Or … Do You Really Need That Shiny New Tool?
Do you chase shiny objects? As a copywriter and online marketing consultant I spend quite a bit of time keeping up with the latest trends and opportunities and there truly are some amazing new tools and programs out there which claim to make your life easier. In all fairness, most of them do a pretty good job, the challenge is working out which ones you really need and which ones are just going to duplicate programs you already have. If you keep upgrading you will end up making a big business mistake … or two. It will be the error of flitting hither and yon, rather than digging deep into the tools you have.
Last week I wrote about the tools you need to build a valuable content library which builds your organic search ranking, and also converts visitors when they find your website by telling your story, and communicating the value you bring. Obviously you need to create great content, but these tools will help you to make your material easy to find, and build your reputation as a thought-leader.
This week I’d like to take a look at the tools you already have, and answer some of key issues I run into:-
The Three Biggest Problems When You Upgrade Your Tools
- I’ve lost count of the number of times somebody has said to me, “I’m thinking of buying Program X because I’m tired of doing Y.” After a few more questions they realise that one of the programs or pieces of software they already have is quite good at the thing they wanted to use it for – only they didn’t realise it could do that particular function as well.
The lesson here is to spend some time looking through the forums for programs you have and mastering the use of their features or asking around before you jump in and purchase something new.
- The second problem is that implementing that new tool is rarely as easy as it looks in the demonstration video, and to be perfectly honest, most forums and support documentation (especially for newly released products and services) don’t tell you what you need to know.
This means you are a going to have to set aside time to learn how to use it before you can implement it.
- The third problem is whether you actually need, or will use it. Unless you have a clear vision of where your business is going then upgrading to a top-of-the-line internet marketing CRM like Ontraport or Infusionsoft which costs a few hundred dollars each month may be overkill.
On the other hand, it may be exactly what you will need, so selecting the program early and starting to learn it makes perfect sense, even if the investment doesn’t reflect your needs at this moment.
The best strategy for evaluating any tool is to ask yourself three simple questions:-
- What do I already own that could do this task?
- Is this task important enough for me to invest the time in learning how to use the tool?
- Does my long-term plan mean that it makes sense to invest time and money in this tool now?
For example, when I was considering purchasing Infusionsoft I went through this process.
I was already using Aweber, so I had a product that could handle auto-responders, I had a calendar and Omnifocus to help me track tasks, Xero for book keeping, and Premise and Lead Pages for landing pages. It wasn’t an all-in-one solution, but I did have everything I needed and Infusionsoft would duplicate many of these functions.
I certainly needed to invest time in executing these tasks both for my own business, and for my clients because I prefer to sub-contract rather than employ people so I need to know how things work, and I also need to be able to trouble shoot some of these functions for my clients. Was it better to use a suite of products or a single integrated service (that is sometimes known as ‘Confusionsoft’)
My long-term plan is to sell products, services and training online so there is no question that I need to master all these tasks. Infusionsoft has some features that no other program can equal and right now I have the opportunity to set things up and make mistakes without annoying tens of thousands of people, so there was a solid timing argument even though at present Infusionsoft’s capabilities are way beyond what I really need. I hesitated at the thought that by the time I really need it, something better might be on offer, but decided to go ahead and purchase Infusionsoft – mostly because Microsoft was being such a pain about managing my Office 365 subscription that Ontraport would have to have looked simply amazing for me to have considered it.
In this case, I went ahead with the purchase because of reasons 2 & 3, In other cases I’ve realised that there just isn’t a compelling argument for investing in an additional program or service – the learning curve will outweigh it’s extra features, and my long-term plans make it unnecessary.
Investing in programs and services you don’t need is bad for your bottom-line and it wastes your time and energy, as well as filling up your hard drive.