This is the second in a three-part series of posts on integrated marketing management platforms. The first post identified the strategic need for integrated marketing management, mapped this to key marketing ‘pain points’ that these systems address and provided an overview of the disparate technology camps that are vying to deliver robust integrated marketing management platforms to marketing organizations. Click here to view the first post, “Marketer’s Needs + Technology Landscape.”
Today’s post will present high-level thoughts for marketers on approaches to analyzing their needs and to selecting a platform that is the right ‘fit’ for their organization. The final post in this series will present snapshots of the top 20 vendors I’m watching and that I believe are representative, forward-thinking leaders in this segment.
What should guide your decision to purchase an integrated marketing management platform?
Let’s start with the basics: What are your fundamental business goals? And what marketing programs have you deployed to achieve these goals? Ideally you want to invest in technology infrastructure that can help you achieve your business goals, that mirror your marketing programs and that (when all is said and done) can help you measure the impact that you made in reaching this goal. Seems straightforward … except (and let’s not sugar coat this) … marketing processes and communication flows are complex and borderline ‘ugly’ when it comes to the level of complex, integrated execution and monitoring involved. This means that your technology infrastructure must be able to handle this ‘ugliness.’
That brings us to the more advanced issue in evaluating the purchase of an integrated marketing management platform: “How do I bring method to the madness?” as Market2Lead CEO Geoff Rego framed in a phone interview. Whereas focus should rule the day in marketing strategy and planning, robust capability and the ‘kitchen sink’ factor should, in part, guide your technology decisions. You want a platform that can give you real leverage. In fact, you probably need more than you think you need. And you can’t ‘wimp out’ when it comes to digging into this decision; this is a system that will become your lifeline; nor can you simply go with the marketing technology equivalent of ‘Big Blue’ (because no one got fired for buying Big Blue, right?).
“One thing not to do is to look at a generic list of the ‘top three’ products or ‘industry leaders’ and refuse to consider any others,” comments industry analyst David Raab in a white paper, titled “Three Differences that Matter in Demand Generation Systems.” Raab continues, “On the other hand, few marketers have the time or inclination to perform an in‐depth technical analysis of several dozen demand generation systems, or even to document their own needs in detail.”
So then what is the middle ground, and how should marketing organizations approach finding the right ‘fit’ for their organization … without having to build CIO-level expertise and while staying true to their current, successful (but not fully leveraged) marketing processes?