From Love at First Sight to Lasting Value: 4 Ways to Make the Most of Your Marketing Tech Investment
January 13, 2016
We’ve all been there. You fall truly, madly, deeply in love with that hot new technology that all the cool kids are using and you’ve got to have it. But at some point, the “love at first sight” phase comes to an end, and you realize that in order to see the rewards, you’ll have to actually start using it! Wait… it’s not auto-magic???
You had such good intentions, but now the rubber has hit the road and you’re starting to realize that, no matter how you slice it, it’s going to take some hard work, resourcing and change management to reach marketing tech bliss. It may seem obvious, but it’s a trap we’ve all fallen into at least once.
Let’s say you’ve hit the six-month mark and still can’t point to any discernable value from your new tech investment. It’s time you took a hard look at what you’re putting into the project. When things aren’t progressing the way you’d like, it’s easy to blame the vendor (It’s not me, it’s you…), but 9 times out of 10, it’s a half-hearted client adoption that stands in the way of an organization extracting maximum value from a new piece of technology. I know because I’ve been the bottleneck a few times myself!
If you’re at the six-month mark and are still struggling to extract value, here are four “now or never” things you need to do to make the most of any new marketing tech deployment.
1. Staff it effectively
This seems like a no-brainer, but how many times have you wondered why something in your organization doesn’t do what it is supposed to, or work the way it should, only to realize that no one really owns it… or worse, that it’s owned by several people and therefore, no one? You need to be clear up front about how you will use this great new tool and who on your team will own it (if not you).
Any new tool, technology or process needs an owner. Without an actual human being who has some accountability for running the system and integrating it into your daily life, it simply won’t get used the way its intended. The owner will become the solution’s first “power user” and then go on to train and guide others in its use. They’ll own the process as well as the product, documenting how and when the solution is used. When it comes to cross training and knowledge transfer, there’s no substitute for writing this stuff down! I’ve been fortunate to work in organizations full of great talent, but the key to my success in getting the most from marketing technology investments is knowing who’s swim lane a new tool should live in and creating some accountability for learning and using it.
2. Have a specific goal or project
Thanks again, Captain Obvious! But this one seems to mystify even the smartest modern marketer. Technology is not a panacea for broken or missing processes or programs. Even the simplest new tools need to be overlaid on specific goals, use cases and projects. If you don’t incorporate your shiny new tool into your existing workflows or processes, it won’t get used, or at least not to its full potential. Your promising piece of tech will become yet another thing that you log into periodically and wonder why you don’t use it more. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy… you have to use it or it’ll languish!
This is particularly problematic when you buy something more for the cool factor than to solve a specific problem. But don’t let that result in sunk cost. You made this investment because you perceived some value so go out there and take advantage of it. Take the first small step of scheduling a quick meeting to brainstorm the application of your cool new tool. Carve out a small project or pilot and create some urgency around it today.
3. Bite off what you can chew
Let’s take a real-world scenario: I’m six months into my current role as VP of Marketing here at LookBookHQ. Part of my job is to use our own content engagement technology as an integral part of our marketing programs. Day one on the job, I was no different than any new customer. I was starting from scratch. Sure, there was pressure to get up and running fast, but if I had tried to overlay our technology on every single marketing tactic, I would have died of overthinking and inertia. It’s just too much all at once. Instead, I took individual projects and tactics one at a time and, step-by-step, figured out how to best deploy our technology in those projects. I’d recommend starting with a project that is low on complexity and high on value to avoid getting bogged down. It may be a cliché, but it’s also 100% true that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.
I like to start with a Big Hairy Audacious Goal and then back into the milestones we’ll need to hit to achieve it. Breaking things into bite-sized pieces is always comforting and it makes the path ahead clearer. So my BHAG was to reach a point where 100% of the content assets we deployed were delivered via the LookBookHQ platform. The one small step in this case started with a very specific, tactical goal: Start using LookBookHQ content experiences for trade show and event follow-up campaigns.
Normally, the follow-up would have been an email that drove the recipient to a landing page with a nice piece of content. But our platform is all about letting people self-nurture at their own pace whenever and whenever they click, so why wouldn’t I deliver the content as a LookBookHQ content experience versus a standard-issue landing page? And instead of serving up just one content asset, why not package several pieces of relevant content together to make it easier for prospects to self-educate?
New tools and systems are inherently disruptive: they present a new way of looking at the world. If you don’t break with the status quo, you’ll never realize the full value of your shiny new tool. Put another way, you can’t change your tech stack without keeping an open mind. Think about why you bought this new technology in the first place: Chances are it wasn’t so you could keep doing things in the same old way.
You also have to be reasonable in setting expectations. Our marketing team is now using LookBooks to share 100% of our marketing and thought leadership content, but that might not be the case for every client. Sure, this means we have to think very differently than we used to, but it’s become second nature as we’ve incorporated this new technology into our existing process and workflows. Every business, project and use case is a little different and your mileage may vary. Again, it’s about being thoughtful and realistic about how you plan to use the technology.
4. Be present
Like anything in life, you have to show up if you want to see a difference. You don’t get in shape by never going to the gym and similarly, your new tech vendor will never be able to add value or help you get started if you don’t show up or take advantage of their services – from training to knowledge transfer to best practices learned from other customers who have been there, done that, and got the ROI.
The relationship with any vendor is always a two-way street. It’s easy to pass the blame: “Why isn’t this new tool doing all the great stuff they showed me in the demo?” Or to get defensive when your vendor calls or emails to ask why your usage is so low. They’re not trying to make you feel bad, they’re trying to show you the path to value. Client success is highly collaborative; it is shared by the vendor and the customer. When you’re not happy, they’re not happy. But this requires that you actively participate in the process. You have to accept that helping hand and do your share of the work. Like any good relationship, every one involved needs to pitch in and pull their weight.
Getting annoyed with a vendor who is calling to check in on a missed milestone or your non-use of a product is a bit like getting mad at
the dentist for calling you out on not taking good care of your teeth when you have a cavity. Your dentist is not responsible for the questionable choices you made about flossing. Similarly, your vendor is not solely responsible for your slow adoption of their technology.
Commit to the change this new technology will require and participate willingly and with an open mind in the onboarding, deployment and training processes. I will not claim this is easy. We are all overburdened with meetings and to-do lists, but true value only comes when you open your mind and, in some ways, your heart to a new vendor.
I’m writing this for myself as much as to you. When you’re six months in with a new vendor and feel like you just haven’t seen the benefits, are you being honest with yourself about what it really takes to extract value? Have you aligned your resources, goals and projects to take full advantage of your new software, or were you just hoping that divine inspiration would take over?
Seeing value from a new technology investment doesn’t usually happen overnight. Give yourself a break and be reasonable about your milestones and expectations. But at the same time, you need to take a look in the mirror and be honest about whether you and your team are putting in the time and energy to be successful.