Automation Imprisonment: Why It’s So Easy To Become a Hostage To Your Software

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There’s little doubt that marketing automation done right can be a boon to your business, helping you turn your lead conversion and nurturing process into a well-oiled machine that works 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

But for many small businesses, an infatuation with business automation can lead you into a prison sentence. Once you dedicate your business to most marketing automation solutions, discontinuing service isn’t an option. Your business can become captive to your automation software. How can a marketing program with so much promise lead you to such a bad place? And how do we avoid that fate?

Prisoners of Love

The very idea of automation is an easy one to fall in love with. The idea that your website and supporting systems can truly act as a virtual salesperson, enabling a sort of Ron Popeil “set it and forget it” style of relationship building. And when you examine the features list of a major “all-in-one” automation package, it’s absolutely staggering what these systems are capable of. Let’s be honest, it’s difficult NOT to get smitten with the idea that a single software purchase could open up such a wide world of opportunity.

In fact, you get so caught up in everything the software does that you don’t stop to think about WHY you need all those features and what your requirements for business automation truly are. If you’re looking for a quality car, you’d be hard pressed to find something made quite as well as a Ferrari — a car that would probably be extraordinarily easy to fall in love with if you ever got to drive one. But let’s say that 95% of your driving occurs in stop-and-go traffic on a 10 mile stretch of road between your home and office. A Ferrari would be a very poor choice. Not only are you paying an extreme premium for features and power that you don’t need, but it’s also apparent that a standard mass-manufactured, automatic transmission sedan wold actually be a BETTER and more efficient car to use for that drive.

Forget about the temptation of a shiny new toy… If you want to avoid automation imprisonment, step one is focusing on the features you need and whether what’s available in the all-in-one solution is better than what’s available a la carte. Most marketers would agree that for 95% of typical small business uses, none of the all-in-one automation solutions includes a better content manager than WordPress, a better email system than MailChimp, a better form handler than Gravity Forms or a better CRM than Salesforce. But many business owners still find themselves so infatuated with the sexiness of the all-in-one solution that they end up paying an extreme premium for tools that don’t suit their business nearly as well as the ones they already have.

Hard Time on the Chain Gang

Implementing an all-in-one solution is extraordinarily hard work. Think about it this way: even though you’re only buying one product, you are effectively replacing (or partially replacing) every single online marketing system you have. That means that implementation requires a lot of thought, planning, and hard work.

So why don’t you hear about more businesses simply “giving up” on their automation program? They’re likely locked up in a long-term contract, one that may be difficult to break and have already spent thousands of dollars on a mandatory set-up engagement, not to mention fees paid to outside developers, designers and consultants.

Simply put, they’ve paid too much to fail. Instead of discontinuing service, they opt for months of hard labor getting started which is followed by the ongoing hard labor of maintaining a large system which requires special training to use properly.

No Possibility of Parole

The third way your business automation software holds you captive is about as simple as it gets: with a long-term contract, and a highly-involved integration process (which generally results in your data being nearly inextricably entangled with the platform you’ve chosen), separating from your automation package can often be as long and laborious a process as integration was in the first place. The cost of switching from an all-in-one automation package can be insanely expensive.

Becoming a Productive Member of Society

The biggest reason that we saw a need for a product like ORBTR in the marketplace is because of the unhealthy relationship often exists between a small business owner and an all-in-one automation tool: we are sold a tool that is often too big and too complicated to use effectively, forced to spend thousands up front in implementation and then ending up stuck in a long term deal with nowhere to go.

By contrast — and not to allege that we are better in all ways to all-in-one platforms, just to say that we do things differently — our focus is on creating tools and services that integrate seamlessly into your existing sales and marketing systems. I mentioned that, especially for small business uses, all-in-ones are rarely considered to be better at content management than WordPress, better at email than MailChimp, better at form handling than Gravity Forms or better at relationship management than Salesforce…

We work with ALL of those tools and hundreds more. 

You get to build your own toolkit depending on what’s best for your business, you get the option of implementing without a costly engagement, you don’t need to retrain your staff and you have the freedom to abandon the service anytime you want. That’s how automation SHOULD work for small business.

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