OK, so I have a confession to make–I am (still) a massive West Wing fan. I know, I know that show ended about 7 years ago and I am a dinosaur. While I sit with friends over coffee and they discuss the latest series of Game of Thrones–I sit there nursing my tea wishing it was cool to say that I wish I were a member of President Josiah Bartlett’s staff. Anyway, the reason I am telling you about the West Wing is because it introduced me to the concept of the first 100 days. The idea is quite simple–the first 100 days of a President’s term in office is a critical period in which the most important work should theoretically happen.
So, in the spirit of the first 100 days principle, here are the 3 lessons that have stuck me most about marketing automation as a member of a marketing team, actually an entire organization, that is steeped in the ways and means of marketing automation. Here goes:
Lesson #1: Marketing Automation is the Glue That Binds
Have you ever experienced moments during your professional career where you have struggled to speak a common language with people and teams in your own company? Have you ever felt like you were working for a different business than people sitting just yards away? One of the most striking things for me in my first 100 days is how the marketing automation platform harmonizes effort within the marketing team, which is spread over three continents. While there are distinct personalities and in some cases, very different regional marketing requirements, having marketing automation as a foundation for the marketing effort leads to an efficiency of effort and communication (same platform for execution, same goals, same challenges) which allows the marketers to get on with their marketing.
This efficiency extends beyond the marketing team and the relationship between sales and marketing is also improved with the common language, agreed upon processes and clear objectives. As a result of this alignment, the sales and marketing engine becomes exponentially more powerful. Having marketing automation technology at the heart of your marketing and sales efforts encourages a culture of measurability, excellence and focus on delivery.
Lesson #2: Marketing Automation Makes For Happier Sales People
I have listened intently to the calls of our Sales Development Reps (who are the first sales people to interact with leads). With marketing automation technology acting as an intelligent filter (through lead scoring, nurturing and CRM integration), rarely do they place calls a minute before prospects want or expect one. I liken it to being in a clothes shop and the assistant coming over just at the right time when you were going to ask for help rather than over-enthusiastically interrupting you from casual browsing. Allow your customers/prospects to browse your shop in peace, safe in the knowledge that your system will reach out at exactly the right time. This scientific marketing qualification of leads makes for happier sales teams (and customers) as every lead has a back-story before it gets into the queue of a sales person. So the days of the speculative cold call are over for companies with marketing automation.
Lesson #3: Marketing Automation is Not Just About Acquisition
The third and possibly most eye-opening aspect of working with marketing automation is the value it brings to customer engagement and management. Marketing is often synonymous with new business lead generation, they are the hand that feeds the mouths of the sales organization and while that is still true, marketing automation offers incredible opportunity to nurture your customer base. Think about a company that wants to demonstrate its thought leadership to its install customer base with a view to upselling or cross-selling to them in the future–marketing automation provides all the tools needed to achieve that. Great marketing, be that to prospects or customers, should really be like great customer service–timely, relevant and able to deliver what your customer/prospect needs and marketing automation gives you everything you need to do that successfully.
The Next 100 Days…
Before the start of my first 100 days, if I were to guess what I would find most striking about working with marketing automation, I don’t think I would have picked the three lessons above which in some ways are about culture and process. This in itself, highlights a key truth about marketing automation which is that it is not just a piece of software or set of capabilities, it is an ethos, an approach to marketing which demands best practice, accountability and innovation.
But for now my journey with marketing automation will continue to evolve, what will I think after a year? I will come back and let you know.