MarTech is hosting a conference in San Francisco in May 2017 called Tackling issues at the intersection of marketing and technology. Among the list of subjects to be discussed is, Applying “agile” and “lean” practices to marketing.  This is something we at ion Leap know a great deal about, having worked in the tech sectors for a long time. When we see such processes entering the marketing business, we have mixed emotions.

Why marketing development can benefit from software process

Software development is always pushing for more productivity and innovation. Marketing will benefit from similar process improvement. With the metrics available from SEM and SEA working in conjunction with marketing automation, marketing directors are getting unprecedented intelligence and efficiencies in their efforts. Software is driving it all.

Now is the time to apply even more software processes like “agile” and “lean.” As an article on says, “DevOps represents a sustainable competitive advantage for those organizations willing to adopt it now. But the order of magnitude improvement in code delivery also represents something else – DevOps is a discontinuous innovation in the way organizations develop and deliver software. And as with any new discontinuous innovation, the implication is that creative destruction will follow.”

Marketing process has not undergone similar creative destruction. In fact, I’d say marketing innovation can be summed up roughly by 2 historical events:

  1. 1960 – Bill Bernbach paired up writers with art directorsIn the 1960s Bill Bernbach, founder of Doyle Dane Bernbach, revolutionized the creation of marketing messages for print, TV, and radio by pairing writers with art directors and creating work that was far more engaging. The Volkswagen ad below is a perfect example. volkswagen_lemon_hires1Nothing like this ad had ever been seen in car advertising or anywhere else – not just the self deprecation, but a one-word headline, and bare-bones design. Bernbach’s pairing of art directors and writers was in reaction to what he saw as the rise of the technicians in advertising. DDB had gotten quite successful at it, and this worried Bernbach. This is from an internal letter he sent out in May, 1947.”There are a lot of great technicians in advertising. And unfortunately they talk the best game. They know all the rules. They can tell you that people in an ad will get you greater readership. They can tell you that a sentence should be this short or that long. They can tell you that body copy should be broken up for easier reading. They can give you fact after fact after fact. They are the scientists of advertising. But there’s one little rub. Advertising is fundamentally persuasion and persuasion happens to be not a science, but an art.”
  2. 2006 – Complete measurability of marketing spend thanks to In-bound Marketing and Marketing AutomationHubspot, Pardot (for Salesforce users), and Marketo are the pinnacle of marketing software these days. Perfect for rapid deployment of key-phrase rich content, landing pages, forms, drip programs, and automation rules. All this has truly revolutionized marketing. In fact, we’re living in the merger of marketing and software. It has taken the guesswork out of the repetitive parts of day-to-day marketing activity, especially lead nurturing. With marketing automation and in-bound marketing, we know all the rules. We know what works in our A/B testing and can fine-tune our efforts for maximum effect. We know a Tweet with a particular hashtag was a top lead producer, so we can increase activity on that hashtag. Now all our measurement tools “can tell us “that a sentence should be this short or that long.”  They can give us “fact after fact after fact.” Wait…this is sounding like Bernbach’s complaint in the ‘60s.

Time to get the best of both science and art

I’m happy to see the topics of discussion at the upcoming MarTech conference. In fact, I’d like to see them go further. I’d suggest applying DevOps practice to marketing. Unite the IT experts, the data research team, and the creative folks in the same room. Give them lots of coffee, and lock the door from the outside.

Invented in 2008, the DevOps process re-invents the plodding silo-to-silo approach in favor of rapid development, operations, and testing, all done on the fly and aimed at continuous-improvement. There’s a more lengthy and articulate definition at this link.

The key is to get all the minds together and move more quickly to take advantage of all the marketing data coming in and act on it faster.

That said, don’t let our new-found science-fueled brains rule out the purely creative solutions, led only by creative intuition. Remember that great Oreo tweet when the lights went out at the Super Bowl in 2013? Data and automation don’t create that kind of magic.



MarTec conference

Bernbach  quote – “Advertisings Legendary Letter” by Derrick Daye Article – “5 Challenges in Implementing Enterprise DevOps”

More on DevOps

Wired article on the Oreo tweet

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