7 Technology Savvy Ways to Generate Business Leads

Companies are always on the lookout for the most effective ways to generate solid leads for their business. With the advent of technology in virtually all business sectors, some formerly “speculative” methods and tools are becoming the new tried-and-true.

The question we must ask ourselves is this: are we effectively harnessing technology to help produce leads, ignite business and grow revenue? Let’s take a look at some contemporary marketing strategies that can substantially increase your business agility, and the technology tools that make them possible.

1) Customer Relationship Management Systems (CRM)

Make sure you are utilizing a CRM system to improve your relationship with existing customers, find new prospective customers, and win back former customers. CRM systems allow you to house and manage your contacts and effectively view and manage your pipeline, ensuring improved customer relations, better external and internal communication, and an in-depth understanding of your customers’ needs and behavior.

Tools: SalesForce, Act, Insightly

2) Email Distribution Software

Email distribution tools allow you to send out marketing emails in “blast” fashion, i.e. a whole lot at a time, from an address associated with your company. The software then provides analytics and immediate notifications of who bites the lure and when, allowing you to jump faster on qualified leads and up your conversion rates. These tools are great for narrowing and categorizing your targeted audiences, tracking and optimizing your distribution methods, and improving communication with your customers.

Tools: Constant Contact, Campaign Monitor

3) Marketing Automation Software

CRM and email mass distribution software are only the beginning. Marketing Automation integrates it all into one streamlined system that helps you manage and schedule complex digital marketing campaigns. Lead generation, nurturing and scoring, targeted audience segmentation, scheduled social media campaigns, customer lifecycle marketing, cross-selling and up-selling, customer retention, and marketing ROI measurement are all benefits of utilizing this behemoth of marketing technology.

Tools: Pardot, Eloqua, Sharp Spring

4) Webinars

Putting on a webinar is a great way to showcase a skill or topic and educate your audience about a particular subject. You can use this tool to help qualify a prospect and turn them into a true, bonafide lead.

Tools: Google + Hangouts, Webinars OnAir, Skype, GoToWebinar

5) Online Surveys

Using a survey is a great way to connect to both customers and prospects alike. By targeting your surveys toward specific audiences, you can even help convert prospects into leads.

Tools: Survey Monkey, ZOHO, Survey Gizmo

6) Commercial Social Networking

Just about everyone understands the importance of social networking these days. This is just another way to beef up your networking database and connect with influential people and targeted markets.

Tools: LinkedIn, AngelList, Beyond

7) Database Development

Using a database development tool to locate targets and get their information added to your database is crucial and a great way to connect to your desired prospects.

Tools: InfoUSA, NetProspex, AggData

At Brand Iron, we think it’s critical to figure out what you are trying to accomplish with your marketing activities and then take a detailed look at the best technology tools that can help get you there. Map out when and how you are going to use these tools, then get going. It’s never too soon to start generating more leads and driving revenue.

Marketing Yourself As An Alternative Investment

 

Marketing lives in a completely separate world from Private Equity, Real Estate Investment, and Venture Capital. However, each discipline is a different exposition of core strategic thinking. Two industries, each faced with a vast sea of competitors, deciding how to stand out from the crowd. After years of picking up new investment firm clients, it’s still difficult to change their minds when it comes to effective marketing. Let’s start with a few basic initiatives that alternative investment firms need to take to heart.

Competing For Investment $$$

First things first, you have to know where you stand. Alternative investments have a hard time defining their competition. It’s nice to think that your brand is an island in itself, untouchable. However, alternative investments not only compete with other alternative investments of all types but also against traditional investment firms as well. Your company is competing for dollars against all of these other players and in order to grow, you have to know what you’re up against.

Brand Strategy Shouldn’t Be An Afterthought

Branding an investment firm is just as important as branding any other company. Firms need to engage people in order to answer the age old question of “What’s in it for me?”. Try adding a splash of life to a dry brand story. It might surprise you how intriguing a well thought out investment philosophy can be. If you’ve got an airtight message, you’ve got it made, as long as you can communicate it effectively.

“If you’ve got an airtight message, you’ve got it made, as long as you can communicate it effectively.”

Find What Really Differentiates You

From a marketing perspective, finding what differentiates you is easier said than done. What if you have 645 years of combined experience? So does nearly everybody else. Your track record of sound investment decisions is unbeatable? Give me a break. Take some time to dive deeper and consider the little things that seem insignificant. Transparency is a scary word, but baby steps can bring you a long way in the eyes of the public and your potential portfolio investments.

Play In The Hay

Economic markets affect all of us. For investors making smart marketing moves, this public interest denotes two things. Firstly, the potential for content creation is infinite for your industry. From blog posts to podcasts and more, people always look for the most up-to-date financial information out there. This leads to my second point, which gives you, the creator of this content, the prestigious title of financial expert. Capitalize on your investment cred and create engaging content that puts you and your firm at the top.

For investment firms, marketing initiatives of any kind can make a huge impact on the industry, and for the most part, are long overdue. Communicating the message of who you are and what you believe is key, and if you’re worried, Brand Iron is always happy to help.


 

 

 

What’s Up with Your Sales Pipeline?

True marketing strategy starts with the numbers. This fact catches many companies off guard. Branding and marketing just means plastering a new logo on everything, right?

Wrong. It all starts with your sales pipeline and your revenue goal. Graphically represented, this usually takes the form of a funnel. It works by measuring how many prospects you talk to, how many of those turn into opportunities, leads, qualified leads and eventually, clients. As you move down each level, the pipeline narrows, with those most interested in your product or service staying while those who aren’t a good fit tapering off.  

To get the number of end clients you need to hit your revenue goals, make sure you have enough prospects in your funnel.

Know Thy Numbers

The first step is to know where you stand in your sales numbers and conversion rates. Take a look at the number of people who are in your database. Of those, what is the percentage of prospects that you touched with an email blast, social media, cold call, Internet marketing, or other marketing initiatives? It is important to know these percentage levels at each level of the funnel to make sure you are reaching enough prospects to reach your company revenue goals.

Top Down

Marketing starts at the very top of this funnel and is best utilized as a means to achieving an end goal. To get the number of end clients you need to hit your revenue goals, make sure you have enough prospects in your funnel. One way of boosting these numbers is to buy lists of contacts from a lead-generating website like data.com. When filling up your funnel, keep in mind that it takes 7-15 touches to spur a prospect to an actionable response.

When you have a clear idea of the exact number of prospects you need to start within your sales pipeline along with the number of marketing touches you need to get results, you can measure and achieve your company goals in a more efficient and successful way.

3 Hot Trends in Logo Development

Looking at trends can be a great source of inspiration when designing a logo. Below are three intriguing trends happening right now.

  1.  Dynamic


Image source: http://new.pentagram.com/2014/06/preview-philadelphia-museum-of-art/

Dynamic logos use a series of marks or patterns to communicate ideas about the brand. The Philadelphia Museum of Art identity is one of my favorite examples of this trend. Pentagram designed a series of 200 custom A’s to convey the museum’s vast collection. A series approach isn’t appropriate for everything, but it’s an interesting way to quickly communicate a brand’s story.

 

  1. Hand Lettering

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Image source: http://gingermonkeydesign.com/

Hand-lettered and calligraphic logos make a brand instantly unique. Hand-lettering is used to suggest feelings of nature, a handmade aesthetic, or nostalgia.

 

  1. Low Polygon

Waegener-Social-Project-Low-Polygon-Logo-Design

Image source: http://www.designbolts.com/2014/11/23/20-low-polygon-logo-design-examples-a-new-trend-for-2015/

The low polygon method was originally used to make 3D models and scenes for video games because of its render speed. When applied to logo design, low poly creates striking geometric forms. It’s a fresh way to add dimension to a logo.

How many of these trends have you noticed? Do you think any of these trends are on the way out? Share your thoughts with us on Facebook and Twitter: @brandiron!

The Secret to Marketing to Busy People

Life is busy.

We have seemingly endless demands from work, our family, friends, and other activities that constantly keep us in motion and without a lot of time to sit still for extended amounts of time to process loads of information. What is a marketer to do?!

Check out this great article from Entrepreneur.com that outlines several “rules to live by” when it comes to grabbing consumer’s attention in short, quick spurts. Plus, there’s a great Infographic to go with it.  My personal favorite is #3.

http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/227386

Which secrets will YOU start incorporating into your company’s marketing messages?

FREE (yes, we said FREE) Marketing Tools of the Trade

FREE isn’t a word we often associate with marketing. In fact, while creating your marketing plan and/or strategy it’s difficult to decide how to spend your budget and what the best use of the dollars will be. There are however some FREE resources out there that are surprisingly useful and can make a big difference when it comes to research, performance, and tracking results for your marketing tactics. If you’re not taking advantage of these tools, you should be. Here are a few we’re hot on lately:

1. Google Analytics – duh. If you aren’t using this one, you’re missing a huge opportunity to see how people are interacting with your website, where they are coming from, and where your missing opportunities may be

2. Marketing Grader – a tool that gives you a full report on how your website is doing SEO (Search Engine Optimization) wise, and how you rank against your competitors

3. SimilarWeb – website traffic insights for any website

4. Broken Link Checker – a quick way to find out whether your website has any dead links that may be turning customers away

5. GTmetrix – uses Google Page Speed and Yahoo! YSlow to grade your site’s performance and provides actionable recommendations to fix these issues

Happy Marketing!

How to Cheat Your Numbers

How to Cheat Your Sales Numbers and Increase Your Odds of Success

As a branding agency, we think of branding and marketing as a way to support sales and drive revenue. By thoroughly understanding your company’s revenue goals, you can learn how to work backwards to “cheat your sales numbers” and make sure your efforts are going to produce the desired results. The more you know how to cheat your numbers, the more you increase your odds of getting new business. Here are eight ideas you should apply to your business to increase your odds of success:

1)     Know your numbers

Know just how much marketing and sales activity you need to have in your pipeline in order for you to obtain your forecasted revenue goals and objectives. Understand and know your close ratio and how that affects your numbers.

2)     Have a large pool of prospects in the database

Most companies don’t understand that marketing and sales is a numbers game, it takes a large pool of quality suspects and prospects in the database to make the numbers work in your favor. So to cheat your numbers and reach your sales/revenue goals, you must have a big pool of prospects that you consistently stay in touch with.

3)     Use a CRM tool/database

It is consistently baffling that there are a number of companies that don’t have enough suspects and prospects to call upon to get the results they are aiming for.  Even more surprising is the number of companies that do not utilize a true Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool. A CRM system can help manage the client information and provide help and real-time information on how you’re tracking against those numbers. Many companies are still relying on an outdated excel sheet to “manage” their clients, when using a CRM tool is far more effective.

4)     Regularly reach out and touch prospects

They say most sales people give up after 3-4 touches, which sounds about right; yet they say it takes 7-12 touches in order for a prospect to get to know your company and make a purchasing decision. Make sure you are a company that makes enough touches to get them in your store.

5)     Use strategic partners to help build relationships

One of the most effective things companies can do is to tap into strategic partners for referrals and co-market each other’s products or services to both customer bases. Utilizing a key contact for leverage and an introduction is priceless and often can be one of the most effective things companies can do to shorten the sales cycle. Get a quality referral, and stretch your marketing efforts.

6)     Identify your unique position and own your space

It is critical to not only be different, but also have strong value points spelled out clearly and concisely. These value points need to verbalize why you are better and what differentiates your company, making you the clear choice and the only real option available.

7)     Utilize a strong call to action

In order to help get the response you need for your marketing, advertising and sales efforts, make sure you have a strong call to action. To do this, utilize an impending date or deadline that a special offer expires, a value add that they can only get for a limited amount of time, or an added incentive or bonus to sweeten the deal if you act now.

8)     Reevaluate and refine your efforts

To ensure you’re going to reach your goals, you need to consistently evaluate whether your efforts are producing the desired results. If they aren’t, you will need to make adjustments, tweak your offer, or find other strategic partners that understand the benefits of a reciprocal partner relationship.

Cheating your sales numbers is like adjusting the carburetor on your car, a little fine tuning is sometimes required to have a smooth running engine. Once you get the engine running just the way you want it, you can blow the doors off your competitors.

Michael Doyle

CEO of Brand Iron

New Brand Iron Website

I’m sure you’ve already noticed that Brand Iron recently launched a new website. But why???

Actually, I was asked a great question yesterday: “How do you know when it’s time to redo your website.”

There are many reasons to update your site: refresh graphics, add functionality, restructure navigation, add a call-to-action – but the main reason we updated our site was because the message didn’t accurately reflect the high level of support we provide our clients.

Our previous website didn’t communicate the true value we were delivering to our clients. Yes, we still do websites, we still do PR, we still do corporate IDs – but we do those things as a part of an integrated plan to help your business succeed. We have also developed new programs for developing brand champions, helping companies get acquired or go public, raising capital, etc.

We help our clients determine the activities that will make the biggest impact to their bottom lines. We take a holistic look at their brand and company – and help them forge the plan that will make them competitive in their market.  Brand Iron works with our clients to drive short- and long-term revenue while identifying the activities that will make the biggest impact.

If your message has changed and you need to reposition yourself in the market, contact Brand Iron today. We’ll help you develop an integrated plan to drive short- and long-term revenue to your business.

Is your current brand (or logo) losing its luster? Re-brand and re-engage your audience.

Re-branding can be just the shot of adrenaline your company needs to stay competitive, relevant and modern. Adapting to the times – and presenting yourself in the best light possible can lead to big changes in the way your target audience perceives your company.

We wanted to show you some recent samples of our re-branding work. The examples below different greatly in industry, but share one important trait: they all felt their current brands were holding them back from reaching their full potentials.

CapitalValue Advisors
CapitalValue Advisors, sometimes known to their clients as CVA, wanted to integrate a standalone icon with their type treatment. In the future, they wanted the ability to use only the icon, but in the meantime, did not want to alienate clients and prospects who knew them as their full name, CapitalValue Advisors.

Forensic Laboratories
Forensic Laboratories has made great strides in their business in recent history. To capitalize on their business growth and increased national and local attention, Forensic Laboratories needed an updated brand to communicate not only where there are – but where they were headed: the best drug testing laboratory in the U.S. and industry leader in accuracy, technology and expertise.

MPEG LA
As the world’s leader in independent intellectual property patent pools, MPEG LA needed to communicate their leadership within the industry. One thing the client wanted to preserve was the red/green/black color scheme of their old logo.
The icon, which can be a stand-alone identity piece, symbolically communicates the value MPEG LA brings to its patent users and holders: making something great from the combination of many pieces.

Contact us today if your company needs to address its brand – whether visually (as demonstrated above), readdressing your sales, marketing and operations process, or leveraging the value of your current brand to drive more revenue.

Written by Josh Barker, Brand Manager

The Power of SEO

If you’ve ever thought about whether or not SEO would be an effective tool for you or your business, take a look at how this powerful internet marketing strategy helped one of our clients boost sales and web presence.

We started doing Search Engine Optimization for our client, Columbine Label Company, in July. Since then, they have been experienced huge jumps in their web traffic. Traffic is great, but driving business through new leads is better.

This is the email I received from our client last week:

Brand Iron can help your business develop an effective SEO strategy. Every company has unique online goals, ie, 2nd handshake, resource for information, make online purchases, demonstrate expertise. A targeted SEO plan can be exactly the shot of adrenaline your company’s online presence needs. Learn more about our Web-O-Nanza™ program or call us today 303-534-1901.