It seems like every day there is a new technology demanding your attention, as well as your marketing dollar. (Remember QR codes and Google Glass?) On top of that, marketing directors have less time and fewer resources to stay ahead of the technology curve.

So, how do you know which bright and shiny technology is going to work best?

The short answer is this—you really don’t know. No one really knows, which only adds to the challenge.

A recent edition of Digiday Confessions revealed that marketing agencies sometimes recommend new technologies when they know it won’t drive sales. These agencies try to set themselves apart by appearing relevant and innovative, but, ultimately, their recommendations fall short of reaching large audiences or delivering results. As one CEO of a digital agency commented, “Agencies use new tech, and they know it will fail.”

If you can’t predict the future and you can’t trust what your agency recommends, what can you do? Doing nothing is not a viable option, especially as your competitors continue to explore new technologies to connect their (and your) customers. Before you decide to adopt a new marketing technology, it is important to ask the right questions. The answers will help you determine which technology to embrace and which to avoid altogether.

Here are five questions we like to ask before recommending a specific technology or tactic.

  1. Why are you doing this? Is there a specific marketing problem you hope to solve using technology?
  2. What does each technology solution tell you about your prospects and customers? How can you give them a more personalized experience?
  3. What percent of your customers have already adopted the technology?
  4. Can you demonstrate how the technology supports your overall business goals?
  5. What is your ROI? Will the new technology directly increase qualified leads or sales?

As you can see, these questions are designed to answer specific marketing objectives. Right now, a lot of marketing directors are interested in virtual reality (VR). However, some are finding out that “the juice ain’t worth the squeeze.” Others are convinced that VR is the best way to showcase a unique brand experience.

In agriculture, there are plenty of ways to use the latest and greatest technology—if it serves a purpose.

For example, a tractor company could create a 360˚ VR experience to communicate the benefits of a new, larger cab. The prospective customer slips on a VR headset and is immersed into a unique digital world, much like a video game. However, there are considerable cost and platform constraints that must be considered.

Maybe the solution is to produce a less expensive 360˚ video instead? This is a live action video that provides a 360˚ view from the camera’s perspective. Video progresses on a timeline created by the videographer’s camera movements. It is available on 360˚ compatible players, including YouTube (desktop and mobile).

Both technologies allow the tractor company to convey a unique product feature. One solution provides a more personal experience, while the other is more accessible to a wider audience. If 500 prospective customers experienced the VR cab at a trade show or 5,000 people viewed the 360˚ video on YouTube, which path is most likely to generate the largest sales increase? And would that increase be worth the initial investment?

As you can see, there are myriad possibilities. Technology is simply a means to achieve a desired marketing objective—it is not the objective itself. When in doubt, just ask yourself, “Why are we doing this?” and the answer will lead you toward the right solution.