If you’re an entrepreneur spending night and day building your small business baby, chances are you don’t have the time to deal with a clunky marketing platform that eats away at your precious hours. But when it comes down to the facts, you’re likely spending up to 20 hours on marketing alone – a significant percentage of your empire building time.
Serial entrepreneur John Gravely recognized that very problem after speaking with business owners who didn’t quite fit the mold of his marketing automation solution for Microsoft Dynamics CRM, ClickDimensions. So he did what any visionary would do and created Automational, a time-saving SaaS solution that caters specifically to small business owners.
Gravely discusses how founding ClickDimensions opened up a new entrepreneurial pursuit with Automational and what it’s like running two startup organizations simultaneously.
What is your background and how did you get the idea for both ClickDimensions and later Automational?
I have a true passion for creating solutions that can help businesses better connect with their customers and prospects. I co-founded ClickDimensions, a marketing automation and email marketing solution for Microsoft Dynamics CRM, in 2010 after selling my previous company, c360 Solutions, which also focused on enhancing Dynamics CRM.
In my career, I had seen a lot of disconnect between sales and marketing departments, and the inspiration for ClickDimensions was to bring these two teams together for greater business success. Built natively within Microsoft CRM, ClickDimensions makes it easy and intuitive for users of this system to start using powerful marketing tools that can help them attract and nurture leads and customers.
As ClickDimensions grew and succeeded, we noticed that there were many all-in-one sales and marketing systems for large and mid-sized businesses, but small businesses didn’t have the same options. As a small business ourselves, we wanted to be the company to create that tool. And so Automational was born.
Can you describe some of the features of Automational and how it directly caters to the marketing problems small businesses owners encounter?
If you run or manage a small business, it is common to find yourself lost in the maze of software products that promise to help you automate sales and marketing and/or keep track of prospect and customer relationships. However, each of these point solutions serve a different purpose, and small businesses can easily end up trying to stitch together several of them to get the results they need. Eventually, this leaves the user with limitations as to how they can access their important prospect and customer data, plus limits their ability to make it actionable through automation. What started out as an effort to efficiently generate more revenue for their business ends up being more time-consuming and expensive.
So we’ve built a better solution – Automational. We’ve combined features previously available across a variety of systems including Marketing Automation, Customer Relationship Management (CRM), Email Marketing, Web Form Lead Capture, Web Visitor Tracking and more. We recognize that freeing up small businesses from the challenge of acquiring, integrating, and maintaining multiple sales and marketing information systems enables them to better focus on their core mission of satisfying customers. Automational provides all the sales and marketing features small businesses need in an easy to use, integrated solution.
How do ClickDimensions and Automational impact the Martech community in Atlanta (and beyond)?
ClickDimensions and Automational are both made for companies that want to take their sales and marketing efforts to the next level for increased revenue, which has an impact on our customers worldwide. The two solutions make an impact in the Martech space specifically and stand out by being tailored for more niche audiences – Automational for small business and ClickDimensions for users of Microsoft CRM. This not only follows the move to personalization in sales and marketing, it helps strengthen the Martech community here in Atlanta and beyond by showing that marketing technology can meet needs for all customers.
As the Founder/CEO, how do you juggle leading and building two startups?
We hire the best people. When I started ClickDimensions, I knew that we would only succeed if we had the smartest, most talented and hardest working team, so that has been my goal with both companies from day one. We have an amazing group of employees working on ClickDimensions and Automational, and they make all of the hard work that goes into launching, building and running two startups significantly easier for me.
How has the tech ecosystem in Georgia helped foster both these companies? Are there areas in the ecosystem you hope to see improve?
There is so much tech innovation happening here in Atlanta and Georgia, which means there’s a great community of entrepreneurs and businesses that support one another while also inspiring and driving one another to be the very best. Having Georgia Tech so close by is a great benefit too; it has been the source for many great ClickDimensions & Automational employees!
For Small Business Week May 1-5, Automational will run, “Small Business – Smart Marketing,” an inaugural SMB Week contest in which winners will receive free Automational services for six months, a marketing consultation and four customized email templates. If this platform seems up your alley, you can read the rules, regulations and submission guidelines here.