Buying Marketing Technology

We live in a world of increased automation.  Factory production lines which used to employ hundreds are now operated by a handful of individuals.  In my old profession of trading standards I would visit factories operated by less than a dozen people which in times past would be the main employer in a town.  Manufacturing is now a world or robots.

With artificial intelligence developing at an extraordinary pace automation is now occurring in traditional white collar professions; for example, the news feed firms such as Reuters and Associated Press use AI software to write and publish short news stories rather than using a human journalist.

Marketing is no different.  In recent years a plethora of ‘Martech’ has come on the market which looks to automate processes from marketing research to social media content.

For SMEs, the picture is even more complicated as freelance social media management operatives and independent app writers constantly vie for their attention.

So how do you know that the technology or service being offered is good value.  How do you know that you are going to receive an effective automated solution. How do you avoid the panhandler’s, spivs and snake oil salesmen that currently proliferate.

In this month’s Catalyst magazine, a checklist of questions has been published which help managers responsible for the purchase of marketing IT solutions:

  1.  Investment Checklist:
    1. Do you already have the technological capability or necessary data elsewhere in your organisation?  If so, do you need the promoted technology?
    2. How do the end users in your organisation access the technology? Is it in the cloud? Do you need to by a specific brand of computer? Can it be accessed via a tablet or a mobile phone? Are you wholly reliant on a third party to deliver the product?
    3. Is the marketing data used held all in one place, or is it located in silos? How do you ensure that it is held in one place?
    4. What are the integration limitations? How well does the technology sit within your existing marketing processes and procedures? Will it ‘talk’ to your existing technology?
    5. How does the technology ensure compliance with legislative requirements e.g. GDPR?
  2. Vendor Meeting Checklist (i.e. what needs answered by the sales representative offering the Martech):
    1. How does the product meet your organisation’s marketing and business aims and objectives? Does it fit your organisational culture? Does it help achieve your business mission and your corporate vision?
    2. What implementation steps do you need to take to maximise the effectiveness of the Martech?  What issues are likely to occur and does the Martech provider have solutions to those issues?
    3. What do you need to do to manage and maintain the technology? For example, are you reliant on the provider for technical support or can your own staff carry out such maintenance?
    4. What is the product roadmap? Is it regularly updated? Is it still being developed? Do you need to pay for future updates?
    5. How does the product improve your current position? How will it make your marketing processes more efficient? How will it affect your budgeting for marketing?
    6. What system education, services and customer support does the martech provider offer? Are there additional fees for such support?  What are the lead times for such support?
    7. Can the martech provider give examples of existing users/customers?  Do those customers have similar objectives as those of your organisation? Can the representative give examples of the results achieved by existing users, the issues those users experienced and how the solutions to those issues were resolved?
  3. What you shouldn’t ask:
    1. How much does it cost? A better question is how much value the technology delivers to your organisation.
    2. What do your competitors have or do? You are unlikely to get an honest answer to this question.  In any case, do not rely on a ‘Me Too’ attitude, marketing is about doing things differently to your competitors, not imitating them.
    3. Do my competitors do it this way? Don’t limit your options or potential to a narrow field.  Take a broad view of potential opportunities.

The big issue with regard to the use of Martech is expressed in a quote from Sylvia Jensen of the firm Acquia, “(Selecting martech solutions) all comes down to what you want most – convenience or control?”