My to-do list often looks like this:
- Follow up with email boudoir inquiries
- Update my Facebook page, Pinterest, Twitter, and Instagram
- Post to my Facebook groups and answer questions
- Publish and promote a new blog post
- Record more videos for my Boudie Camps
- Balance my business checkbook
- Get studio ready for my next shoot
I could keep going, but you get the picture. There's a lot to do in a single day. To the DeLorean! Because there's no way that I can get through this entire list if I don't do a little time-traveling to give myself more hours every day…
…or is there?
Okay, the title of this post is a little tongue-in-cheek because I don't actually know how to time-travel. But I do know a secret tip that will make it feel like you have more hours in your work day.
Imagine being able to spend less time at your computer and more time in the studio…
Or better yet, imagine being able to spend less time in your studio and more time with your family, enjoying hobbies, or traveling…
Yes, you can do it! I'm going to share my secret. And that secret is…*drum roll*… AUTOMATION!
“But Molly,” I hear you say, “I don't want to put my business on cruise control.”
And I completely get you. Marketing automation has a bad reputation of being completely cold. If you don't have that warm, friendly, personal touch, it's hard to book clients, right?
Well, yes, your instincts are good on that one. We all like to book with people we know, like, and trust, and it's impossible to get to know, like, or trust someone who is essentially a marketing robot.
But here's the “secret” part: most people are used to and even EXPECT and LIKE a little automation.
I know you think I'm wrong…but here's what I mean:
Let's say that you need to get postcards printed for your business. You already know exactly what you want, you just need to get pricing information. You find some information online, but really want to keep you business local. So, you call your neighborhood print shop. And you get…
“Your call is important to us. Please remain on the line. Your call will be answered in the order it is received…”
After 20 minutes of waiting, someone finally answers your call and tells you the price per 1000 postcards.
But what if instead, when you called, you got a recorded message that said, “For store hours, press 1. For pricing, press 2. To check your order, press 3…”
You press 2, and hear a recording that runs down the prices for their most popular products, including postcards. The entire call took about 3 minutes, instead of the 20+ it took before.
As a customer, which would be more frustrating to you:
- Getting the information you need quickly, but not talking to a real life person OR
- Having to wait 20 minutes to talk to someone
Most people would say that waiting on hold for 20 minutes is way more frustrating!
What I'm illustrating here is that automation IN THE RIGHT WAY (and that part is VERY important) saves you a ton of time in a way that will not hurt your business.
Now, obviously, there are times when automation is really, really bad. I don't recommend automating everything under the sun. You need that personal one-on-one connection with customers to get them to book a shoot and spend money to get the biggest package they can afford.
But if you're doing everything manually, you're doing your customers a disservice, because they have to WAIT for an answer. People don't like to wait. They like instant gratification.
Here's a good rule of thumb:
- DO automate information that your clients need and want immediately
- DON'T automate casual, friendly interactions
You should never automate messages where you audience thinks you are actually there, on the other end of the computer screen. Don't try to “trick” your audience into thinking you're online if you aren't.
My very favorite way to automate is by setting up an email list. You can use services like Aweber, Mail Chimp, Ontraport, or Infusionsoft to reply to inquiries really quickly. I have my system set up to automatically send out Dream Shoot Planner whenever someone asks for more information. It answers all of their questions and entices them to book a shoot.
Then, my team and I answer follow-up questions manually, for that personal connection.
It works like a charm!
But RIGHT NOW, I want to know: What is your biggest time-suck during the day? Post a comment so we can all help you brainstorm tools and tips you can use to automate the process as much as possible, without losing the personal connection with clients.