Archive for the ‘Marketing’ Category

What Happened to Permission Based Marketing?

Each day in my email inbox, I receive many unsolicited emails from SMBs and organizations that do not interest me. These entities obviously ignore permission based marketing and rely on buying lists from other unethical firms.

When I first started developing my email lists over 10 years ago, I signed up with AWeber.  At that time AWeber recommended the double opt in option so that people would know they had signed up for being on one of my email lists. This option avoided people identifying you as a spammer and reporting your questionable marketing activities.

Even SMB owners and salespeople also appear to engage in adding names without permission. Have you ever attended a B2B networking event and exchanged business cards with another individual?  Then within a few days, did you suddenly receive via email a newsletter or a sales pitch?  I know I have and personally resented such an action.

For me by sending validated permission to add someone to an email list reflects my business ethics, my positive core values.  I am respecting them by respecting their time.

They do not have to unsubscribe from a list they never subscribed. If by chance someone else used another’s email address, the double opt in option ensures that only the physical holder of the email address is actually signing up.

Failure to use permission based marketing suggests these firms are engaged in spraying and praying.  Spray enough emails over cyberspace and pray someone will buy what you are selling.  For me that is not a viable business strategy or marketing strategy.

Now some firms will ask why you unsubscribed?  I wonder what these firms do with the response “I never subscribed to this list?” My sense it is a feel good action for the person unsubscribing and possibly may meet some marketing association or government policies.

Possibly with the expansion of social media, permission based marketing is viewed as archaic.  For me, I will still employ the double opt in and maintain my business ethics because ethics are never archaic.

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Don’t Forget Your Business Cards When You Innovate

Business cards are prime marketing space. Yet how often are they forgotten when it comes to time to innovate.   If innovation is all about change, the question is:

“Does your business card reflects your own innovation?”

Has your tagline changed?

Have your sales prospects changed (think ideal customers)?

Is the marketplace the same today as it was when you first started?

Business cards are inexpensive compared to other forms of paid marketing.  They provide an incredible catalyst for engaged sales conversations.

Where there is the opportunity for greatest innovation is on the back of your business card.  Here is prime marketing real estate.

Now some will say leave it blank to write for others to write notes.  My question is:

How do you know they are writing notes about you and not someone else?

Think of the back of your business card as an opportunity:

  • To tell a story, your story
  • What makes you different, the Red Jacket in a Sea of gray suits?

Your story should focus on what is happening in your marketplace and how you can make a difference to your sales prospects.

As I have recently moved, I am changing, innovating, my business cards.  Beyond having an address change, I have redesigned the back of the card. Gone is the QR Code that was popular in the past and now a new graphic is present – one without a title. I intentionally left off the title because I wanted an opportunity to explain the graphic.  The Formula for Sustainable Results is still present as well as a simple call to action.

(b) › [A+S+K} + (m&m)wG = PBC = IP IR

Business cards reflect you, your professionalism and even your attention to detail.  Heavier card stock, glossy paper, clean and easy to read font give others a sense of who you are.

If you are thinking of innovating, consider starting with changing your business cards.  You just may be surprised as to how much you and your business have really changed.

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What’s So Wrong with this LinkedIn Invitation?

LinkedIn is a great social media site to increase business contacts and when done well will increase sales. Yet there is a correct way to write a LinkedIn invitation to connect and so many wrong ways to write a LinkedIn invite.

LinkedIn-invitationThis morning I received this invite (I have deleted any specifics to ensure the sender’s anonymity):

Please accept my connect request. I will then scan and send you a VIP $200 **** Savings Card. Activate and it comes with 110% lowest cost guarantee on ***** and all other ***** needs as an intro to a new ***** search engine. It can become a huge fund-raiser.

Beyond not having this specific need, I am not into any fund raising activities.  After reading this poorly pitched sales pitch, I thought “what a dolt!”

This LinkedIn invitation lacked being authentic outside of the obvious sales pitch. I wonder what LinkedIn training she had that even suggested this was an appropriate message to send with the invitation?

Personalizing the standard, boring invite of “Hi (insert your name) I’d like to join your LinkedIn network,” makes good relationship building sense. However using that same invite as an obvious sales pitch stinks to high heavens.

People buy from people they know and trust.  I may not know you, but I can check out what shared connections we have as well as your profile.  Sometimes I will accept LinkedIn invitations from people I personally do not know. However, I do have a process to ensure the invitation was authentic and not just an attempt to expand the other person’s database.

When will people recognize that marketing even social marketing is not selling?  Marketing is all about attracting positive attention.  LinkedIn invitations such as the one I just shared do not in any way meet that first desired end result of marketing.

With all the emphasis on social selling, I believe it is time to redirect those efforts to social marketing because unless people buy you and your company, they will never even consider your social selling solution as exemplified by this great example of what not to do with a LinkedIn invitation.

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Your Social Marketing Reflects Your Leadership

Have you ever considered how your social marketing may be a reflection of your leadership?  For example,  do you add people to your email list without asking permission? By taking this action what does it truly say about your leadership as well as your  business ethics?

Each day I must unsubscribe or mark as spam dozens of emails.  Many of these come from so called “experts” on sales, marketing, leadership and even business ethics. I guess they believe it is okay to add my name to their email lists.

Permission based marketing still exists and should be the best practice for professionals engaged in social selling or social marketing.  However given the increase in social selling, it appears permission based marketing has taken a bad seat to sales pitches.

When professionals regardless of their role ignore common courtesy and respect, this is a reflection of their leadership skills. Their actions only reaffirm my belief not to purchase from them or make any recommendations.

Additionally when SMB owners and sales professionals fail to identify identify their target audience, they may unintentionally send emails to recipients who would never, ever buy from them. I belong to several communities where we share similar solutions. Members on one community never ever add me to their email lists without permission and yet members in another community do so all the time.

When I email those members who add me without permission, I usually receive a contrite reply of “sorry for the inconvenience.”  No, they really aren’t all that sorry.

Leadership is the ability to secure the desired results using clearly articulated positive core values. This means no social marketing or social selling spamming and no sales pitches.

Yes any SMB owner or sales professional wants to increase sales and therefore hopefully profits. However, it is imperative that all behaviors reflect consistent and outstanding leadership otherwise the goal to increase sales will be much harder to achieve.

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Realtors Are You Missing This Marketing Platform?

Social media is a marketing platform used by many especially those selling real estate. Quite a few realtors have a significant presence on Facebook where they showcase their listings. Yet these same real estate agents ignore this other significant marketing platform which truly doesn’t make sense.

marketing-platform

Credit www.pixabay.com

First for clarity, a marketing platform is essentially a very detailed marketing plan that includes:

  • Ideal customer (demographics and psychographics)
  • Your messaging
  • How you will reach your ideal customer or customers
  • Monitoring of the results through key performance indicators (KPI)

Second, many firms actually have identified more than one marketing platform within their overall strategic plan because of the rise of social media.

Third the social media marketing channel that is being missed or ignored is LinkedIn. Possibly the reason for this oversight is because LinkedIn is considered for those selling or working in B2B industries.  Yet upon review of the ideal customer (potential listing client or buying client), probably he or she is directly or indirectly connected to B2B industries.

As someone who has extensively networked locally to nationally, I consistently discover the majority of real estate agents with no LinkedIn presence or a poorly written LinkedIn profile. Maybe I am just different, but the first action I take after meeting someone is check to see if they have a LinkedIn profile. I am going to make a huge presumption here that forward thinking salespeople take a similar action.

If people buy from people they know and trust, then why ignore this free marketing opportunity?

Each day there are numerous free webinars to free articles on:

  • The value of LinkedIn
  • Specific prospecting strategies on LinkedIn
  • How to write an engaging LinkedIn profile

By investing 20 minutes a day within this marketing platform, you may quickly discover incredible prospecting (think sales leads) as well as build your own credibility and trust.  The sharing of content, writing quick comments and reaching out to others all have an impact on how to increase sales.

With marketing budgets being limited for most real estate agents who are independent contractors, then ignoring any solid free marketing is foolish especially when potential buyers and sellers are potentially active within this marketing platform.

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The Forgotten Word in Social Media

Social media has taken front and center stage in the B2B marketplace.  Yet as another report, the 2016 State of Social Business,  has revealed this one word – engagement – appears to be necessary in the digital marketing evolution. Yet from my experience in working with B2B salespeople and SMB owners this word is dramatically missing.

social-mediaHow many times do you receive an invite from LinkedIn and just accept it?  Do you make an effort to go beyond the initial acceptance to physically speak with that new LinkedIn connection?

Or what about those who like, share or comment on your LinkedIn Pulse posting to your blog content?  Again, what efforts do you make to engage in further conversations with these individuals?

Then there is the constant stream on Twitter where people maybe retweeting your posts.  Do you ever thank them or acknowledge their efforts?

How to engage people should be part of this social media integration.  People buy from people they know and trust.  People can’t know you until you authentically engage with them.  As the old expression goes, reach out and touch someone.

In the sales world, the quick fix has always been present.  Technology has opened up this world of social media and coined a new term social selling.  Old habits are hard to break and social selling for many translates into social sales pitches.

From this report, the shift is to integrator which requires considerable strategic thinking.  To be efficient and effective from a strategic perspective requires a strategic plan.  Unfortunately, many SMB owners have never invested in creating a comprehensive strategic plan.  Instead they believe a marketing plan is all they need.  BIG MISTAKE!

Additionally, building deeper relationships through engagement is the held as the second of five top external objectives by 53% of those who responded. Internally, closing the people and process gaps in this social business evolution is critical with the development of new skills leading these internal objectives.

Engagement is the bridge between marketing and selling regardless of the platform.  Within social business, the digital marketing trend will return back to the buyer and his or her experience.

Remember: No one wants to be sold be it face to face; tweets, LinkedIn Pulse Postings or updates, podcasts or blogs.

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Where Realtors Are Missing Sales Opportunities – Part 2

The world of sales is changing and this includes the real estate market. Finding new sales opportunities in an evolving marketing requires thinking and doing things differently.

sales-opportunities

Credit www.gratisography.com

Currently the majority of business models within the residential real estate market is a 50/50 split of the commission paid by the owner of the home being sold. One realtor lists a home and usually a realtor from another firm sells the home.

Even though many realtors only want to list a home because this is the way they have done it for years, they are missing sales opportunities when the home does not sell.  Depending upon the time involved, there could be tens to hundreds of hours wasted when the home fails to sell.  All those hours devoted to marketing are lost and worse yet there is no revenue.

Enter the For Sale By Owner sellers and realtors are even more entrenched into just listing the house.  How ridiculous given there are a plethora of sales opportunities to be had to increase sales.

For example, instead of fighting the For Sale By Owner seller, why not act as a real estate consultant? Create a an affordable, alacarte fee schedule for the following:

  • Advising on how to make your home “show ready”
  • Providing more professional looking photographs to even taking a video
  • Writing actual marketing copy to be placed on free real estate listing websites such as Zillow
  • Offering to provide a lock box to even just a MLS number
  • Establishing a dedicated website
  • Posting to social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.

Instead of hoping to get paid for marketing services, now the real estate agent gets paid for his or her efforts. Even better, the real estate agent is now developing a relationship with the For Sale By Owner seller.  Since people buy from people they know and trust, the realtor is becoming a trusted resource. Here is a potential sales referral resource as well.

As it has been said, if you keep doing the same thing over and over again hoping for different results, you are embracing insanity.  Now is the time to get ahead of the residential real estate market and actually get paid for your marketing services (listing) instead of hoping another realtor brings a buyer to your listing.

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Time to Fall Clean Your Marketing Toolbox

Fall is here.  Now is the perfect time to clean out your marketing toolbox and refresh it for the forthcoming last quarter of this year and the first quarter of next year. So what is currently in your toolbox?

marketingUpon opening your toolbox, you will have a removable upper tray that contains your lightweight marketing tools. Down below is a larger compartment to hold those heavier tools.  All of your tools have a cost.

For example, your lightweight tools include your elevator speech, business cards, stationery from envelopes to letterheads, brochures, postcards, postage, promotional items or giveaways CDs or DVD’s, Costs for these tools range from pennies to hundreds of dollars.

The heavier tools at the bottom of your toolbox have a lot of variety.  There are speeches that you can deliver to local organizations or to larger conference audiences.  Printed books such as Be the Red jacket or Fail-Safe Leadership along with published articles are always effective heavy marketing tools. Paid advertising, membership in referral groups, local chambers and other B2B networking groups are other heavy tools.  Finally, there is that all important website. And let us not forget your blog or other social content marketing channels such as LinkedIn Pulse.  These heavy tools costs hundreds to thousands of dollars, but may also provide you a steady stream of passive income.

When you analyze all the costs within your toolbox, you will be amazed at the total investment. For some this may quickly exceed $50,000. Whatever the costs, the results from these tools deliver must be reviewed on a regular basis to ensure their value.

Is your 30-second elevator speech effective?  How about your 60 second and three minute elevator speeches? If no one is seeking you out after you deliver your infomercial, then it is definitely time to refresh that tool. Have you updated your website to make it search engine friendly? By being proactive now will keep you from being reactive later.

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Got Discipline To Market Your SMB?

Remember the Got Milk campaign?  Possibly it may make sense to adopt your own Got Discipline campaign as you market your SMB.

SMBOne of the most frequent complaints I hear from SMB owners and salespeople is “I don’t have time to market my business.”  This complaint reflects a simple lack of discipline. And is 100% false as most people admit to wasting 12 minutes a day or 1 hour a week.  Time is not the issue but rather self management through better discipline is.

This week I will be attending a monthly B2B networking event, traveling with another colleague who invited me to a business breakfast; meeting another colleague for breakfast and then working and meeting with several clients.  Additionally I have 5 incoming phone calls scheduled and a lunch tentatively scheduled with a client. Since I will be out of town later in the month for 7-10 days, I must honor my writing commitments to the Post Tribune/Chicago Tribune, Worldwide Coaching Magazine as well as to this blog.

Yes marketing a SMB feels like a 24/7 job.  Checking email to ensure sales leads receive a quick response to reviewing comments and shares on LinkedIn Pulse postings all take time.  A schedule is definitely required along with daily to do list.

For SMBs marketing is difficult.  Wearing all the hats including, sales, operations and actually being the delivery person takes incredible stamina and energy.  Yet, no one said being a SMB owner or independent sales professional was easy.

This is why each morning I have the discipline to monitor the previous 24 hours of marketing actions, to handle all emails, to attend to any pressing operational issues before I start making phone calls or meetings.  Additionally, by having a process for researching sales referrals as well as other sales activities helps to reinforce my own internal discipline.

WAY SMART goals also support me in ensuring I maintain the discipline necessary to keep moving ahead of the flow. Without a marketing plan and my WAY SMART goals I sincerely doubt if I could have maintained the discipline necessary for marketing my executive coaching and talent management consulting practice.

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Content Marketing Is the NEW Be There or Be Square

Over 10 years ago, content marketing was not on many business people, sales professionals or SMBs radar screens. I remember reaching out to the local SCORE group. When I talked about content marketing specific to the effectiveness of article marketing or having a blog, the advisor looked at me like a deer trapped in the headlights.  He was definitely no help because in his business experience there wasn’t anything called blogs or article directories.

content-marketingFunny, 10 years later SCORE in Washington, D.C. just published some interesting statistics on this now very prevalent marketing channel:

  • 32% of B2B marketers and 37% of B2c  marketers have a content strategy
  • B2B marketers allocate 28% of total marketing budget to content marketing
  • B2C marketers allocate 32% of total marketing budget to content marketing

Social media is the primary delivery channel for content marketing.

For me, content marketing has become the primary source for my sales leads. This past week I just published by 500th consecutive column for the Post Tribune/Chicago Tribune. I write one solid and informative LinkedIn article per month and write this blog 5 to 6 times per week.

With so many SMBs being single office/home office (SOHO) or non employed as per the U.S. Census Bureau, marketing through writing content is an affordable marketing strategy.  This strategy works very well when the overall focus is education based marketing and not product based.

Of course, as in any endeavor, practice does make for continual improvement.  There should be research respective to headlines, key words, length of postings, graphics as well as general overall readability and structure.  The use of automation tools such as Hootsuite must be understood because with the plethora of content being produced having someone read your content is much more unlikely than likely.

Content marketing demands building at least one if not several communities for amplification of your message.  The more people who share your content the greater likelihood your marketing efforts will generate actual sales leads (results).

Yes today to increase sales leads content marketing must be present.  To ignore this viable marketing strategy will doom your SMB believe it or not.

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