We work with marketing companies, and just about every one of them understands the need to rationalize the technology they use.
They know, for example, that it makes financial sense to do their homework before they throw money at a new technology. Buying a tech tool that doesn’t do what it’s expected to do can be a costly mistake – something that every properly managed company wants to avoid.
Today, I want to explain why all companies – and marketing firms in particular – need to apply the same hard-nosed approach to the processes they follow as they do their work. That’s because ultimately, understanding and rationalizing processes will help every company make better choices about how it spends its tech budget.
Technology has changed marketing
The way marketing is done has changed an awful lot in the last decade or so. It has become much more technology-centric, both in terms of content creation and in terms of content distribution. The number of tech tools available to marketers has exploded, along with the feeling that these tools are necessary if a company is to remain on the cutting edge.
The change has happened so quickly, a lot of companies have been overwhelmed and have ended up with a mish-mash of technological systems and services in-house.
This is not necessarily very efficient or very cost-effective. It would be like getting your cellphone and landline from Bell, your cable from Rogers, and your home Internet from someone else.
Sure, everything works – but you can probably get a package that would make things work more efficiently, at a cheaper cost. (And do you still need to pay for that landline?)
Also, just about every company I’ve worked with has ended up with a bunch of overlapping tools – usually because of poor internal communication or lack of an overall plan. For example, one branch of the company might buy a global licence for a particular technological tool, while another branch is spending money on another tool that does virtually the same thing.
Once companies realize this kind of thing is happening, it’s natural for them to want to rationalize their tech spend.
Usually, the way to do that is to understand what a company’s core needs are for digital marketing, and becoming very deliberate about which technologies allow the company to meet its core needs efficiently and in a cost-effective manner.
That doesn’t necessarily mean getting everything from a single provider; what companies want is “best-in-breed” technologies. If they come from different providers, they need to work effectively together – in the way an iPhone, for example, should interact seamlessly with a Google Home device.
Why rationalizing processes is important
I am firmly convinced that anyone who wants to rationalize their technology must also consider how people interact with that technology. Are the tools you end up choosing easy to use? Do they let employees do what they need to do?
Here’s where processes come in.
Processes have to do with the way people interact with each other and with any technological tools they use.
So if you want to really be effective and cost-efficient, you have to take a step back and look beyond whether a particular technology or suite of tools delivers the desired output. The question to ask is: Does my technology deliver the desired output in the most streamlined and efficient way possible?
For example, you may have the right tools – but are your employees using them as efficiently as possible? (It’s possible they may not even be using some of them at all!)
Or it’s even possible, if you analyze your processes properly, that you discover that you don’t need some of the tools you have.
For example, I regularly hear marketers say that they have tools that allow them to code their emails; however, they don’t realize (because they haven’t rationalized their processes) that they don’t need to code emails anymore because tools like ours exist that make it possible to skip that step.
So anyone who is still hand-coding emails – even if that coding process is efficient – shouldn’t be doing it at all anymore.
Marketing is rife with inefficient processes
There are a lot of inefficient processes in marketing; I hear about them all the time. Content creation is particularly problematic, especially when it comes to collaborating with colleagues or navigating approvals.
But what I also hear is that most people are not aware of the scope of the problem.
In the course of my work at Knak, I talk to marketers all the time. They will tell me time and time again that they don’t need a product like ours because their automation platform can build marketing emails.
But that’s because they haven’t analyzed their processes. They continue to do things they no longer need to do because they don’t know that solutions like ours are available – solutions that eliminate some of the hoops they have to jump through.
Inefficient processes aren’t fun
Every big client I talk to is looking to adopt a project management tool to make the content creation process more efficient.
But when push comes to shove, most also realize that they need to see whether their processes are inefficient if those project management tools are to work.
In other words, they do come to see that only after they understand their processes – the way the company works, the way the people inside the company work together, and the way people use technology – will they able to make rational decisions about which technology to use.
Processes need to be analyzed along the same standards as technology: They need to be the most efficient available, they need to be integrated so that they work well with each other, they need to be easy for people to follow and they need to be ‘best in class.’
By rationalizing processes before they rationalize technology, companies will end up with streamlined and integrated systems that will save them time, money and effort. They will perform better and be able to do more.
And they will probably have happier employees – because let’s face it: We all hate doing inefficient things, even if they work; it’s just not fun.