Marketing Corner – Business Valuation

The Value of Business Valuations

businessv3Financial advisors all know that a good business owner presents many planning opportunities. Not only is there opportunity for the business as an entity, but for the owner’s individual needs, as well as any staff. A financial advisor is not only useful to protect a small business owner’s assets; they can encourage growth through any number of strategies. But, like many client types, business owners often only seek out financial services when there’s a need. This is why building relationships with owners early can lead to a lifetime planning of opportunities.

Business valuations can be a meaningful way to connect with business owners before there’s a need and to be there when a need arises. This is because a business valuation comes into play in many situations, such as:

• Estate Planning
• Succession Planning
• Selling The Business
• Securing Loans
• Asset Protection
• Scaling Up/Down
• Key Man Insurance

Owners often underestimate the importance (and, ahem, value) of a business valuation. When you are dealing with the everyday concerns of running a company, longer goals tend to be sidelined and business valuation is typically seen as something done before the company is sold or transferred.

But business valuations can be helpful to chart progress and inform short-term decisions, which may lead to long-term growth or mitigate poor business choices. Knowing what your business is worth on any given day is important for managing risks and understanding how you track with your vision.

Here are three ideas for targeting businesses and using business valuations:

Target Bellwether Businesses

Every community has those classic businesses that have been around for a while and are beloved by many in the area. This could be a restaurant, coffeeshop, bookstore, manufacturing plant, what-have-you. businessv1Businesses that have been around more than five years have proven their viability and are likely entering into other phases of their life, bringing more complexity and weightier decisions to be made. Many small businesses aren’t equipped to handle rapid success or to maximize their opportunities. They may not even be aware of opportunities. In truth, many small businesses–even popular ones–don’t have long-term planning goals outlined, let alone know what their business is worth.

Connect with the owners of these businesses and offer a free or reduced business valuation. Ask them when the last time they had their business valuated. These businesses could be places you already visit in your day-to-day. Do a little research, meet the owners, and explain what you do.

businessv2Target New Businesses

While new businesses have a high-folding rate, getting in early and proving your skills can lead to a lifetime client. When a new business catches your eye, one you think has viability, or one you believe can provide sustained value to your community, don’t be shy. Introduce yourself and what you can do for them.

Organize a Business Owner Specific Seminar

Rather than go after specific business owners, let them come to you with a business owner specific seminar. Just like you would with any other audience in a seminar setting, address common concerns and important concepts that your target market needs to know. Offer a business valuation at the end of the workshop and start booking appointments.

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Marketing Corner – 12 Best Practices For Sponsoring Community Events

12 Best Practices for Sponsoring Community Events

Community events are great marketing opportunities that advisors often fail to take advantage of. This is a shame because community events allow consumers to see a friendly, personal side of your business. Rather than meeting you or engaging with your brand through normal business channels, consumers become aware of you in settings that add enjoyment to their daily life. Here are 12 best practices with sponsoring a community event.

Choose an Event That Is Visible And Draws Crowds Within the Community

Consider the community activities that occur in your area. Are they popular enough to draw significant crowds? Do they bring together different strands of your target market?

Choose Events That Occur Regularly

While sponsoring a new event or a one-off activity can certainly be helpful to your brand, finding events that occur regularly may lead to a long-lasting relationship with organizers. This provides you more opportunities in the future, granting your name a strong association with the event, and helping you to plan far in advance.

Select Events That Align With Your Passions and Hobbies

You can certainly sponsor an activity just for the sake of brand awareness, but if you choose an event that reflects your personal tastes and hobbies, you will be more invested into it. These may also give you chances to showcase parts of your life not related to your business. For example, let’s say you are great at cooking BBQ. Sponsoring a BBQ cook-off would allow you to be a part of an event that attracts people in your community as well as participate.

Give Your Audience A Unique Experience

Align yourself with events that provide your target market with a unique, fun experience. Avoid boring, information-style activities, and think of things that the entire family can enjoy.

Identify Activities You Can Directly Participate In

Getting your branding in front of consumers is great, but directly interacting with consumers is a better way for them to get a sense of you. So don’t just sponsor the art walk, or beer fest, or block party—directly participate and mingle.

Don’t Overwhelm The Event With A Pitch

It’s fine to discuss your services and area of expertise, but avoid trying to sell. Explain who you are, what you do, maybe even give a business card, and then focus on having fun and interacting with attendees.

Promote The Event

Don’t simply count on organizers to promote the event. Promote through your social media channels and newsletters. Let current clients know about the event, as this can be a form of client appreciation and referral gathering all in the same activity. Use your regular marketing channels to market the event, i.e. e-blasts, phone calls, and even direct mail. Understand how the event fits within your other marketing activities. What marketing will you do before and after the event? How will you use these to highlight the activity?

Consider A Range of Events to Reach Multiple Types of Consumers

Younger consumers may be responsive to a summer concert series or a food fest, while older consumers may respond more to leisurely activities like crafts. If budget allows, strategically place yourself within both types of events.

Coordinate With Organizers On Your Level of Responsibility

Make sure your role is clearly defined and that you don’t overstep the bounds of those doing the brunt of putting on the event. Offer your help where needed, but don’t overwhelm them and make the event all about you.

Create Your Own Events

If you are unable to find a suitable event that aligns with your hobbies or passions, create your own. While this means that organization falls an you and your staff’s shoulders, creating your own event, especially if it is unique, can set apart from your competitors.

Document Tastefully

Without being narcissistic or disturbing the spirit of the event, document it through photos and videos. Place these on your website or social media platforms.

Define What You Want To Get Out Of The Event

Make sure you have a clear idea of what your business gets out of the activity. Are you looking purely for brand awareness? Or will you try to capture leads?

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Marketing Corner – Ramp Up For Fall

Ramp Up For Fall

planfallmcWhile we are smack in the middle of the dog days of summer (it was 96 degrees with a heat index of 108 here at LFP HQ) fall isn’t too far away. September is only six weeks from now and autumn will creep up faster than you know it. Whether you are dealing with a downturn due to a summer slump or clearing high production, now is a good time to think about the next quarter of your business.

This is because with each season, comes new opportunities. Here is a list of things to consider as you ramp up for the fall:

Your Marketing Plan

Many advisors don’t have a marketing plan to begin with it. Even if you do, you are likely focused on very short-term (weeks) or very long-term (years) marketing activities. But having a marketing plan that aligns with the seasons (months) can be a good way to establish goals and take advantage of opportunities that occur during this time period. Don’t ignore your daily marketing activities nor your long-term goals; simply add another timeframe to consider how you can leverage your value proposition.

seminarSeminars

We discussed before the enduring value that seminars have as a marketing tool. Because of summer can both hurt attendance as much as it can help, some advisors reduce their seminar activities during this time period. If you are one of them, now is the time to plan your fall seminars, with presentations often taking six weeks or more to prepare, coordinate, and advertise.

Back to School Marketing Opportunities

You may not think that back-to-school season offers opportunities for reaching new clients, but it does. You can align you marketing around the concept of “back-to-school” or even look at school publications. In areas where high-school sports are popular, look at sponsorship or booster opportunities.

Industry Specific Opportunities

The fall has two big industry specific marketing opportunities: life insurance awareness month (September) and critical illness awareness month (October). As you head into the fall, consider how you will take advantage of these awareness months, contact specific carriers to request collateral, and ask what your eventsmcbrokerage or FMO is going to do to help you market during this timeframe.

Community Events

The spring and summer months are full of community events, with more people seeking outdoor or social activities. Autumn likely has several events in your area that draw regular crowds. Look into sponsoring these events or even creating your own.

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Marketing Corner – 5 Tips For Story Selling

Marketing Corner – 5 Tips For Story Selling

Storyselling is an important and valuable concept for financial advisors—really any profession that uses personal interactions to clear business. Good storyselling turns a pitch into a dynamic process that helps consumers to emotionally connect with a product or strategy. Here are five key tips for good storyselling.

personalDon’t Mix Your Metaphors

Using metaphors and analogies can be an efficient way to package large concepts into digestible nuggets. A metaphor can clarify a complex strategy or solution and keep the consumer interested. There are many kinds of metaphors and analogies we already use; think “home run,” “bogie,” “bulletproof,” etc. However, you should keep metaphors relevant, focused on the consumer or their benefit, and consistent. Mixing metaphors can confuse, rather than illuminate.

Use Personal Details To Sell The Story

The more you can draw personal details into your pitch, the more the consumer will be engaged. Use your profiling and sense of the prospect to craft relevant metaphors. Use names of spouses and family members to highlight who will benefit from the strategy, for example, “With this strategy, you and Bob can retire in Boca, with enough money for little Julie’s college.” Being specific and personal reinforces the benefit of the strategy for their unique situation.

Focus on the Goals/Results

Your story-sell may involve a lot of pieces and detours, but you should always bring it to the end goal. What does this particular strategy or solution solve? Why is this solution more appropriate than others? Follow the classic story arc of beginning-middle-end to keep the pitch on track of focused on the problem it solves.

balanceBalance the Story

With storyselling you do run the risk of eliding or overpowering important details about a strategy. Ensure that your client fully understands the consequences and responsibilities of the strategy you are selling them. A client who feels misled can wreak havoc on your practice with negative reviews, chargebacks, and legal action. So as you sell to your prospect, take moments to check for understanding.

Use Visual Aids/Yellow Pads

A simple yellow-pad concept or illustration can enhance your storyselling. As you pitch, draw out important details or use visual metaphors to convey the crux of your solution. Better yet, have the consumer draw based on your instruction.

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Marketing Corner – The Value of Lead Magnets

The Value of Lead Magnets

compyEvery business needs a stream of qualified leads. For financial advisors this is a unique challenge. While a neighborhood bakery, autoshop, or boutique clothing store provides tangible goods and services, the benefits of working with a financial advisor may not be as instantly gratifying. Many consumers only seek out financial advisors when there’s a pressing need, meaning it’s often too late to properly address the issue. One way to address this is to incorporate lead magnets into your marketing plan.

What is a lead magnet?

A lead magnet is anything that drives a consumer to a specific action. You can think of it similar to a call-to-action or a give. What a lead magnet does is attract consumers with a tangible offer or unique experience. This is often thought of in terms of digital marketing. For example, a consumer responds to a digital ad, routing them to a landing page which has a form submittal to receive a complimentary kit, rate report, or retirement analysis. There are many different versions of this structure and advisors can implement a digital lead magnet system to reach many types of consumers.

While it’s good to focus on the digital, lead magnets can be very effective in traditional formats. For instance, we’ve seen success with agents offering a free round of golf or a free tennis lesson. Instead of (or in addition to) using digital ads to promote this offer, the agent places a high-quality, eye-catching ad at the target venue. This can, to an extent, pre-qualify the audience, based on the venue where the ad is placed . The consumer gets a unique experience of value and is able to learn more about you in a casual, low-pressure manner. Another benefit is that you can build a relationship with the venue, which can open you to business owners and advocates.

What Makes a Good Lead Magnet?

meetingwclientsA good lead magnet:

Offers an experience or product of real value

A rate report or retirement analysis represents a real value for your time and expertise. For some consumers, this may be enough. But to really attract high-value consumers, offer something that is immediately gratifying.

Is pitched toward a specific target market

You can use a lead magnet any number of ways, which is why you should have a clear idea of the type of consumer you wish to attract.

Gives you an opportunity to interact with the consumer

Dangling out an Outback gift-card for an introductory phone call at best gives you an impersonal interaction with a consumer and at worse attracts plate-lickers. If your lead magnet involves an experience like a lesson with a golf pro, this is an event that you and the consumer can share together. This gives you opportunities to interact with the consumer and for them to get a sense of you.

Aligns you with businesses that support you and your efforts

Since you are likely to use another business’ products or services as a carrot to attract consumers, it’s important to develop a good relationship with the business. As mentioned above, this can gain you advocates and access to business planning opportunities. On a smaller level, however, having a good relationship ensures that you are able to continue to use the business for your lead magnet. Make sure that the relationship is mutually beneficial.

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Marketing Corner – 6 Key Challenges Advisors Face Today

Marketing Corner – Wednesday June 29th, 2016

6 Key Challenges Advisors Face Today

Advisors and Agents face many challenges throughout their career. From establishing a practice, building a client base, marketing, and dealing with downturns, the zigs and zags of an agent’s career can be erratic. Here are six key challenges advisors face today.

Shifting Demographics and Client Bases

America is on the cusp of the largest transfer of generational wealth, ever. Over the next 30 years, some $30 trillion will be transferred from Boomers to Gen-Xers and Millennials. That’s a pretty good opportunity for advisors, except for two things:

Nearly 66% of children release their parent’s advisor
Most advisors only focus on a particular age segment

Retaining clients across familial generations requires skill. Although there is no such thing as “easy money,” focusing only on Boomers does simplify your practice. You are able to understand the key needs of this population segment and positions to continually enhance your expertise. But doing this cuts you off from the next wave, which is going to arrive sooner than you think. Some demarcations put the outer edge of Gen-Xers around 1960, which means that in five-ten years, these will be the new Boomers. Plus many Gen-Xers and Millennials (yes, Millennials) represent planning opportunities now. Take some time understand the key issues facing each generation and expand your target market.

marketingMarketing and Prospecting

Marketing and prospecting will always be a challenge in any business. Financial advisors are in especially prone position, however, when it comes to generating leads and converting new clients, since the service they provide is not a tangible object and often involves long time-frames. As generations shift, so too does the effective means to reach new clients. This is where having an array of marketing solutions is helpful. While you may have one core marketing activity (seminars, social media, referrals, etc.) having many different marketing tools will help you adapt to changing target markets. It’s not digital versus traditional or push versus pull marketing. It’s digital and traditional, push and pull marketing.

Regulation

One immediate challenge facing the financial service industry at large is the DOL fiduciary rule. While advisors can expound endlessly on the potential impact of this rule, it does raise some concerns about regulation in general and the changing perceptions of what it is financial professionals actually do. We’ll see how this change plays out before full implementation (already there are many lawsuits set to argue against the rule) but it points to the importance of staying abreast of industry-wide changes and being diversified in your offerings.

Balancing Being A Good Advisor and A Good Businessperson

A good advisor provides custom-tailored service and excellent care. A good businessperson understands the true cost of profit and has a vision for the company on several different time scales. The challenge many advisors have is that they have to be both a good advisor and a good businessperson. Independent advisors may pull enough in production to hire a support staff, but the responsibilities of dealing with consumers and protecting the business’s growth fall squarely on their shoulders. Time spent as an advisor can take away time needed to ensure business needs are met. Time focused on the numbers takes away from time that could be spent with consumers, which at the end of the day, helps support the vision of the business.

How do you balance this? It may help to establish a distinct marketing and business plan periodically. You may also wish to align with another producer or agency. Or you might seek out a FMO to handle marketing and back office tasks, as well as help shape the scope of your business. However you do it, never forget that you are a business owner and need time to focus on business needs as much as client needs.

marketvolatileMarket Volatility

The market is unpredictable. While there are best practices, solutions, and strategies that work within and outside the market, the market still casts a large shadow over financial services. Market volatility presents a challenge to advisors in a few interesting ways. Advisors need to have some idea of how products and solutions will perform in the ecosystem of the stock market. Consumers, watching key stock figures and measurements, come armed with their own perceptions, fears, and concerns. This can lead to behavioral finance biases. While you can’t control the market, you can help people address their specific needs. Having a good understanding of consumers’ biases and issues can go a long way to selling your market-tough solutions.

Generalization v. Specialization

The problem many professionals face is to generalize or specialize. This is true of doctors, lawyers, and certainly financial advisors. If you are too generalized, you may miss opportunities to land advance-market, high net-worth clients. If you are too specialized, you may be vulnerable to changes with your specialty and target market. One possible approach for success is similar to the point we made about marketing: have one core offering, with an array of other offerings. This will allow you to go after niche clients, with a sustaining set of services.

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Marketing Corner – 15 Ways To Ruin A First Appointment

An advisor’s first face-to-face meeting with a prospect is, like all first impressions, very important. Your prospect gains a sense of you as a professional and service provider. If they leave the appointment confused or with a bad taste, they probably won’t park their retirement with you, no matter your years of experience or credentials. While some advisors are naturally proficient at nailing initial meetings with prospects, there are many easy ways advisors—even the best—can tank first appointments. Such as:

selYou Are Too Eager To Sell

One of the easiest ways to ruin a first appointment is to sell right away or sell too hard. First appointments are really about getting to know each other and focusing on products will make you more of a salesperson, rather than a financial professional. Instead of focusing on products, focus on solutions and results. Products are just tools that solve problems.

You Talk About Yourself Too Much

It’s good to build rapport and explain your background/qualifications, but going on about yourself will make you seem egotistical, narcissistic, and take away time that your prospect can use to voice their specific concerns.

You Don’t Engage The Consumer

Even with a two-way conversation, it’s possible for you to not engage with your consumer properly. Ask them questions and relate information back to their specific goals or vision for retirement.

clockYou Don’t Give The Consumer Time To Process Information

In the course of the appointment, you may delve into complex financial topics or discuss important options. Give the consumer time to process this information and ask clarifying questions. Guide them through their options and help them piece together for themselves the ideal solution.

You Don’t Ask Probing Questions

There may be other factors outside of a fact-finder sheet that determine if a product or solution is appropriate. Ask probing questions to get a better sense of your prospect and the full picture of their unique situation.

You Ignore Key Details And Goals

The prospect will likely outline their needs and retirement goals. Pay attention to this information. Discussing solutions that ignore these goals will alienate the consumer, leaving them with an impression that you aren’t listening.

You Don’t Take Notes

Taking notes throughout the appointment not only helps you keep track of important details, it also demonstrates your care and professionalism to the consumer.

handshakYou Fail To Demonstrate Empathy

One of that main reasons people seek financial advisors, over say, a robo-advisor, is the sense of care and connection they get working with a real human being. This really comes down to being an empathetic professional, meaning that you demonstrate your awareness of how important the consumer’s goals are. Being able to read and respond to emotions, such as confusion, fear, and frustration, is very helpful as you work through the appointment. Remember that for most consumers money is only as good as the security and protection it provides. You may also deal with consumers who recently lost spouses or parents.

You Over Explain

Key financial concepts and solutions can require detailed explanations. However, using too much technical jargon or bringing in unnecessary information outside the topic at hand can overwhelm the consumer.

You Under Explain

On the other hand, not providing a clear, full explanation of a process or product inhibits the consumer’s ability to see how it might be appropriate for them.

confusedpaperworkYou Are Boring

Financial services involve numbers, processes, and details that may not be the most exciting, even if they serve to illustrate exactly what the consumer needs. Most people don’t care about the internal mechanisms or economic theory behind a solution; they care about a secure retirement. So what is exciting or compelling to you, a person who lives and breathes in the financial world, may not be to the consumer. Always bring solutions to the consumer’s level and make it come to life through relatable metaphors. Break up long instances of speech with questions or checks for knowledge. Use visuals.

You Dominate The Conversation

While you are the expert and will likely have a lot to say regarding a consumer’s situation, dominating the conversation makes the consumer feel invalidated. Allow your consumer time to interject. Make them feel comfortable to ask questions.

Your Lose Control Of The Session

You certainly shouldn’t dominate the conversation, but you should also not lose control of the session by letting a prospect go on and on. Keep the conversation focused on a specific need or goal. This goal, may involve many individual concerns or considerations, but having an ultimate goal that they all move toward can help keep the session focused and help you maintain control over the appointment.

goodadviceYour Explanations And Solutions Are All Over The Place

Your explanations and solutions should move in a structured manner. Approaching solutions from all angles at once causes the consumer to withdraw.

You Don’t Relate Information Back To The Needs or Goals

What does your prospect ultimately need or want? A secure retirement? Upside potential? College funding? All three? Every solution is going to involve detailed processes and specific considerations. Bring your prospect in closer by relating the solution back to their goal. For example, after explaining an overfunding IUL strategy, say, “This allows you to retire safely and send little Jenna to college.”

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Marketing Corner – Six Ways to Be More Personal in Your Practice

Marketing Corner – Thursday, June 9th, 2016


Six Ways To Be More Personal In Your Practice

The best advisors know they don’t sell products—they sell themselves. With the rise of robo-advisors and increasingly competitive markets, one of the easiest ways to gain a foothold with your consumer base is to be a personable professional. For some advisors, this is common sense and natural. Others may not be aware of the ways they could sell themselves better. Here are six simple ways to put your best foot forward.

Professional Headshots

Too many times we see advisors that have decent looking websites with poorly shot profile photos, if they have photos of themselves at all. A well-shot photograph allows consumers to put a face to the services or bio they are reading about. Using your image on other marketing materials like fliers or mailers can also serve to make a personal connection.

video13Video

Statistics show that video can increase linger time and conversions for websites. You might find that some advisor websites have explainer videos on every concept or product line. This is great, however you can bring video to your website without huge expense by providing a short introduction clip on your home page. In this clip you should address the consumer, give your mission statement and a summary of your skills/experience. This allows the consumer to see and hear you, further connecting your practice to a real person.

Community/Charity Events

Sponsoring community events can be a great way to get your name out in your area. But to get the most out of this strategy you should actually attend the event and meet members of your community. Consider also creating regular charity events that tie the community together, such as a food or clothing drive, charity sports tournament, or volunteer blitz. This aligns with your passions outside of work and helps you to become a known quantity in your local area.

leadgeneration1Track Details

When you meet a new prospect, you likely have casual small talk before delving into products and solutions. Conversation topics like family, goals, experiences, etc. This information is
helpful to provide a personal touch later on as you drip on an unconverted lead and to reinforce your relationship once they become a client. Within your CRM capture this information and use as you interact with the consumer.

Personalize Marketing

We’ve discussed the importance (and ease) of personalizing emails/subject lines before, but it’s worth repeating here. This is such a simple, low-effort way to provide a personal touch with something that is somewhat impersonal. If possible, personalize mailers and form letters as well.

Tastefully Demonstrate Your Personality In Your Collateral

Striking the right balance between personality and professionalism is a skill. Done well, it demonstrates that you are a human being with a family and interests, not a suit trying to sell
insurance. There are many ways to do this. For example, in the copy on your website or newsletters, use language that has a bit of your voice, while still providing professional and compliant details. You can also consider a hobby or passion and use this as imagery or metaphor in your marketing collateral. Again the key is balance. A little bit of personality makes you relatable and distinguished; too much turns you into a clown.

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Marketing Corner – Email Practices

Ten Best Practices to Boost Your Email Marketing Activity

Whether used for communication with current clients or to prospect for new leads, email is a still a powerful and efficient tool for advisors. As a piece of your overall marketing mix, email is essential; as important as direct mail, social media marketing, and digital adverting. However, many advisors miss opportunities to get the most out of their email. Here are ten best practices for email marketing.

pipelineBuild An Email Pipeline

Let’s say you have a batch of email addresses in your CRM that you’ve collected from seminars, digital gives, and other marketing activities. What you really have is the beginning of an email pipeline. This collection of email addresses is an unused resource, a marketing opportunity that is already sitting within your practice. Take some time to sift through the email addresses and place them into your email service provider. You now have a large potential audience to send general marketing communications and drip messages.

Segment

The most basic way you can segment emails is between current clients and opt-in leads. Obviously the kind of bulk emails you send to a current valued client will be different than what you send to prospects, but it’s important that you have an easy way to distinguish and send relevant batch messages to these two basic types of lists. Also important: to easily drop new email addresses into their appropriate list. Most email service providers make this fairly simple–you will just need to make some initial time investment to comb through your email addresses.

As you build out further, you should be able to create segments within your main segments. These other segments should reflect where a lead is at within your marketing funnel (or marketing circuit), allowing you to match your message to their level of familiarity with you and your services.

Automate

We’ve mentioned automated drip marketing before, but we mention it here again because it’s an effective method to touch many prospects with a low time investment. The drip can be initiated manually after a prospect states they aren’t ready for your services or can be initiated automatically after a form submittal on your website.macbook

Personalize

It will almost always be in your advantage to personalize marketing whenever possible. Fortunately this is very easy in email. For one-on-one emails, it’s as simple as you addressing the lead or client. For batch emails—depending on how much corresponding information you have—it may be a function within your email service provider.

Include Images

Images can enhance your marketing messages and break up chunks of text. The imagery you use in your email templates might be branding or items that support/correspond to your message. This will help your emails stand out from others and establish personality with your brand.

There is a potential trade-off however. Too many images may impact the deliverability of your emails and trigger spam filters, so be sure to use images carefully and test large batch messages.

Use CTAs (Calls to Action) Buttons

Call-To-Action buttons are very useful at engaging leads and directing them toward specific actions. This might be to read more about a subject that you tease in the email, to watch a video, or fill out a form.

Measure Results Closely

graphWhile you likely only care about one ultimate result—whether or not a lead converts—you should be aware of the important email stats related to your campaign. What was the deliverability rate of a batch message? How many people opened it? How many people clicked a CTA or visited your website as a result of the email. These stats are not only important to understanding the effectiveness of your campaign, but can be used to further segment your lists.

Make Your Messages Short and Sweet

Long blocks of texts, especially with marketing messages, strain on the eye. Plus if you can’t tell a lead in a few hundred words why they should click on your CTA or call in for more information, you don’t have your value proposition whittled to the essentials.

Use Good Subject Lines

Crafting good subject lines is an art. You can easily find lists of the most successful subject lines online. Some swear by using “FREE” or using numbers and lists. What works for you will depend on the content of your email and your target list. The best practice, however, is to be straightforward and clear, less spammy and sales-y. For instance, the subject line of this piece is “Here Are Ten Best Practices to Boost Your Email Marketing Activity.” Give a sense of what the recipient will see when they open the email and how the information can help them.

More examples:

• Worried about Social Security Changes? Here are 5 Things You Need to Know
• Find Out If You Can Retire Safely
• Five Reasons Why A Life Insurance Policy Is Right For You
• Planning For Retirement Can Be Confusing—We Can Help
• Our Free Retirement Analyzer Report Helps You Know When You Can Retire
• Retirement Plan Take A Beating in the Markets? Fight Back With Our Tailored Solutions

With most email platforms you will have the option for A/B testing. This allows you to test two subject lines and gives you a better picture over time of your email marketing success.

Use Signature Line for Contact Info and Links

Your signature line should be clear and updated (no old phone numbers, outdated fax numbers etc.) Provide necessary information about how to contact you, your title and affiliations, and business website. Avoid clogging your signature line with unnecessary quotes and inspirational messages. You should use icon links to you or your company’s social media profiles, so that clients and prospects can find you in all the places you are located online.

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Marketing Corner – The New Marketing Funnel

Marketing Corner – Wednesday May 18th, 2016

The New Marketing Funnel

A common way of thinking about your prospect flow is a funnel. This is a tried-and-true way of organizing lead flow as prospects move through your marketing channels. It helps you understand where leads are in your marketing process, allowing you to match marketing efforts appropriately to prospect interest and growing familiarity with your services.

At the top of the funnel, you have a pool of clients, with sections of the funnel corresponding to levels of touch, interest, or activity, until they drip out of the funnel and become a client.

This visual metaphor may work to explain the overall direction a lead travels before converting into a client. However, because of how digitally-driven marketing is now—even for financial advisors—the funnel is no longer an appropriate way to describe lead flow. Lead flow is less a downward path and more a non-linear process.

A prospect may find you because of a SEM campaign or they may recognize your real-world ads like fliers and posters. The prospect may become aware of you because of direct mail and visit your base website. They may respond to a digital ad and recognize you as the company that sponsored a community summer concert series. They may respond to your social media activity and sign-up for your newsletter. All of your marketing components may be involved before they give you call or respond to your offer. The point is there is not always a direct line from the first engagement to conversion and this path can involve many different portals of engagement.

Why is this important? Prospects expect to find you in multiple places and will seek you out in various marketing verticals. While it can be difficult to track the true path a prospect follows, you do have opportunities to enhance this new marketing flow. For instance:

Remarketing

Remarketing as concept essentially means marketing again to someone who showed interest or engaged with you. In this sense, it is very similar to drip marketing. But in digital advertising, remarketing refers to showing ads to respondents or visitors to your website. A little piece of code (known as a pixel) signals back to the base campaign and issues further advertising or offers. This can be implemented on your base website as leads travel through various pages. It can also be implemented through AdWords or Facebook campaigns, greatly enhancing brand awareness and increasingly the possibility of prospect action.

Drip Campaigns

There are many ways to develop a drip campaign. Drip campaigns can be easily automated through email. The act of you regularly following-up with a lead (like say through phone and email) is a form of a drip campaign. While your marketing overall may be non-linear, drip campaigns do provide a little bit of a linear lead flow. With the help of a good CRM you can schedule and track the drips in your campaign. However, your other verticals may complicate this direct positioning.

Regular Social Media Engagement

The key to maximizing your social media profiles is to provide regular and consistent content. Posts should demonstrate your expertise and value, while discussing topics relevant to your target market.

Being successful with the new non-linear marketing model means providing reasons for prospects to keep engaging with you. If it seems overwhelming, confusing, or too diffuse, use metrics to measure responsiveness of each portal of engagement and create circuits that connect the individual marketing portals.

A marketing circuit charts the path(s) a prospect can take toward conversion. You’ll notice that while there is a linear pull from first engagement to conversion, a lead may take a roundabout way of getting there. The purpose of a diagram like this is to understand how your marketing channels can work with each other and feed back toward the ultimate goal of conversion.

In this example, the first portal of engagement is a digital ad, but the pieces (or portals) can be structured in any number of ways. A well-designed marketing circuit helps you to retain and enhance your leads, maximizing your marketing activity.

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