Let’s figure out a simple technology toolkit for design professionals. Many design professionals and small business owners dread technology, yet in today’s day and age, it’s impossible to run effective operations without the right tools. The great news is this: the market is full of tools that fit all kinds of businesses, needs, and budgets. The bad news is this: it’s quite a challenge to find the tool kit that works for you.
The even bigger challenge: many business owners think that a tool or a tactic alone can make a huge difference. It can, but only if you know how to use it, why to use it, and where it fits your overall business strategy.
So how to get clarity?
- First: start by identifying the process that needs improvement.
- Second: figure out the process improvements.
- Third: find the tools that match your needs, budget, and particularly your future. This is tricky if you haven’t designed the future vision for your business. Many design professionals invest in tools that are “okay” right now, and when they grow, they will need to re-design the whole tech park. That is costly, and something that businesses often don’t have time for when they are scaling up.
- Fourth: figure out who is going to be responsible for the tool. All tools need someone who’s primarily responsible for the process, tools, maintenance, and results. Who is that person in your organization?
The essential processes and our favorite tools
I’m listing the essentials in this article and giving recommendations for tools that our customers and team use every day. This does not mean you should use the exact tools, but use this as a checklist to see you know what kind of tools every business needs!
Process 1: customer acquisition
The key process for every design professional is the one that brings in the cash. This looks different depending on what you sell, to whom, and at what price point. But for most professionals who sell services, digital products, events, consulting, and coaching… the simplest process looks like this:
Create a powerful invitation and present it to a person who’s likely to benefit from it, and willing to invest in getting the results. We call this the Power Invitation, and our favorite tools for this are:
A landing page
We use this tool… This is a critical tool because you need to invite the person to an environment that you control, where you give your promise and show how she/he can get the results.
This is the best tool to increase your credibility and position you as the leading expert. You can create a simple video using any recorder, iPhone, or computer, and then you need a hosting service, this is our favorite.
A way to collect contact details
You need to collect contact details on your landing page so you can keep in touch with your new prospect. We love this (and it has a great offer right now!) You can see this in action here (and you will also get a full overview of how to build a Growth Engine for your business):
Email marketing system, a.k.a your CRM system
If you are not sending regular emails to your audience, you are missing a huge growth activator! Email is still the best way to keep in touch with prospective customers, and it needs to be part of your acquisition process. Here’s the tool we use. The best about this tool is that it simple to use, and it grows with your business.
Process 2: value delivery
The next process is about how you actually deliver your service. For most design professionals, the service delivery is done in a 1:1 environment, until of course, they decide to implement some additional, scalable revenue models.
If you deliver anything via online channels, you need to have a reliable way to do that. Zoom is our favorite.
Automated customer emails
Some emails should go out by automation, and you can use your CRM system to achieve that. This system does it all!
Regardless of your business model, you need to have a gated portal for delivering support, guidance, training, and connection. If you have resources in-house, you could build a customized training portal (we have built ours using this tool), but if you are not a techie, you should test some of the ready-made portals, such as this.
Process 3: payment processing
Last, but not least important, this is about processing payments. This should also be automated, and depending on your business and customers, you are looking at different options.
Automated payment tools
Our favorite tool for simple and elegant payment processing is this one. It handles VAT, recurring subscriptions, upsells, downsells, and different payment schedules. We use this for ALL PAYMENT processing, and it’s also right now available for a great one-time investment. If you sell ANYTHING, you need this.
Last but not least, you should look for an accounting system that helps you keep your numbers, purchase invoices, and all other important documents in order.
So, that’s about it! These are the key growth tools you need to invest in, and the sooner you do it, the faster you can automate your processes, get more customers and grow your business.
Summary of the article