Many of the businesses we work with have grown organically, and many resist systemisation as a way of hanging on to their humanity. There's often a rumbling feeling that systems and process stifle creativity and take the fun out of things. This can mean a resistance to using automation, or even a simple checklist. If you can overcome this resistance, and understand that systems set you free (both creatively and in terms of your growth potential) you can seriously scale things up. Our systems supremo and Accredited Consultant, Cheryl Crichton, has mapped out a few key ways you can use systemisation to shore up you sales journeys. ~ Bryony Thomas
The Watertight Marketing methodology is a powerful overlay on Philip Kotler's six step model of decision-making. The book walks you through this journey, mapping out the key tasks that marketing needs to fulfil to take someone all the way through to being a loyal customer (See chapter 2: The Six Tasks of Marketing), and then the ways in which most businesses lose people in this process (See chapters 2, 6, 7, & 8: The Thirteen Touchpoint Leaks™).
Here are two ways you can put a simple system, or more sophisticated automation in place at each step to support these steps...
Step One: Awareness (Marketing Task: Be There)
Simple System: TIMING PLANS (Leak #10: When). Having well thought out timing plans ensures the timely release of your marketing material (scheduling).
Sophisticated Automation: AUTO RESPONDERS (Leak #10: When). Using a business-strength tool like Hootsuite or Mailchimp can automate a lot of tasks including email responders and bulk scheduling for tweets for example.
Step Two: Interest (Marketing Task: Be Relevant)
Simple System: CHECKLISTS (Leak #7: Information Overload). A checklist can help you to remember not to forget something and also allows you to double-check you are still on-track with the objective of the marketing activity in hand, For example, at the ‘Interest’ step of the buying journey a buyer may only have 5 minutes to read your content, so make sure your checklist prompts you to check how long it takes to read.
Sophisticated Automation: AUTORESPONDERS (Leak #7: What & Leak 3: No Emotional Connection). When someone subscribes to your newsletter, set-up a series of short auto responders with unique content welcoming them to your community and showing them around your best content.
Step Three: Evaluation (Marketing Task: Be Proven)
Simple System: ENDORSEMENTS (Leak #6 No Proof) Make a list of all the places where you ca include customer testimonials. These can be short quotes (great for Twitter or at the bottom of an invoice or quote), longer testimonials (perfect for peppering a proposal or presentation) or full case studies that can even double as downloads and lead magnets.
Sophisticated Automation: AFFILIATE PORTAL (Leak #6 No Proof) There's nothing better than getting a hot referral from someone who already knows you, loves you even, and even better from someone that already buys from you. Having a proper affiliate programme in place to track referrals and commission is just one way an automated system can cut the admin hours you need to put in and keep everything in one place. Most CRM systems will have some mechanic for doing this. We use Infusionsoft.
Step Four: Trial (Marketing Task: Be Helpful)
Simple System: NAMING CONVENTIONS How you name your files and images reduces the time it could take your team to find things. Giving them a proper name also helps with SEO too. Having done the proper research, have a checklist for naming everything that goes out into the world from you that makes it easy for both humans and algorithms to find.
Sophisticated Automation: AUTORESPONDERS/EMAIL RESPONDERS (Leak #4 No Gateway) You can use an autoresponder to send a sequence of emails, perhaps with a short video course demonstrating your value. We once scoped out a 'Lunchtime Tour of Vietnam.' You signed up, and then at 12.30pm each day for five days you were sent a short video of one of Vietnam's best bits. This lead into an offer for a bespoke holiday design.
Step Five: Adoption (Marketing Task: Be Friendly)
Simple System: FILING (Leak #2: Poor On-boarding). File your files in a logical and easy to follow directory. This will reduce time wasted because the team can’t find the things they need when they need to go out to a customer.
Sophisticated Automation: MEMBERSHIP SITES AND WELCOME SEQUENCES. (Leak #2: Poor On-boarding) Here's another place to use a video sequence, with lovely feel good case studies and handy hints on getting the best from your stuff. Plug-ins to WordPress, like LearnDash, can make this fun and interactive.
Step Six: Loyalty (Be Consistent)
Simple System: TIMING PLANS (Leak #1: Forgotten Customers). Make sure you have a customer checklist that gets all the information you need to stay in touch. Addresses, social IDs, billing information, key contact birthdays, etc.
Sophisticated Automation: USAGE STATS, SURVEYS AND POLLS (Leak #1: Forgotten Customers). Have a triggered email or survey when someone does something or does not do something can eliminate the need to manually send out surveys.
Overcoming Common Objections to Systems
- Objection: We have too many systems and I haven’t got time to learn another one.
- Advantage: We’ve replaced three old systems with one new one, and it’s significantly speeded up the way we work. Everyone’s happier.
- Objection: No-one ever follows the system anyway.
- Advantage: The team now know what to do when, and things run more smoothly. Everyone’s more productive.
- Objection: I’m not a techie and I’d rather use the system I’ve always used (spreadsheet and filing cabinet).Advantage: We’ve modernised our systems to ‘keep up with the Jones’ and we're now more compatible with our customers and suppliers.
Overcoming Common Objections to Automation
- Objection: I don’t want my business or business communications to come across as robotic.
- Advantage: I’ve found some great tools that can do what I used do manually in a day in an hour. What’s not to like?
- Objection: Automation takes away the control I have of my communications.
- Advantage: I’ve automated some daily tasks which now saves me time each month (like bulk uploading of scheduled Tweets and automated billing).
- Objection: I don’t want to put everything on the internet.
- Advantage: I’ve learnt to embrace technology and use automated security software to protect my files and give me more storage then ever before.
- Objection: I prefer to do things myself and send as much time as I can in-person with my customers.
- Advantage: Everything’s so much quicker now that we don’t have to rely on the post, couriers or delivering things in person.
How your business will benefit
Some say systems and automation enables us to work faster, some say it just means you can do more in less time, so increases expectations. I’m not denying that the initial set-up of any new system or automation isn’t a little time consuming, but the investment will be worth it.
Of course, the more you get done, the more you can do. A bit of a false economy if you see what I mean. How you accept and manage your workload is up to you.
However you feel, having a few simple systems and automations in place could save you time and your blood pressure. And by the way, a system can be something as low-tech as a simple routine and an ‘Automation’ can just be something you do without thinking, so not always ‘techie’ and you can ‘start small’.
Watertight Marketing Accredited Consultant
Cheryl is a highly experienced marketing project manager who’s delivered for the country’s most demanding brands. She’s a high-energy individual, whose passion is for owner-managed businesses where she can make the biggest difference.