Learning From Mistakes, Pt. 1: Marketing Automation

In this first of a three-part series, PointClear President and CEO Dan McDade discusses how distributors can learn from mistakes made by early adopters of marketing automation.

This is the first of a three-part series on thought leadership, titled, "3 Painful Lessons Early Adopters of Marketing Technology Learned That You Can Avoid," by Dan McDade, President and CEO of PointClear, LLC.

If companies ran marketing and sales the way manufacturers and distributors run their supply chain, they would see substantially higher revenue at significantly lower cost. 

Manufacturers and distributors are focused on LEAN — where every step in their processes must add value for the customer. It is no coincidence that recent issues of Industrial Distribution include multiple articles about “automating for efficiency,” “your strategy for speed,” and “improving accuracy in the supply chain.”

However, when it comes to marketing technology, manufacturers and distributors are falling into the same traps technology companies, as an example, fell into years ago — and for the most part still have not climbed out of.

This three-part series will help distributors learn from the mistakes of early adopters of Marketing Automation, Big Data Analytics and CRM.

Here in Part One, we’ll begin with Marketing Automation. Indeed, marketing automation makes it possible to send a greater quantity of leads to sales faster than ever before. But is that necessarily a good thing?

Albert Einstein once said: “In theory, theory and practice are the same. In practice, they are not.” Marketing automation can be a wonderful thing. In theory, properly calibrated marketing automation allows prospects to score points so that it is evident when they are ready for sales. In reality, executives are finding that marketing automation allows their companies to rush more poor-quality leads to sales faster than ever before. Many of these so-called “high-scoring” leads are actually professional shoppers (love to look, no intent to buy), competitors, and consultants — maybe even prisoners. What companies eventually find out is that each and every lead should be prequalified before it’s sent to sales.

Marketing automation is closely associated with “Inbound Marketing.” Most of the self-proclaimed experts in lead generation today are riding the inbound bandwagon. It’s hard to read a marketing article or blog without a blaring headline claiming inbound is king and outbound is dead. I get it. Inbound leads are great in some cases. You use SEO, blogs, marketing automation — every tool in the kit — and wait for prospects to come to you. But inbound leads drive smaller deals that often involve relatively lower level decision makers. Why? Most senior executives aren’t willing to jump through all the hoops to get your attention. Nor do they want to be treated like the human equivalent of a pinball, capturing your attention only when they hit the right bumpers and score enough points. You can’t afford to wait around for them because more aggressive competitors are sure to move on the opportunity.

Unless you are selling a relatively low priced good, service or commodity, it is highly unlikely you will drive enough inbound activity to sustain, much less grow, revenue. The result is a debilitating condition I call “inbounditis.” The main symptom of inbounditis is an overreliance on inbound marketing to generate leads. Left untreated, inbounditis progresses into a full-blown disease that spreads from marketing to sales and eventually attacks the revenue backbone of a company.

Be that as it may, there’s no need to get hung up about inbound vs. outbound. The key to success today is an “allbound” approach. That is, the right number of touches using the right media with the right cadence and the right number of contact cycles over a period of time wins the day.

For more on this topic download How to Build a Funnel Full of Solid Gold Leads.

Coming up in Part Two, we’ll discuss Big Data Analytics. While investments in Big Data can be massive and provide very little return, making modest investments in “little data” can actually provide huge returns.

It is also possible to increase return on marketing investments by 300 percent using segmentation, nurturing and closed loop processes. More to come on that discussion in Part Three.

Dan McDade is President and CEO of PointClear, LLC, a prospect development firm that helps B2B companies drive revenue by nurturing leads, engaging contacts and developing prospects until they’re ready to engage with sales. The Sales Lead Management Association named McDade one of the 50 most influential people in sales lead management for the last five consecutive years. His book, The Truth About Leads, is a practical, easy-to-read guide that helps B2B companies focus their lead-generation efforts, align their sales and marketing organizations, and drive revenue. Read McDade’s blog (ViewPoint l The Truth About Lead Generation) or contact him by email at [email protected]. Follow him at @dandade on Twitter.

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