I recently finished a book on Thomas Edison. Contrary to public belief, he did not invent the light bulb—instead he discovered the carbonized filament that made the process of electric lighting more efficient, long-lasting, and available. That is what we as marketers try to do with marketing automation—make the process of marketing more efficient, long-lasting, and available. Most of us, like Edison, are dabbling in the great unknown with trials and errors when it comes to marketing automation. Along the way it can get frustrating.
It is said that Edison tried over 6,000 elements before finding the right filament for his light bulb. Unlike Edison, most of us wear multiple hats, have backlogs of projects that we need to get done, and cannot just focus on marketing automation. Few of us have enough staff or time to complete everything we want. For those of you who fit this profile, I recommend the use of third-party consulting. Most marketing automation vendors have professional services teams or an ecosystem of services partners available to you.
Here are four signs that would tell me that I probably need to engage with a marketing automation professional services team:
- “Our results are starting to drop off.” Professional services resources can come in, audit your processes, and give your marketing automation a check-up. Are the stages of your revenue cycle mutually defined and accepted by sales and marketing? Are the SLAs associated with lead handoffs being adhered to? Do you have personas defined and content to support each stage of your revenue cycle? A services consultant can look at your lead generation, lead management, lead scoring, and lead nurturing processes and show you where you can fine-tune your systems based on best practices. The problem may be solved with some database cleansing and data appending. Day in and day out services consultants see what is working, what is innovative, and what is practical and they can share that insight with you.
- “Our staff can’t take on anymore projects.” A services team can help with the heavy lifting by rolling up their sleeves and working right beside you. They can eliminate that backlog of campaigns and processes for you and then turn them over to your staff—or they can run everything until you get that needed marketer hired. Don’t let your feeling of being overwhelmed freeze you from moving forward for weeks or even months at a time. Consider using a third-party consultant as a valuable extension of your marketing team.
- “We don’t know what we don’t know.” You’ve made an investment in a marketing automation platform and have some core processes set up. You even have some resources in place to manage the processes. But you still have questions. “How do we take marketing automation to the next level?” “How do we integrate revenue performance management and marketing metrics into our processes?” “Why are we getting blacklisted after email campaigns go out?” “Why is that process not working between Marketo and Salesforce.com?” Maybe you just need a coach to come in and provide some training to your staff to answer these questions. Maybe you need a services team to come in and work in parallel with your team—building out advanced processes as your team manages the day-to-day activities. There are a variety of ways that a third-party consultant can work with you.
- “Our marketing department is seen as a cost center, not a revenue driver.” Are you showing your executive team pie charts and bar charts that just show the number of leads your department is generating—or are you also showing how your department is driving real revenue through opportunities? Are you just presenting leads where marketing is the original source or are you also showing all the marketing influenced opportunities as well? Many of us show where our marketing efforts were the first or last touches, but few show overall marketing influence or multiple touches. Reporting on marketing influence can be hard to set up but it is well worth it—especially if your company has a long sales cycle. Chances are your marketing efforts touched many of the deals in the pipeline many times. Make sure the executive team knows that. A services team can work with you on metrics and ROI reporting so that your executive team understands the full impact that your marketing department has on your corporate revenue.
Whether you are in the marketing department of a small, growing company or a large, global enterprise, or some company in between, you will never have all the staff and time to get everything done in marketing automation that you would like. Talk with a services consultant today and watch that light bulb begin to glow over your head as you come up with new ways to embrace marketing automation and improve your impact on your corporate revenue.
Are you employing professional services with your marketing automation? What factors made you decide it was time to get help with your marketing automation?