How many navigable paths through the dense marketing technology jungle have you found?
You can turn to paid consultants, of course, like Real Story Group. You can browse crowd-sourced user reviews at TrustRadius or G2 Crowd. You can get an overview of the landscape from Scott Brinker’s admirable ChiefMartec blog. You can read generalist IT websites which have some marketing tech content. Best of all, of course, you can follow the steady flow of coverage here at The Hub, where we look at big and small vendors and their latest offerings every week.
But here’s another way to hack the thicket of platforms, products and tools: CabinetM, a Boston-based start-up which launched earlier this month. I spoke with founders Anita Brearton and Sheryl Schulz–a corporate marketer and an angel investor–about their plans for the site, and how to use the workflow component which is a central part of its appeal.
“The genesis,” said Schulz, “came from experiences we had independently over the last few years.” For Brearton, the marketer, this meant the practical challenge facing her team in finding and evaluating the best new tools. Schulz, the investor, saw the difficulty vendors had in reaching and explaining their offerings to marketers. When the seeds of the idea were sown a couple of years ago, Brinker’s famous marketing tech landscape graphic had maybe 750 entries; now, said Schulz, “it’s around 2,000.” Impressively, CabinetM launches with information on nearly 4,000 solutions.
“We spent the last eighteen months with a team of writers, building out profiles,” Schulz said. But CabinetM is not testing the products; it’s providing information about them. Crowd-sourced review sites, said Brearton, “tend to cover the full range of technologies and don’t go deeply into marketing.” CabinetM is specifically a discovery tool for marketing tech.
Users can opt to register and provide their own reviews, but the current starting point for each tool is a short-form review page with basic information, including comments on installation, training and support. The site does incorporate information from the vendors themselves. Indeed, the initial monetization is based on vendors seeking to enhance product profiles. CabinetM is currently free for users (go and browse), but a premium subscription model, perhaps for enterprise teams, is envisioned.
One singular feature is the site’s “cabinet” style design. Schulz said, “One of the things we’ve seen that’s been very informative is that it needs to be more than a directory. It’s hard to track the tools teams are using.” That’s certainly true: Schulz offered the example of a company with some 30 remote offices which turned out to have multiple contracts with the same vendors.
Individual users or teams can register (the social login is LinkedIn) and browse by type of tool or vendor. A simple drag-and-drop interface allows you store research in “drawers” which can be customized, labeled and shared. Users can make side-by-side comparisons of products. An internal message system lets users communicate with fellow team members. Click on a tool your business is using, and it’s saved to a shareable list. Contact buttons allow direct communication with vendors.
And here’s some fun functionality. A clarity feedback interface lets you tell vendors to cut the jargon. Now that’s something they should market as a t-shirt. I’d wear it.