Planning. Who Needs it?

It has been a busy few months as you setup your new business. Logo and branding, designing your website  computer to set up, phone number to organise, email to set up….. the list is long and endless. Then finally you get to the end of it and sit back and wait for that first call, email or contact via social media.

Then one day, hopefully quickly, it happens and you dutifully record details such as the potential client’s name, phone number, business name and email. Maybe even more depending on what sort of sales and marketing system you have designed.

What I can hear you say “A sales and marketing system. Don’t I just sell the product or service and record a few details?”

Not a problem you find a CRM and an online program like mailchimp and you just start entering information. A few more months go by and you have hundreds, maybe thousands, of contacts in your CRM and your mailchimp lists. (You do have these programs don’t you or are the details recorded on pieces of paper?)  With any luck they will be the same contacts but not necessarily so, especially if you have not sat down and considered what details you are collecting and how it is to be used or if you wife/husband, son/daughter or next door neighbour has been giving you a bit of part time help.

By now you are drowning in data and wanting to think about segmenting your marketing so that you can target particular niche markets. You look at your data and hours after trying to separate out a specific type of customer you realise it is a hopeless mess that really needed some thought before you started.  You also have customers who expressed an interest but never went on to buy. How do you handle that data and are their contact details still accurate?

In the modern world of social media and online marketing it is common to give away an ebook, allow sign up for a free trial or provide some other free interaction. Gone are the days however when you connected with a client once or twice and then moved onto another client. Many need 7 or 8 touch points before they will buy. Then there is the existing clients that you want to target for new products or services you have developed.

What is essential is that BEFORE you start collecting data you design a system to handle that data. A system that will move potential clients through the sales process so that hopefully many of them purchase and for those who do not where they are exiting your system so you can see what is working and what isn’t.  This system should be automated as much as possible using API links between programs and where possible autoresponders. A type of system that says when a happens then B occurs.. The various pieces of software you are using MUST talk to each other to avoid redundancy of data or the errors inherent in manual entry not to mention the time and cost involved in entering the same data in multiple programs. This is not suggesting that any system is set in concrete as your business will evolve as it matures ;and all systems must regularly reviewed and modified to suit changes.

The type of person that can help with setting up this system is someone who specialises in what in the old days, before online marketing, was called a systems analysis but now days is called an Online Marketer,  Online Business Manager or Marketing Agency.

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