Data, meaning, logic, action — the four pillars of modern marketing technology.

Scott Brinker (ION Interactive vel Chief Martec) published the 2015 version of Marketing Landscape Supergraphic. There are now more than 1 800 companies/projects serving marketers around the world. It is hard to judge if that is a big number. There are more than 220 million businesses globally. That is a lot of potential marketing $$$ to fight for.

There are multiple categories on the Marketing Landscape Supergraphic, but if we flatten all the functions of marketing to just one — I think it would be to drive more sales. Unlike in traditional businesses, sales&marketing in online business models is very often morphed into one function. What does it mean for all the martech startups out there?

A concept I have come up with is that there are four pillars of modern marketing technology:

  1. Data
  2. Meaning
  3. Logic
  4. Action

When ever I hear a startup claim in their value proposition that its main purpose for existance is to increase sales I try to benchmark it against my DMLA (short for data/meaning/logic/action) model. In most cases it goes like this:

  1. Data — there is a java script to catch user data or an API integration to get the data from various sources
  2. Meaning — once the data is gathered, there is some sort of meaning given to it. In a more advanced scenario machine learning might be applied
  3. Logic — now that we understand the data that was gathered, we can try to apply logic to it. This is done by trigers and complex algorithms
  4. Action — the last mile is all about performing an intelligent action to realise our goal of increasing sales

If you are a martech startup founder I dare you to take the DMLA test. Try to think of your product in those four processes. I think you will find it very easy to fit most feautures and functionalities of your product into all or some of those four categories.

I came up with the DMLA model so that I can better asses the potential of a company I am trying to invest in. There many variations of a martech startup. From „marketing clouds” which stand on all four pillars, to single pillar „storks” which specialize in a given area.

The biggest realization I came to is that the DMLA approach suggest that:

  1. there will be a plephora of martech companies of all shapes and sizes
  2. an ecosystem of single function apps and big end to end solutions might emerge
  3. data is the currency of martech, It will need to flow to fuel the whole ecosystem
  4. we will probably see many smaller exits and not that many „unicorns”

In a recent conversation a collegue of mine told me that he doesn’t like martech because it is too crowded. It is hard to differentiate the product and stand out from the competition. Very difficult not to agree. On the other hand it still feels like early days.

Written by

I’m a Partner at Innovation Nest, a seed VC fund focused on B2B Software. Helping SaaS founders with growth strategies and tactics.

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