When one data marketing solution, to the non-tech expert, looks very much like the next, what is the deciding factor in choosing the right data marketing partner for you? Occam’s Samantha Allen explains why technical ability isn’t enough anymore, and looks at how being able to understand your world and communicate solutions in a jargon-free way are every bit as vital.
As marketers, we’re used to tailoring communications to end users. I’d suggest we’re a little less good at applying the same skills to talking to our clients. Instead we tend to talk to every level of every potential client organisation as though they are marketing technology experts.
It’s one thing for a marketing technology company to change its tone depending on the type of business it is speaking to, i.e. the vertical sector in which they reside. But we must also remember to address our clients in a way they understand.
Take your organisation, for example. Your key decision makers are likely to want something very different from a conversation with us. As a CMO, you’ll probably want more of the technical marketing detail than your CEO or FD. Your FD, on the other hand, is likely to be talking far more in terms of pure bottom line benefits.
If we, as an industry, are to deliver a better service to our clients, we need to do more than offer technical wizardry that’s lost in a haze of obscure language. We need to be able to communicate effectively with you in order to understand what you need, and then successfully drive change across your business.
So here’s my guide (simple and jargon-free, of course) to finding a marketing technology company that talks your language:
1. Do they understand your business?
Building an understanding of the key challenges your business faces before they engage with you is a major indicator that your marketing technology company ‘gets’ your world.
As the most basic of requirements, you should expect them to have carried out some desk research before you engage, and when you meet they should spend at least as much time listening to the issues you face as making recommendations or suggesting solutions.
The company should also avoid making you feel as though you’re stuck in some kind of data driven marketing Groundhog Day. If someone within their business has spoken to someone in your business before they should know it. They should have the key points of those discussions to hand. And they shouldn’t expect you to repeat yourself.
If I am talking to a prospect for the first time, I will take the time to understand as much as I can from the information available online to ensure I am going in to talk to them about things that are important to them.
You may already be speaking to your incumbent about 80% of what I’ll be talking to you about, but if I can provide a new approach, angle or profile – and articulate it simply – you are more likely to give me the opportunity to engage further.
2. Do they understand your pain?
If you’re a CMO, for example, you might expect a marketing technology company to use the 'doctor' type approach. They will want to understand what your concern or 'pain' is, and provide straightforward options to help you address that pain. Before you talk, then, it’s worth building an understanding of what your pain points really are.
Our experience tells us CMOs typically want quick wins rather than big bangs, so we’re likely to suggest addressing your problems in a manageable, phased approach. A supplier who understands this – who treats your targets as their targets, who can use real examples to demonstrate its points, and can steer clear of jargon - is likely to deliver faster and prove easier to work with.
3. Are they keeping it simple?
If you’re seeing a number of agencies and organisations, you’ll find they’re all likely to pitch a solution that could be the answer to your problems. Often, the deciding factor is how accessible and straightforward those discussions are.
Recently I have been talking to a client who wants to spend less time and resource hand-cranking campaigns. They have had the same leading marketing technology product mentioned to them by 3 suppliers and partners – us included. The product is the same, the benefits are the same, the quotes they have received are almost the same. So who does the client go with to move forward on implementing this product? The answer is the agency who makes it easy for them, the one that talks concisely and simply - because in this direct competition for their business, the actual product isn’t the focus!
4. Are the benefits clear?
Whatever your role, I imagine you’re unlikely to want to wade through a 100 page sales proposal talking about all the different elements of a product.
That’s why I will typically focus on the top 3 functions that will help the client immediately after implementation is complete. I do that because I know that if I can make the benefits clear and simple to understand (and then make the procurement process straightforward, and implementation swift and accurate) we’ll be able to move ahead and deliver results faster.
5. Can they correctly interpret your wishes?
The chances are you won’t approach us asking, for example, for a “single customer view (SCV)”. Instead, you will talk in terms of outputs, the things an SCV can deliver. So you may ask for a better understanding of how many customers you have, or express a wish to get closer to your customers so you can communicate more efficiently.
The right data driven marketing partner is one who is attuned to your language (rather than the other way around), so if you don’t use the phrase “SCV” they can still unpick your requirements to understand what you’re really looking for.
Talking your language
Acronyms, buzzwords and technical jargon are not important. And if everyone can offer a vaguely similar technical solution, then that’s not the deciding factor either. So when it comes to choosing your marketing technology partner, I believe what really matters is the ability to demonstrate this: we understand your world. We recognise your pains. And we can simply articulate a fast way to address them.
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Sam Allen, Commercial Director at Occam DM Ltd (part of the St Ives Group)