The steps to effortless marketing

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I’ve been reading Effortless: Make It Easier to Do What Matters Most,” and to say the least, it has been a great reminder of how we need to make things simple – especially the tasks that matter. That made me wonder: How about effortless marketing? What are the steps to make that happen? In this article, I discuss:

What is effortless marketing?

Effortless means that we can do the tasks necessary without too much trouble. That doesn’t mean that they are easy per se, but that we can accomplish them with ease and without unnecessary barriers.

Greg McKeown, author of “Effortless,” even gives the example of a creative process in a company that has gotten out of hand. As he said, “well-meaning people” added steps that made things unnecessarily complicated.

Effortless marketing means that tasks are intentional, make sense, and we use the right amount of automation to minimize steps for humans that machines could do. This does not mean that anyone can now do successful marketing, though to an extent, many people can. After all, anyone can run a Google Ads campaign and start blogging or produce trending TikTok videos. But that doesn’t mean they can do it successfully.

A certain level of knowledge and skill is necessary to be a successful marketer.

Read next: 5 steps to create a content marketing strategy

The steps to effortless marketing

Like many things, it starts with the mindset of wanting to improve things. And at the end of the day, that can lead to business results. Think of it this way: We can reallocate our time from useless tasks to other things, including thinking time or creative collaborations.

Certainly, to get started, we need to set up the right framework, which should include having a good website, lead follow-up, and other useful and trackable metrics. Aside from those, the following can also help – when done correctly.


Automation is also discussed in the book in a larger sense, and many – maybe most marketers – already use automation in:

  • Social media
  • Email campaign
  • Advertising campaigns

I also automate my email responses to common questions. Those auto responses work most of the time, but not always, as they trigger based on keywords in the sender’s email.

How to implement automation

Zack Wenthe of Treasure Data joins me to discuss the topic on this episode of “The Business Storytelling Show.”

We discuss:

  • What are the most common reasons why companies struggle with marketing automation?
  • What are the biggest challenges that companies face when implementing marketing automation?
  • How can companies overcome these challenges and get the most out of marketing automation?
  • How can companies measure the ROI of their marketing automation efforts?

When automation doesn’t work

That leads me to the reminder that automation isn’t always good. Take this example of an event I volunteered for but had to eventually cancel.

I received an automated email from the organizer reminding me where to go and of my assignment. Automation, in this case, worked.

But as the event drew closer, I had a conflict arise and needed to cancel. I thought I could reply to the automated email message and let them know. I opened the email, clicked reply, and did not get one of those unfriendly “no-reply” email addresses. It looked like I was replying to the actual sender. Great. I apologized and let her know about the change in plans. I didn’t get a response and didn’t have another way of getting in touch with her.

Then after the event, I received another email from the volunteer coordinator:

The …. committee would like to send a huge THANK YOU to all of the volunteers who came out on a chilly day to help put on another fabulous event. We truly can not say thank you enough. This … would not be possible with out all of our volunteers.

Automation didn’t work here.

I didn’t attend. I canceled. Why was this sent? It doesn’t apply to me. It’s just one more email to delete.

Automation works with care and oversight, and forethought in different situations.

Remember to look at the different scenarios and think of the people receiving the messages. Are they getting the right messages at the correct times? If you are unsure, keep fiddling and testing before sending them.


I’ve worked with teams with lengthy workflows that were hard to change. Why? Because they gave people comfort. This is how we are doing it. But sometimes, it’s time to update how things are done. New technology solutions have arrived. There are different ways to produce content. And the list goes on.

Just take how I interview subject matter experts now and how I used to a few years ago.

A few years ago, I would visit them, sit in front, and record the interview with a camera on a tripod. I would then use the content for articles and other marketing collateral.

Today, I do way more interviews than a few years ago and do most – if not all – remotely from my home studio. I use the Restream Studio to record or livestream them.

That updated workflow has helped me do more interviews with more people no matter where they are located and eliminated the need for a travel budget for these kinds of projects.

There are likely plenty of processes that have been around for years that can be updated, steps can be cut, and different steps can be added.

How do you start? First, take a step back and realize it’s time to think about the workflow. Then consider the goals and how we can achieve them in the most efficient way.

Read next: Should we bundle software to be more efficient?

Other software tools

Several software tools can make marketing easier and quicker to implement, including:

  • Copylime: AI assistant for headlines, outlines and even article sections
  • Keywords Everwhere: Keyword research so I know my content is on the right track – built right into Chrome.
  • Grammarly: Spell and grammar checker on steroids
  • Convertkit: Marketing automation toolkit
  • Circle Boom: AI content generator for social media
  • Outgrow: Quizzes, calculator and forms


“Effortless” talks about the importance of trust, which I agree with. Trust is important. So is having the right people on the team, as I discuss in my content performance philosophy.

Changing things to create effortless marketing certainly can be a change for some people. That takes trust, but it also takes people’s willingness and perhaps interest in changing things when it makes sense.

That’s likely one reason why companies try to hire for culture and relevant skills.

Read next: How to respond when people tell you to “look it up”

Checks and balances

Checks and balances are about keeping an eye on what’s working and what needs to be updated – especially in the case of automation.

Additionally, it also comes into play when workflows are inadvertently affected negatively. For example, one person might need something and focuses on that specific problem. But, the solution to that problem creates another problem for another team or co-worker. That’s when we have to have some collaborations to figure out what can be done to still solve the overall business problem without creating more problems along the way.

Read next: How to create a minimal viable workflow in content marketing

Barriers to effortless marketing

The most significant barriers might very well be that people aren’t seeing the barriers or aren’t willing to fix them. It takes the skill to step back and analyze what is and is not working. So being on the “this is a marketing emergency” hamster wheel daily can prevent that from happening.

Then we have to work together to consider the necessary changes that should be tried. Then we need to try them and analyze that. All those steps take time.

Then throw in the reality that some bosses or teammates are just mean and aren’t open to this process, and the journey to effortless marketing can become quite an effort to implement.

Nonetheless, it’s worth trying, and the easier our process is, the higher our Return on Effort and investment can be.

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