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What We Learned from the 2018 MarTech Stackie Awards

Scott Brinker speaking on stage at Martech conference

As martech continues to explode, our team decided to enter the 2018 MarTech Conference Stackie Awards on behalf of our own agency as well as some of our clients. The premise is pretty simple—illustrate your own marketing technology stack in a fun, informative way. We couldn’t wait to get started.

We paired up some of our digital marketers with designers and began brainstorming the best way to depict our marketing technology stacks. It was more challenging than we thought. On one hand, martech can be used for a ton of different marketing areas—so we first had to figure out the best way to categorize, group, and define the technologies so that they made sense to the viewer. On the other hand, not only did the final product need to make sense, it also had to capture the brand it was representing.

So, without further ado, here’s a look at our final award-winning Stackies, and what we learned about marketing technology throughout the process.

MarTech Stackie Award Winner: Element Three

E3 martech stackie

Caption: Created by Marketing Manager Aaron Harrison and Art Director Kevin Spahn.

"They didn’t win for their clever movie titles. They won because they introduced a novel insight into their marketing stack illustration that shows the amount of time they spend in each tool. From a small amount of time (a ticket) up to a lot of time (a big tub of popcorn), they’re giving us a sense of how their team operationally uses these different tools. That’s an interesting view into a marketing stack, and it’s an exercise that others may want to follow as they thinking about investing in staff training and tool-specific process optimization."

Scott Brinker, Editor of Chief Marketing Technologist.

1. What was the biggest challenge you faced when illustrating your martech stack?

Aaron: Given the fact that our martech stack, like most martech stacks, has developed over time, it was helpful to go through the process of categorizing the products we use. But categorizing products that serve multiple roles can be a challenge because it forces you to silo products that, in your day-to-day operations, aren’t actually siloed.

Kevin: We knew what some of the Stackies in the past looked like, so coming at it from a unique viewpoint to create something memorable that would stand out was probably the biggest challenge I faced.

2. What approach did you take to categorize your stack?

Aaron: Once I was able to get all of our martech products listed in one place, it didn’t take that long to organize them into relevant categories. The greater burden was then understanding how to translate these categories in a way that was visually interesting. I settled on a dorling map, which showcases not only categories of units but their relative size in comparison to one another.

3. How did you bring the brand into your unique Stackie?

Kevin: Aaron had the idea that all of the categories should be movie puns. Then we collaborated with Dustin to start thinking about movie theater snacks (or, “snackies”). From there I wanted to pick snacks that would be:

  1. Varying sizes,
  2. That I could place a logo on their packaging, and
  3. Would still be recognizable enough as that snack.

Overall, I think I brought a little tongue-in-cheek creative swagger (one of our core values at E3).

MarTech Stackie Award Honorable Mention: Airstream

airstream martech stackie

Caption: Created by Digital Marketing Manager Tim Morse and Art Director Bob Ewing.

1. What was the biggest challenge you faced when illustrating your martech stack?

Tim: The biggest challenge was understanding the best way to incorporate all of the marketing technologies that Airstream uses without overcomplicating it, especially working to make it digestible.

Bob: The biggest challenge was conveying a holistic view of the martech stack that included all of the logos and had a design and theme that tied into the Airstream culture.

2. What approach did you take to categorize your stack?

Tim: We listed the majority of known software that is part of Airstream’s business while also consulting Airstream staff about technology that they may use in-house. After creating a list of the different platforms, we categorized them all and identified where they’re primarily used in marketing for Airstream’s business.

3. How did you bring the brand into your unique Stackie?

Bob: By going with the vintage map theme, I was able to bring in the nostalgic feeling of traveling and the history of Airstream. By making each category of the stack its own destination or city on the map, I was able to group all the logos in small, digestible chunks.

MarTech Stackie Award Honorable Mention: Thor Industries

thor martech stackie

Caption: Created by Senior Digital Marketing Manager Betsy Koliba and Art Director Andrew Griswold (aka, Gris).

1. What was the biggest challenge you faced when illustrating your martech stack?

Betsy: Well, I am not much of a designer, so I think for me it was just thinking through the way I would categorize the stack and just trying put it together for Gris to have the creative freedom to take it to the next level.

Gris: Finding a way to organize the assets in a fun and interesting way that illustrated both the categories in which we use our programs and software along with the order in which we use them was the hardest thing for me.

2. What approach did you take to categorize your stack?

Betsy: I thought through our marketing strategic process and the order in which we typically use the software for our clients and their projects.

3. How did you bring the brand into your unique Stackie?

Gris: Having spent a few years with clients such as Thor, I found a fun way to bring that outdoor lifestyle feel to this design in the stars. I can envision myself setting up camp for the night under the stars and this felt like it set the scene in a fun and interesting way.

MarTech Stackie Award Submission: Bitdefender

Bitdefender martech stackie

Caption: Created by Digital Marketing Director Dustin Clark and Designer Fred Learey.

1. What was the biggest challenge you faced when illustrating your martech stack?

Dustin: The common theme among each Stackie we developed was, “Ooh! I thought of another one!” Whether in our initial brainstorming around the opportunity to participate in the 2018 Stackies, or in our “first cracks” around initial drafts at technologies and categorization, or up through sharing the Stackies with clients to get feedback, we were constantly uncovering new technologies to add into the marketing stack.

2. What approach did you take to categorize your stack?

Dustin: I think the digital team approached things from very unique perspectives, solving things according to the cadence of their client communications and relationships. The end categorizations are very reflective of the way the individual digital strategists think and interact with their like-minded counterparts at their clients’ organizations; likewise, the designs are very reflective of the creativity and spirit of the brands that each designer works with.

3. How did you bring the brand into your unique Stackie?

Fred: I tried to symbolize our strategy and digital phases that bring every campaign to life while also infusing Bitdefender’s brand essence by creating a visual metaphor of a customer’s journey.

Stacks on Stacks on Stacks

In the end, bringing our marketing technology stacks to life required us to stop and think about all the different products we’re using. It was also pretty cool to see how each stack compared to another, and how we use them to get results for clients of different sizes across different industries.

If you’re looking for more Stackies, check out all the submissions on Brinker's Chief Marketing Technologist Blog. And if you’re looking to purchase more martech (aren’t we all?), check out our Marketing Technology Purchasing Guide.

Get the Marketing Technology Purchasing Guide