Undo the Catch-22: Why manufacturers need marketing automation

Getting budget approved for marketing automation is tough because executives normally don't want to invest more in a department they perceive to be a cost center. But as tradeshows and mass advertising lose their effectiveness, marketers must put dollars into technology that will drive more results. The trick is to fund the project out of the existing marketing budget—bypassing a lengthy approval process—to demonstrate results that justify continued investment.


Most manufacturers know about automating processes such as product life-cycle management and design, and understand the importance of technology support for human resources, supply chain, and accounting. Yet most have not yet applied the same rigor and measurability to their marketing departments, and as a result are not prepared for the dramatic changes affecting how companies meet and develop relationships with prospective customers.

Marketing transformation
The Internet has forever changed the way we interact with and market to customers. Web sites, email, and Google are just a few examples. You won’t find any of these tactics referenced in classic marketing textbooks from just a handful of years ago, yet they can’t be ignored since they’re changing the way buyers find and research solutions. It used to be that the only way a prospect could learn about the specifications for and details of your products was to speak with a sales representative.

Today, however, buyers use your Web site—as well as third party sites and social networks—to learn more about your solution, your pricing, and your competitive strengths and weaknesses before speaking with a sales rep. This means there is a chasm of weeks, months, or even years between the time someone begins considering a purchase and when it makes sense for sales to get involved in the account. At the best companies, the role of marketing is changing as they step up to fill this gap by nurturing leads that are “not yet ready for prime time.”

Another fundamental change is the growing call for marketing accountability. Marketing is a significant expense for many companies, but unlike sales and support, traditional marketing expenses are loosely structured and hard to tie to revenue—which is why many executives think of marketing as a cost center, not an investment. And that makes marketing budgets hard to justify.

Enter marketing automation

These two transformations—the changing role of marketing in lead generation, and the growing need to demonstrate marketing accountability—are incredibly difficult without technology support. These modern techniques are much more data and process intensive, and without the right tools to automate the planning, execution, and measurement, even the hardest-working marketer can be overwhelmed by the complexity.

Fortunately, there are now marketing automation solutions designed for the complex sales cycles of the manufacturing industry. These use technology to automate marketing processes, provide best practices, and improve the measurement and analysis of results. A report out of Stamford, Conn.-based Gartner Group , A Return to Growth Fuels Marketing Technology Spending , claims companies that invest in marketing automation will have a clear competitive advantage over those that do not, grow revenue faster, and cut costs significantly.

However, marketers have traditionally had a difficult time getting budget approved for marketing automation. There is rarely extra budget, and it is notoriously difficult to get executives to invest more in a department they perceive to be a cost center. This creates a Catch-22: to be seen as a revenue generator, marketing needs to invest in technology, but marketing needs to be perceived as a revenue generator to get the budget to invest in technology.

The answer is to allocate some of the existing marketing budget. The tradeoff is simple to understand—even though it can be difficult to act on. As traditional techniques such as tradeshows and mass advertising become less effective, marketers should invest some of those dollars in technology that will help them drive more revenue and demonstrate results. Funding the project out of the existing marketing budget eliminates the need for a lengthy approval process or justification. This allows marketing to break out of the Catch-22 and quickly demonstrate the results that will justify continued investment.

About the author:

Jon Miller is company VP for Marketo , a provider of sophisticated yet easy-to-use marketing automation software that automates lead management processes, including lead nurturing and lead scoring. His blog, Modern B2B Marketing , explores best practices in demand generation, lead management, and B2B online marketing.

Top Plant
The Top Plant program honors outstanding manufacturing facilities in North America.
Product of the Year
The Product of the Year program recognizes products newly released in the manufacturing industries.
System Integrator of the Year
Each year, a panel of Control Engineering and Plant Engineering editors and industry expert judges select the System Integrator of the Year Award winners in three categories.
October 2018
Tools vs. sensors, functional safety, compressor rental, an operational network of maintenance and safety
September 2018
2018 Engineering Leaders under 40, Women in Engineering, Six ways to reduce waste in manufacturing, and Four robot implementation challenges.
GAMS preview, 2018 Mid-Year Report, EAM and Safety
October 2018
2018 Product of the Year; Subsurface data methodologies; Digital twins; Well lifecycle data
August 2018
SCADA standardization, capital expenditures, data-driven drilling and execution
June 2018
Machine learning, produced water benefits, programming cavity pumps
Spring 2018
Burners for heat-treating furnaces, CHP, dryers, gas humidification, and more
October 2018
Complex upgrades for system integrators; Process control safety and compliance
September 2018
Effective process analytics; Four reasons why LTE networks are not IIoT ready

Annual Salary Survey

After two years of economic concerns, manufacturing leaders once again have homed in on the single biggest issue facing their operations:

It's the workers—or more specifically, the lack of workers.

The 2017 Plant Engineering Salary Survey looks at not just what plant managers make, but what they think. As they look across their plants today, plant managers say they don’t have the operational depth to take on the new technologies and new challenges of global manufacturing.

Read more: 2017 Salary Survey

The Maintenance and Reliability Coach's blog
Maintenance and reliability tips and best practices from the maintenance and reliability coaches at Allied Reliability Group.
One Voice for Manufacturing
The One Voice for Manufacturing blog reports on federal public policy issues impacting the manufacturing sector. One Voice is a joint effort by the National Tooling and Machining...
The Maintenance and Reliability Professionals Blog
The Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals an organization devoted...
Machine Safety
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
Research Analyst Blog
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.
Marshall on Maintenance
Maintenance is not optional in manufacturing. It’s a profit center, driving productivity and uptime while reducing overall repair costs.
Lachance on CMMS
The Lachance on CMMS blog is about current maintenance topics. Blogger Paul Lachance is president and chief technology officer for Smartware Group.
Material Handling
This digital report explains how everything from conveyors and robots to automatic picking systems and digital orders have evolved to keep pace with the speed of change in the supply chain.
Electrical Safety Update
This digital report explains how plant engineers need to take greater care when it comes to electrical safety incidents on the plant floor.
IIoT: Machines, Equipment, & Asset Management
Articles in this digital report highlight technologies that enable Industrial Internet of Things, IIoT-related products and strategies.
Randy Steele
Maintenance Manager; California Oils Corp.
Matthew J. Woo, PE, RCDD, LEED AP BD+C
Associate, Electrical Engineering; Wood Harbinger
Randy Oliver
Control Systems Engineer; Robert Bosch Corp.
Data Centers: Impacts of Climate and Cooling Technology
This course focuses on climate analysis, appropriateness of cooling system selection, and combining cooling systems.
Safety First: Arc Flash 101
This course will help identify and reveal electrical hazards and identify the solutions to implementing and maintaining a safe work environment.
Critical Power: Hospital Electrical Systems
This course explains how maintaining power and communication systems through emergency power-generation systems is critical.
Design of Safe and Reliable Hydraulic Systems for Subsea Applications
This eGuide explains how the operation of hydraulic systems for subsea applications requires the user to consider additional aspects because of the unique conditions that apply to the setting
click me