In part 1, “What Every CMO Should Add to the Marketing Plan“, we talked about what the marketing automation plan (MAP) was. But why is it important to the CEO that the CMO have one?
CEOs are constantly reading, and many CEOs will expect you to be doing the things they’ve just read about. But the last thing you want is for your department to have its direction set by the latest idea your CEO has run across.
With a MAP you can show your CEO precisely what you ARE doing now, and what you’ve thought of but put off for later. This lets him/her know that you’re familiar with all the possibilities, but are focusing now on the most important areas.
Any good CMO knows that success comes from focus. If you try to do too much too quickly you will fail! You know your team can probably only absorb 1-3 new technologies in any given year, while continuing to successfully execute campaigns.
If you haven’t identified what you ARE doing, your CEO will wonder why you’re not doing everything!
What You Leave Out of a MAP is as Important as What You Include.
Every MAP should have a “Visionary” section. These are the technologies and software tools that you are “leaving out” of your short term plan.
This is the area where you can put every sort of idea that you think might be someday appropriate for your department, but that you can’t do in the next year.
This is great for showing to your CEO when he comes up with one of the ideas, and even to the people that report to you when they propose something.
In fact, I like it because it helps to remind me of what we’re not doing, so that I stay focused over the year on what’s important.
Implement Abilities, Not Software Products
It’s easy to get caught up in names of software products and define your MAP as implementing them. But it’s just as important to think about what parts of the software you’re going to implement.
For example with a software product like Eloqua or Marketo, you might consider implementing:
- website tracking
- data washing machine
- a crm integration
- a prospect welcome nurturing program
- an industry nurturing program
- a customer onboarding nurturing program
- lead scoring
- sales enablement tools
- closed loop reporting
- pipeline process definition
It’s unlikely that you would implement ALL of those in one year, and you certainly wouldn’t implement all of them at exactly the same time.
This is why planning and prioritizing around what software functions you’re going to implement, and not just what software is important.
Shouldn’t a Marketing Automation Plan be Flexible?
Of course it should. Things change too fast in today’s world to stick hard and fast to a MAP, often even for a single year.
But if you do change the plan, it should be conscious and intentional. If you’re going to add something new, you should probably postpone something or secure additional budget.
And most importantly you should update the plan and announce the change so that everybody is pursuing the same goals!
Here is an example MAP Diagram. It shows clearly what is going to be implemented over the next year, and what is probably in the more distant future.
In a single visual, you let people know what software you’re absorbing over the next year, and just as importantly, what you’re not.
Do You Need Help With your MAP?
Planning marketing software implementations is a special skill all its own and with dozens of product categories and thousands of products just in marketing.
“Marketing automation planning” is even more of a subspecialty.
If understanding the realities of how the three key areas, people, processes and technology all realistically come together in a marketing department is not your core competency, then yes, getting help with your MAP is probably a good idea.
And of course, when you’re in the swamp fighting alligators, it’s always a little harder to see how to drain it. Sometimes an outside eye is just what’s needed!
In our next post we’ll talk about an important area of the MAP, the “marketing automation support plan”. After all, what good is bringing in the right kind of software if you don’t have a support plan to make it serve your needs?