(Editor’s note: Doug Erb is the founder of Lanshore and an in-the-trenches marketing automation consultant. He’s seen the way marketing automation can pay off when it’s combined with a little imagination and a well though-out process. Like most sales or marketing technology it doesn’t replace humans in the selling process – it just allows them to do what humans do best better. Here’s Doug to explain a bit more.)

Driving result with marketing automationI recently read all about how the cold call is dead and how unsolicited calling is futile.

Although I believe there has never been a truer statement, we need to dissect this concept in its purest form. Yes, calling blindly into a company in which you have established zero connection with can and most likely will lead nowhere, yet…one must still make a call.

The new process of calling companies should now be viewed as a marriage between marketing, sales and social. What you did before simply won’t cut it anymore.

You should plan out events that will interest and benefit your customers, and understand where they are going to be, what they will want to engage in, and how they react to specific topics. In the B2B world, events can be conferences or webcasts; in B2C it could be the Superbowl or open enrollment.

The point here is that there will always be something in the future for your dialing professionals to talk to someone about. You just need to be creative about your approach and separate yourself from the other hundreds of cold calls your prospects receive. The marketing and sales group will need to sit down and establish a set of events to market towards. Let’s take the example of the conference for our purposes.

If you have a conference you will be attending, and have several customers you will want to connect with at said conference, there needs to be an event and social-based outreach, combined with an email campaign. The first thing to do is understand how you will drive business and how much business is desired out of the event, particularly if this is an event you might be sponsoring. This will allow you to track metrics you need to know, such as contacts, to ensure that you can hit those numbers. Once you have set your goal expectations, you now need to come up with a theme. This theme will be used in your social, email and calling campaigns.

This is specifically where marketing automation comes in.

Utilize social campaigns around the theme and the event, along with email campaigns that use landing pages to determine if people are hearing your message. If you couple that with website hit tracking to see if you are truly getting the message out, you can determine what is of interest to those people.

Once you have done your social and email campaign, it is time to put the call campaign into full effect. You will want to start with people who have shown interest in your message, those that have either clicked or commented in some way. These are the warm calls that we all desire, the segment of people that showed a level of interest; you’ve tracked what they are interested in, and now you can tailor the message of your call in that direction.

The beauty of using marketing automation in your event-based campaigns is that it is continual and tends to get better as the campaign gets older. If it is an event, more people will show interest as the date approaches. When the event occurs, the meetings you have established can be transitioned to sales. However, the campaign is not over. During and after the event, depending on the success of the message and the length of the event, there will be a continued social campaign.

This form of social campaigning will allow the theme to remain alive and receive a greater ROI for the investment in that campaign. By the end of the campaign, these prospects should have been contacted in some form or fashion eight times. While many of the people who have been contacted will still not buy something, you have now created additional brand awareness. You will have also educated them about your product or service and eventually, at some time, they will look to you to purchase.