Almost every single fitness business owner I know is trying to figure out how to streamline and add more “online” or “cloud-based” automation to his or her business (website, email auto responders, social media platforms, marketing funnels/CRM, eCommerce).
In fact, this is true of ALL small business owners.
And why not?
After all, with automation you can:
- Increase your productivity
- Decrease your labor costs
- Increase your profit margins
Seems simple enough…. right?
But, then, there’s this…
The most frustrated, tear-your-hair-out people I know are the same business owners trying to figure out how to add more “online automation” to their businesses!!!
And, I know why…
It’s an important business lesson
This is a rather long post.
But, I promise… if you are a frustrated online automation freak — trying to understand what to do… and how to do it… and why none of it is working — then you’re going to want to read this entire post.
I’ve walked in your shoes…
Listen, I’ve been there. I’ve walked in your shoes and totally understand how you feel.
My businesses have been “ONLINE” since 1995. I coded my own eCommerce platform as far back as 2002. So, I have a little experience in all this stuff.
In this post, I’ll explain everything… and, as a reward for reading to the end, I will take some of the sting and frustration away.
First, some background…
You may, or may not, know that my wife (Gigi) and I are caregiving my 94-year old mother.
Her name is Hope, but, we all just call her Nana.
She’s totally immobile. But, her mind is still “there” — well… sort of…!
Nana is a trip!
I really mean this in the most loving way. Living with Nana is quite a trip!
For one thing, every morning like clockwork she applies her make-up and puts on her earrings — as if she’s going somewhere! (she’s bed-ridden).
After her morning grooming and a small breakfast, it’s TV for most the day — between naps.
Then, every night at exactly 5:00 p.m. I transfer her from bed-to-wheelchair — and roll her into our living room so she can watch the local news.
Her nightly ritual also includes three Scotch & Waters with ice. It’s her “Happy Hour!” (Crazy.. right? Maybe the booze is what keeps her alive!)
Nana doesn’t always remember if she’s eaten, or taken her meds, etc.
And, my God…. watching sports with her is hilarious. She thinks instant replay is “live action” because she forgets what she just saw (even when the replay is in slow motion)!
You can only imagine how funny the Winter Olympics were.
She pretty much made up her own rules as well as who should — or should not have won — based on her new criteria. Her favorite event was the half-pipe, which, in her universe became a “speed event” won by Shawn White — by over 2-minutes!
Yes, it’s a wacky world living with Nana.
What the heck does Nana have to do with AUTOMATION..???
Just hang tight with me… and I’ll explain.
Nana serves two purposes in this very important Marketing Lesson.
You’ll know why when I tell you about a lunch I had with my friend, Dan Grimes.
Beyond being a highly respected computer programmer, Dan spent more than 30 years introducing computer technology and automation into all kinds of manufacturing processes for all kinds of different companies.
Needless to say he understands automation.
When I point out how complicated web-based marketing funnels have become, Dan just laughs!
I often show him all my opt-in forms, landing pages and flow charts with all the different Yes/No scenarios — and how I can tag and segment various prospects based on their responses.
But, Dan just snickers!
To put this in perspective – and to explain why Dan laughs, you should know his experience includes the complete design, build and manufacture of jet engines, oil refineries and sophisticated nuclear medical machines.
These projects included hundreds of thousands of parts. His flow charts accounted for the specs, schedules and deliveries of thousands of vendors, resources, engineers and assemblers.
Dan’s job was to organize, prioritize, automate and streamline as much of it as possible.
His flow charts could go to the moon and back!
Dan also is a super nice guy and sometimes brings sandwiches from a local deli so Nana, he and I can have lunch together.
We sit around the kitchen table and chat.
It was during one of these lunches a few weeks ago, where, predictably, the conversation turned to… automation.
You have to picture it. Dan and I are deep in conversation about artificial intelligence — while Nana is quietly eating her sandwich – with an occasional glance followed by total dismissal — as if Dan and I are both looney tunes!
All of a sudden Nana interrupts our conversation by blurting out:
“Automation… automation… automation… Do you know the most automated thing in the world is right here in this room?!”
“What are you talking about?” I ask.
“Me!” she says. “I’m 94-years old and I have no idea how or why I’m still around. I’m automatic!”
There it is…
I just busted up laughing. Like I said, Nana is a trip!
But, Dan wasn’t laughing at all.
Instead, he looked at me and said, “Ya know, she’s right!
There it was…
Out of Nana’s mouth came something so profound.
It immediately resonated with Dan.
The miracle that is us…
When you think about it the human body is an automated miracle.
And, every day we, as health and fitness professionals, work with the most automated, sophisticated and complex “machines” on the planet!
Seriously, have you ever thought of it this way?
These human machines are made of 11 incredibly complex and automated organ systems, including:
- The circulatory system
- The respiratory system
- The digestive system
- The excretory system
- The nervous system
- The endocrine system
- The immune system
- The integumentary system
- The skeletal system
- The muscle system
- The reproductive system
And, even more amazing is that all of these systems integrate and support each other with near perfection 24 hours a day, seven days a week!
We didn’t start out that way…
O.K., so now I will begin to tie this together and how it relates to online automation, you and your business.
As you already know, these incredibly automated, complex machines called human beings actually begin existence as the simplest thing — a single cell.
But, then, as the human egg splits into 2, then 4, then 8, 16, 32, 64 — and morphs over the next nine months, it produces descendant cells with a huge variety of functions: bone cells, nerve cells, blood cells — the cells of the eyes, fingernails, stomach and skin.
Online business automation is no different — it evolves…
Yes, it’s true. Online business automation is a morphing process.
Whenever I point this out to a group of business owners, they assure me they understand.
But, even after saying they understand… most confide to me that they believe all (yes, ALL) their competitors are just crushin’ it with completely automated systems that market and sell online products and services.
I call it “auto-envy.”
The Gurus Do What They Do, but…
And, then, they speak glowingly of several “online gurus” they’ve read about on Facebook — who swear on a stack of bibles that all this stuff is so damned EASY that ANYBODY can do it..!
Just lay down $997 and they will walk you through all the stuff you need to know, like:
- How to totally automate your online business
- How to create online products
- How to sell online products
- How to create primary sales followed by upsells and downsells
- How to build complex sales funnels
- How to create coaching programs
- How to present webinars
- How to communicate with non-purchasers
… and the list goes on and on!
Yes, yes, yes…. all this stuff works. There’s plenty of proof. The gurus have the testimonials to prove it.
But it’s NOT EASY!
This is where I personally and professionally get a little ticked-off at some of the marketing people in our industry. And, it is exactly WHY so many fitness professionals as well as millions of small business owners are so frustrated.
Don’t get me wrong. I have no argument over automation. It really works.
And, the more you master it, the more efficient and productive you and your business become. Without a doubt, automation will help you generate more revenue with less labor.
But, to say automation is easy is the same as telling an obese, type 2 diabetic that losing weight and getting off meds is going to a “walk-in-the-park.”
That’s just plain garbage… IT’S NOT EASY. It is a PROCESS!
Where This is Going…
O.K. so perhaps you see where this is headed. Developing automation for your business is NOT… I repeat, it is NOT a quick and simple “one-and-done” task.
Automation is an accumulative process.
The Fork in the Road
So, this brings us to a “fork-in-the-road” on how to proceed with the PROCESS. It’s a simple decision with no “right” or “wrong” answer.
It gets down to these two (2) basic options.
- DIY: Learn the basic technology and Do-It-Yourself
- Outsource: Hire a developer to build out your automation
Both have pluses and minuses.
But, here’s a super quick way to determine which is the best route to take:
- If you have more TIME than money, then, option #1 will be the best.
- But, if you have more MONEY than time, then, by all means, outsource as much as your budget will allow.
Yes, I know. There are plenty of fit pros and health coaches who have no time and no money. It may not be the right time to pursue it.