I believe the professional services world is about people connecting with people. I often say there is only one business. There has only ever been one business. There will only ever be one business. The people business. As professional services people, we already know this.
That being said, people are connecting with each other and with ideas in new ways that are really changing the game. The way we market our company today is very different from how we went to market five years ago. I’m a lover of technology, but not a technophile. I don’t believe that technology will solve all of our problems or take us into a brave new world.
But technology can give us tremendous efficiencies and innovative ways to build relationships. I want to share three technology tools that I believe you need right now to take your marketing success to a whole new level.
If you do not have tools that seamlessly and easily interact with each other, it’s going to be difficult to feed the digital system.
It’s all about the acronyms
CMS. MA. CRM. These are the three tools that every professional services firm needs. If you already have all of these tools in place, don’t give up on my message just yet because I’m going to share how innovative organizations and marketers are connecting these tools to drive their companies forward.
CMS stands for content management system. MA is marketing automation. CRM is customer relationship management. Let’s explore why you need these tools, what you should expect from them and how to integrate them effectively into a powerful marketing enterprise.
Content management system
CMS platforms allow marketers to manage their website and content marketing programs in a streamlined and efficient manner. The old days of building individual HTML pages are nearly over. CMS platforms allow non-technical people to build entire websites, add new pages, edit existing pages and retire out of date content – all without ever writing a line of code.
If you do a search for content management system on Wikipedia, you’ll see hundreds of providers. In fact, there are probably far more CMS’s available than you might realize.
I believe that most marketing leaders aren’t taking the time to vet and select a CMS platform that fits their business needs. They’re truncating a very important decision process that could have ramifications for years to come.
In fact, I believe that most service firms carefully pore over the details of a marketing automation platform and even a CRM system. But when it comes to CMS’s, they make a decision without doing enough research. Please avoid this mistake.
How to vet a CMS
I had a conversation with a marketing director who was leading the charge on a website re-build. This intelligent executive had already settled on a CMS platform without doing any real due diligence on the variety of options available. As we discussed her project, I asked her why she chose that platform. She didn’t have a strong answer. She said others had recommended it to her. When I mentioned that known security issues in her CMS platform could put her brand at risk, she asked, “Well, what do you recommend?”
I told her that I couldn’t recommend any platform because I didn’t know a few very important details. For instance, I didn’t know how many people would need to access the CMS to build and manage the website. I didn’t understand their security requirements and what kind of data would be in the CMS. I didn’t yet know about their content development process and how they managed version control of documents they were sharing between team members.
She walked away from that conversation with a lot of food for thought and a willingness to put more time and effort into this decision process. I want you to do the same. So what should you be thinking about when it comes to a CMS? What criteria should you use?
Here are a few things to think about when investigating a CMS:
- How many people will be using the CMS? Who will manage the platform? One or two power users and other contributors without deep skills?
- How will you manage version control of web pages and other forms of content?
- Do you need a staging area or development server to pre-flight pages before they go live?
- What are your security requirements? Will you have sensitive information inside the system or data subject to compliance requirements?
- What kind of content will you be adding? Web pages? Videos? PDFs? Blog posts?
- How important is it to you to have a simple-to-use CMS?
- How long will it take your team to learn the CMS? How much training will be required?
- Will the CMS platform require a systems integrator to help you get the platform up and running? Will you need ongoing support from the integrator?
- How much budget will you allocate for the license?
These are all important considerations that will influence which CMS platform is right for you. Make a list of these and other questions and then categorize them into three buckets: must-have, like-to-have and nice-to-have. Then you can compare your requirements to platforms.
Marketing automation systems
I’ve written articles about marketing automation platforms and what services firms should be looking for from these tools. Here’s a quick re-cap:
- Digital footprint tracking. A true marketing automation platform will track the digital footprint of users across your entire marketing enterprise, not just your website. This should give you visibility into every email, every web page, every webinar, every video, every whitepaper and any other piece of content in your enterprise.
- Lead scoring. Marketing automation systems translate the digital footprint of users into intelligible data that allows you to see how specific people are interacting with your brand. If you cannot see the lead score of Jane or John Smith, you don’t really have marketing automation.
- Efficiencies. Marketing automation systems should streamline formerly manual processes and allow you to provision entire multi-part campaigns with the click of a button.
If you would like more information about how marketing automation platforms are radically improving marketing enterprises, please access this marketing automation success webinar or register for this marketing automation action guide.
Customer relationship management
This technology has been around a long time. There are many popular platforms, but Salesforce is the recognized leader. I’m not plugging them. But I am a power user in Salesforce and access the app almost every day.
CRM systems perform some amazing functions these days and can be the very heartbeat of a sales and marketing enterprise. The most important thing about the CRM is that it serves as a powerful and effective shared resource between the sales and marketing functions within a business. A CRM is the point of intersection between the two functions, where sales people care for clients and marketing people gain insights about what has been effective.
How they connect
I see these three platforms as an interconnected feeder system. Here’s what I mean. The CMS is the platform in which services firms feed content to their audience. The marketing automation platform translates the digital footprint of audience members into lead score data and feeds it to the CRM so sales people can take appropriate action. The CRM, in turn, feeds analytical data back to marketing teams so they can refine and improve the process from the very beginning — the content they put into the CMS.
So if you do not have tools that seamlessly and easily interact with each other, it’s going to be difficult to feed the system. Interoperability between your CMS, MA and CRM platforms can be the fuel source to grow your firm like never before.