We’re delighted to have Justin Flitter, leading veteran tech CMO and long-time event and community wrangler extraordinaire, join us not just as our MC for the Tech Marketers Just One Conference on 18 March, but also as our newest mentor, joining a cohort of seasoned tech marketers offering their experience and insights to the Tech Marketers group.
We sat down with Justin (albeit virtually) to talk to him about why he’s excited about the upcoming Just One Conference, what he thinks tech marketers need to be thinking about in 2021, and what excites him about becoming a Tech Marketers mentor.
An innovative, results-focused marketer, Justin has 20 years’ experience helping software as a service and professional services brands across New Zealand, Australia, Asia, India and the United States to connect with customers and build communities.
Over the last 10 years, Justin has produced TEDxAuckland events, founded and produced AI-Day, New Zealand’s premier AI conference, and hosted dozens of events helping business leaders understand artificial intelligence and emerging technology.
In the theme of this year’s Just One Conference, what’s the one thing you’re looking forward to most about the conference? And what’s the one reason tech marketers should come along?
Just One Conference is all about bringing together the best minds for the best time. As a community of tech marketers, we need days like this to grow, to get inspired and energised. The success of our businesses depends on it.
The day can create a brainwave that fills an entire notebook. That a-ha moment is why we host and curate these events – to help us all leap forward with confidence.
Thinking specifically of NZ tech marketers, what advice or recommendations would you give for the year ahead? What things should be top of mind?
- Get your tech stack right.
Get your tools of the trade in, wired up and working well, especially when it comes to understanding the data points from your marketing ecosystem so that you can optimise your paid media campaigns and start building the right attribution models. This is all about building a customer data platform that gives you a holistic view of customer and user behaviour throughout your ecosystem, and doing this as early as you possibly can.
That’s easier said than done for a lot of companies. Wiring that up and having somebody on your team who knows how to wire up all of those data layers so that you can create real-time, data-driven insights for your team and your customers will save you a lot of money down the track, saving you from throwing shit at a wall and hoping that it works, to actually being able to building that science and data-led platform, from the ground up, so that you can be optimising your media spend. It’s too easy for companies to blow a truckload of money trying to do customer acquisition. You need to be targeting the right people, through the right channels in the right way.
I’ve always run tech-heavy people-light programmes. It’s not just a case of adding bums on seats to be able to get things happening faster – you’ve got to create processes and systems to automate and deliver those insights so that you can make the right decisions quickly, understand your customer, and then be able to bring in partners and enablers to scale that up.
2. Test carefully.
People AB test and experiment all the time, but the thing with experimenting is you don’t want to change too many things. If you’re going to experiment, you want to look at incremental, granular improvements rather than changing four or five things in one experiment.
It’s about thinking how you’re using your tools to optimise and customise your web or digital experiences without changing too many things at once. For example, if you’re changing your proposition, don’t change your pricing. If you’re changing pricing, don’t change the proposition until you’ve figured it out.
You’ve got to look at those different things so that you can actually say: What is the lesson that we want to learn out of this experiment? What’s our hypothesis? Then you can look at what happened, document it and keep experimenting.
3. Go agile.
People have always got resourcing challenges, but the challenge for us all as tech marketers is to look at how we build agile and responsive marketing teams.
Product teams usually work in agile two-week sprints. I think it would be useful for Product and Marketing teams to be in the same two-week sprint, working at that cadence together, running the same cycles, getting a cadence of activity and building layers very quickly.
If you think about a quarterly strategic plan or project, you can get a lot done and move much more quickly if you’re working on two-week sprints rather than on month-by-month plans.
4. Rethink your planning process.
Something I’ve always struggled with is the conventional approach to building a plan. People say you’ve got to have a plan for everything, that it’s got to be well-documented and map out everything that’s going to happen.
But, just like a customer journey, plans aren’t always linear. You’ve got to go by the seat of your pants, with just enough documentation to get you through. That’s where sharing, having your stand-ups in the morning and constantly keeping people updated is key.
If you’re working at a really fast cadence you probably don’t have time to maintain a documented strategy or plan (unless you’ve got a big team with someone responsible for keeping things updated). You’ve got to be able to build game plans. It is all about establishing the right cadence – and having the ability to be reflective and responsive and to work in the moment but with foresight and hindsight as well.
For me, the important thing for strategic planning is to have your quarterly strategic goals and know how you’re going to get there generally, but to know that it’s going to be a squiggly line.
Generally speaking, I see a lot of what comes across as laziness in New Zealand marketers. The main reasons for this are that they either don’t have the resource, time or budget, or that they are just spread too thin. But there’s a science and an attention to detail that has a significant effect on customer experience, and I think people need to be focusing a lot more on these things.
Where will you be focusing your marketing efforts this year?
With Playbooks, we will be focusing on scaling the product through New Zealand and Australia and building a community of business advisors who we believe are the unsung heroes of a growing economy. We want to build a community of business advisors passionate about helping their clients 10x their business and create resilience, so that no matter what we have to face over the coming years, our small business market will be much more resilient to manage through those situations.
Ultimately, 2021 is all about rebuilding communities. The events of 2020 created a very strong national community, with a lot of businesses forced to work remotely. But we still want human connection. We still want to get together, to meet and to share – especially as more companies are now allowing their workforce to work remotely part or all of the time. Having industry groups that allow us to come together to share that knowhow, to take you out of your work team and peer group bubbles is really important.
What attracted you to signing on the dotted line as a TMG mentor? What are you most looking forward to?
As tech marketers we need to foster our relationships and share our knowledge and experiences. I’m looking forward to getting stuck in and helping people tackle some of their big marketing challenges.
It’s a participation economy, so the more I can share, the more I’ll learn as well. Whoever puts up their hand to be mentored is going to help the mentor learn just as much. I’m really excited – it’s going to be cool.
My strength is in B2B and, in general, I think B2B marketing has been a weakness in New Zealand. This is starting to change now with groups like Tech Marketers and the Marketing Association, and we’re starting to recognise that B2B marketing in particular is incredibly important as the New Zealand software and tech industry grows.
New Zealand marketers have a habit of looking internationally for examples of best practice and people to talk to, and it’s great to now see us starting to get to a point where we’re standing up and looking to people in New Zealand. We have a really strong community of incredibly capable B2B marketers here.
I think there are a lot of marketers who are asking questions and looking for clarity. They want an independent eye over their work, to challenge or validate that they’re on the right track. The TMG mentoring cohort is all about building a community of experienced marketers who have been there and done that and can see the bigger picture and what that waterfall effect might be for a certain decision or approach.