Are you letting the tail wag the dog?

Don’t let technology dictate how you run and market your business…

Chimp Answers | Use technology wisly in Marketing

“If they think I’m going to do that….”

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TL;DR (Too long; Didn’t Read)

If you are letting the technology you use (or need to use but you don’t have yet) dictate how you market to your clients then it’s time to take back the control and market the way you know will work. 

You can do this by making sure you know the full potential of the system you are using (or getting someone onboard that does). Or procuring the tech you need to do the job you want done and know will work.

I had an interesting conversation with a new marketing client recently.

We were discussing their marketing and how they wanted to leverage their customer database.

They’d been building it for several years… but hadn’t done anything really proactive with it and wanted to start actively email marketing with their customers and prospects to generate a higher average sale.

A perfectly reasonable idea.

However, when we got to the practicalities of implementing their ideas, they raised an issue.

“We can’t do that because that’s not possible in the email marketing system we use”.

I had two immediate thoughts:

Firstly, I use the system in question and I know that it CAN do what they want.

…but a much bigger thought came to mind.

Why are you letting technology dictate your marketing… when you know what you’re trying to do is the right thing for the business?

You can’t let the tail wag the dog


Technology is a huge part of marketing nowadays, and in many cases it allows us to do things we never dreamt of, even only a few years prior. 

…but letting the technology you use dictate your marketing is a surefire way of ensuring it won’t succeed.  

Unfortunately, it seems to be happening more and more in business, and there are several reasons why.

  • Some businesses adopt technology but don’t update it – deciding to stick with what they know… but letting it dictate and limit what they know is the right thing to do.
  • Other businesses may be using the right tools to support their marketing, but for whatever reason haven’t kept their understanding of the capabilities up to date, and don’t realise that the tool in question can support their planned marketing activities.
  • Another group of businesses are true marketing magpies… they become obsessed with the technology and what they think it can give to them. They want to use it at every opportunity, despite it not actually being in line with their marketing plans.

All of these are classic “tail wagging the dog” situations, with technology dictating what marketing gets put in place – because all of them are focusing on the tail… and not focusing on the thing that really matters…the dog…or in our case, the marketing plan.

Not having a clear marketing plan, with an understanding of who you’re target customers are, and an idea of how you can support their journey from not even knowing you exist (innocence) to becoming your biggest fans (advocacy), makes it easy for you to focus on the technology and letting it dictate things.

Email marketing is a classic example where too many businesses have a poor plan and end up letting the tail wag the dog.  As a certified Mailchimp expert and partner, I help people with email every day, and it never ceases to amaze when I speak to owners and they let the system dictate their plans.

If you’re finding your business “being wagged” by the tail of technology, chances are you haven’t clearly defined what you want to do…so here’s a quick idea of how to change things around and let the dog wag the tail.

Using technology to enhance marketing

Firstly, you need to focus on the outcome you want for the technology – what’s it actually going to do for you (and is it something that can support your avatars journey?).

Let’s use Email marketing (as it’s so close to my heart) as an example.

Question One – do my avatars use email?  If they do, great… if not, then I might need to think about doing something different (and not just use the tech because it’s there).

OK… so they use email… so the next question is how do I want to use the technology?… or simply put, what emails do I want to send?  Focusing on the outcome ensures you are in control (and not the technology).

I usually list out the specific emails that I want to send (and who they are being sent to, and for what reason) when I’m planning an email system.

The next question is, “what information do I need to implement?”  In almost all cases, the technology is there to help us manage data, so what data do we need? In the case of email marketing, it’s usually their email address and something specific about them (e.g. they requested a guide from my website, or are a new customer).

The final question is about understanding the system you’re using and then ensuring the right information gets stored in the right place. If you can’t get the data where you want it, you can’t usually do the thing you want to do.

…but first and foremost, in successful marketing plans is the outcome you want the technology to achieve – this is the dog – and not letting the tech (the tail) dictate what goes on.

There is no doubt that technology has opened up so many doors for us in business and for many (mine included), it’s almost impossible for us to imagine running our businesses with out it.

…but technology is a tool… one that can be very powerful… but which needs to be harnessed to support the goals of your business and the marketing plan you want to implement.

Don’t let your technology dictate what you know is right to do from a marketing point of view. Understand your existing tools capabilities and ensure that they support (and don’t limit) your goals, and, if they are an issue, find something that does help you achieve your goals (in a cost effective manner).

Stop letting the tail wag the dog.

Robin Adams

Robin Adams

Robin Adams is a business owner who is passionate about helping businesses build effective marketing systems that work and don't waste money. Having a lifetime of Marketing experience (he's got a degree in Marketing before there were degrees in Marketing!) and having worked for big and small businesses and both client and agency side, he understands not only the theory, but the systems that are required to underpin everything.
51% marketer and 49% Chimp, Robin is the main man behind chimpanswers.com and the Mailchimp Answers Facebook Group - the world's biggest Mailchimp User Group. Connect with him on Linkedin.

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Use this FREE Customer Avatar Worksheet to develop your marketing activities with a specific person in mind and ensure you know what to say and where to say it.

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