Content Automation: The Strategic Value of a Turnkey Implementation

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By Emilie Totten

A killer performance depends on the setup

In a recent blog post by our CEO, he draws an interesting comparison between the setup of up a rock concert and the setup of an investment content marketing automation solution. The point he makes in the post is that the behind-the-scenes logistics of an operation are often not fully realized or appreciated, even though they’re vital to the outcome.

Think back to a concert you attended where you arrived a bit early. The roadies are getting all the equipment set up perfectly so that the band can just get up on stage, grab their instruments, and put on a great show. The roadies may not get the attention from all the screaming, raging fans but they deserve some serious recognition for the role they play.

So, how does this relate to automating your marketing collateral?

The “magic” of a content automation solution lies in the setup and implementation. If the setup is done right, the automation system runs smoothly and provides tremendous value to the business. If the setup and implementation is not done thoroughly and professionally, the organization will never fully realize their goals for accuracy and efficiency.  Picture Bill, the roadie, handing Slash an out of tune guitar, or Neal Peart being sent on stage without spare drum sticks!  Picture the act going on late because someone forgot where the plug that matches the synthesizer is!

Putting aside the rock-n-roll analogies, there are many critical aspects to setting up automation for content like fact sheets, pitchbooks, or commentaries that deserve professional attention:  

  • Creating accurate and shared document templates
  • Creating shareable content (design and copy) components like charts, graphs and disclosures
  • Integrating data accurately and reliably (Check out our free guide)
  • Applying business rules (data display rules)
  • Meeting commercial-quality publishing specs
  • Integrating other technologies in your workflow (robo-writing, CRM, compliance systems, etc)
  • QA & Testing
  • Planning for ongoing support and maintenance

These aspects of an implementation require the right mix of experience and skills to implement accurately, on time, and within budget.

Let’s examine two different approaches – DIY and Turnkey:

DIY vs. Turnkey Implementation

In our roadie example above, the roadies are the turnkey solution experts that setup and test the equipment, while the musicians are the experts that go out and engage their audience. Each group has a distinct function, based on their skills and experience. Because the setup is done by a professional, it is done efficiently and effectively, allowing the musicians to pull off a great performance.

When we’re talking about a content marketing automation solution, there is considerable value and ROI when outsourcing the setup to a professional. Investment management companies who decide to go the route of a do-it-yourself (DIY) solution often find that it takes much longer and requires more resources than anticipated, especially when the automation setup involves many data sources, audiences, products, and compliance scenarios. 

Here’s why a turnkey implementation is the more strategic approach for many firms:

Turnkey implementations can be completed more quickly (3 months vs. 1-2 years)

Roadies specialize in the setup and testing of the band equipment, so the setup goes smoothly and quickly. Likewise, turnkey implementations are completed by a professional team that specializes in their field. A typical turnkey implementation often takes just 14 weeks, while DIY implementations are taking somewhere between 1-2 years (based on our recent interviews with asset managers).

Why do DIY solutions take so much longer?  Despite what a DIY vendor may tell you, your team will have to learn to master new technology and learn to apply it to their production workflow. This almost always involves a challenging and complicated set of data-and-rules-driven publishing requirements.  When your team has to learn new skills and take-on new projects for the first time, there’s simply no way they can be fast and efficient. The implementation takes much longer in this scenario. And, when an implementation takes a year or more to complete, you lose strategic advantage. In this highly competitive marketplace, firms who get their marketing and sales automation solutions off the ground quickly have a leg-up on the competition.

Turnkey implementations can cost much less (TCO)

We’ve been conducting real research to find out how long DIY implementations of data-publishing projects are taking and what the cost implications are. Several asset managers we spoke to are more than a year into implementing a DIY solution and still struggling to get their fact sheets automated. While they’re getting the automation up and running, they are paying for their status quo approach in addition to paying licensing fees for the DIY solution. The longer it takes to get the automation implemented, the longer they are paying for two production systems. This might include design agency fees and temps in addition to your firm’s internal resources.  According to a Total Economic Impact study conducted by Forrester in 2016, one DIY  provider’s annual license costs were reported at $1.02 million annually, plus the implementation required an average of “six internal FTEs from specialists, marketers, project manager, developers, and sales teams to fully integrate and launch the solution in its environment.” These costs capture the internal labor spend on the transition as well as the rollout of the DIY platform. Once the implementation was over, firms who participated in the study also reported needing one dedicated FTE annually for ongoing administration, training, maintenance, and support of the DIY system. 

All of these factors together drive-up TCO considerably. It’s worth doing a thorough analysis, paying special attention to the setup and ongoing maintenance required for the systems you’re evaluating.

Turnkey implementations can get you to ROI faster

Because of the shorter duration and lower total cost of ownership, turnkey solutions generally yield a much quicker ROI — usually in year 2. In our whitepaper, How to Illustrate ROI on Content Automation, we walk you through how to calculate your direct as well as indirect (hidden) costs to arrive at your total enterprise costs for your current process. In most cases, firms greatly underestimate the true cost of their status quo, which makes it difficult to prove ROI. In addition, a thorough analysis should be done to evaluate the TCO of each automation solution, with special attention given to the true cost of implementation. If you’d like us to help you put together an ROI calculator for your evaluation, just shoot me an email at

In sum…

A turnkey implementation approach has three distinct benefits over the DIY approach: The project is almost always completed more quickly, costs less to implement, and ultimately yields a higher ROI. Firms who have limited marketing and IT resources should look at the turnkey model closely. The more quickly you can implement your solution, the more quickly you can be on your way to hitting your production goals and enabling your salesforce.

Think of the Turnkey solution as the solution with the professional roadies — we’ll set you up perfectly so that all you have to do is turn the equipment on and put on your best performance. 

Good luck, and rock on.

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Emilie Totten is Head of Marketing at Synthesis. She is an integrated sales and marketing expert specializing in helping SMBs grow. She graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2004 with a degree in Advertising. She lives in Chicago with her husband, two awesome kids, and two crazy cats. She fanatically roots for the Chicago Bears, despite their terrible record. Go Bears!

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