How to Choose a Marketing Technology Stack, Part 1 of 7: Introduction

We were asked recently,

…Would love your thoughts on the base marketing tech stack for a consumer company. Assuming Marketing Automation, Email, CMS…what else?

At first glance, this seems like a fairly cut-and-dried question. What marketing technologies should consumer companies be using? Of course, while the question is direct and succinct, we know from Scott Brinker’s MarTech map of the universe that any answer which involves choices of technology is likely to be bewilderingly complex:

As seen above, in 2016, we saw thousands of marketing technology companies. Choosing a handful from this massive swamp is no easy feat, especially when all the vendor demos promise pretty much the same thing: choose them and you’ll be rich. Choose the competitor and you’ll be fired.

But that’s not the only problem with the question above. There’s a much greater, hidden danger lurking within it: we’re putting the cart far before the horse.

Step back and look at the bigger picture. Marketers tend to leap straight to asking about tools and technology without giving due consideration to basic strategy or using data to inform their decisions. Why are we talking about marketing technology? What business problem do we intend to solve with technology – and is the problem a technology problem, a process problem, a strategy problem, or something else entirely?

We’ve seen this problem recur with every marketing trend over the decades:

  • Focusing on ESPs rather than email strategy
  • Focusing on SEO tools rather than content
  • Focusing on social media tools rather than strategy

Jumping ahead to tools is like asking which cookware we should be using, when we haven’t even decided on who’s doing the cooking or what meal we’re serving.

Consider this diagram of marketing technology deployment I showed in speeches last year:

Technology – how – comes fourth. We make choices about how once we’ve figured out why, what, and who is involved. In this series, we’ll unpack the marketing technology deployment strategy above. We’ll learn how to properly plan a marketing technology stack rollout, develop a sensible governance model, examine what could go wrong, and succeed on the first try rather than patch and duct tape a disaster repeatedly.

Stay tuned!

Christopher S. Penn
Vice President, Marketing Technology


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