Canceling the MarTech Conference scheduled for next month and sharing our updated plans ahead

Martech in the Basement

Hey, I hope you’re doing okay. A crazy and surreal time we’re in.

The photo above is my new “office” in the basement of my house. Yeah, I’ve got a green screen set up. I’d like to claim it’s to support seamless virtual backgrounds in the continuous stream of video meetings that now occupy my day.

Behind the Martech Green Screen

But truthfully, it’s mostly just to hide the massive piles of clutter that our basement gravitationally accumulates.

My wife bumped me out of our home office that’s above ground, with a nicer view and fewer heaps of random stuff, to make it her new work-from-home command center. My daughter, whose school is closed for at least a couple more weeks, has taken over the rest of the house. It’s not a big house.

So the basement has become my refuge.

I’m not complaining though. I’m thankful that we’ve been able to adapt to working from home with relative ease. So many people are in worse circumstances, with family members who’ve fallen ill, parents struggling with childcare, people with jobs who can’t work remotely — or even work at all, as the businesses they worked at have been forced to close.

This is going to be a hard few weeks, probably a hard few months, for a lot of people.

But I take heart in the many examples of human kindness and heroism shining through, from neighbors helping each other (albeit with social distancing), to businesses doing as much as they can for their employees and customers — and most of all to the front-line health care professionals battling this pandemic.

In the big picture, we’re all in this together. I think we appreciate that more than ever.

MarTech in San Jose Next Month is Canceled (Obviously)

You might say I totally buried the lede on this update with the first nine paragraphs of this post. But, no. An update on a marketing technology conference right now should be kept in perspective.

The MarTech conference that was scheduled for April 15-17 is officially canceled.

No surprise, I’m sure.

I apologize that we weren’t able to announce this sooner. Through last week, several of our service providers in San Jose were still claiming that, since the ban on group gatherings issued by the Santa Clara County Health Department — and then by the governor of California — wasn’t guaranteed to still be in effect on April 15, we contractually had to proceed with them.

“Seriously?” might be the question that pops into your head. It certainly popped into mine. Personally, I didn’t see how you could have had a clearer “act of god” without stone tablets.

But to be fair, these past couple of weeks have been insane for everyone in travel, tourism, and events-related industries. It’s taken time to reach the right decision-makers and work through options. The producers of MarTech, Third Door Media, poured all their energy into reaching reasonable resolutions with those stakeholders as quickly as possible.

So thank you for your patience with us in making the official call.

So What’s Next for MarTech?

We’re setting our sights on MarTech East in Boston, October 6-8.

Everyone who purchased a ticket to the San Jose event can transfer it to Boston or our San Jose event next spring. The Third Door Media team is working with sponsors and exhibitors to get them moved over. And I’ll be working with speakers over the next couple of months to line up the program for Boston.

Man, we had such an incredible line-up of speakers on board for San Jose. I want to thank all of them for being willing to share their experiences with our community. I was so looking forward to their talks next month. But I hope that many will be able to join us in the fall or next spring.

We’re optimistic that life will be getting back to normal by then, and that with pragmatic safety measures in place, people will be ready to engage with their peers again in person.

I’m an introvert — ironic, I know — yet after only a week of social distancing, I’m already craving interaction with people beyond the window of my laptop.

It’s also clear that the marketing profession is going to need to adapt swiftly to a different environment than we had just a month ago. There were plenty of challenges and disruptive innovations headed our way before this pandemic. Now, we’re also going to have to navigate broader issues with the economy and impacts on buyer behavior.

5 Forces of Marketing Technology & Operations

I’ve always believed that managing change and uncertainty is one of the central responsibilities of marketing technology and operations leaders. Admittedly, the kinds of changes I was anticipating were more modest in nature — embracing new channels, integrating new technologies, reengineering processes and workflows, etc.

The past couple of weeks have been a humbling recognition of what real disruption looks like.

But the fundamental mission remains the same: building operational agility into our marketing and customer experience capabilities and infrastructure. It’s a competitive advantage in good times. It’s a necessity for survival in bad ones.

This is still a new field, and one that we must learn from experience — our own experience, but also the experience of others. I am confident that the martech professional community will rally, and together we will do our part to help businesses come through stronger on the other side of this.

I really hope we’ll have the chance to do that in person in Boston this fall.

Discover MarTech Virtual Event April 21-23

In the meantime, we are going to run a virtual event next month to keep the learning flowing. We’ll do a three-hour program, three days in a row, April 21-23, that you can attend for free online.

If you can’t make those exact days and times, we’ll have a recorded version available on-demand afterwards. But if you can join “live,” that might help us share a little more of a connection across the wire. (Weird, but true?)

I’ll kick off the first two days with a two-part keynote, 30 minutes each day, that will cover some of the big martech industry projects we already had in flight as well as perspective on how marketing and martech are likely to change in the months ahead, given current events:

  • An update on the martech landscape, year-over-year trends — and what happens now
  • Insights from our Martech Career Study and the four kinds of marketing technologists
  • A walk through of several great marketing stacks submitted to The Stackies Awards
  • Managing change and uncertainty in marketing — in a changing and uncertain world

Each day will then continue with a series of short sessions from our title and presenting sponsors who were originally going to share those solutions with everyone in San Jose. This is a great opportunity to come up to speed on a range of state-of-the-art marketing technologies out there. I guarantee you’ll learn a ton about what’s possible that will surprise and delight you.

Tony Byrne of Real Story Group will start the third day with a presentation on a disciplined approach to evaluating and selecting marketing technologies. And then I’ll wrap up at the end of that third day with a few closing ideas about the road ahead.

Extending The Stackies 2020: Marketing Tech Stack Awards

One more thing. Last Friday was the original deadline for entries to The Stackies, our annual awards program where we invite marketers to send in a 16×9 slide of how they conceptualize their marketing stack. (Details here.)

30 companies — and one government agency — submitted entries, and wow, many of them are superb.

Others, however, got derailed by the escalating situation with the pandemic. A number of marketers reached out to me to ask for an extension under these circumstances. Given what everyone’s dealing with right now, the only reasonable answer is, “Of course, you can send it in later.”

In fact, since we’re not going to be able to host the awards ceremony at MarTech in San Jose now anyway, we’ve decided that we’ll move that ceremony to the Boston event in the fall.

Therefore, we’ve decided to dramatically extend the deadline for entries to September 18, 2020. So if you were thinking about entering, but didn’t have an entry in progress, you now have a second chance.

The entry form is here.

The MarTech Stackies Updated

Out of respect for the 31 entrants who did send in their stacks by the original deadline, however, we’re going to double the number of awards given this year, from five to ten. The first five will go only to entries from this original group. The next five will be awarded to entries from across the entire submission pool.

In the meantime, we’ll be sharing many of the ones we’ve received with readers, along with interviews with several of the people who created those stacks.

Be Well and Keep Your Spirits Up

I’ll close the way I opened: hoping that you’re hanging in and stay well through these next few weeks.

If there’s a broader lesson I’ve learned through my career in marketing and technology, it’s that we are an innovative and resilient band of creative professionals. As we navigate through this immediate crisis and come out on the other side, there will be ample opportunities to apply our energy and talent toward helping our respective customers, communities, and businesses move forward.

Keep your spirits up.

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