From Marketing-Driven Technology to Technology-Driven Marketing: A 2016 Retrospective

Technology-driven marketing.

Commit this phrase to memory. Use it as a mantra. Write it on a post-it note and put it on your fridge or computer screen. Set it as your wifi password. Tattoo it on your arm. Just make sure you won’t forget it.

If you thought marketing technology was developing fast — well, you were right. But it’s nowhere near done yet. In fact, it’s shifting into “technology marketing”, but because that can be misread, we’ll just use “technology driven marketing”.

(Change your initials to read TDM.)

Wait, what?

There’s simply too much information for people to consume. So they turn to the thing that consistently makes their lives easier: technology.

Every platform, every channel can be the entry point for a customer. If you fail to use any of them in depth, people will stop looking. If, however, you go deep instead of wide, grab their interest in one channel, you can lead them to others.

Knowing what platforms are capable of and how people are using them is crucial. Take advantage of Facebook’s precise targeting. Use Twitter’s real-time nature to your advantage. Get creative with Instagram’s media feed. Build on the temporary — and therefore exclusive — concept of Snapchat stories. Do whatever you can to deliver a human experience through technology.

When you understand your tools you’re able to push against boundaries and create creative solutions that make your content stand out.

Let’s look at a very recent, very successful example of Marvel’s Doctor Strange.

ʎʇıןɐǝɹ ɹnoʎ uoıʇsǝnb

Unless you’ve been living under a rock in the middle of nowhere, you have heard of Doctor Strange, the latest installation in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.


Beyond our recommendation to go and watch it (preferably in 3D IMAX, but more on that later) you should also take a good look at Marvel’s marketing campaign around the movie. It’s a perfect example — and mix — of:

  • I. knowing the audience;
  • II. pushing boundaries creatively and utilizing the best of technology for spectacular effect; and
  • III. engaging customers, making them part of the experience and advocates for the brand.

(If you scroll down, you’ll read each of these points in detail. DON’T DO IT JUST YET, though, we have a few more thing to discuss first.)

Much like Stephen Strange, MD in the movie (and comics) marketers and the businesses they serve were on top of their game in 2016. Riding on the wave of modern technology and taking advantage of the widespread customer adoption. But there’s a different reality (many of them, in fact, thanks to augmented and virtual reality tech) behind the surface.

We’re on the verge of another paradigm shift in technology and (thus) marketing alike.

Through the Looking Glass

Think of the recent years as an introduction. A training phase, if you will. It taught us to pay attention to our customers by using their language. It showed us that success is not about width, but about depth. And it created an environment where the best ROI comes from investing little money and lot of care.

Like Doctor Strange, we learned to unlearn what we thought we knew. We humbly accepted the many realities instead of our singular own.


Because once you start to question your reality, when you go deep instead of wide, you’ll arrive at where things really happen.

Fantastic Tech And How To Use Them for Technology-Driven Marketing

You can’t throw a stone and not hit a technology startup intent on changing how people communicate and consume content. Trends, of course, are built from more than a good idea, but there’s still far more platforms than you can ever cover.

So instead of going wide, go deep.

Pick a handful of channels and commit to them a hundred percent. Businesses too often make the mistake of thinking they “have to” be present everywhere.

If you can’t use Twitter, don’t be on Twitter. But don’t be somewhere where you can’t be present. Your customers not finding you on a platform is a minor inconvenience they forget. Finding you and leaving disappointed on the other hand hurts your business.

Of course, if you can handle it, the more the merrier. Wherever you can deliver human experience instead of an ad or sales pitch will help you build revenue.

Let’s take a look how Marvel utilized the three pillars from above to deploy against the market and win.

I. Customer Journey Mapping and Hyper-Personalization

Marvel doesn’t do anything random. Not only do they have sales analytics going back decades, they also keep in touch with their customers every chance they get.

From Comic-Con panels to Facebook Live Q&As they gather data from their existing and prospective customers. And using all that information they deploy their execution against platforms that is guaranteed — through customer journey mapping and modeling — to work.

Marvel’s exemplary marketing practice isn’t exclusive to them, nor does it come from their size or influence. Just think of DC Comics, who — while still doing very well — keep missing their opportunities to gather actionable data and evaluate it correctly.

II. Content Marketing Natively

One small element of the Doctor Strange marketing campaign was the creative use of platform-specific features. Take a look at this Instagram video:

Marvel recognized the specific way Instagram displays media and exploited the expectations for full effect.

III. Engagement

Beyond actively keeping the conversation alive on every social platform they use, including re-sharing customer fan-art and answering questions, Marvel reached into the latest technologies to enable customers to participate. The brand experience became a personalized human experience.

(It’s worth noting that they created three different VR experience for the three different locations. Talk about personalization!)

The result? Raving reviews, flooding social buzz, and one of the strongest movie openings in history.

See the Big Picture: Piecing The Puzzle Together

2017 will be the next step. What we started in 2016, where all the trends we discussed in this past year — and will keep discussing — lead to.

You’ve got options. Many, many options, with more to come. We’ll list some here — others may not have been invented yet.

Ultimately, it’s your choice where you want to execute. Any one of these can be deployed successfully, and if you skip one or more of them you won’t make your business go under.

Half-assing it will.

All the trends that we observed in 2016 will mature further in 2017, making early recognition and adoption crucial.

1. You’ve Got Mail (Still): Email

Hey now, don’t laugh. If you do, the last laugh will be of those who recognize that, eventually, everything old becomes new again, and able to execute against it.

Email is far from dead, just people who’ve been using it wrong try to bury the poor thing.

2. Size Does Matter: Big Data

The rise of social platforms — and their analytics — and ubiquitous data collection through the smart devices of the Internet of Things gives us all the data we need. Tools from web scraping to multi-layered datasets serve us to make better decisions.

Whether that’s a buying or selling decision is dependant on the user.

“A Forrester study found that 44% of B2C marketers are using big data and analytics to improve responsiveness to 36% are actively using analytics and data mining to gain greater insights to plan more relationship-driven strategies.”

3. “TV is the new radio”: Video

In 2016 ad spending on social media — and Facebook in particular — has taken over spending on TV for the first time. Let that sink in for a minute.

If you needed a single reason to believe digital platforms are what billboards, magazines, or television has been, that’s it.

4. The Tomorrow of Yesterday is Today: Augmented & Virtual Realities

Google Cardboard — and now Daydream — is bringing affordable tech to the masses. Recording VR media is inexpensive and augmented reality games like Pokemon Go are mainstream successes.

AR and VR are here, now.

5. Rise of The Machines: Artificial Intelligence

Don’t think Skynet: think Amazon recommendations. Think Google search suggestions. AI is far from perfect, far from capable of replacing humans any time soon.

But what it is capable of is sifting through the enormous amount of data fast. To recognize patterns and trends. To automate where it matters. To help humans make smarter decisions faster and deliver a better human experience.

“An AI can make you stronger, but it can’t replace the essential truth of social media: human interactions.”

6. Simplicity Scaled to Last: Sustainability through Automation

Businesses need a scalable operations model to be reliably sustainable.And for it to become scalable it needs to get simplified. You need to have the macro vision and the micro automation to simplify your marketing — and sales, and IT, and HR, and so on — stacks to perform at peak velocity.

Technology — from big data to AI — simplifies operations through streamlining information into a single thread.

“Look out for tools like send-time optimization joined by other smart automation features in the coming year.”

7. “We are the music-makers, And we are the dreamers of dreams”: Storytelling

A viral video is worthless. By and by itself it does nothing for you. First, it needs to be tied to you, but even more importantly you need to be able to replicate it.

One-hit wonders are fleeting smiles — telling an impactful story, on the other hand, leads to actual business results.

“[…] we are now arriving at the inflection point and advertisers who once experimented with new ways of getting their messages to consumers are now realizing it’s time to move into this next phase — and quickly.”

Read the Book of Vishanti: Learn, Plan, Execute

In Doctor Strange lore, the Book of Vishanti “contains spells of defensive magic and is indestructible.”

What we offer for you is very similar. It may not make you indestructible per se, or teach you how to defend yourself against dark forces — but if you’re looking to get ahead of your competition and able to use the techniques (spells, if you will) akin to the Sorcerer Supreme, we’ve got you covered.

Our report for 2016’s digital marketing trends, complete with predictions for 2017 will be released soon. Sign up now to get it before everyone else, and become the Marketer Supreme!

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