Are Your Marketing Tactics Getting Prospects Pissed Off?

Outbound marketing vs. inbound marketing

I spent last week at a digital marketing conference in Boston, called INBOUND.

This conference is sponsored by Hubspot, a company that advocates a process that enables more lovable marketing, and smarter decisions.

Today I want to ask a question:

With the rock solid tools at our disposal … and a good understanding of how buyers make decisions … why do we still resort to cold calls and other ill-fated sales techniques?

Marketing Evolves:  Outbound, Meet Inbound

The basic idea of inbound marketing is this:

Today’s customer is simply not willing to be interrupted with traditional advertising messages.   He or she now has the power to search online, engage in social media, consult friends and colleagues for referrals, and decide which resources are trustworthy.

In this context, what works is providing information that educates and informs … called content marketing by some, inbound marketing by others.

No matter what you call it, that’s how just about every considered purchase starts.

The Role of  Today’s Marketer

We marketer’s have a new tool kit.  We can

      • inform,
      • educate,
      • entertain,
      • engage,
      • be likable,
      • be transparent,
      • be accessible,
      • set goals,
      • tweak and improve activities based on data,
      • generate measurable ROI.

What does that mean specifically?

  • Buyers start their buying process by seeking the information they need to make a buying decision … so provide lots of helpful information
  • Buyers advance their buying process by comparing solutions … so let’s present an objective, honest comparison of solutions to their problems
  • Buyers shift their loyalties and preferences as brands engage … so let’s differentiate our brands by creating social relationships and gaining trust
  • Buyers signal when they are ready to be contacted … so listen and watch for their signals, and respect them by not spamming
  • “Measure it or it didn’t happen”… we now have technology that helps us KNOW the ROI of every marketing activity.  Shame on us if we are not using  the right data and metrics.

Spam, Cold Calls, and Other Outbound Tactics:  The Dangers of Negative ROI

Marketers who still spend money spamming and blasting unwelcome messages do so at their own risk.

Not only is that not productive, it can result in NEGATIVE ROI, if you piss off the prospective customers with your aggressive and sales-y tactics.

Every day, I triage my email:  delete, delete, delete.  The flyers and post cards go straight from my mailbox, to the recyling bin.  And, I’ve gotten 3 Robocalls this week alone!

Instead, think in terms of lead NURTURING:  connecting and engaging with prospects who have already signaled interest. Once they have engaged with your content a few times, they are tee’d up for a warm call.

 Inbound + Outbound …  or, 1+1 = 3 

Admittedly, I haven’t come down off my INBOUND conference marketing high since last week.  But it just makes sense, doesn’t it?

Even, John Jantsch, author of the excellent Duct Tape Marketing blog, advocates a combination of Inbound and Outbound tactics in this recent post:  Why Outbound Marketing Has Never Been More Effective.

A prospective client told me recently that she uses a firm to make cold calls on her behalf, to generate leads.  I hope that I can convince her that there is a better way.

And next time I get a robocall, I’ll think of those customer-centric keynotes from last week’s conference, and b-r-e-a-t-h-e.

OK, rant over.

Whether you agree or disagree … please leave a comment! 

(And, stop by and say hi on Twitter or my facebook page, where I share marketing tips, opinions, stupid cat photos, and more).  Thanks!

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Why I Wrote A Social Media “Dear John” Letter To My Insurance Agency

Social media dear John letterCall me crazy, but I just broke up with my insurance agency over irreconcilable social media differences.

Truth is, I had been lusting in my heart after another insurance agency for awhile … since Hurricane Sandy, in fact.  But last month, when another agency owner shared some upbeat agency news on Google Plus (Google Plus!),  I decided to do the right thing and end it.

Like any breakup, there is anger on his end, a tinge of sadness on mine, especially at the end of a 23 year relationship.  But business is business, right?

Here’s the letter I wrote him*

*names changed to protect the business owner

************************************************

Subject:  I Owe You An Explanation

Dear Sam,

Your insurance agency has always served me well.  I can’t complain about the service I received, ever.  You are nice people.  You are in my town.  So I apologize if the following explanation doesn’t make sense to you (and it won’t).

Here’s why I moved my business.

My entire life is online, and social media is where I get my information.  As I interact on social networks with people in ways both business and personal, relationships that begin there became stronger until they become hard to ignore.

In that realm, I have gotten to know a nearby agency owner who is very forward thinking and active in social media.  She won me over, 140 characters at a time.  Last month, I decided to give her a shot at my business.

Not that you weren’t helpful when I reached out and called you …you were!  But when I am connected to a business online, the connection feels stronger and more personal.   I like the way their useful information finds me.  It’s why I moved to Agency X. 

It might not make sense to you, but I just like having an agent who is connected to me online, and it feels better to use an agent that values the same type of communication that I do.

I am sorry I broke up a business relationship for what must seem like a trivial reason.

 Goodbye,

 Rhonda

P.S.  After Hurricane Sandy, I suggested to your agency’s owner that it would be helpful if you guys had a Facebook page, so we could connect in an emergency and get information the next time we lose power.  At the time he was not receptive, and I see the agency still doesn’t have one.

************************************************

I may have exaggerated slightly, but this is a true story.

Does it make me cold-hearted?  Crazy?  Would you ever break up with a business over irreconcilable social media differences?

Next week, I’ll tell you why I changed my oil company after 15 years …  first, I’ve got to check Facebook.

Make my day … leave a comment! And, stop by and say hi on my facebook page, where I share marketing tips, opinions, stupid cat photos, and more. Thanks!

Posted in blogging, content marketing, Social Media Best Practices | Tagged , , | 6 Comments

Law Firm Use of Blogs and Social Media (Reseach/Trends)

law firm social mediaIn a Linked in Group where I am active, Legal Blogging, this question just came up:

… I am looking for case studies of lawyers who’ve found success with social media and blogging … “

I’ve spent some time talking to lawyers about social media, and recently came across a few studies that might surprise you.

I shared these studies with the Linkedin group, but that was preaching to the choir!  I decided to post them here as well.

Always Start With WHY

To begin, you might be wondering if blogs and social media are effective tools for law firms?

For the answer, look no further than you own habits.

We search for information FIRST, find trusted sources SECOND, and do business with those we like and trust THIRD.  This is as true for law firms and other professional practices as it is for any other considered (non-impulse) purchase.

Studies show that 57% of a buying decision is made before the very first conversation!

So, how do you get found online?

    • understand how people are searching for information,
    • create helpful content (blog, whitepapers, videos, etc.),
    • use social media to create relationships, and help distribute that content.

As Jay Baer says in his new book, Youtility:

“Content is the gasoline, social media is the match”.

It’s as simple as that.

“That’s Not How We Get Business” …

Unfortunately, studies show that law firms have been slow to adopt blogs and social media.  This is slowly changing, but here is a typical example.

About a year ago, I was pitching a marketing project to a regional law firm with 200+ lawyers.  In preparing to meet with this particular firm, I learned the following:

 … of 200 lawyers, only 1 wrote a blog or used social media.  Now, that one lawyer ended up on every who’s who list, was invited to speak on national panels, was extensively quoted in the media, and effectively branded himself as the “expert”.  Despite this, the others still seemed set in their ways.

Armed with two studies that showed how law firm adoption of blogging and social media are key factors in acquiring new business , I made my pitch to the managing partner/COO…. unsuccessfully, as luck would have it!

My sister- in-law and my lawyer friends …

Even though I did not get the big law firm project, I couldn’t contain my excitement about the data I had found!  The studies were too good not to share!

So, in my excitement, I sent them to my sister-in-law, who founded a law firm with 50+ partners.

She also didn’t share my excitement, however.   Her response?  

“Our firm is different …”

Still bursting with the good news, I told not one, but TWO dear lawyer friends about it … only to hear, 

“My practice is different, that’s not how I get business …”

Why are the lawyers I KNOW resistant to social media and blogging?  It is most likely age related, as you’ll see in the research.  There’s a definite uptick in adoption, across all ages … but especially among digital natives.  Read it, and make up your own mind.

Research Summary: Law Firm Use of Blogs and Social Media

The 2013 In-House Counsel New Media Engagement Survey (conducted by Greentarget Research …  was recently released in April, 2013.  Here’s a link: http://insidecounselsurvey.com/

… the 2013 study confirms blogs and linkedin as the two most influential platforms for lawyers to use in order to build influence and business relationships.

Research findings fare summarized below:

Summary:

  • In house decision makers are relying on blogs for critical business information, which then influences which law firm to hire. There is an increased use of other forms of social media to build relationships as well.
  • In terms of trend, in 2010, blogs were well used across the board, but use of social platforms like Linked in, Facebook and Twitter were much more concentrated among younger in-house lawyers.
  • In contrast, by 2012, there was much wider social media adoption among in-house lawyers in their 40’s, 50’s, and 60’s, while the younger demographic is holding steady.
  • As the legal industry has been slow to adopt new media, early adopters gained an advantage. Going forward, the lack of an integrated strategy becomes a distinct competitive disadvantage, as the use of these tools becomes the new standard. 
  • Law firms must integrate a forward-looking social media strategy into their websites, help more of their lawyers become bloggers, and integrate the use of social platforms into their client interactions.

Key Findings by Social Media Platform:

Blogs:

  • In-house attorneys exhibit widespread trust (84%) in blogs.
  • In-house attorneys read attorney-authored or firm-branded blogs more often than they read blogs written by journalists.
  • 76% say that a lawyer-generated blog had some level of influence over which firms to retain.
  • While daily blog readership dropped, weekly and monthly readership more than made up for it, shedding new light on the quality versus quantity debate.

Other New Media:

  • LinkedIn leads all other social networks in professional usage and credibility (88%); law firms clearly aren’t taking full advantage of its networking capabilities.
  • While blogs are read more consistently across age groups than the “big three” social media platforms (LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter), new media usage is gaining steam, especially among younger counsel.
  • While in-house counsel rarely contribute content on social channels, they are listening and consuming regularly.
  • Social media as a firm-to-client client services mechanism is also increasing, with an eight percent year-over-year increase.

These findings mirror the trends from a older (2011) global study from Martindale-Hubbell on social media use among law firms:

So to my dear sister-in-law, and any other lawyers who are watching from the sidelines, I say this:

It’s only a matter of time.  These new tools are not going away!   Sure, we trust referrals … but we start with online research to get information and become educated.

Start an SEO optimized blog, and a Linkedin profile, NOW, and get going!

Do you have personal experiences and successes to share, to give with other lawyers that “nudge” to get started?

If so … leave a comment! 

(And, stop by and say hi on Twitter or my facebook page, where I share marketing tips, opinions, stupid cat photos, and more).  Thanks!

Posted in blogging, content marketing, Social Media Best Practices | Tagged | 2 Comments

How One Food Blogger Got Thousands of Followers in 16 Months (… and You Can Too)

heather katsoulisIn one of those serendipitous moments, I met fellow marketer and food blogger Mary Pisarkiewicz while teaching a class on Digital Marketing Strategy last month, as part of the National Minority Business Council’s Executive Management Program.

My ears perked up right away when one of the sponsors joked that she could always tell what Mary was cooking, from the delicious smells greeting her in the hallway of the building where they both live. Continue reading

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Link Love: How Bloggers Rub Noses on the Social Web

link loveOn Valentine’s Day, It’s nice to recognize all the relationships that foster love and positive energy in our lives.

For many, those relationships exist online through the content we write, read, and share, which is why I’m excited to talk about link love! Continue reading

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10 Online Marketing Trends for 2013

2013 online trendsHere’s a list of online marketing trends I put together for a panel discussion on 2013 Social Media Trends.

My co-panelists, Stephanie Schwab and Ellen Gerstein, will no doubt have other insights  — and I can’t wait to hear them.

For now, this is the world as I see it: Continue reading

Posted in blogging, content marketing, digital media trends, inbound marketing, marketing, social media, Social Media Best Practices, social media strategy, social media trends, website effectiveness | Tagged , | 4 Comments

5 Ways to (Legally) Use Photos in Social Media and On Your Blog

Evil Murphy Says NO to Copyright Violation -- photo by StaceyWho doesn’t love a cute photo or funny image on the social web?

According to Hubspot’s latest research, Facebook  photo posts get 53% more “likes”, 104% more comments, and links on these posts get 84% more clicks.

Instagram and Pinterest also owe their explosive growth to our collective love of visual content.  Any blogger or social media manager worth his or her salt aims to add compelling images to their posts.

Do you have the rights to use the images you post on line? Continue reading

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Blogging Dry Spell? Try a Little Help From Your Friends.

I’ve hit a blogging dry spell lately.

An editorial calendar is supposed to kick in at times like these … but how to gain enthusiasm for those “same old” topics?

When you can’t think of anything new to add to the online conversation, what do you do?

Maybe you just need a little help from your friends.  Your blogger friends, that is.

Continue reading

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The Entrepreneur Who Intends to Cure Blindness (and Other Inspirations)

approaching the summitThis week, I’m about to break the cardinal sin of blogging.

Instead of my usual marketing topics, a post about 3 people who were inspired to go the extra mile.

Here’s the common thread that runs through their stories:  having a goal, and committing to see it through … despite discouragement, even when it’s hard.

Here are their stories: Continue reading

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Solving the Social Media ROI Puzzle

social media under a magnifying  glassIf you were asked to calculate social media ROI, could you?

What starts with hello, can grow into a trusted relationship and result in revenue …

… but how to measure it?

Here are three resources that provide insight into social media ROI: Continue reading

Posted in social media, Social Media Best Practices, social media ROI | Tagged | 1 Comment