Agile Marketing and Innovation Labs: A Conversation with Hubspot's Scott Brinker

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by Stephanie Cox | Last Updated: Feb 15, 2019

If you've never seen the Martech 5000, then you might be living under a rock. But seriously, this yearly graphic of all your MarTech options has become super popular, and the mastermind behind it is Scott Brinker. Not only is he the VP of Platform Ecosystem at HubSpot, but he's also an acclaimed MarTech blogger, the program chair of the MarTech conferences, and much more (if you can believe it). I had the chance to sit down with him this week to talk about the state of marketing technology, how we as marketers can be sure that we're choosing the right technology fits for our needs, and trends like agile marketing and Innovation Labs. Here's part of our conversation:

Lumavate’s VP of Marketing, Stephanie Cox: How should marketers be evaluating technology?

Hubspot & Martech 5000’s Scott Brinker: There are two different kinds of technology, and we really want to manage them very differently: There is technology that is really fundamental to the operation of what we're doing–like CRMs, websites, mass-marketing automation, social media monitoring–and there's going to be a lot of organizational capital around those tools, so you want to go through the process of deciding which vendors you go with and how it's going to work with the rest of the tools in your stack very carefully. Then there's another set of technology that is, to me, more experimental. There’s just so much innovation that's happening out there. For the 80 percent of what we're doing–that fundamental tech–we want to focus on finding good foundational systems. But then you can’t ignore new trends that are coming out. You need about 20 percent of your technology investment to be experimenting with those new trends so you don't miss out on opportunities.

SC: I really like that idea of like almost of an 80/20 rule. So how do you think about this intersection between marketing and technology when it comes to building your tech stack as a marketer? What sort of things should be on their minds as they choose technologies?

SB: It’s first and foremost a tool. There’s almost no technology you find in the marketing space that you just plug in and it magically starts generating customers and happy customer experiences for you. When you look at the tools a particular company is using, you're only seeing a tiny sliver of what's actually happening there. What you don't get there is that sense of how they’re actually incorporating this into the customer experience and to the way they're delivering marketing programs and managing these different touch points.

SC: That immediately makes me think of of growth hacking. That concept has been really popular these days. How do you know when something like “growth hacking” should have a new role within marketing, and when it's a flash in the pan concept?

SB: There’s so much changing in the world today, so there’s this broader innovation challenge that companies have. They’ll often wrestle with the question of whether or not they should have an innovation group or an Innovation Lab where all the new experimental stuff can happen. And meanwhile everyone else just sort of keeps their heads down and continues on with the way we've always gotten it done. And I've always leaned in the other direction, I kind of feel like there's so much changing so rapidly that if you don't find a way to build some innovation opportunities into everyone's job, you create this “Us vs. Them” structure that causes an organization to calcify.

SC: And that kind of plays into the idea of “agile marketing”, right?

SB: Yeah, absolutely. One of the things I like about that is when you run these agile teams that are having a two to three-week sprint, you've always got this backlog of interesting ideas. And whenever these sprints come to an end and you're starting the next one, you go through this prioritization process where everyone participates and gets a chance to look at what ended up being of the highest value. It's sort of just building that ability to evolve and that ability to change into the very operating system of the marketing department itself. I think that's where the real opportunity with agile marketing is.

Mobile Conversations are excerpts from Lumavate’s Mobile Matters podcast. You can listen to their full conversation here, and find more episodes with other mobile experts here.

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