Sales and Marketing Software

Drive Marketing Innovation by Processes Not Technology

Drive Marketing Innovation by Processes Not Technology

By Bob Johnson, VP & Principal Analyst

I’ve heard the same refrain over and over from organizations who invest in marketing or sales automation:

• It has been hard to implement

• The return has not been as large as hoped

• Adoption is slow

We are continually blinded by the new, shiny object in the corner. And the light from this particularly source is extremely bright. Did you know that according to IDC, there are over 20 categories of marketing automation technology? Can you imagine the time and effort it takes to review each area, let alone adopt one or more?

I suggest you make a full stop on your automation investments, take a step back and change your view that the technology investment is the most critical consideration. It is not, rather it is more important to consider your existing processes and how they need to change. Otherwise, you’ll make investments in technology and just shoe horn them to onto your existing processes.

Look at your content creation, management, and demand generation processes from both an inbound and outbound perspective. Consider how you interact with the customer, how they interact with you, and how that will change. Understand from that where the gaps are relative to your processes, emphasis, and steps.

Work with a blank sheet of paper approach. Think about where you can add new elements, eliminate existing ones, reorder and organize. Make sure you place emphasis where it is needed today, not where it was five or ten years ago. Then validate this against what technology can and cannot do to realistically prioritize your process advancement areas.

Once you understand best practices around process innovation you can then look at the technology that best enables change and impact. When you move forward, don’t implement based upon what exists; use a dual-pronged strategy where you innovate as you implement. Remember, your team is going to have to learn new tools, new usage requirements, new reporting, and different responsibilities.  Since there is so much change taking place, do you want them to learn a new system then do it again as they learn a new process later on? Do it all at once in parallel, and be sure to communicate the gains they will see in time savings, efficiency, and effectiveness to gain buy-in.

The technology you buy starts out with supportive potential, but it can enable change or allow you to be disruptive to competitors. If you want that, some of the very hard work is the process improvements that maximize what the technology brings in realistic innovation opportunities. Not taking a connected approach (processes first, then technology) creates extra effort, delays impact, and builds frustration. So, focus on process advancement by looking at how they take place not just in your industry but others, too.

I know process work does not have the sizzle that a shiny new cloud-based marketing automation solution has, but it certainly is the key to a better return on investment.


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Bob Johnson

VP & Principal Analyst, IDG Connect

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