Advice on looking beyond system features to find a product that will meet your needs today and tomorrow

Marketing automation systems are a great way to improve marketing capabilities and productivity. Your success with this technology depends heavily on your ability to choose a solution that will adequately fulfill your firm’s needs. With the wide variety of marketing automation systems available, this can be a daunting task.

It’s an easy mistake to select the system that is simply the most popular in the market or has the flashiest features. Just because the product is popular does not mean it will work well for you, and fancy features might look attractive, but unless they are useful to you extra features add unnecessary cost and complexity. Any system that you consider must at least be capable of tracking website traffic, sending mass e-mails, and reporting data; anything less is not worth considering, and an abundance of extra features should be carefully evaluated for necessity.

Your best bet is to look beyond popularity and determine what your firm needs most from the system. Define how you plan to use the system, what advantages you hope to gain, and what financial value you would like these advantages to bring. Once you set clear, prioritized goals of what your firm is hoping to achieve through implementing a marketing automation system, you will be able to narrow down the specific details and features the right system will need to provide, thereby greatly narrowing your search.

The next step after finding a system that seems to fit your firm’s particular needs is to carry out a test. Design a specific scenario based on how you plan to use the system and have the vendor demonstrate its execution. This will allow you to see the features that you will need to use in action without getting distracted by the features that you will not use, and will overall give you a better understanding of how the system will work for your firm.

Another important factor to take into consideration is the system’s references. At the very least, exploring a vendor’s references will give you an idea of the kinds of companies that have found success in using the system. You might also be able to glean some insight into the implementation process. Furthermore, you should take into account the usability of the system and what user support is available.

Once you determine through these factors which marketing automation system is a good fit, you will be able to maximize the value of your system and will be well on your way towards improving your firm’s marketing strategies.

Developing ebooks and infographics can help your business be recognized as a thought leader in your industry. By creating a larger compilation or visual representation of the knowledge you want to share with your target market, you can create appealing material for downloads and viral sharing.

  • Infographics: Taking advantage of readers’ love of visuals, infographics can help provide traffic and links to your site if they address an interesting subject. When done well, they can also pump up the aesthetic of your site and provide a visual representation of your knowledge.
  • Ebooks: An ebook allows you to position yourself as an expert in your field. Ebooks can be guides, comprehensive resources, and can be tailored to suit the needs of the audience.

What are the benefits to you?

  • Establish your expertise and thought leadership
  • Highlight your own business standards and set them as necessary. A persuasive ebook or infographic can convince readers that your standards are the standard, leading them to expect your level of service at other companies. If they don’t find it there, they’ll be back for you.
  • Clarify your own thinking as you try to put into words or images what you believe. This will make it easier to share that doctrine with your staff and clients.
  • Give your clients everything they need to know. Having more content readily available to potential clients helps them know you better. The more they know, the easier it is for them to trust you.
  • Get viral. Infographics and ebooks are easily shared via links and email, making it possible for them to go spread among the right audience if you hit a nerve.

If you have an ebook written and ready to go, take some final steps: add chapter titles, page numbers, and proofread. Then check out tools like, which can publish your ebook for free. Place the book on your website, link to it in online forums, include it in your email signature, and be sure to send it to all your friends and colleagues. Requiring visitors to fill out forms before downloading them is a great way to capture leads – just make sure the content is of a high enough quality to justify the registration!

steve-jobs-appeAs started a post on Content Marketing, but learned that Steve Jobs has passed away – very sad news. So, I will postpone my post and take a moment to thank Steve Jobs for all he has done for all of us.

You built an incredible company, great brands, and great experiences. I hope your company carries on your vision and leadership.