Who doesn’t love a great Marketing conference? The energy, the excitement, the vast experience of admired leaders imparted to hungry marketers from the main stage…
Let’s be honest, though. While most of us enjoy and gain real value from attending the speaker sessions, the real party is in the vendor hall. That maze of potential partners and providers with solutions to overcome every conceivable marketing challenge. Name the most obscure problem you can think of, and there’s somebody in that hall that can help solve it. If we had a grocery cart, we’d fill that thing up with MarTech tools and sprint to the express lane! Okay, that may be an exaggeration, but there is indeed a lot to be excited about.
After all, Chiefmartech.com’s 2019 Marketing Technology Landscape Supergraphic illustrates the now 7,000+ tools available to marketers! While this vast toolset has ushered in a season of unprecedented capabilities, the propensity to gravitate toward the new and exciting can spell problems for the wide-eyed marketer.
Enter Shiny Object Syndrome.
As marketers, we feel an inherent urgency to be on the cutting edge in our quest to implement strategies that will help us inch ahead of the competition. And there is always something new to buy. If we’re not careful, the pressure to innovate can cause us to lose our focus on sound strategy and planning.
Imagine the following scenario, inspired by real-life examples:
Cindy is the new Director of Digital Marketing for ABC Company. During the interview process, she heard a lot about the array of tools she’d have available and the complexity of their marketing ecosystem. She was excited to be joining such an innovative team that had invested heavily in marketing technology. This was going to be great!
What Cindy found upon joining, however, was a very different reality. ABC Company had 12 MarTech tools. Some of them were table stakes systems, such as Marketing Automation and CRM, while others were more niche for specific purposes. Some had overlapping capabilities. The data environment was a mess and there was little documentation or history due to staff turnover. Marketing wasn’t meeting their numbers, and these tools cost nearly $500,000 per year.
How did this happen?
There had been six different marketing directors in the past ten years, along with a handful of company reorgs. Marketing numbers have always been a challenge, and previous leaders looking for a silver bullet continually turned to the latest technology… Shiny Object Syndrome strikes again!
Cindy sure has her work cut out for her now. Not only does she have to make sense of the current toolset, but she also needs to quickly establish plans to meet goals for the year.
While the reasons for Shiny Object Syndrome can vary, the result is almost always the same. A bloated MarTech stack, a highly complex ecosystem that lacks cohesion, and frustrated marketers with unmet goals.
Below are three recommendations for avoiding Shiny Object Syndrome:
- Look to your current toolset first. Many MarTech tools are highly customizable and capable of delivering some truly outside-the-box solutions. Challenge your team to continually drive the greatest possible value from your current investments. Find those edge cases and push the limits of what your tools are capable of. That new strategy you want to try? You may find you already have what you need.
- Before purchasing a new tool, a bit of self-reflection is good for the soul. How mature are you in managing your current MarTech stack? The success of a new tool will depend greatly on your level of adoption and discipline in managing your current toolset. With every technology you add, the complexity of your ecosystem grows exponentially. Small problems can become bigger problems. From user privileges to data alignment, your team will simply have more to do. Be sure you have resources and processes in place to successfully implement a new solution.
- Align every MarTech purchase to your marketing mandate. There are some truly amazing tools out there, but you don’t need all of them. It’s most likely you only need a few. If your goal is Marketing Qualified Leads, for example, start with this fundamental question: “How will this tool help us generate MQLs?”
While it may be tempting to invest in a new solution that claims to solve your immediate challenge *right now*, make sure you’re already investing fully in what you currently have. Don’t add unnecessary complexity when a little creativity and tech savvy can help your current tools do the job just as well if not better.
Want to figure out if you’re using your existing technology to its fullest potential? DemandGen offers a comprehensive MarTech stack assessment to ensure you’re optimizing the use of your current tools, as well as process consulting services to help you navigate marketing trends such as ABM with ease.
And if you’re ready to add to your existing stack, we also provide deployment services to help ensure a smooth rollout of new MarTech and seamless integrations with your existing technology.
Greg Huckabee is a Client Engagement Manager at DemandGen, where he advocates for client solutions and resources. He loves helping marketers uncover hidden opportunities and realize the greatest possible value from their marketing automation tools.