Sure you know what Marketing Technology is, but do you really know how it differs from marketing?

It might seem like a silly point to make. After all, I’d like to think that as sales and marketing professionals we’ve experienced enough marketing technology to understand it. Effectively, marketing technology is any software or app that helps enable marketing activities. If you want a very good definition, check out this post on MarTech Today, which also features Scott Brinker’s famous graphic illustrating the size and magnitude of marketing technologies available.

That being said, are we confusing marketing technology with marketing itself? Every time you turn around there is new technology designed to help us better understand our customers or to increase our reach. It’s easy to start by thinking “what can I do with this new technology?” instead of “what should I be doing to better communicate with my customers and prospects?” and then ‘what technology do I need to do that?’

Marketing technology is not marketing. It is a tool–or set of tools–to help you execute marketing activities, such as researching your marketplace or communicating with your prospects. That’s it. Marketing technology is simply a tool.

The real power comes from the talent and intellect of the people using the tools. You still need to understand your audience and their pain points. You still need to craft compelling content and campaigns. You still need to be able to interpret and act on the data that comes from those activities.

Think of it like a screwdriver and a power drill. Both are tools designed to help you turn a screw. The screwdriver requires manual effort and may be a bit slower. A power drill will turn that screw with a lot more speed and intensity. In both cases, turning a screw is part of a bigger project. You need those tools to turn the screws that assemble the bookcases or build the houses. The tools help you complete a project or reach a goal. You still need a skilled carpenter to use those tools (Ikea furniture excluded) and a plan to arrive at the final product.

In the case of both the power drill and marketing technology, success depends on the ability of the person using the tool and the overall plan. The tool enables the process.

Once you recognize marketing technology as a tool instead of as a solution on its own, it becomes easier to use the tool wisely. The strategy must come first. With a solid strategy as the foundation and a good team in place, you can decide when and how to use marketing technology to best reach your goals.