December, 2012

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Using Content Marketing to Educate Prospects about Your Business

Using Content Marketing to Educate Prospects about Your Business

The internet has allowed businesses to do business all over the world. It has also given prospects the availability of thousands of choices when looking to make a purchase, even when purchasing services. There are businesses that solely provide services to clients that they have never meet face to face.

Whether you meet with clients or never meet clients face-to-face, educating them before they purchase is the key to success. Content marketing is the key. It gives you the ability to show prospects your expertise and the solutions that you provide to solve their needs.

How do you make it easier for prospects to become interested in doing business with you?

It is commonly known in the marketing community that people do business with people they know, like and trust. You goal is to get prospects to know, like and trust you before the meeting, whether in person or over the telephone.

The easiest way to accomplish this is by educating the prospect on your services. This is going beyond creating marketing pieces that explain the services that you offer. This is educating prospects on how the service you offer will help them solve their problems, problems that they may not even know that they have.

For example:

Let’s say that you own a wedding planning service. For the bride who is getting married for the first time, she may believe that planning her wedding will be easy. She may not know there are hundreds of tasks to complete before her wedding day in order for her to have the wedding she has dreamed of since she was a child.

Your job is to educate her about all the steps that go into planning a successful and happy wedding that will allow her to enjoy the wedding of her dreams. Through this educational process, you will help her to realize all the things that she hasn’t thought about when it comes to planning a wedding. As she continues to return to the information that you provide concerning planning the perfect wedding, she will come to trust the advice that you give. When she begins to think that she may be better off hiring someone to help her plan her wedding, she will turn to the person who is educating her when thinking about hiring a wedding planner. You are one-step ahead of other wedding planners, because without even meeting her, she has gained trust in your ability to plan the perfect wedding.

What is some of the content that you can provide to prospects?

There are tons of ways that you can provide content. Vary your approach so that you reach prospects in a format that they will enjoy. You can create:

  • A blog
  • Articles
  • Videos
  • Podcasts
  • Webinars
  • Slideshare presentations
  • White papers
  • Ebooks
  • Special reports
  • Infographs
  • Comic books
  • Video games
  • Apps

Just to name a few.

How do you go about educating your prospects?

Let’s stick with the wedding planning example. So how do you go about educating your prospects and gaining their trust? You can put up a wedding planning website and add pictures of successful wedding you have planned.

You can add a blog and write wedding planning articles and tips. You can create a wedding planning workbook or worksheets. Add short videos of weddings you have planned, podcasts and webinars on wedding planning topics, success stories of how you helped people plan the perfect wedding, facebook fan page with all of the above and twitter updates. You can add a forum to your website where brides can talk to other brides, have questions answered by you and other readers, and create a monthly newsletter.

How do you reach prospects?

Make sure that you are participating in the social networks that your prospects participate. Join forums and groups. Share your content on your Facebook, Twitter, , LinkedIn and other accounts you have set up for your business. Ask them to share it with the people that they know. Create a contest to gain more attention and find ways to share you content with the media and bloggers so that they can help spread the word.

Utilizing these marketing techniques can be cost-effective for a small business owner, the largest investment being your time. Whether you are a service provider or sale products, educating your prospects is essential in today’s marketplace. Prospects are educating themselves about their needs and by providing the educational content that they need, when they need it, you place yourself ahead of your competitors.

Your Turn:

Are you educating your prospects about the services/products that you provide and how you can help them?

Join my LinkedIn group Marketing and PR for Professional Service  Firms

A Simple Guide to Creating Your Marketing Plan for 2013

A Simple Guide to Creating Your Marketing Plan for 2013

The current economic downturn is causing stress among small businesses owners. Yet, this is not the time to cut back on marketing, but it is a time to get your marketing plan of attack into gear. You must first decide what your goals are, who your target market is, how you will reach your targets and set up a long-term plan to reach your target market.

What are your goals and who is your target?
Before you can begin a marketing campaign, you need to know what your goals are and who your ideal client is. How many ideal clients would you like to add to your client base?

We will follow Michelle Davis as she creates a marketing plan of attack for her financial planning firm. Michelle started her business two years ago and currently has 55 clients. She wants to add to add 25 new clients to her roster over the next twelve months, an average of two clients per month.

She has decided that her ideal client has a yearly income of $100,000 and $500,000 in investable assets. Beginning with a broad look at the type of client’s she wants to attract now, she need to add more details.

What other traits can she add to help decide who her ideal prospects are? Does she want prospects that she will have to spend a great deal of time educating on benefits of financial planning? Does she want clients who want full details of their financials on a quarterly basis, or someone who just wants to know if they are on target to meet their financial goals?

At this point, Michelle has decided that her ideal client is someone who has a household income of $100,000 per year. The client has investable assets of at least $500,000, married, planning for college education of two or three kids, and planning for the retirement of both partners.

They have an understanding of the need for financial planning, implementing the plan and desires to be informed but not educated. They also do not need a detailed report on their finances, but an overview of how their investments and whether or not they are on target to reach their goals.

Deciding where your market is and how to reach your market:
Michelle knows that the type of clients she is prospecting for live in affluent neighborhoods, children attend prestigious private schools and belong to certain country clubs and civic organizations. She quickly decides that cold calling will not reach this group of prospects. She sits down and thinks about the type of marketing activities that will reach her prospective clients, the type of marketing activities she likes to do and is most likely to complete.

Through careful thought and research, she have decided to use a combination of networking, referral partners, writing articles, writing reports, newsletters, postcards,blog, podcasts, slideshare presentations, radio interviews, videos, webinars, online groups, public relations and community involvement.

Now that she has decided on what kinds of marketing activities, she wants to pursue. She decides to do a breakdown of how often she will do each activity for the year, estimating that she is able to spend 10 hours a week on her marketing activities.

Michelle’s breakdown looks like this:

  • Networking events: Attend one per a week.
  • Cultivating Referral Partners: Host a breakfast or lunch meeting once a month.
  • Online Groups: Join 3-4 online groups that her target audience participates in and actively participate.
  • Writing Reports: Write an in-depth report once per month.
  • Newsletter: Create a monthly newsletter.
  • Postcards: Send out postcards every six weeks.
  • Podcasts: Create a short podcast once a week and post to blog.
  • Slideshare: Create a slideshare presentation four times a year.
  • Radio Interviews: Become guest on radio talk shows twice a month.
  • Video: Create one short video a month and add to blog
  • Webinars: Create four webinars per year.
  • Community Involvement: Become a sponsor in two large events per year.
  • Press Releases: Sending out press releases telling of news concerning her business or for a free offer.
  • Blog: Create a blog educating her clients and prospects on financial planning and keeping readers updated on financial news, adding posts at least twice a week

Creating her long-term plan to reach your market:

Michelle has figured out who her target market is, how she will try to reach her target market. Now that she has a plan on ways to reach her market, she has to decide on a schedule to implement the plan. Michelle starts by creating a spreadsheet with each month listed. Then she breaks the month down by weeks and starts placing events into each month, trying to place at least four events in each month.

For Example:

Weekly: Two blog posts per week and podcast

January

Week 1- Send newsletter to current email list
Week 2 – Go to a networking event.
Week 3 – Create Video
Week 4 – Send Press release offering a free booklet geared toward my ideal prospects and add booklet to website
Week 5 – Create SlideShare Presenation

February

Week 1 – Send newsletter to current email list
Week 2 – Host a lunch to cultivate referrals from current clients
Week 3 – Create Video
Week 4 -.Send out a postcard to prospects reminding prospects of the services she offers that are helpful to them and referring them to her website and blog

She lays out her marketing plan for the rest of the year, outlining her activities.

She knows that the plan should be flexible and is a guideline for her marketing activities, not set in stone. It will help her know what she should be doing at any given time, but she will not hesitate to change the plan when activities are not meeting her desired goals, but allowing the activities to have time to work and not change things too quickly. Give the plan time to work, making sure you have an idea of how the activities are really working before you change things.

Tracking results and hitting her goals:

Michelle revises her spreadsheet adding columns to keep track of her costs, what marketing activities are generating inquiries and clients gained per month, helping her to keep on target.

She knows it is important for to track her results. If she writes a press release and offers a free booklet, she tracks how many people call and request the booklet, and finds out how they found out about the booklet. She also tracks how many invites she sends out for her seminars, how many people sign-up and how many people actually attend.

Along with tracking her marketing activities, she tracks how many prospects that contacted her throughout the year that actually became clients. How long it took the prospect to move through her sales pipeline before they became a client. What was the deciding factor that made them decide to become a client? She tracks how many people visit her website. How many people download her reports, and sign up for her newsletter. Constantly tracking her results lets her know what activities are bringing her business and what activities are wasting her time. When it comes time to do next year’s marketing plan, she will know what activities to continue and discontinue.

Marketing Success

Marketing is a cycle. You must first understand what you marketing activities need to do for you. Are you trying to increase your prospect base, follow up with prospects, get a meeting, or close a sale? Gear your activities to what you are trying to do and focus on those things. When you increase your prospect base, move on to following up, getting the meeting, and closing the sale, then start all over. NEVER stop marketing, if you want to keep doing business.

Creating a marketing plan does not have to be a daunting task, it can easily be broken down into small bites of manageable projects that can be tracked and repeated. Just remember the old saying “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.”

Your Turn:

Have your created your marketing plan for 2013?

Join my LinkedIn group Marketing and PR for Professional Service  Firms

 

Stand Out From The Crowd With Target Marketing

Defining targets differently

Woody Allen said that Eighty percent of success is showing up.

You got up, put on your best outfit. Dressed for success and ready to impress. You are ready. You have the talents, skills, look and great attitude. Your business is the business to work with. You are ready to get those clients and you are going to show up, headed for success.

Therefore, you showed up.

Only to find that many others had heard the same thing and showed up. There you are in a crowded room of business owners offering similar services as yours. They showed up right along with you.

Now what do you do?

How will potential clients notice you when so many others are vying for their attention?

That is the problem with just showing up. You never know how many others will show up right along with you. Standing there looking and sounding just like you do.

Before you can even get to your prospect, you hear competitors telling them, we offer best services at the best prices, just what you would say. How will they ever hear you with so many people saying similar things that you are saying? You had no idea so many others would show up and now you are feeling lost and confused. Ego deflated and ready to crawl under a rock.

You are not the only one with that problem. Danielle had that problem also.

Danielle runs a financial planning firm that helps clients save for retirement and have control of their financial futures. However, so does all the other financial planners, which makes her no different from the others. She went online and looked at websites of other financial planners and saw that their firms where no different from hers. Well they do not stand out, so maybe standing out is not so important. If I am lucky, maybe prospects that come across my site will like my site and decide to inquire about my services. The whole process left her feeling sad and depressed.

What should she have been asking herself?

Instead of asking herself what is different about her business. She should have been asking herself, what type of clients do I really want to help?

Who can I help that will give me the most satisfaction. What type of clients do I want to do financial planning for that when seeing their financial plan achieved will give me the most happiness and joy?

She gave this some thought.

Then she thought about how after her divorce the difficulty she had in getting a financial footing of her own and figured that many other women who are facing divorce or divorced are having the same problem.

That is when she decided that she would focus on women facing divorce or divorced take control of their financial future and save for a successful retirement.

That is when she knew she could stand out from the crowd.

Instead of just marketing to anyone who may need financial planning, she would focus all of her marketing on women who are getting divorced or divorced and need to take control of their financial futures.

She redesigned her website to focus on divorced or divorcing women. She created a blog and focused all of her articles on women with divorce issues and planning their finances. She joined groups, networked and gave presentations.

Instead of trying to stand out in the crowd of financial planners she choose to stand out in a crowd of women with divorce issues in need of financial planning.

With her laser sight focus, she is able to help those who are in need and facing the type of problem that she enjoys solving.

Your Turn:

Are you trying to stand out in the crowd of business similar to yours or stand out in the crowd of your ideal clients? Do you know who your ideal clients are?

 

 

 

Join my LinkedIn group Marketing and PR for Professional Service  Firms