The average company has a MarTech stack that spans 120 different tools.1 Of course, for many, this tangled web of tool choice was built with the best intentions. After years of trying to provide the right tool for every job, things just got out of hand — we get it. In theory, using a lot of tools could work. With the right integrations in place, it’s possible to use all the tools — even collect tools just for fun — without damaging collaboration and consistency. In reality, however, too many moving pieces create convoluted workflows and information silos… not to mention how every additional piece of software drives up costs. Out of control marketing stacks present a serious issue. If your tools can’t work together, everything just becomes harder. Luckily, it is possible to develop a MarTech stack that’s fit for purpose and streamlined for efficiency. Making this a reality comes down to:
- Managing the right integrations.
- Finding tools that provide a wide range of capabilities within a single platform.
We know a lot about this at Brandworkz. We’ve spent the last decade developing brand management software able to simplify integrations and minimise the number of tools marketers and brand managers need in the first place. Here, we’re going to explore the reasons we believe solutions like this are so important, explain how we got to this point in the first place, and point out signs that your marketing stack has gotten out of control. For many of you, there isn’t a moment to lose… let’s get started!
Suggested reading: A big reason to keep your marketing stack under control is to ensure that you can maintain brand consistency. For detailed help doing just that, check out our free resource — The Brand Consistency Toolkit.
How you got here in the first place Honestly, you’re the professional, and if you feel like your marketing stack is unstable then something probably needs to shift. Specifically, sure signs that your stack could stack it any day now include –
- Inefficiency: Are you using less than 50% of what your MarTech stack could actually do? What percentage of each tool’s capabilities are you actually using? Is there significant overlap between different components of your marketing stack?
- Complicated access: How many log-ins do your employees need to remember? Is there a different one for every tool, or do you have single-sign-on access to your whole system
- Communication cut-offs: How easy is it to share information between tools?
- Convoluted processes: Have manual and ad hoc processes sprung up to compensate for challenges related to the first three points?
- Inconsistent branding: Are the deficiencies in your tool set leading to miscommunication resulting in a lack of brand consistency across channels?
- A lack of standardisation: Are different teams across your organisation unable to work in the same way because of the tools they use?
Lucky for you, you’re by no means alone in your difficulties, and the problems aren’t limited to marketing tools. Studies show that companies are using as many as 125% more productivity tools than ever before, while 67% of respondents feel that their jobs would be easier if their work appeared in a single window.2 However, before we can consider the solutions (yes, there are solutions!) we first need to work out why exactly companies started collecting these tools in the first place. As with anything in business, there is no one answer to this question but, when you look across marketing landscapes in their entirety, some common causes do crop up time and again. Three stand head and shoulders above:
- Ad hoc responses to change: Change has become normal. The shift towards remote working and digital sales, and… well, the pandemic of 2020 put this into overdrive. However, the need to accommodate new channels, new strategies, new technology and more was already a well-established part of business. Accommodating rapid shifts has repeatedly required the need to plug holes that seemingly appear overnight — leading to an ongoing collection of tools or plugs and plasters.
- A feature focused mindset: Features are easy to quantify, and the flashy desire to collect capabilities is an easy trap to fall into. Especially why trying to outrun the competition, focusing on features can seem like an easy win. The problem is when procurement teams fail to really consider how all of these capabilities work together and fit within your wider MarTech stack.
- A lack of oversight: Departments, or even teams within departments, often purchase products on their own. A lot of organisations fall into this habit because of the first point on this list. However, if there is no central procurement team managing the overall stack, there is a lack of awareness about what the business already has. It then also becomes very common for free or low-cost apps to be purchased for short-term use and then hang around for a long time.
In short, the need to forever stay ahead and adapt has seen countless companies building their marketing towers to breaking point without truly considering the consequences. In reality, though, how you got here doesn’t matter nearly as much as how you plan to secure a simplified and more efficient future — and that brings us to a very critical question…
Is too many tools the true heart of the problem?
According to Slintel, Apple uses at least 65 tools3 within their marketing stack and Facebook uses at least 90.4 Admittedly, the capabilities of these companies far outstrip what most of our more modest marketing teams are capable of, but these stats still point to one rather interesting fact — your large marketing stack isn’t necessarily the root of your marketing issues. In fact, on consideration, many companies find that their marketing issues are more likely to come back to the specific tools they use and how those work together or, as is more likely the case if you’re reading this article, how they fail to achieve that synchronicity. Of course, you could argue that the more tools you use, the more complicated and difficult the management of those tools becomes. However, if you take the size of your stack entirely out of the equation, even a small selection of incompatible tools can very quickly lead to a range of costly issues such as —
- Escalating costs
- Operational inefficiency
- Wasted resources
- Complicated workflows
- Inconsistent outputs
- Poor visibility
- The risk of duplicate work
This is why the real challenge to conquer is integrations. You need to focus on how the tools you have work together, and how you can use technology to really streamline operations — rather than just creating one more hurdle in your way. With that said, the fewer tools you use, and the more versatile those tools are, the simpler your task of creating a fully integrated marketing stack will be.
Making your tools work together is the most important thing
While the number of tools you’re working with isn’t necessarily at the heart of all of your marketing challenges, streamlining your tool choices can dramatically simplify the responsibilities, and pressures that currently rest on your marketing team. Of course, it’s crucial that you don’t streamline to the point of leaving your team without the tools that they need to function, meaning that you also need to consider the capabilities you have at your disposal. You need to double down on quality within the process of minimising the number of tools needed. Not only that, you need to look at how the tools within your marketing stack integrate across your wider business processes — e.g. CRM, ERP, POS, and an ever-expanding list of niche acronyms that will likely only make sense to you if you happen to use that system in the first place.
Brand management software
The starting point for regaining control over your marketing stack for a lot of brands should be brand management software. Now, we sell brand management software at Brandworkz… so, you might be thinking — of course, they are going to say that. However, we’ll say upfront that our solution isn’t the only option, but there are compelling reasons that this type of solution is a great starting point. In fact, there are three main reasons —
- End-to-end management: By definition, brand management software unites a number of critical capabilities within a single solution. Generally speaking, this includes a DAM (Digital Asset Management) platform that you can use to access stored on-brand files, and workflow/annotation software to manage the creation of new deliverables. This keeps everything together and ensures that different teams are communicating and utilising the resources that exist, rather than unnecessarily investing in new creatives.
- Brand guidelines built-in: Brand management software will also integrate brand guideline capabilities with your DAM and workflow tools. This places access to this critical information at users’ fingertips, making sure that it’s considered when creating new assets or accessing existing material. At Brandworkz, we also include an advanced Logo Finder feature to make accessing variations of your all-important logo that much easier.
- Web-to-publish templates: Not all brand management software includes web-to-publish templates, but it’s common enough to include as a default features to look out for. This allows for minor edits to be made to on-brand assets without the need for additional approvals — enabling creativity while still ensuring consistency.
It’s also important to look out for two big things when selecting specific brand management software, both of which we take very seriously at Brandworkz:
- DAM features: Your DAM is really important to so much of how your teams actually operate. You can’t skimp on DAM capabilities in order to get a more integrated solution. Make sure you get a full range of metadata inputs, searchability, permission setting and customisation. One thing to really look out for is preview capabilities — specifically for your most common file types. Check out our blog, Which file formats should your DAM system support? for more details.
- Wider integrations: Even the most comprehensive brand management platform will still need to integrate with other tools used within your business. Make sure that whatever you invest in can be flexibly integrated with a wide range of tools.
The bottom line is this: you need sophistication and quality combined with wide-ranging capabilities and simple integrations with other tools. Finally, be on the lookout for something that’s customisable and can be tailored to match the specifics of your operation.
The answer is a technology and mindset shift
If your marketing stack is getting out of control, it’s time to act. Brand management software like Brandworkz can take the pain out of the technical shifts needed to ensure not only the simplification you need, but also make integrating your wider toolset easier. Fundamentally, brand management software can become the central hub that makes using more tools easier — all without clogging up workflows with incompatible platforms. With that said, this is a mental game as much as it is a technical one. You need to reassess what each tool is doing in your stack as it stands (e.g. do you need it? Could it do more through add-ons? Could another tool provide more comprehensive solutions?) as well as asking questions around precisely how compatible each tool is, or even whether an alternative would be a better pairing overall. By changing your thought process away from features and towards outcomes, you can start to make better choices. Technology shouldn’t get in your way, it should always help you simplify what’s important — your brand and your brand management. Again, we think good brand management software is a critical part of this equation. However, don’t take our word for it. Get your free demo of Brandworkz today and find out how it can revolutionise your ability to be creative and consistent at the same time.
1The average enterprise uses 1,295 cloud services
2Information and App Overload Hurts Worker Productivity, Focus and Morale Worldwide, According to New Independent Survey
3Apple Employee Details, Technology Stack and More
4Facebook Employee Details, Technology Stack and More