In recent years, marketing automation has gone from art-house flick, loved by a few, to a blockbuster sensation. Its rise to the big screen isn’t surprising, the benefits - increased efficiency, tailored communication strategies and enhanced sales conversations - are clear. But are marketers at risk of losing the plot in a bid to break box office sales records?
Consider the effect CGI has had on the film industry. It brought impact, action and scale to some hugely successful films, but all too often narrative has taken a backseat. Filmmakers have become complacent and special effects have swallowed up budgets, timelines and even replaced real characters.
So, the crucial question for marketers is, how do you avoid creating a rotten tomato when harnessing marketing automation technologies?
It’s important to remember that marketing automation is not a quick fix. These tools enable companies to quickly scale, segment and streamline their client and new business activities, but the medium is not a replacement for the message – you must have a compelling story to tell in the first place.
B2B brands still need to develop marketing, sales and communication strategies that centre on interesting content to engage their target audiences and ultimately sell their products and services. Buyers can tell the difference between quality content and commercial breaks – forget interruption marketing, your content must be the main event that leaves audiences wanting more.
Establishing a narrative is critical. There is absolutely no value to be gained from purchasing a marketing automation platform without the content to fuel it, and effective content marketing requires the commitment of a soap opera.
The most effective way to create an ongoing ‘drumbeat’ of activity is to start with one big idea, a narrative thread, that’s aligned with issues that concern your audience. However, this isn’t about asking audiences what they want, it’s about surprising them with a story they haven’t heard before and generating demand by unmasking a new villain that you can help defeat.
One big idea will help set the scene for your audience, putting Marketing in the Director’s chair. This unifying script will bring together the cast of communications, marketing and business development for maximum impact to help you on the journey to ‘happily ever after’.
Marketing automation has thrown some companies into disequilibrium, as enhanced capabilities result in more complexities and questions than creative solutions. To succeed in an automated world, marketers must find a new equilibrium, where technologies enhance ideas-driven content and create a seamless experience for the customer, not the marketing equivalent of a Jar Jar Binks.