More Than Just an Email

email tabletRecently, I received a couple of unrelated emails that contained great content.  One email was from a promotions vendor and they were promoting a sell on a cool promotional item.  The other was an email for a local advertising agency that contained some excellent content.  When I read the emails, I immediately wanted to share the information on Twitter and Pinterest.  The problem was the emails didn’t have a “share” link and I couldn’t find a webpage or blog post dedicated to it.

Positive Take Aways

I know hindsight is 20/20, but here are some points that got me thinking after reading these two emails.

Measuring Success

Measuring TapeOdds are, these two companies are measuring success by open rate.  Though this is a good metric, it shouldn’t be the only one.  Others to consider are:

  • Sales Conversion
  • Building a Prospect List
  • Click-Through Rate

Of course the first metric, sales conversion, is the Holy Grail of measuring success, but the other two are just as important.  One way to help improve sales conversion in the long run is to track the other two metrics.

Building a prospect list allows you to eventually convert a lead into a sale.  The click-through rate shows how engaging your email message is.  Depending on your tactic and overall goal of your email strategy, this can be a source of information with regard to what gets your customers to act.

Most third party email marketing providers (i.e. Constant Contact and Emma) measures your click-through rate and gives advice as to how to effectively build a prospecting list.

Online Content

Have you ever considered blogging your email content?  For many businesses that consistently sendkk newsletters to an audience, this is an easy transition.  Even if your business doesn’t produce a newsletter, consider blogging what you currently send.  Depending on the size and consistency of your email content, this too can be an easy process.  But be careful, no one wants to keep reading about advertisements on a blog.

When creating an email message that will translate to a blog post, keep these three points in mind:

  1. Tell a story, but cut the fluff
  2. If the message is too long in an email, add a “read more…” link
  3. Make sure you focus on your audience and not your ego

Getting a wider reach

A big positive about converting your email content into blog content is the opportunity of gaining a new audience.

Real Life Example: Live on Location

wbir4During the fall of 2014, my company, a local community bank, hosted a fundraiser tied to a high school football game.  The high school football game is played every year and each high school participates in a food drive for a local food bank, the Good Samaritan Center of Loudon County.  To help support the fundraiser, we hosted a tailgate themed event at our bank office.  We emailed our customers to let them know about the event and sent a press release out to local media.  Since written content had already been created, I was able to take the press release/email and convert the text into a blog post.  Once the blog post was created, a few tweets were sent out on twitter about our fundraising event.  Our local NBC affiliate, WBIR, was actually going to broadcast the football game and one of their news anchors, retweeted the message.  Word spread and WBIR broadcasted live on location during their Live at Five at Four program. The event raised roughly the equivalent to 3,760 pounds of food for the Good Samaritan Center of Loudon County.

Share it

So if you have news you are communicating to your current customers, and think others will benefit from it, then share it.  That benefit can open the door to opportunities that were not possible before you started sharing.

Turned Off by Sign Ups

Have you experienced this:

You’re researching a topic via a Google search and you find the perfect sounding link.  You click on the link and before you can read the message, the screen goes dark and a “Sign Up for our Newsletter” pop up screen appears.  You click the top right “x” button and, as you begin the read the page, another pop up screen appears.

Sign-UpFrustrating, right?  But why do sites insist upon doing this?

Gaining an Audience

If you are a business owner or a marketer, you understand the importance of getting a website visitor to sign up to receive notifications from your company.  You  want to create an audience so you can build your sales pipeline.

  1. You create content and when people find it on the internet, you ask them to join your mailing list.
  2. Just in case they “accidentally” click on the cancel button, you add another mailing list request.

It’s a good strategy, but being overbearing about a sign up list is just a bad tactic.

You want to position yourself as an expert.  The problem is you have just positioned yourself as a pushy salesman.  And who likes doing business with a know-it-all pushy salesman?

Drinking from a Fire Hose vs. Building Momentum

UHF Fire Hose SpadowskiWhen someone comes across as a pushy salesman, most of  the time it’s because they are forcing their ideas/approach onto somebody.  It’s like drinking from a fire hose: getting too much too quickly.

Instead of hosing your audience down, provide sales opportunities on your audience’s time basis.  This requires more effort, but it can fill your pipeline with more qualified leads.

Here are a couple of marketing tactics you can use to fill your sales pipeline.

Create a White Paper

Do your customers and prospects experience a problem you can solve?  Build a white paper and publish it online.  Design a landing page that gives a summary and then collect the person’s information so you can email them a copy.  For examples, check out Hubspot.  They do an excellent job of creating meaningful white papers.

Ask for Advice

Looking to launch a new product or service?  How about sending a customer survey before finalizing it?  Produce a quick online survey and ask for contact information.  Once you launch the product/service, notify the prospect and you’re set.

But once you collect this information, how do you bridge the gap between curiosity and sales?

Not Seeing the Forest For the Trees

Tall TreeEveryone has heard that old saying, and it rings true with this process.  Once you start gathering different people signing up to receive your messages, get to know them.  Find out what they are interested in and how your company can help them.

  • Create an internal “Groups” list
  • Deliver specific messages custom to your groups

You may even discover that you will need to sub group each list, but don’t get lost in the forest.

  1. Keep your main goal in mind: Your goal is to create a profitable relationship, not to spend countless hours creating content to an audience that has no intention of engaging with your product or service.
  2. Don’t harass your audience: Here is a real life example.  I recently connected with an account representative for a local ad agency on LinkedIn.  He emailed me and asked me to join a mailing list, to which I did.  About three days later, I started receiving several daily emails from him and his company.  Within less than 10 days, I ended up unsubscribing to all of the company’s email communication.  The funny thing is, this company prides itself on being an inbound marketing company.

Do Unto Others

A note to end on:

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

Keep this in the back of your mind as you create an inbound sales process.  Would you like to be bombarded by a company?  What makes you think anybody else would want that?

 

 

 

 

 

Finding Mr. Right

Having trouble selling a product or service that you think is perfect?

Inspector Jacques ClouseauCommunity banks are finding themselves in this situation.  More and more people are looking to outside competitors for banking assistance.

  • Credit unions are supplying people with low-interest rate car loans.
  • Reloadable pre-pay cards are offering an alternative to traditional checking accounts
  • Mobile apps are creating new ways to pay for bills and exchange money between people

These three options are great, but here’s the catch: community banks offer some (if not all) of these services. The problem is that people either do not want do business with a bank or they are unaware that banks offer these services.

How can community banks overcome this issue?

Image Crisis

Inspector and Chief InspectorIt is no surprise that banks have received bad publicity over the past 6 years.  Bank closures, bailouts and fraud have caused public opinion of banks to collapse.  Unfortunately for community banks, people tend to lump big banks and local community banks together in this mess.

To help overcome this, banks need to work on their public relations efforts by reaching out to potential customers and to the communities they serve.  The issue is that many community banks are stretched thin, so it is important that a consistent message is communicated so you can maximize your exposure.

Keep a consistent message

Call it a tagline, slogan or sayin’, but whatever you call it, make sure you keep it consistent.  By keeping a consistent message, people will start recognizing it.  But remember, even if you and your staff are getting tired of the message, keep it up.  The last thing you want to do is keep changing your message.  Constant change means you are hitting the restart button with your audience.

No Exposure

Inspector and WomanIs your bank advertising, communicating and marketing in the right places? For example, if you are wanting to grow your customer base among 20 -34 year olds, then advertising on an AM radio station between the hours of 10am – 1pm may not be the most effective place.

Make sure you are where your market is, and focus your attention to it.

  1. Research where your target market is.
  2. Craft a message that will get their attention and give a call to action.
  3. Follow through to see if your efforts are working or if it needs tweaking.

As previously mentioned, most community banks are stretched thin, so make sure your communication is done in a creative way that will get people’s attention.

Creative Communication

If a bank wants to increase the number of CDs it has, then running an average newspaper advertisement may do the job, but that doesn’t mean you can communicate the same way when trying to reach a digital based customer.

If you are trying to reach a young, digital audience, then find out where these customers are. Do you have a presence on Twitter or Instagram?  If not, think about how you can translate your message on these sites. Even if you do have a social presence, what are you doing locally to get their attention?  If you can effectively communicate on a digital and local level, you will amplify your message and yield stronger results.

Pay Attention

Inspector BombBefore jumping into new waters, be sure to research.  Make sure your perfect product/service is what your intended target market wants.  Once it is launched and you have communicated your message, listen to your audience.  If your audience likes it, use that as a stepping stone.  If your audience has issues with it, use that as a stepping stone too.

The last thing a community bank wants is their efforts to backfire and blow up like a bomb.

 

 

 

Social Media vs Social Networking

LinkedIn on an IslandSince there is a LinkedIn icon on an island, I believe there needs to be a disclaimer about the following post:

This isn’t a “how to build your business on LinkedIn” post, nor is this a “10 tips to build your LinkedIn profile.”

You can find those types of posts anywhere.  This is more of a “what’s the value of using LinkedIn” post…especially if you are in business development.

On the surface, LinkedIn seems to have the most bipolar perception of all social media sites. Either people use it or they don’t.  But even beyond that, I have seen four types of users

  • The Resume Builder: Normally someone in the entry level side of their career.  This person goes on LinkedIn, builds their profile, adds their connections and then waits for a recruiter to contact them out of the blue.
  • The I was told to User: Should technically fall under the “don’t use” section, but these people use it because their supervisor or other senior company manager has asked them to use it.  This user is disengaged and rarely contributes to their LinkedIn page.
  • The Linked to other Social Sites Participant: The person who automatically has their LinkedIn account tied to another social site (i.e. Twitter).  This way when someone shares something on another site (i.e. Twitter) the message auto-populates onto LinkedIn.
  • The Power User: These are the cats who get it.  And by “get it” I don’t mean the people who find different groups to post a link to their blog.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that (I’m a recovering group blog poster).

I recently finished the American Bankers Association’s School of Marketing and Management (SBMM) and had the pleasure of learning from Jack Hubbard, Chairman and Chief Sales Officer of St. Meyer & Hubbard, Inc. One of the main points Mr. Hubbard pointed out about LinkedIn was this concept: Instead of looking at LinkedIn as a social media site, consider it more of a social networking tool.  Here are a few points that reinforce this concept.

Going Beyond a Resume

In addition to being a Marketing Director, I’m also the head of Human Resources.  Working in HR, people often state they only see LinkedIn as a resume tool; a way to get their name out there.  Though LinkedIn does fill that need for some people, it shouldn’t be seen as it’s only purpose.  In fact, if you’re in sales or any type of business development, LinkedIn has the potential to be a powerful tool.

LinkedIn UsageHere is an example of how people use LinkedIn in regard to the stage in their careers.  The blue represents time spent networking, and shows that every career stage spends a portion of their time networking, as well as reaching out to people on LinkdedIn.  With that in mind, take a look at your profile.  Instead of focusing on what you do, review your profile, and see if it shows what value you add to your customers and your target market.

Preparation

Before going on a sales call, how do you prepare?  Hopefully you research your customer, and their business; but have you ever considered performing a LinkedIn search?  You can view your customer, learn about their business, and see who else works at the organization.  You may even find that you have a connection to the business and the prospect that you were unaware of before your LinkedIn search.

Follow Up

After attending a networking function (i.e. an after hours Chamber of Commerce event) how do you follow up with those you met at the event?  How do you follow up with a prospect or customer after a sales call?  Finding people on LinkedIn and asking them to connect is a good way to follow up.  This can keep you in the loop with them (especially if they are an active LinkedIn user) and can provide you with insight to see what their needs are.

Final Point: Communication

The previous point suggest growing your LinkedIn network, but here are two pointers I have found beneficial:

Invitation: When you invite someone to connect on LinkedIn, there is an automated message LinkedIn uses:

I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.

Instead of using this impersonal message, try customizing it base on the person you’re connecting with and why.

Thank You: When you connect with someone, either by your invitation or their invitation, be courteous and thank them for the connection.  It only takes a couple of minutes and can go a long way.

To learn more about LinkedIn, especially if you’re in the banking industry, check out this post from Jack Hubbard and Jason Tonioli: 5 LinkedIn Myths Bankers Need to Shake.

What steps do you take to get the most of our LinkedIn?

 

Tactics vs. Strategy

Chess and PeopleI recently finished my last year of the American Bankers Association’s School of Bank Marketing and Management and had the honor of graduating with a great group of bankers from all walks of life.  There are several topics and schools of thought that are still running through my mind, but one concept has been lingering in the forefront: Tactics vs. Strategy.

When I talk about marketing with someone, usually tactics often get confused for strategy.  The biggest example I hear is:

What email strategies are you using?

Using email to get your message out and sell a certain product or services is a great tool, but it should not be considered a strategy.

Two other tactics that often get confused with strategy are social media and online advertising.  These three tactics are the latest communication tools business are using to market their companies to existing customers and prospects, but it is a shame that they are being confused with strategy.

Tactics Before Strategy

Years ago, I worked with someone who believed our bank needed to be on Facebook.  I didn’t fully disagree with him, but when I asked him why, his answer was,

Everyone is on it.

Now I don’t know what kind of childhood you had, but when I heard this, I wanted to answer with what my mother use to say:

If everyone decided to jump off a bridge, would you?

But instead of being snarky, I started a conversation with him by asking, what would we post on Facebook.  After the conversation, he realized our bank wasn’t positioned to be on Facebook and he never asked the question again.  Don’t get me wrong, his heart was in the right place, but he wanted to start a tactic without even thinking about an objective or strategy.

What is Strategy?

In its simplest form, a strategy is a plan to bring about a result.  For example, if your bank needs to raise deposits and decides the best way to do this is by increasing the number of checking accounts, you create a strategy to bring in more checking account customers.  That is the beginning level of the strategy.  You then start breaking down the steps of the strategy

  • Dollar Amount Goal
  • What type of Checking Accounts
  • Target Market
  • Budget
  • Tactics to Attract Target Market

The list can go on and on, but eventually leads to what type of tactics you will use to obtain your goal.

What’s More Important: Strategy or Tactic?

Tactics need strategy and strategy needs tactics.  Tactics are the actions you take to put your strategy to life and reach your goal.

Ever work with someone who says they are an “ideas man”?  Drives me crazy when I hear that.  Ideas are great, but without action, they’re nothing.  Sun Tzu put it best when he said:

Sun QuoteThink of it this way, as much effort that you put in thinking out your strategy, you need to put that much effort into your tactics.  Phoning in a tactic will not produce the same results in the amount of time as a fully thought out tactic.

Have you ever had to explain the difference between strategy and tactics to someone?  What examples did you use when communicating the differences?

 

 

New Customers vs Top Customers

While walking into the gym the other day, I noticed a new advertisement:

Join Us New CustomerGyms are notorious for offering crazy discounts for new customers, especially during January.  Truth is, they are not the only industry guilty of this.  Shoot, I’m in banking, which is also an industry known for giving things away to new customers.  When I first started in banking, people kept asking me when we will be giving away free toasters.

But instead of wasting time, money and other resources on non-customers, why not focus on your customers? If something is in it for your current customer, then they will do most of the marketing for you.  For example, if my gym offered a rewards or referral campaign, then I would most likely refer people.  Why?  Because at that point, there is something in it for me.  That may sound selfish, but it’s human nature.

When you build a campaign around your current customers, it can also benefit your business. How?  Think about the tools you use for marketing.

  • Direct Mail: Believe it or not, direct mail is still out there.  Think of the list time you purchased a mailing list.  If you already have a customer data base, that’s money you are already saving.
  • Email Marketing: Creating an opt-in marketing list is a great way to make sure you stay in contact with your customers.  The best part is, you can get the email at the beginning of the relationship when you are collecting the rest of the customer’s information.
  • Branding: Not necessary a physical tool, but it takes time to build a brand.  Your current customers have already established a connection to your brand, so you can cut back on the “Honeymoon” phase (along with the Honeymoon cost).

So when creating a campaign start by focusing on your customers.  Here is a quick way to remember to keep your customers in focus.  It’s easy as A-B-C and 1-2-3.

abcLearn your ABCs

Segment your customers into three groups: A, B, and C

  • A Customers: These are your top customers.  They’re your most profitable customers, they bring you all their business and refer their friends.
  • B Customers: A list that consist of customers who are just barely outside the “A” bubble.  They may refer you customers, but you may not have all their business.
  • C Customers: People who take up all your time, complainers who cost your company money, etc.  You know who I’m talking about…

123Create your 123s

Create a three point plan for each group, or at the very least, for your A Customers. Here’s a quick 123 example using the A Customer list.

  1. Find out what your A customers think about you and promote it throughout your company.
  2. Get the A customers to recommend you.
  3. Reward your A customers.

From there, you build action plans and marketing campaigns based on each number.

So when creating a campaign, ask yourself: What’s in it for your current customer?  If you have a clear answer, then you are going in the right direction.  If your answer is lacking clarity, then you may want to go back to your A-B-Cs and 1-2-3s.

By the way don’t get me wrong, I’m not upset with my gym as a customer; I’m upset with them as a marketer 🙂

What experience have you had with businesses who offer special incentives for new customers?  If you are the new customer, do you stay around after the special incentive ends or do you switch companies?

What if you are already an established customer with a business and you see they are advertising a special for new customers; does it bother you?  Do you stay with the company or do you take your business elsewhere?

Banks: Mobile Apps vs. Social Media

SmartphoneBanks are gearing up for strategic planning.  It’s the time of year where banks are evaluating ideas that have been tossed around all year and will decide what direction to take their company in 2013.  Two items that keep creating buzz inside and outside the banking industry are Social Media and Mobile Apps.  Both carry a good list of pros and cons that must be weighed out before an organization decides to test the waters.  Here are just a couple

Pros

  1. Communication: Social Media outlets are a great way to stay connected with you customers and allows customers to connect with your company in a unique way.  Until the last few years, companies sent talking points down via advertisements and press releases, but now customers can expand on talking points via twitter, Facebook and blogging platforms.  Depending on how many and what type of Mobile Apps your bank has, you can allow customers more communication to your bank.  They can check their account balances, post questions, report a stolen/lost Debit card and even deposit a check with their Smartphone.
  2. Education: Both Social Media and Mobile Apps allow you the opportunity to educate your customer base when it comes to financial responsibility, community involvement opportunities and general information about your Bank.  Banks can create a blog dedicated to establishing a “savings” mentality, or post a video on YouTube describing how to use online bill pay tools.  Mobile apps showing customers their spending habits can help people realize where they can curb unnecessary cost and improve household income.

Cons

  1. Communication: There is a possibility that a customer may give too much information.  There is also a possibility that a demented, frustrated banker may throw a wrench into your app and cause headaches for your customers.
  2. Education (or lack there of): If your bankers are unsure how to use your mobile apps, then how can they sale it?  Better yet, how can they provide customer service when someone calls about a problem?  If you have a Facebook page and no one knows about it, how effective is it?

Do the pros outweigh the cons?  Well if you ask me (a marketing/customer service driven community banker), then YES.  But that’s just one man’s humble opinion.

If you do decide to pursue either trending tech area this coming year, consider some of the following points:

  • Know Your Customer Base: If your customer base is small business owners who focus on B2B materials, would it make any sense to create a Pinterest account for your bank?  If your customer base is retail driven in a rural market, do you want to have an app specific to shopping in highly populated urban areas?  Think about your niche market first, then build around it.
  • Create a Diverse Team: I once heard a “Social Media Expert” brag about how they created their company’s Facebook page and how people in her company referred to her as that “Facebook person.”  That may have worked for that one person and may have even improved their Klout score, but would it not have been more effective if that person would have led a team of people in the company?  By pulling in people from different departments and locations, you will be able to get a better idea of what to create and know what possible obstacles lie ahead for your new app or social media site.
  • Get Buy-In from EVERY Level: From the Board of Directors to your part-time document imaging processor, everyone needs to know what is happening.  This will help with any customer issues that may come down the road and will keep everyone at your bank on the same page.

So, does your Bank plan on starting or improving your social media strategy for 2013?  Has your bank created a mobile banking plan for the coming year?

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