A common and valid question that often comes up in business revolves around change: Does change help or hurt industry? Publishers, for instance, faced a major shakedown when e-books, the new kid on the block, hit the scene. Publishing houses downsized, closed, restructured or merged as a result. Popular book stores like Borders closed. Barnes & Noble faced financial crisis, and the industry was virtually turned into panic stew.
But it wasn’t just the publishing industry that was rocked to the core by changes revolving around technology. A similar evolution is taking place in other businesses, including automotive, building and construction, IT, manufacturing, retail, and other industries across the board. Partnered with advances in technology is marketing automation, and with marketing automation comes a tug of war between “connection” and “disconnection” that business owners worldwide are experiencing with their customers. Clearly the connection that resulted was to the Worldwide Web, but “disconnection” is what happened between customers and business owners and personnel. There’s no question that automation provides distinct advantages, including freeing up time for business owners to concentrate on building their businesses rather than working in them 24/7. But, as with many new advances, there also comes challenge.
Don’t get me wrong. Automation is not automatically a bad thing. As a business coach, I work with Business Owners to automate certain areas of their businesses for efficiency. But “systems automation” and “marketing automation” are two different things. Systems automation involves focusing on four key areas that can be grouped and systemized.
The four key areas to systemize in business are:
1. Employee Matters and Educational Tools
2. Delivery and Distribution
3. Testing and Measuring
4. Systems and Technology
Employee and Educational Matters consists of developing training systems. These might include technical training, effective communication training, conflict resolution training, management skills training, etc. Other areas within Employment matters include positional contracts that clearly state the objectives, goals, responsibilities and accountabilities of the position and standards that need to be met. Other areas that can be systemized within the Employee matters areas are How-To Manuals, Training Manuals, Service Manuals, Employee Handbooks, etc.
Delivery and Distribution systems generally relate to running paperless, for instance, developing inventory control systems, determining what can be outsourced, order and reorder tracking systems, and the like.
Testing and Measuring involves testing and measuring everything, including establishing a measurement for where you’ve been, if that’s not already in place, and modifying and increasing what currently needs to get done. Clearly, once numbers start coming in, analysis of what needs to be done to improve things needs to happen, as well as implementing new strategies.
Systems and Technology is a matter of scheduling regular maintenance on all equipment, using computer invoicing, documenting all tasks, keeping up with the latest programs, and having a sound security system in place.
While these just scratch the surface of automation in these areas, it does give you an idea of where to start.
With regards to automation marketing, there are some key areas to address in this arena as well. These include:
3. And team
I don’t mean to be facetious, but marketing is, after all, about management, sales, and communication – in other words: Team.
The automated part of the marketing involves three key functions:
1. The creation and analysis (testing and measuring) of campaigns
2. Generating leads
3. Compilation and interpretation of data
Six top marketing automation software systems to familiarize yourself with include: Eloqua, InfusionSoft, HubSpot, Teradata/Aprima, and Unica, Marketo.
However, to effectively bridge the gap between automation (software) and personalization (team), one must hire the right people. This Dream Team might include:
a. A Property (Content) Manager. Think of content like real estate. You want the investor, or in this case, the customer, to buy your product or service (property), and to do that, you have to make that “property” appealing. How? First through compelling content. Communication is the key, here, and you need to be sure that the person you assign to this task has skills in writing, psychology (or at least an understanding of personality types), research abilities, and of course computer skills.
b. A Problem-Solver Manager. This person primarily manages operations and will be skilled in integrating project, creating reports, sequencing, and developing flowcharts that systemize your campaigns. The right person for this job is generally detail oriented, and has an innate sense of “how things work”. Maybe they built models as a kid, or were great puzzle solvers!
c. A Protector Manager. Ah, yes. The nurturer. This is someone who can make lemonade out of lemons. In other words, a visionary who can take what you have that might not be working and turn it into a viable product or service. Think of this person like the farmer or gardener, tending the growth and nurturing of your projects and/or services at all stages of their development.
You can see that automation marketing is a good venue for the Property/Content Manager, and certainly for the Problem-Solver Manager, but the Protector/Nurturing Manager might suffer to some degree from lack of personal contact with your clients. Still, each of these team members can be effective in this technically automated world, if they’re given the right tools, the right training, and the right “systems” to work with.
Hopefully, upon reading this article, you were able to glean some insights on systemization, from both an operations and marketing standpoint, and recognize skill sets that are necessary to have in place in order to keep you and your team fully engaged with customers.