I recently read this article by Omar Akhtar on “The case against too much marketing automation” and it got me thinking. Although I am a firm believer in marketing automation, here are several points here where I agree. I am inundated daily from vendors trying to sell me the next best thing in identifying web visitors, automated what content people see based on digital footprint, augmenting my database; the list goes on and on. And some of these do intrigue me. But I do question their actual effectiveness.
I’ve been using marketing automation for over a decade now and I’m a believer. My very small team executes more programs and campaigns than I could ever dream of twenty years ago when I first started in marketing. But nothing replaces actually spending time with your prospects and customers. You need to know what drives them. What are their challenges, fears, hopes and dreams. And then how can you fit into their reality. You will never get this from any type of marketing automation.
You need to spend time with your customers. You need to talk to them. Do this whenever you can – at tradeshows and conferences, customer visits, industry events. Whenever you get a chance. How else will you learn about them – what truly drives them? And how else will you see if your value props and messaging resonates?
So I’m a firm believer in marketing automation but I also don’t see it as a panacea that solves all your marketing needs. And thank God for that or I’d be out of a job! You need to get face-to-face and talk. There is no automation or replacement for that.
Would love to hear your thoughts!
Just yesterday, I talked about a marketing management paradigm I found interesting – and potentially very useful. And today, I finally got around to reading “How to Think Like a Modern CMO.” Another great article on the changing needs and responsibilities of leading a marketing team in today’s hyper-active marketplace. Change is coming quickly and much of it requires being savvy in both technology and leadership.
From the article, this quote rings especially true with me and my organization:
“CMOs have to be both analytical and adaptable, rolling and thriving with continuous change. It’s an interesting combination of left brain and right brain characteristics, where creativity is absolutely essential to see around corners, data analysis is required to make decisions, and execution is needed to deliver actual results.”
Personally, I love this. I have a background in engineering so I really get the technology and metrics angle. I’m not nearly as strong on the “traditional” marketing areas highlighted by Mad Men. But I usually can hold my own in that arena. So I love the challenge involved.
But what really interests me is the thought that the CMO (re: marketing) is becoming more important to the success of an organization. This is not so new to consumer brands. But it is in the B2B world, especially in the tech sector where engineering or sales has long ruled.
My company is very progressive in pulling marketing in early and often. And we have a seat at the table – the monthly executive board meeting that all companies have in some shape or form. Marketing in B2B on the rise. Get ready to get caught up in the tide.
I recently read the article “The 4 quadrants of marketing management, a 2×2 model” by Scott Brinker. I found it a very interesting read.
Perhaps my favorite quote from Scott is:
“Both are important to a healthy and sustainable business. Optimization without innovation is myopia. Innovation without optimization is the organizational equivalent of ADHD.”
I can see uses for the model from both an organizational management perspective:
- Where are we strong/weak?
- Where do we need to hire?
To a personal growth perspective:
- What are my strengths/weaknesses?
- What do I need to learn/improve to move to another level?
You may even be able to use it to compare your team to a competitor – if you can get their information somehow. I’ll have to put more thought into that one.
At the end of this article, Scott mentions that he is still working on this model – and would love feedback/input. I’m putting some thought into my feedback (other than my quick thoughts above). And I may provide the feedback in person. He may have talked me into attending the upcoming MarTech conference he is chairing this summer!
Forrester Research has released it’s latest survey results on the state of B2B Marketing budgets. Good news is that the investment in marketing is expected to rise 6% this year. Bad news is that, after the recession, it still only gets budgets back up to 4% of company revenues. Pre-recession levels were often cited at 7% or higher. So still some ground to make up.
Forrester notes an increase in spending particularly on technology (read as marketing automation). In order to justify the higher budgets, marketeers are having to prove return on investment. I’m surprised it is taking this long to get there. I remember being pressed for numbers and ROI at least ten years ago. And that was when the marketing automation platforms weren’t as robust as they are today!
One other item from this report – how people expect to use their marketing budgets. Here’s a nice pie chart with a breakout of the responses. It is interesting to see how, with all the noise around digital, email and inbound, in-person events remains a very significant piece of the pie. Guess that shows that there is no substitute for face-to-face!
Here at Mercury Systems, our fiscal year runs June through July. I’ll be interested in taking our FY15 budget and seeing how we match up to the rest of the industry – in both size of budget and how we invest it.
The latest issue of B2B Magazine has an interesting article entitled In-demand tech experts find new home in marketing. It’s interesting to see how some companies are combining traditional Marketing Operations and IT roles to better support the critical systems many marketing teams now rely on – usually very heavily. In my experience, I would NEVER implement a marketing automation solution without having a solid marketing ops person to support it. And at the companies I’ve worked at that used marketing automation, I also saw much better success when there was a dedicated IT resource(s) to support marketing needs. The third leg is a strong connection with the Sales Ops team as marketing automation and CRM systems have to be intimately intertwined.
For those of you not familiar with the Marketing Ops function, this article from a few years ago still does a good job of explaining the function. Plus, I like their graphic:
One area where I’ve particularly found the need for Marketing Ops/IT teaming is in metrics. In many organizations, without IT help, you can not reach into key systems to get the reporting you may want. Systems such as financial, ERP, order management, customer service and more often reside with those groups. Unless you have an enterprise data warehouse, you need help querying those systems. And even with a warehouse, you still need expertise to query that. So a solid teaming of Marketing Ops, Sales Ops and IT works to make all teams more successful.
As and aside, as I’m writing this, the marketing ops person on my team is at Eloqua Experience 2012 – Eloqua’s annual user conference – staying plugged into the latest best practices. Even though we didn’t win the Markie award, I will still give them a plug. : )
As someone who went to business school in the height of the “shareholder value” craze, I do find some validity to this article. Especially after years of dealing with CEOs. I had one CEO I had an argument with about this very topic. My side (the correct one) was that you end up “choosing” your investors by the messages you send. If you tell them you are focused on a 5 year horizon with a set goal, and then you tell them that you won’t be focusing on the 90-day cycle – you will get to your destination but not in 90-day sprints – then you will get long-term investors. And this will result in less stock price volatility if you hit some intermediate goals.
But he was stuck in the 90-day cycle. And that hurts a lot of companies. You can’t invest for the future in that environment.
Anyway, here is the article that was excerpted in The Week, where I read it:
It’s foolish to focus on stock prices
The relentless pursuit of higher share prices has done investors no favors.
POSTED ON SEPTEMBER 6, 2012, AT 2:25 PM
Los Angeles Times
The relentless pursuit of higher share prices has done investors no favors, said Lynn Stout. Maximizing “shareholder value” has been corporate America’s religion for over three decades now. To crank up share prices, companies sell key assets, outsource jobs, shower CEOs with stock options, and drain cash reserves by paying out dividends. These tactics often produce short-term market bumps, but they also hurt a company’s “long-term ability to grow and prosper.” Investors have borne the brunt of this trade-off, suffering “more than a decade of the worst investor returns since the Great Depression.” So why does the charade continue? Because investors continue to believe that companies are legally required to maximize returns in the short term, even though that’s a “pure myth.” In reality, corporate directors have no such obligation. Only with the rise of the “Chicago School” of free-market economics in the 1980s did share price become the default gauge of corporate performance. It’s time to step back from misguided short-term thinking so that companies can finally “do a better job for shareholders—and the rest of us too.”