The Marketing Suites Are Not Your Saviors

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The Marketing Suites Are Not Your Saviors

In a recent blog post, CDP Institute Founder David Raab wrote the following:

marketing suite

I agree with a few points generally. For instance, that marketing suites are shorting the ‘best-of-breed’ vision market and that marketers continue to buy into the suite vendors.

But I disagree with the underlying machinations, specifically. I think two things can be true:

  • 1) Buyers want more flexibility and have a platform-based vision.
  • 2) Marketing suite vendors are buying up a lot of best-of-breed capabilities, seemingly in response to buyer demand.

And I would argue the outcome is a result of a number of very different trends and forces.

1) Marketing professionals’ ambition is not matched by their risk tolerance.

As the old adage goes: “No one gets fired for buying IBM.” The digital marketing version of that axiom today is: “No one gets fired for buying [insert name-brand suite here].”

Marketers have a lot of pressure to manage. Simply put, they’re tasked with a long list of inherently contradictory demands.

“Make the business customer-centric — and by tomorrow!” “Prioritize customer lifetime value — but not at the expense of email clickthrough rates!” And so on, and so on.

They’re also given virtually no resources to do it and on a timeline of “done yesterday.”

Given that, there’s an obvious — and, in some cases, irresistible — pull toward making the safe choice in terms of technology, even if it’s in no way the best choice.

2) There’s a false equivalence today that “buy” is the opposite of “build.”

To adopt David’s analogy: If we are to assume various marketing technologies can be likened to Legos, then we still have some variables to work out.

Are these just generic pieces that can be assembled in virtually any combination? (Think homegrown, IT-built systems that are ground up but limited in imagination and versatility.)

Or, are we working with kits that are supposed to be assembled into a particular structure, like Hogwarts Castle or the Eiffel Tower? (Think best-of-breed point solutions.)

Marketing suites would have you believe you can not only get an entire collection in one go, but, somehow, it’ll also basically build itself. (Or, better yet, come assembled.)

Not to put too fine a point on it, but that’s a completely empty proposition. (And it defeats the whole point of Legos.)

The assembly is vital to the function (buy a statue or an action figure, otherwise). But it’s also an opportunity to make it your own and craft something specific to you and your needs.

martech stack

3) The suites aren’t acquiring functionality. They’re acquiring market share.

I’ve been covering the marketing technology space since the “marketing clouds” branded two-plus solutions as a full-on “marketing suite.”

What may have started as an attractive vision-turned-positioning exercise has evolved into a rather simple go-to-market strategy.

A way to have multiple entry points to pursue a ‘land-and-expand’ sales strategy:

  • “Renewing our ESP? Great! We’ll throw in our DMP for a huge discount.”
  • “Need analytics? Check! How about web personalization in the same implementation?”
  • “Got tag management? Super! We’ll give you a free year of our CDP too!”

Marketing “suite” has been reduced to a bundling mechanism for sales. Not a legit product proposition.

4) Related: Pre-integrated marketing suites are bullsh*t.

Not a whole lot more to say on this point except this: Not a single marketing suite solution has demonstrated a capacity to fully and seamlessly integrate multiple (defined as three-plus) components of their products.

(Especially not quickly or in a way that keeps up with the pace of the innovation and demand in the broader market.)

In other words? No, I’m not impressed that, four years after an acquisition, a product is “integrated” into existing products. In the same way I wouldn’t consider a piece of furniture you just never got rid of is now part of your decor as a deliberate style choice.

Per the prior point: Why waste the internal engineering effort if that’s not the actual goal?

David Raab is right: Marketing suites remain viable, and marketers continue to choose to work with them. But not because of the innovation or vision/capability alignment they offer.

To be truly successful in their genuine pursuits of customer-centric visions and business transformation initiatives, today’s companies must ‘do the work’ to:

  • Evaluate and select the right solutions
  • Resource these initiatives properly
  • Align their processes and governance
  • Roadmap and manage change internally

There is no magic wand. And there never has been.

Watch our on-demand webinar to learn why companies will continue to abandon marketing suites in 2021 — and embrace best-of-breed stacks built around CDPs instead.

marketing cloud

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