BizActions | Thomson Reuters

The Importance of Creativity in Business Newsletter Content

The Importance of Creativity in Business Newsletter Content

Business newsletter content has never been in greater need of creativity. Many times, there is so much pressure on marketing professionals to get results now that the creative aspects of B2B marketing fall by the wayside.

We’re expected to demonstrate immediate return on investment, not to mention creating materials that can gain the approval of both management and the legal department. With all the pressure, it is easy to forget about the importance of creativity. Yet one of the most reliable ways to becoming and remaining successful (other than a million dollar advertising budget) is to stand out in the marketplace by being creative.

Creative thinking is the ultimate human resource. Yet we can never be satisfied with our most important skill. No matter how good we become, we should always want to be better.”
- Edward de Bono, Six Thinking Hats

Adding creativity to the marketing mix, whether your industry is Accounting, Financial Services, Legal, Payroll, Financial Institutions or any other business-to-business (B2B) or business-to-consumer (B2C) service provider, requires planning from both a strategic as well as a tactical point of view.

Defining your strategy often requires that you take the following steps:

  • Precisely define your target audience
  • Identify their pain point or problem
  • Provide relevant content that helps them solve their problem
  • Touch these individuals with a creative message on a regular basis

Can B2B business owners and marketers get creative?  Of course they can. Being creative is not just about being able to paint a picture, compose a song, chisel granite or design a website.  This common assumption is just not correct.  You can be creative outside the “arts.”

Your strongest relationships have been built upon personal interaction and the ONLY way to establish a long-lasting personal/business relationship is to show your true colors.  So… experiment and have a little fun in your business newsletter content.

Get creative with your connections

  • Feature client success stories
  • Focus your communications on your target audience – not on you
  • Run a contest with a prize that readers will actually want
  • Conduct a short online survey
  • Showcase your staff, including their achievements, successes, events and personal anecdotes
  • Highlight your community involvement
  • Share fun snippets about what life is like around your office

When you are conducting online surveys, avoid “yes/no” questions or at least make some of the questions unexpected, quirky or fun.  Business can be serious, but it doesn’t always have to take itself too seriously. Always include an open text or comment field so the survey taker can elaborate.

A few words of caution and some inspiration

By trying to be more creative you will make some mistakes that you may regret in hindsight.  Rest assured, the mistakes probably won’t be career enders.  Your natural common sense should keep you from doing anything too crazy.  Keep in mind that you’ll also hit some “home runs” that you can bring up in your annual review. Sharing your creative spark will always give you satisfaction and may even spark other opportunities you never imagined.

 
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Posted in: Email Marketing, Marketing, Newsletters

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Blog Roundup: 5 Posts on CPA Firm Lead Generation & Sales

Blog Roundup: 5 Posts on CPA Firm Lead Generation & Sales

Your CPA firm’s marketing and communications should educate, inform and offer value. They should also provide you with viable leads and sell your services.

Here are five blog posts with tips and hints on how to weave sales and lead generation strategies into your marketing to help you get the most out of your efforts:

 

Five Subtle Ways to Weave Sales Into Your Newsletter

Five Subtle Ways to Weave Sales Into Your NewsletterContent marketing should offer the mutual benefit of providing your clients and prospects with valuable information and resources while also creating opportunities for your business to sell its products and services. Even if your business prides itself yourself on offering a consultative approach, you’re still trying to sell something. Your email newsletter should bring up a topic that will lead to a sale of a tangible product or service… READ ON.

 

Make Sales Of Value Added Services Rocket In 2014

Make Sales Of Value Added Services Rocket In 2014I recently read an article from Rob Nixon with the Proactive Accountants Network encouraging accountants to systematically cross-sell their value added services. I especially liked Rob’s take on this because his approach can so easily be implemented through the use of an email marketing platform. I have taken Rob’s points and outlined how you can create a systematic approach to promoting and selling additional services. Here are six steps to take… READ ON.

 

The Intrinsic, Yet Tangible Value of Trade Shows for Increased Sales

The Intrinsic, Yet Tangible Value of Trade Shows for Increased SalesParticipating in trade shows has become less about marketing and more about sales strategy. Generating awareness, defining your brand in the marketplace (especially in developing niche markets), creating leads, and positioning your accounting firm strategically within the marketplace are still valid reasons for participating in trade shows. Treating modern trade shows as sales events will help you deliver more tangible results… READ ON.

 

What is your best source of referrals? It could be your clients.

What is your best source of referrals? It could be your clients.When you hear the word “referral source,” you may immediately think of professional contacts, friends, LinkedIn groups, and people you know from college or the community. Clients may never even come to mind, and yet clients can be an excellent source for business-generating referrals, for several reasons. Clients often refer you to suppliers and other businesses in their industry groups that the professionals in your network… READ ON.

 

5 Things You Must Do To Convert a Lead Into a Sale

Conversion: Five Things You Must Do To Convert a Lead Into a SaleBravo! You’ve generated some leads. Now what? If business development consisted solely of lead generation, more accounting firms would be a lot more successful. But it’s really only the midpoint of the process that starts with marketing and ends with an engagement. What you do with the leads you generate is every bit as important as what you do to generate them. Here are five things you must do to convert a lead into a sale… READ ON.

 

Not all leads are created equal. Some prospects may simply be curious rather than interested. Others may sincerely want the services you offer, but be unable to afford them. Still others may have misunderstood what you offer. Position your firm strategically within the marketplace by following these best practice tips to maximize your lead generation and sales efforts. You should also track and measure your lead generation and sales results to identify the true ROI of your endeavors.

 
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Posted in: Business Growth, CPA Accounting Firm Management, Lead Generation, Marketing, Sales Strategies

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Grammar Geeks Got2B Like Chillin’ Yo

Grammar Geeks Got2B Like Chillin’ Yo

Grammar and spelling might very well have an impact on your brand, your reputation and your credibility. In my last post about Weird Al’s cheeky parody, “Word Crimes,” I posed the question whether or not linguistic trends have a place in modern marketing tactics.

A case could be made that taking advantage of linguistic and other trends (including terminology or lack thereof) could give your online marketing a boost. A case could also be made that poor grammar (particularly if it is not clearly intentional) can hurt your brand.

In honor of Charissa Hurd’s ridiculously bad (but real) B2B subject line example, “OMG, this is so improtant you just gotta read it,” from her post about why she unsubscribed from a previously favored email campaign, here is a round-up of some of my favorite grammar-related posts:

 

Wicked Good Grammar: A Marketing MustWicked Good Grammar: A Marketing Must

What do M&M’s, rock stars and good grammar have in common? More than you might think. Back when Van Halen began playing stadium shows, their contract rider famously called for a bowl of M&M’s in their dressing room – with absolutely no brown M&M’s…. Bad grammar is like brown M&M’s for your marketing. It makes you look sloppy, and it’s a red flag about your professionalism. >> Keep reading on Vital Design

 

Copywriting Grammar Ain't PerfectCopywriting Grammar Ain’t Perfect

Break the rules. It’s OK. One of the most important aspects of writing great copy is making sure it’s grammatically correct. That doesn’t mean, however, you need to have a grammar textbook by your side as you write copy. The trick is balancing proper grammar with a conversational tone. Blind devotion to perfect grammar can come across to consumers as arrogant, but grammar that’s too sloppy looks unprofessional. How do you strike a balance between the two extremes? >> Keep reading on Entreprenuer.com

 

Proofread or Perish!Proofread or Perish!

Your readers look to you for great content, and you do your best to provide it. But errors in grammar, punctuation and spelling can keep your content from even getting a chance. In case you’re dismissing that advice as snobbish elitism and clinging to a belief that spelling doesn’t matter, here’s something to consider: the biggest difference between email marketing that works and pure, unadulterated spam that gets flagged isn’t topic or sender. It’s literacy level. Yep.  >> Keep reading from BBR Marketing

 

Bad Grammar Are Bad for BrandingBad Grammar Are Bad for Branding

Why is marketing becoming increasingly illiterate? Just in case you haven’t checked in a while, the English language continues a steady slide into the ditch—and it’s not just texting that’s to blame, it’s marketing. Whether online or on the packaging, brands seem to be forgetting the spelling and grammar we all supposedly learned in grade school.  >> Keep reading on AdWeek.com

 

Does Correct Grammar Influence Brand Marketing Success?Does Correct Grammar Influence Brand Marketing Success?

Tastes good like a cigarette should. Think different. Got milk? Sticklers for grammar will point out that these famous ad campaigns are grammatically incorrect (and other sticklers will argue that “Think different” is, in fact, correct). But these slogans were tremendously successful for the corporations that chose them. Does this mean correct grammar and spelling don’t really matter?  >> Keep reading on Paceco.com

 
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Posted in: Branding, Communications, Content Marketing, Marketing, Reputation Management

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BizActions Launches Salesforce® CRM Connector on AppExchange

BizActions Launches Salesforce® CRM Connector on AppExchange

Leverage the combined power of BizActions and Salesforce® to identify more leads and close more business. Enhance your ability to cultivate the leads generated through your BizActions niche email newsletters and targeted email radar campaigns by working directly in Salesforce and utilizing our enhanced Salesforce® CRM Connector, now available on the Salesforce® AppExchange.

By tapping into the power of Salesforce.com’s social, mobile and connected cloud technologies to accelerate business transformation, BizActions users are now able to maximize their business development efforts.

The CRM Connector enables Salesforce® users to upload contact information to the BizActions email newsletter database and download newsletter clicks and unsubscribes to its Salesforce® database. The databases are synchronized on a recurring schedule you determine, so changes to sales lead or customer data in Salesforce are automatically updated in the BizActions database. BizActions click-through data can help identify leads for follow-up by tracking reader interests, engagement and service needs in your customer relationship management program.

Our CRM Connector makes it easy for BizActions newsletter subscribers to enhance and automatically update both their BizActions and their Salesforce databases, as well as to download email click activity to Salesforce® that can help identify leads,” said Keith Haurie, Vice President Emerging Products in the Tax & Accounting business of Thomson Reuters. “By integrating the two databases, we have simplified the process for maintaining and updating prospect and client records while quickly analyzing the effectiveness of BizActions’ marketing solutions.”

Connect in a whole new way with social, mobile and connected cloud technologies

By integrating the BizActions lead-nurturing solution with Salesforce®, the CRM Connector makes it easier for clients to tap into the power of email marketing as a lead generation and sales tool. This technology connects the rich data gathered from the BizActions email and communication tracking system with the contact information and reporting capabilities in Salesforce®, so clients can identify opportunities for new or additional business in a whole new way.

Companies are looking to transform the way they connect with customers, partners and employees to thrive in the today’s connected world,” said Leyla Seka, Vice President AppExchange and Partner Operations, Salesforce.com. “By leveraging the power of the Salesforce1 Customer Platform, Thomson Reuters provides clients with the proven social, mobile and connected cloud technologies to accelerate business success.”

Key features

Facilitate better business development by tracking prospects’ interest in your products and services and then assigning that click activity for follow-up through Salesforce®. When your readers indicate interest by clicking through articles in your BizActions niche email newsletters and targeted email radar campaigns, that data will be transferred to their records in Salesforce® so that you may assign follow-up activities to the appropriate parties and track their status all from your one CRM system.

Integration occurs seamlessly and automatically in three ways:

  1. Contacts are sent from Salesforce® and added or updated in your BizActions email database
  2. Click activity is transferred from BizActions for follow-up and assignment through Salesforce®
  3. Unsubscribe requests are flagged in both programs

Use the data you’ve collected in Salesforce® to determine which segmented groups each prospect or client should join in your BizActions email database so that they receive the most targeted, relevant content for ultimate nurturing.

About the Salesforce® AppExchange

The Salesforce® AppExchange is the world’s leading business apps marketplace. With more than 2,000 partner apps and 2 million customer installs it is the most comprehensive source of social and mobile cloud apps for business. The Salesforce® Customer Platform is the new social, mobile and cloud customer platform for building next generation apps, powering Salesforce® CRM, and more than 3 million custom apps built by customers and partners. Apps built on the Salesforce1® Platform can be easily distributed and marketed through AppExchange.

Salesforce, Salesforce1, AppExchange and others are among the trademarks of Salesforce.com, Inc. and are used here with permission.

 

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Posted in: Business Development, Company News, Company Promotions, Email Newsletters, Lead Generation

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Using Testimonials to Advance Your Marketing Credibility

Using Testimonials to Advance Your Marketing Credibility

In a business environment where differentiation may seem difficult, using client testimonials in marketing can be an effective method of promoting your products and services.

Testimonials are an excellent tool for separating yourself from your competition and dramatically increasing your opportunities for new leads. Sincere, relatable client comments can serve as engaging referrals. They can be the key to a moving a prospect toward a buying decision or nudging them to take a closer look at your service offerings. Seventy-eight percent of consumers trust peer recommendations.

Prospects who read positive feedback from your clients often warm up to your offerings.

The most powerful testimonials are detailed and specific, but not too long. Testimonials that are be too generic or vague run the risk of losing their effect. Look for some clear, tangible benefit or solution that you have provided your client. Always use the real name and title of the client; it adds more weight to the testimonial.  Anonymous testimonials lose their effectiveness and can give the impression that the comments are not real.

Rotate the testimonials you use within your marketing materials. If you gather testimonials on a consistent basis, you’ll have new ones ready to go whenever you launch a new direct mail campaign, print a new brochure, redesign a marketing piece or include them in proposals. Add a photo or video to the testimonial. Accompanying quotes with a photo can increase the trust factor – placing a face with the name. By incorporating images, video and audio, you can dramatically increase their credibility. Consider using the testimonials as client spotlights in an email newsletter article, on social media platforms or on your website. The opportunities to use great testimonials are endless.

How to get (and format) great client testimonials.  

Whenever you are speaking with a client, and you receive a compliment or have just concluded a meeting, you should request a testimonial. One way to make this an easy process is to set up a recording device so that you can record their comments right then and there. You can transcribe them later. Be sure to tell the client that you are recording, and ask permission first.  Get them to sign off on the testimonial, and let them know how it will be used. Consider a case study approach to obtaining testimonials – specify a problem and how it was solved.

A quality testimonial should include the following elements:

  1. Your client’s full name, title and company name
  2. A benefit or solution for the reader – some level of pain that they might be experiencing and how a solution was derived from the strength of your product or service
  3. Include an engaging photo, professional head-shot of your client or record a video testimonial
  4. Highlight the main points that you would like to emphasize; for example:

We reduced mailing costs by more than $15,000 in one year — and next year we’ll save more as newsletter readers have become accustomed to e-marketing alternatives.”

Without hesitation, I can recommend the BizActions professional newsletter product as a cost-effective tool in your firm’s business development efforts.”

Don’t just use testimonials – have a strategy.

Integrate your collection of testimonials in your marketing materials: client comments page on your website, social media (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter & Blog), B2B email campaigns, direct mail campaigns, targeted email newsletters, presentations, advertising, tools for your sales team – repurpose them everywhere you can, including in proposals. If you use testimonials in your proposals, use them by industry or vertical. Relevance matters.

Create videos of client testimonials, and turn them into case studies. In today’s environment, it is easy to post videos to your website and link them everywhere. You can post them on YouTube, Facebook and LinkedIn. Who knows? They might become viral.

Include a testimonial in your direct mail pieces, i.e., cover letters that accompany your brochures, marketing collateral and other print campaigns. If you send a sales letter or brochure, use a testimonial from an industry peer. This way, the prospect can connect with your message rather than viewing it as just another sales piece. Peer testimonials are one of the top influences on certain types of products and services.

Don’t underestimate the power of using testimonials to help grow your business and be sure to integrate them into all of your marketing and sales initiatives.

 
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Posted in: Business Growth, Email Marketing, Marketing, Marketing Best Practices, Newsletters

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Webinar & CPE: Using Content to Create Marketing LOVE

Webinar & CPE: Using Content to Create Marketing LOVE

Learn how to use content to create marketing pieces that will be loved by prospects and partners alike
(while getting free CPE).

Join us and Alan Vitberg, Owner and Chief Marketing Guru at VitbergLLC, on Tuesday, July 29. Alan will be presenting this informative marketing best practices session designed to give accounting firm partners, marketing committees and firm marketing staff an overview of the principles, strategies and components of content marketing that generate interest and new leads.

Using Content to Create Marketing that
Prospects (and Partners) LOVE

Tuesday, July 29, 2014
2:00 – 3:00 PM EDT
Earn one hour of Specialized Knowledge and Applications CPE credit

Register for Our Free Webinar: Content Marketing for CPA Firms

 

Alan will cover a variety of topics, including:

  • The key characteristics of creating marketing that people love
  • The benefits – and costs – of content marketing
  • Examples of great CPA firm content that produces results
  • The critical tools and technologies needed for content marketing
  • The role of content in lead generation (…AND a case study!)
  • How firms are using content marketing to build partners’ personal brands
  • Measuring the ROI of content marketing

We hope you can register today and join us! During this informative webinar, you’ll learn how to identify and resolve content marketing issues, from getting partner commitment to getting firm resources. You’ll also discover how content marketing strategies will help convert prospects into new business for your firm.

 
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Posted in: Company News, Content Marketing, CPA Accounting Firm Management, CPA Firm Marketing, Lead Generation, Marketing, Upcoming Events

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5 Things You Must Do To Convert a Lead Into a Sale

5 Things You Must Do To Convert a Lead Into a Sale

Bravo! You’ve generated some leads. Now what?

If business development consisted solely of lead generation, more accounting, law and financial services firms would be a lot more successful. But it’s really only the midpoint of the process that starts with marketing and ends with an engagement.

What you do with the leads you generate is every bit as important as what you do to generate them.

Here are five things you must do to convert a lead into a sale.

1. Call the lead ASAP

The sooner you make contact with a lead, the better, especially if the lead came in through an email, voicemail or social media message. According to a study of 3.5 million leads by Velocify entitled The Ultimate Contact Strategy, speed is the single most important factor in lead conversion: Phoning a new prospect within a minute of getting a lead improves conversion rates by 391% compared to making the first call at a later time. This figure drops to 160% for calls made within two minutes, 98% for calls within three minutes and 36% for calls made within an hour of receiving a lead. In 24 hours, the number dips to a 17% improvement.

2. Call more than once

The same study found that, although contacting a prospect often requires more than one call, 50% of leads are never called a second time! The data also shows that 93% of all leads that convert are reached by the sixth call attempt, and just 7% of leads are converted after a seventh call attempt. Such diminishing returns suggest that while making up to six calls is a good idea, making more than that may not be worth the effort.

3. Combine follow up calls with email

To increase the chances of achieving contact with a prospect, consider sending emails between phone calls. The Velocify study found that doing this raised the chance of phone contact by 16%. The best results were achieved when the first email was sent within 20 minutes of receiving a lead after trying to make contact by phone — this boosted conversion by 49%! (Yet 59% of the prospects in the study never got a single email.) Emails sent on the 4th, 8th, 15th and 22nd day after receiving a lead also boosted the chance of making phone contact. But more than five emails had diminishing returns.

4. Do more listening than selling

Prospective clients are less interested in what you can do or offer than in having their needs met. So asking “How can I help you?” and then listening carefully to what a prospect says is still a great way to start the conversion process. Your goal should be not to sell a service but to build trust and to establish yourself as someone who can help the prospect solve a problem, meet a need or achieve a goal. To do this, your sales team must thoroughly understand your products and services, as well as your market. It must also be trained to listen to prospects, educate them about how you can be of service and counter any objections they have.

5. Qualify leads and focus on the best

Not all leads are created equal. Some prospects may simply be curious rather than interested. Others may sincerely want the services you offer, but be unable to afford them. Still others may have misunderstood what you offer and don’t want or need that. Once you’ve made contact, it’s important to find out whether it’s worth your time to go much further with a prospect. As Wendy Connick points out, one of the first things you need to do is determine whether the person you’re talking to is authorized to make the decision to buy from you. You also need to find out what it is that prompted them to contact you. Asking that can give you an idea of whether you can really be of service and, if so, how to show them the benefits of engaging your firm.

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Posted in: Business Development, Employee Performance, Lead Generation, Sales Strategies

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Lead Nurturing: The Key to Successful Prospecting

Lead Nurturing: The Key to Successful Prospecting

Finding your next potential client is a valuable endeavor. You spend marketing and advertising dollars, as well as countless hours of labor, to capture the data that connects you with your next great lead. But, how often do we let leads slip away after the first contact? The key to successful prospecting is to nurture the relationships you have begun with your new leads.

Don’t let your hard-earned prospects slip into the hands of your competitors. Develop relationships with your prospects now that create loyalty and lead to future sales.

“80% of marketing expenditures on lead generation and collateral go to waste for lack of commitment and discipline, ending up in the scrap heap because the sales department doesn’t know what to do with them.”
-Brian Carroll, the founder and CEO of InTouch

Even though you may have located a prospective client through your lead generation efforts, this doesn’t necessarily mean that the prospect is ready to buy right at that moment. Each prospect has their own unique set of circumstances, thought patterns and emotional responses that lead to a purchase decision. The best way to make sure you are positioned as the go-to resource when a prospect is ready to buy is through consistent lead nurturing efforts.

Lead nurturing is all about building relationships over time. The old sales tactic of calling a prospect every few months to see if they are ready to buy is not effective as a stand-alone strategy. Although calling a prospect may be required to close the sale, a less intrusive approach in the form of informative content marketing will bring your prospects to the point where they are interested in buying; not being sold to.

A lead nurturing campaign, sometimes referred to as a drip marketing campaign, is a series of targeted messages that are sent based on a lead’s response, interest or behavior. Lead nurturing campaigns allow you to focus effort on the leads who express or demonstrate interest in your messaging, gently moving them toward completing the sales cycle.

Consider the scenario of a campaign focused on marketing your next educational webinar:

  • Your firm sends a webinar invitation to a number of new prospects through a targeted email message
  • The invitation is repeated in your firm’s email newsletter and social media promotions
  • A prospect opens the message and clicks the link to register for the webinar
  • In response to registration, another email message is sent three days later with a link to a relevant free whitepaper that documents a particular aspect discussed in the webinar
  • If a lead does not click the link in the webinar invitation, a different message is sent two weeks later with an industry comparison to reinforce the reputation of your firm and the value of your information
  • If the lead does not click through to the industry comparison, a free consultation offer is sent about a week later
  • If the lead does open and click through to the industry comparison, the lead is sent a message that links to a relevant, informative article which contains a client testimonial and “contact us” call to action
  • Following the webinar, those who attended the session receive a “thank you” message which includes related resources presented during the session and an invitation to attend the next webinar
  • For those who did not register, a “sorry we missed you” message is sent containing a link to the session recording and an invitation to attend the next webinar

On and on the flow of communication goes with common “if-this-then-what” scenarios built in until your prospect becomes familiar with your firm, understands the scope and value of your service offerings and is ready to take that phone call to engage in a meaningful discourse.

Marketing professionals know that lead nurturing is a lot like dating. No one ever accepts the marriage proposal before the first date, the first hand-holding or that first kiss. In fact, the marriage usually comes quite a while after the relationship has begun and trust is established. Use your lead nurturing efforts to ensure that you are maximizing the value of your hard-earned leads in a way that results in new business relationships and growth for your firm.

 
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Posted in: Business Growth, Lead Generation, Marketing, Prospecting

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