It is time to wrap up the “7 things every CEO should know about marketing” series with our final topic, #7 – the hidden pothole that I believe you as a CEO should avoid. What pothole am I talking about? It is the martech pothole (“martech” being the common term used in the industry for marketing & sales enablement technology solutions). Currently, there are over 8,000 martech solutions available (see Figure 1). That is overwhelming just in terms of the sheer number to keep up with, much less learn and use proficiently.
So how is martech a potential pothole? This pothole actually represents two possible distractions or obstructions to your marketing progress – (1) can unnecessarily increase your cost of marketing, and (2) saddle you with technology you do not use often (more than you need).
Unnecessary costs that steal money from your marketing budget
Investing in (licensing, purchasing) martech solutions is certainly something you will do. That may be an email service (e.g., MailChimp, iContact, Constant Contact), or marketing automation solution (e.g., Hubspot, Marketo, Eloqua), content development suite (e.g., Adobe Creative Cloud), or other tools your team may discover that appear to be helpful. You will look at the purchase price or monthly license fees, but the total cost is not that simple and may be unnecessary.
For each type of martech solution you bring in-house the full costs to consider include:
- License fees or purchase price
- Time and price of training for your team initially and ongoing with new features
- Not just training, but the cost of acquiring the experience and expertise in making these tools work for you
- The hiring of specific tool expertise (more salary)
- Upgrade and/or maintenance fees over time
- Possible reduction of actual demand generation budget to cover those costs
The fact that usually your IT department does NOT support these tools at all (you are on your own as they are specific to your department and not corporate IT related)
The key to avoiding this pothole is not to complete shun investing in software. No, that is definitely not the point. The key is to evaluate whether you can get the same function, service and outcome (possibly better outcome) cheaper or more efficiently by outsourcing a marketing service vs. bringing that service in-house.
For example, basic functions like sending out promotional emails or a newsletter are likely functions that require a low investment for a tool and training. On the other hand, creating marketing automation programs require a larger investment (more sophisticated and more expensive tool) and the experience and expertise to deliver the outcome you desire.
For some functions, it may be wiser to look at outsourcing the service and outcome to a marketing partner that utilizes such tools every day and has acquired a vast amount of experience in creating success. They use tools they pay for to service you and you get their expertise and input along with delivery of the function you want – and you only pay for what you need. This is also a way to start utilizing more advanced marketing functions as a pilot to determine the ROI – giving you better insight on what services you do want to enable in-house with technology.
Underutilization of technology
That leads to the secondary danger in this potential technology pothole – that you will invest in martech solutions that you underutilize. Why should you pay for technology that you only use occasionally? The monthly fees add up and basically, an internal growing marketing technology stack turns into your own IT infrastructure that your marketing team must support.
Before buying, determine how often this technology will be used – daily, monthly, or occasionally. And take an inventory of what you are paying for today and the frequency of use. Here again, outsourcing the service you need when you need it, may be a better use of your marketing budget. You’ll only pay for what you need – which is the service – not the technology.
Just make sure it is not a pothole
For CEOs, you rely on your marketing team to know what they want. However, this should give you some good questions to ask them to ensure you are choosing the right path – leveraging internal technology or leveraging marketing services provided. Truthfully, most marketing organizations end up leveraging both. The wisdom comes from knowing which to leverage to create the successful outcomes your team needs to deliver.