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Strategy in a Technology World

This paper explores the critical relationship between technology and marketing strategy in my ongoing commitment to providing productive insights to marketers.

The central idea is that confusing or conflating the relationship between technology and marketing strategy is a snare destination marketers should be aware of and avoid.

To highlight and develop this theme, let us consider it from three angles:

1. How technology has changed the marketing world

2. How to understand the implications of technology on marketing, and

3. The role of strategy and its implications for technology

Technology has changed the world. It's changed tourism marketing too.

Technology has a profound impact on our daily lives and business.

From 800 numbers and sophisticated call centers to mobile phones and laptops to tablets of every size, we feel the impact of technology's presence in our daily lives.

In addition to the ubiquitous growth of technology, there has been exponential growth in information and content and the different social media platforms to access them. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Flicker, TripAdvisor, Yelp, Pinterest, and more are just a few examples.

To different degrees, all of us are riding a technology wave that continuously arrives on the shores of our lives with every set of new products, new applications, or updates. One key implication of this wave is confusion – both about the technology itself and the myriad of ways it can be absorbed.

As destination and hospitality marketers, the force of the technology wave can leave us wondering which direction to take.

Technology's Appeal

When you consider digital marketing tools, numerous benefits make them more appealing. These include targeting, relationship building, increased value, and measurability. Consider . . .


Targeting allows you to reach specific segments easily, be they geographical, behavioral, or persona-based. Digital tools allow you to easily target and customize marketing offerings and communications to suit your customers' needs and preferences better.

Relationship Building

Since it is one-to-one, technology can facilitate a far more relational and personal marketing approach. If done wisely, added intimacy and relevance can often mean better customer responses, interactivity levels, and sales.

Greater Value

Another benefit is that digital and mobile marketing tools can be far more cost-effective, allowing you to reach a wider audience for the same investment (or less). Production costs are often lower than traditional advertising and usually don't require the same lead time as print or television buys. This allows for more flexibility and nimbleness, a bonus for those organizations seeking real-time relevancy.


Finally, and dear to the heart of every marketer, digital tools are inherently measurable. Knowing actual results, value and ROI makes assessing program performance a whole lot easier.

Technology certainly has enormous potential benefits for marketing. However, sometimes technology's benefits can shine so bright that they blind us to two potential errors or pitfalls to avoid. First, divorcing technology from strategy, and second, conflating technology into a strategy is a tactic. Let's look closer at each.

Why We Lose Strategy When Thinking Digital

When we gravitate to technology for all the benefits and reasons discussed above without considering the strategy behind the tools, we create a Strategy/Technology Gap. This de-coupling between the two often creates strategic alignment issues. It can also weaken your marketing efforts. Additionally, with new technology offerings or versions appearing almost daily, it can increase confusion and cloud decision-making.

Another defective view of technology's relationship to strategy is to conflate a particular technology, which is a tactic, and think of it as a strategy.