Why marketing automation won't work without good storytelling

Marketing automation (MA) may have huge potential, says Claire Mason, CEO of Man Bites Dog, but it won’t deliver what you need without a strong narrative thread

In recent years, MA has gone from art-house flick, loved by a few, to blockbuster sensation. And its rise to the big screen isn’t surprising; the benefits – increased efficiency, tailored communication strategies and enhanced sales conversations – are clear. But are marketers at risk of losing the plot in a bid to break box office sales?

Consider the effect CGI has had on the film industry. It has delivered impact, action and scale to some hugely successful films, but all too often narrative has taken a backseat. Filmmakers have become complacent and special effects have swallowed up budgets, timelines and even real characters. So, the crucial question for marketers is: how do you avoid creating a rotten tomato when harnessing the power of MA?

It’s important to remember that MA isn’t a quick fix. These tools enable companies to quickly scale, segment and streamline their client and new business activities, but the medium is not a replacement for the message – you must have a compelling story to tell.

B2B brands still need to develop marketing, sales and communication strategies that centre on interesting content to engage their target audiences and ultimately sell their products and services. Buyers can tell the difference between quality content and commercial breaks – forget interruption marketing, your content must be the main event that leaves audiences wanting more.

Establishing a narrative is critical. There’s absolutely no value to be gained from purchasing an MA platform without the content to fuel it, and the most effective way to create an ongoing ‘drumbeat’
of activity is to start with one big idea, a narrative thread, that’s aligned with issues that concern your audience.

However, this isn’t about asking audiences what they want; it’s about surprising them with a story they haven’t heard before and generating demand by unmasking a new villain you can help defeat.

MA has thrown some companies into disequilibrium; enhanced capabilities can result in more questions than creative solutions. So marketers must find a new equilibrium, where technologies enhance content and create a seamless customer experience, not the marketing equivalent of a Jar Jar Binks.

The MA Sophistication Index 2016-17

Marketing automation (MA) has been adopted by the majority of B2B marketing departments – but using it to its full potential remains a significant challenge for many. This benchmarking report explores current trends in MA and provides a clear pathway for progression, allowing you to turn your MA investment into clear, tangible results.

Download your copy

The MA Sophistication Index 2016-17