Don Breckenridge, Co-founder of Hatchbuck

PromotionWorld had the opportunity to interview Don Breckenridge, who is a lifelong entrepreneur and co-founder of Hatchbuck, an easy-to-use sales and marketing software designed to help small and midsized businesses grow.  He talks about best  practices for Marketing Automation and the top ways entrepreneurs can leverage the technology to generate leads and create brand awareness.

Marketing automation has been around for a little while and its adoption is constantly increasing. Some are even calling 2014 the Year of marketing automation. How can you explain this?

At the enterprise level, the adoption gap is quickly closing. Large corporations who were early adopters of marketing automation gained an edge over their competition quickly, spurring others in the enterprise space to follow suit. At Hatchbuck, we are focused on bringing a technology to market that was previously unavailable to small businesses. Now that the technology is more mature, companies like Hatchbuck have created a platform that is easy to use, dynamic, and cost effective.

Sirius Decisions estimates that marketing automation adoption will rise among B2B companies to 50% by 2015. Small business marketers’ needs for streamlined processes and customer insights are fueling the growth of marketing automation solutions like Hatchbuck, and we are quickly evolving to meet their needs. It's only a matter of time before marketing automation becomes as prolific as small business email marketing and CRM tools are today.


There are so many email marketing automation services out there. How does Hatchbuck differentiate from the competitors in the field?

Small businesses are unique because they have a limited resources and limited budget. The complex tools and processes that work at the enterprise level don’t work for small business. Hatchbuck is unique because we focus only on the core functionalities small businesses need, and make that functionality simple and intuitive to use.

Hatchbuck combines marketing automation, CRM, and email marketing. While we don’t have the most features in any one category, the merging of the three technologies allows us to have only the important feature sets that matter to a small business.

Unlike other competitors in the field, we don’t charge to train people in the technology and our customer support is free. We built our application to be user-friendly so that our customers don't need a long ramp-up time, and don’t need to hire a special consultant to get the most out of our technology. 

Hatchbuck’s commitment to furthering the adoption of marketing automation technology as a whole also sets us apart. We even created a hub that provides educational resources for small businesses regardless of whether or not they are customers.  Beyond building technology, we are dedicated to mentoring small businesses as they navigate marketing strategies and best practices.

Does marketing automation represent a paradigm shift in how companies engage with prospects and customers?

Yes. Traditionally, messaging to consumers was broad, top-down communication. Today consumers expect to be catered to on a more personal level. The modern consumer drives the conversation, and marketing automation is a response to that. With marketing automation, sales and marketing have more information at their fingertips. With better data, they know what their prospects’ needs are, and how far they are in their buying journey. They can build better relationships, and identify quickly who is raising their hand to buy, and who may need to be nurtured a bit more. The result is that personalized experience consumers are looking for.

Which are some of the best practices for marketing automation?

- Have a process in place. Marketing automation often fails because businesses don’t have a solid sales and marketing process to begin with. As a best practice, develop your strategy for attracting prospects, engaging them, converting them into customers, and retaining them ongoing. Use marketing automation to automate and streamline the process around your strategy, measure results and make adjustments to optimize your strategy as you grow.

- Integrate your marketing tools. Standalone data can’t tell the whole story. Marketing automation should seamlessly deliver leads to the sales team. At the same time, marketers should be able to easily pull sales data to see which channels and campaigns deliver the greatest conversion rates.  Using an all-in-one marketing system or integrating marketing automation with CRM completes the picture.  

-Train your team. It can be difficult for team members to change old processes and habits, especially if they don’t understand how new technology can help them to achieve greater success. Make marketing automation training an ongoing effort that spans beyond implementation and new hires. Integrate marketing automation into sales and marketing meetings and let your team bring new tips and tricks to the table.   

- Use campaigns to nurture. With marketing automation in place, it’s tempting to want to call any prospect who clicks a link or visits your website. However, that’s not the most effective use of time and resources. Let email campaigns educate your prospects by delivering bite-size chunks of information along the way. With nurturing campaigns, marketing automation can do its job to increase brand awareness, boost engagement and deliver informed, sales-ready prospects to your sales team.


What are the biggest challenges companies face trying to implement marketing automation?

-Understanding marketing automation. For companies new to marketing automation, there can be a bit of mystery around what marketing automation does and does not do. Because “automation” is in the name, it suggests that marketing automation runs on its own. The fact is, marketing automation lives, breaths, and needs to be fed. Marketing automation is driven by marketing strategy and content.

-Choosing the right system. Marketing automation is still relatively new, and businesses that are in the implementation phase are likely on their first marketing automation install. Their overall marketing strategy and process is still being developed to complement the technology. It's easy for businesses to get caught up in feature and pricing wars. As a best practice, determine your primary goals, evaluate your resources and then decide which tools your team can use most effectively to execute your strategy.

-Content generation. Developing content can feel like a daunting task for busy marketers and owners. It is important to develop a strategy for building continual content that keeps prospects engaged. For times when you can’t find new topics or campaigns, we find that reimagining existing content and sharing excellent third-party resources can be simple and engaging.

How does marketing automation produce higher conversions more efficiently?

Marketing automation enables small business owners and marketers to send highly-targeted messages to their prospects. In fact, Hatchbuck customers have seen up to and even more than a 25% increase in engagement when sending targeted emails. In addition, marketing automation helps to identify the prospects that are most likely to buy, and nurture those who are still in research mode. The result is that the sales team is only having conversations with hot prospects, and the next group of prospects is always getting warmed up to be next at bat. Finally, because lead sources and conversion rates are tracked, it’s easy to see which channels are converting the best. It all adds up to getting to “yes” faster.

Hatchbuck has recently launched the Hatchbuck Hub, a resource center for small businesses, to learn more about cultivating sales and marketing strategies that work. What advice do you have for companies looking to implement marketing automation?

The Hatchbuck Hub was launched because we are passionate about mentoring and educating small businesses as they take on marketing challenges in today’s digital landscape. Our goal with the Hub is to offer a comprehensive library of resources that are informative and accessible to small business. We advise companies looking into marketing automation to visit the Hatchbuck Hub and learn the latest marketing best practices, then evaluate their current process and bridge the gap between traditional tactics and modern marketing strategy.

What are the top ways entrepreneurs can leverage the technology to generate more leads and create brand awareness?

Eliminate cold calling – The beauty of marketing automation is that it allows you to nurture prospects until they indicate that they are ready to make a purchasing decision. At Hatchbuck, we our own technology to warm up leads.  We never make outbound sales calls.  Instead of cold calling a list of unknown leads, our sales team is calling on the hottest prospects, which has a big impact on increasing conversion rates. 

Optimize – Marketing automation tracks leads through the entire sales and marketing process.  Entrepreneurs can leverage reporting to measure results, make incremental adjustments to improve their process and strategy, and gain exponential growth.

In your experience what are the most common mistakes made by entrepreneurs?

Unless they are in a marketing vertical, most entrepreneurs didn’t get into business to become marketers. They are passionate about their product or solution set – not about marketing. Their propensity is to be very product focused, and let marketing fall to the wayside. Marketing is a big part of success, but it doesn’t have to be a huge burden on entrepreneurs. That’s why we’re here, why we’ve developed a product to help busy entrepreneurs tell their story in an easy, effective way.