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Frans Riemersma: The Martech World Is Not Ruled by Giants

Frans Riemersma is a prominent figure in the European martech landscape, earning recognition as the #1 martech influencer in the region. In his co-authored book, "Marketing Resource Management; The noble art of getting things done in marketing. Efficiently," he introduced groundbreaking ideas, including a MarTech canvas for plotting marketing technology stacks and optimizing overall MarTech structures. 


His portfolio expanded in 2019 with the creation of Martech Tribe, offering marketing software audits and selections to maximize the value of martech stacks. He is renowned for his collaboration with Scott Brinker on the annual Marketing Technology Landscape.


Frans will be showcasing the latest in martech at Parrot 24’ in June.



How big is the marketing technology landscape?


I have a database of 11,000 software solutions, an 11% increase compared to the count in 2022. There are four and a half thousand requirements to these solutions from any given company. So I have generated an automated report which based on just 15 questions allows me to quickly benchmark the gaps and overlaps in your company’s stack. 


My background is in marketing, technology, coding and developing and I constantly shift between those disciplines. Partly because we need to integrate marketing and technology more than ever. Corporate organisations often need help with improving the cooperation between different departments, specifically between marketing and IT. We need a common vision on what I call customer technology. It's not only martech, it's also sales tech and customer service and all those customer facing technologies.

Every day, maybe even every hour, some new startup appears with an interesting solution. How do you keep track? 


The way we keep track as researchers and the way we keep track as a brand are two different things. 


From our side, we try to keep up with all the sources. I have around 200-250 volunteers that help us source new tools. Every May, together with Scott Brinker I publish the super report, the overview of 11,000 tools of the year. We already found 2,000 new tools that popped up due to gen AI. That's an explosion! 


And here's the secret: you don't need all 11,000. Surely not!

From a brand’s perspective, it's a different ballgame. You really have to learn how to aggregate all those tools in your stack. And here's the secret: you don't need all 11,000. Surely not! You need to reverse engineer and ask yourself what is your customer looking for in terms of experience. I call it the atomisation of marketing and technology. What are those atoms, those Lego blocks you really, really need? 



And all too often we try to solve customer experience with an entire tool or a suite. I'm not against that, but make sure you know what features have the most importance. 


How can an average marketer or a sales manager keep track of what's happening? 

There's two levels. Firstly the stack level, and I think you need to have a martech stack strategy and roadmap as a manager. This is where I often see a disconnect between CEO, CFO, CTOs – there is no architect responsible for the customer technology side. We need to integrate the top level management and then we can skip the tool level. 



We move to requirements and feature level. This is where product owners, people responsible for CRM or a specific admin, need to really know what features drive value. Normally, we on the solution level, we implement the tool and think a miracle is going to happen. It will not because a tool doesn't solve problems, specific features do. 


You have really big giants like Salesforce, HubSpot or Adobe and millions of smaller companies who come up with interesting solutions every day. There's a lot of concentration: the big ones get bigger (look at Google or Meta) and are killing the industry. Do you see the same happening in martech? 

The martech world has a long tail. It's not like the big ones are dominating and killing the rest. The small companies definitely have a reason to exist, specifically for the reason that they have unique features like localised support. 


Moreover, the small ones bring innovation. Currently with generative AI, almost anyone can write code. You just need an idea. As long as there are creative people, innovative ideas will keep popping up which in turn might be later bought up by those big corporations. 


How can a small startup company sell their solutions to global giants? 


There are actually a lot of dynamics from procurement, legal and security at play here which can overshadow the innovation aspect. Even if you have a groundbreaking tool, the big giants struggle with adaptation. 


Sometimes they have to sneak through the back door, engage in shadow IT or find an alternative way to buy it. Often I see it bought through an agency. Marketing is very creative in finding ways to use those startups. It's all due to the fact that IT has not harnessed a policy for this side of technology.


For example ERP warehousing logistics is completely under the control of the company. They define and decide who's using it, how much, when and where. Customer technology is the opposite. IT has to find a way to work with stuff like the Pace Layer model, system of records, system of differentiation, system of innovation which have to be defined for marketing. 



The misalignment between sales and marketing is still considered the biggest issue in B2B. If you look at the martech scene, do you see that sales and marketing solutions are better integrated or are they still in silos: sales specific solutions and marketing specific solutions?


Tools are serving people and if the people don't talk to each other, you have a problem. 


I've actually been in an extreme situation as a consultant where marketing people asked me to introduce them to their salespeople.

I teach at business schools and universities where practitioners have to take part in creating a plan. I would say seven out of 10 times, I have to tell the marketer to walk over to sales, ask for their numbers, show your numbers and see where the gaps are. I've actually been in an extreme situation as a consultant where marketing people asked me to introduce them to their salespeople.


Marketing is traditionally equipped for brand awareness, those soft top of funnel things. And since digital, the top and bottom of the funnel are getting nearer, which means every sales rep becomes a micro marketeer. 


 


If somebody is designing a martech solution for a company, should they think of enterprise level or rather individual users in that company? 


I have worked a couple of years on the marketing technology side, within a consultancy supporting sales, and the account based marketing approach works best here. Although, there is a buying committee on the other end, there's also the first user and you have to equip that user with all kinds of content to make sure they can sell internally. By that I mean selling to the CEO, to sales, to procurement, to legal. 


Nine out of 10 times software solutions are sold in a very static way. Feature selling is not working, you have to sell value and that's a completely different ball game because the value to the different stakeholders varies. 


Sign up to meet Frans Riemersma at Parrot 24' in Tallinn.

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