Every year, the LUMAscapes proliferate; every year, Scott Brinker’s marketing technology landscape grows denser. Now featuring more than 5,000 companies (up from around 3,500 last year), you practically need superpowers just to read Scott’s supergraphic. With martech, it’s an embarrassment of riches.

Yes … but (there’s always a “yes … but,” right?). In an era of zero-based budgeting, where, as my colleague Ewan McIntyre notes, “marketing investments need to deliver demonstrable value to the business” (Gartner client subscription required), some of those riches are more like a mirage. They exist to tempt us, but they’re often beyond our grasp, especially when we’re charged with getting more out of the investments we’ve already made.

Admittedly, chasing the shiny and new is way more fun than the sober task of maximising the ROI of your existing martech stack and curbing redundancy. But like the kid in the candy store after the sugar high wears off, your organisation doesn’t necessarily end up in a better place by spending wildly to build bigger martech stack.

Too often, we find, marketers treat features and functionality as the end goal, rather than focusing on the goals they want to achieve and using martech functionality as the means to that end. “Your ability to identify and deploy martech solutions that fit your organisation and meet your business needs,” observes Adam Sarner (Gartner client subscription again required), “depends on accurately assessing your capabilities and goals. Forging ahead otherwise risks wasting martech resources on solutions that fall short of expectations.”

Start with your goals and work your way back to the functionality you need to realise them. Inventory your existing martech portfolio, identify areas where you can consolidate (including reducing unused seats or licenses) and squeeze more out of what you have by emphasising ongoing training and education. These are three steps Bryan Yeager identifies (you know the drill) for marketers to follow to get the most value from their existing martech investments before adding new applications. A side benefit is that you also get to avoid the ignominious fate of becoming a “Martech Fred” (an organisation that overspends on and subsequently underutilises its marketing technology).

Ultimately, you may find that the best martech investments are the ones you already have. If not, by following a structured evaluation process, you’ll have a solid basis for making sound investments in technology that supports marketing and business goals, and aligns to defined user needs within your marketing organisation. This will put your team in a better place the next time the budget wheel comes around.

The dizzying array of martech options will still be there.

*This article is reprinted from the Gartner Blog Network with permission. 

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