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In this episode of In-Ear Insights, Katie and Chris tackle the challenges you’ve listed in our quarterly survey, especially around scaling your marketing, lead generation, and dealing with incredible uncertainty. How do we scale? How do we generate more leads? Tune in to find out!

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Machine-Generated Transcript

What follows is an AI-generated transcript. The transcript may contain errors and is not a substitute for listening to the episode.

Christopher Penn 0:04
In this week’s In-Ear Insights, we’re talking about looking ahead to 2021.

And some of the responses we’ve gotten from our fourth quarter survey, which by the way, if you haven’t taken the survey for this, I’ve encouraged you to do so you can pop on over a T Trust insights.ai slash newsletter, you’ll find it in the most recent issue that we put on the website.

So if you haven’t already ticket, please go ahead and do that.

Katie, you’ve been reading through is the results, you’ve been seeing some patterns in what people are worried about, as we enter the new year? What do you see? And what do you make of it?

Katie Robbert 0:41
What I’m seeing is that we’re all in the same boat together, everybody is struggling with the same kinds of things moving into next year, because a lot of marketers have had the same kind of year in 2020, have, you know, their customers have tightened their budgets, they don’t want to spend money, you know, they have had to cut headcount.

They’ve had to reduce their own marketing budgets.

And so a lot of the themes that I’m seeing are, you know, how do I scale? How do I amp up my Legion? How do I reach my right target market? And how do I establish value? And those are four really big challenges for anyone.

And to be quite honest, those are some challenges that we’re facing moving into next year, as well.

We’re a very small company.

And, you know, we’re often asked, Well, how do you scale? How are you going to do this? And, you know, the thing that’s obviously top of mind for me as well is how do we get more lead gen.

And what we do know is that people are exhausted.

Everybody is exhausted by getting ads, and emails and social posts.

And so all of those tried and trued methods are going to fail us moving into next year, because the only thing we’ve had to rely on is digital, because we can’t do things in person.

And so I don’t have a good answer to that.

And that’s something that you know, Chris, you and I and john are going to be figuring out over the next few weeks and months is, how do we tackle that? So what have you been seeing from the survey results?

Christopher Penn 2:19
very much the same that we saw early on a lot of people asking about, you know, what do we do a virtual events because people are completely toast on those.

And we’ve seen it just in our own monitoring of, you know, major event hashtags and things that they’re pulling 2010 20% other spots they used to, we’re looking at, for example, dreamforce, it was a 10th of the volume used to be when it was an in person event.

And so the things that I see, broadly, represent more the economic climate than the macro social climate.

I mean, yes, the pandemic has, obviously caused virtual event, real world events to stop.

But more than anything, it’s the economic impacts, every time we go through a major stumbling block in the economy, we see the focus go back down to the bottom of the funnel, like assembly, leads, right? brand goes up.

And that’s all leads.

And scale is a polite code word for do more with less, you know, when, when we were working at our former shop, you know, when when some hit some rough patches, the big focus was suddenly all about Okay, what can we do to do more with less? How can you How can you service the same number of clients with, you know, a third of the people kind of thing? How do you How are you thinking about tackling, particularly the one on scale? How do you think you’re tackling it because lead gen is not safe? Easy, but it’s straightforward? How do we scale?

Katie Robbert 3:48
So interestingly, and Chris, because you were wrapped up in lots of client work last week at something that john and i talked quite a bit about, offline, we were sort of thinking about that moving into next year, and the solution that we kept coming back to, and it’s not a new technique, it’s not magic.

So you know, you don’t have to get your pens out to start writing this down, is we need to document and automate some of our processes.

And so there are I’m gonna put in big, heavy quotations, easier techniques that we do at Trust Insights that Chris, currently You are the only one who has knowledge of how they are done because you develop these processes.

And, you know, let’s say you decided to take a week off and somebody needed something, john, and I would be a little bit up a creek without a paddle.

If we don’t have these things documented, in some way, shape or form for us to replicate the same work that you do.

And so while Is it the best use of my time, and John’s time to be also doing the exact same things that you do? Not necessarily, however, One of the ways that we will scale is by all of us learning all of the basics of things around like SEO and Google Analytics that we can then pass on to contractors and other analysts that we bring on, that’s how we will be able to scale is by taking some of those lower hanging fruit things off of your plate so that you can then focus on more of those advanced tools and techniques.

Now, that’s unique to us at Trust Insights.

But one of the things that everybody should be doing is documenting your processes, seeing where those repetitive tasks are.

And looking at where you can introduce some automation, the biggest time suck that I still see for all of our clients is reporting.

And that’s just a no brainer, you can automate majority if not all of the data extraction, and then putting it into some sort of a spreadsheet or a dashboard, and just spend your time on the analysis and actions.

That to me is the is the easiest way to scale is just automate that stuff.

Christopher Penn 6:10
automate, the other part that I think is vitally important in what you’re saying is figuring out what stuff to stop doing.

You know, there, if there’s a report that takes you 10 hours to put together, and it’s a complete waste of time, and nobody ever looks at it, it’s probably time to stop doing that report.

I mean, there’s, there’s no value in it.

When I look, you know, even just, myself when I look at some of the things that I do every week, is it not the best use of my time, but is there value in it? And for some reason? Maybe not, you know? Or could I take the next step and automate it even more to the point where, okay, okay, it’s now push them a button.

And I can come back in, you know, in two and a half minutes after get a cup of coffee, and it’s done in that case, that’s, that’s a great use of time.

Because anything we can use to clawback time is is essential.

You know, when I look at this, like the SEO reports we’re putting together for clients, they are, they’ve gotten shorter, like they’ve gotten slimmer over the years, it used to be our SEO reports, and I 25 pages, now it’s down to nine or 10, because we’re like, you know what, you didn’t read it, you didn’t get any value out of it.

And we turns out that done for you, as opposed to do it yourself, or do it with help has really become the mantra of a lot of people because again, to your point, part of scaling me and saying, let’s get to the good part, let’s not spend an hour looking at the charts, just tell me what to do.

That’s, that’s another trend.

We’ve had a lot with clients CEOs, just tell me what to do.

I’m too busy.

Just tell me what to do?

Katie Robbert 7:44
Well into that, you know, it’s interesting, and the other time suck, that I see is meetings.

And so if you are still having, you know, a one hour meetings a day on every single individual topic, you’re probably not getting anything of value done.

And so when, when I see people coming back saying I need to scale I need to scale I need to scale.

Look at your calendar, how many meetings Do you have more meetings does not equal more productive and more busy, the more meetings you have does not make you more important.

And that’s to be quite honest, that’s something that I had to learn to my career.

I remember being a project manager, and I would have days where I would have no meetings, and I had this irrational fear.

That meant, number one, I wasn’t important.

And number two, I wasn’t able to get anything done.

And that was partially the culture of the company that I was working at.

Whereas the more meetings you’re wrapped up in, the more important you must be.

And that’s just not true at all.

If anyone’s telling you that then they’re lying to you.

And they have been misinformed and so really challenged when someone puts a meeting on your calendar.

What is the purpose of this meeting? What are we going to get out of this meeting? And the old adage? Could Is this a meeting that could have been an email?

Christopher Penn 9:09
Yep.

The other thing that I saw on the survey that is still concerning, is there are a lot of holdovers and leftovers, people working with old stuff.

And again, we’re talking about how do you scale? Well, part of scaling is knowing what’s working and leaving old stuff behind I saw one response to when talking about getting links with a certain domain authority or domain authority is correlated, you know, in the world of SEO, it’s not causal.

And so much more goes into SEO now than then used to be that I know where this person’s head is, you know, I know they’re stuck in roughly 2015 as a as a time period.

And so, part of scaling doing more at less is a leaving old stuff behind and upgrading to newer stuff that gets you to decisions faster and not focus on stuff.

Doesn’t matter, I see so much out there that is, you know, really, really old thinking.

And some things, yes, some things are timeless, you know, figuring out how to provide value to your customers, as Tyler was talking to your customers is timeless.

But a lot of these older analytics and metrics, they’re they, they don’t stand the test of time.

They’re like, you know, looking at a new kids on the block album.

Katie Robbert 10:25
I take offense to that.

I would argue that new kids on the block is timeless.

But that’s a debate for another day.

Um, but no, I think you’re absolutely right.

And so, you know, there’s, it is interesting when you see where people’s heads are at moving into next year.

And again, a lot of that is because of the company culture or where the company is, you know, on that roadmap digitally, you know, even just saying the word automation to a lot of companies like it gets everybody’s hackles up, because they’re like, Oh, crap, I’m gonna lose my job.

And obviously, Chris, you and I have covered this topic a lot.

And that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to lose your job.

If you introduce automation, it actually means your when, and I’m pointing my screen, but you’re looking at a lot of challenges of I need more time, I need to be able to scale I need to do staffing.

And always you will have time to do those things when you introduce that automation.

So it is definitely interesting.

How How do you

Christopher Penn 11:32
identify the candidates for automation for yourself, like I know for myself, I go by the programmers rule, if I copy and paste it more than three times I need to automate it, I need to put some kind of function there.

But how do you when you look at your own process, in your own documentation, say, you know what, I this is a clear candidate for automating this, because this is just dumb.

Katie Robbert 11:51
It’s very similar.

I mean, that’s really sort of the best way to gauge whether or not something is a good candidate for automation.

And so, for me a lot of my work, it can’t necessarily be automated in the traditional sense, but it can be streamlined.

And it can be broken down into very quick, repetitive tasks that I can have somebody else learn.

So, you know, setting up a new client, for example, involves like three or four different systems.

So I can’t necessarily push a button and automate that.

But I can streamline the process.

And one of the things that I’ve had to challenge myself with, over this past year, and I had a lot of help from our virtual assistant was making things more repetitive and not reinventing the wheel every single time.

And so having someone who’s completely objective from the outside, and you may not have this luxury, but having someone else look at what you’re doing and say, do you have to do it that way? Do you have to, you know, do it a unique way every single time? Or can you, you know, make 90% of it the exact same process every single time, and redo and reserve that 10% for, you know, the welcome email to your client, like you have a template, but then you can modify it a little bit.

And so it’s making sure that you are, I guess, in some ways, not automating, but templating, the work that you do, so that you’re just pulling it out, and then making you know, very small tweaks, like you’re changing the first name, you’re changing the welcome message, you’re changing, you know, the action items or those things.

But otherwise, the you know, welcome email, for the sake of example, is the exact same thing every single time you have all the pieces, you don’t have to go hunting for them.

They’re all living in one place.

And so you know, you say, here’s the contract, here’s the action items.

Here’s the next step, here’s the link to set up meetings, those four elements are always in the in the email, and then you just modify them based on the specific situation.

And so in my world, that’s how I look at automation.

And it’s not automation in the sense that you’re talking about, but it’s automation in the sense of the process is repeatable, and you reduce the amount of time it takes to complete the task.

Christopher Penn 14:09
It makes sense.

The other thing I think, that we forget about with scaling is getting, I guess, squeezing all the juice out of what we’ve got, you know, one of the things that we hear Scott Brinker and friends talk about a lot is, you know, the explosion of martec apps.

And there’s so many of these single purpose apps and stuff like that out there.

And everyone’s asking for 49 bucks a month.

Even, you know us, we’re talking about, like, we want this to do this look at this feature and things.

And then we forget, for example, that the marketing automation software we have actually does a fair number of things that are kind of on our wish list.

It’s just we have not had the time to dig into it go, Oh, well, I can, I can use, you know, the Mautic package to do this, like oh, that would be kind of good to make use that functionality.

And I think that a lot of the time we have a lot of capabilities in the site.

We’re in the systems we already buy.

But we don’t read the manual.

And we don’t make the time to learn these features and go, Oh, we need better workflows.

Turns out our software does support that may not be the nicest, it may not have the flashiest interface, it may not be, you know, what is being seen on the the vendor booths at the at the conference, but he’ll get the job done.

Katie Robbert 15:24
Well, and I think you bring up a really good point of, you know, taking the time to investigate what you already have and what you’re working with, versus just slapping more things on top of an existing problem.

That doesn’t fix anything at all, if anything, that just makes it quite a bit more complicated.

And so, you know, we were talking about user experience, for example, last week on our live stream, which you can catch on our YouTube channel, if you’re looking for back episodes.

And one of the things that strikes me about what you just said, Chris, and about user experience is, well, some of these things aren’t the flashiest, but they get the job done.

Consumers again, they’re so exhausted by everything that they’re getting thrown at them.

That my assumption my unscientifically proven point is that people would rather just have something that works rather than something that looks nice.

I know, I certainly would.

And I’m at the point now where I don’t care how it looks, just give me the information and make sure it works.

And I would rather have that over flash any day.

And so bring that to your marketing bring that to these issues that you have moving into next year of Do we have things that are good enough.

And so, you know, Google Data Studio, for example, can automate a lot of your reporting.

There are flashy er tools out there that make like, you know, prettier charts and you know, 3d looking pie graphs and whatnot.

Do you need that? Or do you just need the data? And those are the types of decisions that you have to make in order to continue to scale what you’re doing in a really thoughtful way.

And if your first thought is, well, it doesn’t look nice.

Okay, you need to reevaluate Is that really the most important thing? I remember,

Christopher Penn 17:06
we were talking to one client in the automotive sector and you know, a vendor and put together this dashboard of looks like, you know, the, literally the dashboard of a car and it was, you know, so fancy.

And we looked at and said, this still doesn’t tell you anything, like you still can’t make any decisions from this, like, here’s the ugly dashboard that has two numbers on it with a green hour and a red arrow like that tells you what to do pretty easily.

So to wrap up, it’s AUC lead gen, which is always perennial, is the concern, and then scaling and we get scaled by stopping doing things that don’t work by automating things that provide minimal value, and devoting the time to squeeze more value and more benefit out of the stuff that we already have.

If you have questions about what we’ve been talking about this episode, you want to discuss it or you want to share your tips for how you’re going to scale in 2021.

hop on over to Trust insights.ai slash analytics for marketers.

It’s our free slack community.

There were 1400 members, all of whom want to scale just as much as you do.

Come on over.

share your tips for what you’re thinking about what things you’re going to try.

We’d love to hear from you.

If you’re watching the show, wherever it is that you are, please pop on over to Trust insights.ai slash ti podcast and you can even subscribe to the show catch all the back episodes.

And while you’re there, grab our email marketing newsletter at TrustInsights.ai AI slash newsletter every week, we feature fresh new data.

Stay tuned.

Beginning later this week.

This is the week of December 7, we are beginning our 12 days of data series on our blog over TrustInsights.ai AI so make sure that you are popping by we’re looking at things like Facebook and Instagram and Reddit press releases, news stories, all sorts of stuff that happened in 2020 and what it means for your market so stay tuned for that.

Thanks for watching the show.

We’ll talk to you soon.

Take care


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