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I just received a direct mail piece from a firm I did business with years ago. They’re still in business.  Which is nice to know.

But their mailer is, well . . . ‘deadly’ to say the least.

The copy is self-centered drivel and their offer is non-existent.  How sad.  For them.  I hope his mom ordered extra copies for her bridge club because at least she’ll see some value from this mailer!

What’s The Goal?
The creation of any promotional marketing communication must begin with as clear an understanding of what you want to happen after someone receives it as is humanly possible.

That implies, of course, that you expect ‘some thing’ to happen as a result of receiving and processing your message in whatever medium of delivery you may choose to use — print, verbal, online, etc.

Response . . . Must (ALWAYS) Be Your Goal
Given the time, money and effort required to produce and deliver a message these days, you really can’t justify any marketing that doesn’t call for your reader, listener or viewer to do something in response to your message. This is a ‘Call To Action’ or ‘Offer’.  Same thing.

Of all the goals for your marketing communications, make sure a response is one of them!

KEY POINT:
Any communication that doesn’t invite response is a wasted opportunity.

I just read an excellent rant (or, venting?) by a noted business growth consultant — Andy Birol.

Andy’s earned a solid reputation based on a history of helping clients build their business and value.

He’s actually quite good at it, too.

His latest post reflects his honest frustration with how well his website is working for him.  Or, maybe not.

The Problem With Many Websites
What Andy and many advisors realize is that “good-looking websites” aren’t necessarily ‘effective websites’.  Of course, it might help to define what ‘effective’ means, right?

Effective‘ means that your website can create an opportunity to help you generate revenues.

In most cases, this doesn’t imply an online transaction or purchase.  But it does suggest your website should be able to create well-qualified opportunities from which you can generate a client (and, the revenue that suggests) in a reasonable amount of time.

Let’s face it.  Whatever your expertise, it’s safe to say you probably aren’t a website developer.  Your expertise may lie in helping your clients manage their risks, make good investments, protect their intellectual property, and the like. So the lure of a ‘pretty-looking’ website may be quite compelling.

If It Looks Terrible But Works Great . . . Don’t Mess With It!
What Andy’s learned is that ‘good looks’ aren’t all that important in producing the performance criteria he’s learned is really important — i.e. identifying a well-qualified individual for his services.  That’s a huge insight.  And, a valuable one to remember.

I am constantly amazed (but not surprised) at how often a website built on the HubSpot platform looks ‘clunky’ but works extremely well.  There’s a New Yorker magazine cartoon where two dogs are in the library and on their master’s PC.  One dog says to the other, “On the Internet, no one knows you’re a dog”.  Very true.  And that’s why even ‘ugly’ websites can be more productive of leads than pretty websites . . . ‘pretty useless’, that is!

On a Google search, if your website or blog offers highly relevant content, it will attract traffic in the form of well-qualified visitors to you.  Once you have qualified visitors, using CTA’s (Calls To Action) and offering items of value can help reveal their identify so you can begin a marketing dialogue with them.  Just as Andy’s learned.

KEY POINT: Find Out If Your Current Website Is Working As You Wish
A valuable service of HubSpot is a complementary review of your current website.  The service is called “Marketing Grader“.  It takes only a few moments. You enter your URL (and up to 2 of your competitors) and it will give you an most insightful report on where you’re doing good and where you might be able to be doing even better.

If you’re wondering why the image of nice boats at a marina is being displayed, let me explain . . .

“I’d Like (a lot!) More Referrals!”
That’s the most frequently cited comment that I hear when I’m talking with providers in financial services, accounting, law, etc.  It’s a definite issue.  Maybe for you, too?

And why not?  After all, isn’t meeting a prospective client through a referral from someone who knows, likes and trusts you . . . about as good as it gets?  I sure think so.

Why You May Not Be Getting More Referrals

Reason #1:  You’re Not Asking
The most likely reason is that you’re not asking for them!  So obvious.  So true, too.

Reason #2:  No System
You don’t have a system for generating referrals. Referrals don’t happen by accident.  That’s why many people aren’t getting the quantity and quality of referrals they want on a consistent basis.

Reason #3:  No Skill
You have a system but you’re not skilled enough to be effective using it.

OK, So What’s with . . . The Boats?
Great question!  In our Preferral Prospecting System® — it’s like a referral, only better — we show you how to create a referral system based on four (4) elements:

Profile … of the ‘Ideal Person’ you’d like to meet
Source … of the Preferrals you’d like to receive — e.g. a ‘Center-of-Influence’
Method … the means for making your sources produce Preferrals
Plan … the coordinated schedule of actions that will generate the Preferrals you want

PROFILE . . . is based on a few observable characteristics . . . that correlate highly with the kind of people who truly understand what you do, value the benefits you offer and are willing and able to pay you a ‘fair’ price to enjoy them.

Some examples . . . “a CPA” . . . “a parent with children in private school” . . . “a homeowner” . . . etc.  The key is to choose a characteristic that doesn’t require someone to be psychic or make a subjective judgement that someone ‘needs’ whatever benefits you offer.  And that’s why we have those ‘boats’ in today’s post.

One of my clients, a financial advisor, has found that asking, “Do you know anyone who owns a big _ _ _ boat — 42′ or bigger that is kept at a marina on Long Island Sound?” is the ONLY profile characteristic he needs to use to gain an introduction to someone who is most likely to understand, value and afford his services.  See how that works?

KEY POINT:
Developing a PROFILE of your Ideal Client, based on observable characteristics, is a key element in creating a system for generating more and better referrals for your practice.

man with megaphoneIn my last post, I mentioned something might be MISSING . . . remember?

Lest you accuse me of dragging out the answer too long, let me direct your attention to the fellow with the megahorn as a final clue.  Does that help?

After Attracting Visitors, You Want To Get Some Kind of Action!
With an  inbound marketing approach, you’re anticipating what the ‘Next Step’ in your process must be and do for you.  Let’s face it, although you want to drive traffic to your website (or, blog) . . . if that’s ALL you do, you might as well not even bother.

The next ‘step’ after attracting traffic to you is to ‘convert’ your faceless visitors into recognizable people whom you can invite to take the ‘Next Step’ until, after enough steps, the person becomes a customer or client.

Use a Call-To-Action
Once you have attracted a ‘qualified’ visitor to your site, you want to learn who they are so you can begin the ‘courtship’ process — going from a suspect to a prospect to a client.  The mechanism for doing this is called a ‘Call To Action’.

This is typically a graphic button of some kind inviting you to do something to get an item of value . . . like a Special Report, a Buyers Guide, access to an exclusive video, etc. in return.

Call To Actions make it EASY to show you that a visitor has an interest in the value you have that they want.  And, if your initial ‘offer’ doesn’t require too much effort or expense . . . you’re more likely to get a response and, when you do that, you’ll be converting more visitors into opportunities.  Won’t that be nice!

KEY POINT:
Curious about converting visitors into opportunities . . .  ???

However you ATTRACT people to your website:
•  SEO
•  Direct Mail
•  Advertising
•  Word of Mouth
•  Promotional Emails
•  Blog Posts with inbound links
•  etc.

you definitely don’t want to lose them.
You want to CATCH them!

Not literally, of course.  But as we saw in a previous post, if you don’t learn who is interested in the benefits you offer, you may be extremely frustrated at the dismal contribution your website is (NOT!) making to your top-line revenues and bottom-line satisfaction.

Call-T0-Action + Landing Page = Success
Let’s assume someone finds you as a result of a Google search — a likely possibility — and they click your listing to gain, what they hope, is something useful . . . to them.  That would be your content that caused Google to show you on the search in the first place.

Call To Action . . .
Keep this simple.  It’s merely a mechanism  . . . that invites a visitor to do something to get what they want . . . like learn your insights on how to address an issue in their life or business . . . better than they’ve been able to do.

Landing Page . . . 
If a visitor doesn’t go directly to a landing page from a link in a Google search, your Call-To-Action button should lead a visitor to a page on your site that’s dedicated to the topic of interest to your visitor.

Once they are on your landing page, you want to use only as much copy as is needed to convince your visitor to give you their information — usually their name and email — in exchange for the low-risk, high-value information you have and they want.

KEY POINT:
Attracting visitors to your website is a critical first step in generating revenues for your business.  But you must learn who you’ve attracted . . . so you can take appropriate actions to generate not only leads, but revenues as well.  

 

Occasionally, far too rarely actually, I come across a truly brilliant marketing campaign that benefits not only the marketer but everyone else involved.

Enter . . .  the Fourth Annual Holiday Feed It Forward™ campaign of Restaurant.com:

Here’s the Deal . . . 
Each year around the holidays, Restaurant.com enables anyone to ‘give away’ $10 Gift Certificates to anyone they like . . . as a gift . . . absolutely FREE!

How / Why It Works . . . 
Restaurant.com is a firm that helps roughly 18,000 restaurants generate customers. It does this by allowing people like you and me to buy its ‘gift certificates’ at a discount and these 18,000 restaurants honor the ‘face’ value of each certificate.  The restaurants get more traffic, consumers get a good value (and, hopefully a good meal) and Restaurant.com gets a nominal fee for each transaction

That’s smart.  Afterall, each participating restaurant only incurs a ‘cost’ of sales (the discount and fee) when this promotional tactic actually pays off.  I love anything that changes the ‘pay now and pray later’ marketing media into one you only need to pay for when it actually works!  That’s what Restaurant.com does — very nicely.

The 2012 Restaurant.com Holiday Gift-Away . . .
For the last four years, to help all the parties in the equation — restaurants and consumers — Cary Chessik, CEO of Restaurants.com has allowed anyone to give a ‘gift’ of $10 to people they know as a simple act of ‘feeding it forward’.

This is altruism and commercialism as it helps Cary’s restaurant clients by putting ‘butts in the seats’ for them.  At the same time, it provides people like you and me with an opportunity to say, “Thanks” to many people in our lives in what may find this is a time that’s more financially difficult for more people than we may ever know.

It’s 100% legit — I’ve used this myself already — and I hope you would use this opportunity to give a $10 Gift Card to up to 40 people each day between now and Christmas.

KEY POINT:
Marketing makes a difference in the lives of people by connecting us all.  Use this ‘Feed It Forward’ opportunity to do the same with people in your world . . . all you’ll feel is good . . . and appreciated! 

Yesterday, we talked about the value of creating remarkable content that Google loves and regards highly.

Quality content will definitely help you attract visitors to your website, blog or landing page.  But it’s only a start. Even the best content alone won’t increase revenues for you.

More Keys To Inbound Marketing Success
Inbound marketing is deemed effective when it does the following for you:

•  Attracts qualified visitors — aided largely by your remark-able content
•  Encourages them to engage and interact with you
•  Positions your company favorably against your competitors
•  Cultivates a relationship with you over time, and (should we ever forget!)
•  Generates revenues for you

Key 2: Encourage Engagement and Interaction  
Did you ever have a teacher who would call on you — at random: “Chris, what do YOU think about what Jane just said?”.  I have!  And it sure kept me on my toes in her class.  That’s what you want your visitors to do after following your content back to a post or landing page.

Some good ways to do this include:

•  Comments — allow and invite feedback from your readers to your blog posts
•  Polls & Surveys — invite voting on topics you can address — and post the results!
•  Video — short, focused ‘treatments’ build your reputation as an expert in your field
•  Audio — like video — remember: “short and sweet” . . . is hard to beat!
•  Whitepapers — focused content rendered into a ‘Report’ or ‘E-Book’ — very popular

Whenever possible, make your content relevant and download-able.  Why?  Because it helps you learn who’s been attracted to you and would like to get to know you better!  We call this ‘conversion’.  It’s why you have ‘landing pages’ where visitors can voluntarily (that’s key!) exchange their information for yours.

KEY POINT:
Attracting visitors with relevant and valued content is a good start . . . providing further options to engage with you helps boost your conversion rate (visitors / registrants) and THAT . . . fills your database of people who are getting to know, like and trust you.  From there, you can make offers, close sales and collect revenues . . . by design, not accident!  

Attracting Traffic!
Apart from a possible narcissistic indulgence, you want to be found by people who are seeking the knowledge and expertise you have in great abundance. Afterall, if no one knows about you, how will they ever do business with you?  It’s not likely, is it?  That’s why you have (I hope!) a blog and write posts. That attracts qualified traffic (i.e. visitors) to your site from the Internet.

Your Credibility and Relevance
Being found by prospects for your business begins by Google seeing your site as a credible and relevant source of information you offer on the topic being searched.

Keyword-rich Content
One of the first keys to getting Google to show you to people who want to know what you know is to publish information that Google feels fits the search.

To do that, you must learn the keywords and phrases (AKA ‘long-tail’ keywords) people are using when they conduct an online search for the problem-solving information you have to offer.  There are several online tools that can help you here (e.g. Keyword Tracker).  A quick search on Google will reveal a number of resources on the topic.  Alternatively, HubSpot clients have this functionality seamlessly built-in to their sites — automatically.

Keyword-rich content starts with HEADLINES that are keyword-rich.  
Here are some examples of how one firm, HealthBridge — is creating relevant content to be presented favorably by Google.  Note how each headline reflects key words and phrases that are highly relevant to people who may require and/or provide in-home care for seniors:

  • Home Care Support – VA Aid & Attendance Pension
  • 6 Ways Health Care Reform Will Impact Seniors
  • $250 Senior Citizen Stimulus Checks are in the Mail!
  • 10 Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Home Care Provider
  • 5 Signs that You Don’t Have Alzheimer’s Disease
  • How to Pick 8 Types of Dementia Out of a Crowd
  • What Makes a Good Caregiver Great?
  • Nintendo vs. Quilting in the Fight to Save Your Brain
  • 3 Big Mistakes When Talking to Your Parents About Elder Care

KEY POINT:
Publishing Content Online — is a key to marketing effectively.  Content that attracts quality visitors (traffic) must be credible and relevant to the people you seek to attract. That means learning and using keywords in the headline of every post you publish.

OK. LinkedIn is a great online venue for generating business opportunities.  Potentially.  But to realize the benefits of this powerful professional networking site, you need to use it.  Here are some ideas:

LinkedIn Answers
One of the ways you can get noticed very quickly by a significant and diverse group of people on LinkedIn is to simply answer questions other members are posting in hopes of finding good answers.  Merely answering questions in your area of expertise gives you great visibility to many LinkedIn members.

If your answer is chosen as ‘best’, that gives you some bragging rights on LinkedIn.  In fact, LinkedIn will post that on your profile for you.  Free PR!  it never hurts!  Also, whether you ‘win’ or not, if someone else likes your answer, they may check out your profile and then reach out to you directly.  Yes, it does happen!

LinkedIn Search
You have a lot of options here. One is to use LinkedIn’s ‘search’ function (upper right screen) to find a business you’re interested in.  Assuming the firm’s name pops up, click on it.  You’ll then see anyone you are already connected to as well as people in the business you may want to know better.  Now, generating some powerful and personal connections should be relatively easy for you to do.

More to come tomorrow!

 

Regardless which approach you choose to use (and BOTH is a very good option!) there’s one thing you must be sure to do or neither approach is likely to be productive.

The King and I
Yul Brenner, the iconic actor, was renowned for portraying the Kind of Siam in Rogers and Hammerstein’s classic musical, “The King and I”.  One of the songs in that play was, “Getting To Know You”. The lyrics are: “Getting to know you, getting to know all about you . . .”.  It’s a good idea to do this on LinkedIn, too.

It’s Not About You
Social media in general and LinkedIn in particular are not about marketing that interrupts other people.  You want to ‘blend in’ to join in with the LinkedIn member community.

Take the time to really understand who you may want to approach — directly or indirectly.  Study their profile.  View their connections to other people and groups on LinkedIn.  Learn what you both have in common.  Engage with people based on what’s interesting to them. You’ll be far more interesting to them as well.   And do this all before you ever approach anyone on LinkedIn for an overt business purpose.

KEY POINT:
Getting to know LinkedIn members before you approach them is smart!