How Many Categories Should Sit in My Stack?

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Here at MarTech Alliance, we’re not afraid to ask the tough questions. We’re posing the question to MOPs, SOPs, CMOs, COOs and any other marketing technology related role that can be transformed into a fun acronym; Does size really matter?

Oh… Maybe we should have mentioned. We’re talking about stacks. Martech stacks.

If you’ve landed on our site and find yourself reading this article, we’d be willing to bet a tenner that you’ve probably heard of Scott Brinker. And if you’ve heard of Scott Brinker, you’re probably aware that there are, according to the latest Marketing Technology super-graphic, over 8,000 martech solutions currently on the market.

We’d also be willing to bet that you’re a pretty great guy/girl with a thirst for martech and one hell of a sense of humour. Not unlike ourselves... Would you look at that? Perhaps we’re getting a little ahead of ourselves. Back to the point.

To try and implement every one of the 8,000 solutions into your stack would be a little excessive – unless your only business goal is trying to make it into the Guinness Book of World Records for the world’s largest and most ridiculous martech stack. In which case, you should probably stop reading, re-evaluate and have a serious chat with the CEO.

So, where to begin when trying to narrow in on which tools we should be implementing into our stack? This is where the martech categories come in. We can narrow down the 8,000+ tools to the 49 categories across the Landscape - see below.


But does this mean we need to implement a solution from every one of these categories into our stacks?

Spoiler: No.

This is still an overwhelming amount to consider and in fact, we could add at least another 10 categories from marketing market analysts and vendors on top.

So, another step back is needed. We need to ask ourselves what it is we’re trying to achieve and start by developing the business use cases, the business goals and the problems we're trying to solve to inform which categories we need in our stack.

All too often, businesses get this the wrong way around, picking a logo without having clearly documented what the tool intention is. If we can’t answer what problem a provider intends to solve, it’s going to be difficult to measure its impact.

While it’s easy to get distracted by the size of the Landscape and all 49 categories within it, we need to focus on what really matters - the business use case and goals. 

Once we've documented what we want the tool to solve for each of our business goals, only then should we consider which categories match our business needs.

The risk of Shiny Object Syndrome is real and those marketers who suffer with the condition risk packing their stacks too high with underutilised tools, siloed data and exhausted budgets will soon see it come crashing down.

In answer to our previous questions: Does size really matter? No. How many categories should sit in my stack? As many as your business use cases, and goals require. 

To learn more about the fundamentals of martech, check out our digital learning course: 4Ps of Marketing Technology where we dive into the detail of building a thorough business use case - PLUS we break down the 49 categories into our more manageable, 5 Fundamental Layers and so much more.  

Hungry for more on the topic of stack management? We've got some killer sessions lined up at #MarTechFest Dial Up Series 3. Don't miss it!

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