We’re coming to the end of another football season. Every year, fans debate what their teams should do, what coaches should stay or go, and who should get drafted when. I’m especially intrigued by talk of the quarterback position: Do we have the right guy at quarterback? Does he have the talent to take us to the big game? In this debate, the value of the rest of the offensive line is often passed over. May not be as sexy to discuss, but that offensive line can make a winner out of a mediocre QB and a loser out of a highly capable one (see: NY Giants).

That’s how I feel when clients focus on their marketing stack without thinking about how their overall “team” is set up for success. We often get urgent requests for new marketing technology, whether that’s a data management platform (DMP), multi-touch attribution (MTA), or a personalization solution. In the world of end-to-end marketing solutions, the quality of our tech is first round draft pick-level. But truth is, in order to get the most out of their stack, brands need to have the right teams, organizational processes and alignment in place to build the kind of “offensive line” that truly helps strengthen marketing efforts.

For starters, any ROI-generating product or tool deployment needs strong buy-in from stakeholders who own budgets and decisions. A number of brands have created Marketing Technology or Marketing Operations departments in an attempt to centralize their tech stack. But while these teams have critical roles to play, they often struggle to drive adoption of their investments without clear buy-in from internal business partners before they select and implement a solution. That’s why it’s key to work with a tech vendor who can help you articulate why and how a particular solution is the right one for your organization, to get that buy-in up front.

Buy-in, however, is just the first step. Smart brands determine roles and responsibilities across their organization for every aspect of implementation and adoption. Who is responsible for placing tags? What team owns first-party data sets? What teams determine the media budget, and thus need exposure to measurement insights? Vendors should be able to help clients map out all stages in the process and identify the teams and personnel who typically plug into each stage. The relative ease or difficulty of lining up those teams and getting them to cooperate is where having a clear mandate from a line-of-business (LOB) owner makes all the difference.

Avoiding the Dreaded “Internal Swirl”

The shame of not properly determining leadership roles and responsibilities in advance of bringing in a new technology vendor is it can lead to lost time and missed opportunities due to internal swirl.

One client came to us for an MTA solution, but because they hadn’t identified the right business leaders in advance and hadn’t socialized it properly within their organization, they got mired in internal squabbles over operationalizing it, which slowed their ability to build on and market against valuable insights.

Another brand client wanted to personalize all of its touchpoints, including its website. They put the marketing tech team in charge, with no one from the website team involved in the launch or implementation process. This had two adverse effects: one, it eliminated any urgency to get the proper infrastructure on the site; and two, the brand neglected to define KPIs for success, thus diminishing optimal return on their investment.

These stories have happy endings. We worked closely with both organizations to quickly remedy their respective pain points and move forward on better footing. Neustar equipped both client leads with insights that got their internal teams to take notice and helped them smooth out roadblocks with other stakeholders.

Sure, your technology vendor can and should help put you on the right path. But there are things you and organization can do before you implement a new solution. Here are five key steps you should take to set yourself and your organization up for the win:

  1. Scout: Identify the budget owners who will dictate implementation success of the platforms on your roadmap.
  2. Draft: Ask these business owners how your team can help them (preferably before you start the implementation process).
  3. Develop: Solicit LOB owners’ inputs when choosing vendors – they can advocate for their needs while you provide subject matter expertise
  4. Evaluate: Develop adoption KPIs – this can be as simple as the number of logins to the system you are looking to implement. Seek feedback and assistance from your LOB partners and technology vendors to do this.
  5. Institutionalize: Work with your vendor to adopt best practices for implementation. Leverage their services team to provide “inconvenient truths” to your organization, so that you yourself preserve precious social capital with business partners.

In doing this “soft,” yet extremely painstaking work, brands build a high-powered marketing offense capable of scoring revenue points and winning the long game.