Part 1 of 3: Oh Look, A Squirrel – Avoiding “Shiny Toy” Syndrome with Strategy
Modern life requires so many decisions all the time, doesn’t it? Sometimes even at Starbucks I feel like saying, “Too many choices: I just want a cup of coffee!”
And it’s no different for us as marketers, looking at the options for introducing new technologies to our Demand Factory. Back in January 2015, I wrote a post mentioning some 2,000 technology vendors for marketing. The 2016 Marketing Technology Landscape lists 3,874 vendors, the phrase “MarTech stack” yields over 50,000 Google results – and the year isn’t over yet! It’s a gigantic buffet of technologies we can apply to our businesses, but it’s so confusing. What’s a rational way to decide what you actually need? Where do you start? Which technology comes first? How do we integrate them? How do you vet a vendor? Most importantly: how do you avoid being distracted by every “shiny new toy”?
Actually, it’s simple: put strategy first.
Working to help hundreds of clients build their own Demand Factories, we have identified four key strategic activities of demand generation where MarTech can be applied most successfully:
Use the Demand Factory metaphor, and view these four areas as the different functional areas of the factory that need to hum along like well-oiled machines. To make that happen, you have to know what gaps you have, so that you can apply the right resources and technology to become strong in each of the areas. Then, when you see those shiny new toys, you can consider your gaps and know whether the tools fit your needs or not. So measure your current effectiveness in each area, and draw a blueprint of what you want your effectiveness to be.
For example, where are you in “Acquire”? If you have a steady stream of leads at the top of the funnel, maybe you don’t need more in that area. As for “Convert,” most of us bought marketing automation to help with that, so you may be doing fairly well there, but perhaps you need additional help with lead scoring (algorithms, predictive intelligence), or content tools (to help with conversion in the nurturing program). If you’re low in “Measure,” area, invest in tools to measure campaign attribution, your demand funnel inventory, and consumption of content.
“Strategy first” may seem like common sense, but unfortunately it isn’t common practice in marketing. Maybe it’s because as marketers we are trained to be agile, to try new things, to push the envelope – but now that we finally have the kinds of professional tools that Finance and Engineering have had for decades, we need to use them professionally, and that means lead with strategy, requirements, desired outcomes, and knowing how you’ll measure success of the investment.
In my next post, we’ll look at how to set priorities for adding new technologies to your Demand Factory, based on the strategy you’ve defined.
For more than 20 years, David Lewis has been a pioneering innovator in digital marketing, and has overseen marketing for some of Silicon Valley’s leading technology firms. He founded DemandGen in 2007 to build the worlds’ first marketing technology agency.
For the past decade, David and his team at DemandGen have been at the forefront of the transformation taking place in marketing by helping hundreds of the top sales and marketing teams around the world incorporate marketing automation to drive growth. David is accomplished industry speaker, thought leader, and author. His ground-breaking work on the transformation of marketing and sales is at the heart of his book, Manufacturing Demand: The Principles of Successful Lead Management.