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Preparing for the Age of Marketing Technology
The world is in transition and we’re seeing wide-sweeping changes that promise to make the next few years a challenge for Marketing to overcome. That includes:
- A macro-economic climate pushing marketing teams to work with less
- A need to serve more markets as brands seek out the growing global middle class
- Growing online audiences and new media types and channels, including virtual and augmented reality
Part of the solution, of course, is technology. You need tech to create and distribute content efficiently, including at person-level marketing. You need tech to plan, brief, execute, and localize global campaigns You need tech to keep every single image on every single post across all your social media accounts on-brand without placing an undue drain on resources. And you need tech to be ready to change direction when necessary — if the ship has sailed on a campaign, you should be able to steer the whole department in a new direction (if necessary) once you’re able to analyze preliminary results.
It wasn’t such a problem a few years ago; to reach a specific audience of millions, you could be set with some Excel sheets, an agency-produced TV ad, and some Nielsen research to pinpoint the best TV shows to advertise on. But brands are catching on that new tools are necessary to grow your brand. GE, for example, is exploring how to push content out to new social channels to bring social out of a silo.
We know the importance of technology intuitively, and we’re ready to invest. Marketing technology spend will reach $120 billion in 2025, or 10% of its budget, according to Foundation Capital. The problem, however, is that marketing technology purchases themselves are a complex endeavor. Going from “identifying needs” to actually purchasing technology can take 12 months, according to LinkedIn — so you’re waiting for a year to actually equip your team to meet the challenges of modern marketing.
Streamlining this process means resolving two large issues:
It’s Hard to Find What You Need
You might have heard of psychology professor Barry Schwartz’s book, The Paradox of Choice. Its thesis is that while more options sounds great, too much choice actually hinders decision making.
And the marketing technology industry might feel like nothing but choice. There’s a good chance ChiefMarTech’s marketing technology landscape image has shown up in an e-mail or on your Twitter feed at some point. Here’s the latest version, just in case it hasn’t (Update: ChiefMarTech has released a 2016 version):
You’ll find plenty of options even when you drill down into more specific categories — social media marketing, content marketing, asset management, and more.
It’s a scene that has received more and more venture capital in recent years. You might see a hot take or two out there that the field is ripe for consolidation, but the shakeout isn’t imminent. In answering why he hadn’t yet released a 2016 version of the above graphic, Scott Brinker wrote earlier this year that he “underestimated the number of marketing technology companies out there today…suffice to say, the industry has not shrunk.”
So when faced with a multitude of choice, you’ll have a hard time pinning down exactly what’ll fit your needs; how to decide what features or capabilities are must-have versus nice-to-have versus wholly unnecessary, and how to decide whether you’re investigating a vendor that will help with implementation and ongoing success.
It’s Hard to Get Others to Agree On What You Need
Let’s say you’ve gotten past the first hurdle by selecting a marketing technology product and vendor your team is excited about. The next challenge: convincing stakeholders outside your department to see things your way.
An average group of 5.4 people are making B2B buying decisions, according to advisory firm CEB. When six people are deciding on a purchase, your chance of actually making a purchase goes down to about 30%.
To be sure, the seller of your chosen system carries the ultimate burden of, well, selling to the stakeholders in your organization. But the reality is they need the help of internal champions to understand the concerns of critical stakeholders who need to weigh in and to bring everyone together.
Generally, you’ll almost always have to get colleagues from these three functions on your side:
IT. Naturally, IT has an interest in your tech purchase. The function is evolving, and they aspire to be your advisors, but they do have some concerns more unique to the department. This includes whether a new marketing technology will open up any new information security weaknesses and whether it will coexist peacefully with other systems in place (or whether those can be replaced).
Procurement and Finance. These groups are in charge of signing off on tech expenditures. They want to treat your purchase as an investment — that means they want to get as much value for the company compared to the amount spent.
Legal. When it comes to making a purchase, Legal is usually the last function to engage because they have to review the contract before it’s signed. Their opposition to a purchase is more likely to stem less from a particular feature preference than for issues like indemnity insurance that the agreement would address. And unfortunately, if the team is overworked, legal review and negotiations can take a while. But a product that helps them control the legal risk of marketing in the long run might jump to the front of the line if they’re excited about it.
If you’re a marketer, you and your seller need to work out a strategy for convening these key players, addressing their needs, and accelerating the process. Fortunately, we have resources to help you do that — four, to be exact:
- The Marketer’s Guide to Buying Digital Asset Management
- The Marketer’s Guide to Buying Social Relationship Platforms
- The Marketer’s Guide to Buying Content Marketing Platforms
- The Marketer’s Guide to Buying Campaign Management Software
Each of these guides contains a clear description of what the best-in-class software in each category should offer marketers, in addition to a questions to address to start getting cross-functional consensus on your selected tool. Work through them with your seller to start bringing clarity and simplicity to your purchase; you aren’t alone as you navigate the tech buying journey.