Today I had the pleasure of interviewing one of the top marketing automation consultants, the fabulous Maneeza Aminy of Marvel Marketers. Her specialty is enterprise implementations and she kindly shared her experiences and thoughts on marketing automation. Enjoy!
How did you get started in marketing automation?
My career has always touched the periphery of marketing automation. I worked at Salesforce during the early days and I ran an internal multi-million dollar sales lead program at Advent Software. My economics background gave me a very serious respect for real data and insights.
It wasn’t until 2010, when I tried starting my own software company (the first time) that I accidently tripped and stumbled into marketing automation. I was heavily researching how my marketing should change given the huge focus on social media. So I started following companies that I felt produced good content. At the time, one of these companies happened to be Eloqua. When one of my former colleagues noticed my activity in the space he reached out and said, “What are you doing? If you want to be in this space, with the right company, come to Marketo.” Several conversations later and I ended up agreeing to work in the Professional Services department at Marketo. The rest as they say is recent history
Why did you decide to start your agency?
I would be lying to you if I said I decided to do anything. The idea is always in the back of a consultant’s mind, but after I left Marketo I really had absolutely nothing planned. I was really proud of the accomplishments I had made while I was there. I had the most amazing co-workers and clients.
When Marketo went public, t hat was exciting. With that, I was originally going to go hang out in Costa Rica for a couple of months. But frankly, the thirst for high quality services, and the shortage of senior knowledgeable consultants left me with a small waiting list of clients and a rejuvenated interest in trying to solve the very difficult problem of making clients incredibly successful with Marketing Automation. My strategy for growth was, and still is, to not get in its way. It’s been a year and a half and my agency of 15+ strong still has a small waiting list and is 100% referral based. That is a whole different kind of exciting. (I promise to get a website soon!).
Tell me about your approach to client engagements.
Today I have a very effective and very difficult to scale model of completely customized solutions for clients. Every client is different. Even if they are a brand new marketing automation user, the goals they know to have are different, and the goals they don’t’ know to have are different. This is also how I was successful when I was at Marketo: I spend a lot of time understanding the client and tailoring their adoption, success, and maturity plan. It is by far the best approach, but incredibly difficult to scale. I am working on a couple of things to figure out this pesky little problem.
Your work has been mostly with Enterprise clients, Google, and other Fortune 500 Marketo installations. Tell me how an Enterprise engagement differs from the typical SMB engagement?
I actually started my career in the SMB space, enabling and consulting with 150 clients before I moved to Enterprise. I learned VERY quickly the two engagements are very different.
SMB is agile, fewer contacts, quicker wins and often a lot easier to make successful because an SMB client typically buys an automation tool like Marketo for something specific. To make an SMB client successful in the first 6 months you have to hit specific goals like “Get all of our webinars automated” or “Launch Dynamic Content” or “Understand the number MQLs programs generate.” A more sophisticated SMB client will also be hugely successful if you end up documenting their revenue funnel, or consolidating all their data sources and building their routing rules. That is a productive 6 months for an SMB client. Then you get some breathing space to focus on marketing automation maturity and sophistication.
With Enterprise clients in marketing automation, success is far more challenging and requires senior people and project management skills. The number of stakeholders you have jumps and the number of contacts you have to coordinate increases. Documentation becomes an art form. Change management becomes a huge risk/win factor. You start needing to discuss things like Data Warehouses, Custom Integrations, and SFDC departments instead of the individual Admin who sits across the aisle. The people you work with may or may not have even been involved in the buying process. The most important word becomes “Socialize.”
One of the most interesting things I have seen over and over again is that Marketing Automation for Enterprise becomes a catalyst to finally address all the data folks can ignore when they do not have a system that manages it properly. For example, data hygiene, which is a bad phrase in Enterprise becomes a huge deal. Lead source management for attribution is another one. Think about it: if you have never been able to measure the impact of Marketing before, you have never set up your data or architecture to support that. Needing to work that out with an enterprise client is a painful, but necessary condition of ever making them successful.
Another difference between SMB implementations and Enterprise are resources. When an Enterprise invests in marketing automation, there is an understanding that more people and money may be required to run it. At the typical SMB, there might be 1-5 people in the marketing department. One or two people might be tasked with managing the MAP on top of their regular duties running programs. At Marvel, we partner with our SMB clients to alleviate that tactical management of the MAP and then help with an implementation roadmap.
When working with Enterprise clients, you could start in one division and expand or try to roll out a whole company’s Marketo. Where is the best place to start for the highest adoption and success?
First, always start with one division! I really can’t emphasize this enough. I have done many global deployments and you will see the same thing over and over again. You build a framework that you think will apply to everyone. The client will insist that it is our opportunity to “standardize the business.” You will hear “We have sign off to be prescriptive to other regions/business units” etc. But when in region, when in front of the business unit, the stakeholders put up such compelling arguments for why they can’t do things a certain way, that the standard model becomes a custom model.
You will be far more successful if you design a lowest common denominator model and go into other regions and business units anticipating and making room for customization. I actually learned this directly from one of my clients. They did such an excellent job of saying: “These are Central’s minimum requirements. Here is our Global model and this is where you may customize.” There were still tons of objections, but at least we went into the project with what we knew we could, and could not compromise on.
Another success factor with multi-divisional enterprises is to start with the headquarters team. With HQ’s sponsorship and model, you will be able to scale the project globally to other divisions. If you start at the divisional level without HQ’s approval, the expansion is likely to be rejected by key central stakeholders, or worse – it will be duplicated and you will be cut out for future work. The HQ team can also advise on common denominator issues so that the project meets minimum requirements for all divisions and is flexible enough to customize for each division.
For example, I had a client who wanted to keep HQ out of the loop, going so far as to use credit cards to pay for Marketo. When the time came to discuss with the central team, things did not go well. HQ rejected the work the division had done and bought another instance to develop their own central system. I don’t judge why folks do the things they do to be successful knowing their corporate culture, but it is important to be aware of these types of things as a success factor. At the Enterprise level, politics do matter just as much as results.
How do you structure a multi-division use of Marketo in terms of lead rules, duplicates, and Workspaces?
This is a huge question with a long answer, but I will do my best.
Workspaces and Partitions are a truly Enterprise solution. Do not implement them until there is a true use case for them or you will create more work for yourself. If you have tons and tons of sharing between marketing organizations, make sure you understand what you are signing up for.
Sharing: Whether the divisions are completely independent or not, there needs to be an inherent way to share in the instance. This could be sharing templates, programs, etc. We typically would create a Collaborate Workspace within the instance to allow for highlighting and sharing as each division’s highlighted best practices, or when the center of excellence produced a best practice. Unfortunately given the slightly cumbersome way programs move between workspaces and partitions, folks typically end up using that space as a reference and not as a true, clonable library.
Global Workflows: Keep all your global workflows in the global workspace. Some folks try to build one in each workspace. All you are doing is risking race conditions as leads travel through your assignment rules between workspaces. Don’t do that! Central workflows stay in the Default Workspace. An example of this if your whole org has one Scoring Model – which while prevalent, is rarely successful – I will leave that for another blog post.
Lead Rules: I wish I had a really good answer here. As a rule of thumb, central routing should stay in your Global environment. Even in a very simple SMB without Workspaces and Partitions, do not decentralize your routing rules. The governance, troubleshooting and optimization of that is a nightmare. Keep it as centralized as possible.
Duplicates: This Is by far the hardest question. I will be honest and say I have not yet found a “Best Practice” because really neither SFDC nor Marketo was built to handle duplicates.
Duplicates are a function of a client’s business use case, not design of the software. Foundationally Marketo is hard coded to de-dupe. So if you do need duplicates for all the standard enterprise reasons clients need duplicates (multiple sales people handling different product interests, the way your reporting counts hand raisers, the ability to route successfully) there are a few ways you can do it.
- Leverage partitions to create duplicates
- Use the SFDC hack and assign a contact to a queue (don’t do this one),
- Create in SFDC.
I hate all of these options, because a lot of folks, while solving their workflow problems with duplicates create other problems:
- They break the digital body language contained in the activity log between records
- When records get re-merged, Lead Score gets aggregated, while demo and behavioral do not, breaking the scoring model math.
- Good luck with reporting and attribution.
Hope: More recently I have seen a few new solutions that achieve the same wins as duplicates without actually creating them. I have seen at least three clients now create custom objects in SFDC to help with this “counting and routing” problem without causing the disturbance duplicates create.
Other than Workspaces and Lead Partitions, are there other Marketo features you find critical to an Enterprise implementation?
Governance, Governance, Governance. An enterprise implementation always moves the same way. You start small there is some buzz, you start to launch and the second other folks hear about the deployment swarming starts. More people want access to the tool, Everyone’s initiative is next in line to “Be automated” So the biggest challenge is if you don’t prepare to train people appropriately prior to getting access, or if you don’t draw the line very clearly, you will have unprepared folks in a very complex tool. This will cause errors, folks not adopting Marketo well, and losing complete oversight over exactly what is occurring in the system month over month.
Tools like Marketo’s Calendar should help with some of this, but once your instance of 10 million leads starts to have 50, 80, 100, 160+ users, managing that transaction, and orchestrating that level of activity is a huge challenge. So the more you prepare with structure in advance, the better off you will be preventing bad stuff from happening.
Here are some examples of bad stuff that have actually happened due to lack of governance:
- Someone deleting the whole database
- Emailing 4,000 C-level executives with Tokens that did not resolve
- Creating a campaign that deleted all new leads for the last 3 weeks the moment they were created
- Importing leads incorrectly leaving thousands of leads sitting in Marketo with sales having nothing to work on.
Here are some things you can do:
- Don’t be afraid to say no to new users – initially it will take time for you to figure out what level of knowledge someone will need. Tell them new users are in Phase II and restrict your instance until you have it under control.
- QA processes. You will need to closely review new initiatives for new users. Not scalable, but necessary.
- Manage up \ so that you can be resourced appropriately to support scale…otherwise, do not allow scale to creep into your scope.
- Set up a series of sanity alerts to make sure that when something goes wrong you are the first to know. The last thing you want is to spend your time in fire-drill mode all the time. It’s automation–of course something will go wrong, just make sure you know first.
- Prioritize Training – and hands on practice.
If I were a major company CMO, what advice would you give me before I signed on with a marketing automation platform?
I would sincerely tell you to chat with a reputable consultant. Not about how you should or shouldn’t hire them, but about what you should or could expect in your first 30, 60 and 90 days. Ask questions like, “How long will it be until I get to ’Revenue Performance Management.’” A good consultant will end up asking you a million questions and those questions will help you get far more context into your level of preparation to be successful with Marketo. Here is a good example. If you are in the middle of a Salesforce purchase and a website re-design don’t expect huge Marketing wins from Automation in the first quarter. Expect huge foundation/ architecture wins, but be realistic. Tell the consultant what your resource structure looks like and ask if they think that is enough.
I hope I am not the only person the world to say this out loud, but not everyone is going to become a power user of automation. It is better to address this and figure out how to support it then to move forward assuming everyone knows what it takes to make such a huge system and cultural change to your organization.
Getting to Revenue Performance Management takes time. The bigger your organization, the longer the journey will be. You can be successful along the entire path; just don’t undermine the journey itself.
What’s been your favorite engagement so far?
I have been super-lucky. I have had probably the best portfolio of projects and clients that I have even heard others talk about. I really don’t have one favorite! Some projects took me around the world, such as a Business Process Workshop in Paris. Other clients have the most amazing executive chefs cook for me every week. Still others have demonstrated a level of commitment to becoming the most amazing Marketing Automation+ Demand Generation shop in Silicon Valley. And these are the just a few examples. I have made many good friends through my engagements and really hope our good luck continues. My favorite thing is to see my consultants forging the same bonds with their clients that I forged with them, that is a true indicator that my consultants are awesome and that my clients are too.
What do you do for fun?
I do Taekwondo so it is always fun to work off some stress. But I love to read, hike, travel and just learn anything I can in any way I can. The older I get the more I value people and gain great joy out of simply connecting genuinely with people in what ever way I can. So I try to spend as much time with Friends and Family as possible. As I wrote these answers, it also reminded me how much I love to write! Thank you so much for the opportunity to contribute! J
[Very glad to have you here Maneeza! – Josh]
How can people reach you?
Since my business is all referrals, please contact me on LinkedIn or through a connection. You can also email me at Maneeza [at] marvelmarketers.com.