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I’m currently working on the next version of my book The Marketing Nurture System. Most of the following section was in the original manuscript, but is critically important…
Self-awareness dictates what you say NO to. And you do have to say no to things. If you were to take all of the advice in this book and implement it all yourself you would very quickly run out of time and energy.
Creating a complete evolving multi-channel Customer Nurture System all by yourself is impossible. The full process I am proposing in this book is only manageable as a team game. The thing you must determine is where exactly you sit in that team, and who else is going to fulfil which roles.
There are four roles that need to be filled:
1. Product expert
The product expert is the person with the most knowledge about whatever it is you sell. This person will have deep industry experience, and be intimately familiar with the benefits and features of your products.
Often the product expert will be the business owner or founder, although it may also be a product manager. Sometimes there will be different product managers for different products.
The product expert’s chief responsibility is to provide a steady stream of information, stories, industry insights and commentary.
I love working with true product experts. A true product expert will start by telling you that all their stories are ‘boring’, and that they ‘don’t really have anything interesting to say’. But with a few well-targeted questions the floodgates explode! Ninety minutes later you’re still sitting there scribbling notes. And take notes you must, because as soon as a product expert has finished talking he or she will have no idea what they have just told you.
My real role in life is to follow product experts around, bottle up what they tell me, then sift and sort it for gold. But I am getting ahead of myself.
2. Systems expert
The systems expert is the person with a deep understanding of your marketing systems. My core marketing system is Infusionsoft, and I am the systems expert in my business.
The systems expert is the person who actually builds out and manages your automation flows. He or she is the person who knows when a contact is in the training phase, and knows when to trigger the Harley Davidson offer.
The systems and flows you put in place are not a ‘set and forget’ deal. They will evolve as your message changes, and you need someone to stay on top of that evolution. This person should have a good understanding of your objectives, and an ability to get the most out of your chosen technology.
The systems manager should be a good project manager (i.e. probably not me). The systems manager should be able to think through flow-charts and think in IF/THEN logic. IF a contact has bought nurture product A, offer them training product B. IF a contact has had nurture sequence A and C, start sequence B, IF certain tags are present.
If what I just described has made your brain hurt, then you probably aren’t the systems manager.
Systems managers are flowchart people. In my experience systems managers are generally not great orators or writers, but they have the ability to think through and model your entire customer journey.
For a true systems manager one whiteboard is never enough. A true systems manager will wake up in the middle of the night, dreaming of four side-by-side whiteboards. Imagine the possibilities! Imagine the space!
If you use one of the more complicated CRM systems to deliver your emails you need someone who knows what it can do and knows how to get the most out of it. In the Infusionsoft world we joke about ‘Infusionsoft donors’. An ‘Infusionsoft donor’ is a person who pays their Infusionsoft bill each month without any real plan or resolve to get better results from it.
Email marketing is actually extremely expensive. The software isn’t particularly expensive, and the per-email cost is negligible, but the opportunity cost is huge. To calculate the true cost you have to factor in all of the money you would havemade if you had a competent systems expert on board.
Remember, your email marketing strategy never operates in glorious isolation; your email marketing strategy is one component in a wider customer nurture plan. The systems expert is the person in charge of getting their head around the technicalities of that plan. Your systems expert is the person who will manage your database and allow you to make the right offers to the right people at the right time.
Your systems expert cannot simply have a good understanding of Infusionsoft, Hubspot or whatever system you use. Your systems expert has to also understand you. He or she must be talking to you regularly, and must completely understand what your business is trying to do. He or she really ought to have read this book.
You might actually have a few systems experts employed at your business. In the context of our customer nurture system, you’ll need somebody to manage your CRM or marketing automation system. But potentially you’ll also need systems experts to manage Google AdWords, Facebook ads, and whatever other lead generation systems you use. These people all need to work well together, and all need an overall understanding of what you are trying to achieve.
I mostly find that people who understand the intricacies of pay per click tend to write terrible ads, which creates the need for the third role…
The third role to be fulfilled is the copywriter. The copywriter is the person who actually spends the time at the keyboard to write the emails, direct mail letters, web pages, remarketing ads, and whatever else you decide to communicate with.
Most people believe they are either ‘good at writing’, or ‘bad at writing’. I believe this is an overly simplistic approach, and actually a damaged outcome of our wonderful education system.
Nobody is born with ‘native’ writing ability. You cannot intrinsically be a good writer. All that matters is whether you enjoy to write, and whether doing the writing is actually a good use of your time.
Unless you are operating at a very high level, doing your own writing in-house is probably a good use of your resources. Copywriting is a high value skill. Most people try to outsource copywriting while still tidying their own office and taking out their own bins.
I didn’t say that you personally have to spend hours per day at the keyboard. But it might make sense for someone in your marketing team to take on the responsibility.
The big advantage of doing your copywriting in-house is the writing authentically reflects your voice.
Most of the prospects on your list do not want to read beautiful prose. They want to hear from you. Your opinion and perspective is always more interesting than some random ‘content’ a hired copywriter has cobbled together.
A copywriter’s chief responsibility is to follow the product expert around, converting the things the product expert has to say into interesting content. The copywriter is not necessarily the ideas person. The copywriter is an assembler of ideas.
It is not enough for the copywriter to simply know about copywriting. The copywriter must also possess a deep understanding of your business. You cannot just hire someone you found on Elance and expect them a magically fulfil your copywriting requirements.
Most people approach hiring a copywriter like they are buying a pizza. Instead of ordering an extra-large pepperoni with a side of potato wedges, they order seven autoresponder emails and a ‘lead magnet’.
For the nurture model I am proposing in this book to work you need to be working closely with your copywriter. They may not necessarily be on your payroll (although you could consider that), but they should be an integral part of your team. Your copywriter should buy into and be excited by your vision.
I have a relatively unusual perspective as a copywriter. I actually hate the transactional way the copywriting market currently works, because I don’t think it is good for business owners or for copywriters.
Rather than taking on lots of ‘projects’ in a temporary hired-gun arrangement, my goal as a copywriter is to work with just one, or possibly two clients at a time. I want to work with clients who are doing something I am interested in and excited about. I want to become an extension of their mission.
I believe this is the direction the copywriting market will eventually take.
Rather than working on ten projects, a forward-thinking copywriter will work with one ideal client who has big goals and an interesting message. A savvy copywriter in this arrangement may agree an equity stake, or a profit sharing arrangement. And why not? If your copywriter is systematically churning out the words needed to grow your business then why not offer a share of the spoils.
You must get the right person into the copywriting role. The copywriter can be an internal member of staff who is dedicated to writing and has taken on some appropriate training. Or it can be an external copywriter who buys in to your mission and is viewed as an integral part of the team.
Those are the only two viable options.
If you view hiring copywriters as a transactional arrangement where your hired-gun copywriter is going to sit in his cave and pull the necessary copy out of thin air, you are suffering from magical thinking.
If the copywriter is anyone other than you, you need to be talking to him or her on a regular basis.
Over the years I’ve realised you can have lots of bells and whistles in your marketing, or you can have simplicity and depth. It’s fairly unusual to have both.
I do a reasonable amount of work in the CRM system Infusionsoft. Infusionsoft is what you might call a ‘blank canvas’ solution, with unlimited bells and whistles to keep you occupied.
You can send people down different follow-up sequences based on their behaviour. With certain add-ons you can trigger text messages, and direct mail. You can apply the 80/20 principle to identify your hottest prospects.
The downside? You can also confuse the hell out of yourself, and everyone around you…
I spent a long time trying to automate all of my follow-up systems. Which is a moving target, because my business evolves as I test different offers and initiatives.
These days, I don’t automate a huge amount. When people opt-in, there’s a welcome email, and a survey. I give people whatever they opted in for, and add them to my ‘core story’ sequence. Which takes about three weeks.
After that most of my communications are done as ‘real time’ broadcasts, like this one.
The more complicated you make things, the less likely you are to have depth. Depth comes from showing up as yourself; from telling your story and communicating your perspective.
You can import all sorts of fancy marketing systems. You can funnel people down seventeen different rabbit holes. But on balance, I’d say it’s best to keep things simple and focus on adding more depth over time.
I watched a webinar recording over the weekend on ‘hyper-segmentation’. Infusionsoft partners Greg Jenkins and Brian Keith explained how they segment their list of opt-ins and buyers with:
And then run reports to see which groups of people buy the most quickly, who spends the most over a year, or who unsubscribes the soonest!
I think there is real power in this.
When we look at our pay per click numbers we look at averages. Average cost per click, cost per lead, cost per purchase. The trouble is, averages can hide gremlins. If weekend opt-ins never buy, wouldn’t you want to know that?
The nice thing is they aren’t doing anything fancy with third-party apps – it’s all native functionality. I imagine you could take these principles and apply them in any of the tag-based email systems.
You can catch the recording here.
All marketing systems have a creative aspect and an analysis aspect. If you don’t like the analysis part, I sympathise. But you should still gather the data so someone else can do the analysis for you.
I’ve been reviewing the marketing automation tool ActiveCampaign recently. ActiveCampaign have put some heat on Infusionsoft in the last few years by providing a product that does most of what Infusionsoft can do, but at lower cost.
The automation engine is very much like Drip. You can create workflows where you direct people down different paths based on their actions, fields, tags and so on.
I have to riff on something here. There is a sizeable community of people online who gleefully refer to Infusionsoft as ‘Confusionsoft’, but what these people fail to realise is that ALL these systems can be a recipe for confusion. Incidentally, that was originally why the legal name of my business was ‘The Confusion Clinic’.
If you jump in and start building automation flows without a clear plan, you willend up confused. It doesn’t matter what tool you use.
The workflow automation in ActiveCampaign has a fairly comprehensive set of goals, and CRM options, but I wouldn’t kid yourself that learning to use these things will be a walk in the park.
(End of riff…)
Something I DO like about ActiveCampaign is the lead management. In a similar interface to Pipedrive, you can keep track of sales opportunities across multiple pipelines.
Second riff: something ActiveCampaign do that bugs me about a lot of these tools is calling an email broadcast a ‘campaign’. An email broadcast isn’t a ‘campaign’. You’re not marshalling your forces and going to war. So why not just call it what it is: an email broadcast.
(End of second riff…)
For me, where ActiveCampaign falls down is the absence of native order forms. There’s no ecommerce element. As a platform, the tool is very much focused on marketing automation. If all you want is marketing automation, then it looks like a very effective tool. If you want to start taking orders online, running membership sites and so on, you’ll need to tie in a variety of apps and other services. The cost of these apps can quickly escalate. (This is a common criticism of Infusionsoft, too).
As a marketing automation tool, I think ActiveCampaign is a very credible platform. But as always, you need to assess your requirements properly before you jump in with these things. Don’t get excited by the bells and whistles, and find three months down the line that you can’t get the data you need into or out of the system.
I have endless trouble convincing people of the true value of long-term marketing nurture. Marketing nurture isn’t an abstract, nice-to-have thing. It’s an essential, core business system.
I came across the following image yesterday on a Fix Your Funnel webinar. The image is meant to represent your different core business systems.
Image credit: Fix Your Funnel
In this model, you spend no time trying to sell to people who have not spent any time in your nurture process. The nurture process is a customer education process that must be gone through to get to your sales process.
Without a marketing nurture system, marketing and sales interface directly. In your marketing you might run ads, on Google, Facebook or wherever. You may go networking. You send direct mail. And when a lead comes in you immediately try to close the deal.
This direct interface between marketing and sales creates all kinds of pressure, both for you and the buyer. You end up having sales conversations with people who don’t yet trust you. These people often aren’t ready for a sales conversation. They don’t yet see your value, so your only option is to throw discounts at them.
The buyer feels this pressure too. Often they’ll say they need to ‘think about it’. When a prospect says this they’re really telling you to back off.
Most people think of marketing nurture as a never-ending stream of emails. A never-end of stream of emails may be part of your nurture system, but you can also sell products as part of your marketing nurture. Marketing nurture can be any sort of information; emails, books, newsletters, audio CD’s, MP3’s.
I now have a barrier in my business where anyone who wants to work with me on a project has to have first read my book, the Marketing Nurture System. It’s a small barrier between my marketing and sales processes. Prospects who try to skip the nurture process and jump straight from marketing to sales are invariably nightmare clients to work with.
The end result is a nicer sales process where you only ever speak to educated prospects who understand your value.
Surely we could all benefit from that?
P.S. If you still don’t own a copy of the Marketing Nurture system you can pick up a copy here.
I’ve been working on my own marketing in the last few days. I find working on my own marketing about three times as hard as working on anyone else’s.
I’m good at simplifying things in other people’s marketing, while at the same time complicating my own campaigns.
People tend to confuse complication and sophistication.
Complication is where you set up some kind of marketing automation and lose track of what is supposed to happen. Most Infusionsoft accounts suffer from excess complication, where the user has built various campaigns and lost track of what everything is supposed to do.
Sophistication is where you set up marketing automation that looks complicatedto untrained eyes, but at the same time is well documented, understood, and does what you need.
I’ve had some complication in my own Infusionsoft account recently. When a new contact came in I would ‘cycle’ them round various core email sequences, before adding them to these daily emails.
Simple in theory, you would think.
What happened in practice was that people would opt-in to multiple sequences at the same time, and end up bombarded with emails.
So, I’ve been stripping things back. Chopping and pruning, if you like. Most of the opt-in routes I had were not great lead generators anyway, so I’ve cut back on the number of routes in.
This is basic 80/20 thinking. It is better to have a couple of excellent lead magnets than several average ones.
The sequences that have vanished will be improved, repackaged as reports and sold as standalone products. I’ll also give them away from time to time, but only to daily email subscribers.
There is nothing wrong with doing more complex things than a basic autoresponder sequence, but you have to document exactly how your system works. Even if you are a sole-proprietor.
Without documentation you always forget. If you use Infusionsoft your documentation should explain what each campaign is supposed to do, what each tag does, and what the logic behind your decision diamonds is.
If you don’t write it down you are creating complication, not sophistication.
You could replace ‘campaign’, ‘tag’, and ‘decision diamond’ with whatever the equivalent is in your own system.
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