Back when I worked as a pay-per-click campaign specialist at a small agency, the meeting requests I received from platform sales people were few and far between. I didn’t have much in the way of capital or clout to sign up for a platform designed to make my job easier for a few grand a year. And of course, I was new enough in my career and my employer was relatively unknown, so my contact information was rarely found on purchased email lists.
As I advanced in my career, moved into a much more recognized organization, and began to control more decision making authority, I naturally saw an uptick in the number of cold/cool “calls” I received from platform vendors. Note that they weren’t actually calls, because that rarely happens anymore. They were almost entirely emails. Anyway, these requests are always from people wanting to “hop on a brief call” and “hear about my challenges” so that they can see “if their platform is a good fit for my needs.” Aside from the fact that I have little to no desire to share my vocational challenges with a total stranger (Selling 101), there’s no reason for me to get on a call unless I’m experiencing a real paint point. Furthermore, I would only purchase a solution if the painpoint was actually hampering results or preventing me from doing my job effectively.
I know that I’m not alone in my stance on platform purchases, but talking about the ways that salespeople should be approaching me, or others in my shoes, is boring. Instead, I think it’s more compelling to look at what may end up being the real reason for the burst of the current tech sector bubble.
As I said before, I’d only purchase a solution if my ability to do my job or deliver results was being hindered. I’d add to that by saying that solutions that provide something of value that I can’t acquire or access through any other means are also in play. Let me share some examples: As a digital marketer, I need Google Adwords and will continue to pay for it because it provides me with access to a large audience of potential customers. I need my heat mapping analytics tool because it helps me illustrate to my stakeholders how people use our website. These are critical pieces to doing my job effectively so they’re not going away. If I didn’t have these solutions, I would experience real painpoints that negatively impact my business. Thus, that kind of impact has to be the key deliverable of any platform.
When I look around at the digital marketing software/platform landscape, I see lots of options, but very few that would create a massive void if their customers didn’t have them. In other words, they are simply not critical. Yes, deep analytics or simplified reporting or visual collaboration or whatever BS term you want to throw in can be cool and nice to have, but it isn’t essential. What’s scary is that many of these platforms are exclusively funded by venture capital. Sometimes that VC money has been put up by people/firms that really know what they’re doing. Other times it’s from people/firms who’ve assumed that the flashy startup they just bought into is the next Salesforce. No amount of venture capital is going to change the essence of a platform’s place in the needs hierarchy of its customer base.
With that said, I don’t believe the burst of the current tech bubble will impact essential products. I do, however, think that it will trim the fat on platforms that simply don’t offer enough value for businesses to continue using them should things turn south.