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Archive for October, 2012

When Scheduling Goes Bad

Monday, October 29th, 2012

Having automated processes in place that allow you to pre-schedule email or social media messages are a great tool.  However, the people behind the tools always need to be aware of those sends and make judgment calls in extenuating circumstances.

As an example, Hurricane Sandy is hitting the east coast hard this morning.  Many businesses are closed as people rightly look after their welfare and the welfare of their loved ones.  Sending out an advertisement or an invitation to an event today is likely to be ignored or ill-received.  However, there are plenty of automated messages that will go out today because they were pre-scheduled or out-of-town marketers won’t be aware of local circumstances.

After working on a communication and crafting the message, scheduling is a good way to ensure it is sent at an ideal time.  However, marketers need to remember that extenuating circumstances will come up and send schedules should be modified in these cases.

It’s not always practical as emergencies can rise without warning.  But in situations where there is a looming threat (like a hurricane) then delaying sends until after the threat has passed is advisable. 

Best wishes to the East coast cities hit by Sandy and stay safe.

When Do I need Online Marketing Help?

Wednesday, October 17th, 2012

One of the most challenging questions for trainers, consultants, and professional coaches in regards to online and email marketing is knowing when they need to hire outside help.  There’s not a hard and fast rule but there are three guidelines of when to look for help:

  1. Don’t Have Time – This is an easy issue to identify.  If you or your staff does not have time to consistently do the online marketing activities, then hire outside help that will stay on top of it.  Online marketing typically isn’t effective when done sporadically.  If pieces of your marketing campaign aren’t getting done because it’s being forgotten or postponed, get some help.
  2. Lacking Quality – This is a guideline that’s harder to define as standards for quality can be subjective.  Sometimes this can be solved by upgrading you or your staff’s skills.  This is often the case if the person responsible for your online marketing wants to do the work but struggles. Before investing time, money, and/or energy into upgrading a skill set, make sure that you or your staff member is close enough to a professional quality to make the investment worthwhile.  Often times, if a person has a poor aptitude for online marketing, trying to train them is just a frustration that still results in sub-par quality.As a general rule if you find that the quality of the content comes off as unprofessional or get feedback that others do, then the person producing the work needs to improve the product or outside help needs brought in. An online campaign that looks home grown because the quality is lacking can often do more harm than good.
  3. No Results – An online campaign should produce results in either business leads or sales.  How many leads or sales depends on the campaign but some results should exist.  If you are producing high quality communications on a regular basis but getting nothing from it than the approach is probably flawed.  This can be the most difficult problem to solve and often warrants hiring outside help.

Trainers, consultants, and professional coaches can produce quality online marketing campaigns on their own but it takes effort and dedication.  If you find that you aren’t meeting the guidelines above, then it might be worth hiring outside help and invest those efforts elsewhere.

If you decide to hire outside help here are some things to look for . . .

Lead Generation for Consultants, Trainers, and Professional Coaches: Visitor to Lead to Client

Friday, October 5th, 2012

Following up on the ease of contact post. . .

Contacting you is often a general action.  Lead generation is more specific.  It involves the contact but with an intent to take a next step.

Ideally, professional services websites are developed with the intent that it will generate new business. In the case of consultants, trainers, and professional coaches, there are multiple factors that complicate the task. Which begs the question, “How do I, as a consultant, trainer, or professional coach, or similar professional service provider, make my website work for me?”

Actually generating leads doesn’t focus on getting people to the site, the assumption is that there are mechanisms in place to accomplish that.  It is about generating the lead after the visitor has found you online. And it is amazing how many consultant, trainer, or professional coach websites fail to master the basics. The website should include the following:

  • Prominent phone number. A phone number should be highly visible. It should be part of the site’s template structure on every single page. If you are serious about knowing where a lead is generated from, a secure phone line dedicated to the site will make tracking much easier and accurate. If a dedicated line is not feasible then training the voice on the other end to find out what prompted the call is the only way of attributing a phone call to the website.
  • Contact form. Again, it is best to have it visible in a way where visitors don’t have to look for it. The form should find them, perhaps as part of the template where it can be seen on every page or as part of your primary navigation. A “how you heard about us” field can help identify the lead source.  Contact forms are sometimes used after meeting someone from your firm or getting a more general marketing communication.  While the website helped facilitate a contact that doesn’t mean it is necessarily responsible for it.
  • Signups. Be sure the visitor can “subscribe” to something. It might be to opt-in for occasional newsletters, guides, whitepapers, or invites to podcasts, webinars, or events. Don’t limit lead generation to the prospective client needing your services right now. Develop a marketing relationship for future touches of your brand and offerings.  These leads are simple to track as it’s a website specific lead.  A field on how they came to the site can be useful for identifying an online communication channel that is most effective.  However a good online marketing tracking system can track lead source on these leads for you without user input.
  • Free Offers. Many consultants, trainers, and professional coaches provide ebooks that are how-to guides or whitepapers for a specific topic or process. Ebooks are less expensive and simple to deliver.  Hard copies of documents can also be used.  A hard copy requires a physical address which is typically more valuable than an email address but takes more time and money to deliver.  Again this is a simple lead to track as it’s a web only offer.

I mention tracking in each section because it’s an often overlooked or poorly executed aspect of lead generation.  Tracking can be as simple as an Excel worksheet or a complex CRM but without identifying how the lead was generated, assigning value generated is impossible.  Effective tracking let’s you know your clients and prospects which helps you streamline lead generation by targeting prospects, and getting contact information. Then you have follow up tools; phone call, email, personal letter, soft-sell newsletter, or brochure  that can turn a website lead into cash.