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How businesses find marketing technologies and identify who pays for them
A MarTech panel offered formal processes for sourcing tools and rules of thumb for determining who pays for them.
The only thing more complicated than navigating the marketing technology landscape may be deciding who’s responsible for doing so. But a MarTech conference panel on Tuesday offered some helpful advice on everything from sourcing new technologies to assigning financial responsibility.
When it comes to identifying marketing technology products to use or vendors to work with, “the best source is word of mouth and what people [within the organization] have worked with before,” said Acquia CMO Lynne Capozzi, who also turns to her peers at other companies for product references. The worst source? Email. “I’m inundated with emails. Because I get so much, I can’t deal with the volume of it. It’s not manageable,” she said.
Dave Hsu, VP of marketing technology and demand analytics at CA Technologies, has also wrestled with an unmanageable number of demo requests from vendors. But even internal sourcing can be a cumbersome process. So CA Technologies has formalized it. It has established what it calls a “martech council” comprised of representatives from each area of the organization.
That group meets once a month to discuss and evaluate new tools, also inviting two vendors a month to pitch their products in under 30 minutes. After each pitch, the martech council members fill out an evaluation form. Then the results are gathered, and a decision is made on whether to advance to the next steps of scheduling more demos and potentially signing a deal.
Signing a deal for a new technology, or, more specifically, paying for it, can introduce its own complications. To simplify the matter, CA Technologies follows a straightforward rule of thumb: “If you’re going to drink, you’re going to pay for it,” said Hsu, in a nod to the panel’s title: “A CMO, CIO, and CMTO Walk into a Bar: Who Orders, Who Drinks, and Who Pays?”
Justin Sharaf, director of marketing operations at LogMeIn, concurred. “When someone needs a technology, they have to figure out how it fits in the budget,” he said.
But it can be difficult to fit a new technology into the budget later in the fiscal year, when little remains of the money allocated at the start. And again, CA Technologies has a simple solution. “We ‘tin cup’ it,” said Hsu. In other words, everyone who would be using a tool is asked to pitch in as much as they can, based upon what remains of their budget.
If Hsu worked with Capozzi, he would likely turn to her first. Acquia’s marketing chief tries to safeguard as many working dollars as possible to allow for late-year opportunities and keeps “a hidden fund,” she said, adding that her company’s executive team is aware of the secretive stash.
But she also has a formal process in place for finding funds. “If a person brings something forward that’s not in the budget, I make them write an investment case analysis,” she said. In that two-page-maximum document, the person must explain how a product would meet certain criteria for investment. Then Capozzi evaluates the case that is made and decides on whether to bring it to the company’s executive committee for funding — or to use that hidden fund.
In addition to sourcing new technologies, marketers must manage their existing technologies, including evaluating whether to renew those deals. In some cases, there are tangible methods to evaluate a tool’s return on investment, such as the number of leads they drive, said Capozzi. And if they are workflow-related tools, usage can be monitored, said Hsu.
But sometimes a company must evaluate not only the tool, but also the vendor providing it. “If you don’t talk to your customers on a weekly or biweekly or monthly basis at a minimum, chances are they are not going to renew,” said Sharaf.
LogMeIn uses roughly 75 different technology products, Sharaf said. After a recent merger, the company informally audited those products’ usages. And the result, he said, was that “We found a dozen technologies where nobody could articulate why we’re using it.”