Is It Time To Automate Your Marketing?

Is It Time To Automate Your Marketing?

Are you wondering if your business is ready for Marketing Automation?  Listen while Jim PalmerThe Newsletter Guru” and “Dream Business Coach” interviews “Small Biz Stacey” on the topic of marketing automation and what it can mean to your business.

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Episode Transcript

Jim Palmer: Well, hello there everyone. This is Captain Jim Palmer, the Dream Business coach. I am so excited about the interview that I am about to conduct and you are about to listen to. Such a great friend of mine has become such a superstar in the marketing space. She is known as Small Business Stacey. Let me introduce my special guest, Stacey Riska knows first hand what great marketing can accomplish. She has won numerous awards through her career for her marketing efforts. She is best known for taking her coffee and smoothie business, which she still runs today, from $500,000 in debt to a seven-figure profitable business. Yes, folks. That’s what good marketing will do for you. Stacey helps small business owners get their marketing done with do it yourself, done with you, and done for you all together. All kinds of done solutions.

Stacey, how are you today?

Stacey Riska: I am fantastic, Jim. Really excited to be here with you and share with your community how they can be more efficient and productive by using automation.

Jim Palmer: You are so good at what you do and you’re known as Small Business Stacey. This is totally unofficial. Small Business Stacey helps small business owners do big business. So small is only in your title there. You are somebody … When did we meet? Six years ago, eight years ago. It’s a long time ago.

Stacey Riska: I’ve been in your community for a long time. I was following your emails, watching you jump off the dock, and then I decided to invest in my education. I took summer school with you. Now I’m a full VIP coaching member.

Jim Palmer: I’m so proud of you because you are a serial entrepreneur. I mean, you are an entrepreneur’s entrepreneur. You have the coffee/smoothie business, which I know originally when we started talking was really kind of struggling. You turned that around in an amazing way. I mean, I remember some of the conversations we had about the level of debt you had, and everybody that’s created any kind of success for themselves knows what debt is like. If you don’t, that just means you’re not working hard enough or you’re not trying hard enough to grow big enough. You turned that around. You wiped off the debt. You created a seven-figure business. You’ve got multiple streams of revenue within that business, and like so many other people, Stacey, you started having a lot of folks, small business owners, start kind of raising their hands saying, “Can you help me?” I know you have a passion for, sometimes we call it main street, but small business owners who are just wearing so many hats and putting out daily fires that they never have time to get their own stuff done. I know not only are you good at and enjoy it, but it’s really become a passion of yours, which is probably one of the big reasons you’ve been so successful.

Stacey Riska: Well, I do. I am so passionate about helping small business and I could never have been able to run multiple businesses without having systems and processes and automation in place to help me do that. That’s why I’m so passionate because I see so many small business owners just walk to their chair and struggling, figuring out where their next dollars going to come from, and there are ways by getting your marketing automated to build out a sales funnel that brings you more. More leads, more customers, more sales and more money. That’s what small business owners want.

Jim Palmer: You and I are also veterans of the Glazier Kennedy Insider Circle, that whole group, and low and behold, a couple months ago I’m sitting up there in my captain’s chair. I’m starting to read the newsletter, and there’s your face. You’re a regular contributor now. I mean, that’s pretty amazing.

Stacey Riska: Thank you. They’ve asked me to be a regular contributor focusing on Main Street, the storefront owners, but really what I try and share with people is that every day marketing that any small business owner on main street or beyond can do to generate leads, to get attention. I have this system that I’ve put in place because one of the things that small business owners need to do is to get into action and I mean that literally and figuratively. Because most small business owners I talk to, they know they need to do marketing, but they’re just not getting it done.

So I created the action marketing system. That’s the process of how customers and clients and patients, they go through the journey with you. Each of those letters stands for a step in the process. A, getting attention because you need to attract your perfect customer, client or patient. C, connecting because you want to say the right things in the right places so that you can build a relationship. T, a transaction because at that point, once you’ve gotten attention and you’ve said the right thing, only at that point are you ready to sell. I teach people how to maximize the revenues and profits because you’re not just getting a customer to get a sale. You want to sell to build a customer. Then I is investing because you know, Jim, marketing is not a one and done. You got to invest in your marketing and O, make it ongoing. Meaning you need to be doing something every single day to nurture, N, to nurture and bring back repeat customers who leave rave reviews and ultimately become your brand ambassadors.

So that’s why I am so passionate about helping small business owners get into action, literally and figuratively.

Jim Palmer: I’m such a big fan of that action and I know you’re getting near … Well, you’re probably getting near the end strokes of an awesome new book for small business owners. I was familiar with the action thing. I was so happy you brought that up. You know what’s interesting to me, and again this is probably why you’ve had so many people wanting to work with you, is that there’s so many people out there waving like a flag, a guru type flag, and said, “I can help you with this one step. Just one thing and it’s going to light your world on fire. I can take you from $50,000 to $500,000 with this one funnel.” All these different quick fixes. What I so appreciate about you, Stacey, is that you paint the entire picture. Because in reality, if somebody says, “Well, I just need more traffic to my website,” if they just want more leads, “I want more people to walk in to door,” or, “I just need to do this,” it’s never about that.

What you’ve so eloquently done with the whole action acronym, attention, connecting, transaction. You’re not going to get a transaction, which is the starting point of all profitable relationships until you connect and you’re not going to connect until you get attention, so there’s the first three. But then what a lot of small business owners don’t think about is what they have to do to invest in that relationship in an ongoing way and nurture them because the most expensive thing I believe every small business owner faces is the cost of customer acquisition. You know, Stacey, so many people, they get a sale and they just go, “Oh, I need another one. Let’s go get another one.” Well, instead of maximizing the profitability of each and every client relationship you have, you really paint the whole picture, which I know can be frustrating because somebody just want the quick silver bullet. But the real businesses are built on a real strategy.

Stacey Riska: Yeah. You’re right. I mean, so many small business owners, their marketing looks like the store Pandora. You go there and everything looks shiny and so exciting, right? Every guru is behind the counter promising, “I can get you $10,000 tomorrow,” and they’re preaching they’re going in just pushing a button, you can have a million dollar business. They’re spending millions of dollars advertising on Facebook, but yet they’ve never done what they preach. Sure, they may spend $10,000 on Facebook. Well, they may help you be able to bring in $10,000, but what they didn’t tell you is that they’re spending $50,000 to do it.

So what it all comes down to is the ROI. I find that a lot of small business owners approach me because I’m one of them. Through my multiple businesses I practice what I preach. I share the good, the bad, the ugly. I know what works. I know what doesn’t work. That’s why I’m so committed to helping the small business owners out there get their marketing done because it does … They don’t have to feel so frustrated. Using tools like things that can automate your marketing will give them the financial freedom to do what you practice and preach, Jim. By having a dream business. Because what if you could walk away from your business today knowing that everything is running exactly how it should? I mean, what if you could have a marketing automation system that allowed you to bring in more leads and then convert those leads into paying customers, clients and patients and be able to communicate with them just how they want to be communicated based on where they are in their journey. What if you could know exactly how much money you’re going to make today, tomorrow and three months from now because you have a sales pipeline that’s built out that clearly shows where your business opportunities are?

That’s what marketing automation and having a marketing system in place does. It gives the small business owner control. I mean, because let’s face it, the small business owner, they call themselves the CEO, right?

I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do.

Leonardo da Vinci 

Jim Palmer: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Stacey Riska: Well, that’s the worst title to have. That means they’re Chief Everything Officer. They’re doing everything, right? Usually that means it’s all manual stuff. A lead comes in, they’re writing it on a piece of paper, they hand it to the sales guy. Things are falling through the cracks. There’s no systems in place. They’re literally locked to their business. They can’t even take a vacation, much less a weekend away because if they were to walk away, nobody could take over that business. So whether it’s a one person shop or 100 person size organization, automation gives you control. So you’re going to be more efficient and more productive. You can leverage your marketing and you’re converting more leads into sales. You can have those one on one conversations. It’s going to help you forecast and know how much money that you’re going to have today, tomorrow, next week and a month from now and beyond.

I’ll tell you, it was a game changer for me because I’m in the process of selling my Maui Wowi Coffee and Smoothie business. Now, no one is going to want to buy a business that has me tied to it. They want to buy a business that is turnkey and ready to operate. Because I’ve put those marketing systems in place, that’s exactly what it is. I run that business with minimal time and effort. Maybe an hour or two a week. But it is so streamlined, and like you mentioned, I was able to take that business from $500,000 in debt to a seven figure profitable business that now doesn’t rely on me being involved in the day to day. So I know small business owners are thinking of the future. They come to you because they want to build their dream business. That means not being tied to their business, saving for retirement, having something that they can pass on and leave a legacy. Whatever the reason is having automation in a marketing system in place allows them to do that. It ultimately gives them freedom.

Jim Palmer: So there’s so much I want to ask you about but I really want to jump into this automation because one of the challenges, and I know you know this, in all honesty, folks, it’s sometime easier to stand there and wave the flag and promise a quick cure because there’s enough people who will bite that hook. But it’s a short lived business. What Stacey is doing and by way of example. That’s so cool. Stacey, I’m always leery of coaches who are preaching how to grow a business and haven’t yet grown their first business other than their coaching business.

Stacey Riska: Right.

Jim Palmer: You done this so many times, and you’re like taking the lessons, some of them hard fought lessons, and bring them to your clients. The one good thing I really like about the direction you’re going now with the automation is the predictability. So many times we’ll try something, kind of like throw the spaghetti against the wall and see if it sticks. If that works, then you’re trying something else. But what you’re doing with building out the systems and the automated marketing funnels and things like this is it becomes pretty clear after a while that if I put this much money in, this much money will come out. Now you don’t get to know that in three weeks or 30 days or even three months probably. As you keep investing and growing and studying the results, you keep fine tuning it so then it becomes … Then it really becomes the predictability. What I say earlier about it’s the right thing to do but it’s also a little bit more of a hard sale is because I think we live in a microwave society where people just … you can microwave a turkey dinner in three minutes, but you can’t microwave a successful business in three hours or three days.

Let’s talk about automation. One of the reasons you’ve been able to kind of walk away from your seven figure smoothie business and really focus on the Small Business Stacey done for your marketing is that you have fully automated that process. The leads come in, the things get done, and you have a couple people that go and deliver the services. How exactly do you work with a small business owner? Whether it be a guy who owns a hardware store or it could be somebody with a home based business but it’s a real … They have a real service and they would like to have that automated business. How do you walk them through that? First of all, helping them understand it’s not a thing that’s going to happen tomorrow and what does that process look like?

Stacey Riska: Yeah. Automation can really cover the whole gammet of their organization. I mapped out sort of the action marketing system from attention, which is leads down to nurturing, which is referrals. So you’ve got to start in one place. Usually if you ask a small business owner, “What would make the biggest difference in your business,” they’ll say, “I want more leads. I need more leads.” So I work with my clients to focus in on one aspect of their business, at least to start, and how we can automate that and make it more efficient.

Marketing Automation

So let’s talk about leads. A small business owner wants to bring in more leads, and usually what they do now is they’ll have a website and it’s sort of a build it and they will come, right? Somebody’s got to find them online and then pick up the phone and call them. What automation can do, and I will work each client is tie in different types of lead magnets. Even some small business owners do this now, but it’s sort of like a one size fits all. Like download my free report.

But the example you alluded to like the heat and a/c and plumbing company, we could create very targeted, different pieces of content based on what that prospect is looking for. Because somebody who needs help with their heat may not necessarily at that moment be interested or needing a/c and plumbing services. Then based on what they click on and how they are involved in your website, an automated system can track all of that. It’s almost like a little bit of big brother. But what it allows you to do is gain valuable information and have a one on one conversation through automation tools like email. So based on rules or triggers or behavior, what somebody … how they’ve engaged with your content, what link they clicked, how long they spent on a specific page. You can really provide some very targeted communication in your marketing, and with the right automation tool, there’s terminology called lead scoring. You can rate the value of those leads coming into your funnel. So somebody, for example, who just downloads a free report and then never opens up the email, doesn’t really engage with you will probably get a score, let’s say it’s on a scale of one to five, would get a one.

But somebody who opens up the email, reads it, engages, comes back to the website, spends a lot of time reading your blog and your content, that’s obviously somebody who is engaged and interested. So they’re going to be scored higher. Then based on that, you can do a lot of segmenting and send some very targeted communication. If you have a sales team in place, you can build out a sales pipeline where it moves people further down the funnel and you can apply percentages of likeliness that that business is going to close. So if somebody is coming into the top of your funnel, let’s say opting into a free report, at that point they may only have, let’s say, a 20% chance of closing and becoming a customer, client or patient of yours. But as you start dripping this content on them and engaging with them, perhaps having a sales conversation, they move farther down the pipeline. You’re going to get about 80% sales closure.

So the nice thing is that these automation tools can literally have a dashboard right in front of you showing you what’s in your pipeline today. If you were to close those deals, what is the value of that today, tomorrow, next week and next month? So as you alluded to, Jim, it allows you to really have the control of your business knowing where and how you can invest in your marketing because you’re seeing an ROI and you know what’s coming in the do so that you can plan accordingly. So that’s how you would build out this whole lead management automation system.

Jim Palmer: What’s really cool about everything, and I want to also mention your husband Dave is … you and Dave became certified in this really exclusive software that helps automate this whole process. What you just said, what people should go back and just re-listen to that one answer because what Stacey has shared with you is super high level stuff. A basic website, here’s our free report, and people download it. Then you have no idea. You probably don’t follow them, you don’t market to them, you don’t know anything about them. It’s kind of like one of those organizational charts where if this happens, yes or no. If it’s no, you go this way. If it’s yes … it keeps going. I remember when I was doing some things with video, we would know how many people either watched the video, whether it was for 30 seconds or three minutes or the whole thing. Obviously they get a higher score. Therefore, we market to them differently with follow up messages or if they didn’t watch the video, we might circle back, “Hey, we noticed you opt in but didn’t watch the video.” That kind of marketing is so doggone sophisticated, but it’s made possible with this software that you’re using, Stacey.

The thing, again, I don’t want to harp on this, but the challenge for a lot of people, even to wrap their head around saying, “Okay, Stacey. I know this exists. I don’t want to do it. Please, do it for me.” There is a whole build out building this kind of system, right? I mean, it’s not something that happens overnight, yet once it’s created, I mean, with a little tweaking, it just runs.

Stacey Riska: Yeah. Jim, you’re so right because I mean, automation can seem so overwhelming like, “Oh my God. How am I going to put this all into place?” But when you come down to it, it’s really nothing more than if/then statements. If this happens, then do that. If that happens, then do this. It’s sort of just building the program to do that.

So there’s two schools of thought. There’s two types of business owners. There’s the business owner who doesn’t really have a lot of money, but they may have more time. So they could potentially if they’re willing to invest the time, they could learn how to create this automation and build it out themselves. Now that’s probably the slower way to do it, but that’s an option. Usually the smart business owner will realize that follow my mantra, which is, “Do what you do best and outsource the rest,” work with someone like me who is already an expert in marketing systems and automation and how to put the processes in place and spend the money to do it because you can immediately start seeing an ROI and ramp up and get those systems in place faster. So you’re going to pay a little bit more up front but you’re automatically getting a done for you system and then you can go back to running your business.

Jim Palmer: I have to put my coaching hat on for a second. One of the struggles people have, entrepreneurs, is they want clients to pay their higher fees for their expertise, yet they’re not willing to invest in the expertise that they don’t have. That’s a real big disconnect. So the point I want to make to you is this, if you’re a small business owner out there, you’ve got a skill, you’ve got a talent, that’s how you build your business. But it’s probably not understanding the automation that’s available with marketing. So if you want people to invest in your company and your services and your products, you have to be willing to invest in your company by hiring somebody who knows what they’re doing. I mean, do you see that? I’m sure you find that also, right, Stacey? It’s like, “Yeah. I want to charge more, but then I don’t want to pay more for my marketing.”

Stacey Riska: Right. If a business wants to grow, I mean, they’ve spent the time, the effort, the money to … they didn’t start their business with the intention of failing. Every small business owner comes in wanting to be as successful as they can be. So if there was a system and a process that is going to help you launch and get there faster, wouldn’t you want to invest the money to do so?

Jim, there’s people, for example, in your community, the same thing. People are at different levels of … you pick how far and how fast you want to grow. When I started with you, I just sort of dipped my toe in the water. I’m going to be transparent here. I was still struggling. I was the one where I’m going to figure it out how to do it myself. The results were just not coming in. I made the commitment personally and financially to go big, to go VIP. Amazing. In the past few months how my business growth has skyrocketed. That’s because I am, in a way, sort of hiring you as the expert to help guide me. So that is applicable to every small business owner there that do what you do best and outsource the rest. Bring people who can help you get there, who are the experts in what they do to leverage their expertise.

Jim Palmer: So as I predicted, I’m just going to thoroughly enjoy this conversation, but we’re starting to run out of time. I want to try to squeeze in a couple more questions if I could. So I’m always cognizant when I’m doing these interviews, Stacey, of the person listening to this. Driving in their car, got the earbuds on, they’re out for a walk or whatever they’re doing, and they’re going, “I get that. That sounds interesting.” Because entrepreneurs and small business owners, as you just professed, always want to try and do it themselves first. We just got to try it ourselves. So what are some of the things a small business owner can do to automate their marketing before they realize, “I should’ve just called Stacey.”

Stacey Riska: Well, I think if a small business owner, entrepreneur, really puts on some clear glasses and looks at their business, they’re going to see that they are holes. You call it the leaky bucket syndrome. I call it just inefficiency. So we talked about leads, bringing people into the funnel. But then what happens in reality without an automated marketing system is those people sort of drop off. Three months from now, six months from now, a year from now, they’ve never heard from you again. But just remember that no doesn’t mean no. No very much means just “not right now”. So by having an automated marketing system in place, you can reach out to those people down the line. Whereas without it, they rarely ever do because they forget about you. They’re so focused on bringing more, more, more into the funnel that the low hanging fruit is right in front of them. The customers, clients, and patients that they already spent the time, effort and money to bring in, but for whatever reason sort of dropped out. If they would spend more time and effort on that piece of it, whether they use automation or not, I mean, that’s where I would suggest that they start because that’s the low hanging fruit.

Jim Palmer: Stacey, that’s so powerful. So folks, I want to make sure you heard what she just said. I’m going to boil it down. People buy when they’re ready to buy. They don’t buy because you’re promoting. They don’t buy because they watch one video or downloaded one free report. I mean, I’ve shared this with you, Stacey, and the other folks in the group that some of the people that come into my group started with me years ago. Well, yourself included actually. One of the people that joined my program, this is a story that’s now four or five years old but it’s so cool, he got me at an event and we were talking on a break. Just asking me … I had no idea I was about to close a new client. He goes, “Yeah. I’m ready to go now.” So I said, “Okay.” He goes, “Jim, you know what? I’ve been watching you jump off that dock for three years now.”

The point is, like you said, so many people will take a shot and if they don’t buy, they’re like moving on. But that is an interested prospective client that needs to be, in your language, you need to invest in ongoing nurturing of that relationship because when they’re ready to buy, when their circumstances change or improve or whenever something happens, you still want to be the first one they think of. If you never follow up with these people, that is such a powerful thing.

I got one more question I want to try and squeeze in here. So, Stacey, the people listening to this show are by and large small business owners. Some of them might be wondering if automation is right for their business because we all look through at our own business through our own lens, despite what we hear from Dan Kennedy who says, “My business is different.” Well, it’s really not. So if somebody’s a landscaper, a wedding planner, the funeral home, hardware store, doesn’t matter. Is there any business that automation can’t help? Maybe that’ll be the shorter answer.

Stacey Riska: I haven’t come across one. I mean, if you’re wondering if marketing automation is right for you, then look at what you’re doing now. If you’re doing things manually, if you’re using lots of tools and most business owners are. They’re using Excel, mail chimp for email, lead pages for lead generation, Google calendar to figure out what I’m doing today and tomorrow or remind me of the task. You have like 20 different tools all over the place, or your sales process isn’t well defined. You can’t literally right now pull up on your computer how much money is in the pipeline today or you don’t have a system to upsell and cross-sell your customers, then marketing automation is going to help your business. So whether it is the landscaper out there cutting grass or the wedding planner, marketing automation, having a system in place to bring leads into the funnel, connect with them, and have one on one conversations, nurture those relationships so they become paying customers, clients and patients who then leave rave reviews, leave referrals and become your brand ambassadors. That’s what marketing systems and automation can do for every business.

Jim Palmer: That’s awesome. I’m glad you came to that conclusion because I didn’t want to correct you on the program. Because there is no business, right? If you have customers, clients or patients, as we all say, and you sometimes need more of them, then there is no business that automation can’t help. So good answer.

Small Business Stacey Riska. You are awesome. How can people connect with you and learn more about you and if possible, how can they talk with you about what you can do to help them with automation and their marketing?

Stacey Riska: Well, thanks for asking, Jim. My home base would be That’s Or you could reach out to me directly via email

Jim Palmer: Awesome. So good. I know you’re so busy. You’re all over social media and the GKIC. I know it’s a little bit less right now because you’re doggone hunkered down writing your awesome book. But you really share a lot of content. I know you’re a giver and I think you and Dave are doing amazing things. I really think automation is the way to go. There are far too many people wanted to do the one and done and look for the quick fix and quick cure, but there’s more than enough people, seasoned business owners and people who understand a real business, has real customers and real relationships. I think I really admire what you’re doing with the whole automation route because that is solving a big pain that customers, that potential customers have. That’s the clue of a successful business right there.

So thank you so much for being my guest, Stacey. Really appreciate it.

Stacey Riska: Thank you, Jim.

Jim Palmer: Hey, folks. If you enjoyed this interview, come back this time next week for another great interview. I predict it’ll be great. You can also connect with me at my free Facebook group, which is Build Your Dream Business Now. Build Your Dream Business Now. What’s easier is this super handy URL called We do an awful lot of free sharing, free teaching, and things like that.

I am Captain Jim Palmer, the Dream Business Coach, and I’ll see you this time next week. You take good care.

About the Author Stacey Riska

Stacey Riska, aka “Small Business Stacey” is a serial entrepreneur who is passionate about saving small business and rebuilding Main Street. She helps small and local business owners become a #SmallBizMarketingWiz by teaching them marketing strategies that get MORE: MORE leads, MORE customers/clients, MORE sales, and MORE money.

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