With more than 7,000 relatively new marketing tech solutions to choose from, questions about MarTech keep Mike Couch busy.

“Procurement is a big topic in this space and there’s a very interesting mix of people buying things and people selling things,” said Couch, CEO and Managing Partner of Couch & Associates, a Toronto-based marketing and advertising firm delivering marketing solutions to Fortune 1000 firms and top brands around the world. “Navigating through all of this is very interesting.”

Mike Couch, CEO and Managing Partner of Couch & Associates
As a deep dive into best practices for making procurement decisions on marketing technology, Couch joined ITWC President Fawn Annan for a July 2021 installment of CMO Talks, a podcast series designed to showcase strategies for gaining a competitive edge through the intersection of marketing and technology.

Three Personas

“When I’m speaking to somebody about where they’re at, I usually try to slot them into one of three personas: those who are seeking knowledge, those who want to solve problems, and those who want to take action,” explained Couch.

Although he acknowledges the importance of all three approaches, Couch is most drawn to problem solving. “One of the big benefits of being a problem solver and identifying the problems you have is that you have more criteria to help you choose the perfect tool,” he said. “If you’re just going out to buy a hammer because you want to have one in your tool shed, it’s hard to decide the criteria for selecting one hammer over another.”

Big Picture Focus

In answer to a question from Annan about how he keeps up with so many new solutions, Couch advocated keeping aware of major digital advances. “Staying on top of the high level concepts is a lot easier than trying to stay on top of a lot of the logos that are out there,” he said. “Looking at the concepts that are out there is a much saner way of going about it than trying to follow all the individual things.”

According to Couch, there is no point learning all the bells and whistles of a particular software when there is little likelihood that it will be the one chosen. A better approach, he explained, is trying to understand things that are very specific to business needs and how they would apply to the organization. It’s also important, he added, to keep the marketing leader apprised of new technologies, both for gathering information needed to solve problems and for equipping the CMO with an educated response related to a particular area of technology.

Considering the Total Cost

After a discussion of change management, Couch and Annan turned their attention to customer experience, with Couch recommending that CMOs weigh the value of new technologies against the total cost in order to do a fair comparison. “In addition to doing all those quantitative measurements of how a system can help you and the value it is going to bring in, it’s also important to consider the costs to involve everyone in the process,” he said.

The podcast concluded with key points on procuring new technology. “Try to understand where you are and who you are in the buying process,” said Couch. “If you’re a knowledge seeker, then get educated so that you’re not technology led. And don’t be fearful of not having a certain technology because your competitors have it. If your competitors have a solution and you don’t, you have to remember that it may be eliminating their competitive advantage, but it’s not bringing you one.”

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