Super Agent

Posts Tagged ‘marketing’

How Prospects “Check You Out”

A recent study by Hinge found the top 4 ways buyers “check out” sellers in today’s crowded marketplace. In the age of the internet, most no longer turn to referrals of references to get a better perspective on the capabilities, resources and expertise an organization has to offer.

So, what are the top methods?

(1)    Website. According to the study, over 80% of buyers evaluate you through your website before turning to any other method.

(2)    Online search. The next most common strategy is utilizing a search engine to look more deeply at your online presence.

(3)    Friends and colleagues. Word of mouth is a powerful tool when you have advocates.

(4)    Social Media. We’re often surprised by how many agencies aren’t utilizing social media tools to help build their brands. Social media plays an important role in establishing yourself as a thought leader and industry influencer.

The study suggests that “in most cases, a buyer can Google [you], check out your website, and explore conversation about your work on social media in less time than it would take to get in touch with a reference you’ve provided…. As buyers increasingly look online for solutions, it is more essential than ever that sellers address their online brand. Social and search are no longer optional.”

Have you been building your brand using strategies of the past? Does your marketing plan rely heavily on referrals? If you’re still considering whether or not to invest in quality website development or in committing to building a social media presence, there is no better time to take the leap than now.

“The key to success is often the ability to adapt.” – Anthony Brandt

Do Your Email Messages Count?

According to a recent article by McKinsey & Company, “there’s a reason your inbox always seems jam-packed: e-mail marketing works.” So, if you’ve been toying with abandoning your email marketing strategy in favor of a strategy focused solely on social media, you may want to think again. Although utilizing social networks can be a very effective way to build and market your brand, email is still king when it comes to acquiring clients. In addition, the right message can help agencies and producers get in the door and even position them to generate more productive first appointments.

So, how do you harness the full potential of email messaging? McKinsey offers these three tips:

(1)    Focus on the journey, not the click. In other words, focus on not only what’s within the message, but also where the prospect is taken when they interact with it. For example, it’s more effective to link to a specific landing page with information on what’s featured in the email rather than linking to your website home-page.

(2)    Share the lessons. As with all processes and strategies, it’s important to constantly evaluate what’s working and what’s not. Which messages are really sticking with prospects, and which are getting lost? If you believe the content in a specific email is great but it’s not having much success, could a low-impact subject line be to blame? Share the lessons you learn along the way with your colleagues or team members.

(3)    Get personal. McKinsey says that “the best emails feel personal”, and personalized messages can help you differentiate when decision makers’ inboxes are crowded. So if your prospect has recently downloaded a Whitepaper from your website, or their business is going through an organizational change that may be creating specific challenges, be sure to mention it within your message. Think about what would prompt the buyer to say, “I want to hear more”.

91 percent of all US consumers use email daily—are you making your email messages count?

Get Your Prospects Talking

Last week we discussed an interview on 60 minutes with Amazon founder and CEO, Jeff Bezos, focusing on the importance of embracing and leveraging the opportunities that arise out of change and disruption. But, the interview also had another interesting point to consider.

The possibility of drones taking flight in the future to deliver Amazon users their products was all over the headlines the next morning. Bezos revealed his big “surprise” to the world, and prospective customers spent at least some part of their day talking about Amazon. Whether or not this idea actually happens, it was enough to pique the curiosity of millions.

It raises the question: how are you capturing the attention of your prospects?

Consider your website and messaging activities. Is the design fresh and attractive; is the language outcome-focused; is your value proposition being clearly communicated? According to sales expert Jill Konrath, “strong value propositions create a stark contrast from the status quo… when prospects hear them, they want to learn more.”

Consider your sales conversations. Are you asking disruptive questions to prompt buyers to think differently and helping them see a future with better outcomes if they engage with you?

We want to hear your stories—tell us how you are getting your prospects to talk about you.

Break Through the Noise

If you’re looking to break through the noise in the marketplace to attract new clients, one of the tools in your attraction toolbox, and a powerful component of your lead-attraction strategy, should be case studies. According to marketer Lee Odden, “Effective case studies are stories that connect with the reader on an emotional level and at the same time, provide intellectual justification – data”. Buyers today are armed with the technology to research you in the same way that you are researching them, so making detailed case studies available to them showcases successes, builds credibility and conveys the value you provide. How do you develop one? Consider these 4 steps:

  1. Identify Advocates: Do you have clients who are passionate about you and are willing to highly recommend you? If so, then you have found your advocates. Give them the opportunity to share their experiences
  2. Ask Detailed Questions: Don’t wing the interviews you have in the development process. Each question should be thought-out, focused and detailed enough to encourage answers with quantifiable metrics. Be sure to touch on all points that would be important to your ideal client.
  3. Spend Time Formatting: Be aware that there are various types of readers—those who crave details, those who skim headlines and look for graphics and those who fall somewhere in between. Make sure to incorporate something for everyone in your study.
  4. Deploy: Use it on your website, in targeted messaging content and during the sales process in conversations with prospects. It is especially useful to bring case studies to your conversations in order to better align with decision-makers and to be used as a catalyst for dialog around the issues or risks they are facing.

Live Your Story

This week, one of our team members packed her bags to head to Chicago for Corporate Visions’ Live the Story Conference. The Conference is dedicated to one objective: “aligning marketing and sales behind a common story that creates and captures value throughout the entire buying cycle”.

How confident are you that your “Why”, or story, is being communicated effectively and consistently throughout your agency, from lead generation to account management? Can everyone on your team answer this question: Why should a prospect engage with us, rather than our greatest competitor?

Be on the look out next week for a few key takeaways and insights from the event.

Are You Setting Yourself Apart In These 4 Areas?

We often talk about differentiation as one objective high on the list for producers. But, when does differentiation happen?

Here are 4 opportunities to differentiate along the sales continuum:

1- The first opportunity comes with your agency’s website and marketing activities. Buyers are busier than ever, and they’re resistant to self-focused marketing content and empty sales jargon. It’s important that the content you push out has a fresh design, piques the employer’s curiosity and always remains outcome-focused.

2- The second opportunity is in preparation for your first face to face meeting, where you will either take control of the sale by leading the buyer to follow your process, or you’ll begin following theirs. So, don’t wing it. You should always have goals in mind for every conversation.

3-  The third opportunity is when you’re positioning the exchange of value in the sales process. Will you engage with the prospect honestly and establish mutual accountability? It’s important to share the hard truth of what will be required of them in order for the relationship to be successful as well as your own commitments.

4-  Last is the opportunity to continue to prepare your existing clients for the constant changes that will occur throughout your business relationship. Part of your stewardship of the account is to provide them with as much insight as to what can be expected as the marketplace shifts and evolves.

The bottom line is that it’s your process—the way you engage across the entire customer experience—that ultimately differentiates you from your competitors, not your products or services. As HBR contributor James Allen wrote on differentiation: It “isn’t what you own or what you say you’re going to do, it is what you do, every day, through repeatable activities to serve your customers better than the competition.”

Creating Your Asset Vault

Does your agency have content ready to leverage at each stage of the sales process? According to a recent article on CMO.com from Corporate Visions, you “should grasp [the] opportunity to drive content deeper into the selling process, improving the consistency and quality of selling conversations.” If your messaging content isn’t consistent with or doesn’t augment your process, it may be time to develop or enhance your asset vault. The first step is to assess where you currently stand:

  • How much content is your agency creating?
  • How much of it are you actually using?

  • And of that amount, how much content is in alignment with what you’re looking to achieve?

Whether you’re trying to impact your prospects’ business by reducing the number, cost and duration of injuries, determining the right risk financing mechanism, or bending the health care cost curve, the materials that comprise your asset vault should include valuable information about what it is you are trying to help employers achieve. If it’s not in alignment with your purpose, throw it out. If it is, begin organizing and adding more to your vault so it includes a combination of self-published work, industry publications, and additional thought leadership in the form of webinars, articles, Whitepapers and videos.

Once you have a good mix of content you can use these resources as marketing tools, sales conversation starters around the problems a prospect is facing, or as a way to challenge the status quo in your niche market.

Forbes contributor John Hall gets it right when he says: “Thought leadership doesn’t have to be a mystery. If you do it right, you’ll find it not only gives you more time to do what you do best, but it will also bring more business your way.”

Building An Atypical Team that Helps Drive Success

There is a certain power in a team built around the strengths of the individuals who are a part of it. Kathie Sorenson and Steve Crabtree explain in an article in Gallup Business Journal: “In sports it’s often called chemistry: that harmonious balance of strengths that makes a team able to do the improbable. They go on to say that the best teams in sports aren’t dominated by a single player, instead they are balanced with reliable veterans as well as gifted young talent, and they almost always have an experienced leader with an understanding of how all the players work best together.

Agency leaders must use that same kind of leadership and insight when they are building their teams.  For example, we’ve talked about the vicious cycle that occurs when producers aren’t producing, and pipelines are empty. Often, there is a strong need for training or support in cultivating and nurturing leads. If producers aren’t effectively employing a messaging strategy, and they’re struggling to get in the door, don’t be afraid to assess your needs and build your team around other people’s expertise and strengths, even if that means outsourcing, or hiring part-time employees to fill a marketing or business development position.

Adopt a process for evaluating where the greatest opportunities are for improved outcomes, hire or train with your objectives in mind, then hold team members accountable.

Do you want to learn more about gaining insight into the natural talents, drive and methodologies of your team members? Do you want to improve decisions about the way you delegate, communicate, lead and interact? Watch our complimentary webinar on the subject here: http://bit.ly/16OwBea