Uncommon Marketing

Bringing sarcasm, humor, and common sense to this mess of marketing and business.

Part VI: Demand Generation Readiness

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Section 5: Tools of the Trade

In the previous entry, Part V, I covered the following Section 4 topics:

  1. Budget
  2. Goals – What Does Success Look Like?
  3. Define KPI’s – Key Performance Indicators

Now that you have a budget, your goals, and identified your key performance indicators, these pieces of information can guide you to the right platform for your business and objectives.  Therefore, in Section 5, I will cover some of the tools of the trade that will make your life easier in the long run.

Section 5: Tools of the Trade

  1. Customer Relationship Management Tool (CRM)
  2. Email Service Provider (ESP)
  3. Marketing Automation, if You Must (not necessary in early stages, IMHO)

Putting the Tools into Place

To run a successful lead generation program, aligning your sales and marketing folks to the goals and giving them decent tools to use will ensure success. You’ll need, at a minimum, a salesforce automation tool (also known as Customer Relationship Management, or CRM) to manage leads, opportunities, and deals; a website content management tool, and, also at a minimum, an email service provider (ESP). The ESP doesn’t have to be marketing automation from the get-go, and some easy-to-use ESPs offer basic marketing automation capability. You will also need Google Analytics to track website performance (it’s free), and if you’re planning to use any tracking pixels from third parties or marketing automation, you’ll need Google Tag Manager (also free).

14. Customer Relationship Management Tool

First and foremost, you need a sales automation tool. Salesforce.com is the gold standard, but can get expensive if your business model is such that you’ll need an administrator who knows how to crack into the back end and manipulate to support your business model. Rooted in best practices, it’s recommended that you never change your business model to fit a tool – the tool should fit your business. There are simpler, less expensive alternatives to Salesforce.com, of course, and a thorough investigation into how well they support your business model is highly recommended. This takes time and effort, for sure, but I never recommend buying a tool just because it’s needed urgently.

Some of the less expensive alternatives are Zoho (which also offers marketing automation and email capability); HubSpot (trying to be a one-stop shop), which started as a website hosting and CMS, but has since integrated marketing automation, email, and a CRM. There may be initial sticker shock with Hubspot, but look at the costs of each tool you need individually and compare to the cost of a comprehensive package with something like a HubSpot. There is also a new-ish player in the market, called SharpSpring, and it’s made specifically for Small Business B2B. It offers a CRM component and a marketing automation tool in one, and is significantly less than a HubSpot. For a great buyer’s guide to CRM systems, check out TrustRadius’ free Buyers Guide to CRM Software.

15. Email Service Provider

There are a couple inexpensive, go-to email tools that are favorites of small businesses just starting out with email marketing and demand generation. The one seen the most is MailChimp, and it has basic capability for tracking visitors are your site to trigger event-based messages. It’s also very easy to use, and integrates with almost every other tool you’ll need to use. A few others prevalent among small businesses are ConstantContact, VerticalResponse, AWeber, and CampaignMonitor. This article covers the top 7 small business marketing email providers.

16. Marketing Automation Tools, if You Must (Optional)

If you decide to go the route with a marketing automation tool, you probably don’t need an email service provider. It really depends upon your business model and the communication strategy for customers vs. prospects. Some businesses choose only to handle inbound inquiries and prospecting using marketing automation, and leverage a separate ESP to handle customer messaging. The decision you make should first and foremost serve your business objectives, but most marketing automation platforms (MAPs) offer email sends as a feature within the tool.

Insofar as marketing automation goes, the market is a vast ocean of choices that can be overwhelming. Some tools are massive beasts that are expensive, and you’ll never use the tool’s full scope of capability unless you plan to go big or go home. You can also start small and add modules as you grow and are needed, because it is difficult to rip one out and replace with another. The goal is to choose one that starts small and affordable, but can scale with you to your liking. Some of the market leaders are Marketo and Eloqua, which in my opinion are overkill for small business. SharpSpring, which I mentioned earlier, is pretty robust for what it costs, and is even more competitive than HubSpot pricing. GetResponse is another, and there are several that have a $0 or <$100 per month entry point, such as Leadsius and Azuqua. VentureBeat offers this list of free or super-cheap marketing automation tools, which is useful. If you want a more comprehensive buyer’s guide for marketing automation, check out this free one from our friends at TrustRadius.


So, there you have it. If you have a minimum viable product, a great SEO-optimized website with compelling content, resources to create content and creative assets, you’ve set your goals, you have a sales resource or two, and you have your tools in place – you’re ready to drive leads and execute a demand generation strategy, save for a few best practices processes, procedures, and service level agreements between sales and marketing. Once you have all these things in place, and your demand generation is running like a well-oiled machine, your sales team will soon be screaming for more leads while your marketers will scream “Close the ones you have.” It’ll be like music to your ears!

Thanks for reading! If you need assistance with any part of your demand generation practice, or feel a Demand Readiness Assessment would be useful, please Contact Me or Schedule some time to chat!

Author: Leslie A. Kuykendall

Versatile results-driven marketer with 20 years' experience in integrated digital marketing and B2B demand generation. Visit http://www.austindigitalmarketer.com to learn more.

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