It’s a jungle out there. The Marketing Consigliere has been slowly meeting more people who are realizing that Marketing and Sales need to transform within an organization if they want to reach new levels of performance – namely, revenue. But it’s very confusing and overwhelming. He is reviewing some books that he will share with you in the near future, but in the meantime, wants you to keep your eyes open before you go down the path of Marketing Automation. Here are 5 pitfalls to avoid when planning and implementing a Marketing Automation path for your firm:
1. Not having a content strategy – The Marketing Consigliere is exactly that – a consigliere or advisor; but to create this blog and help his customers, he has to be a scrittore (writer) also. Writing content takes a lot of time, and may not seem as important as other fires you need to put out in your department, but it is an essential ingredient to Marketing Automation. It is content which engages customers in this net-centric marketing world, and that content must be in the digestible format in which your prospects and customers like to eat it – whitepapers, webinars, demos, calculators, press releases, videos, ebooks, books, blogposts, etc. And that content cannot be static – it must be ready to address different personas within a target organization, and anticipate what stage of the acquisition process a buying center is in at a particular point in time. You must be able to not only create a library of resources for your audience, but must continually append it with new, relevant information, case studies on evolving best practices, and optimized content which your Marketing Automation system is telling you is more desired by your customers.
2. Not updating your website – Apart from being “another piece of content” about your organization, your website is a critical part your net-centric marketing ecosystem – it is here, under “yourdomain.com” that customers ultimately consume the content that you have so painstakingly catered to them. There are many websites out there that look so “early naughts” or “nineties” that customers actually abandon because they figure if you don’t know how to stay current with web technology, how can they trust you to stay current with their needs? That is not necessarily The Marketing Consigliere’s perspective, but he has witnessed such comments from frustrated buyers. You need to provide customized landing pages and functionality on your website such as social media that will encourage the exploration and “stickiness” (that’s a nineties word, but still fashionable for Marketers). You need to provide the visitor with the opportunity to contact you (yes, still list a snail mail address, phone and fax, believe it or not) and not intrusively demand that they provide ridiculous detail about themselves when they obtain content from you. Make them think your website is the portal to the world of what they need and what you have to fulfill that need. By having a “real” website and not merely a glorified electronic brochure, you will have the base to track customer behavior that is the foundation of Marketing Automation.
3. Not stewarding your data – The old adage still stands – “Garbage in, garbage out.” Your data needs to be routinely consolidated, examined, standardized, de-duped, validated, and made as complete as possible for basic campaign efforts such as direct mail or email. If you already have a CRM system in place, your data needs to eventually sync with that system, because it is from customers that you can achieve a significant amount of new revenue. And much to the chagrin of your Type A salespeople, all prospect data must be in the system – there cannot be a parallel, clunky “Rolodex” system (yes, they’re still around) of business cards hoarded on their desks that they do not share with the organization.
4. Keeping Sales out of the loop – Go to jail. Go directly to jail. Do not pass go, do not collect $200. Your Sales team should be attached at the hip with Marketing. Sales is the customer of Marketing Automation efforts – they are the recipient of the product of your platform – qualified leads. They should be involved with the planning of your transformation – after all, they are ones holding the face to face or phone dialog with customers. They can help you create the personas, and give you ideas on what format of content to deploy. Ultimately, you need to “align” your processes with Sales. The best Marketing Automation technology in the world is useless unless it is configured to efficient processes that you have developed with them. What is a lead? When does it become “qualified?” Who gets it when it is qualified? How quickly do they get it? How quickly must they act upon it? When is it considered not workable and recycled into the database for a lead nurturing effort? These and many other questions must be answered together by Sales and Marketing – as a matter of opinion, The Marketing Consigliere suggests you use the phrase “Sales and Marketing” from now on (hmmm… maybe The Marketing Consigliere needs to consider his own title, but it is a mouthful as it is…)
5. Going at it alone – To be truly successful, Marketing Automation requires a transformation of your organization – much like the military has done with its concept of C4ISR to leverage technology to better gather, store, analyze, share, and act upon battlespace data. Except this battle takes place in your market. And your soldiers are Marketers and Sales people. Are they trained to be the technologists, analysts, and linguists necessary to win in your arena, or are the “old fashioned” marketers who blather about warm-fuzzy things like “branding” and “event management?” You need staff that are quick and adaptive. Additionally, you need outside assistance. Transformations are difficult. Many fail for the reasons listed above and a multitude of others. It takes an objective outsider who is familiar with the leading Marketing Automation platforms to help you navigate the project timeline of transformation. While this is a digital endeavor, there are countless “moving parts” that need to be considered and an outside professional services firm (like Allinio) can help you. A consultant can help manage your expectations because results won’t happen in a week – it may take months and it’s easy to get distracted or discouraged. A consultant can help you with the “trial by error” process that is key to learning about your customers and helps you leverage more value out of the platform.
The Marketing Consigliere hopes you avoid these pitfalls. If you fall in one, he hopes there are no bamboo spikes that maim your Marketing Career. Contact him and he will lower you a rope, pull you out, and set you back on the path and safely help you get through the jungle.