May, 2012

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Inbound Marketing vs Outbound Marketing

Inbound Marketing vs Outbound Marketing

There is a lot of talk about inbound and outbound marketing these days. Many businesses are moving their marketing practices towards Inbound Marketing and away from Outbound Marketing in order to reach, potential customers more cost effectively. However, what is the difference between inbound and Outbound Marketing?

What is Inbound Marketing?

Inbound Marketing (also called content marketing and pull marketing) is the process of bringing potential customers to your business by going where your potential customers and customers hang out, engaging in conversations with them and drawing them to your website, blog or brick and mortar store.

Inbound Marketing is about providing content that is interesting to people who want to learn about the subject you are addressing. It is about sharing your knowledge and message in a variety of forms to readers and engaging them in conversations.

Inbound Marketing tactics used by businesses to reach potential customers and current customers include blogs, articles, newsletters, twitter, facebook, webinars, podcasts, videos, social networking sites, and websites just to name a few. The key to Inbound Marketing is integrating a variety of methods to reach readers.

Pros of Inbound Marketing:
• Inexpensive
• Can be handled by one person
• Effective for all size businesses
• Levels the playing field
• Reaches targeted buyers
• Build credibility and loyalty
• You know that prospects are interested because they have engaged in conversations with you

Cons of Inbound Marketing:
• Time consuming
• Can be overwhelming
• Can be slow to produce results
• Learning curve can be long and confusing
• Can be difficult to measure results

What is Outbound Marketing?

Outbound Marketing (also called interruption marketing and push marketing) is the process of pushing potential customers toward your business by interrupting potential customers and customers with your message in places where they hang out. Outbound marketing is about telling listeners about your product or service and pushing them toward your website, blog or brick and mortar store.

Outbound Marketing is about telling the people who are listening what you think is important about your product or service. Outbound Marketing is about reaching the masses and telling talking to them, interrupting as many people as possible in order to find potential customers.

Outbound Marketing tactics used by businesses to reach potential customers and current customers include cold-calling, commercials, post-cards, direct mail, radio spots, trade shows, just to name a few. The key to Outbound Marketing is reaching as many people as possible to attract enough people to purchase your product or service.

Pros of Outbound Marketing:
• Reaches the masses
• Effectiveness can be measured
• Offers tried and true results
• Potential customers are familiar with Outbound Marketing methods

Cons of Outbound Marketing:
• Expensive
• Conversions rates are very low, usually 1-3%
• Harder to get prospects to listen to messages
• Prospects are turned off by interruption messages
• Prospects are less trustful of outbound messages
• Does not engage prospects

Should you choose one method over the other?

The answer to this question depends on the type of business you operate, your objectives and budget. A good marketing plan will encompass a combination of inbound and outbound marketing to reach prospects and current customers.

Your Turn:

What are your thoughts?

In what ways are you using Inbound and Outbound marketing effectively?

What I want you to do next:

Leave a comment on my Blog, like me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, join my LinkedIn group Marketing and PR for the Financial Services Industry  and sign up for my NEWSLETTER

 

Jenn

 

Four Ways to Establish Trust among Prospects and Clients

Four Ways to Establish Trust among Prospects and Clients

One of the biggest obstacles that businesses face today is a lack of trust. According to recent survey, 62% of Americans do not trust businesses. A survey by the Better Business Bureau found that those surveyed chose business accordingly:

  • 53% said the company’s reputation for honesty and fairness
  • 57% said the company’s reputation for being both dependable and reliable.
  • 54% said the company’s reputation for providing good value for money

It is paramount that to build a successful business, you have to build trust to gain new customers, keep current customers and to get current customers to refer you to other potential business.

How can you go about building trust so that prospects will do business with you and current clients continue to do business with you?

Here are four areas where you can build trust and build client relations.

1. Establish Core Competencies

Let prospects and customers know what you do best and the value that you offer. If you offer excellent customer service, then make sure you are known for your excellent customer service. If you deliver the fastest, then make sure you are known for your fast delivery. Know what your company strengths are and do everything that you can to convey this message and offer proof of the message that you are conveying. If you work with surgeons, let them know that you specialize in helping then achieve financial success. For instance, my core competencies are to help financial service firms create plans that help them market themselves easily, effectively and economically.

2. Show that you have your customers well-being in mind.

Make sure that your customers know that you will do everything that you can to make sure that they are a satisfied customer. Yes are you in business to make money, but your first priority is the customer. Take a return at times when you normally would not, to make sure that the customer is happy. Return phone calls in a timely fashion. Check to understand what your customers concerns are and work to resolve those concerns. Make sure that your customers know that it really is about them and that you want them to be just as successful as you want to be.

3. Show Integrity.

Be honest in your business transactions and show consistency in your actions, values, methods, measures, principles, expectations and outcome. Stand by your word, offer guarantees, and show  that you are not just giving lip service, but mean what you say and show that you mean it by the actions that you show. Offer the best quality service that you can offer, admit when you are wrong and then work to make things right. If you do not know something, do not be ashamed to say that you do not know.

4. Provide Information.

Provide prospects and customers with the information they need to make informed decisions. Give away your knowledge, before you ask prospects to shell out their money. Educate the masses about the services that you offer and build credibility becoming the business they turn to when they need an answer that they can trust. Do not worry about giving away the farm there will always be buyers. Educate prospects and customers enough so that they will know that you are the person to buy from when it time to buy.

While all of this sounds simple, most businesses are not doing these things that build trust among consumers. We all experience bad customer service and we wonder if businesses even care. Now more than ever it is easy to kill your business reputation. With the worldwide use of the internet, one bad customer service experience and spread like wildfires. Wildfires are easy to set and very hard to put our or contain and in the end your reputation could be dead.

 

Your Turn:

How are you building trust among prospects and clients?

 

What I want you to do next:

Leave a comment on my Blog, like me on Facebook, join my LinkedIn group Marketing and PR for the Financial Services Industry  and sign up for my NEWSLETTER

Jenn

Your Social Media Strategy: Blog Topics, Coming Up with Ideas

Your Social Media Strategy: Blog Topics, Coming Up with Ideas

When it comes to blogging, finding topics to write about can be to the challenging part to creating a successful blog. You want to write about things that readers are interested but also things that interest you and will not burn you out after a couple of months.

 

Here are a 11 ways to find blog topics:

 

1. Start with your business; what’s your specialty? I am talking about more than the general topic of insurance, financial planning, accounting, yeah you cover all of that, but what is your specialty?

 

2. What part of your business do you enjoy the most? Maybe you do financial planning and your specialty is asset allocation, but you really enjoy estate planning. What topics can you write about estate planning?

 

3. What questions do you get from clients and prospects; can you answer these questions with a blog post?

 

4. What are the hot topics of the day? Give your take on the hot topics in your industry that are consumer related. You are not writing for your peers but for prospects and current clients.

 

5. Go to the bookstore or Amazon. What are the current books that are out covering your industry? What are these books about, what topics do they cover?

 

6. Read other blogs. Subscribe to other professionals in your industry that are blogging and see what they are blogging about to get ideas. What are their most popular posts?

 

7. Read online newspapers and magazines. What are they writing? What type of questions are readers posting?

 

8. Ask your readers. Ask them what they are interested in reading about or learning.

 

9. Off topic posts. Add the occasional off topic blog post that let’s readers get an insight into the type of person you are. What you like to do outside of work, a place you visited, restaurant or something new you experienced.

 

10. Read something different. If you normally read industry material, try reading a gossip magazine. Sometimes just reading something different will spark an idea.

 

11. Sleep on it. Before you go to sleep, ask your subconscious what you should write. You might be surprised with ideas you wake up with or that come to you, don’t forget to write them down so that you will have a list of ideas for future posts.

 

 

In the beginning of our blogging adventure, we come up tons of topics to write about. After posting several times a week, week after week, month after month we can run dry of ideas. Always keep a list of ideas for future topics. This will come in handy when you are experiencing a block in what to write about and need some inspiration.

 

Your Turn:

 

How do you come up with blogging topics?

 

Do you keep a list of ideas?

 

What I want you to do next:

Leave a comment on my Blog, like me on Facebook and sign up for my NEWSLETTER

Jenn

 

Your Social Media Strategy: Building Trust through Blogging

Your Social Media Strategy: Building Trust through Blogging

Let’s face it; people do not trust financial service professionals. Financial services ranks as one of the least trusted professions in America and with all the scandals in the media, you can’t really blame people for their lack of trust. Accounting ranks as the only profession in the financial services industry that people do not feel as untrustworthy and most people do not feel the need to hire a profession accountant because they do not understand the value of using a professional accountant. Otherwise, if you are a financial adviser, mortgage broker or insurance agent, people just don’t trust you.

 

How do you overcome the lack of trust associated with the financial services industry?

 

Well to be honest there isn’t much you can do on a grand scale, but there are some things that you can do an individual level.

 

People trust people who they like, and they do business with people that they like and trust, that’s the bottom line. You want them to trust them with their hard-earned money and for many people that’s a scary prospect.

 

It may seem impossible to build likeability and trust with people who you never meet in person, but it is very doable. It takes time, but it takes time to build trust with people that you meet face-to-face; most of us don’t meet people and instantly trust them even if we instantly like them.

 

Here are a few things that you can do to build your likeability and trust level using your blog:

 

I am going to focus on how you can use your blog to build likeability and trust among your readers.

 

Talk in a conversational tone: People do not like stupid, plain and simple. Financial topics for most people are already very intimidating; decrease the intimidation, by talking in simple and easy to understand language.

 

Be personable: Don’t be afraid to talk about yourself some, not just about financial information, give readers a glimpse of who you are. Find ways to tell them things about yourself. Maybe you have collected baseball cards since you were five years old, mention this in one of your articles.

 

Write off topic: Every now and then write a post that is off topic, talk about a vacation you too, or a great restaurant where you ate.

 

Add video: Post a short video introducing yourself to readers, make it relaxed, doesn’t have to be professional, make sure that you are comfortable and readers will become comfortable with you. Smile and show your sense of humor, do not be dry.

 

Be honest: Let people know how you charge, what it will cost them, don’t seem shady, they are already scared to trust you. Explain it to them and break it down into scenarios that they can relate.

 

Go beyond the typical: Don’t just tell them what they can hear on CNN, give your prospective on what they have already heard. Break the information down and help them understand what it truly means to them. If the government has introduced a new program or legislation, explain how it could help or hurt them.

 

Use photos: Include photos of yourself outside of your job, doing things other than working. If you play golf, tell them about a great game you had and include a photo, especially if it shows you having a good time.

 

Community involvement: Tell them about your community involvement projects. If you coach little league baseball or volunteer to help people in need, tell them about it and don’t forget to include photos.

 

Include mistakes and goof-ups: Include stories where you did something that was well stupid or goofy. Now work related you don’t want them to think you will goof up their money, insurance policy, loan application, or whatever. Tell them about how long you tried to figure out your phone and your kids showed you in two minutes, people relate to that, be human.

 

The easiest way to get people to like you is by showing your personal side. Yeah it may turn some off, but they are not the people you want to work with anyway, they are not your ideal clients. Don’t just show them your knowledge expertise, they expect you to be knowledgeable, make the post easy to read and enjoyable by adding little pieces of yourself.

 

Your Turn:

 

How are you getting people to like and trust you before they get to meet you in person?

 

Are you adding touches to your messages?

 

What I want you to do next:

Leave a comment on my Blog, like me on Facebook and sign up for my NEWSLETTER

Jenn

Your Social Media Strategy: Blogging

Social Media Strategy: Blogging

When clients tell me that they want to get started in social media but they don’t know where to begin, I tell them to start with a blog.  Blogging is the foundation of your social media strategy and the best way to reach your target market without spending tons of money, but you will have to invest time and have patience to see a return on your efforts

 

How quickly you see a return on your efforts will depend on how often you blog and whether or not you are writing posts that resonate with your blog readers. You plan to post to your blog two to three times a week.

 

I want to start a blog, how do I begin?

 

I will not go into deciding which blog-hosting program to use that is totally up to you. Many choose wordpress, but there are others and you should look at several to decide which one works for you.

 

Once you have decided on your blog platform, now it is time to plan your blogging strategy.

 

Questions to ask before you begin blogging.

 

What is the overall goal of your blog?

  • Whom are you trying to reach? (This should be your ideal client that you are trying to reach)
  • What are their interests?
  • How knowledgeable are they about the topics you will cover?
  • How can you tap into their interest?
  • What is the next step they should take after visiting your blog?

 

Deciding what is the overall goal of your blog.

 

What is your goal?

Creating awareness for your business

Generating leads

 

Whom are you trying to reach?

 

Are you trying to reach?

Industry professionals: Doctors, chemists, ECT.

Industries: Healthcare, manufacturing, education, ECT.

Local Community

Demographics: Mothers, parents, college students. ECT.

 

What are their interests?

Are they interested in: Art, travel, food, ECT?

 

What is their knowledge level concerning your topics?

Are they novice, intermediate, advanced

 

How can you tap into their interest and tie it back to your business?

 

Let’s say you are targeting art lovers:

 

Financial Planners: The pros and cons of investing in art, how to choose art that will increase in value

Accountants: Investing in Art: What you need to know about your taxes Realtors: Reviews of local art galleries in the neighborhoods you cover

Bankers: Documents you should keep in your safe deposit box to protect your art collection

Insurance: Protecting your art, how to make sure you have enough coverage

 

What is the next step that they should take?

 

Ideally, you want them to email or phone you to set up an appointment. Unfortunately, most do not email or call after visiting your blog for the first time.

 

I am suggesting that you goal should be to get them to give their email address so that you can nurture them to the point of emailing or calling about your services. Offer a sign up box on your blog for them to sign up to continue to receive information such as a monthly newsletter. Most businesses offer an incentive to get a person to sign up, such as a free report. Make sure that you tell them to sign up for your email list and make it easy from them to do.

 

Take this opportunity to learn a little more about them, have them answer a question; such as, have they purchased art before? Provide a yes or no Provide a yes or no checkbox. Do they currently have a financial planner, accountant, ECT? Do not ask too many questions, only questions about information that you need to know.

 

You want to bring financial issues to a more personal level with prospects. Relate your services and value to the things that they are interested. Give them something to think about; Hum I really like art, maybe I should think about buying as an investment instead of just because I like it. Man, how great would it be to live in a neighborhood with great art galleries. Wow, I didn’t know that I should insure my art for more than the price I paid for it. Yeah it probably would be a better idea to keep my receipts and photos of my art in a safe deposit box. I didn’t know that purchasing art could affect my taxes, I should learn about that, maybe I should talk to that person.

 

That is where you want to lead your readers. To decide that they need to talk to you, because you know what you are talking about and understand their needs.

 

Your Turn:

 

Have you started a blog?

If so, is it targeted to your ideal prospects?

If not, what are you waiting for?

 

What I want you to do next:

Leave a comment on my Blog, like me on Facebook and sign up for my NEWSLETTER

 

Jenn

Laying Your Social Media Foundation

Laying Your Social Media Foundation

Before jumping into social media and getting involved in every social networking site around. It is best to begin by laying your social media foundation and building upon it when the time comes.

 

While it is not necessary for financial service professionals to become involved in social media, it is becoming an important asset in the marketing toolbox. While I am not advocating giving up traditional marketing techniques, I am saying that integrating social media marketing can help you reach more targeted prospects at a cheaper cost.

 

  Inbound marketing-dominated organizations experience a 62% lower cost per lead than outbound marketing dominated organizations.  Hubspot

 

How are financial services using social media and what are the benefits they are achieving?

 

According to Hubspot 2011 report

 

61% of Financial Services Firms acquired clients using LinkedIn

47% of Financial Services Firms acquired clients using Blogs

40% of Financial Services Firms acquired clients using Twitter

35% of Financial Services Firms acquired clients using Facebook

 

Deciding on what you want to achieve and establishing goals

 

Before you decide what social media networks to invested it is a good idea to determine what you are trying to achieve and deciding on a concrete goal.

 

What are you trying to achieve?

More website traffic

More inquiries concerning your services

Develop a deeper relationship with prospect

Lead prospects to becoming clients

Become known as an industry expert

 

What concrete goals are you trying to achieve?

1000 website visitors per month

50 inquiries concerning your services per month

For prospects to engage more with you through online social networking avenues

Five prospects nurtured to become clients per month

Media to contact you when they are writing financial article in your expertise

 

Now that you have determined what your desires and goals are, it is time to lay your social media foundation.

 

While many in the financial services field are nervous about venturing too far out into the social media landscape for whatever reasons; regulation, lack of knowledge, lack of time, ECT.

 

The bottom line is that you current and future clients are hanging out on social media networks and they expect you to be their also. They are expecting to be able to interact with using social media, so it is time to let go of your fears and build your social media presence.

 

Statistical information: Local monthly searches for key financial terms

 

Financial Advisor: 368,000

Accountant: 4,090,000

Investing: 823,000

Insurance: 24,900,000

Saving: 5,000,000

Mortgage: 11,100,000

What does the foundation for a financial services firms social media landscape look like?

 

Your five areas of focus:

  1. Your Blog
  2. Groups, forums and other blogs
  3. Email List
  4. Facebook
  5. Twitter (optional)

 

Your Blog: You will use your blog to write articles that your target market will be interested in reading.

 

Groups, forums and other blogs: You will use this avenue to connect with your target market and create awareness of your blog. You will also encourage readers of your blog to become a facebook fan, join your email list, and follow you on twitter.

 

Email List: You will create a build an email list to allow you to keep in contact with people who show interest, leading prospects to become clients and reinforcing your relationship with current clients.

 

Facebook: You will use facebook to interact more closely with prospects and clients, helping to create trust and turning prospects in to clients.

 

Twitter: You will use twitter to offer helpful tips and advice to draw traffic back to your blog.

 

Now that I have told you why I have chosen these four social media areas to begin with, let’s look at how to develop an easy plan that doesn’t have to become overwhelming. The key is to start small and be consistent in your approach.

 

Sample Social Media Strategy:

 

A financial services firm that is looking to increase leads using social media and their goal is to bring in 10 new leads per month. Their target market is small business owners who are looking for ways to reduce their taxes, invest for their futures and leave lasting legacies.

 

Step 1: Create a blog offering financial planning advice to small business owners on how to reduce their taxes, invest for their futures and leave lasting legacies.

 

Step 2: Sign up for an email service provider and offer a short free report to people that sign up for their monthly newsletter to grow your email list.

 

Step 3: Search out 2-3 groups geared towards small business owners such as American Express open forum and groups on LinkedIn and 2-3 blogs that target similar readers.

 

Step 4: Leave comments on blogs, groups, forums and answer questions. Include a link back to your blog so that readers can follow.

 

Step 5: Create a Facebook page and encourage readers to sign up by offering information that they will not see on the blog

 

Step 6: Sign up for Twitter and encourage readers to become followers. Use a program like Hootsuite to create scheduled tweets that link followers back to their blog

 

How much time does all this take?

 

I suggest that you create a plan that will last at least six months, preferable a year, in order to truly see a return on your investment. Social media inbound marketing activities generally take longer to see the benefits of your time invested.

 

You should post to your blog at least twice a week and offer a monthly newsletter. Spend at least one hour per day and engaging in your social media activities, including commenting on blogs, groups, forums, your facebook page and twitter. You can schedule tweets in advance, so spend an hour every couple of days setting up tweets to send out. Depending on how long it takes you to write and research your articles you could spend about 10 hours a week on social media activities.

 

Do you have 10 hours per week to spend on social media?

 

Well you could easily find 10 hours to invest in your business. You could get up an hour earlier each day, devote 2 hours on Saturday or skip watching television a couple of hours a week. If you truly want to succeed in the social media arena, then you will find the time necessary to invest in social media.

 

Your Turn:

 

Does 10 hours a week seem feasible to invest in social media activities for your business?

 

How much time are you currently investing in social media?

 

Do you have a social media plan?

 

 Don’t forget to sign up for my NEWSLETTER

 

Jenn