Why I left Infusionsoft

Why???I realized my jaw was hanging open in a most unbecoming way, so I shut it momentarily – long enough to gather my words together to verify what I thought I had just heard.

“Sir? Perhaps I misheard you. Can you repeat yourself?”

“Of course Watson, and for heaven’s sake shut your mouth, you look like a fish gasping for air,” The Effective Detective initially answered my question with his typical sarcasm before continuing on. “You did not mishear me Watson, I have dropped Infusionsoft in favor of one of the so-called lesser alternatives,” The Detective concluded, and waited patiently for my reply.

“I don’t understand sir, haven’t you yourself said that Infusionsoft is one of the most powerful tools available for the types of processes we design and implement?” I asked, hoping that my mouth had ceased opening and closing spasmodically.

“I have indeed Watson. And I stand by that. Don’t misunderstand Watson, I am not leading a rebellion against high-powered software that admittedly costs a pretty penny. If someone is using Infusionsoft to its potential, and truly benefitting from it, by all means stay with it!” The Detective answered.

“Then why would we switch, sir? I admit I am finding this quite confusing,” I mumbled.

“Watson, while I must admit it was a hard decision, when I analyzed our own lead attraction and sales funnel system, I felt that Infusionsoft could be a bit of overkill. I will also confess to some consternation over them working towards becoming “Swiss Army Knife software” – doing lots of things, all of them competently, but none of them excellently.  But lastly and most importantly, our clients, Watson. Are many of them best served by that particular software package? I think not,” once again The Detective paused to allow me to interject a comment.

“But aren’t there features that are critical to implementing our system sir?” I asked, finally regaining my composure.

“There are, but features can be duplicated either by human processes, or outside intervention via our own software solutions. We can tie into these supposed lesser systems, and I think that most of them hardly deserve that title. It is simply a matter of working out the processes and designing both a manual solution, and then a software solution. The result will be a cost-effective way to implement the proper processes in one’s business without driving one crazy,” The Detective concluded.

“We will be discussing these processes in this space of course?” I queried.

“Watson, do you have even a shadow of a doubt that we will be discussing this extensively?” The Detective asked, looking incredulous.

“Of course not sir, but you have already dropped one bomb on me today…”

“Hush Watson, we have work to do and word to spread,” The Detective smiled, ending our conversation for the day.

We don’t need no stinking autoresponders

Public Relations Meaning News Media Press Communication“Sir, are you up for a little Q and A today?” I enquired of The Effective Detective to launch this episode of our weekly talks.

“What? Eh Watson? I suppose so… not as much chance to lecture of course,” replied The Detective with a slight smile on his face.

“Perhaps the answer to every question does not require a lecture sir,” I answered, then continuing on before The Detective could offer a rejoinder, “the question is simple sir, what is an autoresponder, and why do you make them sound so important?”

“Watson, the direct answer is quite simple: an autoresponder is simply a process where a set of emails are sent out to a member of your list that the autoresponder is assigned to. The timing of the emails can be set by you so that there are certain intervals of time before the next email is sent out. The emails are the same for each member of your list who receives the autoresponder emails. That much is fairly simple. Where it gets interesting, is why they are so important,” The Detective paused in his characteristic way. Sometimes I believe he is just winding up in those pauses.

“Please continue sir,” I provided an opening without opening a can of worms by making a comment or perhaps sending the conversation in another direction.

“Quite, Watson. As I was saying, autoresponders are important, although you can work a list without them. They are important in that they give you a chance to respond consistently to every single prospect that comes into your funnel. Their introduction to you can be your best stuff. If they are simply thrust into the world of your e-zines or other content, they may hit something that doesn’t immediately interest them. Or perhaps, perish the thought, you might have a bad day, and simply not be on the top of your game with your content. Whatever the reason, you could start out on the wrong foot with a new potential client. Autoresponder content can be tailored to the promised message. Perhaps it is a multiple part video course. The page that attracted your prospect enticed them with that content. They get what they expect to get, and you gain credibility,” The Detective stopped again. This time, looking at me like he expected more than a perfunctory response.

“It would seem to me sir that is also less work for you. Once the content is done, it is done – well perhaps except for some tweaking here and there. Freeing you up for both your other business responsibilities and more content.”

“I think you have the concept Watson. There are some email services out there that offer you a free version or level. Unfortunately, if autoresponders are one of the features they deny you for free, you are better off spending a little money with them to get the autoresponders. Those first few weeks after they subscribe are critical in getting your prospects to follow you. Best to bring your A game and start the relationship off right,” The Detective concluded.

“You sound like you speak from experience, sir” I said, raising an eyebrow.

“A story for another day Watson.”

It’s all in the follow up

vector contact us icon“You seem quite busy today sir,” I began our weekly conversation with The Effective Detective, noticing that he was scrambling around almost frantically versus his usual cool collected, and seated demeanor.

“Watson, for heaven’s sake have you forgotten we have a seminar to give tomorrow?” The Detective exclaimed, the exasperation in his voice quite obvious.

“Actually sir, You have a seminar to give tomorrow, in case you have forgotten I am your virtual assistant. I am going nowhere,” I replied, perhaps a bit too smugly.

“Quite right Watson! In my rush I had quite forgotten. Since you are here, I wish to relate an important lesson I learned in organizing tomorrow’s event,” The Detective smiled as he realized his mistake.

“I am always interested in lessons sir,” giving him his break to being speaking.

“Watson, when planning was begun for this event, we made the mistake of not looking too closely at the calendar and realized we had left very little time for marketing after the holidays. This required a reevaluation of our plan. We did manage to get some marketing out into the social media realm, and some interest was expressed. However, at the time we had few sign ups, and only a week and a half remaining,” The Detective took a breath, which I used as an excuse to interject – with just a tiny bit of sarcasm.

“Heaven’s sir! What did you do?”

The Detective looked askance at me for a brief moment, but shrugging it off, he continued. “Thank you for asking Watson! Actually, your sarcasm aside, that is an excellent question. I got on the phone and started calling. Actually often calling multiple times. You see Watson, people always have the best of intentions, however, when confronted with real life, niceties such as a seminar – even one that could be quite useful to them – get lost in the shuffle. A simple phone call making the offer again was extremely effective. People that were originally interested signed up, and a good number of people who were wavering were convinced to sign up as well… unfortunately not all… you can’t win them all after all Watson.”

“Interesting sir, but I am feeling a tad dense today sir. What is exactly the point?” I asked feeling slightly perplexed.

“Follow up Watson, follow-up! Many of those calls were not sales calls, they were simply confirmation calls. They were interested, but needed to get through the haze caused by our busy days. The other thing of note Watson, was the phone was far more effective than email. A short conversation explaining the seminar and the benefits were all that were needed. Yet, how often do we just expect people to see our brilliance or the value. They fail to note that their product/service/seminar is not the only thing going on in their prospects’ lives. Follow up is needed, and the phone is simply the single most effective of follow-up there is,” The Detective finished and looked at me expectantly.

“So one of the lessons here is don’t be afraid to pick up the phone, your success level will be much higher!” I exclaimed, understanding the point now.

“Well put Watson. Well put.”

The Power of Your List

Composite image of blonde businesswoman standing with hands on hipsI noticed that The Effective Detective looked particularly contemplative, and more out of curiosity than concern, I asked about it. “Sir, you look very thoughtful. Is there a particular insight you are considering?”

“Eh? Oh Watson, sorry. A particular insight yes, but interestingly it is coming from a discussion I had today that taken at face value, could have been considered quite depressing. A friend and colleague was feeling rather cynical today. The trajectory of their business life was not quite what they had hoped for. In particular they have found themselves rebuilding once again,” The Detective began.

“That does sound rather depressing sir,” I agreed.

“Yet from that dreary beginning came a rather illuminating insight Watson. You see, they had started reaching out to connections, and even at this time of the year, when most people are not thinking much about business, had arranged some meetings to discuss some new opportunities,” The Detective continued.

“During the holiday season and so close to the end of the year sir? That is quite surprising,” I interjected.

“Quite so Watson, but the true insight comes from the phrase reaching out to connections. There is an old quote attributed to Andrew Carnegie, I am not sure of the exact wording but the basic idea is that even if everything is taken from you, if you still have a list of contacts, you can rebuild it all. My colleague down in the dumps as they might be, is leveraging their contacts to rebuild. How easy it is for us to forget the power of our lists, be it a contact list build through years of networking, to a list built through patiently speaking to people, and advertising. If you nurture that list, what you can create from it, no matter what has happened in the past can be astounding. The two keys of course are building and nurturing. It does one no good to sit and wait for people to realize our genius. We must go out and proclaim it to the world, and build a tribe. But then we must nurture that tribe, feed it if you will. Those who are willing to do that, reap amazing rewards,” The Detective concluded.

“Sir, I must admit, I have nothing to add to that,” I replied, surprising the Detective and myself for admitting it.

“Well then Watson, let us pour ourselves drinks, and salute the holiday season, and in particular the new year!” The Detective exclaimed as he smiled at me.

“Happy New Year sir!”

Sometimes You Just Have to Say Goodbye

ADIOS Rubber Stamp over a white background.“Are you all right sir?” I asked The Effective Detective, alarmed not only by the lack of the smell of coffee permeating the area, but also by the smell that had replaced it: lemon and honey.

“Right as rain Watson,” responded The Detective, just before a spasm of coughs overwhelmed him. “That is if rain occasionally feels simply awful. No matter, the show must go on and all that rot.”

“Quite right sir, just what is the show that is going on today?” I responded not wishing the conversation get bogged down in various disease symptoms.

“End of the year work, Watson, in particular cleaning up lists,” the Detective answered.

“What is the nature of said cleaning sir?” knowing the answer to the question might be somewhat obvious, but the type of lead in the Detective enjoyed.

“Simply put Watson, realizing the reality that we in some way failed to engage a portion of the people who were at one time interested in what we had to say, and removing them from our various lists.  However, rather than just removing them, I have chosen a slightly less aggressive tactic. We will give them one or two chances to restate their interest, but if they choose to ignore these missives as well, then come the first of the year we will follow what seems .”

“What if our messages have just been going to their SPAM folders sir? Won’t this one follow?” I asked intrigued yet worried there would be one more task to do just at the end of an already busy holiday session.

“Ah Watson I am so pleased that your deductions are becoming are and more astute,” answered  the Detective almost challenging me to respond with some sarcasm in return, but I chose to hold my tongue. “We will send our message as plain text rather than HTML. Plain text is hardly perfect but spammers use it less, because they cannot hide their insidious links behind an innocuous hyperlink label so SPAM filters are more likely to pass us through. Of course if they had marked our correspondence as SPAM at some point, well, nothing can be done about that.”

“So what will the content of this message be?” I asked, my fear of more work overcome by my curiosity.

“Merely that we have noticed that they had not opened any messages for at least  6 months, and that if they wish to stay on our list to click the provided link, and if they do not, just do nothing, they will be removed at the beginning of the new year,”  The Detective replied succinctly, then laid back in his chair, my signal to come up with some rejoinder or issue.

“Sir, won’t we be cutting out list size down unnecessarily? Won’t we be decreasing our chances of some positive action to a future offer?” I offered.

“Bah, Watson. If they haven’t been reading anything we have sent for the past 6 months, do you actually believe their eyes will burst open and they will see the light suddenly because of some amazing offer we are sending out? Highly unlikely. More likely, they will tire of seeing our emails at some point, and rather than reading and taking positive action, they will mark as SPAM. Removing them seems to be a far better option.”

“So actually sir, we will have smaller more responsive lists, rather than larger lists that may appeal to our egos but with no real benefit, and possible bad effects vis-a-vis SPAM reports and such!” I exclaimed.

“Quite so Watson, now back to work, or perhaps back to bed for me.”

Beware of Gurus Bearing Gifts

experts_thumb“Sir, you look even more lost in thought than usual,” I ventured, starting off the weekly conversation between myself and The Effective Detective.

The Detective turned to me slowly, and glared balefully at me before replying, “Watson, have I told you recently that your powers of sarcasm seem to be increasing weekly?”

“Perhaps, sir,” I answered.

“No matter Watson, you are correct, I am thinking about a situation recently, and I am still amazed that I needed to catch myself to avoid making an investment that would not have paid off for me,” the Detective recovered.

“Sir?”

“On a recent webinar on list building, Watson. I was so engaged by the gentleman’s content, I found myself totally prepared to invest in his program,” The Detective paused, always a signal to me to jump in with some witticism or sarcastic remark.

“There is a problem with investing in a program that you find well presented sir?”

“No Watson, there is a problem with investing in a program that while well presented is absolutely useless to our efforts at this point in time. This program, no matter how good, does not fit our current marketing efforts, and would most likely ended up as shelfware, or Google Drive ware, for all the use we would have gotten out of it. We business people love our gurus Watson. We slavishly follow them, hanging on their every word and investing in their programs as long as the budget allows. The problem is, we do not think about how this or any other program offered may fit into our strategic plan. We simply know this person is smart and successful, the very image of a ‘guru’ so to speak, and because of our ‘knowledge’ of this, we are blindly willing to follow.”

“What can be done for this – what sounds like a universal – affliction sir?” I asked, now genuinely curious.

“The answer is simple Watson, simply keep your head on. Remember what your strategy is, and evaluate every tool against your goals, and the path you have chosen to follow to reach said goals. It is easy, whilst we are in the early stages of our business or new business area, to become frustrated and begin flailing around looking for that silver bullet…”

“The silver bullet does seem to be a recurring theme, sir,” I interjected.

“Indeed, Watson. Only because it is so prevalent in so many business people’s minds. We dearly desire to be told the path to success, unfortunately, there are as many paths as there are business people following them. There truly is no right or wrong way to success, there is only your own way. The trick is to find coaches and aides that come close to your way as possible, because they can help you avoid at least some of the pitfalls that lay along your path.” The Detective finished, and looked satisfied that we had taken this subject to its logical conclusion.

“So we are free to discuss another subject sir?” I inquired carefully.

“Indeed, Watson, but we shall save that for another week,” The Detective answered, and turned back to his computer.

 

Why are you limiting your audience?

Oops Word on Big Red Button Correct Mistake“Sir, were we away for a while?” I asked, kicking off the latest conversation between myself and The Effective Detective.

The Detective paused for several seconds before responding, “Yes, Watson, as a matter of fact yes we were.”

“Was there a reason?” I asked, my curiosity piqued.

“Not a particularly good one Watson.” He paused before continuing, “I suppose you won’t be satisfied until I expound on this?” he ended with a sigh.

“Sorry sir, but no, I won’t.”

“You are nothing if not persistent Watson. Very well. Once I decided to include video in the weekly e-zine, I essentially doubled my work. There were my discussions with you, and writing a video script, which is not quite as simple as others might think. Plus I had to actually record the videos which created complications as well. At some point – I don’t remember exactly when – I decided I needed to back away from something, and my discussions with you were chosen to get the proverbial axe.” The Detective paused, inviting me to jump in.

“What changed that we are back with our discussions sir?” I asked, more curious than hurt that I had been ignored for a while.

“Ahh Watson, you have your fans! I was often asked why I wasn’t publishing our talks anymore. It seems that more than a few people enjoy reading over watching video,” he answered. “Not only that, sometimes it just isn’t possible or appropriate to watch a video. In the end I realized I was cutting off a percentage of my audience, just so I could create content the way I wanted to. A classic example of not listening to your audience!”

“Are you admitting to a mistake sir?” I pushed.

“Watson, I believe we have more important issues to discuss, can we move on please?” The Detective shot back, perhaps a bit too quickly.

I smiled. “Always good to recognize the error in your ways sir. I for one am glad to be back, and we can leave it at that.”

“Thank you Watson. It is good to be back. Shall we get back to work?”

“With pleasure sir.”

They did NOT say that

I can't believe they said that“Watson, have you ever had the strong desire to punch someone in the face with no warning?”

This was a start to the conversations between The Effective Detective and I that was quite unusual. Curious, I gave an answer that I thought might elicit a further response.

“I suppose occasionally sir.”

“That is a non-answer Watson, but rather than spar with you verbally, I will merely assume you have had such a feeling, and move on to my story and point,” The Detective answered, before continuing on as promised. “You see Watson, what brought about this question was an exchange I was witness to between a young marketer concerned about the marketing of their company’s product, and a presenter on the topic of digital marketing, whom I feel should have known better.”

“A start that does not indicate the necessity of violent action, sir,” I interjected.

“Hush Watson, you are interrupting. there is more. The young marketer was trying to grasp the concept of a lead capture form on their website. When what this could actually do for them finally broke through the fog, they exclaimed, ‘So they fill out this form and give me permission to hound them!’ I of course was appalled. I turned toward the presenter waiting for him to perhaps break into an indulgent smile and explain to this poor confused young marketer the error in using the word ‘hound’. To my shock and dismay, he instead agreed with them! Something to the effect of ‘Yes, hound them.’ The Detective paused while he placed his face into his hands.

“Perhaps sir, you are over reacting. Perhaps, they said such a thing in jest,” I jumped in, eager to come to the defense of two people I had never laid eyes upon.

The Detective shot me a look before responding. “Perhaps Watson, perhaps. Luckily I contained my first impulse which was to roundly curse both of them out. I then contained my second impulse to stand up and noisily walk out on the presentation. Even if they were joking, there were 40 or so people in the room that based on their questions, were, for the most part, totally uneducated on the subject of digital marketing, and especially email marketing. For them, that statement could have very well been considered as validation of the deed. Hound them indeed!”

“What might you have said differently, sir?” I asked giving The Detective an opening to provide an alternative.

“Obviously Watson, if said young marketer had made such a stupid statement to me, I would have politely informed them that people do not give you permission to hound them. Hounding them is the surest way to make nary a penny via email, and to develop a reputation as a spammer. No, people give you permission to start a conversation, a relationship with them. It is that initial trust that allows you to deepen the business relationship, to position yourself as an authority, and, once that trust is deep enough, to consider doing business with you as a trusted advisor. Pursue the people that have asked to do business with you, that tiny fraction that are ready to buy now. But your list? Treat them patiently, and they will reward you. Treat them as property, or cash-cows, and they will punish you, leave you, and they certainly won’t do business with you.”

“Sage council indeed, sir,” I responded, knowing the discussion had come to an end.

“Just so, Watson, just so.”

Another Cart, Another Horse Before it

Confused businessman sitting on a solid rock with so many question.“Watson, what do you think the best marketing tactic for a business is?” The Effective Detective asked, as he turned away from his frost encrusted window.

“Sir? I think I am missing some data here,” I replied, feeling like I was being led into a trap.

“Excellent Watson! There is hope for you after all! Pray tell, what is the missing data?” The Detective exclaimed.

Well…” I started out slowly, watching The Detective’s face for indications that I was going in the wrong direction, “what kind of business are we talking about, sir?”

“A good start Watson! How can you possibly know what tactics to use if you don’t even know the business? Every Door Direct Mail would be a horrible choice for an online business, no? There is another piece of missing data though, is there not?” The Detective responded, almost gleefully.

” Even if you know the business, the market could easily vary, even within a certain business type,” I ventured.

“You’ve hit the nail on the head, Watson! Who the market is, where you can meet them, and how you can reach them, these are the true drivers of your marketing tactics. It sounds obvious and yet, how often have we seen people creating Facebook pages when their market doesn’t use Facebook, networking at events where neither their market, nor good referral sources are in attendance, and of course, sending out emails with content that has no appeal to the people they are sending to. It pains me to admit I’ve done the same occasionally,” The Detective ended with a sigh.

“I think this is a landmark day then sir, you, admitting a mistake?” I pushed gently.

“Careful Watson, of course I admit to my mistakes, since they are so few and far between, it does no harm, but back to the point at hand. We could end the discussion here since the point is so simple, but there is a bit of nuance to using mis-directed tactics,” The Detective responded, then gave me my usual lead to ask him to continue.

“OK sir, I’ll bite. How could you possibly make using the wrong tactic work to your advantage?” I asked.

“Ah Watson, the trick is in knowing what you don’t know,” The Detective began, “if you are certain of your market, then using the wrong tactic, simply because it is popular or cheap is simply bad business. But what if you aren’t sure of your market, or at least you aren’t sure where they are or how to reach them? Then, running small controlled tests with some of these tactics may actually help you identify where your marketing should be focused, and certainly where it should not.”

“Taking baby steps before you start running sir?”

“That is one metaphor Watson. Another one, although I despise sports metaphors, would be how a football team starts out a game with a few running plays, and a few passes to see where the defense might have a weakness, before committing their game to runs or passes, or risking the big play that could backfire on them.”

“An interesting concept, sir,” I said, not sure I was supposed to come up with a new metaphor or to just put the game to rest.

“The important thing is that you must analyze the results. As usual Watson, the clues are there, but you need to get and look at the data to find them. Now let’s get back to work shall we?” The Detective finished.

“As you wish, sir.”

Trying Too Hard To Be Cool

b9f58083-caaa-42d3-9cc2-63891438da79“Watson, are you familiar with the terms, ‘Cutting Edge’ and ‘Bleeding Edge’?” The Effective Detective asked, abruptly looking up from his computer.

“Sir? I believe the terms refer to technology: ‘Cutting Edge’ is fairly new but reliable tech, while ‘Bleeding Edge’ is extremely new and often buggy tech,” I answered, “but what does this have to do with marketing?”

“Bravo Watson, and an excellent question,” answered The Detective before continuing. “Surely you have noticed that technology now plays a large role in marketing? Email auto-responders, CRM databases, texting, software data collection, the list goes on forever. The problem comes when you, in an ill advised attempt to seem cool, or more technically advanced than your competition, latch on to some brand new technology which crashes and burns on you,” The Detective paused, obviously hoping I would interject. I obliged.

“Is there a particular technology you can give as an example, sir?” I ventured.

“Nice segue Watson! There are many, but one that I find particularly irksome is Google Hangouts. Mind you I have nothing against Google in general, and as you well know I am a huge believer in video, just not jerky video that cuts out on a regular basis making you and your guests look like you are in an old stop motion film. And then there is the sound! I have yet to meet anyone who enjoys listening to someone speak as if they were in a garbage can.

“Google Hangouts may not be bad for a video meeting between friends, and perhaps in a pinch you could do a business meeting utilizing it – so long as everyone on the call is patient and in a good mood, but for marketing, where the impression you make is so critical? Bah!” The Detective paused for a quick sip of water, and I took my chance to bring up a point I felt valid.

“But sir, the technology has improved! If noone uses it how will it ever improve?” I asked.

“An excellent point Watson, yes, the technology has improved, because there is a demand for such technology. As to noone using it, if there is a demand, then there will be people who are willing to try it, and experiment with it, and that is well and good. But to use bleeding edge tech for one of the most important aspects of your business? That is a recipe for disaster. There is an old saying Watson, pioneers get arrows in their backs and the settlers ride over them with their wagons. I would think long and hard about the potential downsides of a being a pioneer when it comes to technology in marketing. The upside – ‘Wow they are really cool!’ is rarely worth it,” The Detective finished.

“So the holographic projector with the seventeen speaker wireless sound system is out for our next presentation sir?”

“Quite so Watson. Quite so,” The Detective answered as he went back to work on his computer.