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Business Marketing

Building stronger relationships with prospects and clients

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that there are better ways to build relationships with prospects and clients, and nurturing leads can be simplified and your efficiency improved with the right tools.

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Improving efficiency

In this article, we will discuss how you can make your life a whole lot easier and your business a great deal more efficient. You’ll learn how you can follow-up and communicate with prospects and clients more, while saving time and maximizing your efficiency.

Make sure you have a “Contact Us” form on your website that automatically pulls leads into your CRM database. As soon as a lead fills out your form, you’ll want to be notified by email so you can contact that lead right away and assign them to a drip email marketing plan. A good CRM will have drip marketing plans pre-designed for you. A drip marketing plan is a series of emails that get sent out automatically at various time intervals.

It’s important to assign all new leads that you’ve captured to a drip marketing plan so you can “nurture” that lead, build a long-term relationship with them, and stay “top of mind.” When the lead is ready to finally become a client, you’ll win the business, not one of your competitors.

Marketing plans

A good CRM should have a number of pre-designed marketing plans to choose from. These should range from marketing to prospects to keeping in touch with clients. One of the challenges busy professionals and small businesses face is keeping in touch with past clients on a consistent basis. The beauty of drip marketing plans is that they automate much of your marketing communications, which frees up time for you. While you’re on the road at appointments, you’re also keeping in touch with hot leads and building stronger relationships with past clients at the same time.

The best way to keep in touch with people is to use a multi-pronged approach. This means using a variety of marketing communication channels such as email, direct mail, phone calls, and face-to-face meetings or events. Use your CRM to plan and schedule all of your “keep in touch events” in your CRM. You’re reminded when key dates arise and when certain actions have to be performed. It’s like having a virtual assistant by your side! If you’d like to wish your clients a “Happy Birthday” you can also use your CRM to automatically alert you.

Staying organized and proactive

Effectively following up with your prospects can mean the difference between a highly successful business built from referrals and repeat clients versus just making enough money to get by. It can mean life or death for your business.

When you have the right systems in place, like the right industry-specific CRM, it’s easy to stay organized and proactive. When you take the correct steps to keep in touch effectively, you’ll see your referral and repeat business grow, and more of your leads turn into valuable, lifelong clients.

Matthew Collis is part of the Sales and Marketing Team at IXACT Contact Solutions Inc., a leading North American real estate CRM firm. In addition to overseeing many of IXACT Contact’s key sales and marketing programs, Matthew works with REALTORS® to help them achieve their real estate goals through effective contact management and relationship marketing. IXACT Contact is a web-based real estate contact management and marketing system that helps REALTORS® better manage and grow their business. The system includes powerful email marketing capabilities and a professionally designed and written monthly e-Newsletter.

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23 Comments

23 Comments

  1. UV

    May 1, 2012 at 12:01 pm

    Hi Matthew,

    Aren’t drip campaigns dead?
    Property alerts+IDX & offline followup all that matters in today’s day & age?
    Don’t consumers smell automation from a mile away?

    Its cool when I’m following a company and there’s a shortage of information on that subject. But most consumers can’t shake a stick without pointing at an agent. What gives?

    The above are just my opinion. Not necessarily the facts. Seeking clarity to wrap my mind around this subject.

    Cheers

    • Matthew

      May 3, 2012 at 4:17 pm

      Drip campaigns are absolutely not dead. They can be highly effective if done right. They key is to ensure the emails in the automation sequence are personalized and well-written. The beauty of a CRM is that you can assign drip email campaigns to different groups of contacts based on their unique needs and interests. And with a good CRM, you can add mail merge fields within the body of your emails so the contact things it was sent just to them. You can also customize the salutation preferences which also makes the emails more personalized.

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Business Marketing

Use the ‘Blemish Effect’ to skyrocket your sales

(MARKETING) The Blemish Effect dictates that small, adjacent flaws in a product can make it that much more interesting—is perfection out?

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blemish effect

Presenting a product or service in its most immaculate, polished state has been the strategy for virtually all organizations, and overselling items with known flaws is a practice as old as time. According to marketing researchers, however, this approach may not be the only way to achieve optimal results due to something known as the “Blemish Effect.”

The Blemish Effect isn’t quite the inverse of the perfectionist product pitch; rather, it builds on the theory that small problems with a product or service can actually throw into relief its good qualities. For example, a small scratch on the back of an otherwise pristine iPhone might draw one’s eye to the glossy finish, while an objectively perfect housing might not be appreciated in the same way.

The same goes for mildly bad press or a customer’s pros and cons list. If someone has absolutely no complaints or desires for whatever you’re marketing, the end result can look flat and lacking in nuance. Having the slightest bit of longing associated with an aspect (or lack thereof) of your business means that you have room to grow, which can be tantalizing for the eager consumer.

A Stanford study indicates that small doses of mildly negative information may actually strengthen a consumer’s positive impression of a product or service. Interesting.

Another beneficial aspect of the Blemish Effect is that it helps consumers focus their negativity. “Too good to be true” often means exactly that, and we’re eager to criticize where possible. If your product or service has a noticeable flaw which doesn’t harm the item’s use, your audience might settle for lamenting the minor flaw and favoring the rest of the product rather than looking for problems which don’t exist.

This concept also applies to expectation management. Absent an obvious blemish, it can be all to easy for consumers to envision your product or service on an unattainable level.

When they’re invariably disappointed that their unrealistic expectations weren’t fulfilled, your reputation might take a hit, or consumers might lose interest after the initial wave.

The takeaway is that consumers trust transparency, so in describing your offering, tossing in a negative boosts the perception that you’re being honest and transparent, so a graphic artist could note that while their skills are superior and their pricing reasonable, they take their time with intricate projects. The time expectation is a potentially negative aspect of their service, but expressing anything negative improves sales as it builds trust.

It should be noted that the Blemish Effect applies to minor impairments in cosmetic or adjacent qualities, not in the product or service itself. Delivering an item which is inherently flawed won’t make anyone happy.

In an age where less truly is more, the Blemish Effect stands to dictate a new wave of honesty in marketing.

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Business Marketing

Google Chrome will no longer allow premium extensions

(MARKETING) In banning extension payments through their own platform, Google addresses a compelling, if self-created, issue on Chrome.

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Google Chrome open on a laptop on a organized desk.

Google has cracked down on various practices over the past couple of years, but their most recent target—the Google Chrome extensions store—has a few folks scratching their heads.
Over the span of the next few months, Google will phase out paid extensions completely, thus ending a bizarre and relatively negligible corner of internet economy.

This decision comes on the heels of a “temporary” ban on the publication of new premium extensions back in March. According to Engadget, all aspects of paid extension use—including free trials and in-app purchases—will be gone come February 2021.

To be clear, Google’s decision won’t prohibit extension developers from charging customers to use their products; instead, extension developers will be required to find alternative methods of requesting payment. We’ve seen this model work on a donation basis with extensions like AdBlock. But shifting to something similar on a comprehensive scale will be something else entirely.

Interestingly, Google’s angle appears to be in increasing user safety. The Verge reports that their initial suspension of paid extensions was put into place as a response to products that included “fraudulent transactions”, and Google’s subsequent responses since then have comprised more user-facing actions such as removing extensions published by different parties that accomplish replica tasks.

Review manipulation, use of hefty notifications as a part of an extension’s operation, and generally spammy techniques were also eyeballed by Google as problem points in their ongoing suspension leading up to the ban.

In banning extension payments through their own platform, Google addresses a compelling, if self-created, issue. The extension store was a relatively free market in a sense—something that, given the number of parameters being enforced as of now, is less true for the time being.

Similarly, one can only wonder about which avenues vendors will choose when seeking payment for their services in the future. It’s entirely possible that, after Google Chrome shuts down payments in February, the paid section of the extension market will crumble into oblivion, the side effects of which we can’t necessarily picture.

For now, it’s probably best to hold off on buying any premium extensions; after all, there’s at least a fighting chance that they’ll all be free come February—if we make it that far.

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Business Marketing

Bite-sized retail: Macy’s plans to move out of malls

(BUSINESS MARKETING) While Macy’s shares have recently climbed, the department store chain is making a change in regards to big retail shopping malls.

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Macy's retail storefront, which may look different as they scale to smaller stores.

I was recently listening to a podcast on Barstool Sports, and was surprised to hear that their presenting sponsor was Macy’s. This struck me as odd considering the demographic for the show is women in their twenties to thirties, and Macy’s typically doesn’t cater to that crowd. Furthermore, department retail stores are becoming a bit antiquated as is.

The sponsorship made more sense once I learned that Macy’s is restructuring their operation, and now allowing their brand to go the way of the ghost. They feel that while malls will remain in operation, only the best (AKA the malls with the most foot traffic) will stand the test of changes in the shopping experience.

As we’ve seen a gigantic rise this year in online shopping, stores like Macy’s and JC Penney are working hard to keep themselves afloat. There is so much changing in brick and mortar retail that major shifts need to be made.

So, what is Macy’s proposing to do?

The upscale department store chain is going to be testing smaller stores in locations outside of major shopping malls. Bloomingdale’s stores will be doing the same. “We continue to believe that the best malls in the country will thrive,” CEO Jeff Gennette told CNBC analysts. “However, we also know that Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s have high potential [off]-mall and in smaller formats.”

While the pandemic assuredly plays a role in this, the need for change came even before the hit in March. Macy’s had announced in February their plans to close 125 stores in the next three years. This is in conjunction with Macy’s expansion of Macy’s Backstage, which offers more affordable options.

Gennette also stated that while those original plans are still in place, Macy’s has been closely monitoring the competition in the event that they need to adjust the store closure timeline. At the end of the second quarter, Macy’s had 771 stores, including Bloomingdale’s and Bluemercury.

Last week, Macy’s shares climbed 3 percent, after the retailer reported a more narrow loss than originally expected, along with stronger sales due to an uptick in their online business. So they’re already doing well in that regard. But will smaller stores be the change they need to survive?

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