Shiny objects are things that capture the imagination. They’re silver bullets that promise to fix everything with immediate gratification. As much as we like to think that there is “a” quick solution for every problem, eventually, reality breaks the spell. Shiny objects don’t work as well as advertised, or at least as well as we’ve built them up to be in our imaginations.

Technologies are notorious contributors to the shiny object syndrome. For marketing efficiency and effectiveness goals, automation promises to replace boring manual tasks, standardize workflows, keep a running record for visibility of transactions and patterns, and provide standardized reports. And automation does these things, with caveats.

What’s lacking among shiny objects are the people-and-process prerequisites and bigger picture of marketing efficiency and effectiveness needs.

  • Prerequisites for automation: expected time savings from automating boring manual tasks are too often offset by time needed to manage the complexities of the system, due to inadequately defined people and process workflow requirements before deployment.
  • Bigger picture for automation: extra customizations strive to bridge the gap between what was promised and what’s needed, complicating upgrades and scalability as your people and processes migrate or expand over time.

And for better decision-making, standardized reports do only part of the job. Mindsets and perspectives differ, so if you want whole-hearted buy-in and decision-making you need to manage assumptions, not just look at the same data.

Marketing Efficiency and Effectiveness Needs

The bigger picture of marketing’s needs, when it comes to organizational efficiency and effectiveness (also known as marketing performance management or marketing operations), includes cross-functional leadership to make a greater impact on the enterprise’s agility.

  • Agility: in the fast-paced, rapidly changing environment faced by organizations now, and increasingly so in the future, agility is the watchword.
  • Cross-functional: one department’s agility is insufficient, so cross-functional coordination and collaboration are essential.
  • Leadership: as compiler of business intelligence, marketing has a huge leadership opportunity to build the company’s capability for agility.
  • Impact: growing revenue is necessary yet insufficient – customer-centered agility is what’s needed to grow customer lifetime value for sustainable growth.

To realize the bigger picture, the scope of marketing efficiency and effectiveness must be broadened well beyond automation to include the following:

  1. Marketing ROI: step back and think about how you want marketing to be perceived – if your metrics are only about campaigns, other functional areas will define you as such. Move your thinking process away from a transactional mentality to more of a portfolio (holistic) mentality. To grow customer lifetime value, think about how relationships are developed over a long period of time, and set up your metrics accordingly. For example, if you care too much about campaigns, customers may view your company as disrespectful of their time; even though you seem to be building revenue, you could be losing loyalty in the process.
  2. Strategy execution: build your capabilities to coordinate between groups so that people know how their deliverables affect one another, and feel motivated to hold themselves and one another accountable. Awareness of interdependencies can motivate collaboration that produce synergies to fully execute strategies.
  3. Scalability: remember that the future brings constant evolution – and sometimes significant shifts – and set your marketing organization up for success by developing needed capabilities and establishing well-planned contingencies.
  4. Buyer alignment: you could think of marketing’s job as ensuring that the customers’ journey is managed to give them what they need at the right time in the right way (per the customers’ perspective, not the company’s). In B2B, make it easy for people to facilitate the buying decision among multiple influencers on your behalf.
  5. Business intelligence: as marketers, you collect and analyze information that could be useful to various parts – possibly all – of the company. Make sure it’s organized to guide every functional area in making their work contribute to customer lifetime value and the company’s agility.
  6. Customer profitability: consider the power of customer lifetime value (also known as cumulative profit over the duration of a customer’s relationship with your company) as a guide for everything your organization does. Customer profitability is an eye-opening context for making sure you’re pursuing the right customers (segmentation and targeting) with the right marketing. Help the rest of the company see customers’ realities so you can collectively eradicate hassles and make sure brand promises are realistic, and hence, experienced as promised.

Abandoning Shiny Object Fetishes

Here are a few tips for abandoning the temptation to pursue shiny objects without due diligence to prerequisites and the bigger picture for marketing efficiency and effectiveness needs:

  • Recognize that there needs to be a corresponding investment in people and processes whenever a shiny object comes into the picture.
  • For every tool that’s supposed to help with the “left-brain” side of marketing, you need to nurture soft skills to support the “right-brain” side of marketing.
  • Pause and require more vetting before falling in love with a specific solution: are you even ready to be in the market for a shiny object?
  • Think bigger about marketing efficiency and effectiveness: establish a clear roadmap and get the right people on board for the marketing ROI, strategy execution, scalability, buyer alignment, business intelligence, and customer profitability components of marketing’s success.