I have a hard truth that needs telling: marketing technology is not marketing strategy.
Which is to say that no marketing technology solution or stack is going to magically solve all your problems on its own.
I say this because all too often, we see organizations that purchase a shiny new tool or platform with high expectations, only to be disappointed when the results listed on all of the case studies and promised by the sales reps don’t start flooding in once the contract is signed.
Previously, we’ve written about common reasons why the marketing technology you’ve purchased doesn’t get used (for an even more in-depth discussion, check out Tiffany’s MarTech Zone interview on the subject). Today, I want to switch gears and focus on ensuring the marketing technology you purchase not only gets used, but produces results.
More specifically, I want to talk about the most important factor in ensuring successful martech implementation: buying for the right reasons in the first place.
Buying for the Wrong Reasons
The following are a list of common reasons why companies purchase marketing technology. All of them are terrible.
- “All of our competitors have it.”
- “I had it at my last company.”
- “I read a Fast Company article that said buying it was a good idea.”
- “I know the founders of the company, and they’re really great people.”
- “It looks really cool in the product demo video on the website.”
None of these drivers tie back to the needs of your organization, your employees, or your customers. And while I’m sure there are 20 sales reps hungry to help bridge the gap for you, there is a much better way to determine if and when it’s worth it to invest the time and effort required to vet, purchase, implement, integrate, and utilize a new marketing technology solution.
What Should Drive Martech Purchasing
At the end of the day, there are two factors that should drive your marketing technology purchasing decisions:
- Your business’s objectives
- Your customer experience
It doesn’t matter how shiny or interesting a new tool or platform seems, if it does not align with these two priorities, you need to ignore it or get rid of it as soon as possible.
How to Align Your Technology with Your Business Objectives in Three Steps
Since customer experience is such a critical focus of the modern marketing organization, I will break that out into a post on its own. For now, let’s focus on how to align your technology with your business objectives.
I understand that successfully pulling this off is much easier said than done. Even if you have clearly defined business objectives, how do you know when marketing technology should be part of the solution in order to help you achieve them?
Step 1: Determine if the business objective in question pertains to marketing, sales, or customer experience
I include more than just marketing, because the trends demonstrate that marketing departments are becoming more and more responsible for functions that traditionally fall outside the realm of marketing. So while a CRM may be traditionally considered a sales or customer service platform, the reality is that it’s a critical part of marketing’s infrastructure that marketing should have a say (if not the say) in purchasing and managing.
There are millions of applicable business objectives. Here are four:
- “We want to save two hours a day by automating X process.”
- “We need to increase sales-qualified leads by 10% this year.”
- “We need to grow our marketing contact database by 25%.”
- “Having insight into the ROI of our marketing campaigns will help us better understand where to place our time and effort and future hiring needs.”
Step 2: Assume there is at least one category of martech solutions that could help you achieve that objective. Research what it is.
While this may be one of the most controversial recommendations we’ve made, it also may be one of the most important.
E3 friend Scott Brinker coined the term Martec’s Law in 2013 to refer to the discrepancy between the pace at which organizations change compared to the pace at which technology changes. “Technology changes exponentially, organizations change logarithmically.”
Because of this principle of rapid technological innovation, it’s fair to say that it’s virtually impossible for any person, team, or organization to keep abreast of the full scope of marketing technology solutions on the market.
So how can you know whether or not there is at least one category of marketing technology on the market to help you meet your business objectives? Simple: assume that there is one, and then go hunt for it.
It’s important to note that just because there is technology available on the market to help you meet a specific business objective, it clearly doesn’t mean that purchasing said technology is always the right option. There are definitely times when technology can be an unnecessary expenditure (complete with its own set of challenges and complications).
But assuming that, on the whole, martech is able to streamline processes and expand capabilities, it’s almost always worth the time to spend 4-8 hours to see if there’s a category or categories of martech solutions that can help you reach your objectives faster and for less money. Knowing truly is half the battle.
Step 3: Choose the product that best fulfills your business need, integrates with the rest of your technology stack, and is within your budget
If you’ve made it past Step 2 and believe that it’s likely a marketing technology investment will help you achieve your business objective more efficiently and effectively, it’s time to determine the particular solution or solutions within the category that will be the best fit for your team.
Stated succinctly, there are several factors that determine which particular solution within in a category is right for your organization. So to simplify this process, we’ve put together a Marketing Technology Purchasing Checklist, which covers everything from researching products to what to watch for during the sales process. Click on the link or the button below and you’ll be taken immediately to it (no form fill required).
Why Strategy Eats Technology’s Lunch
If you remember anything from this article, remember my opening point: marketing technology is not marketing strategy.
No matter how critical a martech tool or platform is to marketing success (and there are certainly technologies out there that should be foundational elements within every modern marketing department), these resources will not solve anything for you on their own. Do not make the mistake of buying a shiny new toy and expecting all of your problems to vanish immediately. They won’t.
Just as it is up to you and your team to help your organization meet its objectives, it is also up to your team to determine whether or not technology can help get you to the finish line faster, and then to develop the strategy for purchasing, implementing, and maintaining that technology so that it does.
Get your marketing strategy (and measurement) right, and everything else will follow.
A curious, wondering soul, Aaron channels his love for adventure and change through his approach to modern marketing. As the Enterprise Demand Generation Manager at MedBridge, Aaron works to catalyze growth and create opportunities through a variety of digital marketing channels.
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