4 Steps to Explain Technical Debt to Your CMO/Marketing VP

TLDR: Technical debt arises from rushed responses to problems created by poor planning. Think long-term about your projects, and you won’t have to choose between speed and execution. 

Technical debt describes the implied cost of making “quick fixes” to your tech stack or IT infrastructure.

Technical debt accumulates when the people building your software take suboptimal shortcuts to complete projects over more effective approaches that take longer. Doing so entrenches flaws into your tech that become more troublesome to fix as time goes on, leading to higher rework costs later.

In this Tough Talks Made Easy, you’ll learn to discuss the causes and consequences of technical debt with your CMO and suggest cultural changes to prevent it from building.

 

Why technical debt builds

During projects like platform migrations and implementations, a CMO and VP generally focus on contract negotiations.

Their efforts to get the best deal. This focus can, inadvertently, eat into the time needed for the technical work.

When projects start too late, those responsible for building the project will face pressure to make up for lost time and choose “quick fixes” to hit deadlines and achieve results.

While CMOs aim to make the most cost-effective decisions, they often account just for the purchase cost of a new application or platform.

For instance, your CMO may choose a marketing automation platform license cheaper than its competitors without considering the extra admin, consultation, and custom development necessary to make it work.

Add in the cost of training personnel and additional support, however, and you could well face a higher total cost of ownership. Especially if you don’t plan from the beginning to bring these resources on board, or if the project is already running behind schedule.

Short-sighted thinking leads to these negative outcomes:

  • compressed timelines
  • bloated costs and scope, and
  • increased project vulnerability due to mistakes and substandard workarounds.

These decisions compromise a project’s execution and encourage technical debt, making subsequent improvements more challenging to make.

 

Preventing technical debt

Influencing upwards is an impactful approach against technical debt.

Depending on the dynamics of your organization, a direct line to your CMO or Marketing VP might not be possible. In that case, look to your Operations Manager or Marketing Director as allies with the access and technical expertise to impart the urgency of starting on time.

While it’s impossible to identify every gap a solution has until it’s in-house, you can confidently speak to the consequences of a late start.

Here’s how to sell your boss on the respect the project deserves:

“If negotiations drag out and leave us behind schedule, it will impact our ability to deliver this project on time, on budget, and to the level of competency you want. X will happen if we don’t start as planned, and it’ll take Y additional costs to fix.”

 

Implementations and migrations

Implementations and migrations are demanding initiatives. The planning phase is crucial to map out all your anticipated costs and labor needs.

Your CMO/Marketing VP can’t expect key contributors to carry their full workload and give their all to an implementation or migration—people who are stretched take shortcuts, and that just leads to technical debt proliferating.

Freeing up key team members to commit and provide the necessary focus to the project gives them space to contribute to the best of their ability, without incurring rework costs.

For instance, sales and marketing leadership could reduce the quarterly targets of the sales reps involved, or lessen the day-to-day campaign execution responsibilities of contributors from marketing.

 

Create a change management team

The creation of a change management team is a particularly progressive solution to technical debt.

Technical debt arises from rushed responses to problems created by short-sighted planning.

Advocate for a dedicated team of people to support the project from conception, mapping out the ramifications of any change in:

  • costs
  • timelines
  • resource requirements, and
  • post-implementation training.

This increases the project’s resilience to disruption and lessens the risk of technical debt.

 

Long-term thinking

If projects are delayed at the early stages, you’ve ultimately got a choice between paying upfront or later on.

Do you use the most effective methods to build a new implementation or migration, accepting you’ll be up and running later than planned? Or do you take shortcuts to make your initial launch date, at risk of introducing flaws into the project that carry large rework costs and compromise how effectively it works?

Between the two, it’s not an even trade.

The cost of technical debt often outweighs the agility of completing a project as fast as possible.

Steps to avoid technical debt:

1. Reinforce the importance of making a plan and sticking to it with leadership.

2. Scope out your timelines, labor needs, and total cost of ownership upfront—when things need to progress to meet your deadline, the people you’ll need to be involved in the project, and its real financial cost.

3. Advocate for a change management team to reinforce the consequences of starting late or making changes, and to find solutions in a proactive, planned manner.

4. Take the demands of your project seriously, and you shouldn’t have to choose between speed and execution.

Need more guidance? Get in touch — we’re always here to help.

 

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How to Help Your C-Suite Choose Between Marketo and HubSpot

TLDR: Marketing automation platforms play a significant role in how businesses engage with their audiences. Marketo and HubSpot are leading the pack, but which one should you choose? Our latest Tough Talks Made Easy post gives you the tools to help your executive team choose the right platform for your business. Take a look.

 

What you’ll learn here:

  • When choosing a marketing automation platform, Marketo and HubSpot are leaders.
  • Where HubSpot is a centralized inbound marketing platform with multiple functions, Marketo focuses on moving leads through the marketing funnel.
  • You can help your C-suite choose the right solution for your business by exploring these three considerations:
    • your tech stack
    • your products and customer audience, and
    • the maturity of your team.

 

Marketing automation tools are changing the way businesses operate.

On the one hand, they make marketing and sales teams more efficient and productive. On the other, they’ve made it easier for marketers to provide tailored, personalized experiences that meet their target audiences where they are.

At the top of the marketing automation charts are Marketo and HubSpot, two platforms that have led the way in revolutionizing the marketing space. But, which of these tools is best for your business?

To help you guide your exec team in their decision on which software to adopt, here’s an overview of each platform and the considerations you should make as you evaluate them.

 

Marketo Vs. HubSpot

HubSpot

HubSpot is an inbound marketing platform that has four functions:

  • marketing
  • sales
  • customer service, and
  • customer relationship management (CRM).

Users can operate their email marketing, CRM software, contact management, and help desk automation from one place with a well-designed user interface.

While many teams appreciate the centralized experience, HubSpot also offers extensibility that allows you to integrate with third-party apps, including Salesforce.

This flexibility makes it easier for companies to customize the experience to what makes sense to them.

 

Marketo

Marketo Engage, meanwhile, is a robust marketing automation platform.

Marketo focuses exclusively on moving leads and customers through various stages of the marketing funnel. It does this in a way that’s customizable to the organization’s processes and structures.

What Marketo offers:

  • marketing automation
  • email marketing, and
  • lead management capabilities.

This focus allows users to create highly personalized content to tailor marketing campaigns to specific audiences.

 

The truth is, this isn’t an apples-to-apples comparison.

When it comes down to it, both tools serve different functions and have to be considered within the broader scope of your tech stack and where your business is going.

So, the question you and your C-suite should really be asking is: Do you need a centralized marketing and sales hub or a robust marketing automation platform that integrates with other best-of-breed solutions?

 

3 non-technical considerations:

When making this choice, you’ll need to engage with your leadership team to determine which platform makes the most sense for your business.

Here are three non-technical considerations that will help guide your conversation with them.

1. For your CIO: Your existing tech stack

HubSpot reduces complexity for your team

As mentioned above, HubSpot is a centralized solution for sales, marketing, and customer engagement functions.

It continues to expand the offerings on its platform, making it a great place to start if you don’t have any technology serving those verticals—and don’t have the budget to invest in multiple integrated solutions.

The other benefit here is that HubSpot reduces complexity for your team, as they only have one tool to learn. This also makes it easier to transfer data from one function to another for accurate attribution reporting.

 

Marketo helps you build a best-of-breed tech stack

Marketo is the right choice if your company builds a tech stack with best-of-breed solutions leading their verticals.

The tool makes up for not being an all-in-one solution by integrating seamlessly with leading solutions like Salesforce, Drift, and Bizible.

In fact, Marketo was originally designed with Salesforce in mind, and they still operate seamlessly together today. That said, it’s important to remember that each platform has its own price tag, so you need to have the budget available to build and run this integrated ecosystem.

The other consideration is that Marketo is less prone to evolving its software, making it a more predictable investment.

 

How to help your CIO: Your CIO likely has a strategy or roadmap for what your company’s tech stack will look like. Talk to them about it and use the points above to determine which platform fits into that strategy.

 

2. For your CMO: Your products and customer audience

Small product catalogs:

Businesses that only market one product to one or two audiences will naturally have relatively simple customer journeys.

It reduces the need for complex workflows, persona building, and robust attribution models.

HubSpot does a good job of addressing this use case as it easily connects the dots between each step in a single customer journey.

 

Large product catalogs:

Meanwhile, companies that have larger, more complex product catalogs require more specialized tools across every part of the path to purchase.

That’s especially the case if they have a number of customer segments to meet with the right messaging at the right time.

This is where teams can make the most of Marketo, accounting for multiple considerations and customer behaviors.

 

How to help your CMO: Raise these points with your CMO to advise them on where a product like Marketo or HubSpot can be more productive.

They’ll also be able to tell you if there are any anticipated changes in how your business plans to market to new or existing audiences, which will also dictate which platform makes the most sense.

 

3. For your CEO: The maturity of your team

Is your business new on the scene? Or have you been around for decades?

Wherever your team sits on the maturity spectrum should inform how your executives decide on a marketing automation platform.

 

Startups:

For growth-stage startups that are prioritizing their product development, HubSpot tends to be the platform of choice.

A centralized, easy-to-use solution can make it easier for the individuals running your marketing, sales, and customer engagement functions to work towards the same goals in a quick and scalable way.

In addition, since HubSpot is continually innovating its platform, it’s an appealing digital solution for companies that are also evolving within their own markets. There hasn’t been significant innovation with Marketo Engage in some time.

 

Enterprises:

Meanwhile, larger enterprises that have invested in building a robust marketing team filled with seasoned MOPs professionals are more likely to have Marketo at the heart of their marketing operations efforts.

With the right combination of tools and people, these companies can get creative with how they reach their vast audiences.

 

How to help your CEO: This type of insight will matter to your CEO. As you walk your CEO through the platforms, contextualize each within the current and future states of the company.

 

Making the right decision

With so many marketing automation tools on the market now, it can feel overwhelming to find and pick the right one, but it doesn’t have to be.

The three considerations outlined above should help you and your executives weigh one leading product against another.

We help companies around the world with marketing automation platform setup, migration and optimization.

If you’re still not sure which way to go and would like to continue the conversation, Revenue Pulse is here to help.

Should I Take the MCE?

Hi Jo,

I’m in the early stages of my career in MOPs, and I’m wondering if I should take the Marketo Certified Expert (MCE) exam. Many people in the industry have this qualification, though I’m not entirely sure what doors it can open. My role now is mostly about supporting campaigns, but I could see myself heading down a path that’s more hands-on with tech.

Is taking the MCE a smart decision for me? If so, what can I do to make sure I pass the exam?

Thanks,
Excited Ellen.

 

Ellen, it’s great that you’re considering how the MCE can support your career. The MCE is like a badge of honour; it tells employers, clients, and the MOPs community that you’re someone they can trust when it comes to Marketo. Obtaining the qualification can be beneficial in various ways, but its relevance ultimately depends on your goals.

Passing the MCE helped me progress from a campaign operations role into Marketo consultancy and negotiate a higher salary. Like the idea of moving towards strategy or systems operations? If you’re interested in, say, designing the sales, data, and reporting processes in Marketo that allow others to run campaigns and get performance insights, the MCE can give you that momentum.

That said, not taking the MCE isn’t a hard stop on career development. If you become interested in a more generalist marketing role or a discipline that’s less about managing tech, like field marketing, then you’ll use Marketo in a less administrative capacity.

n that case, you might want to look at the Marketo Certified Associate (MCA) qualification, which validates the functions and skills you need for running campaigns.

Taking either the MCE or MCA lets you practice and prove your skills with Marketo. While you’ll never use all of Marketo’s features, I find getting either certification helps people in various roles to speak the same language about this vast and important piece of tech. From my experience taking the MCE, here are some tips I can recommend to ace it on the first try:

– 1 year’s experience as a system admin is a good estimate for the time it takes to pass the MCE. If you don’t have admin access, practice processes like implementations, migrations, and integrations in a sandbox until you’re confident in your skills.

– Try out features that you’re less familiar with. You likely have a good grasp of campaigns, so branch out into functions like reporting and databases.

– When Marketo’s your day job, you’re effectively preparing for the test by going to work. Think about the test-relevant functions you can implement into your day-to-day workflow.

– Practice exams and sample questions, like these, are close to what you’ll see in the real exam. Do a few of these and you won’t have any major surprises.

– Marketo product documents are a great resource for checking the finer points of how things work; Marketo user groups and MOPs community channels are also active spaces for support.

Whichever exam you decide to go for, you want to gradually expand your use of Marketo until you’re comfortable with the fundamental skills tested in the MCE or MCA. Try not to rush or stress through your prep; slow and steady wins the race.

You’ve got this,
Jo Pulse.

What Sales Can Gain From Marketo Sales Insight

TLDR: Marketo Sales Insight provides easy access to deep intelligence that helps sales close deals, but the value is only apparent when sales and marketing work well together.

If your marketing and sales teams don’t collaborate closely with each other, it’s likely that sales underestimates just how much marketing’s data and technical knowledge can help them perform.

For the various ways that Salesforce and Marketo integrate, there’s one particular feature of Marketo that can set sales up to succeed but siloed work environments often cause it to fly under the radar.

In this Tough Talks Made Easy, we’ll help you explain to sales the value of Marketo Sales Insight (MSI)—and how both teams need to work together to get the best from it. This is a conversation that can help you to lift up sales, demonstrate credibility, and influence a greater appreciation from sales towards the value of marketing’s work.

 

The value of Marketo Sales Insight

Marketo Sales Insight is an application that runs directly in your CRM. It effectively gives sales a direct portal to marketing’s analytics, with a range of features that allow sales to better understand how leads and prospects respond to campaigns and engage with your brand.

Among the capabilities that Marketo Sales Insights has, there are a couple to call out that really drive home the benefits.

  • Best Bets: Best Bets provides an at-a-glance ranking of leads scored by recency—the most powerful indicator for propensity to buy. Sales can use this to prioritize the best leads and strike while the iron is hot.
  • Interesting moments: Reps can then see an activity history for each lead. The history includes a set of interesting moments defined by marketing —engagements like form fills, webinar attendance, and links clicked.
  • Personalized outreach: Based on this information, sales can personalize their outreach with knowledge of each lead’s interests and needs.

Marketo Sales Insights provides easy access to a depth of intelligence.

Using it regularly can make sales more productive and enhance their ability to close deals. But, as with all tools, the benefits don’t reap themselves.

Before you get started with MSI, it’s important to address any structural issues that have prevented your teams from already using it.

 

Partners in growth

The value of MSI is clear as day in the parts of your business where sales and marketing work as a well-oiled machine. That means:

The reality often differs. MSI is notably underused for a default Marketo app, partially due to confusion around licensing.

Teams often mistake MSI for a Salesforce plugin that renders marketing emails in Outlook.

A useful point to clarify for sales: unlike this plugin, MSI doesn’t require a separate license from Marketo (and extra expense) to use.

The organizations that use MSI do so to varying degrees of competency, which brings up a deeper problem.

Here are a few examples of the powerful capabilities in MSI that are lost on teams that lack the maturity to execute them:

  • comprehensive lead scoring
  • prioritization models
  • buyer activity tracking, and
  • customer engagement monitoring.

 

Get your house in order

If your marketing and sales teams work in a siloed environment without the mechanisms or appetite to share data and knowledge with each other, then using MSI is only viable if your teams treat it as the foundation on which to build a collaborative relationship.

The key to getting sales on side is to make sure your house is in order.

Marketing should be properly set up to capture and report on customer behavior across your website, email, and other online channels.

Marketing must also be prepared to define elements in MSI like nurture program reporting and Interesting Moments from each customer’s engagement history.

If you have that figured out, frame Marketo Sales Insight to sales as an opportunity to create a partnership that helps their performance.

Offer to train sales on MSI, and you’ll encourage them to consider how marketing’s efforts, and collaboration with marketing, ultimately aid the pursuit of growth.

 

The takeaway

In summary, MSI makes your sales team’s lives considerably easier. It allows them to:

  • prioritize the most urgent leads
  • drill down into their historical interactions with your brand
  • build compelling stories that produce more effective outreach communications, and
  • save time otherwise spent digging through tools or waiting for reports to get the most vital information.

That said, MSI demands that teams resolve their maturity issues.

For one, marketing’s data collection and reporting should be robust enough to feed sales with the most useful information. Both teams should prepare to overcome friction and work together, which, for sales, means being receptive to marketing’s guidance towards interpreting the numbers.

When that agreement’s in place, Marketing Sales Insight helps both sides of your revenue operation to perform.

Need some Marketo advice, MSI or otherwise? Get in touch

Explaining Marketo to Your CEO

TLDR: Marketo helps you save time, increase efficiency, and grow revenue. Communicate these outcomes and the value of your CEO’s investment in Marketo (and your team) will be undeniable.

 

Grab your CEO’s attention

You’re great at your job.

You work hard to demonstrate the value that marketing operations brings to your organization. Now you’re on the hook to explain the value of Marketo to your CEO.

What do you do next?

That’s where the Tough Talks Made Easy series comes in. We’re here to arm you with everything you need to maximize your minutes with the C-suite and leave an impression along the way.

So, you need to get out of the weeds, get away from the buzzwords, and focus your approach in a language the C-suite speaks on a daily basis: outcomes.

 

Focus on outcomes

Your CEO needs to worry about the bottom line without being bogged down by minutiae.

When we talk about speaking in outcomes, we don’t mean increased clicks, better open rates, or the things that only excite marketers. (Sorry).

Your CEO is interested in outcomes with positive impacts on pipeline.

  • improved lead conversion by stage
  • the ability to enable your existing sales force and help them achieve quota, and
  • any other outcomes that leads directly to increased revenue.

The value of Marketo speaks for itself. But, it’s up to you to communicate its many uses into outcome-focused conclusions.

 

Outcome 1: What does marketing automation do for us?

Marketing automation lets you streamline, automate, and measure marketing tasks to save time, increase efficiency, and grow revenue more quickly. (Pretty good outcomes!)

Marketing automation takes every aspect of your existing campaign management and marketing programs and allows you to run them ‘lights out.’ With automation, you’ll get real-time data on what’s working and what isn’t, and a comprehensive scoring system to strategize new leads as you get them.

Your CEO knows what Marketo can do. Marketo is to marketing what Salesforce is to sales.

Here are a few features of Marketo

  • boosts pipeline while providing insight into the customer journey
  • allows for more targeted, relevant communication as relationships progress, and
  • delivers insights to drive account and prospect intelligence to sales.

 

Outcome 2: Enhances doesn’t replace talent

Marketing automation isn’t about making humans obsolete. It’s about giving your talent the data and feedback they need in real-time to flex their marketing muscles in the right direction and do what they do best.

Marketo isn’t some set-it-and-forget-it approach—far from it.

Marketing automation is only as effective as the marketers who implement it. Campaigns are at their best when the creativity of your talent is able to thrive.

Marketo provides digital experiences that weren’t possible before, but to be successful marketing ops need the right support, funding, and data to make it all work.

 

Outcome 3: Actionable data

Marketo isn’t about creating a deluge of information—it’s about telling you precisely which strategies are working and which aren’t, so you can react accordingly.

The insights delivered by Marketo are focused on efficiency, scalability, and ROI.

Without marketing automation, you simply aren’t measuring these things effectively—if you’re measuring them at all.

With Marketo, everything is tracked and displayed. It provides a comprehensive analysis that allows you to compare every facet against others—and keep constant track of how much everything costs.

 

Outcome 4: Enhanced relationships

Marketing automation has been exploding for a reason. Companies like Fujitsu and the Portland Trail Blazers have made big investments in Marketo and the teams that run them.

Buyers have the ability to google every option, consider every purchase, and compare every choice in spending.

In order to make a sale, relationships need to be fostered, nurtured, and brought to fruition. This requires personal, targeted communications that don’t push for sales until the customer already feels confident in their decision to buy.

That’s where lead scoring identifies the best incoming leads for your sales team.

 

Outcome 5: Sales and marketing sync

Every CEO wants their sales and marketing teams on the same page.

The real-time, first-hand insight into customer behavior and lead ranking mean your sales team will receive a comprehensive list of the ‘hottest’ leads the moment they come in.

And once they’ve received the lead, they won’t only be armed with what they need to react immediately, they’ll also know how to react in a relevant way.

Your sales team will receive the same deep, actionable insights regarding which content has the most immediate, positive impact on conversion rates and closed sales. And they’ll receive instant notifications when it’s time to leap into action.

That means your marketing team will be doing the same thing upstream that your sales team is doing downstream. This is a harmonious tandem that spells success and it’s the type of outcome that CEOs’ dreams are made of.

 

The big takeaway

Marketo helps you save time, increase efficiency, and grow revenue.

It enhances your talent by arming them with actionable data and it deepens and nurtures relationships with your leads. It enables your marketing and sales teams to align with a shared strategy, working for the same goals, with the information they need to succeed.

Communicate these outcomes and the value of your CEO’s investment in Marketo—and your team—will be undeniable. And remember: if we can help prepare you in any way, let us know. That’s what we’re here for.