I remember my mother once grimaced and said, “I can tell you exactly when it’s going to rain this summer. It’s when your Father plans his two week vacation.”
Despite my mother’s assertion, the weather, along with maybe a stomach flu and a new baby are some of the most difficult things to plan for.
Another tough one for marketing? Planning for changes in the martech space.
At Inverta, we get asked by clients and partners about planning for change in the martech space. These changes can be tectonic – mergers, acquisitions, category creation, or they can be less obvious – the addition or subtraction of functionality, rebranding and the like.
It’s only natural to want to know all the information about a product before investing in it, but our need for peace of mind and the volatility of the martech market are diametrically opposed.
How do you create a plan for an area that’s notoriously difficult to predict?
The answer should be your resolution for 2020: Focus on the needs of your company today. Ignore every other bell, whistle, or shiny object. Because there is no such thing as the best tool or technology categorically, there is only the best tool for your business.
After all, in marketing it’s best to focus on your customer. When thinking about technology investments, it’s best to focus on your business: specifically on the areas where technology or tools can solve an existing or impending problem or fulfill a need. That’s all. Full stop.
No more, “we should be doing this” or “we should be using that.” No, you shouldn’t. Not if you’re not feeling the need or suffering a consequence of abstaining.
If you are looking to make an investment to fulfill a current gap, it’s wise to take into account a couple attributes about your current situation:
Budget: This might seem like a soft ball, but consider whether or not your tech stack is making you “house poor,” so to speak. The degree to which you can afford the technology you invest in will help you better understand its (realistic) value to your business.
- Consider tools with month-to-month or quarterly terms as opposed to 12 month contracts or a per-record model if your database is small
Team Size and Maturity: I’m looking at you: 20-gear mountain bike with hydraulic suspension that I never ride because I’m not good at mountain biking …
- A tech investment is only as good as the specialist(s) that can get the most out of it. If that person doesn’t live in-house, the smart thing to do is to budget for a skilled contractor.
- Consider a licensed model where you can control use and access.
Your Marketing and Sales Process: Take a long and hard look at your marketing and sales process and answer questions like: where do you go to get leads? What’s your average selling price? How much volume do you have to do to meet your revenue goals? How long is your sales process from cold to close? What’s your close rate?
- Volume and the balance between a fast, transactional marketing and sales process and a long, considered one definitely makes a difference when investing in technology.
- If you know which acquisition channels are the best, then there are tools that can help you double-down.
Your Company’s Digital Maturity: Tech companies understand how to roll-out and adopt technology better than other industries. If you’re not a tech company then you should start thinking like one.
- What’s working in your marketing and sales process that needs to scale?
- What’s highly repetitive and presents an opportunity for automation?
- Where are you lagging and what needs to be improved?
The next time a best practices article makes you scratch your head, or you stifle a yawn during a non-specific demo for a solution in a category you’ve never heard of …
You’re not alone!
And we shouldn’t plan for it to become simpler – at least not in the near term. While martech planning is difficult, the best strategy is to focus on what you know to be true – the current needs of your business. Focus on that, tune out the noise, and have a productive 2020!