No one wants to be a reactive person, closing the proverbial gate after the proverbial horse has bolted. Instead, we want to be ahead of the curve, performing actions informed by instinct and keenly-honed knowledge, predicting problems and implementing solutions before they can even affect us.
Unfortunately, this is so often not the case. Businesses grow, problems come thick and fast, and those solutions are suddenly not so forthcoming. The workload grows too much and we fall behind, frantically throwing buckets under leaky ceilings in an effort to stay afloat. The dream of proactivity has died an untimely death.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. Marketing automation holds the key we need to return to those days of being proactive. To make our businesses, and ourselves, proactive rather than reactive, we need automation.
It’s an old analogy but it’s a useful one nonetheless; running a business is like spinning plates. We rush around, back and forwards, keeping each plate in the air. When we get one moving, another starts to slip, so we dart around frantically, reacting each time one of our precious plates starts to wobble.
The truth is, from a purely mechanical point of view, reacting really isn’t that hard. We just need to wait for a stimulus, which, in this case, is the falling plate. Anyone can react, it is just a case of getting to the right place at the right time.
It is far more difficult – or, at least, it requires far more knowledge and skill – to predict a future occurrence and to act accordingly. When we look at it like this, it becomes obvious; being reactive and running a business in this way is a waste of our time.
So, instead of finding yourself in this situation like the poor guy stuck spinning plates in a tired analogy, why not leave the ‘reactive’ tasks to an automated system? Let’s take lead generation as an example and see how this concept can be applied.
No success ever came from a wholly reactive lead generation and nurturing campaign. However, there are elements which can be handled reactively, elements like lead scoring. After acquiring a lead – through either inbound or outbound methods – we can use automated systems to track their behavior, fulfilling a menial, reactive task with the minimum of fuss.
This is a huge labor-saver, leaving us free to simply collect the data from the automated system – which keeps chugging away collecting information on the leads we generate – and apply its insight as we predict which moves the lead might make next.
In this instance, the automated system has become a reactive structure; a platform from which we can launch the more creative, proactive business endeavors which will push the things forward.
With this automated framework now in place, we can turn our attention towards tomorrow. As proactive marketers, this is where we must exist and operate; in the future. We must understand the moves our customers, leads and competitors make before they make them – before they have even considered making them. We must get ahead and we must stay ahead.
We’ve looked at one example of how we can gain an advantage via marketing automation, but how can we retain that advantage? How can we keep ahead of the curve as we move forward?
Analytics is the answer; data and analytics. With our automated systems overseeing reactive tasks for us, collecting data for us to apply within business, our scope for analyzing increases. Use this new data, understand the market and move your business forward.
The whole idea of being proactive is that guesswork is eliminated. Of course, we will always be governed by the forces of entropy and chance to an extent, but we should work to minimize this. Instead, we need to recognize that being proactive in business is about knowledge, about narrowing and honing our estimates and predictions to make them as reliable and accurate as possible.
Segmentation is vital
As we learn more and more about our customers and leads, we become more capable. We suddenly find that there is a substantial amount of data at our fingertips, and that we can use this to nurture leads and support customers ever more effectively.
The end-objective should be complete personalization; a consumer-centric landscape in which each and every individual who interacts with a company has a unique, bespoke experience. This is, of course, impossible, but that’s not to say that we can’t move ever closer to this dream. We can do so through segmentation.
Segmentation uses the data harvested and stored within marketing automation systems to create groups of leads. The prospects are grouped according to behavior, objective, geographical location, income level, or by any metric we want. With these segments created, we can target them with specifically designed, tailor-made offers and advertising campaigns.
This is how we can achieve proactivity on a mass scale. The data is there already, and marketing automation platforms are in place to process and make sense of this data. We are now using it to predict the actions of groups of leads and prospects, tailoring our approach to each one.
So, how far can fostering a proactive culture within business take us? That really depends on the data available to us. As we have discussed, being proactive is not about guessing right and being lucky; it is about shoring up your business for the future, and about gaining the knowledge required to make the right moves.
This knowledge can only come from data; only truly data-driven organizations can ever hope to incubate proactive processes on a company-wide level. This is why we need powerful digital infrastructure in place to manage this data. This includes analytic software, monitoring programs and applications, cross-platform support, and reporting functionality which gives us access to the insight the data holds.
Wherever the future takes our businesses, we need to be sure to meet tomorrow on the bounce, behaving proactively not reactively, and staying one step ahead of the pack at all times.
How have you fostered a proactive culture with your business? Share your thoughts in the comments below.