I’ve written a number of blog posts in the last few months about the AMCF Social Media Workshop I attended in Chicago in October — a lot of really smart people attend AMCF events and the discussion is at quite a high level. About 35-40 people attended this event. Mostly marketers, the session drew folks from small firms and very large firms alike (McKinsey, Deloitte, Accenture, IBM, etc.). While the topic of the session was really thought leadership marketing and the use of social media in conjunction with it, for a brief moment the subject shifted to technology.
Specifically, the topic of marketing automation came up. The question raised was this, “How many of you are using or exploring marketing automation?” To my shock, only two hands in the room came up — and mine was one of them. Wait a minute? What? This was a room full of serious thought leadership marketers. Many of these firms are the ones who literally built the concept (after all, McKinsey introduced the McKinsey Quarterly over 50 years ago). And, practically none of them are using marketing automation? I guess this fact just simply blew my mind.
So, over the last few months I’ve been trying to answer this question. Why aren’t firms using this technology? For firms whose entire business model relies on cultivating intellectual property and using it as a way to attract clients why would they pass on an opportunity to make that process more effective? While there is probably no one simple answer to this question, I’m going to offer a collection of 4 hypotheses and invite folks to comment or respond:
#1 – What is Marketing Automation?
I think a lot of firms and marketers simply don’t know what the technology is. There are still a lot of firms I talk to who’ve never heard of the technology. I’ve noticed more and more firms employing a marketing operations manager or marketing technology manager who’s job it is to vett new technologies for the firm. Clearly, a role like this is only viable in larger firms, but it’s a good trend to be happening. Regardless of how you do it, marketers need to be on the front side of the curve when it comes to technology. I define marketing automation as a system to gain insight into and facilitate the buying process. A good system should offer a combination of micro analytics, email marketing and lead scoring.
#2 – We Don’t Need to Automate Tasks
I think there is a good collection of folks that just misunderstand what automation could do for them. And, for good reason — the industry suffers from a major naming problem. Most of the firms I talk to aren’t very excited about the prospect of “automating marketing tasks.” Nor, are they hugely optimistic that a lead nurturing process could derive value for them or make their business development more effective. That said, the firms I talk with are very interested in using the tool to better understand how prospects become clients and to get a better handle on what marketing efforts are working. So, many marketers just see the title and go right on by.
#3 – “That Wouldn’t Work In Our Firm”
I think the third group of answers falls into the camp of, “that wouldn’t work for us.” For this group of firms, I think they’re just very skeptical that the technology is going to be used. Many of the firms I talk with are struggling to get CRM adopted – business development people and firm leaders resist tracking their activities and managing their pipelines. At best, these tasks are seen as busy work. At worst, they’re seen as unwanted oversight. And, the reality is that it’s much more difficult to derive value from an automation system without healthy CRM usage. So, they adopt the mantra, “it just wouldn’t work here.”
#4 – “Marketing Can’t Be Measured”
Finally, I still meet a lot of folks that just don’t believe that marketing is a measurable activity. Even when technology points to a way to drive more insight into what’s working or not, they’re just hardwired to see too many complexities and gray space in the marketing model to believe it can work. I guess rather than trying to drive measurement into the process, they prefer “ignorant bliss?”
So, I’m looking for some thoughts from the community. Do these four reasons jive for you? Has the topic come up in your firm? What did you hear from partners and co-workers? Can you think of other reasons a system like this hasn’t been adopted? If you’re one of the firms that overcame all this to implement a system, how did you do it?