Sean, a small business owner, reached out to me and asked how to set up an efficient and cohesive Marketing Technology Stack (martech stack for short) for his company. This has been his major pain point. It’s a loaded question, so I thought we could unpack it together in today’s blog post.

If you’re struggling with this topic, I’ll guide your thinking approach and break down key steps that you can take to tackle this hairy issue in baby steps.

Yes, you can do this!

A quick bit of background before we jump into solutions.

Sean and his two business partners created an Irish dance music streaming application named Feis (pronounced Fesh). Their growth so far has been almost entirely organic, with next to no marketing efforts or data collection in place.

However, they recognize that continued growth hinges on implementing marketing tech stacks and infrastructure. They are also cognizant that they need to continue to improve the app’s visual designs with user research to deliver a seamless customer experience.

The more Sean has read about various marketing technologies, the more he’s become overwhelmed by the sea of information.

By a stroke of luck, he found me on the Internet and scheduled a call with me. He wanted to know how to tackle the martech stack.

Here are the 3 key elements I shared with Sean; I thought you might find them useful.

1. Martech stack is inherently complicated. The best way to navigate it is to know exactly what you need to build.

To do that, I told Sean to get together with his two partners and go to a pub, a coffee shop, or another comfortable place to have in-depth conversations about business goals and marketing plans. It was important for them to hammer out exactly what they wanted to accomplish and how they would measure their marketing success.

You can’t do marketing unless you have good products or services first, which Sean, fortunately, had in place, so the next step was for him and his business partners to craft business objectives and goals accordingly.

Once all 3 partners could agree on their business objectives and models, they would need to determine the types of marketing or marketing campaigns to achieve their marketing outreach. (FB, email, Spotify, podcast advertising, whatever it may be.)

Here is one example I shared with him. Was the goal to grow their FB community? Should they do FB ads and drive traffic to their community that way if that were the case?

I told Sean that there were many ways to reach out to his target audience. However, he would need to think through the specific channels he really wanted to use for marketing tactics.

Once you know that information, you can work backward to source your martech tools specifically for those channels.

In addition, he would need to know what customer data he wanted to collect and what success metrics he’d like to measure.

Customer outreach channels, customer data collection, and success metrics, would all help guide him through the martech stack process.

If you know what you want, suddenly, you can self-filter out many martech technologies that don’t apply to you.

You can also explain to vendors what you want to do and give them ideas on how they can help you. Then, you’ll realize the martech stack isn’t as intimidating as it seems. It doesn’t mean it’s not hard; it just means that now you know what to look for.

Knowing your business objectives, as well as the marketing channels you want to use and success metrics you’re looking for, will all go a long way toward martech stack building.

2. Know that it takes time and money to build martech

Digital takes time to do right. Once you build a flow, you need to test it to make sure it works. 90% of the time, it doesn’t work the first go-round. Also, the workflow needs to connect several systems through API integrations or data migration, so be aware that data may not migrate correctly. Everything becomes very fragile when you try to connect different systems or technologies.

At the same time, technologies are not cheap. You need to set aside money to build your martech or hire a small marketing team. There is no magic shortcut here, unfortunately.

I am an individual consultant, and people are often shocked by how much money I spend on technologies. But there is just no other way around it.

Paid media needs to be part of the marketing strategy.

This is a harsh reality for small businesses to understand. But, you can grow your business organically…to some extent.

However, at some point, you will hit the ceiling. Then, if you want to grow, you need to do paid advertising, which means paid keyword search, paid ads, or even paid sponsored content like blog posts.

3. Paid media is an essential part of strategic marketing. The challenge is that you can’t do paid media effectively with just a one-off campaign or one-off effort.

It needs to be sustained over a long period of time. Marketing is a journey, not a sprint. I do marketing every day – it can be conducting an interview, creating informational videos, doing a blog post like now, or as simple as writing a single LinkedIn post or a short tweet. The point is that marketing doesn’t stop. Ever.

People often ask me how much they should spend on paid. That is subject to discussion, but, in general, it needs to be a decent amount to make an impact on whatever you are tracking. That’s why major brands have a significant advantage over niche brands because they have a higher paid budget, and it helps.

I shared with Sean that it’s important to understand cost per acquisition. Understanding cost per will help you project your revenue, engagements, and growth.

Let me give you a simple example: when you do paid media, you will calculate your cost per marketing lead or cost per acquisition. Say if you pay $3 per podcast download, well, you know how much you need to spend if you want to have 20,000 downloads. (Ok, that’s $60,000. Not cheap, right?)

When I did Facebook paid ads to promote one of my workshops several years ago, the conversion to purchase was $180. I am not talking about driving traffic to my website; I am talking about the people who registered and paid for my workshop. So, If I wanted 50 attendees, you can easily calculate that my projected promotion was about $9000.

Paid media, in general, is not cheap. Organic referral and word of mouth are the best ways to get customers, but those things take time.

Overall, Sean and I had a great conversation together. I gave him enough steps and ideas to think about what he needed to do next.

If you are also in the process of building your martech stack, let me know what your experience has been like. Is there overlap with what I’ve described, or is there anything totally different?

Let’s learn from each other.


What can Pam Didner do for you?

Being in the corporate world for 20+ years and having held various positions from accounting and supply chain management, and marketing to sales enablement, she knows how corporations work. She can make you and your team a rock star by identifying areas to shine and do better. She does that through private coaching, keynote speaking, workshop training, and hands-on consulting. Contact her or find her on LinkedIn and Twitter. A quick note: Check out her new 90-Day Revenue Reboot, if you are struggling with marketing.