Ask the Expert: How To Land a Martech Partnership (For the Long-run)

  • August 10, 2020
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It’s a jungle out there!

For every major global brand, there are hundreds of Martech providers promising them the earth – faster, cheaper, more robust solutions than ever before.

Whether it’s advertising and promotion, commerce and sales, content and experience, data, management, or social and relationships, Martech specialists are all pitching for a piece of the brand pie.

With 18 brands, 978,000+ rooms in 6,000+ properties across 118 countries, Hilton is arguably the largest full-service hotel brand on the planet. As such, it isn’t exactly short of offers from ambitious Martech providers – from London to Los Angeles.

Phrasee connected with Philip Wright, former Senior Director Customer Engagement Platforms: Data. Having spent eight years at Hilton, most recently reporting to the Global Head of Customer Platforms, Philip was responsible for (among other things) “owning the transformation and future strategy of the new data platform.”

Philip talked to us about the inherent risks involved in onboarding a new Martech partner, the rationale for Hilton selecting Phrasee and the most effective ways to maintain a long-term partnership.

“Subject line performance quickly educated us in understanding how certain brand language could be adapted to include specific terms that were previously believed not to be a good fit.”
Philip Wright – Formerly of Hilton

Phrasee: Hilton is steeped in more than 100 years of history. Having previously worked for this global brand, which is also an iconic household name, what was your most common experience as a marketer when you were there? 

Philip: At Hilton, everyone gets a chance to see the annual Martech Landscape infographic at some point.

Working in global enterprises, and specifically in the technology and marketing departments, it often felt like all of these companies in the infographic were trying to get:

a) a “15-minute (never 15 minutes)” introduction;

b) a connection at a conference; or

c) a follow-up to a random piece of office stationery with their brand emblazoned on it – asking if we liked it (mostly, we didn’t!).

Phrasee: Given that Hilton is synonymous with hotels, the company’s brand equity is almost second-to-none, which is beneficial to any company affiliated with it. How were you able to discern when a company solely wanted to have Hilton as a client for self-serving purposes? What were the tell-tale signs?

Philip: While reviewing multiple proofs of concept, requests for proposals and partner engagements during my time at Hilton, it was clear that, more often than not, a partner found it more important to have Hilton on its client roster for future revenue growth and sales opportunities rather than to make our company more efficient, more effective and more successful.

Oftentimes, you can see the tell-tale signs when you start to negotiate. When attempting to meet the necessary legal demands of global enterprises such as Hilton, snippets of information are extracted from partners about the actual size of the company and internal limitations.

Phrasee: Onboarding a new Martech partner – particularly at such an established brand – can be fraught with difficulties. What were some of the intrinsic risks involved?

Philip: Even though budgets may be in the millions at some organizations, the resource availability and processes required to onboard new Martech partners can be limited in global enterprises. This is due to the complexities of ensuring that any new partner will not put the brand at risk at any stage.

Between IT security assessments, legal liability assessments, endorsement policies, business cases, steering committees and governance reviews, you have to be committed to knowing that the new partner will be worth the effort. Otherwise, it could adversely affect your internal reputation. It could also undermine any confidence that senior management had in you to finish the transformation journey you started.

Looking for more industry expertise?

Check out the rest of our Ask the Expert series.

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