April Newsletter: ‘Tech Gone Bad’– Every Marketer’s Horror Story




It’s a story all-too familiar to digital marketing agencies.

A client asks you to prepare a marketing plan to promote a shiny new product, platform, or application under development. You become an integral part of the launch team, participating in conference calls and planning sessions, busily synchronizing the launch marketing with the product build.

The big day approaches, all of your marketing horses are lined up, champing at the bit, ready to explode into the marketplace and generate buzz with the audience.


The gate doesn’t open. Or only some of it opens.

The launch is called off while the technology vendor is called back in to fix things that should have been done right in the first place.

Just as bad, your marketing agency idles on the sideline while the time, money, and other resources that should have been used to promote and market the product are instead consumed by the tech vendor.

We know this story all too well because more times than we care to remember we’ve been called in to turn around a tech build gone bad.

Here’s something that may surprise you: we don’t like these projects. We’ll take them of course – who doesn’t want to be the hero come to rescue a company in distress?

But the truth is we’d rather work on projects where digital marketing agencies like yours get to do what they do best? Altruistic of us, right? Nope. We want you marketing and promoting and doing the things that you do because when that brand and its product succeed, guess who gets more word of mouth referrals, another successful case study or portfolio piece, and happy client testimonial?

Mind you, we still get those things when we rescue a project. But it’s never the same. The client has spent more than they should have, marketing’s resources were cut to cover those remedial development costs, and the launch is a shadow of what it should have been.

So how – and why – do such fiascos occur? More important, how can you prevent your own agency from being sidelined by a poorly executed technology plan? We’ve learned a few lessons that might help.

Hire an Expert – It is striking to us how often a brand and its technology vendor are working off vaguely articulated plans. Because technology is a language all its own, many brands are intimidated by it and end up trusting a tech vendor recommended by a friend of a friend. If your client doesn’t have a technology expert in-house, encourage them to hire one to consult on the project. Brand-vendor translation services are a must.

Document, Document, Document – Nobody likes to do documentation either on the front end or as a build unfolds. It’s time-consuming and arduous. But at the start documentation ensures everyone quite literally is on the same page; and as the project proceeds that documentation could save your client – and your own marketing resources – if they need to switch gears to a new vendor.

Get Referrals – If your client is a startup or SMB new to technology development, be wary of those personal network-based referrals. Like any consumer, your client is accustomed to asking for advice and recommendations on refrigerators and hair care products. Complex technology builds are a different animal, so be sure your client has asked for and checked on referrals from other brands who, ideally, had needs comparable to your client’s.

The best brand-technology vendor relationships are those where marketing has a tangible role. Smart technology companies understand that to consume all of a client’s resources in the build is to guarantee that product or platform a slow death (or at the very least a much more difficult climb to success). Use technology vendors that are eager for marketing to burst out of the gates.