In the old days of buying technology, there was one decision-maker: the CIO. As the only person in charge of implementing the product/software, CIOs didn't need input from other departments. And truthfully, they didn't want it either.
Today's business world is much different. Technology expands far beyond engineering and information technology, especially for retail. Marketing technology is fast becoming the standard for retailers and other B2C companies aiming to connect with their target audience. In fact, a recent article in eMarketer stated that desktops, laptops, notebooks, tablets, smartphones, wearables, kiosks, and mobile-payment devices impacted 28 percent of all sales in 2014. Overall, digital device use influenced $1.7 trillion in in-store retail sales and will influence 64 percent of all in-store sales this year.
The future of retail success relies heavily on marketing technology. As a result, the marketing department now has more decision-making power than IT when it comes to choosing a marketing tech platform. This may have sounded crazy 10 years ago, but today it's standard procedure. Simple programming with awful marketing results won't work. Impossible programming with superb marketing results won't work either. You need to find a common ground: A marketing tech solution that meets every departmental demand.
This article explores the needs of the primary stakeholders within a typical retail organization. Each individual will have unique objectives and perspectives on whether the platform will add value or make life more difficult. The one thing they do have in common? That's easy. They all must say "yes" in the end.
The following represents each spoke of the wheel to buying marketing tech:
Perhaps the most influential of the group, the CMO oversees the entire marketing strategy. Digital, print, TV, and mobile all fall under the CMO's omni-channel umbrella, so your marketing tech better offer a comprehensive solution for everything right off the bat. Here are some common yet fundamental questions that should be answered without hesitation:
- Will it generate more revenue?
- Will it help us make better decisions?
- Will it help me see the big picture?
- Will it give me a single view of the customer?
- Will it improve customer experience?
The CMO is the be-all and end-all of selling your platform. Your pitch isn't finished yet, but if you get the green light here you've cleared the tallest hurdle of the bunch.
VP or director of marketing
The VP or Director of Marketing will typically have more specific questions about the software and how you stack up to other vendors. Some directors may be in charge of their own channel, such as mobile, desktop, or paid (display ads), so make sure to prepare accordingly. Case studies are the perfect answer to any industry-related inquiry as all marketers want to know what their competitors are up to.
Measurability is also a key focus with this group. Data will continue to be at the forefront of marketing software so be ready to prove your technology measures up. This group will want to know:
- How will you optimize my marketing spend?
- What kind of analytics do you provide?
- Is your platform bulletproof?
- Is it easy to use, and how long will it take to train my staff?
- Why should I bring on yet another vendor?
- Who else is using you? What kind of results have they seen?
IT manager/tech ops
Marketing may be holding the reins on this purchase, but information technology will definitely have their say. As mentioned above, no marketing magic can take place if IT blocks implementation. IT will want your solution to seamlessly integrate with their existing vendors. They will also want to know their developers will have the tools they need to implement and manage the platform. In short -- they want to know:
- Is it easy to implement?
- Will it cause problems down the road?
- Will our developers have the tools they need to manage it?
- How secure is the platform?
Major stakeholders aside, several other folks will certainly be involved in deciding whether a marketing tech solution makes sense for the business. The chief revenue officer or VP of sales will assess the cost/benefit to implement and use solution. Legal will analyze your contract, honing in on the T&Cs -- particularly indemnification and data security. Anything with potential to jeopardize the overall business will slow down your progress. And despite the changes in tech purchasers over the years, the CIO could still show up in these meetings. Their line of questioning could mimic IT, while encompassing the interests of other higher level stakeholders, so be prepared.
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