I am a big fan of HGTV and all of its home improvement shows. It is pretty amazing what can be accomplished in an hour. You can take a run down, unlivable home and turn it into a thing of beauty. Even better than the finished project is all the money you save in the process.
While I find these shows interesting, informative and entertaining, there is a very big gap between what I see happening on TV and what I can accomplish myself using the same techniques and tools. The truth is there are many, many barriers to success, such as:
- Lack of Training – it is difficult to pick up a tool and go to work without proper usage training.
- Lack of Experience – practice makes perfect, and I can’t get enough practice if I am a DIYer.
- Cost – to make the expense of high quality tools cost-effective, I must be able to use them every day.
Instead of doing it myself, I use what I have learned to work better with my experts. I know what I want, have an idea of what it takes and have become better informed as a client. As a result, my outcomes are much better.
The same applies in today’s world of marketing communications. The market is bursting at the seams with new platforms, options and methods to get more from every dollar marketers are investing. The growth of access to the latest techniques and tools is unprecedented both on the ad tech and marketing tech sides. Marketers are evaluating and adopting tools with high hopes for transforming their fixer-uppers into beautiful, modern dream models. Unfortunately, we see the dreams being dashed by the reality more often than not.
Interestingly enough, the reasons match my own troubles with DIY. The demo and forecasted outcomes of so many tools and platforms are amazing. What is not always evident in the evaluation stage is the experience, training and investment necessary to make these tools turn dreams into reality. The other big barrier to success is scale, since many of these tools require significant scale to justify the total investment required. Too many companies market these tech products as the answer to marketing success and overlook the details of the expertise required to be successful.
I am not saying that these tools, techniques and platforms aren’t incredibly valuable. They are moving marketing ahead by leaps and bounds. But none are the silver bullet for marketing success.
Scott Brinker, editor of Chiefmartec.com, has identified 1,876 vendors in 43 categories in his 2015 marketing technology landscape supergraphic. The expectation for 2016 is continued growth in both vendors and categories. The market will settle at some point, but it is likely to take quite some time.
So what should marketers do in the meantime?
- Avoid the shiny, new object syndrome. Instead of adopting the latest “solution” to your problem in single file, devise a strategy for your digital transformation.
- Recognize you are creating a complex ecosystem. These resources are not stand alone and must be connected.
- Rely on your partners for expertise as Jim Terry details in a recent post.
- Recognize that software platforms require services. You will need experts to find the leverage. According to Martin Kihn, a Gartner research director, the most successful digital marketers are at least 35% more likely to lean on outside services for functions like analytics and media planning.
- Be realistic about what you can accomplish in-house.
In the end, accept that it will take longer than you think; it will cost more than you hope; and you will need to depend on the expertise of partners to make your marketing dream come true.