CEO of Pluris Marketing and innovator and forward-thinker behind the company’s marketing enablement, analytic, and optimization solutions.
For marketers, the challenges of working across departments and functional areas is a tale as old as time. Meeting customers with timely, relevant offers requires more than just well-placed ad campaigns; it’s an all-hands effort to acquire and retain business, with the customer squarely in the driver’s seat. This puts pressure on departments to streamline their operations — and it’s crucial that those efforts are in alignment.
While cross-department collaboration can often be looked at as a people problem, I’ve found that it’s important to look at tools and technology as well. A marketing team might have a suite of project management software, analytics platforms, a customer relationship management database, an email platform, website content management system, etc. Scale that list to include other departments like sales and customer service, and suddenly you’re looking at a pretty large toolkit.
And it’s easy to get to that point. It’s like a home improvement project. You start out with a small project like moving a light switch and you end up moving an entire wall — and as the project expands, you have to buy all the necessary tools, right? The question you need to ask yourself is this: Will those tools be useful for your next project, or will they just take up space in the garage?
While there’s no arguing that we need reliable resources for the job, successful marketing doesn’t mean buying all the tools. Investing in marketing technology needs to make sense at a holistic level. So how do you get from an eight-trips-to-Home Depot martech approach to a more streamlined system?
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1. Start With Your Strategy
Knowing your goals and which key performance indicators you’re measuring is fundamental. From there, you can explore whether your technology is meeting those needs. For example, if your strategic goal is to generate new business, what kind of technology are you using to measure your sales funnel and, specifically, incoming leads?
2. Audit Your Existing Systems
It’s important to understand what you’re already working with in order to identify pain points and opportunities for operational and financial efficiencies. Ask your team which tools they’re using, to what end and at what cost. Review the data and platforms you have against your entire marketing process — do you have 20 digital platforms that don’t talk to each other? Do you have any platforms that link the marketing spending to the resulting action by the consumer?
3. Draw Connections
Are these systems working in silos, or do they support each other? Are they duplicating efforts? It’s easy to be lured in by shiny new technology, but it needs to fit in with the overall system to really generate value. For example, when the sales team is outfitted with the latest mobile technology, but there isn’t any linkage to the value of the customer that marketing is measuring success with, what’s the point?
4. Work Smarter, Not Harder
Identify areas where you can trim the excess. If you have two platforms that are tackling the same problem, pick the one that works best and migrate everything else into it. Reducing the number of martech platforms down to the highest performers will give you a much cleaner look at your KPIs. Ask yourself: What is the minimum number of platforms/applications I need to get the 30,000-foot view of my activities, and what does each platform provide that is unique? Then, do I need that capability? Is it directly involved in daily decision-making?
5. Add The People
Looking at the back-end user experience reveals pitfalls and development opportunities. Do you have people on your team who have excellent marketing skills and can cross the technology divide? Who is driving your martech implementation? Discovering ways to refine the relationship between your people and your technology strengthens the system from the ground up.
If you haven’t looked at your business in this way yet, the first time will feel like a heavy lift. But once you integrate a systems check into your regular operating cycle, it’ll go a long way toward streamlining your internal processes. And having reliable tech solutions leaves room for testing and innovation and, ultimately, much better ROI.
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Author: Michael Caccavale, Forbes Councils Member