Buying appropriate tech for your content requirements cannot be an off-the-cuff move but must be preceded by some serious planning.
For every part of content and its marketing, there are literally hundreds of pieces of software available in the market today, so choosing the one that’s most likely to serve your purpose is that much more difficult.
Because of the democratization of technology, content technology (ConTech) has become simpler, template-based, often not requiring any knowledge of coding; cheaper even. On the flipside, some are knockoffs, others are by fly-by-night operators and thus risky to buy, while some could fail at the starter’s gate, and may leave you stranded.
Except for those who have the funds, most enterprises start off building their ConTech/MarTech stack on a piecemeal basis like a Lego toy. That’s why it’s called a stack in the first place.
Let me bust a myth here. There’s nothing called “best” technology. Every piece of software must suit your individual needs so there’s only “suitable” technology. That’s the keyword while buying ConTech, or for that matter, any tech. Tech that matches most of your stipulations, and promises to deliver the maximum is what you ought to be looking out for.
For content and its marketing, there are broadly four major components that need technology:
For each, there are matching technologies available in the marketplace.
At last count, there were anywhere between 5000 and 7000 content related technologies in the market. That gives you an idea of the enormity of the task.
How (not) to choose the right tool, platform or service for your ConTech
Because of the high population, you may want to take the easy way out: rely only on word-of-mouth/recommendations. Don’t.
You may also be tempted to buy the cheapest one in the range. Don’t.
But, costly, too, does not always mean the best.
Free is the only way to go. Not always.
What works for Jack will work for Jill. Nah.
Buying ConTech is actually a science. Not rocket science, but science, nevertheless. It may not be as sophisticated and complicated as the process required to buy hardware, SaaS or some cutting-edge tech but does require advance thinking. So, whiteboard a roadmap, and adhere to it.
Here’s what you need to do before going ConTech shopping
Involve the necessary stakeholders from the start
Devise your content and marketing strategies with relevant macro goals
Write out the “four component” plan that dovetails into each strategy
For each of these components, identify your micro goals and your pain points
Establish a timeline
Spell out your budget for each component
Write down the selection criterion for each category
Identify the marketplace to find the software for each component
There’s no other way out.
Only when you have done ALL OF THE ABOVE, you can go shopping for your ConTech components.
What to look for
Before you start, there are two golden rules for all of your ConTech stack — get smart, and go auto (pilot).
Both these rules will serve you well, whether you are a startup or a full-blown enterprise, for they bring down the cost of human resources. A social media platform that uses artificial intelligence to auto-schedule your social media posts at the right time to the right channels, thus cutting down on the man-hours, is a great buy for it meets both the rules.
Now comes the critical part.
Before actually starting your search, go to the selection criterion (in no particular order) list:
The criterion, i.e. aspects that matter to your enterprise and your buying process, could be (this is not the final or exhaustive list):
a) Free or for a fee (cost)
b) Universal availability
e) Developer/owner credentials/reputation
f) Modular or standalone
g) Scalable or not
j) Ease of use/plug-n-play
k) Degree of reliance on IT team/ easy integration with legacy systems
Once this list is made, go to the marketplace and start searching for software vendors.
Look at listings, online directories, submission sites, Q&A sites.
Then, if possible, look at what the competition is using.
Then, research. Here, product/software demo plays a big role. Do not even contemplate buying a product that does not have a demo.
Then, shortlist the vendors to perhaps 10 for each component.
Then do more research. Re-look the demo even more closely.
Put the software of each vendor on a test-bed, however, crude. Call up Support to see whether it actually works or is just a telephone number. Try out the 14-day free trial, wherever possible.
After this initial test, whittle the 10-vendor list to the top three or five that 90-100% match your stipulated criterion in each of the four components.
Now, go back to the criterion list and re-arrange it by way of priority. Preferences differ company to company. Cost maybe of utmost priority for company X while easy integration is what company Y wants the most.
That done, examine every criteria vis-a-vis the three shortlisted products/tools/services vendors, and allot each of them points on a scale of 1-10 based on the testing you have done.
Here’s how it is to be done:
Criteria (priority) and Weightage (maximum points on 1-10 scale)
Shortlisted vendor no: 1: Name of animation software co: (X Tech)
a) Scalable or not — 10
b) Universal availability — 9
c) Free or for a fee (cost) — 7
d) User-feedback — 8
e) Reliability — 9
f) Owner’s credentials — 10
g) Modular or standalone — 10
h) Support — 8
The total weightage will help you finalize the offering/vendor from the shortlisted lists.
In the above example, the total is 71/80 for vendor no: 1. Vendor 2 scored 69/80 and the third chap got 64/80. Go ahead and place the order for your animation software with the 71/80 vendor.
What’s happened here? As I said at the start of this newsletter, ConTech does not come as one-size-fits-all. Also, every company’s priority, so also the target audience, is different. You need to factor in all of that before going ahead and placing the buy order.
A scientific buying process will not only ensure that you get tech that’s well-tested but also one that will save you money, time, effort….and well, a lot of headaches.