We marketers have an affinity for shiny toys. Yes, we do—just admit it. We love cool technologies that promise us improved leads, higher conversion rates, and better prospects.

As the CEO of a technology company, I'm also the first one to tell you that the ROI on many of those shiny new toys hasn't panned out—and won't pan out. In our pursuit of better organizational performance and higher ROI from our marketing budget, we marketers consistently overlook the one area that will give us the highest ROI boost: investment in our marketing team.

Before you dismiss this as just another article on team motivation and skill development, know that it's not. Read on to get solid tips to improve the ROI of your marketing investments.

People > Process > Data > Technology

I sound like a broken record when I say that the way to approach any marketing project is by looking at People > Process > Data > Technology, and in that order.

People come first because nothing works if you don't have the right people driving and managing the processes and technologies involved. However, we often don't heed this advice and just use the crutch, "I have a great team."

Yes, having skilled and talented people is absolutely the starting point, but what else?

There are obviously soft issues such as motivation and teamwork to consider, but what about efficiency? Yes, efficiency. How much of your brilliant team's time is spent doing productive, meaningful work? Are you paying top dollar for talent but having them work on manual tasks that add little value? One complaint we often hear from the marketing folks we work with is, "I didn't go to college for this!" Typically, "this" refers to repetitive manual tasks that need to get done, but everyone hates doing them because they're tedious and mind-numbing, and they do nothing for a person's career development or personal growth.

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image of Ed King

Ed King is the founder and CEO of Openprise, a data orchestration SaaS company. He has over 20 years of experience in enterprise software.

Twitter: @ekwking

LinkedIn: Ed King