Marketing Technology – When Should You Build or Buy?

Jan 29, 2013

Vya Staff

fixitrobot-160051418_thumbWith the proliferation of marketing technology comes the build or buy decision. Through our discussions with marketers, we often encounter departments that have built their own systems in-house, and these systems often mimic the functionality of marketing resource managment (MRM) systems. Many companies put these proprietary systems in place before the widespread availability of the numerous marketing technology solutions available today and are considering whether it’s time to buy a new solution from a third party vendor. Here are some thoughts to help guide your marketing technology decision journey.

Disadvantages of an in-house solution

1. What worked in the past may not be best suited to your future needs. If your solution was built prior to the widespread availability of marketing technologies, the solution satisfied a need that was not yet addressed in the marketplace at the time, but that doesn’t mean that you have to continue using the solution today – or that it makes sense to continue using it.

2. Your in-house resources to customize the solution are probably limited. When working with an in-house marketing technology solution, there is a risk of dependency on IT to customize the solution, and with IT managing numerous projects and systems, Marketing (justifiably) is not always the highest priority.

3. Your in-house resources to administer the solution are probably limited. Especially if the user base is particularly large, there can be challenges supporting end-users. Further, there is a risk of administrator turnover.

4. You may not have the bandwidth for technology development. To keep pace with the features and functionality of commercial products, you would need to commit a significant amount of staff time to developing your homegrown solution, and the reality is that your hands may already be too full with supporting and maintaining your current solution to focus on developing new features.

Advantages of partnering with an external vendor

1. Third party development work is ongoing. An external marketing technology vendor will have dedicated development staffs that work to develop new features and functionality on an ongoing basis, while helping to develop your marketing technology application to fit your specific needs through ongoing customizations.

2. Support and maintenance are provided. Partnering with an external marketing technology vendor means you don’t have to manage the technology support and maintenance in-house. Additionally, a full service marketing service provider can coordinate software administration and training and help to manage critical tasks such as uploading templates and leads lists into the MRM system. A full service marketing service provider can serve as an agile extension to your in-house staff while also mitigating the risk of dependency on in-house IT staffs.

What if I already started to build a solution?

1. Good news – You’re in a great position to buy! If you have already started down the path of building your own in-house marketing technology system, you are in a great position to buy because you’ve (hopefully) already identified your needs and goals for the solution and mapped key processes and functionality. This will help to expedite your marketing technology implementation once you’ve decided to buy.

2. It’s never too late to change course. In today’s economy of doing more with less, it’s always a good practice to reevaluate your decisions. What worked yesterday may not be effective or efficient tomorrow. Even if you’ve already started down the path of building your own marketing technology solution in-house and, in hindsight, see that it’s more work than you are reasonably prepared to take on, you are simply armed with more information to support your “buy” decision, and hopefully, the above list of disadvantages of an in-house solution will help to build your case to purchase a third party marketing technology solution. As you build your case for change (i.e. your “buy” decision), be sure to include the opportunity cost of remaining in the status quo in your analysis.


While there may be situations where it makes sense to build and administer a marketing technology solution in-house, with the advances in features and functionality of today’s marketing technology solutions, including MRM systems, many times it makes sense to buy a SaaS-based solution. Finally, full service marketing service providers can help to administer the software on an ongoing basis which reduces dependency on IT.

Are you partnered with a full service marketing service provider who can help you maximize your use of marketing technology?

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Tags: MRM, marketing technology, marketing resource management

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