Ashton Media
Marketing & Customer Experience Hub

MarTech: Don’t get distracted by shiny objects


Business runs on technology. Technology doesn’t run business. Despite how pervasive technology is today, you still need vision, people and process for your business to deliver value to your shareholders and the constituents you serve.


I lead digital demand generation strategies for Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE). Specifically, I am responsible for making HPE’s global web platform the most effective digital demand gen engine.

Web experiences serve multiple purposes – brand recognition, support services and generating demand. While B2C companies have been very successful in leveraging the web as a front-end business strategy, we in the B2B space have work ahead of us.

A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. Or a question. To start your quest, you could be asking yourself, “What do ‘must win’ moments look like for my customers and prospects?” or, “Where is my North Star?” For those of you in Australia that might be, “Where is my Southern Cross?”

Identify what you are trying to do first. Technology should guide ‘how’ you solve the challenge, not ‘what’ you do or ‘why’ you do it. Make sure that the ‘how,’ also addresses three design points that I always go back to and optimise for: Speed, Scale and Sales.

Optimising for Speed, Scale and Sales

We have all seen infographics, images and endless presentations on the very crowded marketing tech space. There is a ton of noise and every solution promises to be “the” answer to your business needs.

If you go to any sales pitch, they will tell you how their product can do this, and this, and this. When I filter what I’m hearing through Speed, Scale and Sales, the applicability of that product suddenly changes significantly. For example, there are always friction points that cause you to lose speed that you’ve got to think through. If you’re trying to roll it out globally, you’ve got to take into account country regulations or other local factors. If you optimise for scale, you’re faced with certain choices. For example, you may not be able to do custom bespoke pages for every marketing campaign. If you are trying to optimise for sales, the opportunity cost to manually upload to Salesforce isn’t feasible. These are all choice points you have to make that technology won’t solve for you automagically.

It’s important to not get distracted by the shiny object. I find this highly amusing because as marketing people, we create these shiny objects. You have to be very clear on the question you’re trying to answer. Almost maniacally disciplined in your quest. What is the business problem you’re trying to solve? Do you need to accelerate your e-commerce business? Create brand awareness and thought leadership? Pivot from offline to online? If you can articulate your quest crisply, then strategy and everything else follows.

Using MarTech and the web to drive sales

When it comes to my website, I am 150% mercenary about it. Every pixel, every click, every marketing system, every hour that my team works, has to somehow lead to some kind of sale. It may be direct or indirect, but either way, it has to be optimised towards lead velocity and enabling sales to close deals.

In their book, Built to Last, Jim Collins and Jerry Porras coined the term BHAG, which stands for Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal. At HPE, we have a BHAG to generate a billion dollars in the marketing pipeline. I know that a billion-dollar goal is an insanely large amount of money for many companies. On the other hand, given the size and scope of Hewlett-Packard Enterprise, it’s not impossible if we get smarter about what we do, how we use marketing technology, and if we optimise for speed, scale and sales. If I convert 5% of the qualified traffic to my site into sales opportunities, I’m potentially looking at billions of dollars in an incremental qualified pipeline I can create for Hewlett-Packard Enterprise.

Marketing in a complex world

Google “marketing funnel” and you’ll run into Wikipedia’s article about the Purchasing funnel also known as the Aida-model. This model was created in 1898 by Elias St. Elmo Lewis. Yes, you read that correctly – the funnel that we build, run and optimise our marketing programs against was created in 1898. I’m sure you will agree that it’s in sore need of updating – the world is much more complex than it was then yet many of our systems, processes and people still think the world is linear and move from the top of the funnel to the bottom.

According to Sirius Decisions, 67% of the buyer’s journey is now done digitally. Investing in the right marketing technologies makes good business sense. We need to think about how to “attract” the right people to the site, and once they hit it, how to “engage” them, “convert” them into leads as soon as possible and so on. How can Marketing Tech make this experience for the prospect simple, delightful and fast? For us, how do we optimise for Speed, Scale and Sales?

Cut through the buzz

In marketing tech, there isn’t a conference where we don’t hear about Account Based Marketing, Predictive Analytics, hyper-personalisation, mobile marketing automation…

Let’s take Personalisation aside for a moment. Achieving one-to-one personalisation sounds all fine and good, but the technology itself doesn’t necessarily help to solve the problem.

I fell for the pitch and blindly thought marketing tech was going to solve all my personalisation problems, when, in fact, it brought to light a people, process and content depth and breadth issue. Factors that I didn’t consider when I invested in this program. I was a tad naïve but we learned a ton and iterated based on these learnings.

Here’s another example: Two years ago, there was a lot of buzz about employee advocacy and the various as-a-service offerings that enable you to create a social media sharing platform for employees. After seeing it as some bright, shiny object at a company conference, my team brought it to me. We had a bake-off between a couple of vendors and we went with one. This particular vendor afforded us the ability to make data-driven decisions because they had much more advanced analytics capabilities. They also had the ability to integrate into Salesforce. We tested it, did a pilot, and then expanded. The next thing we knew, the program – not necessarily the platform – was growing like wildfire. It started with 200 people and now it’s going companywide. The technology itself didn’t make this happen. It’s a combination of making sure you have the right vision, have the right team leading the effort and last but not least, have the drive to shift mindset and change behavior. This is now a critical piece of our Social Selling program.

I don’t believe we always make the right decisions. At the same time, I don’t believe there are wrong decisions to make either. We have not cracked the code on what not to do because we create the noise as much as we consume the noise. In fact, ironically, recently, one of my product marketing managers sent me a video saying, “You’ve got to check out this amazing marketing technology.” And guess what, I clicked on the email, watched the 90-second video and went to their website, which was of course personalised and live chat popped up. When I left the site, I was targeted by social media ads and presented personalised offers. Meanwhile, someone just like me is watching the data coming in and making decisions on their marketing tech stack.

And the cycle continues…

Hewlett-Packard Enterprise’s May Petry will be speaking at the 2016 MarTech Symposium.

May Petry - Vice President, Marketing, Digital, Hewlett-Packard Enterprise About May Petry - Vice President, Marketing, Digital, Hewlett-Packard Enterprise
May is a results-driven marketing and communications executive with 20-years of experience leading digital marketing and global communications initiatives at Fortune 500 companies. She is presently the Vice President, Marketing, Digital at Hewlett-Packard Enterprise.