Baseball Bats and Marketing Automation Are Just Tools

Last week, I enjoyed watching the “Mid-Summer Classic” – the All-Star game – with my 10 year old son. We watch it every year, but this year was extra special for us. You see, we’re Mets fans (leave all your jokes at the door please). So, we loved watching Wright and Harvey, knowing that the baseball world was focused on them and Citi Field (home of the Mets) for one celebratory night.  But it wasn’t just the festivities that had our attention.  My son, who’s 10, also plays in an instructional league, so we watched and talked about the different approaches to batting that each player has, and how those approaches compare to what his coach has told him.  We talked about stance, and weight shift, and hand position, and swing.  However, never once did we talk about what kind of bat each player used.  As I have seen my son improve this year as a hitter, not once have I given credit to his bat. Instead, he’s better because of the coaching and  improved approach that he has taken to the plate.

This got me thinking…why don’t we address demand generation this way?  Over the last 2 weeks, I’ve heard or read more than once how marketing automation technology was going to “provide more leads”, or “improve our ROI”, etc.  But let’s be real…it won’t happen.  Just like a baseball bat, marketing automation is a tool.  Tools support the implemented strategy and process.   So, if you want to be a better hitter, start with your stance, swing and follow through.  If you want to be better at demand generation, here are a few tips for you…

1. Know your buyer

Yes, a ton has been written on this lately. Perhaps that’s because it truly is the key to success.  Marketing people spend way too much time in meeting rooms guessing at the right approach to messaging, content strategy and lead acquisition.  Instead, they should go to the source…the buyer. Ask them, research them, find out how they went about buying your product or service.  Obtaining this kind of information on the front end will significantly improve your ability to create demand, and engage prospects.

2. Respond to what your buyer is telling you

For years, Proctor and Gamble sold Tide liquid detergent in a large plastic bottle.  But, never being satisfied, they went to the buyer to see how they could improve the product.  They did this by sending researchers into the field to follow people as they did their laundry.  They noticed a trend…the last action people took before turning on the machine was to use the last piece of clothing to wipe the detergent that had dripped down the side of the bottle.  Further probing determined this dripping problem was a frustration to consumers. The response? P&G introduced the “no-drip” spout.

This may sound like a simple market research story, but the principles apply to demand generation. P&G sought to know the buyer, then responded to the buyer according to what the buyer wanted and needed.  In the same way, once you know what your buyer wants, begin to develop a content plan that will give them what they are asking for, what they want and what they need.

3. Deliver your response in the most efficient manner possible 

This is where technology comes in.  Once you know what your buyer wants/needs, and you have figured out what the response (messaging, content, etc.) should be, then it’s time to think through how to deliver it.  Map out the different approaches to be used for different buying stages, and the specific messages for each segment.  Then use tools such as marketing automation to deliver the message and respond to the buyer.

Technology is great and in today’s digital world, it’s a necessity.  But don’t make the mistake of thinking that you can solve all your demand generation problems with technology. That kind of approach will have you striking out more often than not.