019: Pivoting To The Online Space In Your Business

By Tom Birchall | Podcast

Oct 06


Show Notes: 

Has Covid crashed your cashflow? Do you need to pivot to the online space in your business?

There is an ocean of technology out there. Don’t get lost at sea. Tom Birchall gives you a life-preserver in this episode to give you handles on navigating the online space.

Plus he shares 2 key factors to navigating business success in the digital space.

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Episode Transcript:

Do you have to pivot? Do you need to change what you're doing? Has your business reality shifted with the COVID changes and what's going on with things?

We are talking about pivoting to the online space in your business. So many of us have had a reality shift and reality change of what we've been doing in the past toward what we're doing now. And a lot of that has been to move online.

I wanted to take some time today to talk about the space in general and give you a perspective because it can be an ocean of technology. An ocean of tools, systems, and processes. And little bit daunting, scary, unnerving and frustrating to navigate. 

I’ve been in a space for decades. Gosh, I took one of the first computer courses when I was in high school that was offered. And I won’t say when that was… the decade of the 80s! I’m dating myself. What is so exciting is the technology that's advanced to this day is amazing and astounding. If you are in the online space, new to the online space, and if you're an old veteran, let me just remind you or give you some context that here's the thing: now is the best time that you could ever be wanting to be online. 

Because we've advanced so much. We are here! And the tools applications, the SaaS’s. And if you're new to that term Software-as-a-Service. It’s typically written with an S that's big on the front, and a big S on the back, and it's a palindrome because you can see it, and spell it, forwards and backwards is the same thing. SaaS’s. 

So Facebook is a SaaS Software as a Service. I want to give you some nuts and bolts of what's happening in the online space. 

There is an ocean of technology that's available to you. And that's possibly the first thing that I want to point out. When I'm talking to entrepreneurs that are new in this online space. You're not sure where the ground is. You look around for solutions to what you want to do online. And you think you've got it. And the challenge is, I’m going to use perhaps strong word, you're “naive”. Like you don't know yet what's happening in the space. If it's new to you. And just around the corner is yet another tool that is just what you wanted yesterday or five days ago or this morning. 

Like you set out to find a tool to do X, maybe it's for your email system, and CRM, which stands for Customer Relationship Management software. And you're looking around for a CRM or an email tool that'll do your communication and talking with people because you're told that's what you need to do. Or you just know that that's what you need to do. There are soooo many email tools out there, dozens and dozens of them. That's just one area. 

There's probably 20 tools that you need to be running an online business. And there's dozens and dozens of each one of those categories. Like it's just an ocean of tools out there. And so it can be daunting and overwhelming. So “A” know that have awareness that there is always yet another app for that. “There's an app for that!”, right? Anything you can think of, there's probably an app for that. 

So know that there's a lot and that you do need to narrow it down. And also the next piece I want to highlight is: get good at asking better questions. Identify what you really want? So you as an entrepreneur. Just like anything in life. You need to know what you want. Like what's your end point? What's your end goal. That will help start to narrow the ocean down to at least a lake. 

And that would be the second thing that I want to highlight is: know what you want in that, and let’s unpack that a bit more. What you want now? What you want in the future? What do you want that future state to be? That becomes a key piece that will really start to narrow down the ocean and get it down to a lake, and hopefully you can get it down to a pond, and then get it down to the puddle you are playing in!

When there's just so many options out there. Knowing what you want starts to provide some guidance. And then knowing what you need or want now… and in the future, what's your future state is key. And I’ll stay on this theme of email tool. And they call it an autoresponder tool. Or a “CRM”. And there's two types there. That's why I'm kind of using the two names. 

There’s a Customer Relationship Management tool that usually has an emailer in it. Yet there's a genre of email tools that are just completely standalone and expert at just emailing. Which isn't quite a customer relationship management [software] because it's just emailing right? Your CRM has content record management and a little more depth of tools and services available to you than just emailing. So again, it depends on what you want. If you can identify what you want now and what you want your business to look like in the future? That's awesome. 

Now let me pause on this. You do need a customer relationship management tool. Beyond just an emailer. It starts to separate like this. It depends on how geeky you want to be. You personally or the team that you want to hire. Right? Like what's important to you. If you're kind of a general “yeah, whatever” kind of person and you just like to go real fast and just get it done and you don't really care about the details, then you don't need to get that geeky. You yourself or the team you hire.

There's degrees of complexity that are added when you want to do more sophisticated things. And so then the tool set that you get or the team that you work with starts to shift and change a little bit. See we're getting a little bit of handles on this. So we want to make business easy and then break it down to get a more simple. 

To do that what needs to happen is identifying what you need now and in the future become important. It's tough because you may not know what you want in the future. This becomes kind of the dog chasing the tail that goes round and round a little bit. So to help break this down let me give me an example. 

So in the email space, there's just endless tools that you can get and the Customer Relationship Management type of a tool, I would suggest is something that will help you now and in the future. And if you want to get really geeky, then you might break off from that and have a special tool is just contact management and customer relationship oriented and then an email tool that is just specifically for email.

That would be like, kind of advanced and really specialty thing. So that's on the complex end. Let's go on the really simple end. There's a number of tools out there that people really like and enjoy and are popular.

And the challenge is they're good for now, as a newbie getting into that space or if you are a veteran you just like simplicity. Great! They serve you kind of in the short term, but in the long term down the road where you want to go, of serving your client base in the market space in the online experience. They're limited on what they can do. And I gotta tell you, it's a little tough and frustrating. 

I'll give you a story. I got a tool that was mid-tier. Okay, it was not basic. It wasn't advanced. It was kind of in the middle. And I had heard them say they do this one thing: list segmentation. Right, segmenting your list is an important thing. And so I thought okay, good. I asked. I saw on their website, list segmentation. I heard them speak in some of their training. They talk about list segmentation. Good. Great! I sit down to do this. I've got to get this done and was working away configuring the tool and I can't see where this is happening. I'm going to get on support.

So I'm on support with the chat. Thinking well, let’s just talk on the phones getting more and more details. So we're talking on the phone and the person goes, Yeah, I can’t help you. I'm gonna escalate this up to the next tier above me that is, you know, the bigger brain folks. So a little bit more smarter, more experience. So I'm talking to them.

I’m saying, look just make it real simple for me. Where do I go in your tool to do list segmentation? You talk about in your website. You've got it in your training and I hear around the language of user experience here, where do I actually do that? 

Oh, well, you just go here and you do that. I said yeah, been there. I tried to do “just that” and there's no place to do it actually. Long story short, I talked to five people. I eventually talked to an engineer and he was the guy that finally said like a developer of the tool, because I kept asking people just show me where it is? I'm just sitting here. You say you can do it. I'm sitting down to do it. Where do you actually do this segmenting? Because I want to segment the list and then I wanted to do a behavioural… depending on what someone does, where they click right, how they “behave”, what they do in an email to have them go from this list to another list. Like move them. Do something automated in the system. All the data is there. I mean, it just makes sense to do right. 

Do you know what they told me!! We can't do it? Like are you kidding me? I spent probably two and a half hours talking to five people. Everyone's saying yes you can, yes you can. But I'm not sure. Yes, we can. But I'm not sure. Yes, we can, but I'm not sure. And finally, the last guy said, yeah, we don't do that. We can't do that. I was frustrated. I no longer use that tool and moved on to using a different type of tool. 

Here's the thing, learning the right questions to ask is important, number one, and then number two, let me reverse that to how I've described it know what you want number one, then number two to learning the right questions to ask to get you there. And so in the future if you want to do more advanced, sophisticated things, for example, like “list segmentation”, I'm going to throw another word out “tagging” becomes really important, right? You need to have a tool, an email tool, a CRM tool that can do tagging. If your system can't do tagging is too simplistic, and I'm going to suggest you're going to want to do tagging. 

You're going to want to be able to identify people in your system of what they've done in the past and that's what tags allows you to do. What do I mean by that? Well, if someone opted in on a particular landing page you built. You want to tag them with that and then you know, oh, they've been to this landing page. They clicked on something on that landing page. See that's beginning to create some behaviour clues to a group of people on your list that they've all looked at this particular product or service or whatever it might have been that landing page that you had created. So tags give you a little bit of context for the people on your list and that's really important so you can talk to them in a meaningful way. Instead of just generally you can start to get specific.

That's where list segmentation becomes really important is because you're wanting to have Okay, these groups of people, I don’t know for example, outdoorsy things are really important to them in their personal life or maybe in their business life.

Or these group of people are more techie in their orientation. So if you have outdoorsy people and techie people and you're trying to talk to them in the same way, that’s not the best. But if you know these are outdoorsy people you people you can use outdoorsy stories and ideas and languaging that is oriented around things that will harmonize with outdoorsy type people.

And then with the techie types you don't really care about outdoorsy stuff. You can use more technical language and more technical analogies and language and stories. Make sense? So segmenting and tagging become really important elements to have in your email tool.

If you want to grow your business and get to that point where you're having those types of nuances and details happening, you need a tool that'll help you get there. Making sense? So whether it's your email tool, your CRM tool? Whether it is stuff that works on your website? Whether it's the type of website you have? Whether it's the hosting package that you get for your website? 

Let’s talk about websites for a moment here too. We talked about emailing now we're talking about websites. 

There are boxed websites I call them and that would be ones like Squarespace and Wix. They're like canned, made to be simple, and they talk about being competent and robust being able to do all kinds of sophisticated things. But when it comes down to it kind of like that email tool I shared earlier, they end up not being able to do the things that you're quite possibly wanting to do. 

Is it good enough? Sure. If you want to just go fast? Sure, great. Get it up and running, which is awesome. Sometimes that is a strategy. Use one of the box website building types of tools: a Squarespace; A Wix; A Weebly. Get something up and running because you implemented. Fantastic! That's great! And then when you get into knowing the great questions to ask or being able to identify where you're going with your business and the types of things you want to do… upgrading to a more robust type of a solution may be the migration path. And that is something that's beneficial to do. 

The caveat with that is: the switching cost, right. 

When you switch technologies, the switching cost of doing that can be expensive from a couple of different angles: money-wise and then audience-wise. So connecting with your audience and connecting with the people in your community and list that you've been spending the time building. When you, for example, switch email service providers people need to ‘re’ usually re-subscribe to your list.

Email service providers are wanting to act with integrity which is awesome and good. Once people on your list have opted into being on your list and subscribed to your list, they're subscribing actually to the tool that you're using not to you as a business. That's a little distinction that to gets unclear. Because if you change tools that resubscribing process needs to go on a second time. So you're asking the same people that are already on your list to subscribe to your list and say, Hey, do you want to get on my list again? Simply because you changed tools. 

And the industry hasn't advanced enough to be able to have it so that they've subscribed to you as a business. But it's to the tool. It's tool centric. Anyways I don't want to get caught up in that discussion. But when you are switching email service providers, you need to have people re-subscribe and then you lose folks off your list. Which can be a good thing because they possibly weren't that engaged in the first place. But there will be folks that aren't. So it's a little bit of a decision that you need to make. A little bit of a risk that when you are changing email service providers that switching costs may be expensive. 

Same thing will go on with the website tool. If you've gotten the more simple one that’s just quick and dirty you can get up and running? Great! However, switching to another one may have some downside. And I don't think it's necessarily that you're going to lose clients, because it's not a subscription list type of thing. It's a technology that is just putting your message out there right of being your website. But there may be hiccups along the way or some headache in the background of just getting that switch to occur. So they are things to factor in. 

But this big picture. I want to get back to the thing we’ve been talking about today of pivoting to the online space in your business. 

There is this ocean of tech out there and being able to navigate through that is something that's important. And to make it easy and simple, remember these things of identifying what you want now in the future. And then learning the right questions to ask so that you can start to navigate and begin to select the different tools that you need for your business.

The last thing I want to talk about is: how far do you want to go? That can have an impact. So that future state of spending a moment determining what size of business you want? What type of business that you want? Because that can help you pick the tools that you're using now and determining if they're going to serve you for the long term. 

So when you get a picture of where you're going. That clear picture of that future state of your business. Do you want to be serving folks locally? The toolset that you get will be different then in that mix than if you want to serve people globally? 

The benefit of the internet is being able to reach people all around the world in all kinds of countries. And if you're building a business that you want to reach folks in various countries, that's a different play. A different type of tool that you need than if you're just simply working locally. The internet can help you locally as well because people can find you, but you’re not serving that broader audience of multiple countries, right. 

Some of the nuances there would be, for example, taxation, right? If you're selling products to people in Europe and people in Australia, and in different countries around the world right wherever that might be. You need to be considering some of those money flow types of challenges versus just locally. Then it is not even an issue. Pretty simple. So have that identification of where you are heading and it helps you with what you're doing now. 

I’m going to wrap this up. We're talking about all things business. And talk about tools, systems, and process… the knowledge, skills, and abilities you need to become that 6, 7, and 8 figure business owner. I look forward to catching up with you soon! And we'll see you on the other side of tomorrow! We’ll catch up soon. Bye-bye!

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About the Author

Tom Birchall is the founder of Mavericks Business Academy (MBA). When he is not conversing with an entrepreneur about life and more profitable business awesomeness he will be talking about his kids, playing ice hockey, the drums, or geeking out about digital marketing. Oh, and then there's root beer floats! ;) Clients tell him he is "smart with a heart!" He believes a smoothie a day keeps the doctor away and telling someone you love them is amazing!