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I have a confession to make. I am one of those small business owners who spend more time working IN the business than ON the business. I’ve been in business for 9 years and think this has pretty much always been the case. This is okay when we’re really busy with client work and emails are coming in daily from prospects. But that isn’t always the case, and when things are slow, it’s too late to be working ON the business because results don’t happen overnight.

I spent 3 years in law school. I practiced law for 16 years. I stood before many different judges and juries. I represented clients in mediations. I advocated for my clients in hundreds of negotiations. I learned to “think like a lawyer” and speak on my feet under incredibly stressful circumstances. Ask me to make a sales call and my heart starts pounding and my brain starts spinning.

I decided to do something about this. I’ve never been 100% comfortable at networking events. And, in spite of all the books I’ve read, online courses I’ve taken and webinars I’ve attended on sales, I’m not the best salesperson on the planet. And, I’m far from comfortable being a salesperson. So, I decided to sign up for a sales bootcamp guaranteed to take me out of my comfort zone and give me the kick-in-the-butt I’ve needed.

My friend Dan Tyre @dantyre (salesperson extraordinaire) and HubSpot accepted me into the HubSpot Agency Partner Pipeline Generation Boot Camp 2019. An 8-week intensive bootcamp that required me to participate in a weekly 60-minute Zoom group call, and commit to spending the first hour of every day completing various homework assignments (making lists, reading blog posts, watching videos, sending sales email and making sales calls).

Like I said, this was taking me way outside my comfort zone. But I committed to participating in the bootcamp and I committed to doing the work. And, work I did. And, the work I did taught me more than I can describe to you in this blog post. Not only was the information on sales tactics eye-opening, but I also learned quite a bit about myself. Here are some of the highlights.

When Talking On A Sales Call, Less Is More

Dan teaches the “Pause, Pause, Pause Method” of sales calls. The Pause, Pause, Pause Method is about connecting and qualifying prospects on the phone. Obviously, the tactic here is the pause. I was instructed to call a prospect, introduce myself then, say to myself, “Pause, Pause, Pause.” Let me say this right now. No matter how fast I said to myself, “Pause, Pause, Pause,” it felt like an eternity. Seriously. An E-T-E-R-N-I-T-Y. The first several times I tried this, I’m pretty sure I broke out in a sweat during the pause.

This tactic was meant to be a win-win. After the introduction, one of two things happened. There was an eternity of silence followed by the prospect saying, “Who?” Or, “Hello Brad.” Or, sometimes I got a, “Do I know you?” Regardless of the response, it’s a win! The response opened the door for conversation.

When making a cold call, if I actually heard a voice on the other end of the call after I introduced myself, I was to take it as a positive. This person was open to hearing what I had to say, even though we hadn’t spoken before.

If the tone of voice I received was negative, I was taught to say “UUUGGGGGHHHHH! I’m so sorry. It seems I caught you at a bad time. Can we schedule another time to chat briefly? Are you available Thursday morning at 9:30?” As uncomfortable as this was for me to do, it worked.

People would sometimes let their guard down and ask me what I was calling about (That’s a WIN!). Then, we would have the conversation right on the spot or re-schedule it for a more convenient time. Or, people would ask what I was calling about and tell me they weren’t interested. This was still a win because I learned right off the bat they were not interested and not a good fit.

Be Prepared To Add Value

Every call requires 4 prerequisites:

  • Have a reason for calling
  • Be prepared to add value
  • Know what offer I was prepared to make (Generally this was to set up another call where we could dig deeper)
  • Be prepared to share my Positioning Statement

Before every call, I’d do enough research to enable me to add value to the call. I’d look at the prospect’s LinkedIn profile. I’d look at their website. I’d review their social media pages. This would prepare me to provide a tip, share a best practice or give some guidance. This would also enable me to ask if we could dig a little deeper and schedule a longer call where we could discuss their needs, challenges and the marketing tasks that keep them up at night.

The other thing I did was make every call standing up. I discovered through my work in the Bootcamp that standing up during a call gave my voice an entirely different sound. I had a different energy when I was on the phone standing up. I like to take notes when I’m on a call. Might be an age thing. So, I’d go into my office with the stand-up desk to make these calls. I really do believe this made a difference and I continue to make these calls standing up.

It felt good to me to make a call to a complete stranger, when I knew if they actually spoke with me, I’d be giving them something of value instead of “pitching” or trying to “sell” them something. Now, don’t get me wrong. At the end of the call, it didn’t always feel so good. But, more times than not I could hang up and feel good about sharing the tip or best practice I shared.

Dan called this “Shelping.” Yes, “Shelping.” Shelping is the combination of selling and helping. Sounds crazy, right? Yeah, well, once you get to know Dan better, you’ll learn the concept of “Shelping” is on the low end of the crazy scale. But it really makes sense.

I’ve Got A Shelping Mindset!

In my experience, going into a call with a “Shelping” mindset gave me confidence and was received well by most of the people I spoke with. When you’re coming from a place of “I’m calling to share something of value with you,” it’s an entirely different kind of “sales” call.

People were appreciative of these calls that I practiced making every week for 8 weeks. These calls are important. They are the calls that fill your company’s pipeline and keep it full.

Don’t get me wrong. Every call I made was not all rainbows and unicorns. Some people were just plain rude to me. Some people were cordial and participated for a few minutes before ending the call. Learning how to deal with resistance was a huge help. Learning how to create urgency and guide the prospect to the next step in the Buyer’s Journey was also helpful.

In the end, I developed and practiced a solid sales strategy. I have a number of materials to refer to as time goes on, so I don’t lose my edge. The Bootcamp was incredibly educational and the other participants I interacted with each week were awesome! My development into a “Shelper” not only made me a better salesperson, but it also made me a more strategic and thoughtful marketer.

I wouldn’t say I’m 100% there yet. I can’t say “sales” is fun yet. But, I’m better at it and continuing to get better every day. And, more importantly, the results speak for themselves. Even if sometimes I have a bit of trouble speaking for myself.

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How can Facebook Messenger Marketing help you grow your business? If you want to cut to the chase listen to The Digital Slice Podcast right now. Or listen to it while you read on.

Facebook Messenger Marketing is accomplished with chatbots. Many associate a chatbot with spam. If, however, your Facebook Messenger Marketing is done correctly, spam doesn’t even get mentioned in the conversation.

The question asked most often is whether a chatbot can replace a human when it comes to talking to your prospects and customers. The answer is both yes and no. But mainly, no.

Chatbots are great for those initial conversations where an exchange of information typically happens. They are great for getting people engaged and for helping you qualify a lead. They may be used to get people into your marketing funnel while you provide quality content and/or answer universally asked questions.

Once it becomes apparent the person engaging with the chatbot is interested in you, your product, or your service, it’s time for the human touch. A chatbot is not likely to close business for you. But it can certainly make easier for you to close the business because, by the time it’s time to close, a relationship has already been established.

And when it comes to Facebook Messenger Marketing, Amanda Robinson, otherwise known as The Digital Gal is one of the people you can rely on to guide you down the Facebook Messenger Marketing path to success. Amanda is well-known for her knowledge expertise in Facebook ads and Facebook Messenger Marketing.

Amanda considers herself a tech nerd, loving everything algorithm-related and she’s also a Google Analytics addict. She’s a complete tech geek when it comes to the latest toys, photography, livestreaming, DSLR cameras, and software.

She says, “I’m definitely living the digital nomad lifestyle and it’s not the easiest lifestyle to choose but luckily with all the skills I’ve kinda picked up along the way of building myself into living in the digital tech world where everything lives in the cloud, I can run a business just by having a laptop and internet connection and a really good camera.” Amanda is doing what she loves and has turned herself into an expert, doing what she loves.

Chatbot Basics: What A Chatbot Is And Is Not

Let’s make this crystal clear. Chatbots are not meant to be used by marketers to spam prospects. Amanda says, “Facebook Messenger Marketing is an automated series of messages that are built by a human to interact with another human.” Yes, a Facebook Messenger Marketing chatbot is meant as a tool for automation so you interact with your audience promptly and responsively. It is automation at its best and every business owner should take advantage of it.

It gives you the opportunity to automate where it is needed. But, again, and I can’t stress this enough, in the end, it’s still about building your business by speaking human-to-human #H2H.

Third party tools like Manychat, Chatfuel, MobileMonkey can be integrated with your Facebook Messenger to make it easier to build your own chatbot. Amanda highly recommends these tools as they are intuitive, friendly and easy to use with drag and drop. She says, “You can make them as simple or as complex as you want.” Over the past year, there have been rapid advancements and chatbots are becoming a mainstream marketing tool very quickly.

Messenger marketing Is Not Email Marketing

There are about 2.5 billion active users on Facebook. There are more than a billion messages that get sent via Facebook Messenger every month. And that number is growing. Some marketers have taken advantage of Facebook Messenger Marketing in order to get into a prospect’s email Inbox. This can be a useful tactic, but it must be done correctly. In other words, just as you shouldn’t use Facebook Messenger Marketing to send spam. You shouldn’t use Facebook Messenger Marketing to gather the information you need to send spammy email.

Remember, Amanda says in the podcast, “You’re basically building an automated conversation with your chatbot.” And so, when somebody initiates an interaction, sends a message, or asks a question, the bot responds to it with a ready set of answers. A series of information sharing is triggered based on a question or a click from a member of your community. You chatbot is simply responding to a request from a human being who has opted in to your Facebook Messenger Marketing funnel. You do not throw marketing messages at them unless they ask for it and unless your message complies with Facebook rules surrounding the use of chatbots.

Chatbots are meant to satisfy your audience’s hunger for information. Through your chatbot, you are building that system for them to obtain valuable information from you. Your audience seeks you out for information because they are interested in you and want to hear from you. As a result, what you have is a much more active subscriber list compared to email marketing email list.

When set up properly, much like you can do with your email list, you can segment your chatbot subscribers. In Amanda’s case, she segments her audience between the marketing content and real estate content. For entrepreneurs, her content is related to her Facebook ads training while for realtors it’s all about chatbots and sample flows.

Ways To Get People Engaged With You

There is so much more to Facebook Messenger Marketing than meets the eye. In fact, Amanda explains in the podcast how, there are numerous ways you can use chatbots to pave the way for engagement with your audience.

Some ideas include:

  • Setting up a chatbot on a Facebook post so when people comment with a specific trigger word, the bot is launched for a specific purpose
  • You can create a Facebook ad with a chatbot attached to it
  • A chatbot can be set up you on your website just like a comment widget
  • You can have a button on your website that people can click on and then it will launch Facebook Messenger
  • You can even include links to opt into your chatbot via email marketing

Amanda gives us a lot more examples of ways to get people engaged, tips for integrating Facebook Ads and even more, in the podcast.

Please note: The Friedman Group is an inbound marketing agency based in Denver, Colorado, and we work with professionals and business owners across the U.S. Our digital marketing services include: inbound marketing, social media marketing, , and digital marketing strategy and implementation.

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When someone says social media, what comes to mind? You may be thinking of people sharing pictures of their vacation on Facebook. Maybe all those Instagramers who post pictures of their food is the first thing on your brain.

Social media and inbound marketing have gained global popularity. It keeps everyone socially connected around the world. But, it’s also a powerful business tool. Most companies who properly utilize inbound marketing see an increase in ROI. How can the financial services industry use inbound marketing?

Relationship Building

Relationships are the key to building a thriving financial services business. A well-strategized inbound and social media plan helps keep customers in the know about changes, advancements, or accolades your business receives. It allows you to connect easily with customers and prospects to serve their needs. Since everything is visual on social media, you can share video and pictures of events and help customers put names to faces. It makes your business more relatable and helps cultivate necessary relationships.

Show Your Customers You Are An Industry Expert

Creating content explicitly designed to inform and help your target market will set you apart from the competition. A blog helps answer your customer’s questions and helps you to earn their trust as an expert. Crafting valuable content for your clients is worth it. Insurance agents who maintained a business blog saw a 30% increase in new clients from the blog itself.

Less Expensive

There are many components to an outbound marketing strategy. People use newspaper advertisements, brochures, direct mail marketing and more. Outbound marketing effectively helps you reach a large audience. You go out and seek new clients through these means. Sales is a numbers games some may be interested in your services but not all. It’s an effective marketing approach. It’s also expensive.

Inbound marketing is far more cost-effective and uses a different strategy. An outstanding inbound marketing campaign allows interested prospects to find you. Your website or landing page already hooked them. You’ve already gained their trust. Now they need your help. It allows you to focus on warm prospects instead of filtering out cold leads.

How To Use Inbound Marketing And Social Media Effectively

You’ve chosen a competitive and rewarding career in the financial services industry. You must stand out from the masses to succeed. Your competition is probably utilizing an inbound marketing strategy too. You need to make sure prospects find your site when they have questions. Search engine optimization is key to getting on the first-page search results.

Know Your Audience

You’ve optimized your website and blog but how do they translate into more clients? It’s all about knowing your audience. JP Morgan Chase and Co. uses data visualization to interact with their clients and prospects. It’s not something the competition is doing, so it sets them apart. The interactive maps and fun facts engage their readers far better than a static image. The readers are happy and excited to devour the content. JP Morgan gave customers what they want, and the profits rolled in.

The Kabbage blog is full of testimonials. Testimonials are key to earning new clients. They feel they are going with a trusted company and it feels less risky. Clients are confident doing business with them since so many of their peers are already on board. To make sure these testimonials resonate with your ideal audience members, be sure they are from some of your ideal clients, within your target market, or small businesses, or entrepreneurs.

Solve A Problem And Make Life Easier For Your Prospects

SoFi provides its prospects with online calculators to help them answer important financial questions easily. These calculators are created specifically for the website and their customers. The calculators help you figure out how long it will take to pay off your mortgage, calculate your student loan payments and much more. These tools help the customer figure out what plan is best for them. Readers trust SoFi since they have helped them by answering their financial questions.

Inbound marketing has proven itself effective throughout many different industries. The financial services industry is no exception. An effective campaign has customers coming to you not the other way around.

For more information about inbound marketing tips for financial services, or to schedule your free digital marketing consultation, please call 720.248.8185, e-mail info@friedmansocialmedia.com, or click here.

Please note: The Friedman Group is an inbound marketing agency based in Denver, Colorado, and we work with professionals and business owners across the U.S. Our digital marketing services include: inbound marketing, social media marketing, , and digital marketing strategy and implementation.

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Your email marketing campaign is only as good as the list you’ve compiled. When you first start out (and even after you have a good list), it can seem challenging to grow your list. However, you can’t give up. The better your list is, the more successful your business will be.

Struggling to get new leads for your email marketing list (whether you are just starting out or your list has stalled)? Here are some tips to help:

Start Close To Home

When you first start out, ask your friends, family, and even colleagues to get your list started. It can be overwhelming to start an email list with no subscribers so don’t be afraid to ask your friends and family members to sign up. When you know you have a few people to answer to it is easier to get started when it comes to producing good content. And don’t use a small list as an excuse not to start sending email. Remember, even friends and family members can forward your email to others to help grow your list.

Bring In Current Clients

Make sure your current clients can sign up in your office. Most of your current clients will want to be on your mailing list. By making it easy to sign up, they will definitely do so. So, have a sign-up sheet on your front desk where they can easily choose to be included. Then, you can manually enter them into your list!

Create A Mobile Sign-Up Option

Allow people to sign up using their smartphone or another mobile device. Though this sounds difficult, it really is not. In fact, Constant Contact has a Text-to-Join tool making it really easy. All you need to do is make a sign to hang up and post your code online so people can just send a text message to easily join your list.

Put A CTA On Social

Have a call-to-action button on your social media sites, allowing your followers to easily join your email list. Facebook has an app called Join My Mailing List Facebook so your followers can join your mailing list. There are similar tools and buttons available through other social media sites.

Offer Sign-Up Incentives

One of the best ways to get new subscribers is by offering something for free. People love to sign up for free things. You might want to offer a free course that pertains to your business. Have a blog that you love and want everyone to read? Offer it as a free gift for subscribing.

You could also run a contest. People love contests, especially if there is a good prize to be won! You may want to give away a free consultation (to help to bring in new clients). Many business owners give away books, gift cards, and other things to get people excited.

It is important to remember the better your prize is, the more people will sign up (and quickly).

Ask For Shares

Ask others to share your content (and include a way to join your email list). If you are giving your subscribers good information, they may be likely to share it on social media or even forward it to their friends. Make sure you include a link in each of your emails to allow new people to easily sign up.

Include Valuable Content

The more helpful you are through email, the more likely these people will want to sign up also. Any time you correspond with people through email, make sure there is a link where they can join your mailing list quickly and easily.

If you want as many followers as possible, you need to make it as easy as possible for them to sign up.

For more information about email marketing and creating an email list, or to schedule your free digital marketing consultation, please call 720.248.8185, e-mail info@friedmansocialmedia.com, or click here.

Please note: The Friedman Group is an inbound marketing agency based in Denver, Colorado, and we work with professionals and business owners across the U.S. Our digital marketing services include: inbound marketing, social media marketing, and digital marketing strategy and implementation.

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Every heard of the Splinternet? An Inc. magazine article paints a different future for those of us who make a living marketing goods or services on the internet.

After all, we help companies with inbound marketing and posting targeted digital content for online searchers who find their website, blog, or social media page. Inc.com contributor Amy Webb defined how the future of the WWW could be a new splinternet. This is something based on people accessing digital content (which used to be through a privately-operated World Wide Web) in new ways. What’s remarkable is these new ways will depend on where you live and could involve users accessing the internet from a local network that doesn’t rely on the far-flung data center for digital content retrieval.

Digging Deeper

We couldn’t base our definition of the splinternet on just one piece, so we took a look around and found this one. A splinternet would be a series of Internets around the world that are fragmented by new government regulations. One’s virtual experience would depend on where you live and attempt to access the internet and on the laws and regulations governing it in that location.

In a CNBC Article, writers explain how the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation began on May 25, 2018. This regulation changes the internet experience, especially by giving users more control over the use of their data. This comes even as stock prices have plunged for social media networks in light of Mark Zuckerberg’s intense questioning over Facebook practices following the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

What Does the Future Look Like?

In its 2018 survey “The Future of Well-Being in a Tech-Saturated World,” Elon University quoted a range of technology professionals and scholars on the subject of whether digital life will be mostly harmful, mostly helpful, or will stay the same when it comes to its impact on our physical and mental well-being. A key theme in selected posts was whether the government will begin to regulate how private organizations manipulate what was supposed to be a democratic internet.

If the internet was supposed to open up popular access to information around the world, it wasn’t supposed to violate their privacy rights when they begin using such access. However, the Facebook example shows this is exactly what happened as large companies manipulate (or data mine) user search habits and use their collective personal data for private economic gain. It’s not so much that the information is collected or analyzed but that it might be sold without a user’s permission to another organization to influence something as important as the election of the President (the leader of the free world). The result of this digital life survey was 47 percent of respondents believed people will be more helped than harmed over the next decade by digital life.

Where Do You Stand?

The question for individuals and for business owners who want to be transparent and to respect consumer rights becomes whether you will continue to use the internet in the same ways. You want to partner with a reliable inbound marketing firm. We can help you consider if you will change your business practices to use inbound marketing techniques that show how your firm respects user data privacy.

What’s more, will you dare to understand how your subscribers’ data could be used or abused by government agencies and private companies? In the words of Judith Donath on the Elon University survey page (she’s the author of “The Social Machine, Designs for Living Online”):

To predict the impact of technology on well-being we need to ask, ‘Who profits from our well-being and who profits from our anxiety?’ As individuals, we prefer improved well-being; who wouldn’t want to be less stressed, happier, healthier and more satisfied with their life?

For more information about inbound marketing tips, or to schedule your free digital marketing consultation, please call 720.248.8185, e-mail info@friedmansocialmedia.com, or click here.

Please note: The Friedman Group is an inbound marketing agency based in Denver, Colorado, and we work with professionals and business owners across the U.S. Our digital marketing services include: inbound marketing, social media marketing, , and digital marketing strategy and implementation.

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Competition among banks is as intense as ever. Banking is especially prone to de-personalization. Digital marketing is a means for banks to develop a more personalized, humanized look and feel.

The Perception Of Banking Services

2017 study based on 33,000 banking customers in 18 markets across the world looked at the public perception of banks. The study found 3 distinct groups of bank clients who want related, but distinct, things from their banks.

  1. Nomads are an identified group of bank customers who want banks to be able to match the service level of tech providers in terms of digitally driven service level. This group expresses an open willingness to leave banks and contract with “non-traditional providers” to manage their finances. More than three-quarters (78 percent) of this group would be willing to bank with a technology firm like Amazon or Google. Most of them (78 percent) are willing to share personal data with their bank, but 66 percent would demand faster, easier service in return. For this group, banks unwilling or unable to adopt digitally-based services may lose customers to non-bank competitors. Banks may need to improve their services or grant compensation in the form of discounts or cash rewards.
  2. Hunters are people who prefer traditional banking but demand a more human touch and are waiting for new services. The vast majority of hunters (83 percent) care most about lowering the cost of bank services, without compromise on services. More than three-quarters (76 percent) will demand lower prices in exchange for data sharing.
  3. Quality Seekers want to stay with their banks, but they do want to see innovation. They are open to automation. They want an enhanced banking experience. Nearly half (49 percent) of the quality seeker group believe that high-quality customer services are what drives customer loyalty. More than half (53 percent) state how confidence that personal data will be secure will make them stay with banks.

For these groups, the advantages obtained by maximizing digital marketing are critical, for many of them, critical to the survival of the bank as an institution.

What Is Digital And Social Marketing For Financial Institutions?

Social media marketing for banks has become a solution necessary for building relationships with customers. It has gone beyond being an important tool.

Digital marketing provides banks, credit unions, and lenders a means to connect and build relationships with customers untainted by the sales process. This kind of marketing through social media and direct digital transmission helps modern financial services providers truly understand consumers and enable financial services providers to target their communication and their advertising. It helps with issues of compliance, customer service, and user experience. Any financial institution can now use Facebook, Instagram, and other platforms to offer real help and support to their customers.

  • Social media increase connections between the institution and its customers.
  • Banking institutions have traditionally had trouble making consumer connections because they would only interact when it was necessarily and then largely because of bad news.
  • Digital marketing and social marketing increase the touch points so consumers can see and interact with their banks many times, monthly, weekly, or even daily.
  • Social media is perceived as personal contact and using social media generates a sense of relationship with the bank’s brand, customer-satisfaction applications, and value-added content.

One bank, for example, ran a live webinar on debt consolidation and savings. Banks can offer substance they are known to have expertise in at minor costs to themselves enhanced with automation on social media. This kind of value-added service can drive greater loyalty. It is also something few other institutions can credibly offer.

Banks can offer chat services through social media, available to answer questions during or after business hours. This kind of service fosters a sense of intimacy with the bank and will be perceived by customers as a major customer service advance.

Furthermore, digital marketing can still offer promotions. Most affluent bank customers are actively looking for financial solutions which banks may offer. Failing to pitch superior bank services is a missed opportunity. Digital media can offer limited time offers, special rates, and personalized solutions directed at just the right customers and present these solutions through chatbots and other media generating a sense of personal service.

Some banks are heavily involved in social media marketing. Some are now dipping their toes in the pool. If you’re not doing either, take a look around at the competition, then get on board before it’s too late.

For more information about social media marketing tips for the banking industry, or to schedule your free digital marketing consultation, please call 720.248.8185, e-mail info@friedmansocialmedia.com, or click here.

Please note: The Friedman Group is an inbound marketing agency based in Denver, Colorado, and we work with professionals and business owners across the U.S. Our digital marketing services include: inbound marketing, social media marketing, , and digital marketing strategy and implementation.

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The holiday season is everyone’s favorite time of the year: family get-togethers, meet-ups with friends, great food and wine, and of course, the endless parties. One can so easily get caught up in the whirlwind of events and activities that even a business owner like yourself can’t help but relax and enjoy the celebrations.

While you are out there doing that, however, remember, you can also use the holiday season to boost your marketing and hopefully, your sales. If you can generate revenue while you are out there having fun, then why wouldn’t you, right? You need to have it all planned out ahead of time so when the celebrations happen, you don’t miss out on them. On this episode of The Digital Slice Podcast, we’ll discuss how you can generate revenue with a well-defined holiday marketing plan.

Getting Your Act Together

Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday, Giving Tuesday, and your December holidays - you name it, the list goes on and on. It’s at this time when people are busy with both their online and offline activities. Yes, they are also going to be bombarded with all sorts of email and social media posts so if you intend to get past those distractions to reach your customer, you need to get your act together if you want to get ahead of the curve. Whatever it is you are planning, whether it’s a holiday giveaway, promotion, or new campaign, you have to do it early so you can get ahead of the rest.

Statistics show sales tend to increase during the holiday season as well as at the first quarter of the year. Specifically, the National Retail Federation observed in 2017, holiday sales went up to a total of 687.87 billion dollars. A whopping 5.3% increase from 2016. So yes, they go up every year, and current trends do not show any downturn any time soon. As such, starting now presents you with a fantastic opportunity whether you are a retailer or service provider. You have to take advantage of the buying and shopping mood people are currently in. And remember, it can also extend to the first quarter of 2019 as clients and customers begin their planning for next year. But, during the holiday season, online spending is expected to go up by 18% to 21%.

Email’s Not Dead

It is easy to think email is dead with the rise of social media, but this is not true. Email is still one of the fastest and most direct ways to reach your audience during the holiday season. It is very effective as a marketing tool. You are going to get a more significant piece of the pie for the holidays if you use email marketing to your advantage. The main thing about email marketing is its high conversion rates. Statistics show 20% of holiday emails opened on customers’ mobile devices are guaranteed to convert to a purchase. Email marketing is considered to be a leading channel that converts 174% more compared to social media and most especially so in B2B businesses. So go ahead and launch your holiday email marketing campaign.

3 Ways To Power Up Your Holiday Marketing Plan

If you want to be successful with your holiday marketing plan, follow a systematic process.

  • First, you have to set your goals.
  • Second, you need to create a convincing offer.
  • Finally, you have to create your marketing plan based on best practices.

Like any other business goal, the goals you set should follow the S.M.A.R.T. acronym. They should be specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound.

Think about what success looks like for you and set your goals. Define your goals in precise terms as these goals are going to serve as your guide in creating your marketing plan. For instance, if your goal is to attract new customers, then you have to set the number you actually want. Make sure your goals are achievable, but are stretch goals. Then, set a date your goals will be achieved. Goals to consider setting include, strengthening customer loyalty, motivating sponsors, or growing the number of members in your social media group.

When you are done with your goals, then you can proceed to create an offer encouraging engagement from your potential customers. Creating an offer can range from preparing coupons, handing out discounts, providing free shipping, awarding gift cards, giving gifts with a purchase, providing exclusive content like a white paper or an eBook, early bird invites to an event or a free download. The goal is to give something away of value to get a customer’s interest in the products or services you provide.

Just make sure the offer you create fits into what a particular segment of your audience is looking to receive. When it comes to promotions, there is no one size fits all policy. They have to suit every type of buyer persona you have. You have to make sure what you are giving away is something they want to receive. Whether it’s a free consultation, coaching sessions, tips, or best practices, as long as they are valuable to your buyer persona, then they are great offers.

Finally, with your goals in mind, you can start drafting an awesome holiday marketing campaign. The main activity at this point is to push out content so you can run your campaign effectively, be it via email or social media. Just make sure you make it in such a way that it results in measurable responses because you will collect the data later on for even deeper, more insightful marketing. For example, clicks are great as a measurable response.

To implement your marketing campaign successfully, you need to follow some best practices. For one, you have to make your messages short but clear. Also, use designs wisely be it on social media, with your digital ads, or your emails. Videos are popular as well, and they are great for marketing campaigns. Importantly, remember, 91% of customers read trusted reviews before they make a purchase, so it’s best practice to have such reviews ready, including customer testimonials. And of course, make it shareable, because word of mouth is still the best form of marketing out there.

Be sure to listen to this episode of The Digital Slice Podcast to get the scoop on holiday marketing! And, if you like it, leave a rating and a review!

Please note: The Friedman Group is an inbound marketing agency based in Denver, Colorado, and we work with professionals and business owners across the U.S. Our digital marketing services include: inbound marketing, social media marketing, and digital marketing strategy and implementation.

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Busy real estate agent. Agile online retailer. Creative pastry chef. Tough lawyer. Who can benefit from livestreaming to grow one’s business? Whatever business or professional practice you’re into, you can leverage livestreaming to achieve the success you’ve envisioned.

It will take a bit of getting used to being in front of a live audience, but, livestreaming is essentially a communication tool allowing you a unique opportunity to engage with your target audience all at once. Think of it as meeting up with a potential client IRL. Or, having a deep phone conversation with a prospect.

But, this time, you are both online, communicating at your convenience. You are getting out your message where your target audience hangs out, instead of hoping they’ll come to you. The interaction and engagement is priceless because they do not only learn from you, they also learn from other experts in the field. This helps you give your audience more value. Valuable content is a topic we discuss in depth in this episode of The Digital Slice Podcast.

The Streaming Lawyer Himself

Who would have thought a tough and highly competitive lawyer like Mitch Jackson would dare to conquer the amazing world of livestreaming? As if the courtroom drama isn’t enough, Mitch took dominion of the online world as well. But, how he and his wife started out, still reflects their original intention to be of genuine help to a lot of people who become part of their professional lives.

Mitch declares, “Lisa and I - I practice with my wife - we met in law school. The last 32 years, we’ve been practicing law together, and we help people. That’s what we do. We try to add value to people’s lives.” Mitch and Lisa help people hurdle their legal challenges focusing on litigation matters. And, in the last 10 years, they have incorporated both offline and online business consulting and have done tons of business litigation.

Mitch discovered being online actually gives him more opportunities to reach out to and help even more people. He admits, “I love juries. I love people. But with social media, I can answer that same question one to a thousand, one to five thousand.” As with any other business just like yours, livestreaming multiplies your marketing reach a thousand times.

In the case of Mitch, his satisfaction is in receiving feedback on how clients finally attain the peace of mind that has been so elusive to them for so long. And, this is something he wants to keep doing for clients. Mitch feels even more empowered with social media, saying, “Social has allowed us to kinda amplify all of that.” Livestreaming is for you if you want to take your business to the next level.

Today, Mitch is known as the “Streaming Lawyer” who’s taken the online space by storm. Offline, he is the California Litigation Lawyer of the Year in 2013. He uses a powerful mix of law, social media, and technology while working with clients. He has been featured in various high-end magazines. Mashable recognized him as one of the “Top 50 influencers to follow on Snapchat.”

Mitch founded LegalMinds, a mastermind community online for professionals. It serves to educate about everything social media. Mitch is set to launch his book “The Ultimate Guide To Social Media For Business Owners, Professionals, and Entrepreneurs” very soon. Mitch is an early adopter of livestreaming and is co-host of “The Legal Hour Live Video Show” with Joey Vitale. At the end of the day, Mitch is out there to add value to people’s lives.

Before You Start Livestreaming: The Prerequisites

To do it right the first time, there are some important prerequisites Mitch suggests to make your livestreaming well-focused and purposeful. First, Mitch suggests reflecting on some foundational questions such as, What’s your why? Why do you get out of bed in the morning? This will help you determine what drives you and inspires you. What makes you happy and satisfied?

Most people at this point probably answer, “To make a lot of money,” “To travel the world,” or “To take care of family.” However, you need to drill down and dig deeper as to your real why. What is it you want to do in life? What are you passionate about? Because once you can identify it, you can stay authentic and share your real self with the world. As Mitch put it, “Share your why, and that’s what will connect you with other people locally, nationally, and globally and indirectly result in more business.” When he did this, it was when the magic happened. He received more referrals, and he was given more opportunities to help people – which is his real “Why.”

Secondly, Mitch highly recommends you ask yourself, “What’s your true north? What’s of interest to you?” In this huge universe, what matters the most to you? It could be social media, show business, religion, rock climbing, politics, fashion, counseling or research. This is exactly what you have to share on social media. Mitch adds, “Whatever that true north is, I ask my professionals to give themselves permission to follow their “Why” and follow their true north and then share that content on social media.”

This is the perfect way to encourage full engagement on social media. You cannot just share the usual “how to” about what you know or about your expertise. You are not the only one who knows about it. And your audience can simply do a Google search to discover a wealth of information. Simply sharing your knowledge is not going to make you unique enough to be worth following or engaging with.

But when you show people who you are, your unique self, and your exceptional interests, like-minded individuals are bound to be attracted to you. And eventually, what you have to offer regarding products and services. What Mitch knows for sure, based on his own livestreaming experience, is, “You can dominate and build a huge social media brand if you just give yourself permission to be yourself and to be human.”

This is why it is important to be authentic and not to be afraid to share your human side. If you are a great person who is even greater at what you do, people will trust you because they are assured you have their best interest in mind. In no time, you will dominate the industry you are in through livestreaming. Besides, it is easy to determine who is real and who’s not on social media. You can only pretend for so long when you are doing live videos. As Mitch says, “Regardless of who you are and what you do for a living, follow those approaches before creating and publishing content and when you do that’s when the magic happens on social media.”

A Budding Livestreaming Community

As Mitch went traveling the world, speaking and working with clients, he discovered how a lot of people want to stay in touch. After a speaking engagement for example, people would come up to him and give him their contact info. Of course, staying in touch individually in this way is a challenge. This was when Mitch thought about setting up a digital mastermind group where he can share his knowledge and ideas to more people all at once. Additionally, he also brings in experts from other fields, especially in digital technology and group members can all benefit from it.

The mastermind group became bigger and became a community of professionals who had access to a rich online resource 24/7. It only started 2 years ago, but today, it is a budding global community. They share a lot of content with at least 2 live videos each week. They spend an hour of question and answer with experts and members. And as it turns out, the videos members make, become even better than the output the experts made.

Type Of Livestreaming Content Plus Engagement

So, you’re ready to dive into your own brand of livestreaming. What kind of content should you be posting? Many believe coming up with content can be the most challenging part of all this. But Mitch suggests this isn’t as hard when you remember how being yourself can really rock.

Make your content about you, your passions, special interests, and hobbies. In this way, you can become as natural as you can be when you try to talk about something on a livestream. Even Mitch enjoys sharing himself on his videos saying, “What you see on social media, that’s me.” For his content, you will see a variety of posts including sunsets, social media causes, income generation, politics, business tips and the like.

So what he suggests you do as you think about your content for livestreaming is to make a list of 5 to 10 things you enjoy doing and then share them on social media. You can make one post for each of those 5 to 10 things. But he adds “Whatever we’re sharing on social media, the key to success is engaging with our audience.”

As such, you need to answer questions, reply to comments, and share other’s people content because your live video does not end after you publish it. In fact, during the livestream is when most engagement happens. So go ahead and interact with your audience as much as you can and make it a lively and worthwhile discussion. Also keep in mind, in the end, you are doing the livestream for your audience, so it isn’t just about you but about giving them value. He concludes, “Shine the light on other people. That’s when the magic happens.”

Be sure to listen to this episode of The Digital Slice Podcast to get the scoop on using live video and social media to grow your business! And, if you like it, leave a rating and a review!

For more information about livestreaming to grow your business, or to schedule your free digital marketing consultation, please call 720.248.8185, e-mail info@friedmansocialmedia.com, or click here.

Please note: The Friedman Group is an inbound marketing agency based in Denver, Colorado, and we work with professionals and business owners across the U.S. Our digital marketing services include: inbound marketing, social media marketing, and digital marketing strategy and implementation.

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How intimate and authentic can you get with your target audience? Thanks to social media, the gap has now been bridged between the seller and the customer; the business owner and the consumer; and the individual practitioner with the client. In this episode of The Digital Slice Podcast, Bella Vasta clues us into all the ways your business can grow using Facebook Groups.

In particular, Facebook has afforded entrepreneurs the power to interact with potential customers directly in a platform where they are their natural selves. This is why most companies have their business pages splashed on Facebook in the hopes of benefiting from this direct contact with their target market.

Beyond a page, however, Facebook groups provide you with an even greater opportunity to talk to, interact with, and eventually build a community with your customers in a venue they have chosen. This also makes Facebook groups a perfect venue for inbound marketing where clients trust you and go to you directly in a desire to do business with your company. Certainly, Facebook groups are one way to go to grow your business.

Bella In The House

Have you ever jumped out of an airplane at 13,000 feet above ground? Well, Bella Vasta has and she named her coaching company Jump Consulting from her daring adventure. And just like that brave act, Bella works with various clients to push them to their limits and take a big leap of faith toward the next big thing in their businesses.

Pet sitting is in her genes, and she has been rocking the industry since 2007 as she coached pet sitting businesses and published her comprehensive researches on them. On top of that, she wrote the book, “The Four Types of Dogs Every Business Needs: How to Build the Right Team to Grow Your Business and Have a Balanced Life.” She used her knowledge of the popular breeds as a metaphor to embody the four personality types that work well together in a team set-up.

Bella believes in the power of Facebook groups to grow your business. She manages her own group, in fact, multiple Facebook groups, and she has seen how it can work its magic from the start.

Why A Facebook Group?

So you already have a Facebook business page, what do you need a group for? Bella uses an analogy to describe how a group is worth investing in and the important purpose it serves. Think about your Facebook page as your front yard and your Facebook group as your backyard. Imagine having a barbecue in your front yard, sunbathing, swimming, and other cool stuff. Would you feel comfortable doing all this in your front yard with passersby staring at you and maybe even giving you awkward looks? Of course, these things are what you do in your backyard, where you feel comfortable in private and where invited guests are likely to have a great time with you.

In the same way, your group is your backyard. You invite people in, and they join because they are interested in spending time with you. Bella says, “You reserve your backyard for personal stuff.”

On your page or in your front yard, you show everybody the beautiful side with a well-manicured lawn and homey atmosphere, but only those who are interested in going beyond that gets the passage to your house and into your backyard. Bella adds, “And so if you already have a Facebook page that’s cool. Everyone has a front yard.” It is where you entertain solicitors. But in your backyard, it is where your friends come and hang out with you. You entertain them, you serve them food and drinks, and put on some nice music. And the best part is, it is where people talk to each other. Bella points out that “The backyard is your group and the front yard is your page. So why have it? Because it’s more personable. People love to feel safe and like they belong, and that’s what groups do for a brand. It humanizes a brand.”

As in your backyard, the interactions with your audience is more personalized. It is where you can be your authentic self as a business owner which in turn makes it easier for them to trust you. On your page, you mostly do a one-way talk. They see it, but they don’t talk that much unless they want to ask questions about your products or services. Even Bella has observed how “Most people don’t feel comfortable having those intimate conversations on a business page.” There is not much of that deeper, back and forth, human to human conversations. But in your group, you can become very personal because the communication lines are open as well as private. Relationships are built as time passes. Your group members also get to interact with other members. Ultimately, the community that you have been envisioning to form will take its shape.

Should Everybody Do It?

Should every business have a Facebook group? It’s easy to think that as a business that you should be on every social media channel. Best practices will tell you however that your social media strategy should be patterned based on your unique needs and culture as a company. Thus, you do not have to be on everything, including Facebook, or Facebok groups. Even if all businesses are capable of having a Facebook group, not all are bound to benefit from it. Bella agrees that, “You can’t do everything all at once.”

You have to consider whether a group is a good compliment to your business or not. Some guiding questions to ask yourself would be: What value are you going to give your group members? Is your group going to be a part of your sales funnel? If yes, which part? Is it just to get people involved? Or to sell to directly and buy your products or avail your services. What position does your group have in your overall business? It is easy to get excited over it, but you have to be able to focus on one social media at a time. Time is a business investment, and every action you make has to be purposeful. If you believe your community is on Facebook, then Facebook groups can be good for you.

Initial Set Up

Congratulations! At this point, you may have decided to go ahead with creating your own Facebook group. The initial set up stage is most important as it will lay the foundation for the kind of members you will admit into your group and the information you can gather from them. There are questions you can ask would-be members before you add them to your Facebook group. Bella suggests the following main questions:

1. What’s your email address to be added to our list? (or to get a free gift or course)
2. What is your biggest challenge? (based on your subject matter)

Once these questions are answered, it will give you a wealth of information to turn into productive ideas for the kind of content you will feed your group. It can even guide in your product creation or in helping serve your audience better. You can also use the data for your next marketing campaign, sales pitch, and the like. Bella realized, “If you have a group, you need to be asking the right kinds of questions.” You can make their answers into a content goldmine and gather all their responses into a spreadsheet because once you click approve, you cannot go back and get that information again. So you have to record it, have a virtual assistant do it or use available software. Bella confirms “It’s just a content goldmine, those three questions, if you position it right. Make those questions so they serve your business because it’s so valuable.”

How To Get People Into Your Group

There are different ways to urge people to join your Facebook group but at the heart of it is creativity. You have to be creative about how you invite them in to make them interested. For one, your website is a good starting point. The Facebook icon on your website can be set up to go directly to your group instead of your page. As Bella points out, “Chances are that if you get people on in your group, they will end up liking your page. It’s a much easier sell that way.” Moreover, you can also put a byline in your email specifying a certain value you are providing if they join your group such as, “Join my free group to get x, click here.”

Meanwhile, on your Facebook page, you can do a cover profile or cover video pointing to an arrow linking to the group. You have to put them front and center so people can easily click and join. Sending an email blast every quarter to invite them to join your free group is also a good idea. Your marketing materials, Facebook, and Instagram stories are great avenues for inviting people to your group. Video teasers, screenshots, and live videos they can see only inside the group are great come-ons as well. In the end, Bella emphasizes “You gotta know what your value is. What are you giving them? Why should they appear?” Get them hooked up and engaged because who knows, one day you will be able to directly monetize your Facebook group as well. Bella ends with: “I have multiple groups, and I can tell you I’ve had two products this year that I’ve completely sold out just in my mastermind group.”

Be sure to listen to this episode of The Digital Slice Podcast to get the scoop on Facebook Groups! And, if you like it, leave a rating and a review!

For more information about developing a Facebook marketing strategy, or to schedule your free digital marketing consultation, please call 720.248.8185, e-mail info@friedmansocialmedia.com, or click here.

Please note: The Friedman Group is an inbound marketing agency based in Denver, Colorado, and we work with professionals and business owners across the U.S. Our digital marketing services include: inbound marketing, social media marketing, and digital marketing strategy and implementation.

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Online communication is becoming more and more common in business as well as personal life. What does it mean to deal with people who are just lines of darkened liquid crystal on your screen?

The company has set up a chat line from technical support. You know that this kind of help can be effective and is much less complicated than calling on the phone. When you do call on the phone, you don’t get to see the person you are talking to and you certainly don’t get to meet him or her in person either, but the human voice has a certain reassuring quality–it seems closer to the foibles of a living person.

An Increasingly Popular Option

Marketing statistics indicate that a growing number of customers prefer live chat lines to phone operators. For customers who visit business websites, 62 percent expect to find a live chat alternative. The popularity of live chat is growing fast. Live chat is to be used in 25% of customer service support operations by 2020. The living voice of a customer service agent is not so important. Customer service by phone is often much more time consuming than the chat alternative. There is also a certain charm in the voiceless, image-less interaction that goes beyond pure utility. Text chat takes you into the realm of imagination.

You ask for an expert to contact you on the chat line. Soon you get a few words appearing on the service department part of the box in the website. Hello, I’m Dierdre, how can I help you. This could be a bot named Dierdre. Why do you think it is not? What happens in your mind when you speak to this remote, silent presence that (or who) is going to help you. The interaction with chat line customer service is rife with social fictions and fantasy creation. Much of the suggested dialog for the chat line is taken directly from what it would have been for the spoken phone line. There is a certain clarity in the typed word over the spoken word

The Scripting of Chat Lines

Customer service chat lines are scripted much like bots would be. First, the chat line agent asks for the customer’s name. Some advocates of the chat line customer service method suggest that the initial greeting be neither too long or too short.  It should be something like “Hello John, this is Dierde. Thanks for contacting personal service. How can I help you.” Formality is one of the keys. The message should be business-like, pleasant, and distant. Others suggest a bit more informality and a looser tone, something like, “Hi John. How are you doing?” Then there are lines like “I am really glad to hear that. How may I help you today?” or “I am really sorry to hear that. How may I help you today?” These messages have about the same level of personal tone as a phone contact would have.

The interaction with chat line customer service is rife with social fictions and fantasy creation. Much of the suggested dialog for the chat line is taken directly from what it would have been for the spoken phone line. A chat operator may say,

John, I will need to put you on hold for a few minutes to run a few tests…would that be ok with you or would you prefer I call or email you with the details…”

The Chat As A Visual Experience

There is clarity in the typed word over the spoken word. It has to do with the power of the visual over the auditory sense and with the fact that visual images last and auditory messages vanish as they are spoken. This may be part of the charm of chat lines. They offer automatic documentation. And the chat line always spurs the customer’s imagination far more than the more information-rich telephone call.

For more information about inbound marketing and chatbots, or to schedule your free digital marketing consultation, please call 720.248.8185, e-mail info@friedmansocialmedia.com, or click here.

Please note: The Friedman Group is an inbound marketing agency based in Denver, Colorado, and we work with professionals and business owners across the U.S. Our digital marketing services include: inbound marketing, social media marketing, and digital marketing strategy and implementation.

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