Tech marketing is its own minefield. Our companies change the world everyday. Our marketing needs to be cutting edge.
However, there are new tools, new partners, new services available every day. How do you--with your limited bandwidth--prioritize and tackle these initiatives?
Three Challenges Tech Marketers Face
Kiwi's State of the Industry Report found three areas of challenge for tech marketers:
1. There is a misalignment in perception between tech marketing departments and the C-Suite. Opinions regarding budget, marketing strategy, analytics and bandwidth are vastly different between CMO's and CEO's.
2. Tech companies invest far less in marketing than recommended in most industries, failing to use marketing as a growth strategy or sales multiplier.
3. Most tech marketing managers are dissatisfied with their overall performance, citing lack of budget, resources, and tools as their major issues.
Given these three trends that Kiwi’s 2020 State of the industry reported what’s a Marketing Manager to do when evaluating what projects to tackle and what resources to use in doing so? Tech marketers face unique challenges.
Paradox of Choice
Psychologist Barry Schwartz’s, faculty at Swarthmore, research into the psychology of choice is counterintuitive. He found that, while autonomy and freedom are key to our psychological well being, limiting choice options during the decision making process reduces anxiety and boosts analytical thinking. The LESS OPTIONS WE HAVE THE LESS STRESS WE HAVE AND THE BETTER OUR DECISIONS ARE. Dan Gilbert's research on happiness supports this approach as well: the simpler our lives, our work, our decision choices are, the higher our satisfaction. If you’re a solo marketer or in a department of 3 or less (and let’s face it tech companies keep marketing departments lean and mean) this is especially true.
Marie Kondo Your Marketing Project List
Rather than asking if an object brings you joy, borrow her approach and ask if marketing projects/tools/services bring your department closer to your goals. If the answer is no, let it go. Whether it’s the newest SEO tool or a new social media content scheduler--you can confidently dismiss it from your overflowing brain. Sometimes tech and marketing--and especially tech marketing--get caught up on the new new thing or the newly promoted service. Marketing tools and agency partners MUST bring you closer to your goals. They should also bring you joy! Well, at least Kiwi thinks so--we’re a pretty joyful bunch.
That's a nice theory, but how do I actually do that?
Okay tech marketers, that was the intro to get us all on the same page. We’ve looked at some stats from the state of the industry, we’ve touched on pain points (every marketer’s gold mine until they’re OUR PAIN POINTS), and we’ve looked at some heavy duty academic research and a pop culture phenomenon. Now let’s talk action steps to get your blood pressure down, and your to-do list manageable.
Approach 1: The Rule of Three
Okay, let’s remember good old Barry’s research: our minds become hangry if we give them too many choices they rebel. They release all those stress neurotransmitters and we end up making sucky choices. So, what's a tech marketer to do?
Limits are our friends. Remember that we’re able to make better decisions if we have less options. That doesn’t mean you consider the first thing you see. It means you add a step into your decision making process.
If you need to explore social content and posting tools--whether that means checking that your current tool is still the best fit or whether you need something new--give yourself a set amount of time to research the tool’s category. Better yet, assign it to a team member, lol! You don’t have to make a final decision now. Stick to that time limit.
If you’re looking at a CRM perhaps give yourself several weeks and demos/talks with sales experts, your leadership team, etc. For a social media tool maybe give yourself 2 hours to look at all the major players out there and narrow it down to three.
There is a reason why the number three appears so often in our lives--rules of three, the three act plot, trilogies for books and movies, rhetoric classes and the 5 paragraph essay all teach us to have three main points--the human brain loves lists of three. It’s the Goldilocks of choice: not too hot, not too cold, just right.
Once you have your list down to three you’re in the right analytical and psychological headspace to carefully make a decision. Weigh all the options and then execute! The hesitation, the feelings of being overwhelmed and unable to make a decision, the occurrence of throwing your hands up in the air and moving to the next topic because you don’t have the time or energy to decide--these should be gone.
This strategy also works for limiting the projects or categories of tools you take on. Give yourself a set amount of time to evaluate your list and then narrow it down to your top three priorities and move forward. You can always return to that list in a week, a month, a quarter and evaluate for your next three projects or tool categories to update.
There, don’t you feel better just hearing about the rule of 3?
Approach 2: Letting go of fear...or embracing failure
I know, I know that’s a scary concept. Failing occasionally isn’t the sign of a bad marketer. Failing occasionally is the sign of a tough, smart tech marketing god or goddess which we know you are.
Failure just means you TRIED something that was a little out of the box, a little out of the safety zone. We’re in the tech industry--our developers, software engineers, and coders are taught that failure is the key to creativity. I mean, management doesn’t hope they fail constantly but they do push them to dream big, and dream often. We’re tech marketers and our jobs are equal part creative and data driven. Our leadership teams employ us because we are that rare combination of employees who can live and die by the metrics while also dreaming the most beautiful imagery or engaging words into existence daily. Who else can do that? If we’re creative, we must be open to trying new things and failing occasionally.
In the course of our decision making processes for tools and partners fear can be paralyzing. We allow the fear of choosing the wrong piece of martech or recommending a new agency that doesn’t pan out to prevent us from making any decision. How many CMO’s have just not pursued a better website, better lead generation, better content because they were paralyzed by that paradox of choice? We have all made that mistake and we’re all human. When you’re limiting yourself to three choices you have to let go of the fear of choosing the wrong one or limiting yourself. You and your team only have so much bandwidth and if you choose the wrong tool occasionally--so what? It’s better to have tried and failed than never to have tried at all. How’s that for some motivational quotes? We could also throw in that doubt kills more dreams than failure ever does.