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On finding and staying true to your North Star and driving real value from your martech investment

28th April 2021

Author Richard Brown

Findings from Richard Lees, Merkle’s Chief Strategy Officer, EMEA, in the latest Merkle whitepaper:

Driving value from your martech: make it work, make it better, make it bigger

It’s not often I come across marketing technology thought leadership that instantly resonates (and that I don’t have to then translate into less jargon-y language in order for the findings to be more accessible and valuable to those around me!) So… it was a real pleasure to read the latest whitepaper from Richard Lees, Merkle’s Chief Strategy Officer, EMEA (Merkle, the CXM arm of dentsu, is Davanti’s parent company).

The whitepaper is a highly relatable read. Full of quotes and analogies, it is a useful resource not just for those closely involved with martech, but anyone (and everyone) in an organisation focused on how to make customer experience transformation achievable.

I’m going to outline the key takeaways below, but I’m really just scratching the surface! I highly recommend you download your own copy of the whitepaper and share it with your team – marketers or otherwise – today.

You can download Driving value from your martech: make it work, make it better, make it bigger here.


Barriers to the success of martech investments

Richard Lees points out that:

‘Many businesses have invested in martech in the past few years, and the proportion of budgets devoted to technology is increasing. The rate of marketing tech adoption is expanding exponentially – but businesses are still getting undesirable outcomes in not achieving what they set out to accomplish.’

The question he then poses is:

How, as organisations, can we drive optimal value from the martech we plan to purchase or have already invested in?

The answer lies in the definition and realisation of value, he says, and our ability as an organisation to rally around our North Star and then (1) chunk it down, (2) make it better and (3) make it bigger.

At its best, technology is a fantastic enabler in helping organisations meet their customers’ expectations – but it is only that: an enabler.

As Richard argues, to drive measurable value from your technology requires a strong and enduring sense of purpose and connection to your North Star, in customer terms (with an outside-in, rather than inside-out view of the world), as well as a plan that focuses on the outcomes you need to focus on to drive customer and business value, not just on the implementation of technology for technology’s sake.

Key takeaways from the whitepaper include:


What is value, really?

Again, it all comes down to defining – and then staying true to – value.

Value needs to be defined upfront, for your customer and for your business, in tandem. To focus on what matters, we need to ask ourselves questions like:

“What does doing this for the customer mean for the business, and how do we measure that we have delivered that?”


The need for speed

No organisation has the luxury of time.

Big will not beat small anymore. It will be the fast beating the slow.”  The quote is attributed to Rupert Murdoch a mere 20-something years ago, but it still holds just as true today.

Helpful questions to ask to help ourselves to move at pace include:

  • How quickly can we activate our martech to connect into our customer ecosystems?
  • How fast can we deploy it?
  • How well can we integrate it?
  • How effectively can we unlock insights from the data we create with it?
  • How effectively can we turn what we learn into improved execution?
  • Ultimately, what benefits does it bring to the customer? And how does this benefit translate into business benefit (for example customer loyalty, increased spend and reduced customer churn)?
  • What are the measures that truly matter and track progress on this journey?


It takes a village – and we’ll only travel far if we travel together

Achieving CX transformation through connected martech requires what Richard calls “radical collaboration”.

Real transformation can never happen in siloes, the whitepaper reminds us, and often success comes down to how we work together as much as what we do. Often this requires a complete ‘ways of working’ transformation to embed a customer-centric focus at every touchpoint and customer moment.

For more on this topic, you can register and tune in for Merkle’s upcoming webinar: Building the Adaptive Organisation, happening at 12 noon on 23 June.


Measure what matters (and don’t be a rocking horse)

We hear this catch-cry a lot, and organisations are certainly starting to realise on and unlock the power of their data, but are we using the right yardstick? Can we say with certainty that we’re measuring the right thing?

“Don’t confuse motion for progress. A rocking horse moves all day but goes nowhere.” – Alfred Montapert

Just because we’re moving, doesn’t necessarily mean we’re going in the right direction (or moving at all!).


Make it achievable (no ocean-boiling)… then make it work – and then make it better and bigger

This is the secret to success, Richard tells us. Too many technology-based initiatives never get much further than the make it work stage and, as the whitepaper says, ‘It is only when you make it better or bigger that you see a clear and measurable outcome.’ 


Top-down, bottom-up: find your North Star

As illustrated by the diagram below, success requires a symbiotic and connected relationship between your organisation’s top-down business goals and your bottom-up technology view.

North Star business diagram

Now’s the hour…

“Small deeds done are better than great deeds planned,” said Peter Marshall, chaplain to the US Senate – and the time is most definitely now.

As Richard says, ‘Dream big; start small but act now! (and if you have done that right, scale fast).’


If you’d like to talk to us about your marketing technology and customer experience transformation, or any of the ground covered in the whitepaper, we’d love to talk. Please just get in touch.

You can download Driving value from your martech: make it work, make it better, make it bigger here.


For further inspiration:

​Richard Brown is Davanti’s Head of Marketing Services, focused on understanding customers’ challenges and helping them discover the art of the possible.

Richard Brown