Intro: Hey, everybody. Welcome to Episode 108 of How I Built It. Today my guest is Chris Bintliff of Not Really Rocket Science. Chris is one of the first episodes that I wanted to get out for this year because we are talking about his course, The Automated Consultant. As many of you know, I spent a good portion of 2018 trying to automate a lot of my tasks. In this episode, Chris goes all out and tells us about how he chose the tools that he wants to use and how he automates everything. I enjoyed this episode. I met Chris at CaboPress, and he is a charismatic, helpful and passionate guy. I was happy to get him on the show. We’ll get to his interview in a minute, but first a word from our sponsors.
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Joe Casabona: Chris Bintliff, founder, and instigator of Not Rocket Science, and teacher of the course The Automated Consultant. How are you today?
Chris Bintliff: Great, Joe. How are you?
Joe: I am fantastic. I add– I added “The” to the beginning of Automated Consultant. Are you particular about that? I know some people are.
Chris: The course is called The Automated Consultant because I wanted people to feel like they are adopting a title, they are adopting a persona of being a consultant that is automated. That’s appropriate.
Joe: Excellent. I’m glad to hear that. Thanks so much for being on the show. Chris and I met at an event called CaboPress.
Joe: Yes, it was excellent, and I’ve raved about this on the show already. We’re doing a little mini-series of people I met at CaboPress.
Joe: So, Chris is one of those people. But we’re going to talk mostly about your course, so why don’t you tell us a little bit about who you are and what you do?
Chris: All right. I’m near Madison, Wisconsin and I am a career digital-ist, which means I’ve been doing something with the internet since I was in my late teens or early 20s. I got my first domain name in 2000 or 2001 as a gift from a friend, and I didn’t even know what to do with it at the time, but I thought it was exciting. It was this renegade crazy time for the internet, and I built my first web pages by reverse engineering some of the bands that I liked. I would hijack code and then, “That must mean that’s where images go.” It was a very learn as you go thing, and here I am all these years later, and I work with great big companies that we’ve all heard of, and small businesses and consultants, and medium-sized companies. I’ve got an agency model where we have a whole holistic approach to marketing and to creative that goes into it. I’ve got soft spots for business leaders, for executives, for marketing professionals who are trying to do something unique and interesting with their great big company, but I also have a lot of affinity for the consultant and for the freelancer, and for the solo-preneur who’s trying to make it go. Because I get it. I’ve been there, I’ve worn that hat, and I still wear it every day. I’m still figuring things out every day. My energies are spent between making my business run and go, and thinking about whatever the next thing is for me, and thinking about whatever the next thing is for Not Rocket Science and for the agency. Somehow that led us to CaboPress, which means you and I are sharing space this afternoon.
Joe: Absolutely. OK, I love what you said there. “Career Digital-ist.” It sounds like we started around the same time, I made my first web site in 2001 or 2002. Around that time. But I didn’t buy my first– All of my domains were whatever.CJB.net which was like, I don’t know. Like you said, it was the Wild West in the early 2000’s, and people were doing whatever. I like that we had a similar path. I looked at people’s websites and modified their code, and that’s how I thought things were done. Now all of these years later, like you said, we are here. We’re talking about mainly your course The Automated Consultant. How did you come up with this idea? What made you want to create this course, and what’s the course about?
Chris: The course was built in response to real-world pain and pressure, which was my own. I had a particularly busy month. Normally a couple of clients a month, and I had eight in the matter of three weeks. There’s a process that many of us as business people go through, whether you’re a business leader or whether you’re a solo-preneur, or whatever. There’s a process to onboarding a brand new client. Everything from, “Let me do an intake to understand what’s important to them and what their pain points are and how I might be able to help them solve or understand their problem,” all the way from that first capture of “They want to have a conversation with me.” Maybe that’s an email form or a scheduled something in your Calendly your calendar, whatever. All the way through to, “They’re going to be a paying customer, I need to put them in my project management, I need to put them in my invoicing software.” I don’t have a team of five people around me to make this happen, and I have me. That process was fine when it was not at volume. Like, when it was a person or two. But as soon as I had this influx of people come in one month, I realized just how much it sucked. Because it was these repetitive processes, small tedious unimportant– That’s not true. Important but uninteresting processes. I’m not that guy. I’m a creative dude. I’m a strategist, and I’m a visionary, I’m a pixel-pusher sometimes. I’m a person who wants to get in and start doing things, I am not a logistician, and I am not an administrator. These were not interesting tasks to me. I found everything from, “It takes a long time to write that email that’s very similar to the other email that I’ve written before. That took six minutes.” All the way to the 30 seconds that it’s taking me to continually copy and paste this customer’s name into this invoicing software, and then this time tracking software. Then this, and then this. All these tiny little things were a huge headache, and it was taking me a significant amount of time. So I started to map this process out because I started thinking “I got to hire somebody to deal with this. I’m not going to do this. I can’t scale this. This isn’t interesting to me, and I’ve got better ways to spend my time.” So I started mapping this process out and in doing that I found a few weaknesses in it, a few gaps. So I filled those gaps and then I had this process where I thought, “I’m going to connect with a virtual assistant or ask some of my clients who are consultants, “Where do you–?” “I hire this person– Whatever, a few hours a month or a week or whatever.” And for some reason I had overlooked the obvious which is that I’m an automation expert. So I said, “I’m going to science the shit out of this thing.” I started to peel back these steps and thought, “How can I automate them?” I built this automated infrastructure that takes care of– It’s about 98% Chris-free. Everything from the first time that somebody who schedules a conversation with me, which that’s the most qualified lead that I get if they fill out a Calendly form almost everything else is happening through a series of Zapier automation. They get an automated e-mail, they get plugged into here and there, they get plugged into Pipedrive my CRM. All I have to do is show up for the discovery conversation. They go to this great intake form that asks them what are they interested in, what are they struggling with. And depending on their answers, I use type form, and there’s a logic that– So if they say they’re interested in apples and bananas but not kiwis and pears, they won’t see anything about kiwis and pears. They’re only going to see questions about apples and bananas. All this stuff happens, and by the time it gets to me and ready for me to have my discovery conversation, I have this dossier of awesome that I can reference. I have the conversation and then if the outcome of that conversation is, “Why don’t I work up a proposal for you?” All of these steps are automated so that all I need to do is go in and write the proposal. The customer information goes automatically into my proposal platform. I write the proposal with thoughtful intelligence, and if they click their big red button to accept the proposal, then they come into my onboarding. They go into Basecamp, and they go into my time tracker, Harvest. They go into Wave, my invoicing. All these things happen so that I don’t have to open Wave and put in their information, I need to create the first invoice, or I need to press start on the project because it all was already automated inside of Wave. All these cool steps that are a big headache to deal with manually, and with this tedious attention to detail, now it just happens. It’s been such a time saver. I’ve found, Joe, that when I built it, I wondered how much time I was spending on this stuff. I started to calculate it, and I was shocked, and then I got super nerdy and reverse engineered– “All right, so my hourly rate is X, and I’m spending X amount of time, times– Whatever.” I did long division to figure out, “What am I spending a year?” And for me, it was thousands of dollars a year on these tiny little tasks that aren’t interesting. It’s been this great time saver, I showed it to some clients, and they were like, “What?! This is crazy. Build it for me.” So then I thought, “I’m just going to build a course and teach other consultants, or solo-preneurs or entrepreneurs or whoever if they’re brand new to Zapier and they’re new to automation. Or they’re struggling with the same thing, and it doesn’t need to be this way.” I had so many people that I ran this by say, “I don’t even know what I’d do with that.” People don’t solve this problem until it comes up, and I didn’t want to be that person anymore, so here we are. We have The Automated Consultant which is a series of sophisticated workflows to take care of these weird little management tasks.
Joe: I like a lot of what you said there. We’re going to parse this out a little bit. You ended the way you started, you found these little tasks that were taking up a bunch of time, and you went and figured out how much money this was costing you. It’s like if you have four kids, you’re not going to drive them all to school individually because now you’re losing time and gas driving them all back and forth to school. You want to try to do as much as efficiently as possible. Or, if you can’t drive them to school, the bus will take them to school, or whatever.
Joe: You’re doing– You figured out what tasks you don’t need to personally touch and then you automated them. Is that about right?
Chris: Yes. Efficiency was a big part of it. It got to be like a game. After I realized I was going to automate this, I started to look at the problem differently, and I’d start to think “Where can I save steps, create convenience, create opportunity. Where can I make this easier for me?” Then, and we can talk about this in a minute, then I thought “This is super cool for me. How can I do something with this so that my client, my prospect, is directly benefiting? What can I do with any of this process or the data that I’m storing with any of this process so that my client can benefit?” That added this whole new angle onto The Automated Consultant where it was just for my benefit, and then it transformed into the side effect was my benefit, but the real delight came in being able to deliver something unique and different to my customer and to my client as a result of the things that I was already doing inside of the automation.
Joe: That’s fantastic. I like what you said there, about how it became a game. As we’re talking about this, I want everybody at home who is listening to think about this. This is a thought exercise that you did, and this is a thought exercise that when I started to automate more, I did. I made a list of all the things that I do that somebody else can do. We have this list. I like to ask what research you did, and you were solving your own problem, but there’s lots of tools out there that either help automation or that accept the ability to be automated. So when you’re trying to figure out what tools you should use, what research did you do? What did you look for in those tools?
Chris: For me, this stuff has to be– I’m looking always for easy and elegant. Pipedrive is my CRM, and if you’re not familiar with Pipedrive, it’s the opposite of Salesforce. It’s the least bloated thing ever, and it lets you create your own funnels, so you can name them how you want. I have– When I was doing research, I found some people were using Pipedrive to manage hiring processes, like “Has received this,” “Demonstrated emotional IQ in that.” And if they move to the next step, then they move to the next part of the funnel, and it doesn’t need to be necessarily a sales funnel. It was great because I could automate and I could create my sales funnel to be “Has scheduled a Calendly,” then the next stage of my funnel is “Is ready for a conversation,” meaning they filled out their intake form, so they’re ready for a conversation with me. Then it’s “Ready for proposal.” It’s custom, and it’s specific to the needs that I want, and not just needs-assessed decision responding to needs– Things that weren’t necessarily relevant to what I was after. I’m always looking, and when I’m looking at the tools that I pick from my own workflow, they have to complement my philosophical approach to simplicity and minimalism. I don’t need a bunch of bloat. Harvest, for instance, is my time tracking app because that’s all it does. If you want to you can go in and do more things, and you can bolt on something called Forecast so you can see what the future looks like. But I don’t need something that’s super clever, and I need something that’s good at the one thing that it does. You make a good point, Joe, that you can get into a platform of some kind that does six of these steps all by itself, but it’s so cumbersome to learn and such a monster to use, and super unaffordable because the bigger it is, the more expensive it gets. So instead I pick, “What’s the right tool for this particular job?” And then, “Does it integrate?” Many of these tools I was already using and some of them was just a quick “If I had my CRM do this, then I’m going to look into that, and then I could just choose the right form.” Some of the research that I did was “How can the tool support what I want to do?” Not, “Whatever I want to do, is there–? Do I need to adapt that to a tool and modify my expectations, my behaviors, for the tool?”
Joe: And that makes sense. Because you want, especially like you said, solo-preneurs and people who were out on their own freelancing, we’re not putting together a committee of people to vote on the most comprehensive tool like you’d see in higher ed institutions or big enterprises.
Joe: We want the thing that will take us the least amount of time to learn, and if I try Harvest and I realize Harvest isn’t for me, I blew an hour figuring that out because Harvest only had me try one thing as opposed to–
Chris: And you’re so much smarter for it. Now you know exactly what you don’t want to see, so you’re ready to go to the next thing and be able to check that off. You’ll say, “I’m smarter for having tried Harvest at minimal cost to my time or my wallet.”
Joe: Absolutely. Conversely, people speak highly of HubSpot. I spent a lot of my time trying to use HubSpot as my CRM, and it just wasn’t working for me. For whatever reason, their mobile app sucks and that didn’t work for me. I was annoyed that I spent two weeks or three weeks trying to make this work for me when a Trello board or whatever workflow I’m using for managing my contacts now is much better for my purposes. I like what you said about finding the right tool that works for you and having something that’s focused there.
Chris: What that lets you do is, then you start to think creatively. I hate it when– I’m sure you that this resonates with you, I hate when I’ve got big ideas, and I’m stuck with what needs to be obvious but isn’t obvious to me because maybe I’m an idiot. But probably it’s because the user experience of this thing isn’t what it should be, and I can’t stand it when I get into a piece of technology that is harder than it should be or more obtuse or abstract than it should be, and now I can’t get done the thing that I wanted to get done without resorting to 10 YouTube videos and six blog posts and having to learn. I wasn’t– That’s part of why I built the Automated Consultant. Because it was like, “I’ve done this now. Let me show you how to do it. And if you want to do exactly what I do, using exactly my suite of solutions, that’s cool. You can do that.” Or, “Pay attention to the way I’m doing things and then fill in what works for you. Because I’m going to teach you the essentials and the basics. Stop after two steps if that’s all you need, or stop after three steps if that’s all you need. You don’t need to do all eight steps if that’s not what you need.” But I wanted a way that people could get in and get out. The whole course if you take it is less than an hour. I want people to get in and get out and be better for it on the other side because that’s what I was looking for when I was trying to build this thing. It was one of those, “I’ve been suffering with this long enough. I’m just going to build this thing now, and once it’s built, it’s going to do its job for me all the time, which is great. I never need to think about this again.” Then, “Let me teach some other people how this could be cool for them.”
Joe: I love that. That’s a software engineering approach or a dry approach. “Don’t repeat yourself.” You take the repeatable tasks, and then you automate them, and they get done, but you don’t have to keep doing them. Not to beat a dead horse on this, but I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately as we record this episode. Because all of the tools, most of the tools that I chose for 2018 are just not working for me. I bought a– I cheaped out, and I bought a PC to do my video editing, and it’s just not working for me. I bought the cheap MacBook Pro, and it’s not working for me. I switched from FreshBooks to QuickBooks, and it is not working for me. So, I’m buying an iMac Pro very soon. I’m switching back to FreshBooks for 2019. It’s frustrating, but when you figure it out, it is super rewarding.
Chris: Our man Chris Lema, he posted something. He was somewhere this week, I saw a picture on Twitter, and he was wearing a T-shirt that said something like “If you think it’s expensive to hire a pro, wait until you hire an amateur,” or something like that. And it was awesome. Those are usually tough lessons learned, and they often come with maturity in our field or in our endeavor. Podcasting for you as it’s been for the last couple of years, and you’ve refined your way of thinking about it and what your needs are and whatever, but we almost all always at some point in our lives or careers we try the inferior thing to see if we can get away with it or get by with it. I’m trying to think of when that’s ever worked out for me. I’m the same as you, and now I don’t even– It’s just like, “Give me the thing that’s going to solve the problems. It’s going to hurt to have to buy, but I know I’m going to be better or not have to deal with this again, or it won’t be such a struggle or whatever.” That’s tough, Joe. I’ve been there too, where you’re trying to find the thing that’s going to work because you’ve got big ideas, and it just doesn’t work. And then how much time do you waste on that? It’s exhausting.
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Joe: It’s not that I spend $2 grand on a machine and now I’m going to sell that for half price and get a machine that costs two times that, whatever. That’s tools of the trade. That’s the cost of upgrading. What annoys me the most is all of the lost hours from the faulty tools that made me lose work from trying to get my workflow that I had on my Mac right on the PC. That’s why we’re talking about this, because your course and the journey that we’ve taken throughout the last few years have taken us to a place where we understand there are things that we can automate, so we can better spend our time in other places.
Chris: Yes. Which is my favorite part about automation, and I say this all time. “It let work get done when work needs to get done.” Which might be when I’m sleeping, it might be when I’m working. The Automated Consultant showed itself to me yesterday when I was head down focused working on something, and I got a text on my watch from Zapier letting me know I have a new conversation scheduled and to check my email for the details. I set that up as part of The Automated Consultant just so I wouldn’t miss an important email coming through because of whatever tech snafu– I gave you the wrong email address somehow for this very session, and you and I spent the morning in direct messages trying to get me where I needed to be. That’s the kind of stuff that my human error– I don’t want to get in my own way with that when a business opportunity is coming up. That’s part of why I automated that. But I want to tell you too, Joe, about this angle that I took with how I could then impact my customers with this thing. I mentioned all these steps in this process and this workflow. But I’m always conditioned to think, and I’m always trying to think, “How can I take whatever I’m doing and turn it four degrees so that I’m delighting my customers? Is there any opportunity for me to do something exceptional here in this space?” Because I’m always thinking, and I’m coaching the sales teams that I work with or the marketing teams that I work with, “Imagine that they sit me next to Joe and we’re both perfectly qualified for whatever this opportunity is, this job, this task this campaign. I want them to look at me and say, ‘Joe is cool, but I love the way Chris did X.’ I want to find something that makes me unique or sets me apart.” So, as part of this whole automation and as a part of this whole process I mentioned Typeform when they go into Typeform, and they choose apples and bananas, but they don’t choose kiwis or pears, I store that data inside of Drip which is my marketing automation platform and my email automation platform. I store those things that they’re interested in. They tell me they’re interested in apples and bananas, and I’m going to remember that. Then what happens between the conversation when I promise I’m going to send out a proposal, “Give me three or four or five days.” I started to look at that span of time because that’s a tender and fragile time if you think about it. Because up until then somebody comes to your website and they pour over your website, and they watch all your videos, they read all your blog posts, whatever. They’re picking up what you’re putting down, and they’ve got a lot of energy and inertia about this, then they click a button to schedule a conversation with you or they subscribe to your newsletter, or they send an email form or whatever. But think about that moment where they’re finally taking an action. They’ve got enthusiasm and excitement about this, and they’re fired up. OK. They scheduled something so now they’ve got a couple of days where they’re excited to talk to you. They have this conversation, and now I’m going to say to them, “Awesome. Thank you for all of this inertia. I’m going to now let it go away. And in three or four days I’ll come back and hope that I’m still on your radar.” And I don’t know about you, but I’ve seen lots of opportunities evaporate for whatever reason. People’s focus changes, their interests change, business realities quickly change. Something happens where that excitement– We can’t pick it back up. So, I wanted to address that. Here’s what happens, Joe. I use a tool called RightMessage, which you and I know our friend Brendan Dunn is behind. I use the data that is stored from what they’ve shared with me, and I create a custom landing page for my prospect, and this custom landing page is personalized, and there’s an automated email that goes out two days after we have our conversation. So if I move them into “Ready for proposal,” in Pipedrive, which is one of three manual processes in this whole thing. Then drip says “OK I heard that. In two days I’m going to send Joe a personalized email, and it’s going to say,” two days later, “Joe I’m working hard on your proposal. I’m excited about our next steps. I wanted you to see a page I put together of my favorite resources that I’ve curated for you. Here it is.” And Joe, you get that link, and when you go to it, RightMessage is this tool that personalizes the front end experience. It looks at the data inside of Drip and pulls it in, and now this page says, “Hi Joe. It’s been great to talk to you. I can’t wait for our next steps. I’ve put together some materials that are going to help us have a great conversation or shape the dynamics of this process.” Then what I do is I show or hide different content on that landing page depending on what they told me they’re interested in. So they’re going to see some downloads and some blog posts just about apples and just about bananas. Where our friend Jen, she might come in and see just about pears and just about kiwis. It looks like it was completely handcrafted just for them. So my client who’s not an automation expert and not a digital marketer, not a nerd like me who’s always trying to understand how things work. They get a thing that looks like I’ve been toiling away at giving them even more resources to look at and pour over. It’s like you’re excited about your new Tesla and you can’t wait for it to be delivered, so you’re just going to watch YouTube videos about it all night, and you’re going to read reviews. I wanted to be the source of those things. So this landing page pops up and now the whole dynamic shifts on this thing. It’s no longer about the problems it solves for me while it is doing that. Now my client gets to benefit from all of this automation in having this personalized, relevant experience. If ever they’re comparing me to that other opportunity, that other person who does something similar, they’re like “That person was cool, but I can’t believe that cool Page Chris sent us with all these cool assets that were completely specifically about apples and bananas. That sets him apart. We’re going to go with that dude.” That’s what excites me about The Automated Consultant. It isn’t just the time it saves me which is huge and significant, and I love it, but without me having to do anything. I’m on the beach, and I’m asleep. I’m working on some other project. They get this handcrafted page from me that’s completely aligned with their needs or their problems or whatever they want to solve with me while they’re waiting for my proposal. It makes it so much more impactful when they get that proposal from me that speaks to the thing that they’ve been researching that I’ve been speaking about. It softens the conversation if I come in maybe a little higher than they thought or maybe a little more involved than they thought. The credibility is there that says, “This dude thinks about this stuff. This dude is creating this stuff. He’s clearly a resource for us to pay attention to. He’s not just somebody who’s hoping we buy his thing. He spends his time on this. This is what he crafts every day and every night, in and out, let’s pay attention.” That’s what I’m super excited about with the Automated Consultant. It’s this two perspective approach. One is super helpful to me, but then how do I take that turn that four degrees and be super helpful to my prospects?
Joe: That is– There is a lot of great information there. And we started talking about the title question a little bit, which is how did you build it? You talked about how you built this process this onboarding process to, like you said, to wow and delight your customers. So, you have this course. I’m looking at it, and you mentioned that you have the long version and the short version, like the implementation and then the idea behind the implementation. What did you do to put this course together? Did you apply some of what you’re talking about to your students? We’re going to maybe talk a little bit about how the sausage gets made here, maybe. But how did you put this course together?
Chris: Yes. That’s a great question. Let me see if I can get to the heart of some of it. The course is built in a platform called Podium. I will tell you exactly what happens with this, is when someone comes in the website or the landing page, AutomatedConsultant.io. The first thing you have up there is a calculator. I told you how much time I thought I was wasting on this stuff, so I wanted you to know what you were wasting. You can plug in some stuff, it’s not gated, and you can see that this is how much money it’s costing you to have these weird little processes. It’s a fun, easy little thing. It takes, whatever, maybe 45 seconds. Then I show you because I’ve calculated unscientifically, that there’s a 75% savings if you automate this stuff. “Here’s what you could be spending on this stuff. Then if you’d like, I will send you an automated e-mail course that– You don’t need to buy the Automated Consultant. This is free. You can give me your e-mail stuff, and I will send you every day for five days, “Here’s how to look at your situation.” We start with, “Here’s how to start to examine your processes and look for weaknesses.” An example is, “Do you deal with a lot of PDFs?” This can be for anybody. It can be– You could run a daycare, you can run a golf course. If you’re ever handing out a form and saying to somebody, “Bring this back to me.” My daughter who’s 11 is constantly coming back with Field Trip forms, and I keep– Every time I get one I say out loud to the room in consternation of nerdiness, “Somebody automate this stuff because you’re just asking me for the same stuff all the time.” But anywhere that there’s an option for human error, anywhere that there’s repetitive tasks, anywhere that there’s something that’s taking longer than it should and you’re having to move your attention from the thing that you want to focus on over to this weird chore. I walk you through these things. Then for five days I introduce you to my suite of software that I like, and I encourage you to look at things this way or that way, and I give you some coaching. So if you do nothing else, you’re a lot better after those five days because you have a much different grounding on this automation. Then I’m going to pitch the course to you. After those five days, I’m going to pitch a savings to the course, and I’m going to give you a discount but it’s a limited time, and all of this is automated. In fact, it also uses RightMessage. So, I’m encouraging you to save some money by jumping into the course. If you don’t do it within a certain amount of days the automation will know it, and then it will– And I say this in my in my pitch– “I will be happy to take your money tomorrow, but it will be for $50 more than it is today, so you might as well buy this thing today.” All of that is automated and once that automation is done you are in my system, which is not something– It’s something I carefully nurture and cultivate. I’ll keep you posted on new things, on new courses, and on additional courses. There’s some– There’s a level two. I mentioned Drip, and I have of course teaching you about Drip. If you come into The Automated Consultant, I’m going to let you know at some point that “A great companion to The Automated Consultant is this Drip course.” All of that is part of the automation, and all of it is part of my efforts to help people who are like me and interested in automation, but maybe they don’t know where to start. Maybe they’re not experts. This isn’t expert level. I’m not trying to speak to the Zapier Jedi. That person doesn’t need my help, but to the person who thinks this is interesting and maybe has spent a little bit of time in Zapier but, I don’t know. Or who is new to automation but this sounds interesting, I am not going to waste your time. This is going to be good stuff. The automations that I use to market it help drive it, you’re right. It’s part of the how the sausage gets made.
Joe: And that– First of all, let me say I won’t say the price in case it changes from the time between when we record this and when the episode comes out, but the price that I’m looking at for the amount of hours that this course would save me is crazy.
Chris: Yeah, dude.
Joe: That’s the beauty of having that calculator. “How much did you make? Here’s how much you could save. Here’s how much you need to spend to save that amount of money.” That’s brilliant. I’ve had people say to me, “Aren’t those emails disingenuous, or whatever?” I’m going to tell you a story about how I fall super behind keeping my affiliates up to date with emails, keeping my students up to date with what’s going on, and I’m getting better, and I’m trying to automate more of that. But your students get the emails when they need– Like, on time when they need that information. My students, I’m like “Hey everybody, it’s been like six months since the last time you’ve heard from me. How’s it going?” I’m not very top of mind to them, and some appreciate the infrequency, but most want to know. “I took Joe’s Gutenberg course. I would like to know when the theming for Gutenberg course comes out because I need to know that too.”
Chris: That is one of the great benefits of automation. I talk about that all the time with my clients. For me, I will build this whole stack of emails that will go out when I can. Like, on a Saturday afternoon when it’s rainy, or late on a Sunday night. I can churn out maybe three or four emails, and pretty soon I’ll have a collection of those things in a limited time, that’s so much easier for me than, “Shoot. I got to reach out to these people. I had somebody who came in, and I got to make sure that this person knows that I’m happy to have them as a customer if they want to have a discount,” That– Nobody can do business that way. That’s why automation is so great because it gets us ahead of, and it’s no less work, and it’s no less caring about your customer. You just front load it so that in a short amount of time you build this package of communications and then you use automation to distribute them in a way that helps your audience get the most out of them. Somebody who is, for instance, interested in automation, isn’t going to get the same email from me as somebody who’s interested in a different course I have about knowing your customers better. Or maybe they are, but they’re going to have to show some behaviors so that I’m going to respect their time and their mailbox in making that happen, and that’s one of the most beautiful things about automation and about being able to reach out in real time when your customer needs it. Not when I’m available to send it. There’s a great disparity there that automation helps bridge.
Joe: That’s brilliant. Because then you’re not just emailing them for the sake of emailing them, you’re emailing them when they need the information. Not when you think of sending it to them. I like that. We talked a lot about automation, and we are coming up on time– We’re maybe a little over time actually, but this has been fantastic. I do want to know what your plans for the future of this course are, but I do have a very specific question for you. How do you test your automations?
Chris: That’s a good question. I test everything as myself, and I’m inside my own campaigns. I’ll often run a campaign of an audience of one. Before I launch a campaign I’ll usually delay, and I don’t know if this is a best practice or not, but it’s what I do because I am a thorough person. I will usually plan for my campaign to start December 1st and then I will launch it to myself on November 15th, which means I have to be a week or two ahead of my own schedule so that I am my only customer. Then I pour over those emails. I’m looking for misspellings and making sure the links are on point. Every once in a while something is still a little bit haywire, and I’ll have some very thoughtful subscribers say, “Just wanted to let you know this didn’t work as expected.” Then I got to go back in, and I’ll try to fix it, but I always try to test my stuff. I never want you to be on the butt end of my carelessness or my forgetfulness, or my busy day or whatever. I always try to protect my audience and subscribers like that, because one thing that’s important to think about is if somebody, for instance, does just this course. Not the email course, I mean that you didn’t spend money on automated consulting. But if you give me your email address that’s currency. “Thank you. You’re a customer now. And my job as a provider is to take care of you as a customer. I’m going to do the best I can. Whether you spend a dollar with me or not, if you gave me an email address because you think I might be able to help you as a person or as a professional, I’ll take that seriously.” That’s one of the ways that I look at it when I’m testing my automation. So what’s next for The Automated Consultant? I don’t know when we’re going to hear this Joe, we said it comes out maybe six or eight weeks or something, but the price is going to go up through 2019. It’s at an introductory price and every quarter it’s going to go up until it’s going to land in the three hundreds. I’m going to let my list know that, and I’m going to time this, so when we talk about sausage being made, I’m going to say “The price is going up $50 bucks at the end of next week. If you want in now, come on in. But if you wait till next week, it’s going to go up.” I’m going to try that. I don’t know how it’s going to work, but I’m going to try that through 2019 and see where I land that’s the sweet spot. But this is– I wanted to try it at an introductory thing because I want to make a difference for some people who are struggling with the same thing I am. I also wanted it to be a no brainer. When you plug in that calculator, and you’re like, “What?! And I could spend that to help me solve that problem? Even if I only get halfway through this thing I got to be smarter for it.” And that’s what I wanted. I wanted this to be something easy and helpful. Then as I mentioned this can be a suite of– I have a package called the Automater’s Engine. There’ll be other courses in my library that are all about automation, and this can be a part of it. If you’re interested in that package, you can take advantage of all those things, or maybe there’s other things that I do that can help you out. I’m trying to be somebody that’s a companion to those people like you and me who are trying to make this stuff happen.
Joe: That’s great. I’ll be sure– I’ll release this towards the beginning of 2019. Those listening can get the best price possible for this super valuable course. I do need to ask you, do you have any trade secrets for us?
Chris: Yeah, dude. I do. My trade secret is this, and I know you said we’re pressed on time, and I couldn’t nerd out about this stuff for hours. Have me on anytime, have me back anytime you feel like you are in need of a nerd because I am your nerd. But I would encourage you anywhere that there’s a blank space in your processes that you can fill it with something that could possibly delight somebody, learn to look at your world that way. An example is MailChimp. I don’t know if they still have this with their rebrand, but it used to be that on your confirmed launch campaign screen which you have to have anyway, they could have a button that says “Confirm.” But instead they’d have this animated chimp’s finger coming down on this big red arcade button, and sweat would be dripping out as this animation said, “You got this ready to go.” And it just created this little moment of delight. Where a marketer can feel like, “This is a kindred company. They get it. They get that we all have this moment of nervousness when we’re going to launch a campaign, like you and I just talked about.” “How do we test our stuff?” Or Slack. It has to load anyway, but it puts these little quotes, and you can customize them yourself if you want to. It has to happen anyway. It’s a blank space. Can you fill it with something that’s a little bit interesting? A little bit on brand? A little bit delightful? For me, it was, “I’m doing this automation anyway. I have this space of time between the meeting and the proposal anyway. Is there something I can do here that’s just a little bit different or a little bit delightful?” And that’s where I came up with the unique personalized landing page, but in your business, it can be anything. It could be that you send a box if somebody opens the box could there be a little message on the inside of that box? They have to receive the box anyway. Is there some way you can elevate and escalate delight? Because that is the currency of emotion and affinity and loyalty when you do something unexpected but that brings just a moment of joy, or humor or a smile or “That’s interesting.” Now you are onto something that differentiates you. So, that’s my trade secret. Look four degrees off from where you are and see where you can escalate delight for your customers.
Joe: I can’t add anything more to that, so I’ll leave it at that. Chris, thanks so much for joining me. Where can people find you?
Chris: I am on Twitter, @chrisbintliff. I am at NotReallyRocketScience.com, I am at AutomatedConsultant.io, and if you are interested in all my courses, they are at NotReallyFlightSchool.com. Any one of those ways is a great way to start to get to know me, and I would love to get to know you.
Joe: Awesome. I will link all of those in the show notes. Chris, thanks again for coming on the show. I appreciate it.
Chris: Joe, I have so enjoyed this. Thank you. You’re so cool, and I’m learning from you so much, thanks for all the things that you share on Twitter. It’s good stuff, and I’m glad to reconnect with you. Thanks for having me on.
Outro: Thanks so much to Chris for joining us today. I liked his advice about testing automations because that’s something that I’ve always had a problem with. Of course, his trade secret is fantastic, about surprising and delighting somebody, and those little moments of delight. And in general, just his advice about automation. My question of the week for you is, what’s a process in your life that you can automate? Let me know by e-mailing me at Joe@HowIBuilt.it or on Twitter @jcasabona. If you liked this episode be sure to add a rating and a review on Apple podcasts, it helps people discover the show. And of course thanks again to our sponsors, Plesk, Castos and Pantheon. Until next week, get out there and build something.