How to challenge the traditional RFP

Does your martech provide sufficient results?

If marketing is to achieve its objectives, i.e. build and maintain brands, create top and bottom line growth and document the effect of marketing drives, then qualified martech choices are crucial. And in times (always) when marketing budgets are under pressure, documented ROI of martech is absolutely necessary. However, for many organisations the reality is that martech does not provide the expected value. And this in spite of the fact that the software fulfills all of the criteria that formed the basis of the choice. 

 

I see many cases where there is simply too great a distance between the business need for executing data-driven communication, the operational work with data and communication, and the ability to capitalise on martech. So, what is it that happens between needs, vision and unfulfilled expectations? The short answer is: RFP (request for proposal) happens; that is, the process that precedes the martech decision. In my opinion there is a too strong and one-eyed focus on technological functionality and a less strong focus on communication. If martech is to create value, then a much more business-orientated approach must be included in the equation from the beginning and it must be ensured that marketing is able to execute the relevant concepts and initiatives. It is all about defining needs and methods and about thoroughly testing software and suppliers.

You must challenge the traditional RFP when you buy martech

When the people responsible for marketing or IT are to select technologies, they are looking at a martech landscape that proliferates in all the directions that you can think of. Several thousand technologies and suppliers are offering their services and it can be difficult to make head or tail of what is the best choice for an individual company. The way forward is to ask questions; however, the challenge is to ask the right questions that will give you the answers that will take you where you want to go. Whether to turn right or left at the crossroads depends, of course, on where you want to go. The same applies when you choose martech: what business objectives is your martech supposed to help you achieve and how is the individual supplier supporting this?

The RFP in itself doesn’t suffice as a basis for decisions

Many martech choices – especially when it comes to large companies where a procurement department is responsible for purchasing IT and software – begin with an RFP. Here the focus is typically on functionality and price. These are excellent criteria that you must get right. But technological functionality does not guarantee ROI and functionality and price do not provide the necessary insights in terms of supplier and product that are required to make an informed choice in relation to the company’s needs. In the best case scenario, the company can implement a screening and a selection of potential suppliers on the basis of an RFP, but the RFP cannot be the sole basis of a decision and all martech purchasers should challenge the traditional RFP process.

See it with your own eyes

It is the communication concepts and daily work that, in combination with the right technology, create ROI, so you need to know that you can make it work. If you want to go deeper than the RFP and a demo, the obvious thing to do is to conduct a POC (proof of concept). This way you can assess the technology as well as the supplier’s ability to support the company’s business objectives. The time you spend on a POC is well spent and will ultimately help ensure that you can deliver business results swiftly.

The martech mantra

It has been said so many times that it is almost a mantra and now I will say it as well: martech does not create value in itself – it is all the things for which you use the technology that create value. Before you invest your marketing budget you must therefore know what it is that you want to achieve, and you must make sure your choice of technology and supplier makes it possible for you and that it can happen relatively fast. This requires a dialogue between IT and marketing. It takes CMOs and CIOs who embrace the business as well as the technology and are able to navigate at the intersection of business strategy, communication and technology and make qualified and value-creating martech choices. This is the key to ROI. 

For further information

If you would like to read more about how to qualify your MarTech investment you should check out our buyer’s guide. 

Feel free to reach out to Bo Sannung for a conversation on how to challenge the traditional RFP.

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