I recently gave a talk to a group of technology firms about leveraging technology in their marketing efforts. I figured what better group to jump on the tech bandwagon than a group of people used to selling technology. My talk went over great. They, just like most professional firms, struggle filling the marketing funnel. And even though most were aware of these technologies, the vast majority was not using them to grow their business.
My talk was titled, “5 Ways to Pump Up Your Marketing with Technology,” and here are the five key points:
- Stop stressing about your marketing message
- Grow your professional network
- Keep in touch consistently
- Measure your progress
- Never forget a big idea
Let me speak to each one briefly.
1. Stop Stressing About Your Marketing Message
I see a lot of clients wringing their hands over what to say to their prospective clients.
Unfortunately, we sit in our offices thinking about these things we tend to go a little crazy over it. My suggestion was simple; stop stressing over it and ASK. Sign up for a free online survey tool, like SurveyMonkey or Questioner, and send out the following questions to your last 10 clients:
What’s the biggest challenge we helped you overcome?
How did that issue manifest itself? or How did you know it was a real problem?
How would you describe our company to your colleagues and friends?
If you owned a business like ours, what would you change?
What groups or associations are you a member of?
In five little questions, you’ve determined how they see your firm and the value you bring to the table. You’ve also tapped into what they would like to see you change about your services or offerings. And you’ve learned where other people like them congregate for future marketing efforts. Not too shabby for a free survey.
You can stop worrying about your message because your clients help write it. It doesn’t get any better than that.
2. Grow Your Professional Network
Pretty much everyone agrees that networking is a critical element of any marketing plan. But once you’ve gotten to really know everyone in your Chamber or Rotary or Country Club; how to you continue to meet new prospects?
I’ve had great success meeting and strengthening relationships with prospects all over the country using LinkedIn and Facebook. When I ask the question, “Who has a LinkedIn profile?”, typically one third to half of the room raises their hands
But very few actually take advantage of the built-in credibility tools within LinkedIn. Very few people use the “Recommend” feature to capture testimonials from clients and colleagues. Very few people also actively participate in the Q&A section LinkedIn. The “Recommendations” are a great way to highlight how you’ve helped others (in their own words); while the Q&A section is a great platform for you to share your expert knowledge with others. Like any good social marketing platform, LinkedIn shows the other members in your network what you’re up to.
Facebook is more “social” than LinkedIn, but don’t let that scare you. After all, people do business with people, not businesses. And if you still think LinkedIn is only for the college crowd, then listen up. The largest-and fastest growing-segment of Facebook users is over 25 years old. Everyone I’ve helped register with Facebook is amazed at how many of their friends, college buddies, colleagues and relatives are already on there.
My advice: if you’re not already on Facebook and LinkedIn, sign up. If you are, then start using the systems more actively. Ask people for introductions, find common ground, strike up a conversation. But fair warning, you do have to be careful what you post. No one wants to see your party pics or the drunken lake photos. Skip the things that are too personal and ignore all the silly games on Facebook and you’ll be fine.
3. Keep in Touch Consistently
This may be the #1 faux pas in business today-we never keep in regular contact with our past, current and prospective clients. There are two cycles running constantly in business; your selling cycle and their buying cycle. Chances of those two cycles being in alignment when you first meet are slim to none. So how can you easily keep in touch? It’s what I’m doing right now.
Start an email newsletter. If you provide valuable information (at least monthly), when their buying cycle comes around to your service, you will already be in front of them. There’s no better way to demonstrate your area of expertise than writing. In fact, a few of the email marketing tools have a polling feature built in, so you can accomplish #1 (client survey) with the same tool.
I recommend you look into these four email marketing sites, A Weber (my favorite), Constant Contact, Exact Target and icon tact. Most of these have very reasonable entry level packages (typically ~$20/month) and make it very easy for you to keep in touch with valuable information. But here’s the trick, it’s very easy to come off as a spammer; you MUST include valuable content with each email. You cannot simply say “how ya doing? ready to buy yet…?”
One of the easiest ways to come up with newsletter content is to make a list of everything you wish your clients knew; or what could really help them improve their business; or simply ask them what their top 3 “issues at hand” are (HINT: use the survey tool if you don’t have time to call or meet). This will give you enough meaty content to get started. Once you write three or four newsletters-and, you start to see the positive reactions when done well-it becomes a habit.
At the end of the day, your email list will become one of your greatest assets in your business. Each person has “opted in” to hear from you, so you know they are interested in what you have to say. Sign up for one of the above tools now and start cultivating that relationship. When they are ready to buy your services, you’ll stand head and shoulders above the competition.
4. Measure Progress
Business today moves fast. It’s easy to forget who you talked to, what they last bought, how you met them, their birthday, whom they referred, etc… There are online tools that help you get everything under control. For the client side, I recommend Salesforce.com and PipelineDeals.com (what I use). Salesforce.com is the 800lb gorilla in CRM (Customer Relationship Management). There are modules to automate all aspects of your marketing effort-including email marketing and surveys. It includes a full dashboard to track your progress against business goals. It’s a great reminder during the last week of the month to get out there and shake the bushes to bring in a little business.
As for your website, Google Analytics offers amazing reporting to tell you what’s working and what’s not-and it’s free. This tool is so powerful that most Fortune 500online businesses use it to track their own corporate website. Once you copy a little bit of code to each page on your website, you’ll be able to see how many people are coming to your site, how long they stay, what pages they visit, how they navigate, where they live and more data than you can use. You can use this to see where your site is working and where visitors are leaving. There is also a complimentary service for A/B split testing. In essence, you design two versions of a given page, Google automatically displays both to various visitors and you can gauge which performs better. I use this to test headlines and call to actions on my site. It works great.
There’s an old saying, “what you pay attention to, gets improved.” If you want your website and your marketing efforts to work harder for you, start measuring them.
5. Never Forget A Big Idea
Here’s a fun little tip. An IT/Business Development consultant friend of mine, Bill Dotson, turned me on to this free service; Jott.com. With Jott, you can call the toll-free phone number and leave a message that is automatically transcribed and emailed to you or an email distribution list. I can’t count the number of times I’ve been on the road or woke up with an idea I didn’t want to forget-but couldn’t write it down. Now, I simply hit my speed dial Jott #, leave a message, and when I’m back in the office, I have the full message perfectly transcribed waiting for me in my Inbox to take action on. I also know of people using this to notify a high school baseball team if practice is canceled. The coach has a distribution list of players and parents (all you need is their email) and when the weather turns inclement, he “Jotts” them to let them know practice will be canceled.
Okay, there are the five ways to pump up your marketing efforts with technology. The world has changed. Obviously, we’ll never get away from face-to-face as the best form of communication; but when we start to leverage technology, it can free us up to more of what we do best.
onlineibusiness is an accomplished visionary B2B marketing mentor who works with the owners of successful professional firms who yearn to bring more clients and profits into their business and do it more often.