On Martech: Forget the Quest for the Best and Buy the Really Good

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It's time that's of the essence in the hunt for marketing tech solutions, not perfection, counsels an expert.

The crowd of digitally attuned marketers at DMN's 2016 Marketing&Tech Innovation Summit eagerly chimed in on the considerations they put into buying marketing solutions. Flexibility. Functionality. Mobilization. Popularity. Integration. “Nobody's going to say, ‘randomness?'” asked Jay Wilson, a marketing technology veteran of several agencies and currently the VP of marketing technology and omnichannel platforms at Healthgrades, an online healthcare advisory.

Wilson, who was delivering a primer on selecting the “ideal marketing technology” was making a crucial point: The word “ideal” has little or no meaning in the context of martech. “It used to mean ‘perfection,' but things are moving too fast for that to be achieved," he said. "Don't seek the best of the best; find the really good.”

Because time is of the essence in acquiring up-to-date solutions, the biggest mistake a marketer could make, he said, was to go the corporate RFP route. All that does is delay you for six months and result in losing your company money. “Choose any of the top three solutions and buy it and you will probably increase your business by 75%,” Wilson said.

Wilson then proceeded to lay out a more studied approach to buying martech solutions that starts with getting shareholders in a company to determine and agree to what they want the tech to accomplish. He strongly recommended that marketers create an ROI forecast related to the purchase and present the boss with a proposition of technology as revenue-generator, not cost center. “When you tell your CEO you want a new solution, the first thing you hear is, ‘So, I gotta spend a million bucks on this?'”

Should the boss ask to run a purchase through a risk mitigation process, resist, Wilson said. “There's risk is in not making a purchase, too. Maybe a higher risk,” he contended.

Here are five considerations marketers should put into any martech purchases, according to Wilson:

1.  Have the right people on board. You can select 10 people or you can choose one, but they have to be expert in both tech and marketing. If you can't accomplish this, you won't be able to solve the problem of integrating the solution.

2.  Establish your desired outcomes. It's insane not to do this before starting the purchase process. “I've had agency clients who spent $100,000 to install Adobe and then they sit back and say, ‘OK, now what?'" Wilson said.

3. Use a lean purchase process. Establish evaluation standards, but move at a fast pace.

4. Establish agile requirements. If you're totally ignorant of the technology, set some requirements but be willing to change them. Meet with several vendors, see what they can do, and alter your requirements as you go.

5. Have an exit strategy. Martech is a constantly moving target, so let go of the notion of settling into long-term relationships with vendors. “I recently looked at the Forrester Wave report for DMPs from 2013. Only two of the top-rated companies were in the 2015 version,” Wilson said.

Agile requirements should also apply to marketing staffers. Don't complain about how hard it is to find code-writing marketers, said Wilson, just go get them or be ready to lose out to the competition. “The tech you buy is not going to be good if the team is no good. The team has to grow or get out.”

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