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  • Writer's pictureDominic Cincotta

Marketing Automation Is Great... Until It Isn't.

When to shut down marketing and when to put your foot on the gas pedal.

Let me say upfront that marketing automation has changed the way marketers function. However, as with all tools of any trade, it must be used with nuance. These tools allow us to plan marketing tactics weeks, days, and even months ahead of time. Set it and forget it, right? Not so much. While we are being efficient and cost effective in our use of time with these tools, they are just inanimate tools. It's the human touch in the tool use that makes it work and valuable.


Setting and forgetting these tools can result in some horrible consequences. It portrays one of two things. Imagine a social uprising and you're brand is promoting how great and harmonious the world is. What if a cultural icon passes away unexpectedly and you are promoting the happiest days of your brands history on that day. When these cultural and social shifts happen, any brand focused on themselves or their product solely comes off in one of two ways.

  1. My brand doesn't care about social, environmental, or cultural changes.

  2. My brand is too ignorant to recognize social, environmental, or cultural events.

Tone deaf. That's what both of these outcomes have in common. Over the past decade we've seen the unexpected happen and that is what every marketer today should expect. It drives me nuts when there socially significant events going on and I'm following along on social media as we all do. Next thing I see is paid post for free shipping, or an organic tease about a new product. In the ether of the internet, these types of posts are disruptive and not in the good way. You're brand could be superseding important information from official source during a crisis. At a minimum, you are disrupting the conversation. At worst, you are putting people at risk by disrupting important instruction communication.

On the flip side, how do you respond to social, economic, or cultural opportunities? Your home town team wins the big game your brand is tied to sports. The stock market takes off and you are in the financial sector. A new medicine is discovered and you operate in the pharma space. These are all great opportunities to double down on your marketing automation tools. But, do you know how? How do you balance your automation with organic opportunity? How do you avoid over saturation of messaging? If you set it and forget it, where are you missing and how is that impacting you customer? There are at least four consequences.

  1. Multiple messages in a media channel at the same time.

  2. A brand that becomes irrelevant and out of touch.

  3. Opportunities for competitors to steal your brand loyalists

  4. Conflicting messaging between automation and opportunistic marketing

So what should you do? My advice to ensure that you understand the mechanisms of you marketing automation tools. Where are the emergency stops? What are tools I can use to shift? How do I double down? These are all part of being a dynamic and agile marketing force. It's easy to get caught up in efficiency planning, sleek systems, ROI calculations, automation, but if you don't know how to use the levers in those tools to capitalize on opportunity in order to steer the ship clear of cultural ice bergs, your efficiency and cost savings won't matter in the long term. At best, you fade out of relevance in your key demographic. At worst, you open your brand appearing to be culturally insensitive sparking an active backlash by consumers.

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