One Marketing Nation, Under Adobe

April 10, 2019 Tom Grubb

A couple weeks ago the Marketo faithful made their annual pilgrimage to Las Vegas for the Adobe Summit. This year was a new experience for Marketo customers, partners and employees compared with Marketing Nation Summits of past years because Marketo is now an Adobe company. Instead of the usual four-day event dedicated to all-things-Marketo, this year Marketo is integrated into Adobe's summit. This marked a significant change for the Marketing Nation in the post-acquisition era under Adobe – an era still in its infancy. 

No alt text provided for this imageI remember in 2012 when Marketo announced Marketing Nation, a new kind of sovereignty with “access to a powerful network of ideas, experts, and integrated solutions.” The idea played to their customer’s inherent desire to connect, and provided a framework to be in community with one another. What will become of Marketing Nation now that Adobe red is the new purple? This is just one of many questions I hear these days from Marketo customers and fellow partners since the Adobe acquisition was announced.

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I didn't know what Adobe had in store, but one thing was certain: as long as there are Marketo users who strive to do great things with the platform – they’ll continue to be a highly engaged collective by any name or no name. It takes people to invent great technology products, and it takes people to make technologies deliver results. My work as a consultant at Digital Pi keeps me grounded in this simple truth because the job centers on people – the technology is just a means to an end. Marketers understand that it's wishful thinking to believe there’s ever an end to the demands placed on them. There are always more leads to generate, data to cleanse, analytics to discern, campaigns to launch, and technologies to learn. Marketing is not for the faint of heart. 

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When they launched Marketing Nation six years ago, Marketo used three deceptively simple, but powerful words as the lead into the announcement: marketing is hard. Marketo said what everybody in marketing already knew – but the fact that they said it to the world meant something bigger. It had a unifying effect that brought a sense of purpose to being a community of customers. Marketing Nation wasn’t just an abstract idea to users – it was something real and very necessary to help them succeed with the Marketo Engagement Platform knowing that it requires experts to get it right. A few years ago, Marketo's tagline was Easy. Powerful. Complete. That’s how Marketo positioned its marketing automation platform when Eloqua, Hubspot, Pardot and Act-On were stand-alone companies competing for market share. At the time as Marketo's VP of product marketing I remember thinking sure, the product lived up to “powerful” and “complete,” but I don’t think I ever heard anyone describe Marketo as “easy.”

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In fact, it is because Marketo is so powerful and complete that it’s not easy. No one person could possibly know everything there is to know about Marketo to solve any and all digital marketing challenges on the planet. It's adaptability is a huge strength, but also presents challenges to customers who must climb a steep learning curve to get it right. I think of Marketo more as a developer platform for marketers. Depending what you need to do, you may need experience in data management, queries, creative design, APIs, systems integration, or data analytics. You may encounter a dozen or more SaaS applications connected to your Marketo – possibly some even bigger and more complex than Marketo. You might need to implement tools and processes to support hundreds of Marketo users around the world launching dozens – even hundreds of campaigns a week. Then there’s mastering revenue attribution reporting which by itself could qualify for a lifetime achievement award. You may need to troubleshoot system-level problems like API overconsumption, or system queues backing up. On the soft-skill side, you’ll need good communication skills, agility to shift priorities on a dime, and the ability to stay cool under fire should marketing get tossed under the bus. And you’ll need to be relentless in your daily pursuit of managing your time and setting priorities because there’s a perpetual list of people, process, technology, and data stuff that will fight for your attention 24 x 7. And that’s just for starters.

The point is, Marketo experts don’t get to be good at Marketo by reading manuals. It takes years of real-world experience to get really good at it – and the more diverse the experience the better.

Moreover, you still need specialized expertise now and then. At Digital Pi we have specialized teams of experts dedicated to going deep on asset design and technology integrations among others. 
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Volkswagen’s 1960's ad make the case that if you buy a VW bug, you’re buying something more than a car – as a VW owner you’ll get high quality service for your car when you need it. VW was telling buyers that they invest in their mechanics to make them exceptional, but even with the best training it still required three years of real-world experience for a “raw recruit to evolve into a bona fide Volkswagen mechanic.”

I think the Marketo Engagement Platform is like that. It takes years of real-world experience using Marketo in many situations to become a bona fide expert. That means always trying new ideas, and yes– making mistakes now and then. Learning to operate Marketo is one thing, solving business problems with it in production is entirely another. I feel lucky to work with some of the best martech minds in the business at Digital Pi, and equally as fortunate to work with Marketo users who relentlessly pursue the seemingly impossible every day.

To see the latest updates on Digital Pi's week at the Adobe Summit, check out these blogs and read; The Adobe Summit 2019 Recap. Also, go ahead and peep the pics from our killer event we cohosted; The TopGolf Event

For more thoughts on the Adobe/Marketo acquisition, read Dear Marketo Customers: Mind the Marketo Talent Gap, and Marketo is Dead, Long Live Marketo!

About the Author

Tom Grubb

Tom Grubb is Chief Strategy Officer for Digital Pi, a leading Marketo Services Partner helping companies get the most value from their investment in marketing technology. Tom has over 20 years of marketing executive leadership including VP Product Marketing at Marketo. He has held marketing leadership positions at start-ups, mid-size and enterprise companies including Intuit, CA Technologies, ThreatMetrix (acquired by RELX), and co-founder of Bluecurve (acquired by Red Hat).

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