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 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.
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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Five Low-Cost, Simple, and Obvious Marketing Solutions
There’s a wide world of marketing out there for advisors and agents. Some solutions can be pretty sophisticated, using technology for advanced targeting and prospect tracking. We’ve certainly advocated for (and currently provide) many progressive digital marketing solutions. These solutions—like email segmentation, advanced display network advertising, website optimization, and so forth, help you stay in front of your consumers and ahead of your competition.
However, there are many low-cost, simple, and obvious marketing solutions that advisors often overlook when chasing new marketing platforms. It is definitely important to have one foot in the future, but that does not mean you should forget about these simple marketing methods.
Whether you have an upcoming event or are just looking to keep your name alive in your business community, fliers are still a worthy means of branding yourself. Maybe putting up fliers will give you flashbacks of promoting DIY shows back when you were a punk rocker, but for promoting your business you really have nothing to lose.
Many might object to this method because it has an air of cheapness and grunginess about it. This is why you target community boards in high-traffic areas—your coffeeshops, breakfast bistros, library events boards–places where your ideal prospects visit routinely. Make sure your fliers have a clear message, are well-designed, and feature prominently your business branding.
How cheap is this option? To give you perspective, B+W 8X11 sheets from FedEx Kinko’s run about 12 cents a page, 59 cents for color, maybe a little more for glossier paper options.
Libraries and Hospitals
Last week we discussed best practices for running a workshop, mentioning libraries and community centers as good potential venues for holding your seminars. An expensive dinner at a restaurant or country club can certainly appeal to higher-end prospects, but at a high budget to you. Libraries and hospitals often have meeting rooms available for use—especially if your workshop is more educational than sales pitch.
We’ve found that in many cases staff members at a library or hospital will be very supportive of your event, since it is providing a service to their base community. This means that you can organize a workshop for the cost of base marketing, supporting documents, coffee and doughnuts, and a box of fresh pens.
This entry is not so much about how you should be using social media to engage consumers (although you absolutely should), but more about how you should at least claim your business profile across social platforms. Again, we absolutely advocate the use of LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook to publish content and build a consumer following, but some advisors lack even a static corporate profile page.
We get it—for some advisors it might not make sense to be enmeshed in the sometimes twisted world of social media. But generally, having a corporate Facebook page or company page on LinkedIn is not going to cost you anything. It will make your business more visible to consumers and provide a base to begin content marketing from.
It’s cheap (or free), takes little time, and sets you on a path toward digital content marketing.
Financial advisors often build marketing campaigns around time-sensitive events like a seminar. This is because seminars, for all the work that goes into them, can pay off huge with new clients. So an advisor may use a direct mail vendor, involve an RSVP service, and put some adspend in digital campaigns to promote his or her event. While these strategies work (and in the long-run are cost-effective), they have a very specific focus and goal—meat in the seats.
However, what kind of marketing do you do when you don’t have an upcoming event? Some advisors, looking to keep marketing costs as trim as possible, don’t do any kind of marketing—instead relying on word-of-mouth and referrals.
In between events and promotions, drop some digital adspend in a display network campaign. Keep the budget where you want. It could be a huge marketing budget, or it could be a small daily amount. The point is, you have an opportunity to keep your name and branding cycling online in your community for a very low cost. There’s no specific goal, other than to build brand awareness and maybe draw people to your website, but this ambient marketing gives you a constant presence that might pay off hugely.
Cost? You could appropriate $100-$200 a month for this type of marketing. More if you’ve got the budget. Plus, with AdWords and Facebook you can specifically target your ideal clients. $1200-$2400 is not a bad price for a year’s baseline marketing, especially if it gets you clients. With this budget you should not anticipate direct leads (though it can happen) but rather a constant brand awareness that enhances other marketing activities.
Email Pipeline Marketing
Over periods of prospecting, you’ve likely gathered a list of emails. Many advisors, because they focus on new clients and new marketing activities, ignore the value of their email lists. With most email platforms, you are charged by subscribers rather than the individual number of emails you send. This allows you to build pipelines, often with no more expense than your current cost of the service. So take some time, comb through your current lists and build drip campaigns.
Cost? Maybe nothing more than your time. Maybe a little more to upgrade to a higher subscriber level with your email service provider.
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