When you’re under pressure it’s easy to take short-cuts to tech solutions. But the focus a good strategy provides is vital to making the right decisions, says Ian Lowe, VP of Marketing for global SaaS Web Content Management vendor Crownpeak.

The pressure marketers are under to accelerate results – responding to rapidly changing customer expectations and competitive pressures – means that they often look to technology to provide efficiencies in operations, either for budget or labor hours. They need to get more done and move faster.

Unfortunately, many of us have fallen into the trap of buying technology as a substitute for strategy. We’re wooed – and wowed – by the pitch, by a great vision of the technological nirvana of a new system that plugs a gap. Content, personalization, ABM, analytics, intelligence, planning, and on and on.

What we tend to get wrong is making sure we have a well-defined strategy and implementation plan – defined before engaging with technology. How can we effectively evaluate features, benefits and value propositions if we don’t have a clear understanding of our needs and how we can take advantage of technology.

You might think you don’t have this problem. That you carefully vet software vendors before selection. But if we’re honest with ourselves, how often do we feel a generalized need, invite a group of vendors, then compare their features and demos to make the final choice?

Looking at this from a marketing operations background, the pressure to select a technology and implement it quickly comes from two directions.

From the top-down, we have CMOs and even CEOs who push for ever greater efficiencies throughout the growth stack (meaning sales and marketing together finding ways to expand new and existing business). From the bottom-up, we have day to day operators (field, event, web, digital, brand and campaign marketers) trying to increase their effectiveness and to satisfy the needs of their stakeholders – sales, operations, finance, and others. This combines into concerted pressure to always get the next technology to make the job easier, better, faster.

We’ve become so used to the instant response that consumer technology has given us that we’ve forgotten that enterprise implementations take enterprise collaboration to work. Even in a large organization, implementing requires coordination across teams and priorities. In a small team, the limited resources available create chokepoints to implementation. The end result is an implementation that works poorly, does not achieve the vision we were sold, and delivers disillusionment in the martech space in general.

The solution is to clearly craft the strategy and implementation plan ahead of time:

  • How does this technology move forward the marketing strategy for the organization?
  • How does it integrate with or replace existing technologies?
  • What is the new process and data flow required to maximize the potential of the new technology?
  • How do we prioritize features and benefits?
  • How do we balance best-of-breed features that we can use now vs. broad platform capabilities that will take months or years to implement?
  • Who will implement?
  • Who will own the system?
  • Who owns the data definitions, data diagrams, training and operationalization?
  • How will we measure the effectiveness of the solution?
  • What do we do if the solution is less successful that current-state?
  • Is it possible to tie this solution to pipeline or revenue?
  • Can I justify the investment from a P&L perspective?

These are some of the questions we need to ask ourselves. When we’re honest with ourselves, we suddenly realize that there are no quick-fixes. No magic wands to make marketing easier overnight. That clear-eyed view will help you evaluate the truly powerful solutions that you can add vs the newest shiny object.

There’s no question that technology can be a force multiplier for your organization. Choosing wisely is the difference between operations that spin their wheels and those that escalate results year after year.

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