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How Inbound Marketing and Content can Draw Prospects to Your Business

How Inbound Marketing and Content can Draw Prospects to Your Business

Hubspot surveyed 3339 marketing professionals in 128 countries about the current state of inbound marketing.

Why is this Important to You?

It is important to you as a small business owner because it gives you insight into what is working and where marketing trends are heading.

With the increasing use of the internet and businesses competing in the global marketplace, many businesses are replacing traditional marketing with inbound marketing. The common consensus is that to reach the global marketplace focus on using inbound marketing tactics and to pull prospects with content that is relevant to them.

The benefits of Inbound Marketing are:

  • Inbound marketing costs are 61% lower per lead
  • 41% of marketers say inbound marketing produced measurable ROI in 2013
  • 43% of marketers generated a customer via their blog
  • 82% of marketers who blog daily acquired a customer using their blog, as opposed to 57% of marketers who blog monthly — which, by itself, is still an impressive result
  • 79% of companies that have a blog report a positive ROI for inbound marketing this year
  • Just 20% of companies without a blog reported ROI from inbound marketing in 2013

How can Inbound and Content Marketing Help your Business?

  • Reach a targeted audience receptive to your message
  • Improve the ranking if your website or blog
  • Improve conversion rates of online sales
  • Establish you and your company as experts in your industry
  • Attract better qualified prospects to your website or blog
  • Repeat visitation to your website or blog from prospects and clients
  • Keep in touch with current clients and promoting referrals
  • Help to establish likeability, trust and credibility

What are the Different Types of Content Available for use by Your Business?

Blogs – Educate, entertain and inform readers about your topics, encourage return visits to your blogs with frequent updating, engages readers to share comments and share the information with others.

Social Media – Twitter, Facebook, , LinkedIn and other social media sites help promote your business, showcase talents, engage prospects and help spread the word about your business.

Presentations - Presentations provides readers with information that is appealing, informative, short and straight to the point.

ENewsletters – Inform, educate and entertain readers on a consistent and timely basis, helps promote your business, are shared with others, increases reputation, recognition, trust and loyalty among readers, and increases sales.

White Papers – Showcases your industry knowledge, provides the opportunity to be a thought leader, informs and educates the readers and can be shared with others.

Articles – Educate, entertain and inform readers about your topics, showcase your knowledge and lead readers to action.

Case Studies – Educates readers on your businesses pass success and tell how your business will help them achieve the same success.

Video – Educate, entertain, informs watchers, helps increase your likeability, trust, recognition and reputation among watchers.

eBooks – Establishes you and your business as experts in your industry, increases reputation, recognition and draws traffic to your website or blog.

Podcasts – Educates listeners, helps increase your likeability, trust and reputation.

Online Courses – Educate participants, showcases your knowledge, increases reputation and sales.

Workbooks – Educates readers, helps readers solve problems, increases reputation, trust and loyalty from readers.

Seminars – Webinars and teleseminars help educate participants, showcase your knowledge, increase reputation and recognition.

Businesses use a combination of the above inbound and content marketing tactics to create a online marketing strategy. While this is list is not comprehensive it is a good starting point to begin thinking about using content marketing in your business and what tactics are available. Inbound and content marketing allows small businesses and solopreneurs to level the playing field when competing against larger businesses.

Your Turn

How are you currently using inbound marketing and content to draw prospects to your business?

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How to Use Content to Turn Readers into Prospects

How to Use Content to Turn Readers into Prospects

The name of the game these days is information and it is everywhere.

Are you creating enough informative, educational content on your site to attract readers and turn them into prospects?

What do I mean by this?

The internet has changed the way that people search for information when trying to solve a problem. Now we turn to our favorite search engine, type in a few works and wait a minute for the results. We scroll the listing, click on the links and check out the websites listed. In a few minutes, we can evaluate a company, anytime of the day, at our own leisure without ever having to actually contact the company and talk to anyone.

Now the key to search engine marketing is being listing within the top three pages, because research has shown that most people do not look beyond the first three pages.

They are looking for information and looking for the site that provides the information they need. They will look at a number of sites and if the site has lots of content, they will stay around and read what is available.

However, you want to turn readers into prospects, right?

So how do you turn readers into prospects? Well you want readers to do one or more of several things that shows a true interest in what you have to say and offer.

  • Sign up for your rss feed
  • Subscribe to your newsletter
  • Become a fan of your Facebook page
  • Follow you on Twitter
  • Post comments on your blog
  • Invite you into their network on LinkedIn

However, even at this stage they are still readers, but on their way to becoming prospects and hopefully clients.

Now you want to get them fully engaged.

How do you do this?

By providing readers useful information in a variety of formats, such as:

  • Blog posts
  • Webinars
  • Podcasts
  • Presentations
  • Videos
  • EBooks
  • White Papers

How do you know what they want and how they want it?

Ask them.

  • Try running polls on your blog, website, Facebook page or LinkedIn profile.
  • Send out a survey to your newsletter subscribers
  • Ask them on your blog, Facebook page or LinkedIn groups

Ask them what they want to know and how they want to receive their information. Although videos and audio is popular, the written word remains the most popular form of information gathering.

Do they want blog posts, eBooks, podcasts, videos, webinars or presentations? Find out and see how many of ways you can present your information.

What other ways can help you turn readers into prospects?

Show readers that you can help them solve their problem. Remember it is all about them, not you.

Offer:

 

  • Case studies

 

  • Online portfolio
  • Testimonials
  • Free consultations
  • Trial offers

Use Google analytics to see how people are accessing your information. Track what they read, download, pages they enter on and exit pages. Analyze what pages they spend the most time reading, where they go once they read that page.

Don’t forget to put a contact form on your website so that readers can contact you. Make it easy for them to contact you. Respond quickly.

No matter what business you are in. Potential customers want to know that you have the answers that they need, content shows that you do.

Your Turn:

Are you providing enough content to turn readers into prospects?

 

 

Why I Believe in Blogging and You Should too

Why I Believe in Blogging and You Should too

I talk about blogging all the time. Why? Because I fully believe that blogging can help a business achieve their business goals, assuming they have concrete goals.

In this post I am going to try to explain why I am a firm believer in blogging by telling you about my business and why I blog.

Why I Blog:

I blog because it is cost-effective, meaning cheap. I only spend about $10 a month to host my blog. Beyond that is all about the time that I commit to my blog. I use a free wordpress site and I make changes to the template. I am no wordpress designer; I know just enough to make a few changes. I know just enough to know what I want to change and then I search for the answer to figure out how to make the change. Please don’t ask me to help you in this respect, I really can’t. I just search and read.

I try to publish three articles a week on my blog, sometimes I do and sometimes I don’t. I have learned not to stress over it, just do what I can. This year my goal is to remain consistent, which is why I decided to use blogging themes for each month. This way I only have to think about one blogging subject per month, yes, it gets dull but it helps me focus and focus is not always my strong suit.

If you are choosing to blog, you have to determine if it is cost-effective to blog. While it is cheap to host it, take time to research and write articles, for some it may be cheaper to outsource this task. If you want readers to get a feel for your personality than I suggest you create the blog posts yourself.

The Nitty Gritty:

I do not market my business much outside of blogging. It is the foundation of my marketing program. Yes, I use email, ECT, but it all begins with my blog. Everything that I plan to do this year begins with my blog or relates to my blog. I receive roughly 80% of my business through my blog, 15% through referrals and 5% from just talking to people. Am I rich, by no means, but the more I put into my blog the more business it brings me, this is why I love blogging.

I average approximately 2-4 contact submissions per week asking about my services, this works out for me. I am able to convert enough inquiries into clients that I keep my work constant and sometimes very busy.

I add approximately 10-15 new subscribers a month to my newsletter. This number is small enough for me to send a personal note to each new subscriber asking about their problems and how I can help them.

Blogging Let’s me be in Control:

I love blogging because I am in control of what happens on my blog. I can work hard to get more business, but I can also keep my business on pace with my blog. I like the amount of business my blog brings me, because it allows me to work from home, make money and have time with my family. I win all the way around.

Blogging allows me to keep my rates down. I love helping people and I probably give away too much freely but I always seem to benefit in the end someway, so I really don’t mind.

Blogging always me to Target the Audience I want to Reach:

Blogging and social networking allows me to reach the audience that I enjoy working. I love working with financial service professionals, professional coaches, service professionals and educational firms. While I marvel at the creativity available to other industries, it is not for me. I would love to be a marketer for music, art, restaurant and other businesses, but it would require an amount of creativity that I honestly don’t possess.

While there are times that I wish that my target audience were more willing to step outside of their box, I can understand their limitations and fears and I work within them to both of our satisfaction. I love the clients that I work with and have a great time working with them.

Does my Blog get a Lot of Traffic?

I average about 1500 page views a month, not tremendous but it is enough to keep me working. I am debating on how much I want to increase my blog traffic and yes, I would love too, but I also realize that it will increase my business. I have to decide if I increase my business am I willing to work more hours or hire help. I do not desire to manage others. I enjoy working for myself. Right now, I outsource when there is a project that doesn’t fit in with my capabilities or I am time limited. I can always just outsource more work. This is an option that blogging allows me to have and that I am thankful for.

The Cons of Blogging:

  • Time consuming
  • Constantly coming up with blogging ideas
  • Requires commitment and takes time to see results
  • A lot to learn if you do it all yourself
  • Sometimes can be disappointing when posts you think are great don’t get a lot of response
  • Sometimes get busy and blogging gets pushed to the side
  • Getting burned out, sometimes I just don’t want to blog

 The Pros of Blogging:

  • Flexibility
  • I control my blog, what is presented, the creativity, topics
  • Generates business
  • Allows communication with readers
  • Inexpensive
  • Lets readers get to know me and believe in my work before they contact me
  • Pre-sells my services
  • Bloggers are a great group of people and willing to provide help and advice to other bloggers
  • The media reads blogs and sometimes will find your when doing searches for information

Plans for my Blog this Year:

This year I am planning to grow the readership of my blog and to use my blog to branch out into doing more workshops and training on blogging and social media.

I also plan to use other techniques to reach more readers such as slideshare, EBooks, podcasts, webinars, videos and a few other things that I am considering.

I am looking to create passive income such as workbooks and training programs for readers to purchase.

My Current Dilemma:

I am currently debating on whether or not to post my fees on my blog. Just like any other service provider I am concerned about being too expensive for some, too cheap to others or getting locked into a set price. I am leaning toward presenting my fees because I think it is something that prospects want to know, what the cost may be and what they will get for that cost.

Have Your Say:

What do you like or dislike about blogging?

 

Join my LinkedIn group Marketing and PR for Professional Service  Firms

Image via Flicker from madalin_blog

 

 

 

 

 

Using Your Blog as a Selling Tool

Using Your Blog as a Selling Tool

Laura loves insurance. She loves everything about insurance. “I actually enjoy learning about insurance and how it can help customers achieve their goals,” said Laura.

What she doesn’t love is selling.

Laura dreads the thought of cold calling or knocking on doors. “I know I should go to networking meeting, go out and meet people, but it scares me, maybe I should look for another profession,” she said with a sigh.

I felt bad for her as we sat across from one another me sipping on tea her on coffee. What are you going to do, I asked.

I just don’t know. I want to sell insurance, but I don’t want to go out and sell insurance, is there another way? I am going to lose my job if I don’t start making more sales.

I felt horrible as I watched her lay her head down onto her arms folded on the table, looking as if she were trying to hide her tears. I wanted to come up with some fantastic idea, something that would have her bringing is sales, yesterday, but I knew that was unrealistic.

What I did know was that she had to come up with a plan that would work for her.

Okay Laura, I said. I understand that you don’t want to go out and sell, what do you like to do?

I enjoy talking to groups of people about insurance and writing about insurance, she said.

Okay then let’s start there. How about we create a marketing plan that gets you in front of groups to talk and create a blog for you to write about insurance.

She sat up with a smile on her face. Can we do that?

Of course, we can, and so can you.

Laura’s Big Hurdle

Laura went to her boss and told him her plan. He was old school and didn’t think that it would work. It would take too long get speaking gigs, he felt she was to new and he didn’t understand blogging at all. He told her to start making phone calls and make as many face-to-face meeting with people as she could.

You know Laura, most of the agents here are involved with many networking and charitable organizations and that is how they make contacts. It works and that’s probably what you should do also. I don’t think that blogging thing is such a good idea, why don’t you try finding some women’s groups to join and see if you can make contacts and sell some insurance.

Laura called me almost in tears. What should I do? She asked.

Back to her Boss she Goes

After we talked, she decided to try talking to her boss again. She asked him if he could give her six months. If after six months she were not seeing results, she would start cold calling or find another job. Good thing for her, he really liked her and didn’t want to see her leave. He told her that he had given it some thought and read about how the internet was helping people grow their businesses and decreasing their marketing costs.

Have a plan to me in a week and I will look it over, he said. If it looks feasible, I will let you try it for six months.

Laura called me excited but before we could get off the phone, her fears began to set in. Oh no, I don’t know how to create a marketing plan, she said, will you help me?

Laura’s Marketing Plan

Laura sells life and disability insurance. We first had to decide on her target audience. Who did she feel she was most capable of reaching, understood and was able to help?

Laura’s Target Market:

Young professional couples with small children, since she fell into this category herself and could understand their concerns.

Laura’s Blog:

She decided that she would host an inexpensive blog, separate from her company. Her goal was to post two times a week on insurance related information and once a week on community activities. She believed that most of her clients would be local that found her though the internet.

She also decided that the tone of her blog would be casual as if she were talking to friends.

Laura’s second step was to create a list of topics that she would cover.

Laura last step was to create a list of online groups that she could join and become involved in the conversation and answer any questions pertaining to insurance.

Speaking:

We talked and decided that we would focus on talking to churches. Her community and surrounding communities had well over 100 churches and we begin to dig through every listing we could find to come up with a listing of local area churches. When the list was complete, she had 117 churches listed.

She began calling all the churches to see if they would be interested in her presenting to their church members a free seminar on insuring their family’s future and she described what she the seminar would offer.

Presenting to her Boss:

Laura then presented her boss with her plan. She was able to show him how many people she would potentially be able to reach through the online groups and speaking to churches. He was impressed and gave her the go ahead.

Laura was ecstatic.

Laura’s Results:

She wrote her first couple of insurance articles in advance, set up her blog, and began blogging. She wrote about insurance and local activities that she attended or were coming, local restaurants, hair salons and children’s activities. Whatever she could that was local and draw readers to her blog.

She created her presentation, contacted the churches that said they would be interested and began setting up a schedule to give presentations.

Laura ordered new business cards with her blog address printed on the card and gathered her presentation and marketing material. She began giving presentations to the local churches.

The beginning was slow, especially for her blog.

The first month she only averaged five visitors a day, but by the end of six month’s she was averaging over 100 visitors a day, many repeat visitors. She receives at least one request for an appointment from the contact form that she has on her blog.

When she reached month four she decided to begin building an email list and offered a free paper explaining how to make sure that the reader is adequately insuring their family. Within two months, she had over 150 subscribers to her email list.

Her speaking gigs went much better. She talked to three groups in the first month, but by the end of six months, she was averaging six presentations a month and had moved beyond churches. People were calling her to come speak to their employees and groups.

Laura figured that for every 10 people she talked to in a group she was able to get three appointments. If there were 30 people in the group, she would average nine appointments. For every three appointments she average at least one sale, sometimes two.

The Greatest Reward:

Her boss and coworkers were impressed with her results. Her boss asked her to help train them on how to use blogging to help grow their clientele.

Since she didn’t feel capable of doing this, she was kind enough for refer my name to her boss and I currently working with his firm and agents to help them use the internet to grow.

And, we will all live happily ever after.

Have Your Say:

Are you currently using your blog to help you sell?

Do you think that this is something that you can do?

Join my LinkedIn group Marketing and PR for Professional Service  Firms

 

The Four Steps to Using your Blog for Online Lead Generation

The Four Steps to Using your Blog for Online Lead Generation

You did like the gurus told you and you step up a blog for your business.

You publish to your blog faithfully three times a week.

You share and promote your blog on all your social networks, friends, wherever you can think of.

You added a contact form for future clients to contact you.

Nothing.

No one is contacting you and you don’t understand why.

The Four Elements of a Inbound Lead Generation Program:

The Offer: Content that you offer to your target audience that will be of value to them.

  • EBook
  • White Paper
  • Free Consultation
  • Webinar
  • Coupon

The Call-to-Action: An image or button that stands out and links directly to your landing page.

The Landing Page: A special page that contains information about your special offer.

The Form: A form that will collect contact information in exchange for what you are offering.

That’s the basics of your inbound lead generating program. Now let’s take a look at this in action.

Hubspot does a great job of this so I am going to use them as an example.

The offer:

Hubspot if offering its readers a free guide to Pinterest Business Accounts.

The Call-to-Action

The Call-to-Action is straight forward and to the point, Download Ebook Now, not later, Now.

The Landing Page

Hubspot Pinterest

The landing pages tell you what you get learn when you download and read the free Ebook. A quick step-by-stepy guide to Pinterest business accounts.

The Form

Hubspot Form

The form turns your request into a lead for their business. They now know that you are interested in Pinterest for your business and what your marketing problems. They also offer you the chance to keep receiving information from them knowing that most people will choose yes.

If you are using monthly themes for your blogging, you can follow this four-step process at the end of every month to generate leads for your business. The beauty is that you will know what the reader’s interests are by the offers they accept.

Once they become a lead, you will know how to nurture the lead into a client from knowing offers appealed to them.

Have Your Say:

Are you using any of these steps to generate leads for your business?

 

Join my LinkedIn group Marketing and PR for Professional Service  Firms

 

Turn Your Blog Posts into a Targeted Lead-Generating Machine

Turn Your Blog Posts into a Targeted Lead-Generating Machine

The ultimate goal for most business bloggers is to use their blog to generate more leads to their business.

I know this is my goal. Guessing it is yours also.

We talked about creating a simple monthly editorial calendar.

Now let’s talk about what to do with those blog posts at the end of the month and how to turn get them to a lead generating machine for your business.

Before I begin, let me say that I am talking about generating leads, people who are interested in your business and what you have to say. They may not be ready to purchase, you will have to nurture them to become buyers after they become leads.

First, they have to become leads.

Now let’s begin.

You have created your editorial calendar for the year and each month has a theme.

Let’s say that you post an original blog (you know, stuff you write yourself and not curate from other blogs) posts three times a week. At the end of the month, you have roughly 12 blogs posts on one central theme.

Example:

Your theme for January is balance. You have 12 posts centered on creating balance in your life.

You take those 12 posts and group them together for an eBook, create an introduction and conclusion, maybe add a goal or task at the end of each article to help the reader create balance in their life.

  • Create a landing page and email subscriber form for your readers to download the eBook.
  •  Add a picture and link it to the landing page on your future blog posts.
  • Promote the EBook on your blog, social networks, send out a press release, then send a copy to reporters that cover your subject, and offer it free to organizations that cater to your readers.

This creates your lead generation machine. You know that the people who signed up for this workbook are concerned about creating balance in their lives.

This allows you to communicate in the future with them about balance in their life. You can begin to nurture these leads by sending only this list future article on life balance. Maybe create a webinar or podcasts on life balance and then down the line make an offer to work with you to help them on creating balance in their life.

You continue nurturing the lead until you have turned the lead into a client.

Then you repeat the process each month with the previous month’s blog posts.

Simple and doable right?

Have Your Say:

Are you getting additional mileage out of your blog posts? If so, how?

 

Join my LinkedIn group Marketing and PR for Professional Service  Firms