Last week I attended my first InfusionCon conference in Phoenix. In five years the InfusionCon event has grown from 31 participants the first year to well over 1300 attendees in 2011. It’s the new norm of the technology-driven world in which we live. A company is founded, develops a core group of dedicated users, and suddenly it’s a huge success. They start a conference for their clients, and now it’s the event of the year.
Infusionsoft is a marketing automation company that focuses on small businesses. At their core, they are dedicated to helping businesses grow sales and increase productivity. Infusionsoft combines a powerful CRM (Customer Relationship Management software) with lead capture, personalized email marketing, and smart automation. In other words, they supply a powerful technology engine that allows a small business to customize marketing campaigns specific to each and every prospect and client.
Being a new user of Infusionsoft’s product, the timing of this year’s InfusionCon was perfect for me. I already did the hard work of understanding Infusionsoft’s capabilities, including the underlying structure, terminology, non-instinctive interface, and its general capabilities … I attended ready to start putting the product to work for me. I wanted to see how other small companies were using the product to grow their businesses.
Here are the 8 things I learned (or confirmed) by attending InfusionCon 2011:
1. Infusionsoft Power Users Are Generating Impressive Sales Results
As a new user, I was delighted to meet and learn from other business owners who have been using the product, and increasing sales and profitability in their own businesses. The universal key to their success was in automating the many repetitive tasks within their businesses.
This automation provides two benefits: better service to each client, and increased personal efficiency by eliminating the need to perform repetitive tasks.
2. Many Activities of Your business Can Be Automated
We all like to think that our business is special and unique. And it’s true in the sense that our clients ultimately buy from us because they like us. But with that caveat, it’s safe to say that many of our business activities can (and should) be automated.
The automation I’m referring to is the behind-the-scenes stuff such as sending out requests for information, educating prospects, maintaining long-term nurture campaigns, sending out invoices, processing orders, shipping products, following up to confirm customer satisfaction, and repeating the process over and over.
3. Most Small Businesses Only Have 4, 5, or 6 Key Activities … Each of Those Activities Can Then Have Scores of Minor Variations
As I sat in the conference listening to other speakers and having one-on-one conversations in the halls with other business owners, it suddenly dawned on me that most businesses only have a handful of core activities. The power of Infusionsoft’s technology engine is its ability to take those few core activities and segment them into hundreds of different versions … each version specific to an individual prospect/client.
In my own business I’ve identified four key activities: identifying and capturing prospects, educating prospects and converting them to clients, managing the speaking event, and following up on the event. In the future I can add product sales, affiliate programs, and hundreds of variations of my four core business activities.
4. Infusionsoft’s Corporate Core Values Are Compatible with My Own
By attending InfusionCon, I had the opportunity to meet many of the employees of Infusionsoft. I heard the two founders speak at several of the sessions. I gained an understanding of the core values of the corporation as a whole, and the people who manage and work at Infusionsoft.
Conducting business in a highly ethical manner for the purpose of making a profit, providing quality products, and exceptional service to one’s clients are core values that work for me. The employees whom I met are quality people and are committed to helping me (i.e., their client) grow my business. I personally like these guys.
5. Small Business Owners Are Passionate About Their Products and Not Afraid of Hard Work
Meeting other speakers and other small business owners was one of the personal highlights for me in attending. The reason small business owners and entrepreneurs do what they do is simple: They like to feel they are controlling their own destiny. The Infusionsoft product provides me with the ability to better control my business … and hence, my destiny.
While the seven principles of Gumption are consistent with both small businesses and larger corporations, the Gumption principles were very visible in the individuals I met. Having chosen to be a small business owner … hanging with my peeps is both inspirational and validates the path I’m taking.
6. Infusionsoft Has Spawned a Whole Myriad of Spin-Off Companies with Products and Services Designed Specifically for the Infusionsoft User
One surprising thing I learned was the number of sponsor companies who participate at InfusionCon. The majority of these spin-offs were started by either former employees or users/clients. In almost every case, they are providing either a service or add-on product that complements and enhances the core Infusionsoft technology engine. On a smaller scale, it’s comparable to how Twitter is the engine, and all the hundreds of spin-off ‘Tweet’ companies enhance the Twitter platform.
These spin-off companies fall into three general categories: Training – companies who help new (or long-time) users optimize the use of the Infusionsoft product; Add-on/Niche Products – companies that fill a specific need that the Infusionsoft core doesn’t provide; and Business Coaching – companies that provide training or coaching for small business owners to improve sales or business practices in general.
7. There Is A Learning Curve
While I knew this before I attended the conference, it was good to validate other business owners who also found using the Infusionsoft product challenging at the beginning. There is a learning curve to understanding and mastering the use of this extensive product.
That said, Infusionsoft seems well aware of this, and appears dedicated to making changes to the product interface and training to shorten the initial learning curve for all new users. I personally have found their customer service help line to be outstanding, and a key resource for me getting beyond the helpless feeling of where do I start?
A great tip/challenge proffered during the conference was this: Spend one hour a day for 30 days to get yourself up to speed and using the power of automation. But to any potential new users … there is a learning curve.
8. Business Models Can Vary Greatly Within the Same Industry and All Produce Great Results
As a speaker, I was exposed to a segment of my industry that has been called information sellers. They rely on selling information products as their primary revenue model. As a group, they were early adaptors to the Infusionsoft product and have been using it successfully since Infusionsoft’s inception a decade ago. Their use of automation has proved very successful.
My own model in the speaking business is based on a speaking/appearance fee. During my appearance and presentation, I focus on providing great content, and a unique and memorable experience to the client and every meeting attendee. My model does not include the aggressive use of selling products … but the lesson of automation should not be forgotten or denied. Automation can and will play a powerful role in my business model.
Whenever you attend a conference, its ultimate value will be judged on what you learned, what you experienced, and how you will be able to apply that learning/experience to your business. Using these criteria, attending InfusionCon was a valuable learning experience for me.
What tools or technologies are you using to automate your business activities?
Are you investing in yourself and your business today to create a better tomorrow?
How important is it to use the products and services of other businesses that share common core values?
Next Blog Title: Practice Spirited Presence
Next Blog Date: March 31, 2011