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Justin Gray

Implementation and the Short Sale of Technology

Justin Gray / March 26, 2011 / 0 Comments

What does an implementation mean? I suppose the definition is different to everyone. When in comes to technology like Marketing Automation I’ve found that the definitions take on an even broader meaning. As we’ve seen this space become well defined by users who purchase it and embrace its potential, all too often implementations are being passed off as simple plug and play. The fact is it simply doesn’t work like that. If you believe that marketing technology will “run itself”, “solve all your problems” or flood your organization with leads at the push of a button – then frankly I have some property in AZ to sell you.

Marketing Automation is the expose of your problems. Dirty Data? Guaranteed you will see the impact on your first CRM data sync. No defined lead process? Nothing will tell you faster than Marketing Automation if your funnel has holes. Don’t know who your prospects really are? Try giving them the wrong automated message and you will find out quickly. So how do we avoid these pitfalls? The answer is something I am famous for saying everyday – “just do it right and we won’t have a problem”. The inherent problem of course is that “right” is like “good” – we use it so often it has no real meaning. So, what is “right”? Well, let me try to better define ‘right’ by highlighting what’s wrong.

Wrong Move #1: Speed to Market

Anytime you say something to the tune of “Yeah, we know we don’t have __________ in place but we NEED to get this campaign out.” – you are playing with fire. No campaign is worth wasting resources. We’ve heard all the excuses, everything from needing to use funds or they will be lost, to rabid deadlines for product launches, to pressure from the top. The most important thing to remember is that you MIGHT miss out on something if you don’t send that email, you MIGHT have to deal with the wrath from your boss if you don’t get that out on Monday morning – but – you WILL NOT be using your investment to it’s potential if you skip key steps. So, do it right. Recognize first that if you want to leverage the shinny new toy you just bought to any semblance of its potential then you WILL need to modify every process that you have currently – and for the better. When the jet engine was invented it just didn’t affect the speed and range of the airplane, it also affected all of the other components. They had to be replaced or recalibrated to meet the demands of the new technology and in order to leverage the engines full potential. Rushing past the essentials is the best way to crash and burn.

Wrong Move #2: Don’t Leverage Repeatability

This starts with developing a plan. If you can’t tell me what’s on your marketing calendar 90 days from now – you are wrong. Marketing Automation was meant to…. Say it with me… Automate. And if done effectively we can make these automated conversations seem intensely personal. So why would you want to send out 50 different emails every week and then start all over again. Your demand generation plan should be repeatable. If it’s not – you are creating more work for yourself and you are stuck in batch and blast mode. The tool enables you to do what you’ve always dreamed of – segment down to the individual level and respond immediately. Let the system do what it does best and remove you as the constraint.

Wrong Move #3: Fail to respect the Service Component

A lot of organizations (old school marketing agencies) are jumping on the demand gen wagon. They see it as a potential to make good money offering fairly basic services. They will come in, plug your MA platform into your CRM, build you a few templates, maybe get a blast out the door and – BOOM – you just rolled out Marketing Automation. If you believe that, you are wrong. Words like “Easy”, “Simple” and “Turnkey” are dangerous. They discount the power of Marketing Automation and frankly they discount the impact of great marketing within an organization. Most CFOs do not like me. I’m from the school of spending 50 – 60% of net revenue on sales and marketing. (Do you know most organizations spend less than 5% of net revenue on growing their business? And we wonder why so many fail.) I’m also from the school of not only investing money but also investing time. If you’re initiative is to automate marketing efforts then determine the cost of the pain you hope to alleviate. Take a look at the lift you want to achieve and translate that to new leads, conversions, MQL, SQL and sold – (I’d be happy to show you how to do this) and determine your goal. Now think about your resources. Really think about them. Does your team have the bandwidth, knowledge and experience necessary to get you there? Think about your accounting system for example. Now consider this – what is more valuable – the software system or the team that runs it? How much do you spend on the software vs. the team? Now why is that different in the case of marketing? In most cases because we don’t traditionally think of marketing as a profit center. I guarantee you if you begin thinking about marketing technology and the people who run it by the same equation of 2 to 3x on service vs. technology you will see marketing transform into a profit center. As always however the key is finding the right resource (team).

So what is the ‘right’ way to implement marketing automation? It starts with acknowledging the need for a trained set of eyes to evaluate your process. This is something we are finding has huge payoff for the client. By involving a third party for something as simple as evaluating your process map or implementation plan you can avoid huge headaches down the road. This doesn’t even need to involve a long-term commitment. Simply have someone who knows the technology platform, and more importantly, how to meld it to your current process.

In a few weeks we are rolling out a guide to assist buyers in this process – subscribers to the blog and our Kill Tradition nurturing series will be receiving this for free. If you are considering Marketing Automation I’d also invite you to speak with some of our clients who have been through our process. Many went through an implementation with other firms and were trying to pick up the pieces. Their stories are contained within the ebook, but hearing it straight from their mouths is always interesting perspective as well. Marketing Automation done ‘right’ is continuing to be one of the most exciting trends in B2B marketing today. As always, let’s start the conversation.


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