Be honest...
Have you been sucked into the rabbit hole of “marketing automation” confusion and the promise of “passive income” when you’ve all the ducks lined up in some distant future, yet got derailed from focusing on what truly matter to you and your business right here right now?
Have you got fed the kool-aid of “making money while you sleep” before you've the clarity to guide the decision, design a brand-aligned user journey and set the foundation to allow for meaningful and successful automation?
Have some coaches/consultants/platforms told you “not having to lift a finger” is a cool thing to do, while “trading hours for dollar” by actually putting in the work and god forbid, talking to people 1:1, is the dumb route to go?
Nothing wrong with systems and tools that allow you to automate your marketing processes - they can save a lot of time and headache when implemented with intention.
Bear in mind that you still have to put in the hours to set up automation. Question is, is the ROI worth it… besides the fact that you can namedrop all these systems so you can look like the “cool kid on the FB group block.”
Here are three common examples, and I hope they’d spark a thought process for you to consider automation from a different perspective:
Email Autoresponder
Stop worrying about fancy autoresponder sequence if you don’t have a list (or feel like to you’ve to apologize every time someone asks you about your list size/quality…)
Pick an email service provider that doesn’t cost you an arm and a leg, then START already.
If you aren’t putting in the effort to build a list, you don’t have anyone to read your autoresponder. Period.
It may sound simplistic, but most people forget that if you put crap content into a fancy autoresponder, it’s still not going to churn out gold for you.
Before you sweat the “technology,” you need to figure out your niche and how you provide value. Then provide that value to get your ideal clients onto your list.
When you get people on your list, work you butt off to build trust and relationship like a HUMAN BEING.
Dialogue with your peeps, and listen intently. Gather intelligence so you know exactly how you can provide more value, and exceed their expectation.
When you know what your audience wants and how your superpowers fit in, you can develop a point of view to clearly articulate how you serve in a unique way.
This POV is the foundation to outstanding content, without which you don’t have anything good to put into your autoresponder to make it worthwhile. 

Bottom line – for any content automation system, you gotta put in MEANINGFUL content, before you can expect it to create meaningful results for you.
Reality check:
Do you know WHO you’re writing for? Do you have content that reflects your message, value, convictions and point of view? Can you articulate your unique positioning and relevance to your audience?
What outcome do you want your content to create for your audience and your business? 
Sales Funnel
“Making money while you sleep” sounds good. I like that too – after all, I’m the 8-hour kind of gal (plus naps in the weekend).
However, building out a complex sales funnel may or may not bring you the best ROI at the moment.
First off, have you clearly mapped your values, convictions, superpowers, unique positioning and the needs of your ideal clients to your unique offering? Is your suite of offerings consistent with and reinforce each other?
You can’t spit out a random bag of stuff for sale and hope for the best.
If you don’t have anything meaningful to plug into a sales funnel, you can’t expect the sales funnel to do magic for you.
Not everybody needs to create a course or hop onto the info product train to be “successful.” Stop being apologetic if doing so doesn’t put your superpowers in the proper spotlight, or allow you to serve your peeps in the best possible way.
Let’s say you’re a coach, consultant or service professional, and your major source of revenue comes from 1:1 services. You love the personal interaction, and it allows you to create results for your clients in the most effective way
Is writing a bunch of $67 info products, $17 downsells, $297 upsells, and mapping them all out in some “choose your own adventure” style sales funnel system that makes your head spin, then wrangling with the technology the best use of your time and effort?
Or would you get a higher ROI if you just pick up the damn phone and talk to a few highly qualified potential clients who would sign onto your high-end program/offer?
If trust and relationship are needed before your clients would buy from you, your time may be better spent if you get out there and let your potential clients experience YOU.
Interact and connect, instead of squeezing your peeps through some marketing conveyor belt that does little to distinguish you from a sea of competition that are doing the same thing.
Now, a properly designed and orchestrated sales funnel has its place, no question. It just needs to be deployed with intentionality.
Make sure your decision to set up automation is not driven by fears.
Don’t fear that “YOU being YOU” is not enough so you need to hide behind some fancy convoluted sequence.
Don’t let the fear of being judged drive you to follow what everyone else is doing – regardless whether the tactics suit your business model and serve to highlight your strength, or not.
Don’t fear that if you don’t look like everyone else or have some “polished” looking funnel you’re not “professional.”
Don’t be afraid that if you’re not selling some $67 information product you’re losing out – everything has an opportunity cost.
Don’t let the fear of missing out drive you to purchase boatload of software and tools before you’re clear on how you can design a user experience that best suit your brand personality and serve to communicate your message. 
Social Media
In a way, automation somewhat goes against the nature of social media, which is about real-time real-people interaction.
Not to say that you don’t automate any posts. I’d have pulled my hair out without Hootsuite.
Remember, posting content is just one part of social media.
How can you INTERACT? LISTEN? DIALOGUE? GIVE A CRAP?
In a sea of automation, how can you show up as a HUMAN BEING?
Never, ever, outsource your voice. You can never be too busy for giving your message a voice it deserves.
And please, set it but don’t forget it. Letting some canned “feel good” posts slip into the feed during time of tragic events has ruined brands.
How can you use social media to make you MORE HUMAN, not less?

Author's Bio: 

Ling is an Intuitive Brainiac. Through her unique blend of Business + Marketing coaching with a Mindset + Psychic Twist, she helps the multi-talented and multi-passionate maverick solo-entrepreneurs distill ALL their big ideas into ONE cohesive Message, nail the WORDS that sell and design a Plan to cut the busywork and do what matters, through her intuitive yet rigorous iterative process born out of her Harvard Design School training and 10 years of experience in the online marketing industry.
Ling helps her clients optimize the space between individuality + originality vs. “tried-and-true” marketing so they can express their WHY unapologetically and profitably without reinventing the wheel.
Find Ling and grab her free “How to Find YOUR Winning Formula” Training Series at http://business-soulwork.com/ywf-free/.