New Technology Can Present New Challenges
Peter Hoffman is a veteran of the manufacturing industry who knows firsthand how hard it is for his peers to adopt new methods and technologies to market their businesses. His father founded, R.M. Hoffman Company and Motion Solutions (which acquired R.M. Hoffman), which have both been operating for more than 60 years.
“That’s pre-internet, pre-email, which is true of a lot of companies and industries,” Hoffman said. He is the vice president of marketing at Motion Solutions. “So there are set ways of doing things. Those ways of doing things have worked well. But times change.
“Our industry has always used a sales team, sales force. And we still use sales because our sales team allows us to understand our customer and get in. We’re a B2B company. So, they’re critical. But the way that salesmen work today is different. The information available is different. The way our customers want to be served is different. We can do it the same old way, but companies who aren’t embracing today’s technology are missing a huge strategic advantage.”
Be Thoughtful and Patient with Your CRM/Marketing Automation Integration
For Peter and Motion Solutions, that advantage was adopting a marketing automation platform and integrating it with their CRM and marketing activities. However, Peter cautions that it can take time to achieve success with new technology.
“Act-On has been a great partner for our company,” he said. “It’s provided us the access to capabilities that we just couldn’t have otherwise.
I guess one piece of advice that I would give is it takes time and that it’s important to think about marketing. I think of it sort of in a very much layered fashion, that you have to sort of do one thing at a time. In our case, I think it’s probably a two-year program to really build a platform. And you can’t do everything at once.
And so it’s really important to understand priorities, understand how the integration of the various parts of the platform, and how it fits into the business practices, and the overarching vision of the company, and to lay out a plan where over time the components are built out.
We redid our website. It was 100 percent a new website. It took us about six months, but I couldn’t build this [Act-On] platform on top of our existing website. So in our case, we had to go in and actually rebuild the website.
So, I would just say it’s important to be thoughtful. It’s important to have a strategic approach to understanding the segmentation of customers. And build a marketing platform over time that has all the various components. And do it in a thoughtful way so everything works with everything else. I mean you don’t want to get to the end of a project and say, ‘Oh gosh, this piece of software doesn’t work with that piece of software, what a waste of money and time.’ So it’s really important to be very thoughtful and strategic early on and not be too tactical initially.
Once the platform is built, then we’re now in a position that we can do great — we can begin to do content marketing, we can begin to drive again — we can begin to do social media, we can begin to do community marketing, we can do all the kind of things now because we spent the time to build the marketing platform and the infrastructure. But again it wasn’t something that happened overnight.