Marketing automation (and more broadly, demand generation) is the new black, it seems.

And for good reason. It puts a tremendous amount of capability into one, integrated tool. But in the end, it’s just a tool. If the company using it isn’t prepared for marketing automation, it can fail to deliver the expected results. This story, which has gotten a lot of attention lately within the industry, is a typical example of what I’m talking about.

So… How do you know if you’re ready for marketing automation?

As I mentioned to Matt Filios, COO of Net-Results, when he asked me this question recently, Marketing automation is a disruptive technology in that it forces a company to think differently about its most important process: revenue creation. This is a good thing!

Okay. Marketing automation doesn’t actually force you to do anything. But success with marketing automation does require you to recognize that the way your prospects and customers buy has changed (forever). At most companies today, marketing and sales are working from an outdated playbook that was written back when interruptive, batch-and-blast, product-focused, hunch-based marketing actually worked, and sales was in control of the buying process. Those days are gone, but the thinking behind that playbook still exists. At Intelligent Demand, we refer to this shift in thinking as moving from Marketing 1.0 to Marketing 2.0.

When you decide to purchase and implement marketing automation, you are (perhaps unwittingly) stepping into a learning mode that goes beyond just learning the software. In fact, when marketing automation underperforms, it’s often because it was viewed as a software installation, instead of an opportunity to improve how your company engages prospects and customers as they move through their buying process.

My Answer:

I’d have to say that the biggest indicator that you are ready for marketing automation is recognizing that it’s just software –a powerful, game-changing tool.  And that tool is just one piece of your demand generation platform (i.e. the integrated mix of strategy, process, content, technology and analytics that supports every stage of your revenue funnel).

The Rest of My Answer:

There are some less philosophical, more tactical considerations for determining if you are ready for marketing automation:

  • Is your brand, identity, and value proposition in place?
  • Do you have a serviceable website that is delivering that brand and value proposition, and that can be adjusted, evolved, and integrated with your marketing automation system?
  • Do you have at least some minimal flow of leads into the top of your funnel?
  • Do you know have a sense of how your marketing automation investment will produce ROI? — i.e. have you created a business case
  • Do you have resources set aside not only for the software, but for implementation?
  • Are you ready to produce content in an ongoing way to feed your marketing automation/demand generation campaign(s)?

All of this said, the real lesson is to look before you leap. Successfully implementing marketing automation isn’t as difficult as it may first seem, especially if you follow an incremental approach (Crawl-Walk-Run). A qualified demand gen agency with a proven methodology built upon best practices can help you quickly and affordably lay the groundwork for making significant improvements in funnel conversion, revenue performance and campaign ROI.

Visit our resources page to learn more about demand gen and marketing automation.

And feel free to reach out with any questions. We are here to help you succeed!

Author John Common

More posts by John Common

John is Intelligent Demand’s founder, chief strategist and CEO. His energy and enthusiasm for transforming companies with modern approaches to marketing, sales, and customer success is palpable. He’ll happily geek out with you during a 2-hour conversation about your customer journey. He’ll cover any whiteboard or tablecloth in sight with revenue growth strategies, messaging concepts, and program designs. But his primary passion is connecting those ideas to highly executable programs that deliver measurable results.

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