Strategic Discipline Will Never Go Out of Style, but Marketing Automation Can Give it a Whole New Look

Jeremy Heilpern
Jun 21, 2018 · 8 min read

Despite all of the news and noise about how complex the modern “customer journey” has become, we still meet Marketers frequently that are not using a very disciplined approach to mapping those journeys and adjusting their marketing programs accordingly. Even fewer are tapping into the power of Marketing Automation to help guide them toward what can ultimately become game-changing results for their business.

Unfortunately, lots of these Marketers are still stuck in a rut that can be easily avoided with some hard work and deep thinking.

Some of the most common problems we see in this area are:

While we certainly cannot address these exhaustively here, we will touch on a few suggestions and frameworks for strengthening your thinking (and results) in these areas.

With all that said, lets dive in…


Increase Your Targeting Discipline

We advocate developing Buyer & Influencer Personas in conjunction with mapping the Buyer’s purchasing journey as a critical first step to any Marketing planning efforts.

Here are a few principles to consider that we feel are important:

At the end of your work at this stage, you want three deliverables:

Use Marketing Automation to Personalize for Multiple Targets

For the uninitiated or novices in the Marketing Automation space, we plan to detail this in depth across a number of pieces in the near future.

For our purposes here, we’ll offer up a fairly simple definition. Marketing Automation platforms enable “micro targeting” of your marketing messages based on how your prospects or customers have engaged with your messaging over time.

There’s a ton of power in that last sentence. Marketing Automation is not just about the automation piece, which itself is fantastic. It also transforms the level of personalization that can be applied. Each target can be served information that’s most relevant to their own product search. And that means that you don’t have to stop at some “lowest common denominator” benefit when creating your campaigns. Instead, you can pull an overarching brand idea down into virtually limitless, detailed communication pieces that may be deployed in the right place at the right time. You’re really only limited by your imagination and your resources.

Let’s use a hypothetical example here. Let’s say that Coolerco is a brand new company that makes commercial-grade refrigerators and freezers for clients ranging from schools to factories. Clearly, those prospects have very different needs, very different questions to address in the selling process, and they all have different influencers that could impact the ultimate choice.

In the “old days”, Coolerco might have built a single campaign based on “cutting edge technology that provides superior cooling performance”. That campaign could have run across a number of different media/tactics, speaking to a single idea and single benefit. But maybe only one prospect group really cared about “superior performance”. Maybe the other groups wanted “energy efficiency”, “lowest maintenance bills” or “the best quality service and repair”. All of these nuances would have been left up to individual sales teams to communicate after prospects entered into the Consideration portion of the funnel. But they could only do that if they had contact with the prospect. But top prospects with whom that overarching benefit didn’t resonate may have never taken an action beyond seeing the ad. Therefore, those prospects never even enter the funnel.

With Marketing Automation, Coolerco can now do what was previously unthinkable. They can build an overarching idea that still might be “cutting edge”, but they can apply it in an incredibly targeted fashion with unique benefits and attributes for each segment of prospects. And as prospects engage with different pieces of Coolerco’s content, they’ll be able to refine the most relevant messaging even further.

One important caveat here is that Marketing Automation shouldn’t excuse lazy Marketing. You cannot expect to activate lots of different positionings, high-level campaign ideas and benefits and still have a cohesive understanding of your brand. Resist the temptation to let A/B testing solve strategy problems. Everything has to tie together, and you should hold your agencies accountable for doing so.

Use Various Marketing Levers to Accomplish Discrete Roles in the Funnel

Thus far, you will have developed a deep understanding of your targets and their influencers, you will have prioritized them in a way that will focus your budget, and you’ve personalized your messaging strategy.

Now it’s time to develop your Marketing programs and tactics. Rather than using the checklist we see all too frequently, now we start aligning each tactic to its role in moving prospects through the funnel. We start with hypotheses grounded in past learning and our new maps and personas. And we’ll continuously refine by measuring results in real-time on our Marketing Automation platform.

Let’s go back to our Coolerco example and consider High-End Restaurants as our top prospect group. Coolerco has worked through personas, and they understand that the key decision-makers in these establishments can vary from the Chefs themselves to Business Managers. Regardless, they want the most durable coolers and freezers available — after all, their employees are in/out of them hundreds of times every day. They also need unparalleled service — if the cooler goes down, the Chef’s reputation is on the line. These drivers are likely very different from Schools where budget and long-term durability are more important.

So, how does Coolerco align campaign elements to move High-End Restaurants from Awareness to Conversion? Here’s one way:

In general, Marketing tactics are going to have similar roles across campaigns and targets. But the details truly matter. You should create role definition for each campaign and target to ensure you’re widening the funnel as much as possible.

In Conclusion

One thing that won’t change in the world of Marketing any time soon is the importance of strategic discipline. That said, how that strategic discipline gets applied to grow your business evolves constantly.

When building your campaigns, start with deep knowledge of your prospective buyers and their influencers. Create campaigns that ladder to an overarching idea but provide incredible flexibility to address their personalized needs. Then develop your tactics to methodically move prospects through the funnel, using your data to continuously optimize.

If you’re not familiar with Marketing Automation platforms, learn everything you can about them — today! There’s a great chance that they can take your Marketing ROI to the next level.

If you need help, we’re here for you.

Ammunition

Insights and opinions from the Ammunition team.

Jeremy Heilpern

Written by

President + CEO @ Ammunition in Atlanta

Ammunition

Insights and opinions from the Ammunition team.