MarTech (marketing technology) is changing marketing initiatives dramatically. Marketers are accelerating automated one-to-one marketing initiatives by leveraging MarTech. They personalize not only the content but also the communication timing, frequency and channel.

Following is the picture of modern marketers shown by David Raab, Principal of Raab & Associates, at MarTech 2015, a two-day Marketing Tech Conference held on March 31 and April 1 in San Francisco:

Modern marketers deliver personalized messages in owned media, tracking each customer’s journey and reflecting advanced attribution. To do that, they utilize data about identifiable individuals and advanced association techniques.

And they deliver personalized messages across all media with AI (Artificial Intelligence) based bidding, message selection and content generation technologies. To do that, they utilize external pools of aggregated data tied to individuals and things.

Evolution towards highly one-to-one oriented marketing impacts the commercial printing business. It offers commercial printers huge business opportunities, but at the same time, provides tough challenges. In this short report, I will identify some of the opportunities and challenges for commercial printers in this new environment.

What is MarTech? 

Before identifying those opportunities and challenges, let’s look at the definition of MarTech. According to Joseph Kurian, Head of Marketing Technology & Innovation at Aetna, “Marketing Technology integrates the two worlds of Technology and Marketing to empower today’s Digital Marketers to achieve their business goals.” 

From the product point of view, IDC categorizes marketing software into following four: 

  1. Interaction Systems — the majority of customer-facing marketing software advertising, digital commerce, marketing automation, web experience management, mobile apps, social media tools, etc.
  2. Content Production and Management — internal authoring and publishing tools, CMS platforms, DAM platforms, etc.
  3. Data and Analytics — storing data and producing insights from it, such as business intelligence, predictive analytics, financial analysis, and broader marketing analytics.
  4. Management and Administration — internal communications tools, workflows, budgeting, expense tracking, MRM, project management, collaboration tools, etc.

Among these, “the hottest standalone category to date has been marketing automation, which has become a ‘must have’ solution for B2B CMOs,” Ajay Agarwal, a managing director at Bain Capital Ventures, wrote. For details about the players in the marketing automation market as of Q1 2015, please read the Alp Mimaroglu blog.

Why MarTech?

Scott Brinker, Program Chair of MarTech 2015, says, “Marketing today isn’t about getting buyers to picture your narrative. It’s about getting them to experience it.” MarTech strongly affects the experiences of buyers, who are your customers’ customers. That’s why it’s important for commercial printers to focus on it.

Another reason is that MarTech can generate business, that is, money. Thanks to MarTech, marketing departments are now regarded as not the cost center but the profit center. This means you as commercial printers can also generate more business with it, as well as contribute to your customers’ revenue growth.

These benefits are driving very fast growth in the MarTech market. IDC estimated the marketing software market size as $20.2 billion in 2014, and expects that it will have a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 12.4% for the next five years, resulting in a $32.4 billion market by 2018. The rapid increase of the number of MarTech vendors also tells us about attractiveness of the market:

  • Circa 100 (August 2011)
  • Circa 350 (September 2012)
  • 947 (January 2014)
  • 1,876 (January 2015)

These players, mainly hi-tech start-up companies, take MarTech to an exciing new level. For example, a predictive feature with machine learning/ AI was one of the hot topics at MarTech 2015. So tech-savvy people are also paying significant attention to this market.

Opportunities and Challenges for Commercial Printers

So far, I have discussed how MarTech is changing the marketing space. Now, let’s identify opportunities and challenges for commercial printers created by MarTech:


You as commercial printers can generate additional business:

  • With technologies like marketing automation, lead generation/scoring, content generation, etc.
  • By generating more revenues for your business, you can develop expertise on MarTech that can then put you in a good position to sell these services to your customers, with your company as the first proof source.

You can contribute to generating increased revenues for your customers.

You can strengthen your partnership with your customers.

You can integrate print with digital media.

You can translate your expertise on personalization to non-print media.

You can evolve your business model from order-based to long-term contract-based.

You can build a thriving non-print-centric business. 


Align your services with customers’ strategies and business goals. Saad Hameed, Head of Marketing Technology at LinkedIn, emphasizes “strategy and plan before tactics.” As we all know, technology is not strategy.

Be familiar with modern marketing concepts, such as Customer Experience (CX), Customer Journey, Engagement, Advocacy, Agile, etc. You must gain a better understanding of modern marketing if you want to maximize benefits from MarTech.

Brush up your personalization skills. You need to develop expertise in personalization of not only contents, but also contact timing, frequency and channel.

Develop expertise on non-print media personalization that integrates with print.

Equip your organizations for digital success. To fully utilize Martech, you need to have an agile printing service platforms as well as people, skill sets, allainces, etc.

Build a thriving non-print-centric business by transforming to new business models.

It is not necessarily easy for many commercial printers to overcome these challenges and fully utilize MarTech. You, however, do need to start tackling them as soon as possible, because this is the place your customers are heading, and you can find huge opportunities there. It’s springtime, and it’s good timing to start new ambitious initiatives for your bright future!