Effectively using marketing technology (martech) is critical to the success of any marketing organization. But it is also a confusing and expensive undertaking. There are thousands of providers offering overlapping and interconnected solutions, and, according to Gartner’s 2020 CMO Spend Survey, martech now constitutes the largest marketing line item at 26% of total expense budgets. Against this backdrop, it is not surprising that marketers struggle to select, implement and effectively manage the right technology partners and components for their ecosystems.
To be successful marketers must ask this of all their incumbent and potential martech providers: Show me, don’t tell me
When reviewing their RFP responses from providers, Gartner marketing clients express dismay at how nearly every provider uniformly says “Yes” to every feature or function on their checklist. With enough time and money, they can ultimately deliver everything you require. However, unlimited time and money are two things no modern marketer has. Instead, you need to ask a better question.
What you really want and need to know is how they will do this for you. Is this something they do every day? Will it require a small amount of tweaking or is it a fully custom deliverable? Any of these options may be entirely satisfactory, but you need to know which is correct.
In martech, the answer to these questions will come from many places, but two to put into your process by default are deconstructed demos and self-selected references. Many clients use both to get true clarity in what a vendor is really telling them.
Any reputable vendor will show you an amazing and slick presentation and demo of how they can help you. As one Global CMO stated of a martech SaaS demo:
“Their demo was like having someone make a rainbow in the office. It was really cool but we have no idea how they did it, have no idea what it actually does and to be honest are not really sure how to use it.”
To overcome this, you must understand how the demo was put together by deconstructing it down to its individual components. This will help you understand the level of effort and expertise required on your end, as well as its suitability to your needs:
"Did doing this demo take the vendor 1 week with some tweaks to their standard capabilities and use cases, or 4 weeks with deep programmer level SMEs doing a full custom build out?"
Self-selected References and the Dreaded Logo Slide:
At some stage of the RFP process, providers will present you with a slide full of logos as examples of companies they work with. Beware of logo slides. A slide full of logos does not tell you if the provider has delivered exactly what they have shown you to those clients. They may have done so and may very well be the default enterprise provider for that organization. Alternatively, they may work with one person on one team in a single isolated region for that same enterprise, and their delivery to that person has no relevance to your needs. You have no way of knowing.
To validate, ask potential vendors for reference calls with the companies whose logos they tout or use cases presented to you. Conduct these calls without the vendor present. Afterall, if a vendor is happy to show off logos and use cases as hallmarks of their success, they should happily allow you to validation that those clients support and appreciate that vendor. The vendor’s reaction to this request may be as insightful as the calls themselves.
To get a full breakdown of the process to optimize your martech Gartner clients can learn more from the following set of Gartner research:
How to Prioritize Consolidating Your Martech Ecosystem to Deliver Cost Optimization
A Guide for Implementing Safe and Efficient Self-Service Procurement of Software and SaaS
Deliver Martech Success, Efficiency and Cost Optimization in Challenging Times