The Marketing Technology Landscape is Out of Control!
When Scott Brinker, marketing technology blogger, author, conference organizer and now VP of Platform Ecosystem at HubSpot, started putting together a graphic showing the ecosystem of marketing technology back in 2011, there were about 150 companies on the list.
That seemed like a lot.
Ha! Now, a mere 7 years later, there are well over 5,000!
And, says Brinker in today’s interview, even he can’t keep up. As soon as he puts out the graphic he hears from companies complaining that they were missed.
“We can’t keep up; there’s just too much happening,” says Brinker. “There’s not a week that goes by without some kind of platform being introduced.”
So What’s a Marketer To Do?
Your organization counts on you and your information technology people to make recommendations on what should be bought.
But if even a pro like Brinker can’t keep on top of it, how can you possibly know what to buy?
It isn’t easy, but in today’s interview Scott Brinker offers a few ideas about how to handle the marketing technology overload.
Accept That You Can’t Know it All; Start With Strategy
You’ve got to narrow down the set of tools that you are looking at, and the only sensible way to do that is to start by looking closely at what your organization is trying to accomplish.
Only once you understand the goals can you narrow down the subset of possible tools that might help you get there.
Then you have to focus on just that subset and accept that you won’t know everything, says Brinker.
Have the Core Systems in Place First
For most companies today the foundations are:
- A good CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system,
- Marketing automation platforms (things like MailChimp, at the most basic level),
- A web experience management platform. (Google Analytics is a good place to start.)
Make Vendors “Get Real”
Don’t be bamboozled by marketing technology vendors who give you checklists of them versus the competition; it’s way too easy to skew those lists so of course the vendor’s product looks best.
Don’t let them distract you with irrelevant case studies. Instead, you give them a case.
Have a specific use case in mind, and get the vendor to walk you through exactly how that situation would work using their system. Never accept a canned demo!
Ask difficult questions, like “what are the biggest challenges customers go through when adopting your tool?”
And if they make the technology sound like it will be super-easy to implement and use, don’t believe them. It never is. You need honesty, not fantasy.
The more candid the vendor, the more likely the relationship is to become a good one.
I hadn’t thought about it this way, but it made sense when Brinker pointed out that “there is an infinite number of ways to write a piece of software. Software is not as deterministic of a process as the myth would suggest it is… Software really reflects the personalities and the culture of the organization that creates it.”
So if you don’t get a good feeling about the way the company talks or acts, odds are you won’t be happy with their software either. With over 5,000 marketing technology competitors out there, you don’t have to deal with somebody who doesn’t give you the right vibe.
Seek Vendors Who Understand Your Business
You want vendors who have worked with companies in your industry, and of a similar size to yours.
If you are in the B2B world and they’ve only done B2C, it’s not likely to be a good fit.
If you are in a highly regulated industry, like banking, and they’ve never worked with such industries, they are unlikely to understand the key issues.
That said, new companies have to start somewhere. When a baby company offers a technology that you think would be the perfect fit, but they are too new to have the relevant experience, keep your investment low. Recognize that this is an experiment, for you and them. Get them to share the risk.
It’s Not About the Marketing Technology; It’s About the Humans
The best of technology won’t do you any good if the people using it are skeptical and if the organization is siloed.
“If [companies] spent a little bit less on technology and more on the people… the enablement, the training, the freedom [to do] more experimentation and learning, I think they’d get greater return out of it.” – Scott Brinker
This is my second podcast interview with someone from HubSpot. One of the earliest interviews I did — back in 2013 — was with HubSpot’s then-Chief Marketing Officer, Mike Volpe. That one was even videotaped! We were talking about content marketing. Check it out.
Also check out the Alberta Podcast Network, powered by ATB. We’ve joined the network, along with a bunch of other interesting podcasts!