9 Things Marketers Need from Marketing Automation Vendors and Consultants – Part 2

In our last post, we introduced a list of 9 things marketers need from marketing automation vendors and consultants.  We came up with this list to help make sense of “the noise” being generated by software vendors and service providers in the space (yes, we are one of those providers).  Even though the information for the buyer is plentiful, we at The Annuitas Group are still constantly being asked to provide insight on what’s actually going on in the market.  Hence, the list.

Our first four things that marketers need from us are…

1.   More education beyond the technology
2.   More transparency
3.   A true view of the technology
4.   Stopping the publishing of numbers that are just too good to be true

Without further adieu, here’s the rest of the list.

5.   Removal of terms such as “quick”,  “easy”, and “30 days” from the vocabulary

I was speaking to a client a few weeks ago about the work we’ve been providing on their lead management process development and marketing automation.  During the course of the discussion, she said, as if suddenly enlightened,  “This really is a change management initiative.   To do what we’re doing the right way (bold type mine) is really hard.”  She hit the nail on the head, the key phrase being “the right way.”

Over the last few years, many consultants and vendors have been using the “quick and easy” language in their marketing and sales lingo.  However, automation done the right way with the development of people, process, content supported by enabling technology is neither easy, or quick, and will certainly not be accomplished in 30-days.

While buyers love to believe that things can be done fast and quick, it is a disservice to our buyers to use this language.  Go ahead and use the “quick and easy” language if describing the uploading of a list or blasting of an email.  But to describe true marketing done “the right way”, let’s be sure we provide our buyers with an accurate picture.

6.   Honest sales pitches

Part of my role as CEO is to sell.  I enjoy the selling aspect of my job because it provides a great opportunity to connect with buyers, learn about their business, provide education, and share knowledge.  However, there is a part about the sales process that I hate: having to answer the questions buyers bring me that come as a result of competing vendors bashing each other, often with untruths.

Too frequently, when speaking to those who are looking to buy automation, I find myself having to answer the question, “I heard such and such from vendor A about vendor B, is this accurate?”  I wish I could say that every time my answer is “yes”.

If we want to help our customers grow and mature we need to be upfront and honest.  As a vendor or provider, focus on what you do best and how you can help them. Yes, differentiate yourself from the competition, but be truthful. After all as a very wise man once said “You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.”

7.   Focus – You can’t be all things to all people

A sign on the back of a truck I recently passed advertised “Handyman” followed by a list of services:

    • Trim work
    • Drywall
    • Electrical
    • Landscaping
    • Plumbing
    • Painting

You get the idea. Maybe this guy truly was a handyman extraordinaire. But really?  Was he really good at all of these things?

This approach is similar to what we’re seeing in B2B marketing today. However, the reality is that there is no firm can really “do it all”.  We should all take a lesson from Pardot. They have no hesitation saying that they are SMB focused and they put all of their energy into that market.  I applaud them for that.  As a result, they’re seeing great success and have an extremely loyal customer base.

Instead of promising “everything”, the vendor/consultant community should focus on their sweet spot.  If you don’t offer it, let your prospects know. Then refer them to a company that does.  It’s better for the customer and they will thank you for it.

8.   Enable Users

In a recent Marketing Automation InstituteFocus survey, 75% of marketers rated themselves as not effective or only somewhat effective.  Add to that the statistic that was brought to light at the SiriusDecisions summit that showed 85% of marketing automation users said they were not getting the full value from their solution.  This screams “skills gap”!

The change in the marketing landscape has had incredible impact on the day-to-day role of the marketer. They need to learn the new skills required to perform their roles.  Enabling users to achieve that education elevates the industry, improves the level of service and allows our customers to get more from their technology.

Education in this market abounds with groups like MarketingProfs, Marketing Sherpa, The Marketing Automation Institute (Note of full-disclosure: The Annuitas Group is a founding member of the Marketing Automation Institute and Carlos Hidalgo is the MAI Executive Director).  We all – vendors and consultants alike – should be doing everything we can to educate, enable and equip our customers. In so doing, we will help make marketers more valuable to their organizations.

9.    More thought leadership and less self-promotion

Comedian Brian Regan has a bit that he performs where he talks about what he calls “The Me Monster”.  This is the guy who sits at the dinner party and only talk about himself, what car he drives, and how awesome he is. Regan astutely points out that NOBODY likes a Me Monster except the Me Monster himself.

Keeping in line with the earlier point about education, vendors and consultants should be teaching, promoting new concepts, giving more how to’s and sharing thought leadership as a way to advance our trade. We should NOT be talking about how great we think we are.  If we are indeed great, let our clients tell us and whoever they deem fit.  Here are some great examples of those who follow this tactic:

Although the original source is disputed, it is true that “With great power comes great responsibility”.  As vendors and consultants to the B2B market, we have tremendous influence over the buying market. With that, we have an equally large responsibility to our buyers.  They need us to succeed.  This list contains just a few things they need from us to do so.

What else do you think they need from us?

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