Like most interested in this topic, I see a lot of stuff published, and have gone to my share of seminars in an attempt to sort the wheat from the chaff.
Over 40 years marketing experience, and having seen the rise and rise of automation, along with the carpet-baggers flogging get rich quick, and “if I can do it, so can you” schemes that would make a gypsy blush, I am probably just a little sceptical.
Here are the myths I see most often, all flowing from the foundation “it is easy” myth
- Automation solves problems.
Without the basics being right, understanding the markets, your customers and competitors, how your value proposition and service levels resonate, you are still nowhere, automation or not. An early lesson I learnt is that poor problem definition leads to poor decision making and even worse marketing. Crap marketing that is automated just generates a bigger pile of crap, quicker, with a second often larger problem that when it comes from a computer for some reason, it gains credibility, so your pile of marketing crap risks becoming a “truth” that has the potential to send you broke.
2. Automation provides the processes.
Automating anything means that it is done automatically the same way every time. If you have process that deliver rubbish, marketing automation will only enable you to deliver more rubbish, quicker, to more people, Who wants that? Building robust, processes is essential, at every level of the marketing ‘stack’ (sorry about the jargon, the stack is the pile of various digital processes that together make up an automated system). No automation system is “Plug & Play” in isolation.
3. Automation enables a purchase mind-set.
Making a choice is certainly not something that automation can provide. Best it can do is give a rational analysis of the data to hand. The nature of the buying process and associated communication has been transformed in the last decade by digital tools. Buyers now accumulate information independent of sellers, and often make a final choice before a seller knows they are in the market, but the choice is human, subject to all sorts of considerations still way beyond the capability of automation to replicate.
4. Automation cannot respond other than by rote.
Consumers seek all sorts of subjective and referential information when researching even a modest purchase, switching between left and right brain without realising they are doing it. That process cannot be replicated digitally. Best we can do is define the range of personas we see in the market and tailor and continuously improve the communication strings to meet the anticipated and instinctive Q&A sessions happening in purchasers mind as they move through the “funnel” towards a decision.
5. Content is king.
I hear this all the time, “just pump out the content and they will come.” Rubbish. This may have been partially true at the beginning of the digital revolution, but no longer. There is now so much content around that the competition for potential customers attention is now far greater than it has ever been. The challenge is now having the best, most relevant and timely content delivered in a personalised manner, as and when the buyer asks themselves a question. You need to be a marketing mind reader!
6. The number of leads counts.
This is only true when you consider the quality of the leads at the same time. It is easy to generate a lot of response to something, the key is the likelihood of a conversion to a transaction of the initial lead, not the number of leads. Quality wins out over quantity every single time.
7. Automation solves the “don’t know what you do not know” problem.
This goes back too my original point. Experienced, informed and creative marketing thinking cannot be replaced by automation, no matter how much many who call themselves “marketers” would like it to be so.
Automation can be a hugely valuable investment, but it is not easy, not cheap, and does not replace the skills, domain wisdom and experience of those who have been there, done that!
When a dose of ‘fair dinkum’ is required, call me.