My wife's shopping approach is pretty simple: she sees something she wants and buys it.

And, if one of her friends has it, that's a no-brainer. She needs it, too.

Marketers can't be like my wife when choosing technology. As they stare into the 1,876-vendor abyss, marketers need to do a little homework and always remember their organization's business strategy.

"My advice is to step back and take a fresh view, using tools like @chiefmartec’s landscape," said Scott Vaughan, CMO at Scottsdale, Ariz.-based Integrate. "Good planning always starts with defining business strategy and customer goals and needs. You can then utilize what other tech-driven transformations have used -- create a 'blueprint' by taking inventory of current systems, processes and data flow."

Buying Goals Not Changed

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That, Vaughan said, would allow marketers to identify choke points, areas of consolidations and, most importantly, gaps in these areas.

"Share your MarTech blueprint with the prospective MarTech providers in each category and based on needs and fit, prioritize and onboard," Vaughan told CMSWire. "Onboard can start with pilots and migrate into full adoption based on success metrics. It is a much more predictable approach to this exploding MarTech transformation."

We've had a lot of views on where the MarTech landscape is going since Scott Brinker published his annual graphic that indicated a nearly 100 percent growth year over year. Some think it will shrink considerably. Brinker's telling marketers it's not so scary.

But the principles of buying technology haven't really changed -- even if the landscape in front of marketers today looks like Boston roadways this winter.

"In the end, the marketer needs to know their customer, understand their behaviors across channels, sessions and devices, and be able to engage on the customer's terms," said Dan Gilmartin, CMO of Boston-based BlueConic. "This requires a harmonized technology effort, which is a promise of the cloud, and is not restricted to suites."

No 'Clear Standard'

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One industry veteran sees the landscape's growth due to marketers themselves.

"The fact that marketers like to try new things and have traditionally bought to address a specific pain point rather than an overall technology plan has aggravated the landscape and created the nearly 2,000 providers that showed up in Scott Brinker’s recent vendor landscape graphic," said Paige O'Neill, CMO for Maidenhead, UK-based SDL. "We have had marketing solutions provided as a suite or platform for more than a decade but nothing has emerged as a clear standard."

O'Neill views the current industry as a cross-section of three forces: a need for efficiency, the desire to be personal and contextual and the need to constantly innovate and differentiate.

"On top of that," she told CMSWire, "the technology is converging across areas as customer experience is emerging to cut across sales, marketing and service at a minimum."

Create Strong Strategy

The lesson for marketers? Understand where you compete, and create a strategy for how you are going to address that and where technology is required to serve the need.

If you serve a market with a small number of potential customers, automation may not be a big deal for volume but you may need a way to tailor your web and mobile presence to specific companies and even specific individuals in that company," O'Neill said. "If you serve multiple geographies, you will need to consider local and cultural differences and how you will address those needs. The bar is constantly being raised so it is more critical than ever to ensure agility in your technology environment. The important thing is to look ahead and plan; don’t just buy a technology solution to address your current pain, without examining how it fits into future plans and your overall customer experience strategy."

Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic LicenseTitle image by  wolfsavard