Taming the Marketing Industrial Complex
Marketing technology is amazing.
It has transformed the world of B2B business like maybe nothing else in the last decade. But it is a business; the Marketing Industrial Complex is made up of literally thousands of companies, vendors, apps and databases that are actively making the case to businesses like yours that you have to have their tool.
The problem is that you can only do so much. You need to find a way to choose the right technology for your business without becoming overwhelmed.
Here are a few tips to help you do just that.
Technology is a means to an end.
You need to first get grounded in your company's purpose, what you're trying to accomplish,
who you're targeting and who you can help. You need to know your team - how mature are they from a marketing standpoint? How much are you investing in marketing on an annual basis in time and money and people?
These things are important things to be clear on before you have
any conversations about what technology can do for your business.
Once you're grounded on what you're
trying to accomplish, you're still not ready for tactics.
While technology can part of a strategy, at the end of the day, technology is a tactic.
So before you get to technology choices, you need to understand how marketing can and can't help your business achieve its goals.
I like to do that by looking at the customer journey - the experience your customers are going through - from the very beginning to the very end. Look at each stage and determine what you need your customers to experience and what marketing's role could be.
That will also help you identify your biggest marketing priorities. You'll see the biggest gaps; at what point do you need to invest to improve?
Choose your technology
Armed with that understanding of your business and what you need marketing to do for your business, you're now ready to look at your technology options and make some choices.
Considering technology options last means you will be better equipped to judge the right technology. You can create requirements for what you need to do and to understand how the different pieces of technology fit together.
But it's still very easy to get overwhelmed because a lot of the technology is free or
has a very low entry point. You can get invested in a new tool with almost no effort at all.
MVP: Minimum viable programs
Be careful not to get committed to too many things.
A tool I've used that's been helpful borrows from Agile terminology: Create minimum viable programs with your new technology.
When you want to adopt a new technology platform, start with the least it can do.
Start with a basic "unplugged" approach; a pilot, if you will. You may need to use some spreadsheets to simulate steps or do some things manually that you would normally automate.
Why? A product demo or a spec sheet can only take you so far. There's nothing better than actually trying things out in your environment to know how it really works. It keeps your risk low, protects you from being overwhelmed by evaluations and setups that may not work out for you.
Iterate and learn, adapt and grow over time.
You can add scale later. The great thing about marketing technology is that it tends to scale efficiently and easily.
The right technology can give you a sustainable competitive advantage. The wrong technology can just get in your way.
Despite what your vendors may be telling you, you have
the power to choose the best technology for your business. You don't have to do it just like everybody else.
As a matter of fact, being uniquely thoughtful about the technology you employ could give you a competitive advantage.