Tales from the Toolbox

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Are you feeling a bit like a kid in a candy store when you consider all of the available marketing technologies? Marketing technology has been evolving at a rapid pace, and with so many choices, it’s easy to be overwhelmed. These technologies are often referred to by three letter acronyms such as DAM/MAM (digital asset or marketing asset management), MOM (marketing operations management), MAP (marketing automation platforms), and MRM (marketing resource management). They include everything from platforms and tools, to support Campaign Management, Digital and Online marketing, Social Media platforms, Marketing Analytics, workflow, Performance Management, and reporting. Marketing technology and all that it entails is here to stay, but the challenge is to keep up and select the right tools. The technologies you choose, how you implement them, and the processes and skills you need to properly use them will greatly impact your capabilities, and how well the technologies serve you in improving and proving the value of Marketing.  
When you select and leverage the right mix of technologies, you and your company will be able to use these tools:
  • As a source of competitive advantage
  • To automate/streamline, measure, and enhance your capabilities
This brings to mind some sound advice from my father. I loved going to Sears with him (yes I just dated myself, no Home Depots or Lowes back then) and marveling at all the Craftsmen tools. When we first started building my tool box, we created a list of the basics and the order in which to purchase them: a sturdy tool box, a measuring tape, a hammer and nails, screwdrivers and screws, pliers, and a wrench. Money permitting, I would purchase one of the tools from the list and he would then carefully instruct me how to use it safely and properly. As you examine your marketing technology (tools), do you have the basics and know how to use them proficiently? If not, your first step is to create your list; this becomes your technology road map.
On subsequent visits, there was always a new shiny tool that I coveted for my growing toolbox- a drill, a vise grip, a saw, a chisel, etc. As I would reach for a tool he would ask these questions:
  • Do you know the purpose of that tool and what problem it solves? 
  • Is it a general-purpose tool or something that is designed to solve a specific problem? 
  • Do you already have all your general-purpose tools?
  • How likely and how frequently will you face that specific problem and really need the special-purpose tool? 
  • How does it fit in with the tools you already have?
  • Do you know what it takes to use it and do you have a plan to learn how to use it properly?
It seems like my dad’s advice serves marketers too as we choose our marketing tools. Develop your requirements and selection criteria; create your road map so you have a plan for what tools you need to add, for what purpose and when. If the situation changes, modify your road map. Take into account what you will need to make the tool work (data, processes and skills) and build this into your timing and investment. Have a plan for usage and adoption otherwise the tool will just look pretty in the toolbox.

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