The Wild World of Marketing Automation

According to Gartner, CMOs will soon influence more IT-related budget decisions than CIOs. Software as a service has lowered the barrier to decision making based on technical merits since the application’s “backend” is the vendor’s responsibility, not IT’s. Instead, consideration of features and benefits for marketing users now gets the spotlight, as it should.

So while marketers don’t have to bother IT folks as often when they onboard new automation tools, new challenges arise. The marketing automation landscape grows daily. Keeping up with it all can be a full time job.

To help, I have divided the landscape into four functional areas:

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Some vendors have come up with solutions to address the entire process. Players like Adobe for example, have the market position and resources to address all aspects of automation. Other “platform” vendors include digital asset management specialists like Saepio, as well as sales and marketing platform vendors like, Marketo, Infusionsoft, and others.

However, the reason many companies resist going the platform route is too much risk involved in committing to a single vendor. The more you go down that road, the more committed you become to that vendor’s roadmap and vision of YOUR business process.

The “Functionally Specialized Automation Highway”

Alternatively, most companies end up plying what I call the “functionally specialized automation highway.” In this scenario, the company picks and chooses automation solutions where they need it, when they need it.

This approach often occurs due to specialized needs the organization has for say, sophisticated content production needs of an online publisher, or heavy focus on video streaming production. The more specialization in the business, the more likely the organization will require specialized automation tools.

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The downside of this approach is integration. Sooner or later as these systems mature, the need for integration will only grow. And while most come with application programming interfaces to one another, the “devil is in the details” on getting them to work well together.

Furthermore, some of these systems, like Newscred, Kapost, InsightSquared or GoodData come with large price tags in the tens of thousands of dollars minimum. So the evaluation to buy these solutions is nearly as significant as an end to end platform buy. In any case, marketers have been given a lot more latitude. With it comes a lot more responsibility.

A Living Legend on Optimism

I met a living legend this evening. Dr. Donald Pinkel stopped by the foundation I’m involved in at the request of his number one admirer, Frank Kalman, the foundation’s executive director. He was joined by his wife, pediatric oncologist Cathryn Howarth, MD. They are both now retired.

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Dr. Pinkel was literally the first doctor to cure childhood leukemia. He was the founding director and CEO of St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee from 1962 to 1973. The hospital was nearby where Martin Luther King Jr. was killed in 1968. Dr. Pinkel was the first to racially integrate a facility of this kind in the south.

He was the first to envision and establish a completely free facility for all the children and their families admitted. This included, room, board, and transportation in addition to all medical costs. This was and still is the only free medical center of its kind in the U.S. today. These are just some of his many accomplishments.

He shared how when he was a boy, his mom took him to a priest to help address his “unruly” behavior and the priest asked him to say the St. Jude’s prayer every day. St. Jude takes care of the most desperate situations – the last resort. So when he was invited to head St. Jude’s, he knew it was meant to be.

Perhaps the most important thing he shared was how critical attitude is in overcoming even the most difficult challenges, like cancer. He sees pessimism as the enemy and one of four obstacles to overcoming cancer. He see optimism and hope as critical to success.

It’s easy to sometimes overlook the most obvious ingredients to success, especially when we’re faced with big challenges – like to our health, career, or making the world a better place. I left that room very clear on one thing: optimism is a learned practice and high art we can all access any time, under any circumstances. Why live life without it?

New Power Models and Values

What explains the phenomenal growth rates we see in AirBnB, Uber, Kickstarter and participation rates in movements like Occupy Wall Street and the Climate Action march in NYC? Activist and former McKinsey consultant, Jeremy Heimans explains it’s “new power models and values” surfacing today in his Ted Talk: What New Power Looks Like. He shows how innovative models combine with new values to create viral adoption and participation.

Examples of what distinguishes the characteristics of “old power” vs “new power” models is summarized nicely in this slide:

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He also showed examples of “new power values” driving adoption of and participation in these models.

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He then showed how old and new power compares using some examples in this slide:

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Check out the talk here:

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