August 24, 2017
Tailor-Made Marketing Tech
Call it “haute couture” in the marketing technology space. Strata Company, the Pennsylvania-based marketing services company, is providing exclusively tailored solutions for high-end clients.
“We build custom tools for the marketing directors of large companies,” Strata President Jeff Sammak told me. “So many platforms right now, label them how you will, are off-the-shelf. We do marcomm on demand.”
Strata does offer off-the-shelf tools too, but it’s specialty is “wrapping around the custom needs of large companies,” Sammak said, designing automation tools to solve for specific problems, bottlenecks, and paint points. “There really is no ability to customize a SaaS platform,” he said, without affecting other users. “I learned this a long time ago,” said Sammak. “Big companies want what big companies want. They don’t want to be pushed into a box. They want their own systems.”
Many of Strata’s clients (and all their major clients are from the Fortune 500, Sammak told me) have proprietary legacy systems they’re reluctant to abandon for an off-the-shelf alternative. “In the end,” he said, “it becomes a collaboration. We know what you need, but what changes do you have to make to have it come out as you want it to come out? There’s a right balance between keeping existing processes intact and meeting the goal.”
Certain challenges are common to all enterprise marketing groups, Sammak explained, so it’s not necessary to build a solution from the bottom up on each occasion. Elements can be recycled: Still, “No two builds we’ve done are remotely alike.” Strata has a relatively small development group (custom technology is only one of its offerings). There are five or six developers, plus support staff. “We’ve released four or five relatively major pieces of martech within the last four or five months.” As demand grows, resources will be added, said Sammak.
Not only haute couture, then, but boutique too.
For an international food services company with 250,000 employees, Strata built a custom, cloud-based (“Everything is cloud,” Sammak told me) marketing operations platform to manage menus and pricing across a portfolio 750 U.S. corporate clients. It also provided elements of process and cost management, all through a user-friendly dashboard with corporate-approved templates. Production turnaround was cut by a reported 50%.
In another use case, Strata supported a client which had a mandated need to communicate individually with employees about investments spread across many different investment funds. Strata automated a process for giving specific, individually-tailored information from countless combinations of hundreds of different funds.
But how does a large corporation with a unique challenge of that kind even know that a tailor-made solution can be built? “You’ve hit the nail right on the head,” said Sammak. “The key to our success is the ability to link up with those people. They know they have a problem, but don’t necessarily know ‘We need a custom web portal built.'”
I put it to Sammak that the Strata Company approach is unusual — perhaps even unique? “I don’t really focus on competitors,” he said. “The space is dominated by players who have a platform for marketing tech. They have a core offering which resembles core offerings from their competitors.” The concept that these over-arching solutions can be adapted the important, particular needs of companies — “I don’t see how that plays out.”
This week, Strata Company was listed at 2709 on the Inc. 5000 list of fastest-growing U.S. businesses.