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At The Sandpit, we hear lots about the US marketing technology market, but not so much on the UK market. We thought it’s about time to change that. Over the course of the next few months, we will be releasing a series of articles, interviews and hosting events looking at what problems marketers are currently facing, what innovation looks like in the sector and what the future holds. We hope you’ll join us in flying the flag for UK-based marketing technology.

To kick things off, we decided to speak to Benjamin Spiegel, a digital innovator with 20 years experience developing & executing highly successful digital marketing campaigns and current CEO of MMI Agency. a Houston-based brand activation agency that has been serving Fortune 500 clients since 1986. Benjamin is on our advisory board, and MMI is a strategic partner of The Sandpit.

We wanted to understand how agencies view the marketing technology landscape and how their position has changed with the advent of digital technology in the marketplace. We also wanted to understand Benjamin’s understanding of the UK market and how it was viewed from across the Atlantic. Here’s a transcript of our conversation.

Lara: Good afternoon Benjamin, thanks for taking the time out to speak with us.

Benjamin: My pleasure – good to talk.

Lara: We are keen to understand, with your experience in the market, how technology has changed the marketing agency landscape?

Benjamin: Pretty much everything has changed. From the way we create messages, to the way we distribute and the way that we measure success. However, we still find ourselves asking the same questions. Who are our customers? What do we know about them? What can we learn about them> What’s our story? And How can we connect with them? So technology has changed the way we do it, changed the tools we use, but the principles of marketing are still very much the same.

Lara: Very interesting. What do you think brands can do to keep up with this innovation in the marketplace?

Benjamin: Brands mustn’t rush to new technologies without applying marketing approaches to the new technology. They should focus more on partnerships with some technology innovators. Historically, it’s been about reproducing capabilities, but things are evolving and moving so quickly now brands will struggle if they try to keep up themselves. What I’m seeing is agencies deciding to focus on the things that they are good at, building brands, creating products and marketing companies.  

Lara: It’s hard enough to keep up with the new technology and platforms as a consumer, let alone a multi-national brand who are advertising on it. Do you think tech startups are doing enough for brand marketers? Do you think that technology is meeting the needs of them at the moment?

Benjamin: It depends on the startup, on the whole startups need to get better at translating the needs of the brands. They are sometimes getting too hung up on product details without understanding the actual business needs. They need to get metter to ensure that product meets has a market fit.

Lara: So what is it that brands are looking for?

Benjamin: They are looking for first access to new technology. But ultimately they are looking to be where the consumers are and connecting with them in a way that is meaningful to the consumer.

Lara:  Do you think brands are being shortsighted in their use of technology?

Benjamin: I don’t think they are being shortsighted, they are just falling slightly short in the execution. Irrespective of whether brands are looking at virtuality reality, augmented reality or the other technologies in the pipeline, brands still need content. We are seeing brands not utilising video properly.

Lara: Thanks for taking the time to speak to us Benjamin.

Benjamin: You are most welcome.

Benjamin’s insight should serve as a reminder for brands not to  rush to new technology without applying the same marketing processes they would to any other traditional medium. Benjamin also identifies that tech startups should become get better at focusing on the problem brands are facing and using technology to solve these. This is something we, at The Sandpit, focus on right from the very beginning. We aim to ensure that startups have a strong product-market fit right from the outset. CBI Insight’s analysis of ‘Why startups fail’ illustrates this point perfectly, with 42% failing because they have no market fit.

Technology is proving itself to be a catalyst for change, as brands, agencies and startups attempt to establish the new normal. One thing is for certain, the old ways of working are no more.  

Lewis Jones

Author Lewis Jones

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