Buttermilk pancackes

Take Stock of your (Marketing Technology) Stack

Photo Credit: JeffreyW from Flickr CC license

Hey, how’s your stack?  No, I’m not talking about your latest trip to IHOP.  I’m talking about your marketing stack. What, you don’t have a stack? Oh, if you’re marketing, you have a stack!

What exactly is a marketing stack?  I like Adroll’s Definition:

A marketing stack is a group of technologies that marketers leverage to execute, analyze and improve their marketing activities. This includes all technologies that marketing teams use, from marketing automation to data enrichment and analytics.

Messy toolbox Photo Credit: Words on a Page Blog https://jamesegraham.com/2016/03/

Your stack is like a carpenter’s tool chest.  It can have everything you need, well maintained, including specialty tools to make sure you’re über productive.  It should have unique gadgets depending on whether you are framing houses or creating handmade reproductions.  Your toolbox could be a total mess, with tools borrowed and never returned, pieces missing, dull or broken. Or it can be a beautiful orderly masterpiece with every tool needed, organized, in the right order and ready to be used at the proper time.

So what does your stack look like?

Whether you have a marketing team of one or a hundred and one, it’s important to take stock of your stack!

acronix marketing stack
An Elegant Marketing Stack – 2016 Stackies Winner from Chiefmartech

In the olden days, like only 5 years ago, things were pretty simple. The choices in marketing technologies were few, but the explosion of marketing tools and the ease of acquiring them has created complexities and challenges for CMOs of both large and small marketing teams.

If you haven’t seen it,  here’s Scott Brinker’s Marketing Technology Landscape from early 2016.  It shows about 3,500 company logos representing over 3,800 different marketing technologies.  The first version of this slide in 2011 had only 150 companies listed.

Marketing Technology Landscape

Add to this technology jungle the fact that your IT department has written all kinds of custom code and scripts to try to get your systems somewhat talking to each other.  And now you may have a disaster looming.  You could be locking yourself into current versions of software, severely limiting your current and future productivity. Or worse, your IT guru skips town to work for another SaaS and you’re up that creek without a paddle!

Many issues can result from improper management of your stack including the potential for duplication of software within the organization. This can amount to $10,000’s of wasted spending plus duplication of administration, poor communication and branding issues.   Other problems include security, opening your site up to potential hacking, multiple teams or members simultaneously evaluating the same software and erroneous data due to poor use or integration of software. Clearly ignoring the marketing stack is not a good strategy.

So what do you do?

First, don’t panic!

There is help.  Take stock of what you have.  Complete a marketing software audit.  If you haven’t taken stock of your stack before or it has been awhile, this may take some time to complete.  And once you document your stack you will want to keep it current.   Since today’s marketing software can be inexpensive or free, easy to download and install, they can easily find their way into your ecosystem at any time without you ever knowing.

You could document your technology the old-fashioned way, on a spreadsheet.  But this is cumbersome to update, not very portable and prone to errors. (And probably obsolete as soon as you finish your audit!) Fortunately, there is an easier way. CabinetM  is a site that allows you to easily document and annotate your marketing stack.  It has over 5,000 products listed that you can drag and drop to create your company stack(s).  You can sort your technologies by layers in whatever way makes sense to you.  And the price?  Free. There is much more functionality than that.  Check it out at CabinetM.com

Next, you need to analyze your stack.  Did you find any tools you were no longer using?  Are there any gaps in your stack?  Are there troublesome integrations?  Are some software products out of revision?  How do these tools fit with your organization’s strategy and tactics for the year, for the quarter, for the current sprint?  Is additional training required? Did you find some expertise in your organization that you didn’t know existed?

Next, assess holes in your stack.  Do you have the appropriate analytics?  What tools can improve advocacy?  Do you need dashboard tools to keep track of your KPI’s in one place? How well is your team using your technology?  Many teams use only a fraction of the capabilities of their technology.

Lastly, once documented, it’s a good idea to review and update your stacks at least bi-annually if not quarterly to align with your current goals and strategies.

I know, this sounds like a lot of work.  Do you have a resource that could be responsible for auditing, maintaining and improving utilization of your stack?  If you can’t free a resource to focus on this, you may want to partner with a someone to help you to maintain your stack.

Once you’ve aligned your technology with your strategies and your goals, identified and filled the gaps, documented your integrations and started your training programs, you can expect an increase in performance.  Your highly tuned technology stack to improve your marketing (and sales) results and provide you with a competitive advantage.  How much? I’m not aware of any studies completed to date. But I recommend that before you begin to make changes, identify some KPI’s that you believe will improve as a result.  Analyze before and after your stack renovation. Document your ROI and KPI’s after one month, three months and six months.

To inspire you to get working on documenting and analyzing your stack, here are a couple more “award winning” stacks.  These stacks were submitted to chiefmartec.com for their 2015 and 2016 Stackies contests.  Judging was subjective. As Scott Brinker, Editor of Chiefmartec.com, commented, “If your company stack works for you, it’s and A+ Stack!”

Here is one the simplest stacks – only 12 technologies.

Terminus Marketing Stack
A Simple Marketing Stack – Honorable Mention in the 2015 ChiefMartec Stackies

Here is a beautiful stack by uberflip, based on their four pillars system

uberflip four pillar marketing stack

So, as you finalize your goals for 2017, add taking stock of your stack to your list of operational improvements to make in your marketing organization. Who knows? You too could win a Stackie and more importantly set yourself up for greater success in 2017.

What is your greatest to challenge with your marketing stack?  Take this one question poll. Include your email and I will send you the results of this poll.

One Question Survey – What is your Biggest Issue with your Marketing Stack?

Thank you for reading.  I covet your comments!







SaaS Startup CEO, Meet Saasli

SaaS Startup Checklist

  • Mini-fridge stocked with craft IPA’s
  • Cool two-syllable name that can be used as a verb
  • Modern downtown office space
  • Foosball table
  • Free lunch
  • CRM system customized for a SaaS business?

CRM for SaaS?   Yes! There is now an add-on that was designed just for you, the SaaS startup.

As CEO of a SaaS startup, you are probably asking yourself three things:

  • How fast can I scale?
  • How can I can I keep my investors investing? And happy?
  • How can I reduce churn?

Saasli the Saas add-on to Salesforce.com will help SaaS Startups with all three important SaaS issues and more.

Here is what I learned at a conference last week, to introduce the application to the Boston market.

A warm October sun shined unseasonably warmly last Wednesday as our two Toronto-based presenters showed us Saasli. These former SFDC employees demonstrated how their software customizes salesforce.com to make it a SaaS-focused CRM.   They discussed the how, what, where, why and when is the right time to deploy Saasli.

You’ve proven your concept. You’ve got your CMO. You know your target market. You’ve got your funding lined up. Now is the time to scale this SaaS company.  You start to add salespeople.  This is the time to add Saasli to your SFDC software.  If you’ve never done this before or if you’re a seasoned SaaS CEO, you know that it can be difficult to get salesforce.com to give you the data you need to manage the SaaS sales process, all of the activities required for success and to provide critical intelligence for your CEO and investors.

This is where Saasli comes in. This salesforce add-on makes Salesforce much more useable for Saas companies.  It gives you a SaaS-specific set of tools and a dashboard to help with the most common sales issues when scaling your company:

  • Managing your deal pipeline
    • Saali sales pipeline reports have Red / Green indicators letting you know how each deal is conforming to your specific sales playbook metrics.
  • Customizable critical deal information such as:
    • Is the decision-maker is involved?
    • Is the champion favoring your solution?
    • Is there a sales action that has taken place this week on the deal?
    • Other items that are important to your deal ecosystem
  • Critical data on trials
    • Has the customer started using the software?
    • What features are they using?
    • Is the trial about to expire?
    • Saasli integrates this information into the deal dashboard in salesforce.com making it easy for salespeople and sales managers to access it all in one place in real-time.
  • Measurement of and early indicators of churn.
    • Are customers increasing, decreasing or stopping the use of the software?
    • Who are the end users?
    • Are they using more features of the software?
    • Are there integrations?
    • How sticky is the software becoming?
  • Real-time SaaS related financial reporting important to CEOs and investors for
    • ARR
    • MRR
    • Average length of contract
    • Average price of contact
    • Churn rates

With all of this useful SaaS related information at your fingertips, salespersons can be guided to more effectively follow your playbook.  This helps ensure a repeatable and consistent sales process.

Other components  of Saasli help SaaS companies with onboarding and sales renewals.  This ensures consistent customer experience and reduction in churn.

What are the benefits to utilizing Saasli?

  • Increased sales
  • Reduced deal cycle times
  • Reduce churn
  • Fast and simple SaaS reporting
  • Increased sanity?  (Well, I can’t guarantee that!  But it’s possible.)

How long does it take to deploy Saasli?

  • 30-45 days


  • Pricing is variable based on your application, but pricing is independent of the salesforce.com per user fees.

The bottom line. 

Add Saasli to your SaaS Startup Checklist. It may reduce many sales management headaches and help you to scale more quickly while reducing churn.


Steak & Tech – Work Smart Luncheon by Workfront

Does the combination of a juicy steak and awesome technology appeal to you? Last week I was invited to attend a Work Smart luncheon by Workfront.  I love to work smart and I love lunch, so I agreed to attend. The Capital Grille venue in Boston was great. And they executed perfectly.  Here are some reflections on the seminar.

First of all the food.  OK, so I’m a foodie, I admit it. They did this up right, there was nothing shrimpy about the jumbo shrimp cocktail, liver pate, a delicious salad, a 12-ounce bone-in dry-aged New York sirloin.  (The more words needed to describe your steak, the better, right?) and then a lovely selection of desserts including an amazing coconut cream pie.  Sorry to the bosses out there, if you were expecting productivity in the early afternoon, that’s impossible because we all left in a food coma! (Oops, I’m the boss. Sorry, self!)

OK on to the technology and the other 50% of why I went. Workfront added an Agile module to their project planning system.  It has a nice dashboard, and it supports a full agile workflow including backlog, stories and a KanBan burndown report  In addition, it supports a combined waterfall and agile approach, something Jerry Hyde, Workfront account exec, calls it Water-gile.  I think that is appropriate.

We saw very little of the software but we only had 90 minutes and the client testimonials were the “other meat” of the presentation.  If I get a chance to play with the software some, I’ll give you a more in-depth review of it.

Workfront is helping some enterprise clients is a big way!

Sinead Whelan

Sinead Whelan Director, Multimedia Design for Fidelity Investments described transforming an email-string based project planning environment in the fidelity marketing group, which included an in-house agency to full on Workfront. The implementation included 300 employees.  And in just the initial stages of implementation, she estimates a 30% productivity increase. They have only been live since January 4th of this year. Based on the way work was managed in the past, I think she is going to be seeing a much bigger productivity increase as they get more experience with the system.

The second client, Jonathan Kohler,Sr. Business Program Manager & Process Improvement Lead – Operations & Supply Chain at Boston Beer Company, (Wow that is a mouthful!) also described a before-Workfront process, that included a monthly 45-page slide deck to communicate the status of current IT programs in place. Holy Mackeral!  That sounds painful! You need to down some serious Sam Adam’s lagers after that meeting! Now they are using Workfront’s project management system to manage not only IT projects, but the entire engineering staff adopted the program for a total of 100 users. Now, IT requests, large and small, can be requested using the automated communication program resident in the program.  Goodbye, PowerPoint and email!  Pretty sweet.

Both clients described adding more clients to their installation and more integrations. Sinead even described creative types asking to be part of the system.  That is freakish! They also mentioned some inconveniences. I bet that the Workfront team will be addressing those in future releases.

Brent Bird Brent Bird, Sr. Solutions Marketing Manager at Workfront did a nice job first summarizing his life, family and goals including his goal to attend a game in every Major League baseball park to determine which hot dog wins.Bring your Tums Brent!  And then Brent went on to summarize the solution. In terms of how agile got integrated into the system, it was basically Workfront using the solution for themselves. Way to go Workfront for using your own solution! Workfront’s marketing team runs on an Agile/Kanban system. So, the Workfront waterfall system just wasn’t cutting it for marketing.Their requirements were then programmed into the current Workfront solution.

90 minutes later, the luncheon wrapped up on time.  Kudo’s to Workfront and Capital Grille for your timeliness! It was a great luncheon Workfront.  I’m a fan.  I look forward to learning more about your solution and maybe another steak in the future.