No, you are not proficient with Martech Tools…

Let’s get this out of the way…most people in or outside of the marketing world, associate the wrong definition with the word proficiency. As a result, before we can break down this definition, we first need to make sure we are on the same page as to what we will be focusing on in this post, as it pertains to martech tools.

I don’t want this blog to be centered too much on technical recruiting in the long term but it is also one of the best ways to identify gaps in knowledge (by a company) and as I’ve previously stated, they offer one of the best insights into whether or not a company ‘has a clue.’

Therefore, I often rely on job descriptions as an important guide. One major red flag I often find is when companies dismiss someone’s overall proficiencies, focusing instead on her/his experience with specific martech tools or systems. And this is where I want to focus.

Martech Tools: Certifications vs Proficiencies

First, while I plan to write in-depth about this word, I would be remiss if I didn’t quickly reference here, the non-existent dots companies attempt to make, between martech certifications and proficiencies.

I remain principally against nonsense martech certifications. Being ‘certified’ in Marketo does not make me a good marketer or technologist. Should my work with enterprise-level SaaS be dismissed because I’ve never used a mid-market level system, such as Marketo?

I have been responsible for overseeing the deployment of 700MM emails per year across 17 brands at the same time, created cost-savings, increased email engagement by incredible margins, worked with stakeholders at all levels of management, eliminated waste by reducing the number of disparate systems being used, improved lead acquisition, launched nurture programs, funnels, journeys, I have built programs from the ground up…but dagnabbit, I never worked in Marketo (which again, was too junior of a system to handle my needs).

When we appreciate the definition of proficiencies, we can quickly see that experience with a specific martech tool, simply does not correspond with the word’s definition. My experience with multi-channel marketing equates to a “branch of knowledge.” My experience logging into Marketo, does not. Full stop.

Let’s break this down further –

  • Hubspot tells us that “only 17% of marketers use landing page A/B tests to improve conversion rates”OK. How many of these marketers have 5+ years using Hubspot? What matters more here, a person’s experience with Hubspot or their (actual) proficiency in building and executing strategies that center on improving landing page conversion rates?
  • Over a two-year period, there was a 250%+ growth in mobile searches for “store open near me” (Think with Google, 2019) 

    OK. What got you there, the fact you know how to use Google’s SEO tools or that I am proficient in SEO strategies, execution, and analysis?

  • 39% of smartphone users are more likely to browse or shop a company or brand’s mobile app because it’s easier or faster to make a purchase (this is my favorite one)OK. Was it the developer’s knowledge of Apple’s SDK that empowered users to establish this preference or was it not UI/UX Designers, strategists, copywriters, etc?

The Importance of Practical Experience with Marketing Technology Tools

While there is no doubt that experience with specific marketing technology tools helps in the execution of an initiative it is not even close in importance to practical experience and proficiencies in one’s craft.

I often tell people that if I were a chef, you could put me in any kitchen and within minutes, I’ll find the knives, pots, pans, spices, etc., and will cook you an amazing meal. This is because a chef is not proficient in a specific kitchen and I argue the same is true for potential employees.

“5+ years building complex customer journeys” offers more information to potential employees, gives them more ammunition to prepare for applications and interviews, all of which help you as the recruiting company and the candidate.

A clearly stated requirement of proficiency offers a heck of a lot more value than simply stating “Certification in Marketo required.” It is often an accident of my employers not having used specific marketing technology tools that one lacks experience with it. In my view, experience with a specific martech tool should be a “nice-to-have,” and nothing more.


BONUS COMMENT: Companies. Please stop asking candidates why they want to join your company. The answer is that they need a job. Have more respect for a candidate’s time and ask this on a call once you have decided to interview them.



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