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?

 

 

 

 

 

Deliver on Your Word

Sounds simple, right? But what happens when you don’t deliver on your word.  Here is a real life example that happened just a few days ago.

Throughout the year, the Big 12 has been playing the following commercial during every conference game.

The commercial brags that there will be one champion.  The irony: The Big 12 had co-champions this year.  The Big 12’s decision makers couldn’t decide who was better team: Baylor or TCU.

The Big 12’s indecisiveness may have caused their conference a spot in the inaugural college football playoffs.  But instead of blaming the Committee in charge of the playoffs, let’s examine the actual statement from the Big 12.  It’s really simple, deliver on you what you say.

Reputation and Branding

It’s a term marketers and executives use all the time, “Our Brand.”  Regardless if you see branding as a strength or a bunch of malarkey, keeping your word in business is your reputation, and that is part of your brand.  When you go against your word, whether intentional or not, you tarnish your brand.  Once your reputation and brand are damaged, it takes time, energy and money to fix it.  The bad news is that those are resources you could be using to expand your business and increase revenue.  What’s even worse is that depending on how bad it is, it your reputation and brand may never be fully repaired.

Big 12 Example

Big-12-LogosThe following Monday after the Big 12 crowned their co-champions and the College Football Playoff committee named the top four, both national and local sports radio stations started attacking the Big 12.  A local sports show (note that there are no Big 12 teams located near my town of Knoxville, Tennessee) spent nearly an hour dissecting the issues with the Big 12, most notably the fact that there are only 10 teams in the Big 12, which prevents them from hosting a playoff to crown a conference champion. The sports show’s co-host then went on to state how hard it will be to get to two good college sports programs to join the Big 12 due to the fact the conference is not being represented in the inaugural college football playoffs.

Whether this is a short-term or long-term public relations issue for the Big 12, remains to be seen.  Most likely this will fade with time, but the radio host brings up a good point in that it will be hard to recruit a good team and now the Big 12 may have to lower their standards/expectations and bring on two schools that are not of the same caliber as their top performers.

Make Good on Your Word

If the Big 12 would have just picked Baylor as their Big 12 Champion, then maybe…maybe the conference would have a team in the playoffs.

Simply put, if you say you are going to do something, then do it.

But what happens if you can’t deliver on your promise?

  1.  NO overselling: Promise on what you know you can deliver.
  2. Be proactive: Don’t procrastinate; start working on delivering your promise immediately.
  3. Make no excuses: Without compromising your morals or ethics, exhaust every option you have.
  4. Communicate Up Front: If you are running behind on your promise, communicate up front to see if a delay will be a deal breaker.

This all seems like common sense, but unfortunately it happens on a regular basis.  What’s even worse, as customers we accept this type of service and keep giving businesses money for not delivering on their promise. Think about it: how many businesses promise you something and don’t deliver on that promise?  Do they try to make up for it?  If not, do you continue doing business with them?

Commercial Bank Branding and Football Logos

Titans HelmetsHow is it football fans can cheer for teams even though they continue to disappoint fans season after season? Better yet, how can banks learn from this during a period of employee turnover?

Let’s use the Tennessee Titans as an example.  I’m a huge Titans fan and became a fan when Coach Jeff Fisher was the head coach, Eddie George was the starting running back and Steve McNair was leading the team as quarterback.  All three people are no longer with the Titans.

  • Jeff Fisher: Now coaching the St. Louis Rams.
  • Eddie George: Hosting a college pre-game show for Fox.
  • Steve McNair: Traded to the Baltimore Ravens in 2005, retired in 2008 and passed away in 2009.

This season, The Tennessee Titans have a record of 2-10, and consist of:

  • Coach Ken Whisenhunt: A head coach who runs a traditional offensive scheme that contradicts Coach Fisher’s “Run-n-Gun” approach during the McNair era.
  • Running Back Committee: Instead of a starting running back, the Titans use a three-man approach.
  • Quarterback Problems: The Titans have started three different quarterbacks this season.

So why…why do I stay a fan of the Tennessee Titans.

Steve McNair was traded to Baltimore, so why am I not a Ravens fan?

Coach Fisher is in St. Louis, so why am I not a Rams fan, instead of staying with the Titans? 

I originally became a Titans fan due to proximity.  I live in Tennessee, and the Titans are in Tennessee.  But it soon become an emotional connection as the Titans seem to be an underdog.  Shoot, even when Steve McNair was chosen as MVP in 2003, he had to share the title with Payton Manning.

What can Banks take away from this?

Recently I wrote a post that touched on hiring commercial lenders based on their loan portfolio.  The flip side of this is what happens when a bank loses a commercial lender that has a successful portfolio.

Loosing a Strong Loan Producer

It happens to just about any community bank.  The have a top producing commercial lender who gets an offer they can’t refuse from a competitor.  They leave and immediately the bank accepts the fact that they are going to lose current customers due to “their banker” leaving.  Many times, banks start building a reactive checklist, but what if they started a proactive campaign.

Reactive Approach

Making a ListAs the bank starts searching for a replacement, the bank will also review the leaving commercial banker’s portfolio so it can be divided up between their current commercial lenders.

A good bank will also look at the profitability of each customer in the portfolio to see who is unprofitable and see this as an opportunity to “lose” this customer.  Plus, they will make sure to focus their attention on profitable and potentially profitable customers on the list.

This is a good strategy that every community bank should follow, but consider adding a proactive strategy that may already tie into your marketing and sales efforts.

Proactive Approach

Instead of waiting for a commercial lender to leave, consider these tactics to entrench your customers into your bank’s brand.

  • Email Communication: Let’s assume your bank’s sales culture has a calling program in place where your commercial lenders are required to meet with their entire portfolio at least three times a year.  If that is the case, what other forms of communication does your bank use to communicate to these customers?  A bank can create an email program where the bank is sending meaningful information.  It can be about a new service, business advice or anything else that the customer would deem useful.  This approach not only keeps customers in the communication loop, but also ties them to your bank’s brand beyond the commercial lender.
  • Customer Recognition: Find ways that your bank can recognize this customer and their business.  For example, if the commercial customer has a retail business, highlight their business to your customer base, and make sure the customer knows about it.  You may even want to let a bank executive notify the customer.  That way the customer now has a connection another banker in your organization.
  • Connect on Social Media: If you have a company presence on social media, make sure you are connected to your customer base.  Better yet, if your CEO or other executives are on a social media platform (i.e. Twitter, LinkedIn or Pinterest), make sure they are connected with the customer and engaged with them.
  • Team Approach: Most likely a commercial lender works with a team of people when dealing with their customers.  It may be a loan processor, or maybe a cash management specialist.  Either way, it is important that your commercial customers know the entire team.  Make sure your commercial lender introduces the support staff to their customers, or at the very least, their top customers.  Also consider creating a mentoring program, where the commercial lender takes an up-and-comer out with them on customer calls.

Brand Focus

You are connecting your customer to other people and outlets of your bank.  This will continue to establish the brand of your organization by reenforcing the strengths your bank has, and will make any customer think twice before they leave you to join their “former banker.”

Now if the Titans can just get their act together, I won’t be looking for another NFL franchise.

Rich Rod and Commercial Lenders

Coach Rich Rod AngryWhat does Coach Rich Rodriguez and commercial lending have to do with one another?  Better yet, how can banks learn from his career history when it comes to hiring a new commercial lender?

Let’s start with the latter and work our way back to Rich Rod.

Commercial Lending Hires

Since working in banking, I have seen two schools of thought in the hiring process of commercial lenders.

Hiring From Within

When a commercial lending position opens up with the Bank, the position is filled with a banker who wants to be a commercial lender.

Pros

  • Promotion: The bank can raise overall morale by promoting someone that already works for the bank.
  • Culture: The new commercial lender already knows the culture of the bank, will have a rapport with bank staff,  and will understand the expectations of the position.

Cons

  • Training and Development: The new commercial lender will need time to learn the position and develop into a commercial lender.
  • No Portfolio: The new commercial lender comes with no established customer portfolio, which can slow down production in the loan pipeline.

Due to the cons of hiring from within, a bank may fast track the learning and customer portfolio curve by hiring a seasoned, experienced commercial lender

Hiring Outside the Company

A bank may want to see an immediate spike in their loan pipeline and hire a commercial lender from a competitor.

Pros

  • Immediate Pipeline: An established loan portfolio can lead to new loan revenue from the lender’s current customers that are not bank customers.

Cons

  • Culture Shock: The commercial lender needs to learn the culture of the bank, learn the processes and build a reputation with the staff.
  • Lack of Loan Revenue: Just because the new lender has a customer base at their previous bank, doesn’t mean they can easily bring their customers with them.

Regardless of the decision, a bank is rolling the dice when hiring a new lender, but let’s compare the previous two examples with the coaching career of Rich Rod.

Early Success at WVU: Hiring from Within

Rich Rod WVU ThumbRich Rod was hired as WVU’s head football coach in 2000, but that wasn’t his first experience as a Mountaineer.  Here are the highlights of Rich Rod’s life before accepting the head coaching position at WVU:

  • A native West Virginian
  • Attended WVU and played defensive back for the Mountaineers
  • A student assistant coach
  • Served as a volunteer assistant

Rich Rod was a logical choice for WVU and during his time there, the Mountaineers exceeded expectations by dominating other teams in the Big East and becoming a nationally ranked top football program.  He was able to hit the ground running due to his long relationship with the Mountaineers.

A Michigan Rocky Ro(a)d: Hiring Outside the Company

Rich Rod MichThe University of Michigan saw the winning record Rich Rod had at WVU.  The Wolverines wanted a winning coach and had heard Rodriguez was getting frustrated with the new President at WVU.  They made the coach an offer he couldn’t refuse, and Rich Rod officially replaced his West Virginia blue and gold for Michigan’s gold and blue.

Rich Rod only spent three years as the University of Michigan’s head football coach.  What happened?

Short Sighted Vision

Michigan wanted a winning coach and they knew Rich Rod already looked good in blue and gold.  Seemed like a winner, right?  What Michigan didn’t realize was that Rodriguez’s offensive strategy, the spread offense, didn’t fully match the football players at Michigan.  This would require a change in players and in staffing.  In fact, players ended up leaving Michigan, citing “offensive behavior” but one has to wonder if it really had to do with “offense changes.”

A move from traditional offense to a spread offense doesn’t happen overnight, it takes seasons to accomplish.  Unfortunately for Rich Rod, the Wolverines didn’t have the patience to see it pan out.

Culture Clash

It is well documented that Coach Rodriguez didn’t get along with the Michigan environment.  He wasn’t a “Michigan Man.”  He didn’t plan on conforming to what boosters and the Michigan administration and boosters wanted from their coach and it came back to haunt him.

Learning a Lesson: What Works for You

This is just one example of several when it comes to hiring.  Just because it didn’t work for Rich Rod and Michigan, doesn’t necessary mean it will not work for your organization.  Shoot, look at what Rodriguez is doing at Arizona.  To date, they have had two winning seasons, and this season they have the opportunity to win the Pac-12 Conference Title.

If your bank does decide to hire outside the company to fill a commercial lending position (or any other position), consider the following points

  • Thorough background check: Go beyond the credit and criminal check, get to know the person.  Find out if they are going to be a good fit for the position and your organization.  Do they have the same values as your company?  Will they fit in with your bank’s strategic plan?  To answer these and other questions, you will have to have several interviews and include different people to sit in on the interview.
  • Loan Portfolio Review: There is no true way to review someone’s loan portfolio before you hire them.  That said, it is important to have some level of due diligence to ensure the new commercial lender’s customer base matches your bank’s target market.  If your bank is focused on growing commercial and industrial (C&I) loans by creating relationships with manufacturing companies, it may not be in your bank’s best interest to hire a lender who only focuses in commercial real estate (CRE) lending.

Hopefully this Rich Rod metaphor helps you and your organization the next time you need to find your next commercial lender.

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?

 

Direct Mail: SMH

confusedA coworker recently gave me a copy of what a competitor sent his spouse in the mail.  To say the least, we had a good laugh after looking at the business card and the four pages of inconsistent sales pitches.

Beyond the laughter, it did get me thinking about direct mail marketing.

What is successful direct mail marketing?

Yes, there is a level of target marketing that goes with it, but when you move past creating a mailing list, what can be done to improve the message?

Consistency

TargetsBe consistent not just with your message, but how the overall presentation looks.  For example, a four page direct mail piece should be printed on the same printer instead of having two of the four pages were printed in color, while the other two pages, which should be printed in full color, are printed on a black and white printer.

Here are other points to consider in consistency.

  • Branding: It may sound silly, but if a direct mail piece doesn’t look and feel like it came from your company, then you need to go back to the drawing board. The before mentioned direct mail piece had 2 distinctly different bank logos for the same bank.  Two logos!
  • One Messenger: The competitor’s letter had a business card from a sales rep, an introductory letter from a Vice President and an additional sales letter from an Executive Vice President.  Why not create one piece that contains one contact person?  That way there is one point person who can help measure the success of the mail campaign.

Relevance

RelevanceIf you have done all the work narrowing down a target market for your direct mail, you should make sure sure the mail piece is relevant to your target market.

Signatures Count

When you are sending a letter as a direct mail piece, the signature is an important part of the letter.  A proper signature ends the letter on a good note and adds a level of humanity to the advertisement.

  • Lose the Top Executives: Unless your CEO or top executives lives in the community, chances are people don’t care if they sign a direct mail piece.  Forget the CEO and executives and use your local senior staff member.  That way people can relate to them and put a face to the name and, more importantly, to the business.
  • Real Signature: A low quality digital copy of a signature doesn’t cut it anymore.  It looks cheap and gives the wrong impression.  If your direct mail piece is a formal letter, then it needs to include a real signature. It’s proof that you took the time to at least sign it and shows a good attention to detail.

Clear Call to Action

A direct mail piece should grab the readers attention quickly and have a call to action that is easy to understand.

  • Simplify the Message: If it takes more than two pages to explain your message, then there’s a problem.  Keep it simple and quickly explain the message.
  • Spell out the Call to Action: A direct mail piece should not only sale a product or service, but also needs to let the reader know how to purchase the product or service.  Clearly state who to contact and how to contact them.

In closing, remember, a little extra planning and proper execution can go a long way.

Have you ever received a direct mail piece you really liked? What did you like about it?

What’s in a name? More than you think.

Still_ResearchingA recent court case got me thinking.

In Cocke County Tennessee, a judge recently ruled that a baby couldn’t be named Messiah.  Not sure if I’ve ever heard of a ruling like this before and am wondering where the judge was when Kim Kardashian and Kanye West named their child North West.

In an earlier post, I wrote about name recognition and customer service, but what about the names of the products and services your company offers?

What if the iPhone would have been named, High-Tech Phone?  Doesn’t have the same ring as the iPhone, but that is essentially what the iPhone started out as, a high-tech phone.

Can a Name Limit a Product

XBoxWhat if the XBox was named Extraordinary Gaming Console?

At the time of its release, the name would have made sense.  The XBox was released as a video gaming machine, but look at it now.  You can stream different types of media, share information on Social Media and watch movies with Netflix.  In fact, my wife now uses our XBox more than me and she doesn’t even play video games.

Would the XBox have this much success if its name solely focused on video gaming?  Probably not, but Microsoft had big plans for the XBox and knew the name needed to match their idea of what the XBox would become, a fully engaged entertainment system.

Does a Name Touch Your Audience

QuestionA name may sound great to you and your co-workers, but does will it jive well with your audience?  Working in the banking industry, this has often been a challenge.  Early on in my career I kept running into an issue; we would gather a team together to create a new product or service and end up naming the new product or service a bank jargon driven name.  To avoid this, I would either:

  • Ask the team to pitch the name to a new hire that were also new to the banking world
  • Have our commercial lenders or branch managers ask their customers about the potential new name

Sometimes the name passed the test, but usually we had to go back to the drawing board.

Is the name unique

BeersWill the name of your product compete with another name in your industry?  Here’s a real life example…

A few years ago, a brewery opened in Knoxville and, in a short period of time, established a brand name that most craft beer drinkers in Knoxville embraced.  The name tied to the history of Knoxville and the beer was good.  There was only one problem; another beer company had a very similar name.  The brewery tried to fight it, but eventually had to change the name of their company and brand.  Fortunately the brewery is still in business and producing great beer.

The moral of the story: It’s important to research the name.

  • Perform a Google search for the name
  • Search to see if the name is being used as a website’s domain name

Two easy ways to get started with research that can prevent a future headache.

Wrap it up

These are just three ways to get started with naming a product or service. There plenty of other steps and processes out there, some easier and some more complex.  The important thing is that you create a name that will help start a conversation that leads to a successful sale.

What steps have you used when selecting a name for a new product or service?

What advice would you give others when choosing a name?

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