Overabove Blog

Introducing a new series that pits John Visgilio, Overabove Principal and Co-Founder (our “Man”), against Deven Spear, Overabove Chief Innovation Officer and founder of software company Brightdoor (our “Machine”) in the battle for hearts and minds across the new marketing landscape. Today we’ll cover how Marketing Automation, coupled with more traditional, analog methods, nurtures and converts leads – and what it means for some of Overabove’s most important client verticals.

John: Hey Deven.

Deven: Hey John. How you doing?

John: Great. Just got back from Italy – Florence, to be exact. I’ll use the English pronunciation even though it kills me.

Deven: It’s OK. I watched “The Divine Michelangelo.” You can say Firenze.

John: Che bello. Funny you mention Michelangelo. I visited the Galleria dell’Accademia, where The David stands proud. I’ve been a dozen times, but Michelangelo’s masterpiece never fails to amaze me. The perfection and precision of the sculpture; the fact that Michelangelo worked on this 14-foot statue for two years in secrecy. The look on David’s face is said to transmit self-confidence and concentration, both values of the “thinking man” in the Renaissance.

Deven: And now we have artificial intelligence – the perfection of the digital age.

John: Yes, and it’s going to put us all out of business, right? Going to make humanity obsolete. Any other good news on the marketing technology front?

Deven: You know I am 100% about technology making life easier, and marketing efforts more successful, for our clients. 27+ years in the software business will do that to a person. But what I’m most excited about right now is implementing Marketing Automation tools for select clients. It’s a game changer for Real Estate in particular, as well as education, which I’ll get to.

John: How so?

Deven: Well, for instance, the Real Estate market now – it’s no surprise – it’s hot. It’s super hot. A lot of our clients who came out of 2008 having lost everything, who’ve spent the last 10 years feeling pretty gun-shy, are seeing serious movement. The problem right now is not necessarily getting leads into the sales funnel; we’re working with a client that’s got 100’s of leads in the funnel but their team of three can’t effectively manage. The real challenge is managing an overabundance of leads, managing that sales funnel effectively and efficiently.

John: And this is where technology comes in?

Deven: Yes. Today, if a lead is in the funnel, they’re interested. This person has done the product research – it’s not an initial request for information. And Marketing Automation can discover how far out they are from buying and help qualify those leads, then nurture with more educational content. It can also tell us which buyers are looking more closely at a competitor – and give us the insight to create content so powerful that we can actually disrupt a competitor’s buyer.

John: So the pump’s already been primed, is what you’re saying. And Marketing Automation not only enables lead-nurturing and communications that are relevant to prospects’ decision-making timeline and the type of community they seek…it can actually dissuade them from buying somewhere else.

Deven: Right. And so the question becomes, if the leads are this far down the funnel already, can we just let Marketing Automation take it from there? Is the classic sales funnel dead? Is the call center dead?

John: Whoa, whoa! No! Did you notice I just used the word “nurture?” That’s a pretty human concept, to care for something, and that’s not going away. Marketing Automation helps us identify where the prospective buyer is in the funnel and what the prospective buyer wants. It’s up to humans – in the call center, on the sales team, whomever is involved in selling your product – to ultimately convert that prospect. We need humans to close the deal on this product that, by the way, is not a commodity, it’s an emotional investment driven by a myriad of behaviors, needs and circumstances.

Deven: Which advanced Marketing Automation software will have already targeted and predicted.

John: Right, Marketing Automation educates and validates the lead, but at the end of the day, that prospect is going to convert after a human being has shown them floor plans, talked about “place,” described the experience, done a property tour. It means the traditional brochure or sales kit isn’t going anywhere; the Story Center isn’t going anywhere. People aren’t going anywhere.

Deven: Real estate is, of course, a physical product that calls for physical interaction. And you know, as you talk, you’re reminding me of something I once read in the Journal of Neuroscience…

John: Your leisure reading.

Deven: Yes. It was about how people with smaller fingers have more “tactile acuity,” or finer sense of touch, than people with larger fingers, because sensory receptors are more closely spaced. So generally, because women have smaller fingers than men, they have a better sense of touch – and since they’re usually our key decision makers when it comes to high-end real estate, it probably makes sense to have something tangible to present in terms of the marketing story, alongside the automated, data piece.

John: Speaking of neuroscience, you mentioned education. How does Marketing Automation work for secondary and post-secondary schools?

Deven: Well, it’s a matter of understanding your subsegments within that overall audience. Whether you’re a boarding school, a town academy or a four-year university or a community college – you’ve still got a funnel, just more of them, where conversion means different things. Parents, prospective students, legacy families and people who are new to the idea of a boarding school education altogether. Prospective students aren’t going to care about your capital fund, but they will care about your study abroad programs. Marketing Automation ensures each audience is seeing the right content that nurtures them and helps qualify them as a prospect.

John: There was a recent article I read that discussed what today’s generation of students – they’re called “iGen” – expect from the higher ed environment. A professor was quoted as saying this generation favors visual, face-to-face communication over texting; that they “want authenticity and transparency. They like the idea of human beings being behind things.” Maybe there’s an argument to be made that print communications – the sales brochures, the postcards – are a truly novel way of targeting a digital-native audience?

Deven: Well, that same article mentions that this generation presumes all communications are customized for them, having grown up amid “tailored analytics.” Digital and social channels are table stakes for this audience, but, yeah, there’s room for traditional, for sure. Marketing Automation integrates traditional the same way it does digital. And, there’s none of that waste from yesterday.

John: School is a physical place, it’s not a commodity, it’s a huge investment and lifestyle decision. Philosophically aligned in some pretty unique ways to the Real Estate category, wouldn’t you say?

Deven: Yes, and like with Real Estate, Marketing Automation puts more information about the audience in the hands of our education clients. That’s what we’re advocating for – using the technology to gain a better understanding of the audience, leading to better results. Better yield. We make recommendations based on what the data is telling us. Let’s go back to the David for a second: this amazing sculpture based on a biblical story of a lone man battling a powerful monster with the simplest of weapons. Except in this case we aren’t so much beating the “technology” monster, as we are harnessing it – leveraging tech in new ways to expand and explore.

John: This sounds more exciting than apocalyptical. It’s interesting to be concepting these marketing approaches that are both highly tactile and highly technological with our clients. I like the idea of not losing our humanness in all of this – especially as marketers.

Deven: John, you’re a true “thinking man.”

John: No AI required.

John Visgilio

Principal and Co-Founder