When approaching or analyzing your project it is worthwhile to divide the components into sections. If we think of it as a four legged stool that your company will rest on, each ‘leg’ of the project has to be equally structurally sound.
When you discuss or attend to the project, whatever you do can be assigned into one of the four legs or silos of development. These are;
Technology is the enabler but should not be the sole focus. Instead, the less obtrusive the technology is the better. I think back to circa early 2000 and can recall what seemed to be endless hours installing application software on desktops and laptops. The CRM solutions being installed would need to be integrated with other local applications such as MS Word and also setup to synchronize with the central database if it were a laptop computer.
Those localized days are gone and Software As A Service (SAAS) has replaced applications running locally. Simply assign a login and user rights and away you go. Features, functions and benefits are what you are after and not the constant worry about system problems or upgrades.
The all-in-one marketing platform we prefer is Active Campaign and it is very easy to see why when you look at comparisons such as the one at Smart Business Trends.
The next ‘leg’ of the project is Data. Companies are awash in data and there is an entire class (business intelligence) devoted to turning this mass of data into actionable information. Data is NOT information. First and foremost the data has to be captured (i.e. input) into the right places and normalized so that it is in the right format for queries, analysis and reporting. Human input can be rife with errors so the more automatic the better.
Take the case in point for a website form. If the form is completed by a website visitor and emailed to an Administrator for input there can be data loss, typos, etc.. But If the form is generated from your marketing system by way of code placed on the site, the form and system are married so that the data can automatically be input into the marketing database and then a range of actions can be done automatically based on the form information.
The people component of this type of project is an important consideration. It is less so for Marketing projects then for CRM/Sales type of projects because the automation of the pure marketing system is less reliant on as many people remaining in compliance with the project requirements. Active Campaign includes a CRM aspect that is construed as Deals (or Opportunities) that require scoring, pipeline maintenance, etc. but the core system is pure marketing automation.
Process focus is the highest potential payback, and the hardest, leg to build correctly. There have been considerable first meetings where I have heard the company owner say ‘we are looking at software now’. This is an upside down approach unless you want to adapt your business processes to the technology. Instead, map out your key strategic and tactical goals and then determine which technology will best foster the results you are after. The trick is defining your business objectives and ignoring the vendor clamor related to the software bells and whistles.
Do you want to reduce customer defections, increase margins, achieve higher gross sales, establish an alternate channels program, etc.. Try and define pain points and determine where your bottlenecks exist. One benefit to having outside help is that subjectivity and emotion can be removed so that a better analysis can take place. The deliverable should be in the form of a project plan that includes goals, strategy, objectives, tactics, assumptions, issues, approach, etc.. Treat the project plan as a living document that will be kept up to date with changes and iterations.
So divide and conquer folks. And remember that every project we do is fully guaranteed to meet your satisfaction or your services money back. Active Campaign starts at $17 per month and our services are by individual project. Give us a call for a free consultation.