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We have more control than we think

April 29, 2020

Let’s be honest — as business leaders, we like control. We get to call a lot of the shots. And much of our success is a result of our efforts.

This is why this worldwide pandemic has knocked us so far off our game.  It feels like we’ve been stripped of all control. I’m talking to business owners every day. Some have lost a significant portion of their business. Others are busier than ever and hiring. And yet — they’re all panicked at precisely the same level. Everyone is feeling like they’re on a fault line, just waiting for the earthquake. They don’t know when or if it will come or how powerful it will be.  And so, they assume the worst and get paralyzed.

But that couldn’t be further from the truth. You’re actually in total control. You may not control all of the variables, but what you do control is the final result. You possess everything you need to guide your organization to the other side.

You need five mini-plans of action. But before we get into the mini-plans, let’s agree on some truths.

Truth #1: Here’s the most important truth that I think you need to internalize and whisper to yourself when you feel the fear creeping in. You’re going to be fine. You’ll be able to keep feeding your family. You’re not going to lose your house. You may have to completely reinvent how you go to market or who you serve — but you’re good at this.

Truth #2: You can’t control how long this crisis will last, how your clients will react, who will be ready to buy, or how your team will respond. But we can manage our way around them. You’ve been doing it for years.

Truth #3: This crisis is going to shine a blinding light on all the places within your business that have flaws and cracks. You can wallow in the brokenness, or you can be grateful for the insight and fix what needs to be fixed.

Truth #4: You can shed the malaise and get to work today. Or next month. The only difference will be how many competitors got out ahead of you. Don’t give away your advantage by staying stuck for too long.

Here are the mini-plans I suggest you have in place within the next few weeks:

Operational/financial plan: How will you get the work done on time and on budget? Then, determine the minimum acceptable profit margin for your business and manage your way to never dipping below it.

Team plan: How will you keep them motivated, efficient, profitable, and striving to serve each other and your clients?

Client plan: You need to proactively guide each client into a position of readiness so that when they can step back in — they’re ready and more prepared than their competitors.

Prospect plan: What can you talk about that will be valuable, based on what your prospects are ready to hear at any given moment in time.

Vision of the future plan: What parts of normal are worth rushing back to, and what could/should be different? How do you get even better?

With every one of these plans — you get to set the course. I’m not saying any of this is going to be easy or without sacrifice. But what I am saying, as loudly and clearly as I can, is that you can do this. You don’t need one thing more than what you have right now.

And how we show up right now as leaders both internally and externally is the most critical marketing we can do right now.

Originally published in The Des Moines Business Record as part of Drew’s weekly column series.

 

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Social media fails during a crisis

April 22, 2020

I covered this not 6 months ago but feel that the situation each and every one of us finds ourselves in today, calls for us to revisit social media and the way it has changed the way we learn about, share and react to big events – good or bad. We rush to it to celebrate but we also rush to it when the world is in danger or a tragedy has occurred, whether it’s a natural disaster like a hurricane or the situation we are in today, the spread of the Coronavirus or COVID-19.

For many of us, social media has replaced traditional media and news sources for that initial alert. I don’t know about you, but I learn something new every day about the Coronavirus on-line. It’s true that I, and many of you, still turn to our more traditional news outlets for ongoing news and updates, but Facebook and Twitter seem to not only inform us of the minute by minute happenings but social media uniquely reflects the sentiments and the humanity of the situation.

When we’re in crisis, we want more than the facts. We want to share the experience. We want to express our outrage or sympathy. It’s the emotion of the moment that pulls us into the social channels and keeps us there, eager to participate.

That’s why people react so strongly when a gaffe occurs. The emotions are so heightened that when someone does or says something insensitive or self-serving, people go nuts.

So, how should we handle social media when the country or the world is in crisis? The truth is, if it’s not handled well, you can create your own crisis. And where will it explode? On social media, of course.

When your brand stumbles on a regular old day, you may get blasted for it, but it passes. But when you fail during a heightened time of emotion and scrutiny – that can stick on your brand forever.

Here are some social media fails to avoid when the world around you is focusing on something serious.

Curb all regular postings: This is not the time to share articles, post photos or promote your business. And by the way – doing any sort of hybrid posting where you speak of the situation AND your company just smacks of borrowing from someone else’s sorrow for your own gain.

Pause all auto postings and auto-tweets: Many people use tools that auto-populate their feeds with great content. But accidentally acting like everything is normal when it most definitely is not can make your brand look at best, out of touch and worst, insensitive.

Don’t use the tragedy to get social cred: This is not the time to solicit likes or followers, even if you offer donations or some other support for whoever is suffering. Profiting in any way from the circumstance makes you look petty.

It’s never funny: I’m sort of stunned when it happens but it seems like some moronic brand always tries their hand at humor. Trust me, it’s never funny. During Hurricane Sandy, Gap joked in a tweet that everyone should just stay inside and hit gap.com for some retail therapy, not unlike some other brands doing the same right now since we are all supposed to be staying at home as much as possible.

Make sure you know which profile you’re using: There have been many incidents where a social media brand manager thought they were using their own personal account to comment on a tragedy or social happening and instead, embarrassed their brand and got themselves fired.

Do all of these faux pas mean you have to stay silent during a national or international crisis? Absolutely not. Share authentic emotion. Let them see the humanity behind your brand.

Be a resource. Be encouraging. Be genuinely helpful. Be real.

Just don’t be a social media failure. This isn’t the time to promote, profit or proselytize. It’s time to be human.

This was originally published in the Des Moines Business Record, as one of Drew’s weekly columns.

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I can’t hear you

April 15, 2020

If you have children or an obstinate dog, you know what it feels like to be speaking perfectly clear and simple English, and yet it’s like you are alone in the room. The dog is engrossed in a bone or chasing the cat. Your kid is watching their favorite TV show or has their nose in their iPad or computer game.

You could be offering them a million dollars (or a million bones), and they’re just not on the same frequency. They might not even notice that you’re talking because you’re on the wrong wavelength.

That’s the reality of the marketplace right now. There is no special pricing, no coupon, no financing option that you can offer right now that is going to draw your prospect’s attention away from where they’re focused.

Right now, they’re worried about their job security, if their business will survive the COVID-19 shutdown, homeschooling, finding toilet paper, and fashioning a mask for their next grocery store outing.

Previously we discussed that until they’ve answered these very basic needs, they’re just not going to be receptive to any sales message unless what you happen to sell helps them solve one of the problems they’re focused on right now.

If you’ve been watching TV or been online, you’ve started to notice a shift in advertising messaging. It has moved away from selling, and most of the more prominent national brands are simply saluting everyday heroes like doctors, nurses, and first responders. Or they’ve modified something in their delivery model to better serve their audience during this shelter-in-place economy.

They are speaking to their audience in a way that they can be heard because they’re talking about the same topics that are already occupying the minds of their constituency.  They’re finding the frequency that the audience is tuned into and showing up there.

What frequency should you be broadcasting from? Right now, it’s the community outreach frequency.

You could:

  • Host a drive-through food bank drop off at your location (car dealerships)
  • Create downloadable posters with positive messages that kids could color and their families could hang on their front door (any business that works with kids)
  • Curate easy to cook dinner recipes from within your community of customers (local restaurant)
  • Offer simple mask making instructions along with a how-to YouTube video (fabric store or security company)
  • Collect donations to provide food and shelter for all of the animals being abandoned at this time (vet clinic or pet supply store)
  • Offer your products or services for free for first responders, medical professionals or delivery drivers (just about anyone)
  • Offer free counsel to business owners (attorneys, CPA, etc.)

The key to this act of service is that it needs to be tied to what you do. If you’re a medical supply company, the mask pattern makes sense.

It doesn’t make sense if you’re an HVAC company. But all of us can and should do something. It’s the only frequency our audience can hear right now.

Then, use your advertising dollars, social channels, customer groups, and any other communications vehicles to invite your customers, prospects, and the community to join with you to help. Or, use those same outlets to celebrate and thank our local heroes.

For example, Big Al’s BBQ & Catering is offering free meals to long haul truck drivers since their food options are pretty limited right now. They can’t go into a restaurant, and you can’t take a big rig through a drive-thru. Big Al’s is promoting their generosity on their Facebook page and inviting their customers to help.

How about you – what could you be saying that your audience is ready to hear?

Originally published in The Des Moines Business Record as part of Drew’s weekly column series.

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The first stage – marketing during a community outbreak

April 8, 2020

There are so many unknowns that we are dealing with today in relation to COVID-19. But there is one certainty. This will pass, and we will move into a new normal. We aren’t going to just pick up where we left off before COVID-19. The truth is – like any other event of significance, this moment in time will change the way we do business. The way we interact will change, in some way, each of us.

But there will be a time, just like after 9/11 and the’ 07-’08 recession when it will feel okay again, and we will go back to business with the same vengeance as before the pandemic.

There are three distinct stages we’ll experience on our way to a new normal, and in each phase, we must think about marketing a little differently.

We are in the first stage, community outbreak. As we’ve all experienced in the last couple of weeks, we have moved into a homebound economy. For most people, they’re still experiencing a mix of disbelief and fear related to the virus. Some have cocooned in their homes, taking social distancing to an extreme. Others, on the opposite side of the spectrum, may be working from home, but they’re still socializing with neighbors on their driveway, going out shopping, and trying to cling to a pre-COVID-19 normal.

As your audiences grapple with accepting this situation, they are not particularly open or in a position to buy anything beyond essentials. Like Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, they’re focused on covering their basics. If you sell to consumers, they’re spending on food and supplies to keep their family safe and entertained. If you sell to businesses, they’re scrambling to figure out how to function with a 100% remote workforce and are worried about their own revenue challenges.

Both groups are hoarding cash out of fear because there are so many unknowns. Even if you offered them the best deal on the planet – they can’t hear you right now.

During this phase, there are two major marketing mistakes you can make. The first and most offensive is to keep selling. At best, you look tone-deaf to the situation, and at the worst, you look greedy and uncaring. The second major mistake is if you go silent. Coming up, I’ll show you data on what happens to organizations that disappear from the marketplace during a financial downtown like the one that followed 9/11.

What we can and should do right now is move from selling to serving our community in any way we can. A great example of that here in Des Moines is RE/MAX Precision. They’re distributing activity packets for four different grades (pre-K to 3rd) free of charge, and the 200+ families who have received the packets have been, as you can imagine, very thankful.

An ad agency in Bangor Maine, Sutherland Weston, created a free guide of all the places and special times that seniors and people with compromised immune systems can shop in their town. Both are excellent examples of how you genuinely help and build your brand at the same time. There’s nothing wrong with doing both.

Beyond serving the needs of the community, which should be our first priority, businesses can and should still be communicating. Instead of selling, shift to educating, and informing. Your audience isn’t in a position to buy right now, but that doesn’t mean you can’t help them today. For now, you can stay relevant and valuable to them by sharing with you know in a way that serves them right now.

Be of genuine service today. It’s the right thing to do. But it will also the right way to market right now.

Originally published in The Des Moines Business Record as part of Drew’s weekly column series.

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Look for the helpers

April 1, 2020

I have always loved the story that Mr. Rogers is credited with:

When I was a boy, and I would see scary things on the news, my mother would say to me, “look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping”. To this day, especially in times of crisis, I remember my mother’s words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world.”

We’ve been talking about shifting your selling focus to a helping focus. Hardcore sales messages are not only going to fall flat right now, but they’re going to be perceived as tone-deaf, given what everyone is going through. There will be a time when we can go back to our usual marketing tactics, but right now is not the time.

You should be shifting your focus to being of service. The first audience that you need to be caring for is your internal team. Elevating the frequency and humanity of your internal communications is critical right now.

Make no mistake – this is marketing. But it is emotionally intelligent marketing. It’s brilliant PR, and it’s demonstrating to your audience that you actually live out your corporate values when life gets complicated.

It’s easy to espouse your values when profits are healthy, and your marketplace is hungry for the work you do or the products you sell. It’s a whole different ballgame when you really don’t have anything to gain in the short run. That’s when we truly show our corporate character.

The other shift you should be asking yourself is how you can help your prospects, customers, and community. Coming up, I’m going to spotlight local businesses who are exemplifying this strategy.

The Foundry at Valley Junction converted an 1890s railcar barn and iron foundry into a distillery, food & beverage hall, and commissary kitchen. News of distilleries using some of the by-products of their normal output to create hand sanitizer hit the internet recently. The owners of the Foundry decided to do the same. Last week, hundreds of cars lined the streets outside The Foundry and handed staff and volunteers empty bottles only to have them filled with free hand sanitizer.

By the time the weekend was done, hundreds of gallons of free sanitizer were distributed to families who had been frantically searching the city for what has been an impossible item to find on store shelves. Even Amazon is sold out.

Thanks to the innovative thinking and kindness of the team at The Foundry, thousands of Des Moines area families are resting a little easier and feeling a little safer.

Your business may not be in a position to give away something as essential as hand sanitizer. But I know that there is something you can do to make surviving this storm easier for someone. This isn’t about the size of the group you’re caring for; it’s about the act of caring.

I want to shine the spotlight on local businesses that are embracing this idea of being a helper. But to do that, I’m going to need your help.

Be on the lookout for the organizations that are shifting from marketing and selling to helping. Send me an email (drew@mclellanmarketing.com) and tell me what they’re doing.

Together we’ll celebrate the helpers, and together we will survive this storm as a community of business owners and leaders. How we show up right now will define who we are long after this crisis is nothing more than an unpleasant memory.

Let’s do all that we can to get each other through this with as few casualties as possible.

Originally published in The Des Moines Business Record as part of Drew’s weekly column series.

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How to market when no one is listening

March 25, 2020

We are in seemingly unprecedented times. As our country and state readies itself for whatever the coronavirus is going to throw at us, it’s a little tough to be thinking about your next marketing tactic.

I want to remind you that this isn’t actually the first time most of us have seen a season like this.

9/11 and the Great Recession were very similar. Events outside of our control had an incredible impact on the economy, our businesses, families, and personal finances. This particular threat feels even more imposing because we’re also facing a health concern.

The country and Iowa will survive this. The question is – how will businesses fare? There’s no doubt that companies will be harmed. Our goal is for you to mitigate as much of the risk as possible and prepare your organization for the calm that always comes after the storm.

That’s the good news – no storm rages on forever. There’s always a calm that comes after the storm has run out of steam. We’ll get to that point too, just like we did after 9/11 or the recession. But first, we have to do all we can to survive the storm.

How do you market when no one is listening, and even if they are, they’re probably not in a position to buy? It’s time to move to a long-term strategy. What you do in these coming weeks isn’t about immediate sales. It’s about making a sale in six months or a year.

This is not the time to capitalize on the situation. I’m already seeing opportunists re-tooling their marketing to seize the opportunity. When people are in panic mode, they don’t react well to feeling taken advantage of by someone they thought they could trust.

No sale or coupon is going to get people to care what you have to sell right now unless it’s a necessity as they wait out this storm.

It’s time to shift entirely into “be of service” mode. It’s time to focus your attention, time, and efforts into helping your customers, prospects, and employees through this season.

How can you help? That’s the question to keep asking yourself. What can you do that will genuinely be of service to your most important audiences? What do we have (access to your product or service, knowledge, introductions, strategic counsel, etc.)?

Let me give you an example.

Shine Distillery & Grill, a small distillery in Portland, OR found a unique way to help. The first batch of alcohol in their distilling process isn’t drinkable. They’ve been throwing it away after using a little bit of it as a cleaning agent to keep their facilities shiny and disinfected.

As they watched people scrambling to find hand sanitizer, it occurred to them that they might be able to help others during the coronavirus. They reached out to local authorities to find out what they would have to do to use their waste alcohol as a sanitizer. Turns out as long as they’re not making medical claims – they can bottle it and give it away. It’s an 80% alcohol solution that is well above the CDC’s 60% recommendation.

Maybe you can’t replicate that. But perhaps you can create some financial relief through a payment program for your customers and then build a communication strategy around that. Perhaps you can hold educational webinars that help your prospects, and customers save money or serve their customers better in this odd moment in time. What if you gave your smaller customers access to some of the perks that your more prominent clients enjoy?

That’s being of service without remuneration. For now. I believe that kind of generosity is our marketing mandate for the next couple of months.

Be of service.

Originally published in The Des Moines Business Record as part of Drew’s weekly column series.

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Sometimes the best marketing is to be silent

March 18, 2020

As the world whips itself up into a panicked frenzy about the coronavirus, there is an inevitable ripple effect. Airlines and hotels are emailing their most loyal customers, telling them what actions they are taking to protect their customers. Events and public venues are doing the same or canceling scheduled events altogether.

Social media is imploding with people sharing accurate and inaccurate information about the virus itself, how to protect yourself from the virus and how the virus is impacting everything from the Corona beer sales to the stock market.

Brands are itching to get into the action, but it is a slippery slope. Lush, the natural soap store, has invited the public to come into any of their stores to wash their hands. Their CEO was quoted as saying, “The simplest thing you can do to not get a virus is to regularly wash your hands,” he said. “So, we’re saying people can come in off the street and wash their hands in our place. We’ve got loads of soap and plenty of hot water.”

What was your reaction to Lush’s gesture? Did you think they were being altruistic, or did it occur to you that it was an interesting way to drive traffic into their stores?

The PR firm 5WPR released a survey saying that 38% of Americans “would not buy Corona beer under any circumstances now.” That headline got the firm a lot of international ink for their findings, which is the holy grail to a PR firm trying to prove they can help clients get media coverage. But, when you dig into their data, only 4% of people who had ever bought Corona in the past answered affirmatively to that question. So, most of the people who said they wouldn’t buy Corona now also never bought it before the coronavirus.

There are widespread reports of price gouging for products related to the worldwide panic. Hand sanitizers, latex gloves, and face masks are flying off the shelves, and some retailers are taking full advantage.

Some of China’s most prominent influencers are cashing in, posting photos of themselves in masks, and sharing buy now links with their audiences. They are offering makeup tips and fashion ideas to make wearing the masks more fashion-forward.

99.99% of all brands should remain silent, steer clear of this situation, and just conduct business as usual, especially if what you sell doesn’t have a genuine association with the virus and health issues around it. Anything you do, even if it is with good intentions, is going to have a tough time passing the whiff test. You are going to be accused of trying to take advantage of the situation for your own gain.

Advertising platforms are also trying to get this under control. Amazon has warned sellers that they are watching for price gouging around antibacterial products, facemasks, and other protective gear. Google has locked down buying specific keywords relative to the disease and products related to it.

The coronavirus crisis will pass, but consumers will remember who tried to take advantage of them when they were frightened. There are no doubt going to be companies who capitalize on the panic. In the short run, they’ll make a lot of money. But, they’re also going to be put on trial in the public forum.

We’ve seen this play out before right after 9/11, hurricanes, oil spills, tornados, and other crises. The organizations that help without looking for financial gain are always the heroes, and those who take advantage are the goats.

Whether you sell antibacterial hand sanitizer or not, odds are your business will make decisions tied to the coronavirus. Just remember that the world is watching.

Originally published in The Des Moines Business Record as part of Drew’s weekly column series.

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Go Old School – Email Marketing

March 11, 2020

Even though it seems a little old school in the days of virtual reality, artificial intelligence and bots – email marketing is still one of the most effective marketing tactics available to us. A recent study by SmartFocus looked at over 1.4 billion email marketing messages to identify best practices to drive engagement and customer impact. Let’s take a look at what some of those are:

  • If you want your audience to take action, click on a link or respond to an offer, then Tuesday should be the day you launch your campaign. The study revealed that click-through rates were 30 percent higher than other days.
  • If you’re sending out a more educational, informative email and don’t care if your audience clicks on anything in your correspondence, Sunday is your go-to day.
  • The time of day was also reviewed in this study. Interestingly, most marketing emails were opened between six and nine pm. And the time that was least likely to lead to an unsubscribe was 6:30 pm.

Naturally, when you send the email is just one element of a successful email campaign. If you send the wrong content or take the wrong tone, even sending it at the perfect time won’t help. Here are some other best practices that you should keep in mind as you plan your campaign.

Create a relationship: Email can be a reliable way to actually create a relationship between you and your audience. But that requires consistency. Have you ever known someone who only reaches out to you when they need something? That’s what your sales emails feel like to your audience if that’s the only time you write to them.

If you’re going to write on a consistent basis, be sure you invite your audience to write back or to generate more of a dialogue. It’s pretty tough to feel connected to someone if the conversation is just one way.

Be mindful of your tone of voice in your emails as well. A super formal tone isn’t going to help you create a connection. The biggest compliment you can get when you finally meet someone on your email list is that you sound just like your correspondence. That means you’ve successfully adopted a conversational tone in your emails.

Be interesting: Sure, you’re interested in your sale. But your audience may not be. Never hit send if you aren’t confident that your content is going to be useful, interesting or entertaining to your recipients.

The only way to be interesting to anyone is to know them a little bit and put them front and center before you communicate. Building personas of your audience is a really smart way to make sure that your content is truly aimed at being beneficial to them. Personas help you think of your audience in a more personal way – which makes it much easier to talk to them about topics that they actually care about.

Be generous: I know you are sending the emails because you want your audience to do something (click on a link, download a coupon, sign up for a free assessment, etc.) but before you ask, give. Be helpful without asking for anything in return. If you’re consistently providing value, they’ll stick around and eventually, they will be ready to shift from being the recipient of your generosity to a paying customer.

Email is one of the most effective marketing options that you have. But it can backfire in a hurry if you aren’t careful about how, where, how often and what you include in your communications. Think of your email list like your best pen pal. Find ways to create a genuine connection and keep nurturing it, so it can grow over time.

Email isn’t a quick fix, so be ready to settle in for a long, good conversation with a friend.

This was originally published in the Des Moines Business Record, as one of Drew’s weekly columns.

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Are you hiding in plain sight?

March 4, 2020

Who doesn’t want to be found? Whether you have a retail shop or sell your time and talent – every business needs to be findable. There’s an expression that says “if Google doesn’t know you exist, then you don’t exist” and in today’s world, there’s a lot of truth in that statement. You need to make sure you’re not hiding in plain sight.

We know that 80+% of people use the internet to do research before making a purchase. That number gets even larger when the purchase is expensive or is business-related. If Google doesn’t offer you up as an option, you may never get the opportunity to try to win the sale.

For many businesses, their circle of influence and potential customers are within a certain radius of their physical location. If you’re a dry cleaner, then you know your radius may not be more than a couple of miles. But if you’re a financial planner or lawyer, it may be 100 miles or more.

There are some strategies you can employ to make sure you’re found when someone in your local market conducts a search for your kind of business. None of this is a promise of first-page placement but the more of these tactics you put into place and keep updated, the better your search ranking will be.

You absolutely can spend money on Google Adwords or other paid search options. But before you do that – make sure you have a strong foundation laid.

Make sure you are listed: Go to https://www.google.com/business and search for your business. You can claim your business (you’ll have to verify it through the mail or by phone). Be sure to include quality photos of your business, your team and even a few of the items you sell.

Even though Google is the king of search, don’t neglect Bing, Yelp, Apple Maps, Facebook and any other directories specific to your industry.

Establish citations: Citations are websites where you can list your business. There are a bazillion of these sites, so don’t try to do it all by hand. There are sites out there called aggregators that will provide your information to all of these citation sites. Or you can use a service like Moz Local (https://moz.com/local/overview) or Yext (http://www.yext.com/).

Actively seek reviews: Most business-to-business organizations dismiss reviews as being “a retail thing.” And most retail businesses dread the review discussion. The truth is, you’re going to trigger reviews, whether you want them or not. So why not influence them so you can invite your happiest, best clients to speak out?

Unless you’re in an industry that has a very well-known specialty review site, focus on Google and if it makes sense for your business, Yelp. Don’t waste a lot of time on obscure sites that don’t get a lot of traffic.

Credibility links: Are you a member of the local Chamber? Or is your company profiled on a trade association’s site? Think about all of the places your business exists online and link to them within the context of your site. Whether it’s a membership, an award or even a media story – take advantage of the power of the other sites’ credibility and Google juice by linking directly to them.

Build your site with search in mind: Some of the basics really matter. As you write or add content to your website, remember to be smart about keywords, the number of words on each page and other organic search basics.

No matter what your company does, search is incredibly competitive. You can’t afford to ignore this marketing playing field anymore. But, before you spend a dime, make sure you’ve done everything you can for free to impact your listings. That will become a much stronger platform to launch from.

This was originally published in the Des Moines Business Record as one of Drew’s weekly columns.

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Slow down!

February 26, 2020

One of the more common and popular patterns of today’s lead generation and nurturing tactics goes something like this:

  • Offer something for free or low cost in exchange for an email address
  • Nurture the relationship to earn the prospect’s trust
  • Over time, offer them something of more value and with a higher price tag
  • Continue to provide value and, as needed, continue to offer more services

On paper, it makes perfect sense and in practice, when done properly, it works very well. It’s built on the understanding that no one will buy anything from us until they know, like and trust us.

Trust is built over time, as the initial purchase (for a few dollars or in exchange with an email address) proves valuable. From there, the buyer’s confidence is boosted and they stay open to considering the next level of both purchase and trust.

Unfortunately, it’s often not done properly. This weekend, I saw an ad on Facebook for an information product that looked like it might be useful. I clicked on the ad and watched a brief video about the product. It held my interest, had some credible testimonials from people I recognized and so I made the first purchase for $37.

Before the site brought me to the cart so I could check out, they offered me several other, more expensive products that I passed on, because they hadn’t earned that level of trust from me yet.

Right after I checked out, on-screen, I was told that I’d be getting an email with a log in link so I could access the information. Within minutes, I did receive that email.

So up to that point, they’d executed the tactic well. They’d earned my attention, held it with some valuable information, reassured me with some credibility elements and led me to make my first purchase.

But then, they went off the rails in a hurry. Within five minutes, I got four additional emails. Three of them tried to convince me to buy the more expensive offerings I had just passed on a few minutes before. That was bad enough. But the fourth email is the one that really ruined any chance they had with me.

The email was from the CEO and he wanted to tell me about a special beta program they were just launching. The email went on to say that because I was clearly the kind of leader who could really contribute to the beta, just yesterday he had gotten special permission to invite me into that beta. Of course, he had no idea who I was yesterday. I wasn’t on their radar screen until ten minutes prior.

Both the volume and the insincerity of their emails cost them any future purchases from me. I went from being interested to feeling bombarded. My next thought was that I needed to harvest all of the information from the site I’d paid to access as quickly as possible because if I got four emails within the first hour – what would the first week be like?

Their heavy-handedness had the opposite effect of what I am sure they were going for. Instead of growing my trust slowly and giving me time to get to know them and value what they offered, they put me on guard. Even worse, the flurry of emails also tainted my opinion about the content I had already purchased from them. They got my $37 but they lost my confidence and any future purchases.

Email sequencing can be one of the most effective marketing tactics available to you. But a misstep can not only cost you a customer but it can cost you your credibility.

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