Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Technology and Marketing

One thing I have noticed recently is how quickly marketers try and understand a new technology and instantly apply it to their craft thinking it a silver bullet to success.

Not all new technology can contribute to significant marketing results, no matter how hard the sales person tries to get you to bite. Most do not even apply much less provide results. Bottom line, do not let your IT staff's exuberance over a technology force you into a bad decision.

How do you recognize a useful technology for marketing to objectives? A few things I have done in the past to test the water:
1. Understand marketing's role in the organization - define success based on that role
- Does the technology facilitate you meeting that success in a more efficient way? Does it make marketing's job easier or harder? Can the least tech savvy person on your team understand the value? If you answered yes to all of these questions you may just have a winner

2. Will this new technology enhance your sales teams performance or bog it down? If it will not enhance the sales teams performance walk away. Prior to making a purchase decision it would be wise to get input form top sales performers to see how they may either use or not use the new tool. If you are not in a direct sales environment - don't ask yourself, ask your audience if this technology will help enhance the value your product or service brings to them

3. Will the cost of the technology put your ROI way out of reach? Will the benefits of the technology make the cost a moot point based on enhanced performance?

4. Base your decision on your industry, not someone else's - just because case studies from other industries show a technology as successful, does not mean that it will work for yours - one man's pleasure is another man's pain - make sure your decision is based on tests run in your industry, with similar audiences, measurement systems and processes.

Real world example: pay per click advertising
This is no new tool. It has been around for several years but contrary to some thought, not right for everyone. Do you think Nike really needs to drop a bunch of cash on PPC advertising? Anyone who wants to find Nike's web site knows where to look. And if by chance they do not, they simply Google or use Yahoo, MSN or some other search engine, type in Nike and they are the first result. (Before you marketing PPC evangelists get on my case for this example, yes, I realize Nike could hit homeruns with PPC for special product launches, microsite promotion, etc. but this example is meant to be general and for their general Nike brand - not their new LeBron microsite promoting the latest and greatest mega shoe.)

Contrary to Zappos.com, who is one of several shoe retailers online and desperately needs to run an aggressive PPC campaign based on their business model, where their sales come from, and how people can find them - even potential customers who do not even know Zappos exists. Two brands - one can greatly benefit from a technology, one in general terms - not really.

I can run similar comparisons with marketing management software packages, marketing content management technologies, podcasting applications and the list goes on. You get the picture.

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