On martech platforms — over-promising and managing expectations

💡 So this article started from a pic shared by a friend, and developed into a wannabe post and eventually the post was growing so long that it just felt right to turn it into an article.

This circulated a lot this weekend — and it perfectly describes most conversations with platforms, as you — the excited customer — tries to get answers to specific deal-breaking technical, marketing or data requirements.

And in my 14 year experience, whether it’s an established company or a start-up that’s scaling, most of them have had or have unique aspects to their setup that require understanding and catering.

These excited customers being in need of a particular and/or urgent thing sign off and get onboard with platforms on the promise that in a few months time and few dev asks later, everything they need will be implemented. Some platforms can really own up to those promises but 90% of them don’t and prefer to wing it/ hope for the best until the onboarding phase is completed.

And I know a lot of digital marketers & martech experts will sympathise with this!

The reason why most companies and startups eventually make the effort both financial and human resource related to get such platforms on board — whether it’s for tracking, competitive intelligence or automation services — is because they recognize that they need to work smarter and cleaner than before. No more patchwork, putting stuff together manually, logging in 100 platforms that don’t communicate with each other. They want unity, synergy and cohesiveness.

Most of them will also be in a situation where they are migrating from patched-up stuff, technical legacy and work-arounds to new systems — oftentimes this is a painful and time consuming process.

Which is why before embarking on such a journey, the customer will put together all the needs and pain points they have with a reasonable expectation that they will not find one platform to solve all their problems but ideally the biggest and most important ones should be met.

Enter the age of building marketing tech stacks — fitting the pieces together tailored to our needs. And COVID has shown, probably more than any other context, how important it is to have the infrastructure and agility that enables to swiftly tweak your marketing and overall business strategy. So a customer will look for reliable and solid pieces that “talk” to each other. Sounds simple?

I cannot describe how many times I’ve had the (dis)pleasure of finding out throughout the onboarding process just how many things had been misconstrued or left out altogether during the sales and sales engineering pitches. Leaving me and the team to scramble for hot-fixes and creative solutions that work under the clock — which is what we wanted to avoid in the first place.

A CDP Institute satisfaction survey performed on their members in 2019 pretty much confirms my experience as well:

Skilled people will always pull through, but the experience is not good, renewals will be debatable and word of mouth has pretty much gone out the window. And when in survival mode with the global economy contracted to a great degree impacting all sectors, all of these points matter.

If you’re a platform reading this, be transparent and honest as much as possible and managing expectations will go a very long way! Companies may end up signing the contract without you meeting all of the requirements 100% — but that honest conversation will allow them to prepare and bridge the gaps and implement them in a proper way.

Growth Hacker and Essentialist, #Performance and all around Digital Enthusiast, user behaviour analyzer. Love reading, travelling, arts & all things Japanese.