right, well, we can kind of get by with this for now, you know? So it wasn’t necessarily as pressing, you know. But I guess here’s the reality is one of the biggest changes to marketing has been this. Multiplication of activities and channels and touchpoints, you know, and again, all of those touchpoints, all of those customer-facing experiences, at the end of the day, the customer-facing piece of that is a relatively thin veneer, you know, on top of what is, you know, incredibly complex, you know, set of operational capabilities to deliver that. You know, and I think you now really do see that, like, okay, yes, we’ve we figured out what we want to do. We even figured out, you know, how we want to do it, you know. But wow, the process of actually managing this from an operations perspective. Oh, my goodness. Like we are straining under the weight, you know, of just the limitations of, you know, what Excel does. And so I do think, like, the timing is quite right, you know, for people to have a better way of thinking about, hey, you know, how could I actually harness this technology thing like make my life easier? 

Jim Williams [00:18:58] So, yeah, exactly. I mean, is it possible, do you think, that despite all these, you know, transformative things that have happened over the last 20 years, you know, the rise of marketing operations, if you will, or, you know, robots or whatever, the rise of that. Is it possible that the sheer complexity of the tech stack and the integrations and the flows and managing all those systems, talk to one another, be able to measure the outcomes, be able to orchestrate over all these channels. Is like it’s cause marketing to get kind of stuck in the weeds. Have you seen that as a possibility where it’s just not possible to get out of tactical configuration of the systems themselves and level up to a place where, you know, you’re actually in a marketing operations role. The eyes and the ears of the CMO. Like, what is our strategy? How is it playing out? Are we being successful? Do we need to pivot? What do we need to change? And the systems informed that both those insights. But instead we’re kind of in a place where marketing ops is just overwhelmed with keeping up with the machine. 

Scott Brinker [00:20:08] Yeah, and I’m sure any marketing ops person who’s listening to us now here would be nodding their head vigorously that yeah, this is not a hypothetical situation like this is for almost all marketing ops people I know like their life right now. I mean, it is an incredibly complex, you know, job that they’re running right now. And I think the recognition is certainly that like, okay, yes, there’s enormous value to managing, executing that complexity, but also being at the heart of that complexity, the heart of like everything that’s flowing in and out of, you know, the marketing organization, the potential for like insight and, you know, strategic contribution from that is enormous. And again, like a lot of marketing ops leaders, I mean, they’re so well poised to do that, you know, but I think you’re you’re your instincts here are right that, you know, what’s holding them back is not that there’s theoretically enormous leverage there or that, you know, they don’t have, you know, the capabilities to do it. You know, personally, it’s just more of that, like, wow, all the other responsibilities, you know, and operational management that they’ve got going right now is just a tremendous weight, you know, on their time. And so I definitely think that yeah, again it just goes back to what we were chatting here around you know, excel to the ability to just steadily, you know, like improve the actual operational technology and marketing be incredible. 

Jim Williams [00:21:39] I think that’s a great segway into you talked about you know category creation or an idea for people to log on to. And I think that that would be you and I have been talking for a while about maybe a new way to think about the operational side of marketing, this concept of what we’re calling marketing business acceleration. 

Scott Brinker [00:22:00] Yeah, I’d love I mean, I know you’ve shared a bit of this with me, but yeah, I would love to bring that back into this conversation of, you know, I kind of feel like there was, you know, in earlier stages of marketing’s evolution. You know, we started to talk about things like, you know, marketing, resource management and some of these capabilities in that context. But yeah, sort of the scope of like what’s actually possible now, it’s just very different. And yeah, I think some of the way you and your team have been thinking about this marketing business acceleration is, is pretty cool. But maybe we should start like from your perspective, what is marketing business acceleration? 

Jim Williams [00:22:39] Well, I’m very pleased to tell you we don’t consider like a product category. We’re not going to I’m not going to come appeal to you to draw, you know, gerrymander a new category and call it marketing business acceleration. The notion is pretty straightforward. You know, ten years ago, 15 years ago, when I was actually running marketing operations, we’re consumed with demand generation and concepts around that. And suddenly this framework appeared that came out of serious decisions called the demand waterfall. Right. This notion that which by the way, since then it’s gone through so many changes. But this notion that, you know, there is a system to cultivating leads that then can be converted into opportunities and workplace sales. And, you know, there are these different stages and there are natural conversion rates that you can benchmark it give marketers something to hold on to. Okay, there’s a system here. I follow this system, I can see how I’m doing, benchmarking against myself and against others. And then after that came, you know, the notion of flipping that funnel and those account based marketing and those people talking about intent-based stuff. And so there are all these frameworks on the activation side of the house, but there aren’t a ton of these quote unquote frameworks or operating models on the operational side of house. How do you actually run marketing? Right. There is a business strategy. The business strategy has an operating plan that gets cascaded into a marketing strategy, which has a plan with a set of goals that then becomes programs and tactics. It gets, you know cascaded to teams and then there’s dollars aligned to those things and those need to be tracked. And then there’s, then there’s work streams and projects and yeah, that there’s not, there doesn’t seem to be an agreed upon model for that. And we think that, we personally think that’s a gap and that that gap needs to be filled. That’s the idea behind this marketing business acceleration. 

Scott Brinker [00:24:47] It’s fascinating because like yeah, I mean, I think your insight here that like, you know, sort of the demand generation activation acquisition like yeah, you know, that’s probably the piece, you know, the post-digital transformation marketing that, you know, we’ve got our arms around the most, but it’s also for the most part, those things, you know, are largely entirely in marketing’s domain. Like we know what that work is, we know the scope of it. It does feel like when you start looking at the operational management side of marketing, it’s not even necessarily as clear to people like what are the components, you know, of that? Like, you know, it’s not just the customer side of things that is very much like internally, like, you know, was it like, you know, the planning, you know, with finance, projects, people like do you see that framework like sort of pulling all those things together? 

Jim Williams [00:25:44] I do. And I think that’s pretty expansive, that side of it. But it’s not typically thought about like what people think of like categories of MarTech. They don’t think about planning and budgeting and maybe project management, etc., but it is all of those things. You might even go as far as to say, well, a huge part of marketing given all these changes is talent acquisition, right? And actually, how do you invest and give people the skills that they need to actually learn all these concepts? So it’s all the things you need, the ingredients you need to be able to run a campaign that gets activated through this really complex, sophisticated MarTech stack. And for me, that definitely is at least the basics of planning, financial management, work management, program management. And so to some extent, I do think around, you know, assets that you have or content that you have, the fuel of campaigns, all of those things need to be pulled together into a system. And that system, like many systems like it should have a kind of a maturity framework when you start with the basics. But step one, what? Step two what’s step three? How do you systematically mature how you run the business of marketing such that you can get to some state of some excellence of maturity, such that, you know, you’re running marketing like a business with natural inputs and outputs that you can report on using financial language or at least language that business owners understand. So they don’t have to become experts in marketing. 

Scott Brinker [00:27:18] Yeah, no, I think that’s that’s a very powerful angle to this too, because yeah, again, we were talking earlier about the landscape like, you know, in some ways it’s this artifact that gives us some hint to like the scope of change that’s happening in marketing. I feel like when you think about like the operating model of marketing, again, this is another one of these things that we know is changing and it’s like huge in scope. But I almost feel like the crystallizing version of that is what are the questions you as the CMO are going to be asked by the board, are going to be asked by the CEO, you know, because very often, like this gets out of a whole bunch of the, you know, the details of, oh, well, this particular campaign and, you know, this, you know, brand postion, this is how we’re doing this demand, you know, effort to like none of the questions you’re going to get from the board and the CEO are going to be different. What are those questions? And is this new operating model, these new capabilities, do they help you answer those questions better? 

Jim Williams [00:28:20] Yeah, that’s exactly the way to think about it, because as soon as you say what questions from the CEO, it really depends on the CEO. You have Scott, to ask questions about this like color and is that the right word or should it be? But just putting those aside right now, the great question, the hardest questions you get asked are the questions that come directly from, frankly, the ownership of the company, which says, you know, if I were to double your program, spend, what type of growth can you engineer with that? Or if our growth rate is going to be X percent, X percent, X percent, what do you need in terms of resources? And how do you think about what the ratio of marketing budget to revenue is? You know, is it based on the steepness of the curve, is that, you know, there’s those types of questions or even better yet, okay, you’ve demonstrated that you can enter one market. We want to enter a new market. There’s a new opportunity there. How you think about risk forcing that business strategy from a marketing standpoint? Those are really challenging questions to answer. And they’re they’re not they’re not the answers I can get by. You know, picking out any of those tools or MarTech applications and the execution side or the activation side and go digging around looking for answers. I just can’t get answers there. 

Scott Brinker [00:29:45] Fascinating. I feel like, you know, so much of the talk over the past ten, 15 years in marketing from a technology perspective has been like, oh, we want the 360-degree view of the customer, which I agree that’s a good thing to have. It’s almost like this is like, okay, how do I get the 360-degree view of my marketing or my actual, like, you know, operational execution of how marketing runs? 

Jim Williams [00:30:12] Right. Yeah, exactly. So why did why invest in this particular headcount versus this particular headcount? And in order to answer those questions, you know, you kind of almost have this you have to have this kind of extraction layer above the tech stack that allows you to pull performance data and compare it against investment data. Like, everyone talks about getting ROI, but it’s it’s not very often where anybody pulls the I into the equation. You know, they say, well, we did this trade show and look at all this pipeline we got from it. You know, there’s not like a true ROI at a macro level for marketing. And and I think that that should be a very straightforward question to answer. For marketing executives, which means you need to tie your investments to your plans, to your workstreams, to the outcomes and the performance data you get out of this activation, this MarTech stack. 

Scott Brinker [00:31:08] Do you think, like a lot of marketers out there, are maybe scared isn’t the right word, but like, yeah, apprehensive the like they just haven’t really been able to do that very effectively in the past. Like, is, is there just some concern of like, can I do this? Like, how do I get my arms around this? You know, what would be your answer to that? 

Jim Williams [00:31:30] Well, I think that the worst answer you could possibly give is, oh, well, this is all new. This is a whole new thing we’re going to do totally different. We’re going to change the world changes now. Like marketers simply don’t want to hear that everything changes. That’s a terrible value proposition because it’s a constant state of change. And I have a different view. I view that like if you’ve been on this journey. The last 10, 20 years, you know, that we’ve just scratched the surface. And you also know that the capabilities that are being offered to you that are available in the marketplace changed dramatically in a very short span of time. You know, like customer data platforms weren’t even really talked about like five years ago and now all this. So I guess the best way to put it is we I think that this appeals to marketers and particularly marketing operations folks’ natural curiosity to want to connect these systems together and be able to tie all of the performance data that you’re getting out of these different systems to the operational data. You know, planning your financial management, your cost behind the structure, where your investments are flowing to, etc.. It’s not that far of a leap to try and get to these ROI scenarios. You know, it’s just a natural. I think it’s the natural evolution. 

Scott Brinker [00:32:59] It makes sense. So, you know, when we started telling about this, you know, while my question was like, okay, well, you know, in previous incarnations, you know, people had talked about this category of market resource management and, you know, as a set of tools to help achieve this, it definitely feels like there is there’s an evolution in thinking about just, you know, how people think about that. But I guess how similar or different is, you know, this marketing business acceleration concept, you know, from what historically we thought of as MRM. 

Jim Williams [00:33:32] Oh, that’s really good. I think of MRM is still it’s a product category for sure. And I think that the notion of marketing business acceleration is it’s a it’s an operating model, right? It’s a state of maturity. It’s how you use MRM products thinking in conjunction with other products to mature how you operate as a marketing organization. So I don’t see marketing business acceleration. That’s really a product category or product at all. It’s just it’s like I said, the state of maturity. MRM Systems just because you asked about them specifically, they’ve been around a long time. I don’t think it’s a category that has necessarily caught fire. And why is that? Because, number one, it just it focuses on efficiency. The first message around marketing resource management was one of efficiency. You know, how can you efficiently reuse your assets and your content and everything else? And yeah, I think that’s important. And of course, that will grow in importance in the coming in the coming months if things are going the way we think they’re going right now with the economy, you do need to be efficient, but that’s not what appeals to marketers. Marketers want to be effective, right? They want to not just doing their marketing better. They want to do better marketing. That’s what you’re known for. So you build your career on, that’s what you aspire to. And so I don’t think MRM really spoke to effectiveness as much as it should have. This notion of marketing business acceleration, out of all of those three words, the one that rings most interesting me is accelerate because they’re trying to get to market fast is the name of the game to beat the competition, to meet the expectations of the consumer or the buyer where they are take advantages of new opportunities or overcome disruptions. We’ve all seen a lot of that recently and speed is of the essence in today’s day and age. Yeah, I think I think that’s a significant difference between MRM and marketing business acceleration. 

Scott Brinker [00:35:34] Makes the time sense to me. Well, can we maybe pry down just to the next level on yeah. Marketing business acceleration. That groovy new logo, you know, above your shoulder there for Uptempo. Tell us a little bit about the yeah. What you’re doing here with Uptempo. 

Jim Williams [00:35:53] Oh you still you want to totally pivot from data-driven marketing to highly subjective marketing and branding?

Scott Brinker [00:35:59] What is that? All politics is local. That’s right. 

Jim Williams [00:36:04] Yeah. Thanks for asking. So Uptempo. That’s right, Uptempo. We recently rebranded to our tempo, actually renamed the entire company again. The company was a was a merger of three companies Brandmaker which is an emerging MRM player primarily European based very focused on big brands to C type organizations Allocadia, I think many B2B markers are familiar with Allocadia, an expert in financial management and but in budgeting served primarily B2B companies a lot of high tech customers and then Hive9 an innovative company that really focused on marketing performance management, focused attribution models, etc.. So you kind of bring those three together and we just wanted to unify them under a common name and have a name that spoke to some of what I was just talking about. You know, marketers desire to move a little faster, to kick it up a notch, and thus the Uptempo name and brand. 

Scott Brinker [00:37:03] All right. Well, I’m not pandering to you. I. I see a lot of MarTech names. Uptempo is a phenomenal name. I love it. Very catchy, very memorable. And yeah, I think, yeah, it definitely speaks to exactly, you know, that that acceleration keyword that you underlining there. It was also super fascinating to me. You know yeah the three companies that came together in forming this is yeah it just it really while each one of those were strong, you know, companies and products, you know, in their own right yeah It’s worth stepping back and seeing those is pieces of a larger puzzle. It’s been super exciting. So yeah, I, I can see you can imagine this is like the galvanizing idea if there’s another side to like, oh, we need a galvanizing idea. And marketing business acceleration sure seems like a fantastic one. Usually the other thing we have on that is like, okay, well, let’s who’s the enemy? What’s the enemy? What are the thing that we’re going up against? Who is or what is Uptempo’s enemy? 

Jim Williams [00:38:11] And it’s a great question. So, you know, it’s funny, we started off this conversation talking about spreadsheets and I’d be crazy to make spreadsheets the enemy. But I think the the enemy very much is these disconnected processes, right? It’s somehow in the profession of marketing. We’ve just got used to not being able to have visibility over how marketing operates. So I think it’s just, you know, we go through this planning process and then like I said, we toss around some PowerPoints and we’re all agreed and but there is no system of record for a continuously evolving plan, even though we need a system for that. And the same thing for, you know, for budgeting. It’s just it’s simply astounding to me that we talk to some of the biggest brands in the world that literally operate on not just hundreds of spreadsheets, sometimes thousands of spreadsheets and SharePoint sites and collaboration tools. And no, nobody has one view of something as simple as, you know, the financial management of the entire global marketing organization. It’s just crazy to me. And if you have no single system of record to even view something as profoundly important, is that how the heck do you pivot? When it comes time to change, how do you change it? I was reading a I was reading this review of a customer that we were we were engaged with. And the CMO kind of uses the analogy of, listen, we can pivot, but when we pivot, it’s like trying to steer a freight ship like a freighter ship with using your arm as the propeller takes a long time to turn. That, you know, sounds like there’s no notion of agility at all. And so the enemy really is this the state of being where we rely on self that’s disconnected, the lack of visibility, the lack of velocity and the lack of agility and the operational side of marketing. 

Scott Brinker [00:40:10] And that’s a very vivid metaphor with the freighter ship and have to trying to use a kick board. Yeah. 

Jim Williams [00:40:18] Exactly. 

Scott Brinker [00:40:19] Well, I think, you know, maybe one last thought on this, too, is, you know, again, the the concept, you know, like really the galvanizing idea. Yeah. What is the thing that, you know, you’re conquering over the old with the new, but maybe just close to it. I’d love your thoughts on the WHO because I feel like marketing ops. I believe two statements are true. One is I think they hold the keys to the universe in like how marketing is actually, you know, performing today. But two, I think they’re generally underrecognized and underappreciated, you know, for their critical role that they play. And to be honest, while many marketing ops folks, you know, have been the champions of, you know, my world in MarTech, which is great and it’s awesome, you know, again, MarTech MarTech is not business results. MarTech is one piece of an equation, you know, of how we deliver, you know, on what the business needs from us. And so happy to have marketing ops people be the champions of MarTech. I think they’ve got like a higher calling, you know, in their role. It sure does seem like. Yeah, where you’re headed here with marketing business acceleration is perhaps the way to rally them to that higher calling. 

Jim Williams [00:41:41] I think it’s one way to rally them. There’s a number of ways, but I completely agree with you that the goal is to rally marketing operations professionals to a higher calling. And we think I mean, we see that quite often we will engage with marketing operations folks. And then sometimes people come into conversations that, you know, they have titles like Chief of Staff to the CMO and the Office of the CMO or Chief of Staff of Marketing. And they actually are very operationally focused and they’re in touch with marketing ops, but they’re operating in a little bit of a higher plane, you know, much more of a strategic plan. Like I said, being the eyes and ears of the CMO, who has a real challenge, making sure that, you know, the whole plan they rolled out suddenly didn’t dissolve among the widely distributed teams and different systems. And so I do think marketing ops will evolve. I think it’ll diversify into a much more strategic level versus kind of like a martech operational level. And that’s just fine because, you know, if you say software is the world and every company is really a software company, then it’s not that hard of a stretch Scott to imagine that every marketing function is really a marketing operations function. It’s not that hard. If marketing is really data-driven and marketing is really triggered by, you know, events, and most marketing is going digital and all that’s flowing through a martech stack. It’s not really hard to see how marketing operations is the up-and-coming function in modern marketing departments. 

Scott Brinker [00:43:23] I couldn’t agree with you more. And I am quite sure our listeners from the marketing operations community are sharing this. I feel seen and it is really, truly a great, great opportunity. 

Jim Williams [00:43:39] I thank you. Thank you. Listen, I will not take up more of your time. It’s been a great conversation. I feel like we, as per usual, covered a ton of ground in the conversation, Scott. So thank you. Thank you for your observations and for your time today. Greatly appreciate it. 

Scott Brinker [00:43:54] Awesome. I always love chatting with you and best of luck with Uptempo. Love the name. Love the mission. Can’t wait to see where you go. 

Jim Williams [00:44:02] Great. Thank you. 

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