What Not to Do When Building a Pitch Deck

What Not to Do When Building a Pitch Deck

A pitch deck is a slideshow or presentation – created on PowerPoint, Keynote, Prezi, or a similar software – that presents your company, goods, and services to an audience. Creating an effective pitch deck that keeps investors engaged and helps you achieve your business goals takes time and effort.

Anyone can throw together some slides in a matter of hours, but consider this: for every 100 pitches an investor hears, he or she will fund only 10 of them, which means most pitches get lost in the crowd. We’ve told you how to design a perfect pitch deck; now, here are 10 things to avoid to ensure that your pitch deck is at the top of investors’ minds.

1. Overcomplicate the presentation

Chances are, your investor does not know the ins and outs of your business’s industry. Avoid using technical jargon that will confuse your audience. Stick to simple words, animations, and transitions to convey complicated ideas. Create your presentation so that even someone with little knowledge of your industry and company could understand it.

It is important to note, however, that there is a chance your audience may be knowledgeable about your industry. Preliminary research is paramount to this point, as oversimplifying your presentation may appear as though you are talking down to your audience.

2. Use old-fashioned design

You don’t need to be a professional designer, but you also don’t want to present plain white slides. Your deck should convey how forward-thinking and modern your ideas are. Take advantage of the templates that PowerPoint and other presentation-building tools offer, and be sure to add custom touches, like your company’s logo and simple graphics. If you want to go above and beyond, hire an agency who can make your pitch deck in a more advanced software, such as Adobe Photoshop or InDesign.

3. Get off to a slow start

Even if your business idea is incredible, if you can’t capture your audience and keep them engaged, your deck will get lost in the crowd. A strong, memorable introduction will keep investors wanting to know more about your company and how they can benefit from their investment in you. After all, they’re trusting you with their money; hook them at the beginning to ensure they stay with you through the end of your presentation.

4. Give a lengthy pitch

Show respect for investors’ time by finishing your presentation well before your meeting time is up. You don’t want to make your audience antsy about missing their next appointment, and you’ll leave time for any follow-up questions. You can shorten your presentation time by shortening or altogether omitting your startup’s history or founders. Keep them wanting more – share details later.

5. Fudge the numbers

It can be tempting to bluff data in your pitch deck, but it’s important to resist this temptation. This is a very poor business practice that misleads investors and wastes everyone’s time. Getting caught exaggerating in your pitch can ruin your reputation and lead to lawsuits down the road. Before you even pursue funding from angel investors and venture capitalists, gather concrete data that supports your business case. They’ll come knocking at your door!

6. Leave out your mission

Many startups fail because investors can see that their ideas are great, but their founders lack a compelling vision. When pitching to investors, your goal is to convince them that they’re going to make it big by investing in you, and there’s no better way to do that than selling them on your mission. If you don’t get much traction at first, don’t be discouraged. Rethink your vision and make sure it’s grounded in reality.

7. Forget to mention your story

Everyone loves a good story, especially one with a happy ending. For investors, that happy ending is when their investment pays off! Make your business story relatable and weave it throughout your deck for a compelling presentation. However, be careful not to overdo it – make sure your story relates to your overall business model.

8. Involve disclosures and NDAs

You know your ideas are worth a lot, which is why you’re protective of them. Many people think that the best way to avoid having their ideas stolen is by asking investors to sign an NDA before pitch presentations. The hard truth is that investors have probably heard a variation your idea before. Legitimate investors who receive pitches all the time will rarely sign an NDA. For best practice, have an attorney who specializes in your space review your pitch deck to make sure it’s legally compliant.

Remember that investors aren’t your competition. They’re not going to invest in multiple competing businesses. So while you may be intimidated by the fact that they have the money and resources to build a better product than you, resist the urge to ask for an NDA.

9. Forget about your exit strategy

This one might be counterintuitive. Venture capitalists don’t want their money sitting in the bank. They want it to be used to create a high return on investment. One of the best ways to get their attention is to show them how high their ROI will be in a few years. When you present a good exit strategy, you’re showing investors that you’ve done your homework, you’re credible, and their money is in good hands.

10. Leave off your value proposition

At the end of your deck, your audience should be able to answer the following questions: Why are you better than your competitors? What makes you special? Why should they invest in your company?

Your value proposition should be relevant to your business’s market, present a clear solution to a problem, have tangible and specific benefits, and differentiate from your competition. Focus on your product’s benefits, not its features, and use your value proposition to craft your story.

As you’ve read, there’s a lot that goes into building a successful pitch deck. If you want to earn investors’ funding and respect, focus on your story, stick to the facts, and explain your value. If you are looking for a marketing team to help build your pitch deck, Geraci Media is your expert in the private lending space.

Schedule a call with Ruby today to discuss how Geraci Media can make you an outstanding pitch deck.

Building Better Products Through Collaboration

How to Build a Collaborative Team to Build Better Products

Most significant projects are not undertaken by just one individual; They require a team effort to conceptualize, strategize, and successfully manage tasks so that a stellar product can emerge.  Even activities that may seem like a personal endeavor almost always require some form of collaboration.

Collaboration brings together a diverse group of talents and minds all focused on achieving a common goal. Working within a collaborative team provides you with the assets needed to reach your project goals faster while creating a more dependable end product. 

Aligning Your Goals

Selecting the right team is a crucial component in creating a successful team. You should bring in individuals who have fully developed skills, such as motivational, organizational, and imagination, to be utilized fully for the creation of a value-added product.

It’s also important to assemble your team with members who are aligned with the goals of the project. Establish the ground rules and pass along clear guidelines for how your collaborative process will operate. Only after everyone is on the same page, can you continue with the process and work towards the common goal of solving the task at hand.

In establishing the rules early and by clearly defining goals, team members can join knowing they can freely offer ideas and provide feedback that ultimately contributes to a successful product.

Removing Roadblocks

The enemy of collaboration is roadblocks. A roadblock typically occurs when employees don’t see eye-to-eye on specific aspects of a project. Anytime you get multiple personalities together in a room, there is generally some level of disagreement. However, limiting the differences to just that, and not letting them evolve into animosity or open conflict, is key to preventing time-wasting roadblocks. For collaboration to happen, a leader must emerge that has the strength to enforce it.

Finding a way to foster strong employee relationships helps reduce friction and leads to a more fruitful collaboration effort on behalf of the entire team. Building trust between all team members assists in driving initiatives such as floating ideas, facilitating change, meeting milestones, and fostering in-depth collaboration.

Increase Productivity

Writers get “writer’s block,” professional athletes fall into slumps, and employees sometimes suffer a creative block. Falling into a creative slump is frustrating and a waste of time. Collaboration can help solve the issue by getting a fresh set of eyes on incomplete work, followed by team input and suggestions that help get those creative juices flowing again.

The goal of most projects is to produce the best end-product for your customer. Whether that customer is internal or external, is immaterial. Through collaboration, you can harness the skills and ideas of many to propose, critique, and ultimately solve the problems that prevent the best product from emerging.

With strong leadership, and by keeping your team members looped into the progress of your project, you can eliminate conflicts, reduce overlap, and foster the creative instincts of your team members to produce fabulous results.

Tools such as Dropbox, Slack, or Google Docs help keep all your team members on the same page and engaged in the effort. By promoting open conversation and critique, you will gain the trust of your team while receiving an honest review of your efforts.

Setting Up For Success

A critical factor in creating a successful collaborative effort is nurturing the environment that fosters a culture of collaboration. Here are some factors that can help you define and promote a culture of cooperation.

Lay down the law – setting up ground rules for all employees, even if not part of a team, sends a message that the company promotes and welcomes collaboration. Established practices, protocols, and guidelines will demonstrate your willingness to facilitate cooperation and empowers individuals to lead those efforts as part of a team

Become a leader – nothing motivates better than leadership. Leadership starts at the top, with the executive committee, and trickles down to employees through all levels of management. By clearly defining your leadership role and empowering employees and team members to also embrace leadership roles, you’ll convince employees that they can openly share ideas that contribute to not only the growth of the company but to their personal growth, as well.

Open communication – through efficient communication, collaborative teams prosper. Whether its holding team meetings or sending out updates and group emails, transparent and open communication are critical to a collaborative culture. Providing an organized structure with collaborative tools to your teams will also help spur information sharing across platforms and between team members and supporting departments.

Building trust – open communication fosters a certain level of confidence, but your employees must also trust their ideas and critiques. Empowering employees to conceptualize and present new ideas will build trust in leadership and better facilitate a more open and constructive collaborative effort.

Collaboration not only provides an excellent strategy to produce the best products possible, but it offers employees a chance to shine. With a culture of collaboration, employees will feel more comfortable participating and contributing new ideas, suggestions, and the motivation to bring their very best.

With the right leadership structure in place, open communication, and team members that clearly understand their defined roles, your collaborative effort will lead to a faster and more successful effort to develop the best possible final product.

Geraci Media Group is a national private lending agency, which specializes in marketing and design needs. If you are looking to grow your business and expand profitability, let Geraci help you with your marketing today.

Know the Essentials on Gathering Qualified Leads

Before the age of technology, a salesperson would travel about their territory to meet personally with individuals, to get a “feel” on their sales leads. As is today, when they came across a person ready to buy, it was considered a “hot” lead. By comparison, a “warm” prospect is a person merely browsing for products or services, and a “cold” lead is someone who may not even know what you’re selling.

Qualified leads generally received more attention. Lunches, rounds of golf, or maybe a happy hour together would give the salesperson a chance to address their prospects needs and expectations to close the deal. On the other hand, warm leads maybe got a phone call as a follow-up.

With the Internet, much of that personal sales approach has nearly disappeared. Today, when shoppers are considering a service or product, they immediately go online with their smartphone or computer and browse for what they want, read reviews, and decide. This stage of engagement is regarded as a warm lead; but how do you best identify that prospect and convert it into a sale?

What’s critical to understand is how to capture that lead.

Many companies today have turned to automated software that helps identify and analyze a prospect’s engagement behavior and determine what stage they are in the lead qualification process. Technology helps, but you still need some key components in place to take advantage of the process.
To successfully qualify leads, you must have three critical fundamentals in place.

A Clear Definition of “Lead”

Defining what a lead means to you is a crucial step in determining whether they are qualified enough to move onto the next sales stage. Typically, anyone who is in the “buying stage,” meaning they are prepared or preparing to purchase a product or service, is considered a qualified prospect. In the age of the Internet, this could mean following your social media account, subscribing to a newsletter, or being a frequent visitor to your website.

Each business should have a unique process for identifying what defines a lead for them. In differentiating the types of leads you collect, you will be in a better position to determine who is worth pursuing, and who is not.

To define the types of leads your business pursues, first sit down with your team to discuss your target market. Next, identify who is in your current database and review their buying habits. It would be best if you also considered how your team determines when a lead advances from a warm to hot prospect.

Establish a Scoring System

A lead scoring system will also help you better assign values to prospects based on actions they take, their buying behaviors, or even their browsing habits. By doing this, you will have a clearer vision of which leads are ready for nurturing.

Here are the four categories for a lead scoring system:

Lead fit – This category includes collecting demographic information on your prospects, such as title, role, and location; collecting info on their business, such as industry, company size, and brand, and collecting BANT information on company purchases, such as budget, authority, timeframe, and inventory requirements. Much of this information can be captured through a simple registration form on your website or a survey.

Lead interest – By following your prospects’ engagement with your website and analyzing what they browse and how interested they are in your products and services; you can gauge their interest level to decide how much attention they need to turn them from a warm lead to a hot lead.

Lead behavior – A prospects behavior online often sheds light on their immediate buying stage. Signing up for a newsletter or catalog is an early stage prospect but browsing a pricing guide or product listing can indicate a prospect that is further along in the lead stage. By taking advantage of this information, you can nurture a prospect along, until the sale occurs.

Lead buying stage – Timing is everything. Understanding what stage your prospect is in and if it’s the right time to sell, will be dictated by the information you gather. Start by sending them information on your products or services and evaluating their response. By analyzing their response and assessing their interest, you’ll get a better idea of what stage they reside within the buying process.

Testing and Optimization

Now that you have a clear definition of your leads and have established a scoring system, it’s time to test and optimize. Testing should be a regular activity of checking your marketing plan to see what techniques are working and then optimize your website to take advantage of those systems.

You want to ultimately develop a system that delivers an engaging customer experience and allows you to nurture leads and drive sales. So, the best bet is to test everything to ensure it aligns with those goals.

Some of the things you can do to optimize your systems are:

  • Assess how different subject lines result in a different response
  • Check to see the difference in response rates for short or long emails
  • Check click-through rates to see how prospects respond to varying content
  • Change the designs of your email messages and gauge customer response
  • Change the frequency of your sends and keep track of audience response

Through testing and optimization, you can coordinate between sales and marketing to determine which approach results in the best conversion strategy.

As you work towards utilizing these three techniques to turn warm leads into sales conversions, keep in mind that with the Internet, marketing is always evolving and as such, you must always stay on your toes.

By using proven strategies and keeping an open mind to new and emerging approaches, such as AI-driven marketing platforms, you can ensure that your marketing efforts will result in a steady stream of qualified leads converting to sales. If you are a private lender looking to enhance your marketing, reach out to Geraci Media Group today.

Designing the Perfect Pitch Deck

If you are looking to start a mortgage fund and decided it’s time to begin raising capital, a good pitch deck is critical for introducing your business to potential investors. 

Some pitch deck preparers like to go heavy on the details, but this approach may overwhelm potential investors with too much of the minutia.  It’s better to strike a more balanced approach, between just enough information to get potential funders interested, without bombarding them with operational details.

Here, we provide some pointers on how to design a pitch deck that pops yet is focused on delivering only concise and succinct answers to a fund manager’s most critical questions.

1.    Choose a Visually Appealing Template or Theme

You can design your pitch deck from scratch or utilize a template, but keep in mind that you’ll want to use colors and designs which are appealing to the eye and consistent with your brand.  Your slides should be uniform in color and layout, while taking a modest approach with the use of images.  Headers and footers should match on each page to project an overall consistent appearance.

In most cases, you can use a simple PowerPoint template to start with and improve upon some of the elements to fit your tastes or brand.  The best option is to use darker text on a light-colored background.

2.    Incorporate Your Branding

Not all startups have an established brand, however, you should at least have a simple brand conceptualized with which you can build around.  Before you start your pitch deck, make sure to have a ready-made logo or wordmark and a color scheme that you can use to represent your company.  Also, create a list of keywords that best describes or promotes your business.

Keep your color scheme and branding consistent throughout your pitch deck.  A consistent style guide will help keep your business and branding consistent as you grow and expand. These design elements could leave a lasting impression on the viewers of your deck and stick with people during future conversations.

3.    Use Professional Images

As you’re putting your deck together, spend some time creating a portfolio of professional images of your team members, funded deals, or products and services.  Images resonate with readers, and prospective investors want to see real photos of your business rather than stock photos downloaded from the Internet.  The right image will stay fresh in a person’s memory long after they’ve forgotten about the text they may have read.

4.    Include Charts and Graphs

Many times, business owners feel the urge to provide a bevy of numbers in their pitch decks.  However, providing too much data can result in the reader being turned off by having to calculate your business performance.

Instead of drowning your readers with statistics, offer visually appealing charts and graphs that simplify the data and provide prospective investors with an easy way to see and digest the information you’re presenting.

5.    Picking Icon Sets

Using small icon illustrations is an excellent way to organize complex ideas and provide flow throughout your entire presentation.  Choose an icon set that matches your theme and palette, use them to create groups of data, or break up copy to give your slide a more detailed appearance.

6.    Use Tiled Layouts

When you have large chunks of complex information to include, break it down with tiled layouts.  Tiled layouts can help organize the information and minimize to be easy to read portions. They can also be categorized by color blocks, which separate them into different locations within the slide.  

7.    Use Professional Headshots

When including photos of your team members, use professional headshots wherever possible.  Investing the extra time and expense to obtain professional photographs will help you remain consistent throughout your pitch deck and represent your brand well.

Some companies choose to use cameo-style shots instead of the “mugshot” variety to add a little personality to their presentation.  Before creating these headshots, think about the type of investor you are pursuing. Tailor the photographs around those you believe would appeal to that group of investors.

8.    Choose Consistent Typeface

It is essential to choose your typeface hierarchy and establish it throughout your pitch deck.  Different components such as titles, headings, subheadings, body text, and header and footer text should be set within your document and remain consistent throughout.

9.    Use Contrasting Elements

While remaining consistent is recommended, use contrast against a variety of backgrounds or other elements.  This technique will make it easier for the reader to view when printed or projected.  You should always balance your design between readability and functionality.

10.    Get Creative

There will be some slides that will need to be content heavy, which may include an abundance of information or text.  Some of these heavy-data slides can become somewhat overwhelming for the reader to comprehend.  Instead of just dumping significant chunks of data onto a slide, consider using graphics or timetable formatting to break it up into more easily discernable information.

As you create your pitch deck, place yourself in the shoes of the investors you hope to reach.  Remember to keep your business goals in mind, while directing potential investor’s attention to the essential aspects of your company and business model that add the most value to the investment.

A professionally designed, well packaged, and easy-to-understand presentation will ensure that your deck reads well, is visually appealing, and focuses the potential investor’s interest in the opportunity and not on the appearance of the presentation. If you are looking for help creating or redesigning your pitch deck, Geraci Media would love to be a resource for you.

The power of relationship selling

In today’s competitive marketplace, your product benefits and the services you provide matters. However, your market, like most others, is probably crowded with competitors that offer similar products or services. Ask yourself, what are you doing to differentiate yourself from your competition?

One way to stand out is through building relationships. Selling through personal interactions has been an American tradition since Pilgrim days. Moreover, that same old-fashioned, press-the-flesh approach still drives results in today’s multi-platform marketing environment.

In a 2017 LinkedIn report, trust in a salesperson was noted as the number one factor impacting a customer’s purchase decision. Relationship selling focuses on putting the customer first and building trust over the long term, which results in brand loyalty that can drive business for years.

The effect of relationship building on business growth is apparent, with more marketers now employing the use of account-based sales development (ABSD) and account-based marketing (ABM) in their marketing strategies.

Account-based marketing strategies concentrate on letting the customer drive the marketing and sales approach. By customizing content to a customer’s information needs, marketers can encourage them to make a purchase that is the best fit.

This strategy allows marketers to build relationships with buyers or those influencing the purchasing of products and services within the organization. Even after the sale is completed, marketing can follow up with emails that are even more tailored to their client’s needs or tastes.

Selling Without Selling

1. Offer Value

Relationship building is about nurturing trust but can also provide value. When a customer knows you are only a phone call away to answer their questions or fulfill their requirements, they will come to rely on you for more of their business needs. This value you offer must be reinforced over time to ensure them that you are there for them in the long-term.

Selling doesn’t have to be about flashy sales pitches; it should be more about presenting value to your customers and reaffirming your commitment to giving them what they want with the service they deserve.

2. Be Upfront and Honest

Everyone has experienced a pushy salesperson. They set up the sale by alluding to scarcity or the possibility of future price spikes, but this tactic typically breeds a feeling of hostility from savvy buyers.

Instead, being honest and upfront with your customer adds a level of authenticity that is empowering for your clients and prospects. If your relationship selling is honest, prospects and customers will respect it and remember how your company approaches sales calls.

3. Communicate Organically

Your prospects and clients don’t want to be talked to like they’re a faceless drone that’s a line item on your ledger sheet. Begin by crafting your email communications with a personal tone that comes off as more authentic and human.

During phone conversations and follow-up face-to-face meetings, casual two-way communication goes a long way in helping your prospects or customers feel more like an old friend rather than a sales target. Listening as much as you talk will also lend that personal touch and demonstrate how you care about their business and what they require to grow.

4. Listen to Your Customers

It’s great to explain your products in services in detail, but don’t forget to listen. Sidestep the 70’s salesmanship, and instead, concentrate on listening to their needs and respecting their views. An essential skill that is sometimes hard to learn is how to step back from a sales pitch and simply listen, fostering a consultative sale rather than a push sale.

5. Show Respect

If you visit business review sites such as Yelp, you can read real customer reviews where a common thread seems to be a complaint that a salesperson “chased” or “harassed” them to get the sale.

There’s no need to chase a sale. Instead, work with your prospects and clients to identify their needs and address how you can solve them. On subsequent calls or meetings, demonstrate that their time is as valuable as yours and that you are reaching out to offer a solution. Listen to your customer’s concerns, be honest and authentic, and be mindful of their time and organizational limits.

If you follow these suggestions, your contacts will think of you more as a trusted partner, and when that happens, it generally translates into a valuable long-term relationship.

Why Private Lenders Need Up-To-Date Website Content

In today’s fast-paced business environment, having a website is a must. It provides not only a way for borrowers, brokers, and investors to find you but promotes your brand to thousands of potential business partners. So why do so many lenders, let alone companies, build a site, just to leave it to stagnate for months, or even years?

Most businesses have a web developer that either designed their site or manages it. However, some still lack a designer who can create a content management system to ensure their website’s content is updated regularly.

If you haven’t already, here are some top reasons you should invest in keeping your website content and design up to date.

Old Website Content Turns Off Potential Costumers

There’s plenty of competition online. There’s no need to inadvertently send them your business leads because your audience can’t find the information they want on your outdated site. Phone numbers should be active and easy to read, along with a contact form for those to submit an inquiry. Remember, make it as easy as possible to get in contact with you.

The products or services listed on your website should be updated to reflect what’s current in the marketplace and your business. Remove employees who are no longer with your company, post content monthly, make sure all your contact forms go to the “right” email. Old, irrelevant, or outdated information can cause visitors to leave and look for what they want elsewhere. Today’s customers want instant gratification. Studies show that most website visitors rarely venture beyond the first couple pages, so if they don’t find what they need immediately, they’ll leave, and most likely won’t come back.

Ensure Your Website has a Modern Design

Website designs are continually changing. Start by looking at some of your competitor’s websites to see what’s trending. In the private lending space, many companies are seeing the need to enhance their website from what it was 5-10 years ago. As time goes by, your design may become unattractive or unappealing to your visitors. The layout of your homepage is the first thing visitors see, and it represents your public image to the masses. As it is in most cases, first impressions are everything. Don’t overcomplicate. Find your tagline and use it.

As time goes on, website features and designs change to keep up with modern trends. Your web designer should look at competitor websites and evaluate them to see what is useful and what will make yours stand out from theirs. Your developer should also know top websites in your industry; they should analyze them and provide feedback to their client as to what works and what needs refreshing.

Update Links and Alternate Image Text

Nothing turns off website visitors more than broken links or image files. Consider swapping out image files with more relevant or up-to-date pictures, while updating your alternate text to provide sight-impaired visitors to get the most out of your website. Links should be updated to ensure they go directly to the content that is referenced on your site. A good-looking site can still become unappealing if your links don’t work and visitors can’t properly view images.

If you want to beat out the competition, you need to take the little steps that prepare you to compete for an online presence. By updating your web content and site design features, you can get the upper hand on competitors and make your site far more attractive for prospects looking for your goods or services.

If you put in the work, the results will come. If you need assistance with your web development process, schedule a call with Ruby Keys or submit an inquiry to the Geraci Media Group team.

How to Control Rising Unsubscribe Rates

So, you think your email marketing campaign is going well, and then you notice something: unsubscribe requests start appearing in your inbox. The first thing that you tell yourself is that everyone loses subscribers – it’s nothing to worry about. However, what do you do when those unsubscribe numbers start to pile up and affect your delivery rate?

Well, first, don’t ignore it, and don’t blow it off as an acceptable loss. Unsubscribe requests can not only affect your ability to reach potential customers, but it can have a negative financial impact on your business.

If you catch it in time, you can fix the problem before it becomes systemic. Ask yourself: why are so many recipients of my emails choosing to hit the unsubscribe button? Checking the trends of opt-out requests can generally provide a good indicator of a consistent issue or help determine if it is merely stemming from a faulty message structure.

Let’s identify some trouble areas and learn how to fix them.

Segmenting Messages to Stem the Tide of Unsubscribers

If you continue to lose subscribers, it may be because you aren’t relating to your audience. Studies show that 50% of the time, consumers unsubscribe because they feel an email is irrelevant. It could be that your message sounds off or that it is too far removed from your business, but you should never send out messages that don’t relate to your customers.

Keeping an audience engaged is a challenging endeavor, but ensuring your messaging is directed towards the needs and desires of your audience is crucial.  Learning to segment your email list can help better tailor email messages that are relevant or interesting for the reader. Then, using real-time metrics, you can monitor the engagement and spending of your clients in response to your email campaign.

Segmenting messages is more than just dividing campaigns between age and demographics. You can drill down into customer engagement, retention, their type of business, the industry or market they operate in, and the clientele with which they interact.  This segmentation will allow you to prepare and send content relatable to their staff and tailor emails around specific areas of interest.

Personalize Every Message

You’ve already spent the time dissecting data to better segment your marketing campaign, now use that same customer data to personalize each email you send out. Research shows that people overwhelmingly respond positively to personalized emails. You can’t be sure they’ll read every word, but the chance that they will open and view your message increases, and more importantly, you reduce the likelihood you’ll receive an unsubscribe request in return.

Personalizing your messages with a client’s name is fine, but including the real-time customer information in your message, such as the last time you spoke, asking about their industry, and mentioning their business can build engagement and drive a response.

Statistics show that the average click-through rate on personalized messages is 2.5 times higher than non-personalized campaigns. Personalized messages tell your clients that you are actually engaged with what they want, which adds to the impression that you are adding value to their operation and not just wasting their time.

Diversify Your Marketing

Lastly, if you are receiving too many unsubscribe requests, it may be that you are sending out too many email messages. Try diversifying with alternative marketing techniques. You can reduce the number of emails you send, but still utilize other marketing tactics to engage with your clients and drive results.

Email marketing is a fantastic way to build a brand.  However, like any marketing, you have to know when enough is enough.  By eliminating irrelevant content and sending out messages that are personal and relatable to your customers, you’ll keep them engaged and continue to drive results while doing more to lower your opt-out rates.

Tips on Creating a Logo That Fits Your Brand

When building a brand, you want a logo that’s not only unique but one that uniquely fits with your brand identity. Logos serve as a visual representation of your company as well as a recognizable icon of your business for existing clients.
If you’re a business just starting up, you may want a logo that helps you stand out from your competitors. If you are an established business going through rebranding, then you may want a logo that accentuates your brand or maybe emphasizes a new strategy.
Either way, here are seven insights into what you need to know in creating the perfect company logo.
1. Decide what defines your brand.
Begin your logo design by deciding what your brand represents and what you want your audience to learn about your company. Your logo should take on the personality of your business and reflect its core values. When customers see your logo, they should get a feeling of what you stand for, and in the process, call out to them to learn more about who you are and what you offer.
2. Portray your company values.
A logo is an excellent way to visualize the core values of your business. Put yourself in your customer’s shoes and think about what grabs them. What will make them take notice? Does your logo adequately tell the story of your company through its design, or portray your values? Toss around ideas with your team on how you can incorporate some or all of your values in a logo. Provide clarity about what makes you stand out as a brand.
3. Make your logo your brand.
Before you begin designing a logo, think about how you can build a brand around a logo. Take Microsoft’s logo for instance. It’s only four colored square tiles, but almost everyone recognizes the logo as being related to the “Windows” brand. Your logo doesn’t have to be overly complicated to describe your brand; it just needs to resonate with the audience. Play around with several designs where you focus on your brand as the central design element.
4. Ask for professional help.
There is real science behind designing a brand that is relatable to the public. About 90% of people’s assessment of a product or brand is based on their personal preference of color and color schemes. Try to choose colors that evoke the right type of emotion from your audience. While it’s always great to come up with some “cocktail napkin” drawings of your logo, a professional logo designer can help with putting on the polish. The value they add in creating the right size file with the correct color palette is worth the price, especially if you plan on placing your logo on multiple platforms, including print, web, social media, product packaging, and signage.
5. Trial by error.
Work with team members to come up with several designs. Not everyone’s perception is the same, and some team members may have ideas you hadn’t considered. Many times, logo designers work up several models and after consulting with business owners, combine aspects from two or more mockups into the final design.
6. Tell your story.
If your customers compared your new logo to your closest competitor, would they know the difference? How are you telling the story of your business through your logo? Work on creating a logo around your brand that’s recognizable across all marketing channels. This strategy will help get your story out while staying consistent with your marketing elements.
7. Review competitor logos.
Some businesses merely contract a logo designer and go with the first design they find attractive. This is a bad idea. A poorly designed logo can send the wrong message, one you may not have picked up on at first glance. Take your time to review and evaluate your competitor’s logos to see how you can stand out. Bring in your team members, maybe from various departments, and get their input and feedback. Research and determine what color schemes suit your brand and draw emotion. Take your time, do your research, gather feedback, and make sure it’s a logo where everyone on your team agrees it will represent your brand well for a long time to come.

Marketing Ideas for Private Lenders in 2019

As we enter 2019, the New Year ushers in new opportunities for private money lenders to rethink the way they work. This year, dedicate yourself to working smarter, not harder, by boosting your brand through your existing, established marketing channels.

Here are some marketing ideas for 2019 that will help you improve your online presence and build your business.

Embrace Content Marketing.

It’s easy enough to say that you are going to market more in 2019, but sometimes people overlook the “low hanging fruit.”  What about your past customers that may need your services again in 2019?  It’s smart to stay in contact with your borrower and investor base through online content marketing, however these people are most likely getting pounded with weekly emails about lending options.  Consider how to best stand out by posting or sending information about topics your borrowers and investors will find useful or entertaining.  By sending relevant information, you’re fresh on their mind for when the time comes to begin the next deal.

Utilize Social Media.

Millions of Americans use social media every day.  It is ingrained into today’s society.  Use this modern-day marketing marvel to your advantage by promoting your business and services, while building an online following.  Private lenders should use social media not to promote boring loan programs, but to post and comment on content that is relevant to consumers.  How are the house flipping markets looking? What private money loan options are available to investors?  Posting relevant and timely info allows you to still interact with your base while engaging potential new clients across multiple platforms.  As a marketing professional or lender, you need to meet your customers where they are, and today – they are online.

Review and Purge Your Database.

Most private lenders have a database of old client contacts, but few clean up their records to ensure their content gets delivered.  Too many bounces or spam notices can flag your domain and result in your newsletters or email content ending up in the recipients’ junk folder.  Take the time to clean up your data by updating addresses, purging dead accounts, and adding your new prospects’ or clients’ email addresses to your database.

Ensure Accuracy.

It’s not enough to send out your newsletter each month hoping that your contact information reaches the intended recipient.  Ensuring your data is consistent and up-to-date across all of your marketing platforms is critical.  Your website, social media profiles, review sites, blogs, and email marketing should all be consistently aligned with your brand.  Failure to do this simple task could mean losing out on that next big deal because they called the wrong number or sent an email that went unanswered.  Private money is historically a time-sensitive matter.  If a borrower can’t get through to you, they will move on to your competitor.

Manage Your Reviews.

Today’s consumers have the power to affect a business like never before in history.  Sites like Yelp, Google, and Facebook prompt consumers to post reviews of companies that they interact with.  While a good review can mean new business, likewise, a negative review could permanently damage your reputation.  In 2018, more than 95% of all consumers read reviews for local businesses, and 85 percent trust reviews as much or more than a personal recommendation.

Online reviews are critical for businesses, both for building your brand as well as managing your reputation.  Anyone who has been in the loan business for some time understands that you cannot please everyone all the time.  Negative reviews are a fact of life, even if you feel you did not deserve it.  It’s how you handle those reviews that is the real challenge.  When someone is accused of doing something wrong, the first human emotion is to strike back.  Rather than complicate the issue, take time to step back and get to the bottom of the issue.  Ask the reviewer what went wrong.  Ask how you can make it better next time.  You may not be able to erase the negative review, but you can show other potential customers that you are proactive in finding a solution to the problem if it occurs in the future.

Automating Your Marketing.

For private money lenders, managing a daily pipeline of clients and prospects can be a daunting task.  When it gets busy, marketing seems to come last on the to-do list of most hard-working originators.  With automation, you can set your email and content marketing to get posted or updated automatically.

Automation is a fantastic way to consistently reach out to an audience and stay in touch, even when you don’t have the time to write a blog or create a marketing piece.  Several online tools can help you set up and manage automated marketing.

As the New Year begins, try to focus your energy on reestablishing and promoting your brand with current clients and reaching out to new prospects online.  The economy is still red hot, and lending rates are holding steady.  As housing prices continue to rise, more new homebuyers will enter the private money marketplace, while others will search out bridge and secondary financing.  By getting your 2019 marketing plan organized and implemented, you will be in a better position to build and maintain a strong online presence that will refill your pipeline all year long,

The Elements of a Successful Pitch Deck

On average, potential investors spend 3 minutes and 44 seconds looking over every pitch deck that comes across their desk. But what exactly is a pitch deck, and how can entrepreneurs make their presentations more conducive for investment? Simply put, a pitch deck is a presentation entrepreneurs put together to secure funding from potential investors – these presentations contain pertinent information about the product or service, and are usually around 19 slides long.

Ultimately, the founders of startups need two different, yet equally important, pitch decks. The first iteration focuses primarily on information and will be disseminated internally via email. Where this version has a litany of text and information, the second “version” usually has more visuals, which can help investors envision the usefulness of your product or service. At the end of the day, a successful pitch deck has three overarching qualities: clear and concise, compelling, and easy to act on.

In addition to these criteria, the slides included in a pitch deck fall into these nine categories:

  1. Problem
  2. Solution
  3. Market
  4. Product
  5. Traction
  6. Team
  7. Competition
  8. Financials
  9. Capital needed/raised

Each of these categories will be discussed at length, but it is important to note that even though each slide is vital in its own way, DocSend, the organization that said investors spend an average of 3 minutes and 44 seconds per pitch deck, also said investors spend the most time looking at slides dealing with competition, financials, and team. This is important to keep in mind while constructing your pitch deck.

1.Problem – exploring gaps in the market

The slide dealing with the “problem” your product or service addresses should clearly state the gap you are filling in the market. Although the actions and failures of your competition will be covered in the aptly named competition slide, it is crucial to explain your position and the problem you wish to solve, not the pitfalls of competitors (in this slide at least.) If you begin your pitch deck by explaining what is wrong with other companies, it may sound like a lack of confidence to potential investors.

The problem you are addressing should be concise, and not include more than one problem – the reason the problem and solution slides are separate is because a single slide with a problem/solution may overwhelm investors right off the bat. In addition to keeping your problem concise, it is also wise to show that others commonly feel your problem; this will make it easier for investors to sympathize with the potential customer. After all, your product or service will spark the interest of an investor for the following reasons:

-The investor has experienced the same problem in the past or knows many people who have
-There is a clear sense of ROI in the future
-They understand the niche where your product or service falls (i.e., you wouldn’t pitch a healthcare startup to a group of Silicon Valley techies)

2.Solution – why you can solve the problem

A key attribute of your proposed solution is scalability – essentially, what makes investors salivate is the potential of your venture to grow. How will your venture increase output as demand increases? Explaining this in a clear, concise way will help reassure investors that you know your industry and understand how more will be needed as the demand grows. Scalability is especially crucial in technology startups because the technology sphere is incredibly fast-paced and ever-changing.

If entrepreneurs and investors can learn anything from the diffusion of innovations, it is incredibly important to introduce your venture at the right time in history – if you are too early or too late, even if your product solves a clear problem, the venture will fail. In your solution slide, explain why it makes sense now.

3. Market – “where are the returns?”

The size of the market you are trying to enter may impact an investor’s likelihood of giving you capital – the unfortunate reality of seeking funding is the market size (whether too large or too small) may be a turn off for some investors. On the “too small” side, a market size below $1 billion may not seem attractive to someone in a hyper-growth business. On the other hand, grouping your venture into a $100 billion market (for example) may cause investors to worry about your venture getting lost in the shuffle.

The reason many investors look for ventures in a $1 billion market is because they are looking to put capital into an idea that can give them a 10x return within 5 to 7 years. Although this may be the case, explain why your idea can give potential investors a sizable ROI without making grandiose claims that cannot be backed up – this is where some entrepreneurs get into big trouble.

4.Product – see it in action

This slide (or slides) has to be incredibly visual. How is an investor supposed to envision your product in the hands of consumers if there is only text on this slide? Throughout these slides, show all the features and benefits of your product – and for good measure, use testimonials from beta users or current customers to prove your product’s superiority. This is the point in the presentation where you have an opportunity to let your product shine, so don’t waste it.

5.Traction – how is your venture growing?

This is the slide where investors hope to see a graph bearing a “hockey stick,” or a month over month growth that seems to go up exponentially. This is an opportunity to include metrics, sales figures, or any bit of pertinent information that shows investors that everything, quite literally, is on the up and up. One piece of advice, though – if your venture is in a very early stage of development or growth figures aren’t incredibly interesting, there is no need to include that information. In doing this you aren’t being “sneaky” or hiding anything from investors, you are just attempting to increase the likelihood of securing an investment. If your venture is in an early stage of development, why should that hurt you?

6.Team – the people behind the pitch deck

In any pitch deck, the team portion is one of the most important elements – after all, an idea may be great, but if all-star players don’t lead your venture, then what sort of longevity will it have? Because the reality is there have probably been 100 people who have thought of your idea before you, your venture is 10% about the idea and 90% about its execution.

When showcasing team members, highlight those who are the most crucial to the venture’s longevity. Utilize bullet points to list two or three accomplishments of these team members, making sure those accomplishments are related to the venture (sorry, no ‘7th-grade chess club champ’ here.)

While you are introducing investors to critical team members, be sure to include pictures of those team members – although this may seem trite, ‘putting a name to a face’ can help humanize your members. After all, a stack of bullet points isn’t very friendly.

7.Competition – where do you stand?

Contrary to what you may believe, providing context is one of the most critical aspects of the competition portion of your pitch deck. Of course, you have already discussed what sets you apart from the competition in previous slides, but now is the time to review how much capital your competition has raised in the past, and more important, at what valuation.

In this portion of your presentation, you need to show what makes you unique – if you have already discussed this at length in previous slides, provide essential bullet points here. It may also be wise to include a diagram of where you fall compared to your competitors, and where your value proposition comes into play.

8.Financials – “show me the money”

Even though any sort of projection is a shot in the dark when it comes to startups, giving a general picture of where your venture is going helps contextualize it for investors. It is relatively standard to include three years of projections, but this will depend on the space your venture wishes to enter and the requests of potential investors – some venture capitalists require five years of projections.

One of the worst things you can do in this slide is over-promise. Similar to exaggerating the size of the market you wish to enter, showing grandiose projections may get investors excited, but will cause great stress to you as you struggle to live up to those proposed figures. Even though it stinks (for lack of a better word,) always be on the conservative side when it comes to sales projections.

9.Capital needed/raised – what’s the magic number?

When it comes to the “ask” portion of the pitch deck, do not include a specific number, include a range. Although this may sound counterintuitive, there is a reason for the lack of concrete numbers in this slide. Say a company has a limit of $4 million it can invest in a single venture. If you say in your pitch deck that you are seeking $5 million, then this company may automatically pass. But if you say you are seeking between $3 and $5 million, they know they have the capital to invest in you.

Overall, your pitch deck gives you an opportunity to make your venture shine. Before sending your pitch deck to investors, have your employees and professionals with an understanding of sales psychology look it over. A small re-phrasing or image placement change could mean a difference of thousands, if not millions of dollars.