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Get Some Virtual

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Webinars are a powerful lead generation, follow up and customer retention tool, if properly produced and managed.  But, you must have a diversified strategy in place, and create events that vary by purpose and prospect. 

An increasing number of your leads are likely coming from the internet, particularly as Brokers and big brands, like Century 21, are redirecting their advertising dollars online.  As such, it’s safe to assume these people are comfortable communicating online.

Why?

Cost effective & affordable
Nimble and scalable
Adds value
Keeps you top of mind
More personal than a newsletter
No expensive dry cleaning!
  (Presenting virtually, much like writing a blog post on presenting virtually, means you can do it in your bathrobe)

1. Prepare

Webinar services can be expensive.  For my consulting biz, I use DimDim.com.  DimDim.com offers a free service allowing you to host a meeting for up to 20 people, and has the ability to chat live using VOIP.  Check out their features here.

Develop a list of guest speakers such as loan modification experts, home stagers, tax experts, contractors or others that can provide expert information on important topics.  (Yes, you are fascinating.  Leveraging guest speakers unburdens you from preparing the presentation, and often those speakers will invite their database, thus expanding your reach)

2. Plan

Build several PowerPoint presentations you think would be interesting to various segments in your database, for example: 

– Previous buyer clients: put together an area update, showing data on current neighborhood value, sales, foreclosures/short sales in the area – and explain why that’s important. 

– All: Loan modification, new tax laws, determining if home enhancements will pay off. 

** The professionalism of your PowerPoint is as important as the content.  If you are not an expert at it, find someone that is, and have them prepare it.  Here are some tips.  Or, if you ask me really nicely, and since we are such good friends, I will help you.  GE is known for its output of exceptional PowerPoint presentations, so I am well trained.

3. Attract

With your database segmented, send personalized invitations to the event.  Remember SPAM laws.  This is considered a mass communication, so you may want to consider a service like Constant Contact.  It will automatically ensure you’re in compliance.  Make certain there is a link to register for the event, or, ask them to reply. 

I’ve found sending the invite within 7 days of the event works best – too far out and people lose interest.  Be careful not to get too wordy or detailed – just highlight the top 4 takeaways.

Stay away from using “Free” or other words that may tend to over promise or mislead.   

For a bigger lift on attendance, send reminders and follow-ups and even call registrants to remind them about the upcoming event.  

DimDim will also provide a widget you can place on your website to attract people to the event.

4. Engage & Qualify

To engage registrants prior to the event, add a brief survey to the webinar invitation itself, with one or two multiple-choice questions to gauge the invitee on his or her key challenges or needs.  If the attendee answers the brief questions, you know they are engaged and interested in the topic.  That could make them a hotter lead.

During the webinar itself, ask participants to answer polling questions, and allow them to interact with you one on one.  This keeps them engaged and feeling like a part of an event as opposed to a lecture. 

5. Convert

Each of your events should lead to further communication.  That can be a subscription to your newsletter, obtaining a copy of the presentation, etc.  The offer, or suggested next steps should be how you close your webinar. 

Don’t forget to follow up.   Send an email to all registrants, whether they attended or not, and offer to provide the transcript and/or presentation, along with results from polls taken during the event.

Practice makes perfect

Presenting online requires a much different skill set than in person, since you don’t have the benefit of making eye contact or feeling the “vibe” of your audience.  If you have never presented virtually, do some online searches for tip to killer webinar presentations, then do several practice runs with a helpful audience of friends or family for candid feedback.

photo credit

Brandie is an unapologetically candid marketing professional who was recently mentioned on BusinessWeek as a Top Young Female Entrepreneur. She recently co-founded consulting firm MarketingTBD. She's held senior level positions with GE and Fidelity, as well as with entrepreneurial start-ups. Raised by a real estate Broker, Brandie is passionate about real estate and is an avid investor. Follow her on Twitter.

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10 Comments

10 Comments

  1. Joyce

    April 9, 2009 at 5:45 am

    What a great marketing idea! I have been researching aggressive marketing as way to boost our business. This is a great idea! Useful, pertinent and timely in today’s market.

  2. Dan O'Halloran

    April 9, 2009 at 8:24 am

    Brandie-Awesome idea! Love how technology is making it so much easier to stay in front of people. This is definitely something I’m going to incorporate into my business plan!

  3. Brandie Young

    April 9, 2009 at 10:14 am

    Joyce & Dan – Great! Glad this could be a useful tip. Please let me know how it works for you!

  4. Missy Caulk

    April 10, 2009 at 4:53 am

    (Presenting virtually, much like writing a blog post on presenting virtually, means you can do it in your bathrobe)

    Sounds good to me!!!

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Your email address will not be published.

Business Marketing

Hiring managers keep you on your toes – make them take the 1st step

(MARKETING) If you want to stand out from other job applicants, weird outfits, stunts, and baked goods will only get you so far – or it could backfire.

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hiring managers interview

According to research by employment search website Simply Hired, hiring managers get an average of 34 applications per job listing, but they spend time genuinely considering an average of only 12.6% of them – that’s less than 1/3. Some applicants may feel the need to go above and beyond the average application and do something unusual or unexpected to grab the hiring manager’s attention.

Simply Hired conducted a survey to find out whether or not “nontraditional” strategies to stand out are worth the risk, or whether it makes sense to stick to a traditional resume and cover letter. They surveyed over 500 hiring managers and over 500 job applicants to find out what sort of outside-of-the-box approaches applicants are willing to take, and which ones do and don’t pay off.

Most notably, the survey found that over 63% of hiring managers find attention-grabbing gimmicks totally unacceptable, with only 20.2% saying they were acceptable. Hiring managers were also given a list of unusual strategies to rank from most to least acceptable. Unsurprisingly, the least acceptable strategy was offering to sleep with the hiring manager – which should really go without saying.

Interestingly, hiring managers also really disliked when applicants persistently emailed their resumes over and over until they got a response. One or two follow-up emails after your initial application aren’t such a bad idea – but if you don’t get a response after that, continuing to pester the hiring manager isn’t going to help.

While sending baked goods to the office was considered a somewhat acceptable strategy, sending those same cookies to the manager’s home address was a big no-no. Desserts might sweeten your application, but not if you cross a professional boundary by bringing them to someone’s home – that’s just creepy.

Another tactic that hiring managers received fairly positively was “enduring extreme weather to hand-deliver a resume” – but waiting around for inclement weather to apply for a job doesn’t seem very efficient. However, hiring managers did respond well to applicants who went out of their way to demonstrate a skill, for example, by creating a mock product or presentation or completing their interview in a second language. A librarian who was surveyed said she landed her job by making her resume into a book and creating QR codes with links to her portfolio, while a woman applying to work at the hotel hopped behind the counter and started checking customers in.

It’s worth noting that while most hiring managers aren’t into your gimmicks and games, of the 12.9% of applicants who said they have risked an unusual strategy, 67.7% of those actually landed the job.

Still, it’s probably a safer bet to stick to the protocol and not try any theatrics. So then, what can you actually do to improve your chances of landing the job?

Applicants surveyed tended to focus most of their time on their resumes, but according to hiring managers, the interview and cover letter are “the top ways to stand out among the rest.” Sure, brush up your resume, but make sure to give equal time to writing a strong cover letter and practicing potential interview questions.

In the survey, applicants also tended to overestimate the importance of knowing people within the company and having a “unique” cover letter and interview question answers; meanwhile, they underestimated the importance of asking smart questions at the interview and personality. In fact, hiring managers reported that personality was the most impactful factor in their hiring decisions.

It appears that the best way to stand out in a job interview is to wow them with your personality and nail the interview. Weird outfits, stunts, and baked goods will only get you so far – and in fact, may backfire.

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Business Marketing

Use nostalgia as a marketing niche for your business today

(MARKETING) A market that is making waves is found in the form of entertainment nostalgia. Everyone has memories and attachments, why not speak to them?

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nostalgia

Is it just me or does it seem like there is something for everything nowadays? Let me clarify, as that is a rather broad question…

With the way communicating through technology has advanced, it’s become much easier to connect with those who have shared interests. This has become especially evident with interests in the entertainment community.

Entertainment nostalgia

It now seems like there is an event for every bit of nostalgia you can imagine. Autograph shows, meet and greets, and memorabilia collections of all kinds are held in convention halls all around the world. (To give you an idea of how deep this thing goes, there was a “Grease 2” reunion convention sometime within the last five years. Being that I’m the only person I’ve ever met who likes that movie, it’s amazing that it found an audience.)

This idea of marketing by use of nostalgia is something that is becoming smartly tapped and there are a variety of directions it can go in.

For example, the new Domino’s ads feature dead-on tributes to “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.”

What’s your niche?

If you’re a fan of anything, it’s likely that you can find an event to suit your needs.

And, if you want to take it a step further, you can think outside the box and use nostalgia as a marketing tool.

I recently began dabbling in social media gigs that have brought me to a few different fan conventions. One was a throwback 80s and 90s convention that featured everyone from Alan Thicke to the members of N*SYNC. Another is a recurring convention that brings together fans of sci-fi, horror, and everything under that umbrella.

I was amazed by the number of people that came out to these events and the amount of money that was spent on the day’s activities (autographs, photo ops, etc.). I was energized by the fact that you can take something you have a great appreciation for and bring together others who share that feeling. Watching people meet some of their favorite celebrities is something that is priceless.

Hop onboard the nostalgia train

If you’re a fan of something, you don’t have to look too far to find what you’d enjoy – going back to the aforementioned “Ferris Bueller” example, there is a first-ever John Hughes fan event taking place in Chicago next month that will bring fans to their favorite Brat Pack members.

In the same thought, if you have an idea, now is the time to find others who share that interest and execute your vision.

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Business Marketing

5 tips to help you craft consistently high-converting email marketing

(MARKETING) Email may seem too old to be effective but surprisingly it’s not, so how can you get the most out of your email marketing? Try these tips.

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Email marketing

Email marketing might seem archaic in comparison to modern mediums like social media, blogging, and podcasting; however, it actually remains one of the highest converting options marketers and small businesses have at their disposal.

But Why Email?

Hopefully, you believe in email as an effective marketing channel, but in case you have doubts, let’s hit the reset button. Here’s why email marketing is worth investing in:

  • Email is one of the few marketing channels that you have total control over. Unlike a social media audience, which can disappear if the platform decides you violate their terms, you own your email list.
  • Email is considered very personal. When someone gives you access to their inbox, they’re telling you that you can send them messages.
  • From a pure analytics perspective, email gives you the ability to track behaviors, study what works, and get familiar with the techniques that don’t.
  • The ROI of email marketing is incredibly high. It can deliver as much as $44 in value for every $1 spent.

5 Tips for High-Converting Emails

If you’ve been using email, but haven’t gotten the results you’d like to, it’s probably because you’re using it ineffectively.

Here are a few very practical tips for high-converting emails that generate results:

  1. Write Better Subject Lines: Think about email marketing from the side of the recipient. (Considering that you probably receive hundreds of emails per week, this isn’t hard to do.) What’s going to make you engage with an email? It’s the subject line, right?If you’re going to focus a large portion of your time and energy on one element of email marketing, subject lines should be it.The best subject lines are the ones that convey a sense of urgency or curiosity, present an offer, personalize to the recipient, are relevant and timely, feature name recognition, or reference cool stories.
  2. Nail the Intro”: Never take for granted the fact that someone will open your email, and read to the second paragraph. Some will – but most will scan the first couple of lines, and then make a decision on how to proceed.It’s critically important that you get the intro right. You have maybe five seconds to hook people in, and get them excited. This is not a time to slowly build up. Give your best stuff away first!
  3. Use Video: Email might be personal, but individual emails aren’t necessarily viewed as special. That’s because people get so many of them on a daily basis.According to Blue Water Marketing, “The average person receives more than 84 emails each day! So how do you separate your emails from everyone else? Embed videos in your emails can increase your conversion rates by over 21 percent!”This speaks to a larger trend of making emails visually stimulating. The more you use compelling visuals, the more engaging and memorable the content will be.
  4. Keep Eyes Moving: The goal is to keep people engaging with your email content throughout. While it’ll inevitably happen with a certain percentage of recipients, you want to prevent people from dropping off as they read.One of the best ways to keep sustained engagement is to keep eyes effortlessly moving down the page with short and succinct copy.One-liners, small paragraphs, and lots of spacing signal a degree of approachability and simplicity. Use this style as much as you can.
  5. Don’t Ask Too Much: It can be difficult to convey everything you want to say in a single email, but it’s important that you stay as focused as possible – particularly when it comes to CTAs and requests.Always stick to one CTA per email. Never ask multiple questions or present different offers. (It’ll just overwhelm and confuse.) You can present the same CTA in multiple places – like at the beginning, middle, and end of the email – but it needs to be the same call. That’s how you keep people focused and on-task.

Give Your Email Marketing Strategy a Makeover

Most businesses have some sort of email lists. Few businesses leverage these lists as well as they should. Hopefully, this article has provided you with some practical and actionable tips that can be used to boost engagement and produce more conversions. Give them a try and see what sticks.

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