How to plan for marketing automation with a “TOPS” approach? Team, Objectives, Personas, Scenarios
Planning a successful automation strategy shouldn’t be done in a vacuum. It should be methodically planned out and executed only after your plan is created. But how do you start a plan? We came up with an easy acronym to help you. Whether your automation strategy is for sales automation, marketing automation, event automation, or all of the above, all strategies should cover a basic approach (at a minimum). We call this approach the TOPS strategy. If done right, you’ll find yourself at the top.
TOPS stands for Team, Objectives, Personas, and Scenarios. It’s an easy way to remember how to assemble a great automation strategy. Let’s cover each of these points in more detail, starting with Team. Having a great team is important and probably goes without saying. The real point is that you shouldn’t go at it alone. Use other members of your organization to put together your version of a dream team. Your team could include should include at least two of the following: data scientist, marketing person, salesperson, and content creator. Gather your team and let them know you’re trying to plan a successful automation strategy.
Next, identify your objectives. Ask yourself what you’re trying to accomplish. With your team in the room, whiteboard a mind map that identifies your end goals. Are you trying to convert people (collect their information), drive demonstrations of your product, increase awareness, educate, etc. You might want to start with a bunch of different objectives, but keep it simple. I’ve always learned there’s only one way to eat an elephant – and that’s one bite at a time. Pick your one objective, run with it, then rinse and repeat using your automation strategy.
The “P” in TOPS stands for persona. A persona is the type of person you are targeting. This could be an ideal buyer, partner, etc. Come up with criteria for who you’re trying to target/sell to with your strategy. For example, with our business, we commonly target marketing leadership. So the role is marketing, with titles containing “Chief” or “VP”. List out all your criteria with your team. Once you’ve identified the persona, put yourself in their shoes. Empathize a bit. If you were them, what messaging and/or communication would interest you? It’s important not to think like a vendor, but think like a prospect.
Finally, run through different scenarios. Come up with messaging around each scenario. For example, if you were to execute your automation strategy what would trigger it and what would you say to your targeted persona? Let’s begin with a simple one. When someone submits a contact us form, what information do you want to collect on them? Who do you want the lead to go to using what criteria? What do you want to respond to the lead with? How do you want to nurture the lead (what will you say to them and for how long?). It’s not uncommon to have 10s of different scenarios you’ll go through. Start with one (remember that elephant), and then tackle the next one.
In summary, remember your TOPS strategy when implementing automation to help scale your sales and marketing. Having a team, objective, persona, and scenario are the four basic steps to go through for any successful automation strategy. Alright, let’s get going. We look forward to seeing you on TOP(S)!