In a business world of automation, scalability and efficiency, can we actually grow our businesses faster by doing the opposite? What if we put the human back into business?
Have you ever been through a self-checkout line? Pretty annoying sometimes, right?
How about when you have to call a big corporation and you end up in phone bot hell? It doesn't matter how loudly and how clearly you say "Let me talk to a real person!", that damn bot just sits there, mocks you for your humanity. But, your call is important to them! They said so. 😉
Automation. Scalability. Reducing Costs. Efficiency.
All buzzwords of the modern world of business. And you're seeing it in the world of online business as well.
Hey, I mean there can be time and place for Facebook Messenger bots, but the novelty wears off fast. Before you know it, this can turn into the social equivalent of the phone bot.
Like a lot of big corporations, you see smaller online businesses start to do the same things. The tools to make it possible are getting more and more accessible.
Automated webinars. Messenger bots. Automated email sequences.
Scalability! Automation! ROI!
But, what if...
What if we could actually make some of our FASTEST headway in our business by doing the opposite?
What if we do what is NOT scalable?
What if we don't make tracking and ROI the basis of decisions in all cases?
What if, instead of de-humanizing business for the sake of removing the "human factor" and automating, we RE-HUMANIZE business?
What if, instead of de-humanizing business for the sake of removing the "human factor" and automating, we RE-HUMANIZE business?
A little disruption never hurt anything.
Let's dive in...
Success In 2019 And Beyond Requires Doing The Opposite Of What Is Common
If we look at what the big online business gurus have been teaching for the last few years, it includes things like:
- Build automated sales funnels
- Go for the sale immediately, recoup ad costs.
- Automate everything using autoresponders, drip feeds, etc.
- Marketing automation
- Track everything, split test, pay attention to the numbers
And don't get me wrong... these things are all good things to do. They aren't going anywhere.
However, for many, it has led to a mindset that isn't, in my opinion, what will help you grow these days. Everything is supposed to be fast, scalable and automated.
I've watched entrepreneurs dismiss business ideas with the words "It doesn't scale!".
It's all automation! Scalability! Metrics!
Lost in there, however, is a basic, fundamental component...
The human being.
How special do you feel when you're scanning your own items in the self-checkout line?
With all this technology, it is easy to start thinking of everybody like an anonymous blob. Another pixel on our traffic graph. Another random email address on our list. But, lest we forget that...
... those are all real people. Actual human beings. Each with their own thoughts, their own viewpoints... their own experience.
I think we need to back up.
I think we need to do more of what is NOT scalable.
What we once used to try to speed up and automate, how about we slow down?
How about instead of trying to automate customer service with bots and canned responses, we instead look to start real conversations?
How about if we prioritize things which are NOT scalable? NOT trackable?
It flies in the face of what's normal. And that's why I think it is a good idea.
Doing More Of What's NOT Scalable
Marketers love everything to be scalable and trackable. They want to know what each specific action is adding to the bottom line. They want to know the revenue generated by every email.
They've even got fancy (and complicated) statistical tracking systems to keep track of it all.
However, some of the most effective things you could likely do for your business is not all that scalable. And it will be damn hard to directly track the ROI of it. They just work because you're talking to real people.
For instance, when you are starting out your business, one of the most effective things you can be doing is conducting interviews with members of your target market.
You know, that lost art of actual conversations.
When's the last time you actually SPOKE with people in your market? Never? Well, it is time you do. And, no, I'm not talking about people you already know. I'm talking about strangers. People you don't know personally. These are the people you wish to serve with your business. You need to actually TALK to them.
Time spent actually TALKING to your market directly is time VERY well spent. Way too many people end up building products around what they think people need, but not what they actually wanted. Experts tend to do this. Their expertise literally surrounds them in a bubble where they think they know what people need and want, but they never actually ASKED. The result is often having built a product nobody wants to buy.
So, how can we implement this? Here's a couple idea...
#1 - Doing Discovery Calls With Your Target Market
Simply get in touch with some people in your market and invite them into a private phone call.
Make it very clear that you're not trying to sell anything. You're just there to listen and learn. Most people will happily oblige. It makes them feel important. They're being listened to. Their opinion is valuable.
Go in with a series of questions, but use them more as a guide than a script. You keep things very conversational. Maybe even record it for future reference (with their permission, of course).
Who do you talk to? Well, it could be:
- Random subscribers to your email list
- Some of your customers
This is wildly unscalable. It can even be time consuming. It can also force you outside of your comfort zone if you're not used to talking with strangers.
That's why it works, though. 🙂
And by the way, you're using this information to keep your customer avatar profile up to date. The degree of understanding and empathy you will build with the very people you wish to serve will be off the charts.
Customer avatars aren't just something you do at the beginning. It is continuous.
#2 - Do Exit Interviews With Cancellations And Refund Requests
Man oh man, David's gone crazy now. Now he's saying you should waste your time talking to people who want to STOP doing business!
But yes, that's exactly what I'm saying.
If you have people cancel their membership on your membership site, or ask for a refund, you should do an exit interview.
There's real value in actually talking to somebody who wants to leave. That information is invaluable for helping you improve your offers for later.
So, here's how I do it...
If a member chooses to cancel their membership, go through a process built with Gravity Forms. Using forms, I will ask them why they're cancelling, etc. But, one of the question asked is:
Would you be willing to have a short conversation about your experience? Takes 5-10 minutes tops and, I promise, there won't be ANY attempts to change your mind. Just learning.
If they check that box, they're sent to a web-based scheduler to schedule a quick 15-minute time slot.
You can do the same with refund requests. Issue the refund, then send them to a short survey to ask why they're refunding. Ask if they're up for a call then do the same thing.
Doing More Of What's NOT Trackable
Not everything can have a nice metric attached to it which you can link to ROI. There are fancy tools out there that make it happen. They can track every little traffic source, every email... and link all of it to sales.
And to set all that up, you deep-dive into technical hell. You're managing tons of tags, different systems and probably a bunch of spreadsheets.
But, sometimes you just can't easily track the results. But, you know it's the right thing to do. It just feels right.
#1 - Sending personal video welcomes to new customers
Like, why not? It will most likely surprise them that they got the personal attention. They likely didn't see it coming.
Buying things online is like the self-checkout experience all the time. Shopping carts kind of all look alike. Bring the humanity back by creating a short welcome video for your new customer. Welcome them by name. Thank them for their order.
Be human again.
#2 - Send Emails to your list without links to click.
A veteran email marketer would tell you to NEVER send an email to your list without a path to revenue. NEVER send an email without a link for them to click on. You've got to "train" them to click, right?
What's wrong with sending an email to your list without a link? Maybe just ask them their opinion on something and ask them to reply. Or, email your customers and ask if they have any questions. Just have them hit the reply button.
This is what humans do. This is what friends do.
Friends don't send emails with calls to action. They just send personal emails.
Obviously, you still need to do traditional email marketing, but why not try mixing it up sometimes?
#3 - Create Content Just Because It's Cool
Not every blog post has to be some big guide. Not every piece of content has to have some deep, strategic marketing purpose.
Sometimes you just do it for fun.
Every year, companies post April Fool's gags. You think there's ROI to that? I doubt it. It's just a cool thing to do.
You could post personality content or content that seems rather unrelated to your business.
You could do podcasting. I mean, there's now plenty of evidence that podcasting, in the long run, can help drive business. But, statistical tracking for podcasting is notoriously... crappy. I mean, other than download counts, you get almost no solid data to track ROI, traffic sources, etc. Who cares, though? You just do it anyway.
Not everything has to be trackable and scalable based on metrics. Sometimes you just do it because you're a human being.
#4 - NOT Going For The Sale Right Away?!
Many have taught - and been taught - that it is best to go for the sale right away. When they opt-in, present an offer right there. People who concentrate on paid advertising ROI do this because they want to make back that ad spend right away.
Speed! Efficiency! ROI!
And many, including myself, have built email sequences that go for the sale immediately. Forget the fact that that person likely doesn't know you at all yet. They have no idea if you're the real deal or a schmuck. You may throw them on a welcome sequence right away, but if you're also then going for the sale right away, then you're giving them conflicting messaging. Plus, you're just pissing them off with too many emails.
Maybe.... we just.... slow down?
Like, NOT go for the sale right away! Maybe leave the high-pressure countdown timers in your arsenal for later and not bring out the big guns yet?
Instead, just build the relationship. And BE OK with the fact that not every new lead may convert to a sale right away. Maybe it'll take them a month or two to ever buy something.
Making The Big Things Small
In online marketing, people talk about big traffic numbers. Big email lists. Some people still email their entire email list, every time they have something to say or promote.
But, it is time to get personal again.
#1 - Segmenting Your Email List
Just getting somebody "onto your list" is no longer enough. You need to learn more about them than just their email address.
RightMessage, for instance, has a system they call RightAsk. It allows you to ask your site visitors questions on your site. Their answers are stored in their visitor profile inside of RightMessage. Then, guess what happens?
The moment they subscribe to your list, RightMessage syncs everything it knows to your email hosting provider. Then, you can segment the crap out of your email list and talk to people WAY more personally. RightMessage tracks this for 90 days, per my understanding.
You can't treat everybody the same. Because, they're not the same.
Email segmentation isn't just something for the "big boys". Now it is just a basic fundamental of email marketing if you want to stand out these days.
#2 - Using On-Site Retargeting
Like your email list, your website traffic can be segmented, too. It can be harder to do because you don't exactly know who they are yet. But, the tools are there to do it.
It is common to put calls to action and opt-in forms on your site. If you're a little more adept in your marketing prowess, you will target different calls to action to different content. But, there are still some issues that arise:
- Most list building platforms can't easily distinguish between a subscriber and a non-subscriber. So, even people already on your list end up seeing the same opt-in forms as everybody else.
- Most calls to action cannot be contextual based on the individual seeing it.
As an example...
Somebody visited the LAB sales page... visited the CHECKOUT page... but didn't actually sign up for the LAB membership. That person exits out and later they end up on one of my blog posts where they are most likely seeing an opt-in form. But, does that make sense? That person just considered buying LAB! I need to be talking to them very differently than somebody else.
With on-site retargeting, you can personalize calls to action based on who they are, their history, etc. In the above example, I could have calls to action for that ONE person that would be aimed at closing the deal whereas everybody else would see opt-in forms.
On-site retargeting and personalized calls to action are going to become far more common in the next few years. Tools like RightMessage and ConvertFlow make it easy.
It works because it makes the big small again. It is talking to individuals, not groups.
Scaling Your Business By Doing The Opposite
This is just my own personal observation, but I have concluded that if the crowd consensus is one way, the better solution is usually the other way.
In the world of business, we've seen massive focus on automation, scaling, metrics, cost saving, efficiency.
It is rather de-humanizing, though.
When I go to a Walmart and see the self checkouts and the automated order pickup machine, but see the actual employees just as uncaring as can be, it doesn't make me very happy with Walmart.
When I call a company and get stuck in limbo with the phone bot, it just makes me want to yell f-bombs in their general direction.
The quest for scalability and ROI even leads to big corporate responsibility issues that can have large, negative consequences. Horrible pseudo-food being sold, packed with preservatives, all in an effort to decrease cost and maximize ROI. Of course, that crappy food increases health problems, and most healthcare is rather de-humanizing now, too. You're basically an insurance number for billing purposes.
And I see it in the world of online marketing, too.
This new fad of Messenger bots is a little worrisome. Don't get me wrong... it CAN be done very well. However, many won't. And the last thing we need is a 1-on-1 messaging environment being full of bots.
In a world which is de-humanizing, I think we can get ahead faster by RE-humanizing your business.
Let's go the opposite way. Let's set an example.
Let's do some of what is NOT scalable just because it makes sense and is the right thing to do.
Let's stop thinking of numbers and masses and start treating people like people again.
Ya feelin' me?