Industrial automation is an accepted reality. Automating marketing communication production is a much different thing. Is automation even possible in the fast-moving, data-intensive world of multichannel marketing?

Automation has been a fact of life since before the Industrial Revolution and self-regulating steam engines, water mills, and looms. Having one machine that could do the work of many workers was the eighteenth-century industrialist’s dream and the manual laborer’s worst nightmare. Fast forward to today. Robots and high-speed assembly lines are the rule, not the exception.

But automating physical tasks is easy compared with the daunting task of automating data processes—especially when it comes to marketing. There are so many subjective variables, and so many different output channels. The goals are the same, however. Besides lowering costs, automation will accomplish a number of tasks.

Now, replace the word “output” with retail promotions, or any other marketing campaign deliverable, and you’ll see the potential—and the difficulty—of applying these principles in the real world of marketing.

  • Increases throughput (more output-per-hour)

  • Increases customization, within reason (more output variety)

  • Increases quality & accuracy (less flawed output)

  • Relieves workers of boring tasks (less output fatigue)

  • Increases worker innovation potential (more time for Output 2.0!)

Mapping the Problem

In simpler times, marketing communication was a linear process. Agencies and brands would cook up the message, test it with a focus group (or not), and start the assembly line of designing, writing, and illustrating the finished product—for broadcast or print production. Budget size mattered, but most of the time everyone knew what to expect.

Today, it’s a lot more complex, with a lot more variables and room for error. We still need well-designed, visually persuasive results, but the “ingredients” of a campaign (the product data) and the sheer number of output channels have made the process difficult, if not impossible to manage.

We still need well-designed, visually persuasive results, but the “ingredients” of a campaign (the product data) and the sheer number of output channels have made the process difficult, if not impossible to manage.

For one thing, data about a product is never just in one, convenient place. It’s spread out over different product information management (PIM), digital asset management (DAM), inventory, pricing, and marketing management and other databases. Many of these are proprietary, or acquired during a merger, or just outdated. Now, multiply that by the number of products and product variants being sold—but be sure you’ve taken your blood pressure meds before you do.

Next, if a business has more than one location, chances are high that each store or region will have exceptions on price, inventory, or sales priority that will affect every marketing campaign. Each location deserves some level of autonomy—which will help them succeed—but the price of customization can’t be too high.

Finally, there seems to be a new communications channel invented every day. Retail and B2B marketers must cope with multiple platforms, devices, and media interactions—and still deliver a coherent, compelling message. It takes time—usually more than we have.

Real Marketing Production Automation

If you’re still with me, take heart. The challenges of marketing data automation can be addressed with the right approach, starting with Comosoft’s LAGO application. Its approach to marketing data automation, or LAGOmation for short, is based on years of experience and a stubborn determination not to fit neatly in any one software category.

You get the basic idea. LAGO lets marketing managers plan complex campaigns from complex data, wrangle that data from multiple sources, and automate product placements, exceptions, and channel output. This frees their designers from the drudgery (and cost) of creating umpteen different outputs and versions for umpteen output channels—focusing instead on creativity and innovation.

The benefits of LAGOmation have already been realized by major retailers and other businesses around the world, including several of the largest home improvement retailers and grocers in North America. Time and again, these companies have seen significant cost benefits from modernizing their marketing communications “assembly lines,” while also expanding their marketing reach through regional versioning and mobile channel content—all without adding staff resources.

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Twenty-First Century Realities

Retail consumers’ expectations are expanding faster than any retailer can meet with traditional, largely manual techniques. Information must be immediate and personally relevant—on any medium and on demand. Retailers have a vast supply of data to go with their myriad product offerings, but all that data simply will not fit through the traditional “pipes” of marketing communication production. Only true automation will suffice.

LAGOmation, our unique approach to modernizing the marketing workflow, is a way to streamline that vital business process. We would be honored to begin that discussion—and find new ways to connect your data with your many customers.