Digital MarketingStrategiesThe 12Ps of marketing technology (martech)

The 12Ps of marketing technology (martech)

Based on her experience, our Advisory Board member Colleen Scollans developed a 12-step process for implementing martech (12Ps of Marketing Technology©) that she uses with her consulting clients.

30-second summary:

  • Colleen’s 12Ps of marketing technology© is built upon the tenet that martech is an enabler for marketing. Marketing technology, in and of itself, is not a strategy. The tech offers no value unless it enables a solid marketing strategy.
  • Further, for martech to succeed, the technology needs to be successfully adopted and utilized by the marketing team in a manner that advances, or accelerates, the marketing strategy.
  • The 12Ps is a framework that provides guidance (and guardrails) for one martech project or for a portfolio of projects. It is comprised of three phases, each with sub-steps, that directs marketing leaders through the marketing technology process.
  • Recognizing how easy it is to get carried away with marketing technology, riding the wave of promise without adequate checks and balances, each 12P step is designed as a hurdle – a decision-gate where marketing must decide if they should proceed, stop, or re-engineer.

Marketing technology (martech) projects are notoriously hard.

The technology landscape is complex with over 8,000 tools. The growth in marketing technology, from 150 tools in 2011 to over 8,000 tools in 2020, is mind blowing.

Scott Brinker, calls the phenomenon, of marketing teams evolving at a pace slower than the technology advances “martech’s law” and labels it the “greatest management challenge of the 21st century.”

With such a vast array of tools, and marketing technology companies (especially the big marketing clouds) being amazingly good self-promoters, it is easy for marketers to get distracted by the latest shiny new object  (i.e. the “it” technology du jour) rather than focus on maximizing current tooling or laser focusing in on their most critical capability needs.

Successful marketing technology planning and implementation requires discipline. According to a 2019 Gartner survey, marketers utilize only 58% of their martech stack’s potential.

While there are many reasons for low adoption and under-utilization, the top eight tend to be:

  1. Leading with technology before strategy.
  2. Non-existent or deficient business case.
  3. Lack of experienced marketing leadership to drive the project.
  4. Getting swept up in the excitement of martech rather than a detailed capability and vendor fit audit.
  5. Wrong tool selection.
  6. Insufficient marketing organizational readiness to successfully adopt and utilize the technology.
  7. No infrastructure to support the technology investment (data models and systems administration, most notably)
  8. Poor integration planning (i.e. tools are siloed)

I experienced first-hand how challenging it can be to get marketing technology right. My earliest foray into martech was plagued with many rookie mistakes.

After Technology declared the project successfully completed; it quickly became clear that the marketing team was underprepared for, and not excited by, the new technology.

I decided then, that if I wanted future martech projects to succeed, I needed a different approach. While this first project left some bumps and bruises, it also served as the catalyst for my marketing technology framework – The 12Ps of Marketing Technology©.

Since then, as a CMO and a consultant, I have led numerous martech projects where this framework, and the associated methodologies and guidance, have been core to my approach.

How the 12Ps work

The 12Ps of marketing technology© (12Ps) is built upon the tenet that marketing technology is an enabler for marketing. Marketing technology, in and of itself, is not a strategy. The technology offers no value unless it enables a solid marketing strategy.

Further, for martech to succeed, the technology needs to be successfully adopted and utilized by the marketing team in a manner that advances, or accelerates, the marketing strategy.

The 12Ps is a framework that provides guidance (and guardrails) for one martech project or for a portfolio of martech projects. It is comprised of three phases, each with sub-steps, that directs marketing leaders through the marketing technology process:

  • Steps 1-6: Marketing Planning
  • Steps 7-10: Active Project
  • Steps 11&12: Post Project

Recognizing how easy it is to get carried away with marketing technology, riding the wave of promise without adequate checks and balances, each 12P step is designed as a hurdle – a decision-gate where marketing must decide if they should proceed, stop, or re-engineer.

Steps 1-6: The marketing planning phase

The first phase focuses on the internal planning needed within the marketing function. It is led by the CMO. For organizations with an embedded marketing technologist, this specialist role is heavily involved.

While it is fine to collaborate with technology resources outside of marketing during this initial phase, it is not necessary to do so. Too many martech projects start without adequate pre-planning work.

Technology resources are valuable, and costly, (and often scant) and organizations should be judicious of how and when they use them. In addition, technology projects run more efficiently and at lower cost when there is robust strategic planning.

This first phase can take anywhere from a month to over a year depending on the complexity of what the organization is trying to achieve and their martech muscle.

A quick pilot, for a smaller organization should take no more than eight weeks, whereas a portfolio of martech projects, requiring a marketing transformation, for a larger organization usually takes over a year.

Step 1: Purpose

Successful projects start with an overarching vision and strategy. Marketing technology is an enabler. Therefore, it is critical to understand what you wish to enable and why.

How does the marketing vision support the wider organizational strategy? What are you trying to achieve (the specific business outcomes and metrics) and how will the technology accelerate your vision?

Step 2: Participation

Socialize your vision widely – within your marketing team, with you peers in other functions, and with the executive leadership team. At this stage, your vision is high-level, and you are seeking input to shape it further.

This socialization is the first step in your marketing team’s change management journey. Early, robust, and frequent communication galvanizes marketing around the vision and makes the team feel part of the process. In addition, issues flagged early in the process are easier to address.

Step 3: Plot capabilities

The 12Ps uses a capability planning approach. A capability is an articulation of what a business does or needs to do to drive value. Capabilities focus on the “what” you need to do rather than on the “how” you will do it.

A capability approach has many advantages: Capabilities:

  • Ensure organizations stay focused on strategy rather than jumping too soon to solutions.
  • Enable consistency and organizational alignment – avoids duplication and confusion.
  • Form the foundation for vendor RFPs and evaluations.

The 12Ps has an inventory of hundreds of martech enabled capabilities, with varying levels of granularity, to help organizations audit their current state and identify gaps.

In addition to identifying gaps, this process helps organizations spot where there are multiple tools delivering the same capability. Unnecessary duplication is costly and inefficient.

Step 4: Priortize capabilities

Once capabilities gaps are identified, they are prioritized by business value.  Your top priorities populate your strategic martech roadmap.

Step 5: Prerequisites

This step is about the planning work that should be done, within the marketing function, prior to kicking off an official martech project. The 12Ps encourages marketers to think through martech’s many implications, including:

  • How will your marketing strategy adapt?
  • Do you have the right organizational design, talent, and skills to utilize the technology (and new marketing capabilities)?
  • What processes need to change – both the processes within marketing and the processes that connect to other functions, such as sales and product.
  • How will the technology be managed and supported?
  • Do you have the right data infrastructure?
  • How do you envision the technology integrating with your other solutions and platforms?
  • How will your marketing metrics change? What constitutes success?

Step 6: Prize

By this step, the last pre-planning step, marketing has enough information to begin a “size of the prize” business case. At this stage, CMOs are estimating:

  • What are the benefits this martech investment will yield?
  • What is your best estimate of total costs?

While it is too premature to have all costs and benefits locked down, you should know enough to see if the prize is adequately sized (i.e. are the benefits worth the likely cost range?) In my experience, more than a third of martech projects do not make it past this stage.

Steps 7-10: Active project

The second phase, steps 7-10, is the project zone. You have a sufficiently “sized prize”, you understand the change needed within marketing, and now you are ready to partner with technology.

Step 7: Project definition

Marketing brings technology up to speed on the pre-work in steps 1-6. Technology partners with marketing to:

  • Connect capabilities with possible technology solutions
  • Develop project cadence and technology sequencing
  • Define the scope of the project (costs, resources, timeline, etc.)

With this added information, technology can help sharpen the costs in the size of the prize business case. This is another opportunity to validate whether the project should proceed.

Step 8: Platform

It is time to evaluate and select technology vendor(s). Vendor selection is largely about capability fit but it is also about service packages, costing, and numerous other factors.

Platform is also about your integration strategy. Integration capability is just as important as native functionality-based capability.

My personal philosophy is that the best martech stacks are best-in-breed. It is critical to understand how your new technology integrates with your legacy tools and your future roadmap.

Ideally you choose tools that help you plan an iterative digital transformation agenda (i.e. tools that integrate well with legacy systems and allow for optimal flexibility in the future). Happily, there are now vendors on the martech landscape with robust integration capability.

Step 9: Proposal

With the vendor selected, costs can be finalized. Martech projects are notorious for overruns and hidden cost. There are three main cost consideration for a martech project:

  • Project Costs: Project management, configuration. integration, and implementation costs plus the costs associated with the change that needs to occur within the marketing department (new roles, training, data model development, etc.)
  • Technology Running Costs: Subscriptions, license fees, activity, or volume costs, etc.
  • Ongoing Maintenance and Customization: Ongoing configuration, tool maximization, and technical support. What can be done by the in-house systems’ administrator? When will you need Technology to help? What is included in your vendor package?

With the costs finalized, the benefits get one last review and the business can be finalized. If it still makes sense, it can be advanced for official approval.

Step 10: Project delivery

Technology now shifts into project delivery. Both technology and marketing leadership needs to ensure the project scope is defended and project bloat is avoided.

Martech projects, due to how they greatly impact marketing strategy and day to day marketing activity, need a high level of training and change management.

It is critical that the training focuses not only on how to use the tool but also how the tool impacts marketing strategy, data models, and team processes, why the tool is important, and how you measure success.

The earlier work in step 5 (prerequisites) provides a solid baseline from which the project team can build upon.

Steps 11-12: Post project

The last two, and often forgotten steps, start after official project delivery. Unlike the prior two phases, with defined start and end dates, this phase is ongoing, as it is about continual optimization and monitoring your technology investment.

Step 11: Persistence

Once the marketing technology is implemented, ongoing maintenance and support are both critical. Marketing leaders need to:

  • Listen, through formal and informal mechanisms, to their teams to see if and how the technology is working.
  • Ensure continual training and configurations keep pace with evolving marketing strategies and new hires.
  • Understand and leverage vendor road-maps effectively advocating for desired enhancements.
  • Focus on in-house custom development and additional integrations, as needed.

Step 12: Performance

Once technology is in place, marketing leaders need to make sure the investment was warranted. The metrics in the business case need to be regularly monitored and reported.

If metrics are not achieved, marketing leaders need to understand why and adjust accordingly.

Conclusion

To support martech projects, most organizations invest in outside technology support (technology consultants, project contractors, ISPs (implementation service providers, etc.) and wonder why projects still fall short of expectations.

Colleen Scollans is a former CMO and current Marketing & Digital Transformation Consultant. As a consultant, advisor, and CMO coach, Colleen loves to advise on the strategic and operational aspects of Marketing. She is passionate about driving business transformation through a data-driven, technology enabled, and customer focused modern marketing organization. In addition, she provides strategic advisory services for martech, EdTech, SciTech, and other software and technology companies on their product and go-to-market strategies. Colleen frequently speaks and writes on marketing topics and is on the advisory boards of ClickZ and Conscia (an experience orchestration platform).

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