How do you advise your growing portfolio companies when it comes to technology investments?
We work as a lead for marketing automation and CRM. I look at marketing technology stacks and try to help CMOs and marketing directors who are in our group to develop their marketing technology, but also form their marketing models. More specifically, I get involved in roadmap planning, the review, and all the stats and migration projects.
For example, it may be an existing stack that a company within our group has. We try to leverage the existing technologies and look at platform performance, process performance, and people performance. We look across these three targets/elements and try to understand what’s working and where we want to take it. We’re basically trying to create the vision of the marketing technology stack.
What do you usually end up uncovering?
It’s very fascinating to see the journey that some of the companies go through from starting to build a marketing technology stack. There are so many surprises—people don’t necessarily know exactly what capabilities they have and how much martech they already have in-house. So it’s a very good exercise to start by taking inventory and doing an audit of the tech that already exists. But we also try to map out exactly what the priorities are in terms of filling in gaps. Or skill sets. Or optimizing the processes to fit the way the company thinks or approaches their platforms.
What do you think is the most important pillar of the three targets you mentioned—people, platform, or process?
Definitely 100% people. Tech is just tech. It’s what you do with your tech that matters at the end of the day. It’s about having the right skill set, the right people to put the right processes in place to utilize the right technology and reach the right customer at the right time with the right message. But it starts with people. We start by sourcing the right skill set or investing in training existing resources to meet the need.
How do you advise CMOs on building out teams to support the platforms and processes? When do you choose a vendor/contractor versus a full-time employee?
We advise them to have a vision, but start growing in stages. Don’t go out and try to recruit everyone or buy everything because you have a grand vision. That’s actually one of the pitfalls that we advise against. There are multiple ways of sourcing these capabilities and you don’t necessarily need to go out and recruit, but you need to be very thoughtful about where you find them. It also depends on the maturity level of the marketing team. If you’re doing it the first time, it’s important to have someone show you the ropes so you know how fast or how far you can go. Learning from experience is great, but it can be very costly. In martech especially, there are so many projects that start very enthusiastically, but end up with big gaps and lost budget. Then as you go, you build on your own capabilities. You recruit people, you train people, invest in them, and learn from the best. This enables a company to scale faster than trying to recruit right away. Otherwise, that person might feel isolated, like there’s no support, academy, or best practices to learn from.
What’s an example of a portfolio company that you think has done a fantastic job with building out their platforms, processes, and people?
We have a company in the group that’s been using multiple channels and platforms, paying for every single one just to have different teams accomplish the same goal, basically. We examined how the data is stored across the company, how it’s managed, who has access to the data, who had ownership roles, etc. Our recommendation was to consolidate marketing and sales teams to use one platform. That has made a huge, huge difference for this company because it’s basically laid the groundwork for them to bring people together and increase collaboration, transparency, and more. It also gave them access to the same data, and everyone agreed on the best way to input, store, manage, and analyze it for insights.
Check out the full video interview.
Watch the full interview to learn how Alina advises growing companies on their marketing technology investments.