Is Video the Key to a Successful Marketing Strategy?

Video Marketing

Now that the holidays are over and a new year is well under way, it’s time to get serious about your business and your marketing strategy. (Don’t worry, this won’t be as bad as you think!)

At the end of the year, I came across a post from TopRank Marketing detailing some content marketing predictions for this year. As you may have guessed from this and other articles you’ve come across, video is predicted to play an even bigger role in business’ marketing plans this year.

One major reason businesses are taking to video is because of the increased organic reach they tend to get on social media…so far. Live video especially tends to incur a little extra favoritism from popular social media channels (Facebook and Twitter come to mind).

Since so many businesses are planning their 2017 marketing strategy only around video, it’s very important that you diversify your strategy. Video and ‘going live’ on social media are definitely useful ways to reach your target audience, don’t get me wrong. You should definitely plan to incorporate plenty of video into your marketing plan. With a slew of predictions written up at the end of 2016 all pointing to video as the marketing tool of the year though, there will be lots more competition out there. Eventually, this could lead to video content receiving lower organic reach since social media will become saturated with it. Lower organic reach may mean you will need to budget a few extra dollars to put behind your video content as well.

Here are a few pointers on how to incorporate video into your marketing plan without going overboard and relying solely on video this year:

  • Start by reviewing your marketing plan. As you’re reviewing it, make sure you’ve planned several videos that you’ll create and share throughout the year.
  • Don’t be afraid to go live during an event or other exciting happening that pertains to you or your business. An open house or grand opening of a satellite location are perfect events for going live.
  • Do make sure you have plenty of written content paired with photos and graphics to share with your audience. Social media users tend to prefer visual content, whether that’s video or still photos.
  • Above all, make sure the information you’re creating and sharing is relevant to your audience and is of excellent quality.

Variety is the spice of life, or so the saying goes. This applies to marketing, too! Your marketing plan should have a healthy mix of a few types of content so your audience doesn’t get bored. You also don’t want to bet everything on only one type of content, because that’s what many other businesses are going to be doing this year. Happy planning!

 

 

Should Your Business be on Social Media?

Social Media for Business

In a short answer: yes.

The longer answer: almost certainly, with very few exceptions.

The long answer (okay, short blog post in answer to the question):

Most businesses should be on social media. Hootsuite has a great post with in-depth statistics on social media and businesses, and reports that 50 million businesses are on Facebook. More than 40% of people here in the U.S. believe it’s important for organizations they interact with to be on social media. That’s a pretty important statistic to take note of!

Let me put it this way: If four out of ten of your clients want to interact with you on social media but you aren’t on it, what kind of message is that sending to nearly half of your clients? Hint: it’s saying that you really don’t care about how they want to do business or get to know you. (Or at least giving that impression.)

As a business owner, you know it’s vital that you are responding to your clients and providing value to them. That value can be in the form of excellent customer service, superior products and delivering a great experience. Have you ever thought that you could provide value to your clients through social media channels like Facebook or LinkedIn? You can!

Still not convinced? Deluxe did some research and found that about half of people who use their phone to search for a business will actually step foot into that business in the next day. The upshot of this is that most of us have smartphones today. Most of us are also going to search for businesses online before we call them or stop in at a store. If that potential client searching for you can’t find you online–through your website or through a social media profile like Facebook–they’re not going to become a customer.

In today’s world, if you aren’t online it’s like you don’t exist.

Before you go and create business profiles on eight different social media sites though, stop and do a bit of research. Identify your target audience and your ideal client; what social media channels do they most use? What kind of problems can you solve for them? What kind of value could you provide on Facebook vs. LinkedIn?

As you’re doing your research, make sure you are relatively comfortable with the social media channels you choose. Start out with one, maybe two, and set up your business’ profiles. Make sure you take the time to consistently post on whichever channel you choose, and be absolutely sure to take the time to respond to and interact with your fans or followers. Social media is about relationships after all!

Getting started with social media can be a bit overwhelming, so don’t be afraid to reach out for help or delegate tasks. Partnering with a marketing consultant can be very beneficial to you, especially if you’re just getting started with social media sites. Now, what are you waiting for?

 

 

New Year’s Reset on Insurance Goals

Insurance Agency Marketing Plan

It’s officially the ‘new year’ and the revelry from ringing in 2017 has started to die down. Life resumes its routines and you’re preparing to head back to work as usual.

Then you remember: the start of a new year means your sales numbers reset to a big zero.

You may have blasted your policy sales goals out of the water in 2016 or you may have missed the mark. No matter what, 2017 means you need to be planning and using marketing and business strategies to your advantage to help you move your insurance agency forward.

If you haven’t done so already, take the time to review what you did to market your agency in 2016. If you reached or exceeded your policy goals for 2016, take stock of what marketing activities helped you get there. Did you focus on brand or name recognition last year? Or maybe you budgeted money to spend on Facebook ads and boosted posts for your agency Facebook page. Whatever worked well, keep doing it.

If you fell a bit short of your sales goals, don’t sweat it too much. That big ‘zero’ that came around at the first of the year is a fresh start, a chance to regroup and revitalize your marketing to improve sales in 2017. First, did you have a marketing plan for 2016? If not, start sketching one out to help you achieve your business goals. Here are a few things to consider implementing for your agency in 2017:

  • Personalized Insurance Reviews
    • Taking time to review existing coverage with each of your clients strengthens the relationship you have with them. These reviews are also great opportunities to address gaps in coverage and cross sell (when appropriate, of course).
  • Referral Program
    • Create a consistent framework that’s easy for you and your staff to follow so you remember to ask for referrals. For example, put a sticker on the back of your business card that says “We love referrals!” This is an extremely simple way to keep referrals top of mind–for you and your clients.
  • Direct Mail
    • Yes, I am talking about snail mail! Don’t completely disregard this marketing avenue; it may be old-school, but sometimes it’s the right way to go. There are many different regulations on sending emails to former clients, and an eye-catching postcard might be just the thing to prompt them to give you a call and ask for new insurance quotes.
  • Social Media
    • Is your agency on Facebook? If not, I strongly recommend considering creating a business page. You have a wealth of knowledge as an insurance agent, so why not share some of it with your prospects on social media? It’s a great way to position yourself as an expert or authority in your industry.

As you’re evaluating your marketing plan, it’s smart to consider bringing someone in to delegate your marketing tasks to. As your agency grows, you’ll have less and less time to devote to marketing (which is a good problem to have). Your time is better spent doing what you do best: providing insurance expertise to your clients.

Whether or not 2016 was a banner year for your insurance agency, as a business owner your priority should be your clients. Stay focused on helping them with their insurance needs and bring in a marketing consultant to help your agency get more leads!

2017 Marketing Plan (Updated)

Marketing Plan

This post from October 2016 has been updated with new information. You may still view the original marketing plan blog.

Have you started thinking about your marketing plan for 2017?

The year has flown by, and if you’re going to get ahead of 2017 it’s important to work on your business and marketing plans…now.

Marketing Planning

Since we’re so close to the end of the year, you may want to consider scheduling time over the weekend to sit down with a cup of coffee (or three) and plan out a rough sketch of your 2017 marketing plan. Use paper and pen or use digital tools like Excel or Word; the key is finding what you’re comfortable with so that you’ll stick with it throughout the next 365 days.

Start planning now for important dates and events throughout 2017 that you want your prospects and clients to know about. If your insurance agency or retail store has a Customer Appreciation Day for example, you need to get out in front of that with your marketing efforts so your customers know to stop by and be appreciated.

Consider any important events that occur each year as well. What month is your business anniversary? Maybe you could offer a promotion or a giveaway that month. Don’t forget about holidays when you’re mapping out your business’ marketing strategy as well. Not only should you be acknowledging holidays you (and your clients) feel are important, you might want to think about running promotions around certain holidays as well. We all know “Black Friday” is a popular sales holiday, but get creative and come up with your own promotion that stands out.

If you’ve never created a marketing plan before, don’t panic. It is never too late to start one, and they don’t have to be overly complicated. Taking the time today to identify important dates or events in the coming year will put you way ahead of many business owners, and you’ll feel better once you’ve taken a bit of time to map out where your business is headed in 2017.

As it happens, I have a few days open before the end of the year. If you’d like some help getting started on your marketing plan for the coming year, please feel free to email me so we can get your marketing mapped out before the end of 2016 (brittany@bvanderbillconsulting.com).

LinkedIn & the Dreaded Writer’s Block

LinkedIn Writer's Block

Did you ever have something work-related that you just kept putting off, even though you knew you needed to do it?

Me, too.

LinkedIn help

Me, too!

Actually, I’m a bit embarrassed to admit this but I have been putting off completing my LinkedIn profile. Yes, even though I know I really need to complete it. Yes, even though I have delivered several presentations on ways to get the most out of LinkedIn (hint: it involves completing your profile–duh).

In my defense, I do have most of my profile completed. I have a profile photo, updated skills and endorsements, volunteer experience and a (partially) completed work history.

Until today!

Yes, I’ve finally done what I’ve been putting off for a long time and filled in the description boxes under each of my work entries. It really wasn’t as bad as I have been building it up to be and it didn’t take me that long, either. But it’s not easy for me to write about me.

I hear this frequently from my clients, and I completely understand. I can write up a fantastic description for clients that makes them shine like the rockstars they are, but when it comes to writing about my own work experience…I suffer from writer’s block! (And that bad habit of procrastination, but that’s another story.)

I’m happy to say that I now have a complete profile. Feel free to review my LinkedIn profile and let me know your thoughts. While you’re there, it’s a good time to check out your own profile. If you find that it’s  incomplete or needs a bit of a refresh, send me a connection request and a message on LinkedIn so I can help you out. Trust me, it’s much easier to get help and it probably doesn’t cost as much as you might think!

Outsourcing Your Business’ Marketing

Marketing

Have you ever wondered when is the right time to get some help with your marketing but weren’t sure who to turn to or even where to start? If so, you’re not alone. Just head to your favorite search engine and enter in a phrase such as ‘should I outsource my marketing’ or ‘when to outsource marketing for business’ and you’ll find hundreds (if you even click past page 1) of blogs and articles on this very topic.

Since your time is valuable, I’m going to save you a bit of work. I’ve put together some information about your options for outsourcing marketing, examples of what to look for in a marketing consultant or agency, and pointers on how to get started finding qualified marketing help.

Join me this Thursday, December 1st, at 8am at WorkUp in Willmar for Social Media Breakfast. You’ll get coffee, a light breakfast and some great conversation about how to outsource your marketing. If you can’t make it on Thursday, contact me and I’ll send you my PowerPoint guide. Hope to see you on Thursday!

Marketing

Outsourcing Your Marketing

 

Marketing Plan: 2017

Marketing Plan

Have you started thinking about your marketing plan for 2017?

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via GIPHY

I know, it’s only October but also…it’s already October! The year is flying by, and if you’re going to get ahead of 2017 it’s important to work on your business and marketing plans now.

If you’re anything like most small business owners, you might be guilty of always putting your clients first–maybe even to a fault. While it’s incredibly important to keep your clients happy and make sure you’re working hard for them, it’s essential that you take some time to regularly work on your business, too. It can be difficult setting aside a client’s project to work on your own business, but it’s vital that you do so.

Marketing Planning

I find it useful to block off some time every week to work on building and improving my own business. That might mean reviewing my existing ad campaigns on Facebook or creating a new campaign, or it might mean taking some time to plan out my next few months of content for my business blog.

I will be the first to admit that blocking time does not always work how it’s supposed to, though. Emergencies come up that are unavoidable, and the last thing you should do is ignore a client in their time of need. But if you get a good handle on project deadlines and manage expectations up front, there is no reason for you as a business owner not to block off a couple of hours per week to work on improving your business.

For example, have you thought about your marketing strategy for 2017 yet? It can feel like January 1 is far away, but I assure you it will be here before we know it. If you have a marketing strategy in place for the current year, I commend you! But a marketing strategy is not simply a ‘cut and paste’ type of plan that you can just copy and reuse each year. Just think of how fast technology changes; what might be the hottest social media marketing platform this year could end up outdated for 2017.

Don’t let your marketing strategy wither in the corner and become outdated. Start planning now for important dates and events throughout 2017 that you want your prospects and clients to know about. If your insurance agency or retail store has a Customer Appreciation Day for example, you need to get out in front of that with your marketing efforts so your customers know to stop by and be appreciated.

Consider any important events that occur each year as well. What month is your business anniversary? Maybe you could offer a promotion or a giveaway that month. Don’t forget about holidays when you’re mapping out your business’ marketing strategy as well. Not only should you be acknowledging holidays you (and your clients) feel are important, you might want to think about running promotions around certain holidays as well. We all know “Black Friday” is a popular sales holiday, but get creative and come up with your own promotion that stands out.

If you’ve never created a marketing plan before, don’t panic. It is never too late to start one, and they don’t have to be overly complicated. Taking the time today to identify important dates or events in the coming year will put you way ahead of many business owners, and you’ll feel better once you’ve taken a bit of time to map out where your business is headed in 2017.

Marketing Strategy

As always, I would be happy to meet with you at your office to talk about marketing and growing your business. All you have to do is ask!

#78 of 100 Marketing Tips for Insurance Agents

LinkedIn for Insurance Agencies

If you work in an insurance agency, you’ve probably happened across this really awesome marketing website for insurance agents. As I mentioned before, it can be really difficult to create fun and effective marketing materials for your insurance agency, and Insurance Splash is a tremendous resource for agents.

I came across one of their posts with 100 marketing ideas for insurance agents recently and thought I’d share in case it helps any of you in the insurance industry. I know this list is a bit lengthy, so if you only have time to read one of these tips today make sure you read #78 on leveraging LinkedIn.

You probably have a personal profile on LinkedIn. How long has it been since you last logged in and spent a few minutes polishing up your profile? In my former life as an insurance agent, I always found it interesting how agents’ profile photos on LinkedIn looked nothing like the agent. I would walk into a room full of veteran agents and, despite having connected with them on LinkedIn, recognized exactly none of them. Most of the agents I know used a professional head shot from 20 (sometimes 30 or 40) years ago. I don’t know about you, but I certainly have experienced the aging process and do not look the same as I did a few years ago!

If this sounds familiar to you, go check your LinkedIn profile. Update your profile picture and while you’re logged in, take a look through your contact information. Is it updated and accurate? Go through your work history and make sure your agency name is displayed. For one thing, Google and other search engines include your LinkedIn profile in search results. Also, people will use the search bar within the social media site to find professionals with certain job titles or in specific industries.

You get where I’m going with this, right?

Prospects are looking for you on LinkedIn! You don’t need to spend hours updating your profile or making connections, but don’t miss out on the opportunity to present your name and your agency name to your prospects. As an agent, you know it can (and usually does) take multiple touches for a prospect to pick up the phone or walk into your office and ask you to quote their insurance. LinkedIn provides another professional, polished and relatively easy way for you to add another touchpoint.

If you need help getting started or you aren’t sure what to do once you’re on LinkedIn, contact me!

Facebook Video Marketing for $1 per Day

Facebook video posts for $1 per day

You might have seen a blog post I wrote recently about the Social Media Rockstar event in Willmar, Minnesota recently. In case you didn’t have time to read it, let me quickly summarize it by saying it was an event packed full of helpful information and amazing speakers.

One of the sessions included Dennis Yu speaking about Facebook marketing. Specifically, he proposed that businesses should start by spending $1 per day boosting Facebook posts to see results. Dennis Yu knows his stuff, so of course I had to try it! Here’s what happened:

First, at the suggestion of Dennis I recorded a one minute long video to share a snippet of what I learned from the event. If you know me, you know taking video selfies is not my favorite thing to do–but hey, when you have someone who’s amazing at Facebook ad campaigns telling you the one thing you need to do right now…you do it!

I chose to focus on the lessons I learned from Yu’s talk about creating useful content through video and targeting the right audience on Facebook, then spending only $1 per day on boosting the post. So I recorded the video, posted it to Facebook, and set a budget of $7 with an ad timeline of seven days.

Then, I waited.

Facebook video marketing

I started seeing the paid reach on the post increase of course, but with a relatively low number of Facebook fans (feel free to like my page, by the way) I honestly didn’t expect much. To my surprise at the end of the campaign, and with only $7 spent, there were over 3,500 people reached with more than 1,400 views on the video. Of those views, 475 of them watched the video for longer than 10 seconds. I ended up with 24 reactions, comments or shares.

To give you a comparison, I previously paid to promote my business page and only reached 890 people. Want to guess how much I spent on this? Twenty dollars. Versus the $7 spent to promote a one minute video. Yes, these are different ways of ‘paying to play’ on Facebook, but that’s quite a difference in budget and reach as well.

Now, to be honest I certainly didn’t have anyone beating down my door to hire me for marketing services after this campaign. This video was done quickly and more or less as an experiment, so know I need to do some refining in terms of audience customization and additional content. But I was pretty impressed with the reach I could achieve with literally only one dollar per day on Facebook.

Are you inspired to start reaching more people with only $1?

Social Media Rules and Etiquette

Social Media Handbook

I came across an article about Instagram updates recently, which got me thinking about common sense, rules and etiquette in the world of social media. This article mentioned a few Instagram updates of course, but went on to mention a couple of particularly nasty incidences of people being, quite frankly, terrible human beings. Most of you probably realize what is and is not acceptable to post on social media, but I don’t think it hurts for all of us to have a quick refresher.

So without further ado, here are a few basic guidelines that apply to everyone using any form of social media, including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter…and the internet in general.

Don’t post anything you wouldn’t want your grandmother to see

This may be a bit trite, but if you’re thinking about posting something and you aren’t sure if you should…think about your grandma (or other relative that would frown on any behavior a few notches below respectful). If you post that photo to Instagram or retweet that dubious article on Twitter, would you be okay with your grandma seeing it? Or would you be absolutely horrified and/or embarrassed? If you’re thinking you’re glad Grandma doesn’t have Twitter, then it’s probably best not to post it. Unless you’re Howard Stern or some other brash personality (but that’s a blog post for another day).

Be kind

There are millions of posts out there in social media world that probably never should have been posted to begin with. It’s so easy for someone to hide behind a computer or phone screen and spout hate or unnecessarily negative comments. It should go without saying but, don’t do that. Be kind, and to add a social media twist to a well-known cliche… If you can’t post anything nice (or at least figure out a way to tactfully state your opinion) then don’t post anything at all.

Give credit

Did you read a fantastic article on someone’s blog recently? Great, feel free to share in most cases! But if you do decide to share, or even create your own blog post about it, make sure to provide credit to the original author when appropriate. That may be as simple as a quick mention with a link to the original article, or you might insert a direct quote along with the name of the author and their website. If you’re posting it to Facebook, sharing the link to the article ought to do the trick since links auto-populate for you in Facebook.

Don’t be a troll

If you’re a 90’s kid, you might be picturing those odd little creatures with pink hair right about now but I’m talking about a different kind of troll. I’m talking about the kind of troll who purposely posts provocative or downright mean comments on other peoples’ social media profiles to start an argument. Or maybe they just want attention, who knows. It’s completely fine, and even a good thing, to disagree with someone’s Facebook post. Just make sure you disagree or state your opinion in a tactful way, without baiting someone to get into an argument just because you like arguments and making people feel bad about themselves. Those types of trolls are definitely not desirable!

These short social media guidelines are (hopefully) mostly common sense, but sometimes it is nice to have a refresher. Or if you’re just starting out in the world of social media, these are helpful guidelines for you to remember. And if all else fails, you know you can contact me for help with your social media needs!