Marketing demands organization, and effectively organizing yourself will require the use of systems and processes. It’s often observed that the creative mindset doesn’t tend to be the most organized of work styles. That’s a generalization of course, but to the extent that creativity runs counter to organization and systematization, creatives will need to become organized for the sake of their marketing.
Marketing is a Numbers Game
That’s because marketing in some regards is a numbers game. Marketing fundamentally involves reaching out to prospective new clients in order to make them aware of your services. We all know that not everyone we reach out to is going to have an interest. Which means, as we move down the marketing funnel, some prospects will turn into interested leads, and some of those into opportunities, and some of those into clients—and there will be significant drop outs at each stage.
Let’s assume that at each stage of the marketing funnel we get a 20% transition rate (which would be pretty good!). In other words, of all the prospects you identify only 20% take some action indicating interest. They move from the prospect stage to the lead stage—leads being those prospects that connect with you, follow up, or respond in some way to your initial ‘hello.” Of those leads, most will not have a definite interest in your services, at least not at the exact moment of your introduction. So let’s grant the same 20% percentage to those who may have an opportunity to discuss. Depending on how effective your marketing is at delivering qualified prospects, let’s assume once again that you end up qualifying and closing 20% of all the opportunities into new clients.
If you drop 1,000 contacts into the top of that funnel, only 200 will become leads. Of those 200 only 40 would become potential opportunities. And of those, only 8 into new clients. Now those initial percentage assumptions are highly variable depending on how well-positioned you are, the nature of your service, and your skill at engaging and nurturing your prospects.
One Thousand Prospects is the Minimum
But one thing is clear. For this scenario to play out, you would need to process at least 1,000 prospects through your marketing funnel (I generally suggest that my clients aim for a prospect list of 1,000-3,000 contacts). But managing one thousand (or more) contacts is impossible without some systems and processes to keep things organized.
Customer Relations Management Systems?
There are plenty of products available designed to help you keep track of leads, opportunities, and clients. They are called Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems. Salesforce is the most well known, but it’s way too complex and expensive for the average creative entrepreneur. I usually recommend HubSpot Free CRM (not their paid version) when a CRM is necessary. But honestly, a CRM is often overkill for most creatives. CRMs are really needed when you are managing hundreds of leads and opportunities through a transactional sales process—especially when you have a multi-person sales team managing opportunities. The built-in structures of a CRM, while designed to be customized, are usually too structured—not flexible enough—for the fluid marketing processes of the typical creative entrepreneur.
Alternatives to a CRM
Honestly, a Google Sheet to keep track of your lead list could be enough to manage your contacts and follow them through the prospecting funnel.
But while a spreadsheet can suffice, I use another tool that works much better, and can quite possibly eliminate the need for a CRM altogether. That system is AirTable.
What is AirTable?
AirTable is very much like a spreadsheet. In fact, you can copy and paste all the columns and rows from any spreadsheet right into AirTable. But AirTable is really a relational database in disguise. How does that help? Well, imagine you have a spreadsheet that contains all your contact’s names, email addresses, with some fields that keep track of their prospecting stage (unengaged, engaged, lead, opportunity, client, no interest, unqualified, etc.) and maybe lead scoring (cold, warm, hot, star, etc.).
Additionally, you have another sheet where you keep track of all the various “campaigns” that you run in order to reach out to these leads. You reach out via a LinkedIn Connection campaign, you reach out with various email campaigns, and maybe you even engage in some good ole’ fashioned cold calling campaigns. If you track these campaigns in a separate table you can use a special relationship field (called “Link to another record” in AirTable) in order to connect each contact with the campaigns they’ve been added to.
Wait! There’s More!
That kind of data relationship can then be used, along with all the other data, to leverage the real power of AirTable—namely, its filters, grouping, and sorting capabilities. AirTable allows you to easily show or hide any field from your view. It also enables you to filter your lists using any sets of criteria from your data (for example, filtering the contact list to include only those set to “engaged” or “lead”). The resulting lists can then be grouped by any of these options—displaying these lists in sets based on lead scoring, for example, so that all contacts are grouped up by their lead score. Finally, you can also sort the results so that the lists order themselves by whichever columns you prefer.
Saving Multiple Views
The thing I love most about these various sorts and filters is that any set of options you make can be saved as a custom “view” of your data, so that you can get back to that set of criteria at any time. This allows you to easily toggle from a complete list view of all your contacts to just those who have expressed interest, or just those who you’ve set with a follow-up date with, or any other organizing view that’s helpful to your marketing process.
Free vs. Paid Versions of AirTable
If you take my AirTable recommendation, keep in mind that their free option limits you to 1,200 records. But for only $10 per month (per user) that extends to 5,000 records, and for $20 per month it jumps up to 50,000. Considering how much time AirTable can save you by organizing and structuring all your lead data, enabling your managing process, those costs are a bargain.
If you’d like to see a simple example of AirTable in action, check out this video from Lead Cookie, which demonstrates how they organize their client’s lead data.
If you’re going to engage in marketing, you will need to lean on systems and processes to keep organized. AirTable is a great system, and if you’d like to learn more about how best to use AirTable just reach out. We’d be happy to share more about how we help creative entrepreneurs to set up systems and implement well-organized marketing campaigns that help them find great clients.