My friend and podcast partner Liston Witherill and I were talking earlier today about marketing automation.
The question arose: is marketing automation a growth technique?
Is it something that will help your business grow? Is it a good tool for getting more leads, prospects, or clients in conversation with you?
Of course it depends, but in general I’d say marketing automation is not the first tool you’d ap\0x10ply to a situation where growth is needed.
It’s more of an optimization tool than a growth tool.
That brings up the next question:
Why not both?
Because you have constraints, most likely.
You’re probably in the situation where you need to choose between proactive lead generation and other activities, cause you don’t have time to do both right.
If you’re anything like early-career me, you’ll choose to optimize a turd.
Meaning, I had no unique value, point of view, or IP to offer. And therefore, I chose to set up a 20-step automated client onboarding funnel to make sure I didn’t “waste” time talking to “imperfect” prospects.
What a waste.
I mean, it taught me something, but what it taught me was very loosely coupled to success in my business.
What I should have done is spent 30 to 60 minutes every weekday writing something about my opinions and published that something to a blog or email list.
Here’s exactly what would have happened as a result of doing that:
- I would have written thousands of words about how important it is to use Plain English style in white papers and to write for a short attention-span audience.
- I would have run out of things to say about that opinion.
- I would have felt discouraged.
- Possibly… I would have wondered whether my opinion on Plain English has anything at all to do with ROI on white papers (that’s a lot of what I built for clients back then).
- I would have felt even more discouraged. If past-Philip was following future-Philip’s advice, he would have kept publishing every day. He would write about this doubt and discouragement. He would be 100% honest about it despite his fear that no client would want to touch him with a 10-foot pole. He would pour all that emotion into what he published. He would eventually get over the fear because even back then he had a growth mindset, and he would eventually realize that you can be growing or you can be right all the time, but you can’t be both.
- At some point, past-Philip would have said “I can do better”. He would have looked deeper. He would have asked: What does cause a white paper to deliver a positive ROI for a client? What prevents it from doing this? Are there any patterns or best practices that would increase the chances of it delivering good ROI?
- He would have written and published about this process of looking deeper into what makes white papers have good ROI.
As a result of this, when prospects checked out my website, they would have seen the beginnings of a point of view. A reason to pay more than market rate for access to me (or a reason to avoid me, if they didn’t vibe with my PoV).
In sales conversations I would have been able to talk about impact and ROI instead of trying to get a scope conversation concluded as quickly as possible so I could submit a proposal and then wait to hear back on that proposal.
There’s a time and a place for optimizations.
But first ask what you’re optimizing.
The process for building a foundation looks a lot different than the process for building something on top of that foundation.
Foundations are dirty, unsexy, and lots of hard work to build.
But that doesn’t mean you can do without one.