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The Thoreau Guide to Marketing Automation

I once built a house, a vacation cottage in the woods of Ontario. Like Henry David Thoreau my wife and I “wished to live deliberately.” So our cabin is remote, perched on the edge of a lake. It has no running water or electricity, and – like Thoreau – we built it ourselves.

I often think of the process of building my cottage when advising others on implementing marketing automation. Both processes require preparation, setting goals and commitment to make something solid.

How specifically is building a house and implementing marketing automation alike? Read on. There are some remarkable similarities.

Think, Draw, Plan
A project never starts unless someone envisions the end. And you need big reasons for doing it.

We didn’t just want proximity to nature. We wanted to be woven into it. We wanted a place to share with family and friends. And I wanted to do something unique, outside my conventional way of life.

Marketing automation is new, big and different. Implementing an enduring framework means you should picture what it would do for your business. Understand all the pieces required. Plan how it will work and then get to it. 

Educate Yourself
When approaching a new project, even if you’re hiring someone, you need to get smart about it.

Before I picked up a rock drill or pounded in a stake, I read the building code. Before that I devoured numerous books on home building, and I joined online discussion groups of like-minded people.

There are many resources out there on the best ways to automate marketing. Before you choose a vendor, check out how deep their education offerings are. Is it just a few guides and videos, or are there courses, experts you can speak to, and a community for marketers like you down in the trenches? Education is the foundation of success.

Don’t Go cheap
It’ll be tempting but don’t scrimp. So many decisions people make at the beginning result in expensive retrofits because they sacrificed their vision for price.

The same is true of marketing automation. Know what you want to accomplish, for yourself and your organization. Make sure any investment doesn’t skimp on accomplishing those goals.

Lay Down a Solid Foundation
A house won’t stand long if the piers are crooked or poorly situated. Too many would-be homebuilders learn this the hard way.

Similarly, if you want a marketing automation investment to reap rewards for years to come, you need to ensure the team is prepared for it, and that your database is in good health.

Check and Measure, Again and Again
It’s a tedious process, but measuring and measuring again makes all the difference. When building a house a quarter of an inch down low means two inches one floor up.

In a marketing automation project, you’ll want to have a series of milestones, and check-in regularly to ensure you’re on track to meet them. Talk regularly with your team, and communicate results. This should be regular practice throughout your journey.

Finish the Job
It’s tempting to toss in the towel when you’re looking at a foundation and frame. But I didn’t quit. I kept on building until the last nail was driven in.

At work it’s the same. Remember your vision, what you set out to accomplish, and don’t give up until your results match the goals.

When I was done, I had a cabin in the woods – just like Thoreau. And like a marketing automation investment, it sometimes needs tweaks and maintenance. But my early planning, education and network of experts means I’m always prepared. You’ll want modern marketing expertise on your side, too.

If you’ve implemented marketing automation, what resources do you use most? What could you never live without?

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