Shiny object syndrome or planned purchasing? 4 questions to max your marketing budget and architecture

In a vendor eco-system of thousands, all offering products with infinite possibility, how does a discerning revenue marketer make the right martech purchase decision? Even the savviest marketer gets distracted by the cool tools demoed at conferences and in webinars.  Ultimately, however, we must assume responsibility for what and how we purchase. 

While the market has exploded with a myriad of new offerings for the marketing tech stack, our budgets haven’t followed suit. This means it is crucial to build a revenue marketing architecture that actually drives revenue. Buying the latest and greatest tools based on the trendy buzz word du jour without any kind of strategic plan for ROI could land you in the unemployment line.   

Here are the four key questions to ask when buying new martech:

1. What is the expected outcome?

Before you let yourself get sold the next new thing, ask why.  Sure, having a strong dynamic content tool sounds amazing. But, do you have the content to support it?  What problem are you trying to solve? Be certain  that you have a legitimate  business problem to solve  with your purchase and not just the fun of being able to send emails with dynamic content. Every new tool you add to your stack should enhance your programs and drive a significant business outcome.

2. How will ROI from this application be measured?

Similar to the first question, it’s crucial to understand how you will measure ROI from this new tool.  Every vendor in the market will give you ROI calculations and figures from case studies, but you will be the one who is responsible for showing your leadership team how this new tool provides ROI for your business. When it’s your turn to answer that question for your business,  other people’s case studies won’t matter.  Be prepared to measure from the start. Some tools may not have instant ROI that can be measured in dollars and cents. That’s ok. But, you must set measurable performance indicators so that you can see progress in the interim until the ROI appears. For example: Time saved by automating a process is a measurable KPI.

3. Who will 'own' the technology and be responsible for management and maintenance?

Just like everything, someone needs to manage and maintain the application. This means that a single person is responsible for the training, administration, and maintenance of it.  It’s a simple planning exercise:  Assign an owner and get the whole team involved to ensure success with the new tool.

4. How will the tool or enhanced feature integrate or align with your current technology?

This is a bit of a trick question. The truth is, it does not always make sense to integrate all of your technology. If you’re unsure outline your use cases and determine whether the cost of integration is offset by the possible use cases.  Make sure to include the cost of integration (and implementation) in your larger ROI calculations, if the startup costs far exceed any return from the beginning you should be able to say “no thank you” without going much farther.

If you can answer all four of these questions completely, then it is safe to say you are making a purchase for the right reasons.  We don’t all have final authority over purchasing. If you are responsible for presenting new solutions, but not the final decision maker, come prepared with the answers to these key business questions. Show your CMO you have thought about all the angles. If you are the decision maker, remember these questions so you are making purchases that will stay within your budget and demonstrate ROI.

Further reading: Read Scott Brinker’s Q&A with Jeff Pedowitz in - How utilized is marketing automation today? An expert weighs in.