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Four Simple Things For 2014

I’m not a big one for New Year’s Resolutions. Why wait a year for something you ought to start today? The question is where to start.

The announcements unfolding at CES would be enough to provide any of us with a marketing technology agenda for 2014. 

Unfortunately you’d have long list of hyperbole, hot ideas and resulting sense of hopelessness. Personal tracking devices were all the range and yet apparently research says nobody wants them. Google Glasses nested on plenty of foreheads just as pundits penned columns proclaiming their inevitable demise. 

And then there were lightbulbs. Bulbs that dimmed and changed colour at the touch of your phone’s screen. We are all going to have them apparently. But at the princely sum of $250 a piece I’ll be waiting awhile for them to go mainstream at CostCo.

CEO after CEO proclaimed everything is going to be connected. Fridges, planes, lightbulbs and even you. We are all going to come together in a beautiful Internet of Things. 

I’m not so sure.

The visionaries at CES have clearly never tried to get connectivity at hotels on a regular basis, or, had to pay for their own phones or data plans. Little of this is going to achieve scale unless the people who provide the Internet in the Internet of things can make money through related services to fund reliable, low cost connectivity to the masses.

Similarly, marketers excited about all the new screens on which messages can be delivered need to refocus their attention on building the technology platforms on which marketing runs. It’s time for focus less on what runs on the platform and more on the platform itself.

2014 is the year in which to get it done. Here are four simple steps that will drive immediate results in 2014.

First, deploy the core marketing operations platform. Excitingly an Australian company is at the top of the leaderboard here. What Salesforce did for CRM and Marketo for marketing automation, Simple is set to do for marketing operations. 

Simply put, Simple enable marketers to run marketing – from allocating budget, briefing agencies, reviewing and editing creative through dashboarding results – from a familiar, Twitter-like interface on virtually any device. Major Australian brands are flocking to them to realise productivity, efficiency and sanity gains.

Second, unify CRM and Marketing Automation. Salesforce made a big move in 2013 with the acquisition of ExactTarget to bring more outbound marketing capabilities to CRM. Marketo does the same with a historical strength in both inbound and outbound marketing. So whatever your preference, don’t wait for CRM platforms to do what they can’t do – marketing. Get your marketing automation platform deployed and integrated.

Third, listen and respond harder. Elements of analytics will always be done by specialists like Deloitte, Beyond Analytics, Palintir and MuSigma. All four are growing fast in Australia as marketers look to use their loyalty and transaction data to better meet customers in the market with timely and relevant offers. Define the initiative, carve the budget out and get going now.

At the same time, put your own listening platforms in place. Platforms like Radian 6 are powering greater insights into the chatter across Twitter, Facebook and more. The voice of the customer needs to be heard more loudly than ever in organisations – armed with with these platforms, Marketers become the champions for these voices.

Fourth, and perhaps most importantly, marketing’s accountability needs to be improved not through mindlessly complex spreadsheets and a ever-shifting set of metrics but systems that point to where the next dollar should go. And not just within marketing but within the business as a whole.

Big brands will swing to offerings from companies like Marketshare. With data in-hand, expertise on tap, and compute capacity in the cloud, marketers will become drivers of business performance on the basis of the insights they delivered. They will tweak and challenge the historical behaviours of their businesses.

For some of us the “things” in the Internet of Things are exciting and quick to drain our wallets. 

But all of us who love this marketing game cannot afford to ignore these four simple steps if we are to reduce cost and complexity, focus our efforts, better meet customers in the market and free dollars to innovate and compete. 

Make 2014 the year.

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