I was invited to speak at Stripecon EU in Stockholm in September 2022. Here is the replay and full transcript below:
A marketing director’s story about a new CMS
Today I want to tell you the story that I've seen play out dozens, if not hundreds of times, in our digital agency Cyber-Duck in London. That's the story of a marketing director who is very frustrated with their content management system.
They've been using it for years and they just can't manage their content anymore. They have fixed templates, they can't launch new marketing campaigns or create pages, they know that the software is outdated and they cannot easily upgrade it, and they have to go back to their developers to make every little change... They just can't deal with it anymore!
So they've decided: "We need a new CMS". They've done some research online and they found this Gartner Magic Quadrant about web experiences management systems. They looked at a few names there: Adobe Experience Management, Sitecore... When they started seeing the license fees for some of those, they started rethinking this project and how critical it can be for their business - what is the real value that it needs to bring?
They started writing a brief about their needs, sometimes without any budget expectations. They then come to us saying: “Okay, this is what we need, what can you do for us and this new CMS?”.
The marketing director then started talking to industry contacts at a networking event and heard the new buzzword “DXP” or Digital Experience Platform.
They are all getting very excited after learning about personalisation and aggregating data from CRM systems, and multichannel campaigns... But they didn't really know how to implement it.
Speaking to their IT team in-house, they hear more about headless, micro-service architecture and the need to be secure & compliant... In the end, they are just even more confused about what to write in their brief for the new CMS!
It's usually why those briefs are usually incomplete for a new CMS.
I don’t know if you've ever been in that situation. We’ve had many clients like that, and even if you're not client-facing, I can tell you it's wild out there. No one really knows what they're doing.
As an ex-developer, I can't write code anymore but I understand the technicalities of complex integrations that are needed for such projects. Today in my role at Cyber-Duck, I support our sales team in the new business process. When we receive those inquiries that mention the word API or ERP, they come to me to try and understand what's needed and to scope a potential solution.
Helping our clients select the next best CMS
So what can we do? How can we help our clients select the next best CMS for them? Should I go with Silverstripe, Drupal or one of the new SaaS headless platform?
Are you asking me for my preference? Are you expecting me to tell you which one is better between Silverstripe and Drupal? Sorry. It's not gonna happen today.
Because it shouldn't be about me. It shouldn't be about my personal preferences. It shouldn't be about us in the room building those sites. We need to start getting into our clients' mindsets and start thinking like them.
We need to try and understand what are their true challenges. The why behind what they wrote in this brief, behind the need for new CMS. We need to think about what they're expecting to see from us in terms of helping them solve their digital challenge.
We need to start with some empathy, putting ourselves in their shoes when they wrote this brief. So what were they thinking?
- Obviously, they're frustrated, so they want something that's better than they have now.
- They want to understand how much it's gonna cost
- They're stuck with their current system so they want it to be easy to customise and easy to use for their editors (the non-technical editors most of the time)
- They don't want to get stuck, having to ask their developers for every small change.
- They also might wonder: “Is my new CMS on this Gartner Magic Quadrant report”? Should trust this platform? (My straight answer is no, don't worry about that. There are some big names on there, but in my opinion, it's a lot of marketing gimmicks. One point to note though is that there is the Acquia platform - the commercial division of Drupal, there are some WordPress SaaS platform as well so we should potentially think about seeing Silverstripe Cloud on there in the future, but that's probably more marketing than technical for us here today.
So if no one knows what they're doing, if everyone is confused in the marketing team between the requests from their users, their IT teams, and the market trends, we have to guide them.
Vetting clients for a new CMS project
First of all, we have to vet clients. Before we can make recommendations for a new CMS, we need to make sure that they're gonna be relevant for us, for our agency, and make sure that we can deliver the project profitably.
At a certain stage of growth, we cannot handle the small firm of accountants around the corner that only have €2,000 budget and will be so demanding it will take 3 months to deliver this project.
For us, we make sure their brief has some complex challenges, and that they're ready to invest in a good solution and understand it will take time to go through those challenges. Obviously, we all have different thresholds: from individual freelancers to building a team… as you grow, you go after bigger clients. Today, we’re going to focus more on the enterprise side of the market.
Once the client is vetted, we can build a good relationship with them. It’s important to start on the right foot so they're ready to listen to our suggestions.
Through the early stages, it's really our job to be open and transparent, asking the right questions and bringing technical input during the sales process. That's very important because a lot of the time, those briefs are missing a lot of information. We have to challenge their brief and review if they thought about some of the technical specifications or elements that we've seen on other projects that seem to be missing from theirs… This is only when we drill into it more that we can start understanding the real requirements.
Throughout all of those stages, we need to have the client's best interest at heart.
Watch the video to hear the rest...
Until next time, stay safe and see you soon.