Do you know that, according to U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, over 30 people kill and over 110 injure themselves every year by rocking vending machines in order to get free drinks out of them?

And in the middle of the enthusiastic rocking and rattling, the big and heavy machines fall on them and instead of getting their favourite drinks, they learn a lesson in gravity.

They don’t want to pay the small price for their drinks, so end up paying the big price of kicking the bucket prematurely.

Well, in an ostentatiously obscure way, marketing automation is similar.

Many people don’t want to pay the small price of doing it correctly and end up paying the big price of making a pig’s ear of it and losing out on future opportunities.

So, we’ve decided to dedicate this literary masterpiece to complement a previous guide, How Marketing Automation Works to Improve Your Sales Process, helping you to gain a full picture of what you can use marketing automation for.

One more point before we start.

Marketing automation (MA) is nothing without CRM, and together they serve business development, not only marketing. So, here we address marketing automation in context of business development.

Marketing Automation’s Fundamental Problem

The buzzword may be marketing automation and there are plenty of tools for it, but something is missing.

Because one of the words of the phrase has “automation”, and since automation is technology, in many organizations, IT people with little or no marketing knowledge, dictate to marketers how to acquire, set up and use marketing automation “properly”.

The underlying problem is that over the years information technology has become all about technology and only a tiny bit about information.

And now this technology department kidnaps a concept that has “automation” in it, saying it’s all about technology, and they will give the marketing people a ready-made product, but marketers shouldn’t delve too deep into the detail of marketing automation. “It’s strictly a technology issue”.

As a result, marketing automation can perform technical miracles, and yet often fails to do the “marketing” part. More specifically, it fails in five areas of marketing, so at the end of the day, the whole marketing automation concoction operates way under its true potential.

  1. Under-used used MA systems – Marketing people receive a technological miracle from the IT folks, but it’s so amazingly complicated that the predominantly non-technical sales and marketing folks are terrified of touching it in case it breaks. So, despite the sophisticated MA system, the business development people keep using index cards and other alternatives. Gradually, the MA system becomes a giant albatross around the company’s neck.
  2. Content shortage – Shortage of MA-worthy content. All right, this is not a technical problem. This happens when an overly cost-conscious company contracts with several content mills in third world countries and those mills churn out unconnected garbage content at a few dollars per piece. After all, the company needs the volume of content for the blog and other places. The problem is that no one reads those short search engine fodder pieces. They may get indexed by Google, but humans ignore them because they rarely educate and therefore provide no value.
  3. Obsolete practices – This happens to companies that still live in an age where it was still acceptable to repeatedly bludgeon buyers with repeatedly until they die or buy. Those companies don’t want to invest in content development because that money can be given to salespeople who can spend it on in-person drop-in visits to unsuspecting buyers. Most companies have clear non-solicitation signs, but these salespeople learnt well from their trainers to ignore them. But automating lunacy can only speed up the consequences of obsolete practices. So, why automate at all?
  4. Ill-integrated processes don’t communicate with each other – The main culprits are mismatched CRM and marketing automation (MA) systems. They either fail to communicate with each other or miscommunicate and vital data gets knocked out of sync. And there starts the avalanche of using incorrect data, leading to incorrect marketing actions and undesirable end results.
  5. In the absence of marketing automation, email is user-used – Since marketing automation doesn’t work, people go back to their email clients and continue sending emails manually. Or each person uses her own “automation” method. And, depending how aggressive each person is, this leads to spam problems down the road.

Failing to recognize the above five problems leads to additional problems.

Companies Either Under-Buy or Over-Buy Marketing Automation Software

Due to the overwhelming and rather attractive offers from dozens of MA software vendors, buyers often buy the wrong software. Why?

  1. Buyers lose sight of their goals and what they want their MA software do for them. As a result, they over-buy, that is, they buy more than what they need. A budget grade CRM / MA combo would do the job, but they go for the high-end Salesforce/Pardot combo. And, of course, such a heavyweight, sophisticated system comes with implementation complexities. And more often than not, those features give you a headache that you don’t even need yet.
  2. Buyers fall for “quick and easy” implementation timelines and usage from software vendors. Vendors are staffed with experts on their software, so for them, everything is quick and easy. They peddle the software, hoping that clients get stuck on the implementation and hire the vendor for further help and support. And this is a good incentive for vendors to provide sketchy documentation (of which we’ve all seen lots of examples)
  3. In certain industries, there is nothing readily available with the required features, so businesses in those industries need custom-made software. That makes the software more expansive and the timeline significantly longer. The advantage is that the software can be built in modules, staring with the needed features and then can be expanded later.

When buyers by the wrong software either due to selection mistakes or budgetary constraints, they often end up with costly ramifications that they get stuck with forever. Well, at least until they replace the whole system.

And of course, to avoid the wrong advice, stay away from software vendors. They are in business to sell their software, and for many of them the will to sell software is stronger than the will to helps clients to solve their problems. That is, they will do their level best to sell you the proverbial QE2 even though all you need is a row boat to cross the local canal.

Decision Criteria for Implementation

The decision to implement marketing automation is a make or break moment. Yes, the software makes a huge difference, but no matter how good your software is, it won’t turn an emaciated three-legged donkey into a prize-winning thoroughbred.

So, before buying MA software, you have to clarify a few things.

  1. What exactly do you want your MA software to do for your business?
  2. What are your expectations of how business development staff will use the tool?
  3. What are your technology requirements?
  4. Make a top-10 list of tools and evaluate all of them?
  5. Build and execute your marketing automation implementation plan.
  6. Collect and analyse data to see where you need to make changes and what kind of changes you need to make.
  7. Build and deploy automated campaigns using content and market segmentation.

 

Making Peace Between Business Development And IT

Since marketing automation is a key system both for marketing and sales folks, the best bet to use the all-inclusive term business development.

“Business development is the discipline required to achieve growth through the acquisition of profitable net new customers and expansion of existing customers.” ~ Anna Kennedy: Business Development for Dummies

Both marketing and selling are subsets of business development which can be broken down into six areas…

  1. Offer: Creating the solution that solves your buyer persona’s expensive problem.
  2. Marketing: Raising awareness for your offer and attracting interested buyers to your content.
  3. Sales: Converting interested buyers who need your solution and of good fit with your company.
  4. Client management: Delivering your solution to solve clients’ problems, so they are both happy with the results and area willing to share the experience with their peers.
  5. Alliances: Building relationships with companies that serve your target market and offer products and services complementary to yours.
  6. Feedback: Using various mechanisms to keep your finger on the pulse of your clients, industry, political and economic climate to quickly sense changes and make the appropriate action.

And if you look at marketing automation, you discover that it is linked to every one of the above six areas.

Next, you have to get a reality check on how strong or weak your business development is. Because it it’s weak, your next steps shouldn’t be marketing automation.

There is no point automating an unproductive process. As the saying goes, you can’t keep a corpse from rotting

Automating a bad process can only speed up the decline of the already bad process.

So, you must do a spot check on your current business development.

    • You’re on a revenue plateau and you feel stuck. You work hard to maintain your current revenue level, but it’s sliding. To make matters worse, your best people have started circulating their resumes and take more and more time off for job interviews. You know it’s just a matter of weeks and you are alone in the office with the company mascot dog.
    • Revenue ups and downs. Sadly, the ups are pretty small and the downs are getting bigger and bigger. You’re thinking about getting a bank loan or line of credit, laying off dome people or going to Alaska to prospect for gold.
    • Your business becomes unpredictable. As you get more stressed, you make worse and worse decisions and can’t see clearly what’s going on.
    • Erratic business development. You BD only when you can’t think of anything else or when sales are down and you need to make a sale right away. You don’t have a sales funnel. When prospects show up on your horizon, you pounce on them in the hope of instant sales. And it always never happens.
    • Your market reach is very small. Thanks to non-existent business development in the past, no one really knows your brand. Prospects contact you for information and then buy from another company with better brand and more established reputation.
    • Morale dips even lower. People feel they work at a loser of a company and a loser of a boss. They’re desperate to leave. And you know, when they leave, in the words of the Doors, this is the end.
    • Fierce competition: On the top of all the other forms of trouble and disaster, you have the competition that is quietly forming the gentle and comfortable noose around your neck to hang you high as soon as possible. Many of them are gaining on you with inferior offers but superior business development.

But Why Do Marketing Automation at All?

If you’ve ever used macros in Microsoft Office, you know that a macro can be both a boon and a bane. They help you to do repetitive tasks with 1-2 mouse clicks. But before they do, they need extensive tweaking and fiddling. This is why you have to know your MA software’s criteria. That is…

  1. What do you want the software to do for you?
  2. How do you intend to use it?

What you want the tool to do for you? Five major benefits.

  1. Lead nurturing to maintain top of mind presence in the target market’s perception.
  2. Consistency and predictability levels.
  3. Sales funnel optimisation to advance leads at a comfortable pace to the sales decision-making point.
  4. Social media optimization, knowing that social media lies outside your own cyber domain, you don’t have full control over it.
  5. Making marketing more effective to improve the team’s overall performance.
  6. Content marketing – The MA system turns content into sales conversations.

An effective MA tool, coupled with well-written content, must be able to create funnel velocity, that is, nudge to prospects to move to the next stage of the funnel and, with the help of lead scoring, report the position of leads inside the funnel.

Without lead scoring, the MA tool is like the impotent husband. The role is filled but there is no productivity.

Your Purpose with Marketing Automation

Of course, the main purpose of marketing automation is pretty much the same across the board, but different companies have different purposes as they have different visions and strategies.

For each feature and function below, define your desirability level on a scale of 1(trivial) to 10 (vital)

  1. Email functionality
  2. CRM integration
  3. Social media platform and stats integration
  4. Short learning curve
  5. Website stats tracking
  6. Form integration
  7. Lead scoring
  8. Data migration
  9. List segmentation
  10. Webinar stats integration
  11. Automated campaigns
  12. Reporting and data analytics
  13. Implementation time frame
  14. Budget

 

How Will Your Business Development People Will Use Your MA Software?

In this section, you have to describe the tools your people use today for certain business development functions and compare them to what you envision your people will use in the future. Pay attention to the following categories.

  • CRM
  • Emails
  • Data analytics and reporting
  • Email list building
  • Market segmentation
  • Podcasts and webinars
  • Project management (for service firms)
  • Social media platforms
  • Website management

And there are some other points to consider…

  • How do you expect MA to improve buyer experience inside your sales funnel?
  • How well are sales and marketing aligned? Is it really one integrated business development department or two separate entities?
  • What processes do you use today to move prospects through your sales funnel?
  • Do sales and marketing agree on the definition of a lead?
  • How much lead leak do you experience? Lead leakage usually happens in the funnel just after consideration and before evaluation where interest turns into conditional commitment or intent to do business with your company.

There is a problem though….

Marketing has a long-term vision and wants prospects who can become clients down the road.

Sales has a short-term vision and wants prospects who become clients after listening to a 5-minute sales pitch.

Salespeople are seeking prospects with the following characters

  • Specific minimum budget.
  • A time frame for the purchase.
  • A specific problem which your products and services can solve.
  • Already have done some due diligence about your products and services.
  • Willing to engage in serious dialogues about doing business together.
  • Ready, willing and able to connect you with the real buyers (economic buyers)

Yes, marketing automation will make your operation better and more effective, but take some time and specify what “better” and “more effective” mean to you personally.

Some guiding questions…

  • How do you believe that your future MA system delivers you sales leads more effectively than your current system?
  • How do you think your MA system helps you to better align sales and marketing?
  • How do you expect your MA tool to make your operation better?
  • How long learning curve do you think your marketing folks (both employees and contractors) need to use the new MA system?
  • How do you think your salespeople use the tool or the data from the tool?
  • How do your marketing folks pass sales leads to salespeople right now?
  • How do you see it happen in the future?

What data do you think your salespeople require for effective lead conversations? Demographics, Psychographics, lead score, etc.

On a finger scale (1 to 10), rank how important it is that salespeople have access to the following pieces of information

  • Every email opened and clicked on the link in the email’s body.
  • Every white paper, audio and video registered for and downloaded.
  • Every web page visited.
  • Every video watched.
  • Every webinar attended
  • Every article read
  • Every social media post viewed

How would the above changes improve sales conversations in the future?

But remember…

But you have to align sales and marketing manually first. Automating non-aligned sales and marketing departments can get very ugly with automation.

And now we can move to…

Specifying Technology Requirements

Whichever angle we look at it, implementing marketing automation at your firm is a technology project. No matter how good your markets are, unless you have people with a good grasp of both marketing and automation, you’d better delay implementation.

In the previous sections, we’ve evaluated marketing automation from the marketing perspective, so now we can evaluate it from the technical perspective.

All in all, you have 6 technical attributes to consider.

Cloud-Based Vs. On Premise

There are six major criteria to consider here, including…

  1. Accessibility – Yes, you can have access to your data from everywhere but you’re in the mercy of the location’s Internet connection for access.
  2. Security – Some industries require such convoluted security that cloud data providers can’t feasibly accommodate them.
  3. Trust – It’s easy to sign up for cloud services, which also means that you’ never meat a real person to discuss the service with. On the sign-up page, you check the features that you think you need and go.
  4. The location – Do you know where actually your data is stored? If your cloud company wants to cut costs and outsources storage to third-world countries with whiskers away from civil wars and military coup d’états, the savings are pretty meaningless.
  5. Industry regulation – Healthcare and finance are so highly regulated that cloud data centres that cater for several industries can’t justify adjusting some of their data banks to specific industry’s regulatory requirements.
  6. Latency – Data latency is the time it takes for a user to retrieve source data from a data warehouse. If you work on audio or video and the Internet connection is slow, you’re in deep yoghurt.

There are eight hidden costs in cloud-based services

  1. Over-provisioning – Allocating more space and bandwidth than what clients need and use and then charging them for it. The cloud provider makes a short-term mint and clients get more infuriated than a bear with a stubbed toe.
  2. Having too many admins – They often don’t properly communicate with each other and document procedures, so they forget to perform vital network audits as they get busy waiting for each other to do the work.
  3. Free offers – They don’t stay free for long by design. And when you exceed the storage quota even just a bit, the ruthless billing starts without notifying you. You just get the – often – inflated bill, and you have no choice but to pay.
  4. Under-provisioning – Allocating less space and bandwidth than what clients need and creating all sorts of operational hiccoughs and bottlenecks.
  5. Appliance charges – Depending how much your request deviates from the standard services, you pay heavily for that deviation. If you don’t know in advance what setup you need, you likely end overpaying.
  6. Storage choices – You can get over- or under-tiered. You’re over-tiered when the vendor offers you full accessible tier but you need only semi-accessible tier. Being under-tiered is the other way around.
  7. Pay upon departure – You take a free storage offer, but if you want to leave for another storage provider, you have to pay for leaving the previous one.
  8. Servicing problems – Since neither your IT person not the storage provider can see the storage channel end to end, troubleshooting becomes a nightmare. It’s very hard to coordinate your IT person and the storage provider’s IT person to work together to solve the problem.

And now let’s see the two systems side-by-side for a quick comparison…

 

Required IT Resources

Make sure you involve your IT people in your marketing automation adventures as early as possible. After all, it’s them who have to support it both at launch and down the road on an ongoing basis. Even if you have a cloud-based system, your end of the system still depends on your people.

With this in mind, you have five types of IT resources to consider

  1. IT support: What type and what level of IT support do you need? Above a certain level, there is no need to have staff on a full-time basis. Just because your gravestone carving business has a few vans to make deliveries to the boneyards, you don’t need to have a fully equipped car repair department with full-time car mechanics.
  2. MA tool expertise: Are you seeking a user for a specific MA tool or a marketer who can easily learn any MA tool. A tool user without subject matter expertise is a huge waste of time and money. Although I know how to use a diathermy machine, I don’t have the relevant subject matter expertise to be a doctor.
  3. CRM support: Again, this person must understand CRM as a business concept not just as a software program. Many businesses owners make the mistake of treating this position as a semi-skilled data entry role.
  4. Data migration support: This person transfers data back and forth between various systems in different file formats.
  5. Web integration support: This person takes care of the seamless integration of all web-related software.

Warning. Just as you would never consult with a rabbit on how to protect your carrot patch, you would never consult with an MA software vendor on your requirements. The end result could be very lucrative to the software vendor and very infuriating for you.

Integration With CRM

In this area, the main concerns are…

  • How data passes back and forth between your CRM and MA tools.
  • Who is in charge of this operation?
  • How often data is synchronized between the CRM and MA. Make sure they synchronize reliably and reasonably often.

Shared vs. Dedicated IP Address

Every domain name has an IP address. Essentially, domain names are IP addresses in more memorable forms.

A shared IP is an IP address that is shared between several sites from several owners.

The problem is that the actions of one website owner can have an impact on the owners of the other websites.

For instance, if one of your IP “tenants” spams his list and gets blacklisted, then everyone on that IP address suffers for it.

Also, note that shared sites can’t have SSL certificates installed.

A dedicated IP is an IP address that is assigned exclusively to one single website. It means your IP’s reputation depends only on your activities, and no one can blacklist you by spamming people from a shared IP address. If you use the websites for payments and the payment processor is on your IP, then you need an SSL certificate installed.

So, how do you plan to handle this IP issue?

  • Do you specifically ask about it when talking to a salesperson?
  • How do you plan to accommodate the extra cost in your budget?
  • Do you want just to wait and see?

One more thought about email protection.

There are usually three levels or tiers protection

  1. Tier #1: Reverse I.P. lookup – A process of listing the residing domains on a specific IP address.
  2. Tier #2: Reverse domain lookup – A process of finding the details on a specific domain.
  3. Tier #3: Reverse sender lookup – When an email sending server connects with the recipient server, the recipient server performs a reverse lookup on the sender server. If the result of the reverse lookup matches the result of a forward DNS lookup, then the email Is most probably legitimate and can go through. If there is a mismatch, the sending address is likely to be regarded as a source of spam.

If you see a high number of soft bounces in your analytics, that could mean an IP problem.

By contrast, hard bounces mean bad email addresses.

All in all, you save money by going with a shred IP option, but that saving comes at the high risk of depending on the behaviour and business practices of the websites that share your IP address.

If they misbehave and go down in flames, they drag you down with them. And there is not a sausage you can do about it.

The Required Security Level

  • Do you know your MA software vendor’s security policies?
  • Are they available to you to read?
  • Is the vendor willing to help you to understand it?
  • Who do you have to notify on regulatory compliance both inside and outside your company?

Checking Out Available Tools

After some planning and due diligence, now you’re ready to check some MA tools.

In an Excel table, list the functions vertically and the vendors horizontally.

Then start evaluating each function’s desirability level for each vendor on a scale of 1(trivial) to 10 (vital)

Copy the 14 consideration points from the section “Your Purpose with Marketing Automation”.

Here are some questions to ask vendors

  • Lessons learnt on marketing automation
  • What pre-purchase information they recommend buyers to have
  • Similarities and differences between this vendor’s business and yours
  • Vendor’s desired goals and objectives with marketing automation
  • One big tip this vendor recommends you do.

Marketing Automation Platform Implementation

Since your MA platform has to work with a number of other platforms, you have to consider those platforms individually.

  1. Ground rules for MA implementation – What are the general dos and don’ts for the project?
  2. Project management – Who is in charge of implementation and what is the time frame for it?
  3. Project team members and functions (web integrator, system integrator, etc.)
    1. Team member #1, function
    2. Team member #5, function
  4. Vendor management – Who coordinates the external professionals working on MA implementation?
    1. Person in charge?
  5. Web integration – The ins and outs of integrating tracking data into the website
    1. Person in charge?
  6. Form integration – The details of integrating tracking data into forms?
    1. Person in charge?
  7. Email Integration – New email templates or migrating old templates.
    1. Person in charge?
    2. Time frame
  8. CRM integration – Data sharing between your CRM and MA platforms?
    1. Person in charge?
  9. Data migration – Synchronizing your CRM and MA platforms. How and how often will they synch? Security issues to consider
    1. Person in charge?
    2. Method of synchronizing?
    3. Frequency of synchronizing?
  10. Webinar integration – Data communication between the webinar tool to the MA?
    1. Person in charge?
  11. Social media integration – Communication between MA and social media platforms
    1. Social media channels used – You simply can’t use them all. Not all of them work in every industry.
    2. Person in charge?
  12. Lead scoring – Establishing scoring criteria and point values for specific actions.
    1. Person in charge?
  13. Training – How do you build people’s skills on the new MA and other tools?
    1. List of people with the type(s) of training they need
    2. Person in charge?
    1. Person in charge?
    2. Time frameLaunch – The ins and outs of launching the new system

Gathering, Analyzing And Interpreting Data

Once you start marketing automation, you’ll be quickly more flooded with data than Lituya Bay in Alaska was flooded with water during the 1958 mega tsunami (record height of 524 m or (1,719 ft.).And unless you can process all that data, the situation can quickly get more overwhelming than Toys “R” Us on Christmas Eve.

A big struggle for content marketing teams is how to figure out…

      • What type of content to develop – white paper, case study blog post, etc.
      • What subject line to use in email
      • Should we sell in the email’s body or in the website.
      • Which list to send to which content
      • Make content piece gate or ungated
      • The type of gating (registration) to use
      • How to blend informative content and influential copy?
      • When to send out emails

What makes marketing automation great is that it eliminates guesswork and you can get accurate information of every stage of your marketing.

You can quickly collect enough information to know what flies and what flops in your marketing. Now you can eliminate the duds and focus on your winner to turn them into even bigger winners.

Here is a list of performance indicators that you may find worth tracking.

With marketing automation data, you don’t have to guess. You can know what works based on empirical evidence, allowing you to repeat the winners and scrap the losers. Here are some performance indicators that you may find worth tracking. I know this is a lot, but it’s better to have more data than less.

If you have more data, some can be ignored. But if you have less, you have to guess the missing data. And that can come back and bite you in the butt with the ferociousness of an infuriated Tasmanian devil. And that can be rather nasty state of affairs if you consider that the devils have about 10-times higher jaw pressure than great white sharks.

      • Sales revenue
      • Cost per lead
      • Customer lifetime value
      • Traffic-to-lead conversion
      • Lead-to-customer conversion
      • Landing page conversion rates – This is the specific landing page for a specific campaign, NOT the index page.
      • SEO traffic
      • Social media traffic
      • Mobile traffic
      • Email performance
        • Delivery rate
        • Unsubscribe rate
        • Open rate
        • Click through rate
        • Conversion rate
        • Forward/shares
      • Lead score data
      • Content registration data
      • Cost of Customer Acquisition (COCA) = Total marketing investment / Number of customers acquired
      • Campaign data with multiple touch points
      • Lead to MQL (Marketing Qualified Leads) ratio
      • MQL to SAL (Sales Accepted Leads) ratio
      • SAL to SQL (Sales Qualified Leads) ratio
      • SQL to Prospect (Proposal submitted) ratio
      • Prospect to Customer (Proposal Accepted) ratio
      • Sales Team Response Time
      • Website visit data
      • Social media data

When you start a new campaign to a new list, watch your email bounces like a hawk.

Again, hard bounce means that the email is a dud.

Soft bounce, on the other hand, means your emails are blocked upon entry. And re not getting through to their destination.

Lead Score 

Give yourself at least 90 days to build up enough data to craft your lead score system.

Here are some categories you may consider…

      • Awareness stage: 0-50 points
      • Consideration stage: 0-150 points
      • Interest stage: 150-250 points
      • Evaluation stage: 250-350 points
      • Selection stage: 350-500 points

Registrations

Assign points to your content pieces.

      • List your ungated contents
      • List your gated contents

List your key web pages and assign points to them

List your social media platforms and assign points to them

List your campaign data and assign points to them

      • Email data
        • Sends
        • Opens
        • Clicks?
      • Landing page
        • Accessed
        • Read
        • Clicked on CTA
      • Asset download: how many asset downloads?
        • Ungated downloads
        • Gated downloads
      • Interesting in buying
        • Request for more information
        • Request for meeting

Designing, Building and Deploying Your Marketing Automation Campaign

By this point, we have nothing else left but to go through some tips and traps of putting together your campaign.

Problem => solution => buyer persona

      • Write down a list of expensive problems your buyer personah as.
      • Write down your list of matching solutions.
      • Use whatever information you can to ensure that your solution is a perfect match to the buyer’s problem.
      • Make sure every solution is as pre-packaged as possible (productized solution) and can be sold with minimum customization as an shrink-wrapped off-the-shelf solution.

Buyer persona => content piece

        • Take your lists of problems and solutions and think about what kind of content pieces you can create based on specific problem-solution combinations.
        • For every problem-solution combination, develop a white paper [1] (strategy: the “why” and “what”) and a field manual (tactics: “How”)
        • You can make the strategy piece into a video or audio, but make sure that the implementation guide is a written piece.
        • Both in the white paper and the implementation guide, make your call to action (CTA) as request for a consulting session.
        • Turn that consulting session into an inexpensive (5-10% of your typical project value), short-duration 3D session
          • Discovery: What it feels like working together. What’s the experience like?
          • Diagnostics: Every project should start with a diagnosis, facilitated by the expert.
          • Disqualification: Whether or not you and the buyer can work together on larger projects
        • Build out a landing page, thank you page and the nurturing sequence for the white paper.
        • Build out a landing page, thank you page and the nurturing sequence for the implementation guide.
        • Build out an onboarding process for the consulting session.

     

Content piece => campaign

  • In your CRM system, look around and make a slit of people who can benefit from your new white paper.
  • Craft a nonchalant-sounding (the opposite of pitchy and desperate) message and, with some customization, start sending it out with to buyers.
  • Write two more follow-up messages and send them out of there is no response to your first message.
  • Your message can be email, snail mail, post card or anything that gets your message to buyers.
  • If there is no response after the third message that promotes the white paper, then message #4 should be the first message for the implementation guide. Then in the implementation guide, you can refer to the white paper, keeping the request for consulting the call to action.
  • Set up your emails in your MA system and set up the sending dates – I prefer the Fibonacci sequence starting with 5. The preceding numbers are too close to my taste, and I’m worried about becoming a pest. For the actual sending dates, I subtract 4 from the original Fibonacci number.
    • Message #1 for white paper is sent out on day 1 (sequence equivalent of 5)
    • Message #2 for white paper is sent out on day 4 (sequence equivalent of 8)
    • Message #3 for white paper is sent out on day 9 (sequence equivalent of 13)
    • Message #1 for implementation guide is sent out on day 17 (sequence equivalent of 21)
    • Message #2 for implementation guide is sent out on day 30 (sequence equivalent of 34)
    • Message #3 for implementation guide is sent out on day 51 (sequence equivalent of 55)
  • As soon as people register for the white paper or the implementation guide, they should stop receiving the following parts of the message sequence. Now they can start receiving a different sequence that treats these people as actual consumers of your content pieces. In those pieces, you can gently promote the consultation session.
  • People who haven’t responded to your offer can be contacted again 2-3 months later either with this or a different offer combo.
  • Note that the goal of the campaign is to sell the initial consulting session.

And with that, Dear Reader, you’ve just implemented a campaign and raised your business development to a higher level.

Now you have a machine that can generate new clients for your 24/7.

Summary

I know, you may think that if marketing automation is such a big hassle to set up, then what’s the point? You may be better off using index cards on a giant cork board.

Well that’s always an option.

The top two benefits of marketing automation are consistency and reducing your operating costs.

We know from a McKinsey study[2], published in the Business Review (Sep-Oct 1992), that every 1% reduction in variable costs can add as much as 7.7% to the bottom line. After increasing price, reducing variable costs is the second (of four) lever in the profit maximization equation.

  1. 1% price increase adds as much as 11.1% to the bottom line.
  2. 1% variable cost reduction adds as much as 7.7% to the bottom line.
  3. 1% sales volume (gross revenue) increase adds as much as 3.3% to the bottom line.
  4. 1% fixed cost reduction adds as much as 2.3% to the bottom line.

Marketing automation addresses #1, increasing price, by creating higher level of consistency and in doing so, increasing perceived value.

It also addresses #2, reducing variable costs, by making staff members available to do work that can’t be automated due to its sophisticated nature and because it requires the level of thinking that can’t be automated.

Consistency is vital because in your market’s perception, the consistency of your marketing is a precursor to the consistency of your value delivery.

It means, whatever you invest in marketing automation, you’re likely to recoup with hefty profits on the top.

No, it’s not instant gratification, but it will happen.

1954, Peter Drucker wrote in the Practice of Management…

“If we want to know what a business is, we have to start with its purpose. And its purpose must lie outside of the business itself. In fact, it must lie in society since a business enterprise is an organ of society. There is only one definition of business purpose: to create a customer. Because it is its purpose to create a customer, any business enterprise has two – and only these two – basic functions: Marketing and innovation. Marketing and innovation produce results. All the rest are costs.”

Innovation creates potential value and marketing captures the financial equivalent of that potential value, that is, turns value to the customer into profit to the seller.

And its ethical business owners’ fiduciary responsibility to maximize the customer-creating and customer-satisfying abilities of their businesses as they turn into profits that create more innovation, more orders for suppliers, more business growth, new jobs and pay increases and improved working conditions for employees.

[1] White paper resources: Gordon Graham: White Papers For Dummies; Michael A Stelzner: Writing White Papers: How to Capture Readers and Keep Them Engaged; Robert Bly: The White Paper Marketing Handbook
[2] Michael Mara and Robert Roriello, “Managing Price, Gaining Profit,” Harvard Business Review (September–October 1992): 85.