July 4, 2014 ↘︎

Flat-packed marketing technology

Congratulations, you’ve managed to get budget for a shiny new bit of marketing technology! Now what?

You bought a bed.

Imagine you went to IKEA and you’ve bought a bed.

Got a screwdriver? Because you’re going to need one.

What’s an IKEA bed got to do with digital marketing? It’s flat packed, just like your marketing technology. And after purchasing it you need to assemble it. 

Regardless of whether it’s an analytics platform, a testing platform, a content management platform, or a campaign management platform…you’re in for the same journey. Just like the flat-pack bed, it’s not going to assemble itself. Having the license doesn’t automatically mean it’s going to answer all of your questions and deliver on all your goals. There’s always a bit more to it than that.

Yet the gap between expectation and reality always surprises (and saddens) me to hear.  

So what’s involved?

Well, the first part typically involves finding the instructions which means trying to unpack the thing. Once you’ve found the instructions you generally lay out all the pieces, all of those little screws, bits of dowel and nuts.

This is where the realisation starts to sink in. You’re going to be here for hours trying to put this together. And inevitably a screw rolls under the couch or you’ll have a bit that’s missing; a crucial bit.

So, with a little bit of fear, you read the instructions. But they never quite make sense do they? The diagram of the piece with all the little holes marked on always take a bit of time to figure out, and make sure you’ve got it the right way round before you attach another piece to it. Just like your new marketing technology – what do those instructions actually mean?

Have you got all the parts?

Probably the next thing you do is check all the parts, cause they’re famous for missing a few bits. You look through the list, and lay out the parts, and yes, everything’s there based on the information you have at hand.  So that’s all good (at the moment). 

Putting it together

Now comes the excruciating part of putting it all together.  Do you have all the right tools?  They always say you’ll only need an Allen Key, a Phillips screwdriver, and maybe a hammer – sometimes they even provide the Allen Key.  5 minutes into the assembly you know you also need wine.  And plenty of it – this is IKEA after all.

Inevitably, you’ll make mistakes following the instructions and have to repeat steps. Once you figure out the way they’ve drawn the instructions, you’re on your way.

Unfortunately you don’t find out you’ve made a mistake until three crucial steps later. So you end up dismantling a little bit and re-doing it.  That’s a massive pain. Why can’t they make the instructions clearer and more accurate?

With a huge sigh of relief and a couple of glasses of wine later, your new creation stands like a thing of beauty in your living room. Assembled, you think and hope, correctly. But two things nag in the back of your mind. That screw that went under the couch with the dust and spiders, and that bolt that was extra. Were they important? It looks alright; it seems stable enough. If they really do matter only time and use will tell.

Place it somewhere.

So now you need to place it in the bedroom.  It’s too unwieldy for you to lift it on your own. So you call in some additional help (in the form of a begrudging teenage son) and together you place it in the room. And now you have to dress it. As it’s brand new, you go out and buy new sheets, a new doona, pillows and a throw. All the extras to make it really nice. Those weren’t really part of the budget, but, what the heck, a new bed needs a new quilt cover eh?

Finally, you need to show it off.

So you invite all your friends around to see your new bed and your brilliantly designed new quilt cover (and quilt and sheets and pillows and throw). And they marvel at it.  There’s many oohs and aahs. But that simple decision to buy a new bed resulted in a journey of epic proportions. Ok maybe that’s a bit exaggerated, but you ended up spending much more than you anticipated, in both time and money (not to mention the wine).

Does this sound familiar?

In going to IKEA, you basically knew what you were in for. A DIY flat-packed bed.

So why is the expectation any different when licensing marketing technology? It too is flat-packed. It doesn’t build itself; it doesn’t integrate itself; and it certainly doesn’t populate itself. The journey is identical.

My advice is to make sure you have thought through all aspects of this first.  Ensure you have budgeted for the resources to deliver on it as well as the resources and skill sets needed to manage it down the road. And don’t forget the ongoing budget to support it, plus all of the additional costs that go with it.

If you plan properly, your shiny new marketing technology will repay you in spades, and everyone will marvel at it.

The content and advice contained in this post may be out of date. Last updated on July 4, 2014.
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