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Marketing Automation

Marketing is in the Middle: Lauren Carlson

The next person in the series, is Lauren Carlson.  I asked Lauren to participate since as the interviews started to unfold from a content perspective, no one was really talking about tools which provide marketers an edge.  Lauren writes about various topics related to CRM software, with particular interest in sales force automation, marketing automation, and customer service and this background clearly made her a great fit to help fill this gap which has emerged in the discussions around marketing being in the middle.

Like all marketers or people around tech – Lauren isn’t formally trained in technology or marketing.  She has a background in the music industry, and when she isn’t writing about software, you can find her running at  Town Lake and singing at local venues around Austin.  So maybe, just maybe I should have entitled the series Austin is in the Middle of Technology marketing with a couple of  other geographies added to the mix, just for fun.

Here is Lauren’s take:

What marketing roles have you had and in what markets?

I am relatively new to marketing but I continue to get exposure to many software marketers, companies and service providers as a journalist. The role I have at Software Advice provides great access to leaders in the community. As a practitioner, I am actively involved in doing search engine optimization.

When you look at your career in marketing, what activities have you found most interesting/challenging?

Targeting the right segments in the market.  Ultimately as marketers, we have to find our niche or audience.  So finding the right audience can often be difficult. Sometimes we have really great content, but if it doesn’t hit the right person, it is useless.

Based on your experience what activities do you think get the most return?

Doing the background research! Certainly it can take a good deal of effort and a bit of time, but it often brings back the most returns. I spend days researching keywords and search stats to better understand my audience. It can be tedious, but when we start to rank for those competitive terms, that’s really when you see the fruits of your labor.

What do you feel is the most important component of a successful marketing gig?

Content. Content. Content. Content drives everything. You can have the most talented people or the best business model, coolest tech, but if your content is bad, you’ve got nothing to keep your audience/buyers engaged.

If you could design the perfect corporate environment for a marketer to be successful what would that be?

It would be focused on collaboration and creativity. Sometimes I get my best ideas when talking with a co-worker or when I am simply away from my desk interacting with others. Don’t get me wrong –  some structure is great, but I think having the freedom to team up or step out of a structured environment can really free the mind to come up with some awesome stuff.

How far is this from reality?

I think that a lot of new start-ups are adopting this environment. Our company is working toward it and I have heard of others that are using this model. I think it is possible in organizations with a legacy in the traditional way of marketing. It is simply a matter of them accepting it and making the decision to adopt it.

So what’s next?

I have personally done a lot of research in the area of marketing automation – a piece of software that automates basic to complex marketing tasks. Companies are beginning to see the value of adding a marketing automation system to their enterprise software mix. However, the issue of adoption is what is holding it back. Software Advice just published a very interesting article from Jeff Pedowitz called, “Why the Marketing Automation Market is Floundering & 5 Fixes to Fuel It.” One of the stumbling blocks faced by the industry is education. We have this great new software, but we have not educated marketers on what it is or how to use it. I think we will see a new generation of marketers popping up in the next few years. These marketers will be true analytical thinkers more focused on process. We still need creative minds, as well. I think when you combine great technology and process with vibrant creativity and ideas, you have the perfect marketing mix.


Twitter: @MASoftwareGuide or @CRMadvice


Marketing is in the Middle: Chris Cummings

The fourth interview for Marketing is in the Middle is with Chris Cummings.  I’ve been reading his blog for quite a while – Product Management Meets Pop culture.  Not only does he have a cool blog, he’s got an interesting gig as the Director of Product Management of Games and stuff at Lycos’ Gamesville.      Chris provides clarity with every post by trying to look at the product marketing and management delima through a pop culture lens – movies, comics, and other pop culture ephemera.  Not only does it resonate with a gaming, tv watching and comic liking geek – it provides everyday examples which are easily digestible and fun.

I’m glad Chris was willing to share his take with y’all.  So here are his insights:

What marketing roles have you had and in what markets?

My first professional job was working in the marketing communications office of a college database company called CMG, which soon started spinning out different web-based startups. That was back in 1997. I’ve been in online ever since. The majority of my time has been in online games, and I’ve recently branched out into web publishing.

When you look at your career in marketing, what activities have you found most interesting/challenging?

The most interesting and challenging has been defining and explaining what it is, exactly, that I do. Over the years, more than one person (including multiple CEOs) have noted that: a) they’re not entirely sure how I do what I do but b) I always get the job done, and bring real value to the business.

On the one hand, that’s a big compliment. On the other, it made me a little nervous: I never wanted to be a magician or to live in a black box!

Based on your experience what activities do you think get the most return?

I’m really focused on digital, so I’d say making sure your website or app has customer-focused content and interactive features that speak to the needs of your customers or prospective customers is paramount. Part of that “interactivity” should be providing clear, and plentiful, ways for them to reach you. So many businesses still rely on the “Contact Us” or “About” page to drive leads, it’s mind-boggling. But then again, almost half of all small businesses don’t have a digital presence at all so there’s clearly plenty of room for improvement!

What do you feel is the most important component of a successful marketing gig?

Understanding the problems of the market you’re focusing on. If you don’t get that, then you basically just have a really cool tech demo and not a business. That applies to everything, even online games. What problems does solve? Part of it’s psychological, part of it’s pure advertising. Gamesville provides a place for people to come together, create community, and encourage each other playing games while also pulling together a valuable demographic that advertisers want to reach in an environment uniquely suited to getting their messages across.

How have you seen organizations change in the last 3-5 years to better support the needs of product marketers, product managers and communications teams?

I think we’re seeing more strategic integration on the metrics that drive our businesses, and that’s helping everyone including the roles you mention… providing they’re doing a good job. Not everything is measurable online, but many key things are. Focusing on those key metrics helps everyone understand our joint success and failure, and you’re individual role in it.

If you could design the perfect corporate environment for a marketer to be successful what would that be?

If I was going to design the perfect corporate environment, we’d have a product organization that reports directly into the CEO along with the other C-level functions. The Chief Product Officer would be responsible for leading the product while working with the other members of the senior team to make sure finance tracks key metrics (not just costs!), that our marketing is effective, sales is selling, and engineering is making the magic happen. Team work among the senior team is critical, including productive conflict, but everyone needs to respect and understand who’s driving which parts of the business — and which “key drivers” are really key.

How far is this from reality?

I think we’re getting closer and closer to this every day. Thanks to web analytics, there’s so much information available — and anyone with the right credentials can see it, at any point, including the CEO. Step one was getting everyone to see the same data. Step two is getting everyone to agree on which metrics actually matter!


I think the Chief Product Officer (CPO) will definitely be an emerging role in the market as Chris suggests.   I also think that Chief Marketing Officers and CPO’s will need a key technology role to support them in the goal of improved processes and metrics.  Organizations are going to not only need to invest in developing products to be successful, but also leverage tools and content to drive efficiencies and increase ROI of marketing programs/investments.

Twitter: chriscumming01
Blog: Product Management Meets Pop Culture (