Technology companies build technology. Since your company is already staffed with talented developers, why not build your own tools to market your technology? It seems to make sense, but there are compelling arguments for why it might not be the best idea. Here are three reasons why you should consider reviewing, with more attention, already available tools instead of forging ahead and building your own.
The Marketing Technology World is Big
The MarTech landscape is enormous, as you can tell from the chart developed by marketing technology analyst Scott Brinker, growing from some 150 in 2011 to more than 3,800 in 2016. There is a plethora of marketing tools ranging from tools for social, content, digital, lead gen, and more. However, in spite of so many options already being available, many companies choose to go down their own path and spend money to replicate something that already exists.
Graphic Source: Marketing Technology Landscape Supergraphic (2016)
Faced with a marketplace that vast, it’s easy to see why you might be tempted to choose to build your own solutions rather than sift through all those choices, but is that really the best strategy?
Their Tools Are Better Than Yours
The reason why the marketing technology landscape has grown exponentially is because investors support MarTech companies, and large technology companies are investing in and developing vendor partner marketing technology tools. In the first quarter of 2017, 200+ VCs invested in 95 marketing technology companies. Additionally, large technology vendors like Adobe, Oracle, Salesforce, and HP are investing heavily in building suites of marketing solutions to support their customers’ needs.
Because vendors and investors are putting resources into their tools, odds are theirs will best yours on key measures of cost, quality, and time. It will take time to research and evaluate even free options, but building your own will require an average of six to 12 months of development time. That’s up to a year your team could be focused on making your own technology offerings better and getting them to market faster.
Once you build a tool, the work has only begun—you’ll need to maintain it. This is where solutions developed by companies that specialize in building marketing technology might be a better, more cost-effective option, as they are likely updated more frequently than you’ll be able to update yours. Also, their MarTech is developed with the user in mind and capable of integrating with other technology systems, whereas yours is probably developed uniquely for your company’s revenue needs and might not integrate with outside programs. Which tools do you think your marketers are going to prefer to use and be more successful with?
Yet another consideration is cost. In addition to the initial expense of developing marketing technology tools, there are substantial ongoing costs required to maintain the technology. Marketing technology companies, on the other hand, are receiving the funding necessary to invest in the maintenance and continued development of their tools.
As You Grow, They Grow
One advantage of opting for marketing technology solutions from dedicated developers is that they are capable of scaling with you. If you build your own tools, they will likely be designed to meet your current and near term projected revenue needs. However, if you grow bigger, or faster than projected (which is a good problem to have!), will your homegrown tools be able to keep up with you? Outside tools are more likely to not only scale alongside you, but be created to support your marketing and sales scalability. In other words, they help you grow. Ask quarterly for a roadmap of new capabilities the tool will integrate. You many find additional use cases from these quarterly updates that will further enhance your own growth.
The Price is Right
The good news is there are hundreds of low-cost or free marketing technology tools, in every category, available to businesses of all sizes, across all industries. The even better news is if you already partner with large technology vendors, they likely have marketing technology solutions integrated across functions, designed to scale and foster your growth. Your vendor partners have a vested interest in your success. However, are you merely a consumer of the platform or are you an “extended” co-developer?
One of the most impactful engagements you can have is to ask to participate in regular tools enhancement “ideation” sessions. Technology vendors will value the ideas and feedback you can bring to the table and when you voice your needs, they will likely be addressed. Feedback goes both ways: Provide feedback to the developers of what works/what doesn’t, and limitations you’re facing—as well as happy surprises and ways the technology has worked for you.
The Bottom Line
You cannot ignore the need for marketing technology. Solutions are available for every category of marketing function. At a technology company, the temptation to build your own tools is likely strong. However, your team’s time, attention, and budget might be better spent researching what is already available to you from the marketplace, and finding the MarTech savings for channel partners offered by your vendor partners. Your growth will support their success. Take advantage! If the platform is good, associate them to your success. Spread the word and help them get new logos (outside of your direct competitors, of course).
What do you think? Have you faced the buy versus build conundrum? How did you decide? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
This article was first published on LinkedIn.
Vincent Brissot is the Head of Channel Marketing & Operations at HP. With some 14 years of experience in channel enablement, business development, and marketing, he has a comprehensive understanding of and expertise in the IT industry related to hardware, services, and software. Vincent has worked in multiple countries, in regional and worldwide roles across Enterprise and SMB market segments. You can follow Vincent on Twitter @VincentBrissot and also find him on LinkedIn.