5 Tips for Buying Marketing Technology
New research released in the report "The Marketing Tech Buying Process: A look at how companies purchase technology today" sheds light on the processes companies across America use to choose their marketing technology purchases and manage vendors.
Many best practices emerge from that research. Here are five tips to help guide your own technology buying process.
1. Empower Yourself
Throughout the research, respondents consistently ranked processes that empowered themselves to make good technology decisions as the most valuable.
From the report:
For marketers buying technology, seeing is believing. They find the most value in product demos, test drives and their own research, followed by sources that give them an independent view of the technology space. All of these are steps that allow the marketer to be independent of any salesperson or other close guidance. When they do look for guidance, it is generally from an agency or other service that answers to them, not the vendors.
Or as one of the respondents quoted in the report said it, “Be sure you’re willing to put in the time and effort to perform the due diligence required, and never believe the vendor.”
2. It's Essential to Test Drive Marketing Technology
The research asked respondents to rate the value of several processes they might use to evaluate marketing technology on a scale from "not valuable" to "extremely valuable." The two processes regarded as the most "extremely valuable" were product demos and extended product test drives.
“It is difficult to determine how well the technology can work for you unless you can test-drive the product,” said one respondent.
Another said, “Test the product, research competitors and don’t base [a] decision off of [the] sales demo.
Compare similar products in [the] market.”
The best way to be sure your technology investment pays off is to try it extensively first That may be common sense, but it's not something every technology customer does.
3. Build an Independent Knowledge Base
We already talked about empowering yourself, but it takes more than product demos and Web searches to accomplish that. To be able to successfully assess your own needs, vet technologies and make the right choice, you need to cultivate your own knowledge base.
That means demoing a lot of technologies, but also keeping abreast of independent research and articles, and knowing what's going on in the industry.
In fact, after product demos, the next most valuable methods of preparing for a technology purchase according to the report are, "Independent technology news, articles and comparisons; product testing reports; and peer and online recommendations."
“Be sure you’re willing to put in the time and effort to perform the due diligence required," said one of the respondents, "and never believe the vendor.”
4. Formalize Your Process, It Pays Off in the Long Run
One thing the report finds is that marketers are often using informal processes both to assess their needs before the purchase and evaluate success afterward.
Frankly, that's the technology buying equivalent of not tracking the ROI of your campaigns.
If technology is essential to your success as a marketer, then you should establish processes that treat it that way. You wouldn't set your budget informally, so why buy your tech informally?
One respondent quoted in the report recommended this:
Strategically create short- and long-term goals for any new technology investment in an ‘evergreen’ mindset. Most companies have a ‘right now’ business sense, so they focus more on what can be done with the technology today, without thinking about how the technology can be used in the future as the business goals and needs grow and change.
5. Expect More From Your Vendors
While you shouldn't count on vendors to provide the knowledge you need to make smart decisions, you should have a plan for how you're going to make sure they work for you throughout that process. That includes your entire customer lifecycle of choosing, installing and using their products.
The report finds that half of marketers meet with the vendor once or twice, and another 21 percent never meet with them in person at all. Most marketers rely on email and the phone for their communications with the vendor, but the above numbers show that 79 percent do meet with the vendor at least once.
One respondent laid out their philosophy toward managing vendors like this:
The strategy that works best for our company is constant communication throughout the entire process. We request an informal meeting and then a formal meeting with the potential sales and executive team; in addition to email correspondence and/or an email chat room with the vendor for weekly updates. Then we would like weekly reporting and status updates on how the technology is performing. This can be in the form of a weekly email or meeting for the first couple of weeks after implementation, or throughout the various cycles of the project, depending on the technology purchased or the project the technology is being used for.
Have you put that level of planning into how you manage your own vendor relationships? If not, you should start.
Those are five lessons from "The Marketing Tech Buying Process." There is a lot more critical information in the full report, though. Click here to download it now.