Shiny Object Syndrome…an increasingly common ailment in the tech-dependent marketing world. It often happens when we get distracted by the influx of new technologies and trending strategies that promise us the world.

Given a total of $10 billion in MarTech funding since the start of last year alone, along with the fact that, according to Gartner’s 2015-2016 CMO Spend Survey, 71 percent of marketing orgs have discrete funding for innovation (averaging about 10 percent of the marketing budget), it’s an easy trap to fall into.

It’s precisely for this reason that we should regularly check up on how well our tech investments are supporting our marketing initiatives. And now that we’re halfway through 2016, it’s probably a good time for that bi-annual review.

The key is to look for creative ways to leverage the tools you have today and prioritize the new technologies that can advance your capabilities. Not only will this increase your odds of success with new tools, but accelerate your ultimate goal: delivering clear business value and MarTech-investment ROI.

In other words, it’s better to think “evolution” rather than “revolution” when it comes to acquiring and deploying new marketing technology.

Get more out of what you’ve got

While “new” can be awesome, many times what you have on hand may be good enough or even better, if you focus on optimizing its application.

Our natural tendency is to start our research with what’s new or what’s out there to address our marketing needs and challenges. Before you look externally to the industry and start drafting your RFP, however, take a good, strong look at your existing technology. It may be – perhaps with a bit of tweaking – faster, cheaper, or offer better ROI than what the vendors are offering.

We marketers can also fall into a trap by buying too many tools or features from our core systems providers, simply because they are available through the suite or platform. This is especially true when you have something already in place that’s working well and doesn’t require moves, additions, or changes.

But adding new tools or capabilities may complicate things, rather than make them better. Before you pull out your corporate titanium card to purchase, it’s critical to take a fresh look at what you already have and see how you can get more out of it or redeploy it in a new way for greater value.

Invest wisely

Marketers’ budgets tend to burn a hole in their pockets. Itching to make a MarTech purchase? Think thrice.

Organizations should always invest in new technology (that’s right for them) with their existing portfolios in mind. It’s important to know not only which new technical capabilities you’ll need in the coming year, but also what will integrate into your existing tech stack and processes.

Lately, the common tech trends have focused on personalization and automation. Whether you’re using inbound or outbound marketing tactics, these efforts must have an increased level of personalization and targeting to enhance customer experience and drive customer acquisition.

At the same time, automation is critical for eliminating manual tasks and streamlining processes for quicker returns. Finally, effective measurement is necessary so marketers can have a line of sight into initiatives, see what’s working and what’s not – in real-time – and prove marketing’s ROI.

That’s a lot to absorb, but with a two-pronged approach in mind – evaluating existing technology portfolio and considering new technologies – marketers like myself can develop a “MarTech blueprint” to evaluate their current marketing and tech environment and serve as the basis for organizational goals.

Paint the picture

As we’ve discussed many times before, blueprints have nearly become a necessity for any forward-thinking organization. They’re a highly impactful approach, allowing marketers to visualize their current marketing architecture, the ways systems/tools connect with each other (or don’t), the processes they support, and how they affect customer experience and marketing’s value to the business.

They also help identify which MarTech solutions are needed to advance your efforts. This exercise helps take inventory of what you have in your infrastructure to help you identify gaps and potential areas of consolidation for tomorrow. Of course, in the end, it’s not about just filling the gaps; it’s about ensuring that your purchases will be of value to the company and align with your organization’s larger objectives.

Like creating a floor plan before building a house, this is a methodical approach that can deliver incredible value to your 2016 marketing planning.

Get it started

Marketing technology has become a strategic investment, and when done right, it can be a differentiator.

While there’s an abundance of new toys that today’s data-driven marketers can get their hands on, it doesn’t mean they should. Remember, evolution is good. Do your research on these new tools while also reexamining your existing portfolio. A blueprint will help balance your approach and facilitate prioritization of investments and resources.

At the same time, knowing that success depends on more than technology alone, you need to have marketing, sales, and operations on the same page with regard to objectives, definitions, processes, and who’s doing what, as well as how to execute, measure, and adjust tactics moving forward.

Once you’ve aligned your people and visualized the gaps in your roadmap, your organization will be on the path to building a winning MarTech strategy.