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Don't Over-Rely On Your Tools
By: Mike Krass
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Speaking with a prospective client last week, I mentioned the value our company provides by having an optimization strategy in place that forces us (i.e. an actual human being) to monitor their display media investment on a daily basis.

Do you know what their response to that statement was?

"Oh yeah, we have a tool that does all that for us. We check in on it every few days or so," the prospect reassured me.

Yikes.

Tools like Marin Software and Kenshoo are fantastic additions to your SEM initiatives, as a human literally cannot manage the volume of bids that search marketing presents to brands.

The problem with this approach is that marketers begin to rely too heavily on their third-party tools to do all the work for them; responsibilities that marketers (i.e. real live human beings) should be shouldering.

But what consequences do marketers face when they rely too heavily on their tools?

Here are a few examples:
  • Beginning to miss industry trends. Without having eyes "in the weeds" on a daily basis, marketers begin to lose their competitive edge. Product updates and iterations are released without the agency even realizing it. How could they have known? It's not like they were doing the work anyway.
  • Risking looking stupid in front of clients. Agencies are supposed to bring new opportunities to their clients; they are supposed to be on the forefront of technological advances. If clients are bringing questions/opportunities to the table that your agency didn't even realize existed, you risk delivering a thousand-yard stare as you try to stammer out an inadequate answer that amounts to "Uhhh, I don't know."
  • Agencies start losing their value. If you rely solely on virtual tools to get all the work done, marketers begin to lose value in the clients' eyes. Couldn't they just remove the middleman (i.e. YOUR AGENCY) and bring on the tools in house? 
Tools should be put in place to help ease the workload on your employees; I'll never deny that fact. The tools I utilize on a daily basis make my life inexplicably easier and allow me to accomplish more than I'd ever be able to without them in place.

But when agencies place too much value on those tools, they run the risk of cutting themselves off from their own clients, as clients realize they can bring the tools in house and rid themselves of that pesky fee your agency has been charging them.

Tread carefully, digital marketers.


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About the Author
Mike Krass is the founder of MKG Media Group,  a Bay Area digital media shop that specializes in measurable media solutions for small and medium-sized businesses. When not walking his puppy or sky diving around the US, his personal musings can be read on Twitter at @mikekrass.
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