A Marketing Automation project represents a break with the status quo for most organizations. For some organizations, it may represent a dramatic, stressful, and potentially disruptive change. In fact, the Marketing Automation Journey represents a new learning curve for people in your organization (and it may be a steep curve for some of your marketers).

The stress of change most of the time is accompanied by a sharp decline in performance at the individual and team level. We refer to this phenomenon of declining performance as the “Valley of Despair”, which is characterized by a steep fall in productivity, followed by a slow rise to previously established performance levels.


The “Valley of Despair” is a natural organizational response to transformational change. And by the way, you can’t completely avoid the Valley – it’s inevitable! However, if you take the time to get a few things firmly in place before you start the project, you can minimize the depth and length of time that the organization spends in the “Valley.” This is a critical component for the project’s success.

Here is the good news: It turns out that the stress points are very predictable and they can be proactively addressed to minimize their impacts. TopRight has identified the most common stress points associated with Marketing Automation projects and developed a diagnostic to help you reveal and remediate risks. Our goal here is to point out what creates the anxiety and then give you some ways to help different people on your team deal with it proactively so you can have better results.

It ends up that one’s personal stake in and perspective on marketing transformation actually determines one’s level of anxiety and specific stress points on the journey. For example:

  • The Executive Team makes final decisions, commits strategic resources, and budget
  • Business Unit Leaders provide day-to-day guidance and leadership for the project team
  • Managers prepare to manage new marketing processes and prepare their teams
  • Functional leaders provide much-needed support from IT, HR, and Finance
  • Marketers train and prepare to use new marketing processes and technologies
  • A Project Team designs the new processes, configures the Marketing Automation platform, integrates with data sources, and carries out the implementation effort


To help you understand and identify the stress points on your own team, here are several examples across an example project timeline including quotes from different stakeholders:

19 Stress Points of Marketing Automation from Dave Sutton

By understanding and identifying the stakeholder stress points up front, your eyes are now fully open and you’re looking forward. It’s true that you can’t completely avoid the stress points, but you can be proactive and create a plan to minimize their impact. In addition, it’s crucial to take the next step and assure that the conditions of success are in place to maximize your ROI. If one or more of the Conditions for Success are not in place, your Marketing Automation project may be at risk.

The TopRight Diagnostic surfaces the stress points, reveals symptoms and helps you taking actions to minimize the depth and length of time that your organization spends in the “Valley.” Some of the how-to’s and prescriptive treatments include:

  • Developing a case for action that links Marketing Automation to explicit value
  • Securing and sustaining executive alignment
  • Generating accountability in action
  • Rooting out passive commitment and taking a stand for success
  • Managing the undercurrents of Marketing Automation implementation

Click here to download the diagnostic and evaluate your current situation, so you can take appropriate action to have all the conditions in place for a successful Marketing Automation implementation.