Lessons from a card-counting and marketing master
"If you're like most marketers, you get a little upset every time someone unsubscribes from your email," says keynote speaker and marketing whiz Trish Witkowski. "It's almost insulting to think that someone decided you weren't worthy of their inbox," she adds. But the truth is, Trish Witkowski doesn't get upset anymore.
Oh, she used to feel confused, and sometimes even disillusioned when someone hit the dreaded unsubscribe link on her weekly email, but that was before she started learning to card count.
That's right, Trish Witkowski has spent the last eighteen months studying the strategies and tactics of Las Vegas card counters, and it's changed the way she looks at marketing automation (and even business in general.)
The problem with our marketing automation mindset
"We are too emotionally invested in our marketing," says Trish. "That's why we feel a little slighted and unsettled every time someone unsubscribes from our content."
Instead of wondering why someone decided to leave our marketing automation flow or trying to determine what might have happened, great marketers look at every unsubscribe objectively. "Every unsubscribe is one less lead to waste our time pursuing, which means we can spend more time closing the prospects who ARE interested," observes Trish.
You see, Trish learned the art of thinking objectively about her leads at the Blackjack tables in Vegas.
If you’ve never played Blackjack, it's a simple card game: you against the dealer. Whoever gets closer to 21 without going over, wins the hand.
Now, most of us play Blackjack the same way we look at our marketing automation flows. “We play an emotionally-charged game based on luck and gut instinct. We use gut instinct and play hand-to-hand. Playing Blackjack hand-to-hand leaves the player losing more money than they win over time. The Casino has a 3% advantage over you, and playing like this only maintains their edge.”
Now, elite card counters do not play an emotionally-charged game of Blackjack. These calculating winners keep a running tally of the played cards to turn the tables on the casino. They keep score, and as a result, they know when the odds of winning a hand are turning in their favor.
"Card counters never make an emotional decision on what to do," says Ms. Witkowski. (If you want to learn more about how to lead score like a card counter read this.)
"We need to remove the emotional attachment we have with our automation flows, our subscribers, and even our content. We must be objective about the opportunities we have. In short, we need to know what moves to make when," adds Ms. Witkowski.
The four moves & when to make them
In Blackjack, there are only four moves you can make against the dealer. You can stand, hit, double-down, or split. "If you decide to 'stand,' you're holding your hand and ending your turn. If you 'hit,' you're asking for another card to get you closer to 21. You can also double-down (which is just like a hit, only the bet is doubled, and you only get one more card.) If you are holding a pair, you can decide to split the hand, which doubles your bet and you're now playing two hands," explains Trish.
"The truth is, most of our marketing automation flows are over complicated, there are too many potential moves or decision points. Instead of driving toward the sale, our automation process nurtures prospects for too long, and we never see their cards. We may never get to bet big," says Witkowski.
However, Trish believes you can fix this by thinking like a Blackjack player. “Your lead scoring strategy should be designed to tell you when the odds of winning a sale have turned in your favor. Just like a card counter, you need to know when you have the advantage. You need to know when it’s time to increase your bet,” Ms. Witkowski says.
You also need to think of the best next move.
What's your best next move?
As you're building your automation flows leveraging the lead scores you have in place, Trish suggests you think like a Blackjack player. "Given the current score for each lead, what's your best next move?" Trish asks.
Here's how to think about the Blackjack moves in the context of your automation flow:
1. Should I stand?
Deciding to stand assumes you're not going to make any strategic moves toward the sale. You're going to continue down the existing and most passive path. For example, you may choose to keep sending just your weekly email newsletter.
2. Should I hit?
In Blackjack, deciding to hit is an aggressive move. Your taking action and asking for another card (and maybe even another.) You're moving to win the hand. So, from a marketing standpoint, has the prospect done something that indicates they may be getting closer to a purchase decision? If so, what aggressive move should you make to get them closer to the sale? Make a bold move to provoke an action from your prospect.
For example, if a prospect clicked a link in your newsletter to see the video demo of your new product, perhaps you should hit: ask them if they'd like to attend the product launch party. Provoke a response.
3. Should you double-down?
Doubling-down is a high-risk, high-reward scenario. Has your prospect done something that leads you to think you're highly likely to close the deal? If so, it's time to double-down.
For example, many marketers offer discounts at precisely the moment they should be increasing the stakes. Most marketers stand-down when they should be doubling-down. So, if a prospect has asked for pricing on a product instead of seeing any subsequent inaction as a signal to offer a discount maybe it's time to double-down. Perhaps it's time to tell your prospect that the pricing you quoted expires in the next 24-hours.
Maybe your best next move is to double-down?
4. Should you split?
"Deciding to split is fun," says Trish. "Remember, in Blackjack you're essentially deciding to play two separate hands."
You may want to try an A/B test. Leverage take two different aggressive moves and see which one delivers a better result.
"Remember," adds Trish, "splitting your hand requires dual focus, But you stand to win both hands!"
"It's tough to detach your emotions from your marketing, especially email marketing because it's such an interpersonal form of communication. But the fact is, the most successful email marketers think very strategically about their best next move," says Trish.
Like those Las Vegas card counters, maybe it's time you limit your moves and use your lead scores to answer a straightforward question: do you want to stand, hit, double-down, or split?