How a hot stage light and gardening gloves made me rethink Martech

  • Posted on November 5, 2021
  • Estimated reading time 5 minutes
Rethink Martech

Back in the early 2000s, I found myself standing on a chair behind a movie star and a music icon, moving a very hot stage light with gardening gloves. Why was I doing this? And what does my theater experience have to do with your MarTech stack and marketing operations team? I’ll explain…

There are a lot of similarities between the aims of theater as a business and the aims of modern marketers.

The theater aims to deliver an experience that will attract an audience and engage them, driving advocacy and retention. That is also the aim of modern marketing, with B2B Account-based Marketing (ABM) being reframed as Account-based Experiences (ABX) in recent years.

There are other parallels between theater producers and marketers too. Both have tight budgets and timelines to work with and often need to make trade-offs about how to spend their budget to deliver the right audience experience and keep them engaged.

Why ‘right’ isn’t always best
I once heard a very successful theater director say he would rather have his production achieve one moment of true excellence in an overall mediocre experience than just be simply “good enough” throughout. For him, that was how he differentiated his brand and his products.

As a marketer, you don’t have the luxury of settling for a mediocre experience. But you still have decisions to make. Decisions like the one that found me on that chair wearing gardening gloves.

In that case, I was assisting on a rock musical at an off-West End venue in London. The director made the decision that, as a rock musical, it had to sound amazing. It had to blow the music aficionado in the audience away.

That meant putting a lot of focus on the sound. So much focus, in fact, that the sound desk rented for the production was worth more than the theater’s annual budget.

We also had some fabulous lighting, but there was neither budget nor space for a real theatrical follow-spot. Hence, the producer opted for a normal light, designed to be fixed in one place, that could be moved by having someone stand on a chair underneath it. The person who got to stand on that chair was me. As the light would get very hot when in use, the additional solution to save my fingerprints was a pair of gardening gloves.

The decision was a good one for budget optimization and the solution worked just fine for spotlighting the lead in the closing number. And I still have the skin on my hands.

So, what can marketing decision makers learn from all this?

  1. Determine what the key differentiating components of your experience are. For the director at the theater, it was the sound deck, but for you it might be real-time journey optimization. Go big with budget in your key differentiating area. Get yourself the best tech to enable that solution at the quality and at the scale you need to blow your target audience away.

  2. Identify where your savings are going to be made, so you can focus on your key differentiator. What things will you have to potentially sacrifice, and what elements should you continue to do manually to save cost? (Think back to me on the chair with the gardening gloves.)

  3. Consider whether a creative solution for secondary elements will still deliver the right experience, or if investing in them may break a key part of the customer experience.

    For example, I could successfully handle one spotlight. But single-handedly moving around ten would have been impossible.

    Content creation can often be a blind spot for marketers, who invest in the technology to deliver personalized content but not the content itself. This is a missed opportunity given the fact that the average B2B buyer consumes 13 pieces of content before deciding on a vendor.

  4. Work with your marketing operations teams to create more robust processes that set them (and you) up for success. In the theater I needed gardening gloves. Your marketing team might need a set of business rules, a regular huddle with sales and customer service operations, or the ability to explore efficient process automation options.

  5. Finally, don’t see this as a final state. The movie star knew our aim was to get to the West End and, if it all worked out, I wouldn’t be following him around in gardening gloves forever. In the growth marketing era, your end-to-end marketing should include customer experience experiments that provide you with tangible ROI to justify future investments.

In summary, keep track of where your marketing operations resources are wearing gardening gloves so that, when the experience is proven, you can invest in a more comprehensive solution to support future growth.

If doing this sounds as difficult as handling a hot theater light, don’t worry. Avanade offers the integrated, end-to-end services that help marketing decision makers like you navigate the tough choices and deliver growth for their organization.

Where do you find yourself wearing gardening gloves in your daily marketing operations? What has your experience been with developing personalization and applying growth marketing tactics? Share your thoughts with us on our socials.

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If you’d like to introduce personalization and growth marketing techniques to your company, Avanade can help. Contact us today to get started.

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