Tips for Launching a New Brand

TIPS FOR LAUNCHING A NEW BRAND. – Ruby A. Keys

In today’s inter-connected, online world, new products and services seem to pop up every day. When you’re planning to launch a new brand, how do you stand out amongst a sea of competition? The answer is to develop and build a launch campaign as strong as your brand.

If this is your company, your brand, you’ve probably put a lot of blood, sweat, and tears into developing your future. A brand lets you differentiate your business from your competitors with an identity that resonates with your target customer base. After you reach the point where your product is ready for launch, it’s easy to feel an urge to hit the market as soon as possible.

While it is tempting to sprint into the marketplace, careful and thoughtful preparation is a must, to ensure you don’t diminish your chance to make that critical first impression.

Whether you’re building a brand from scratch, or merely re-launching and re-branding, a well-conceived, well-developed plan is vital to your success. Here are some tips to consider for your branding launch.

Plan Accordingly

Building a brand for your company is one of the most important things you can do as a “marketer”. Please don’t rush into it. Make sure to allocate enough time designing and planning your launch. If you hire a marketing agency to enhance your launch, make sure you have clearly expressed your vision and that it’s portrayed through each press release, brochure design, and google campaign.

Your product or service doesn’t need to be 100 percent ready to start preparing for its launch and getting your marketing pieces established early in the process will be key to a successful launch.

Entice Your Prospective Audience

Don’t just drop your brand into the marketplace by parachute. Build up your audience’s anticipation by offering hints about the launch of your brand. Provide a sneak peek about your brand and what your audience can expect and when they will finally see it. Building the suspense early will make people stand up, take notice and become much more interested once you make that launch.

Make Your First Impression Count

Now that you’ve built anticipation for your brand, make it count! Creating a powerful first impression is the quickest way to gain customer support and retain their loyalty long-term. This strategy goes back to planning. By strategizing and planning your launch in advance, you’ll be able to hit the ground running.

Understand What Your Audience Wants

As part of your planning and preparation, make sure you know your potential customers. Understanding what they want and expect is just as important as what you are providing. Your goal should be to initially launch your brand to as many people as possible and get as much attention as you can from day one.

When you understand your audience, and what they expect, you will be in the best position to navigate the planning process and determine how to best market your company.

Standardize Your Brand

In today’s day, it’s not enough to create a logo and launch a website. You need to build your company’s presence by branding all aspects of your business. Consistency is the name of the game. You want your brand recognized across all of your platforms. These include logos, websites, cards, letterheads, email marketing, and anything else that connects your business with your customers.

When branding your company, consider who will be looking at your design. Certain colors and shapes are appealing to some groups, while off-putting to others. Consult with a marketing firm that understands your industry and the customers that will be viewing your branding pieces. The right color and logo can boost brand recognition by over 80 percent, so envision a style and color scheme that will be memorable to your target audience.

Your brand is an extension of you. Put yourself in your customer’s shoes and design your brand in a way that would resonate with you as a client. Make it personal, make it exciting, and make it pop!

Perception as Reality

Thoughts become perception, perception becomes reality. Alter your thoughts, alter your reality. – William James

Value-first is a perception. If your customer does not perceive it as value, then it’s not valuable. – Jeffrey Gitomer

Perception or reality, now what’s realer? And can I trust that man in the mirror? The death-span of the human mind gets nearer … Only place guaranteed is the grave out here. – Joey Bada$$, Perception v. Reality

Perception is Reality

I watch movies from time to time, and recently watched Catch Me If You Can. Watch it if you haven’t seen it; it’s a great movie. Leonardo DiCaprio stars as con artist Frank Abagnale who learned some tricks from his father.

In one scene, his father, played by Christopher Walken, asks Frank, “You know why the Yankees always win, Frank?”

Frank replies: “’Cause they have Mickey Mantle?”

“No, it’s ‘cause the other teams can’t stop staring at those damn pinstripes.”

I gave that some thought. What I took it to mean is that it wasn’t because Mickey Mantle or anyone great was on the Yankees. Rather, it was because they were the Yankees in uniform. The perception that the Yankees always won depresses the other teams so much that the Yankees win just by being the Yanks.

How To Create Your Desired Perception

This may come as a surprise to you, but I am a slightly aggressive personality. As a lender, my theory is that I would rather litigate everything into the ground, not because I really hate the other side, but because I want to build a reputation as someone who fights every time. That reputation is a perception I intentionally cultivate. The same intention we try to cultivate here at Geraci when we dominate the conversation.

Because perception is reality. What you perceive and believe is what is. Regardless of truth, that is your truth. Let me give you a detailed example.

Reality Behind Torches of Freedom

In 1929, the tobacco industry hired one of the most renowned public relations persons of the time, Edward Bernays, to create a campaign centered around women. At the time, cigarettes for women were taboo. It was also a closed market to women, because in some states, smoking for women was criminalized. With the rise of women’s rights in the 1910s and 20s, the tobacco industry felt this was the time to harness the power of the movement and equate it with smoking cigarettes. Bernays hired a psychologist to say, “Today the emancipation of women has suppressed many of their feminine desires. More women now do the same work as men do. Many women bear no children; those who do bear have fewer children. Feminine traits are masked. Cigarettes, which are equated with men, become torches of freedom.”

Bernays then decided to make a move. He hired women to smoke in the Easter Sunday Parade in New York. He carefully selected the women to be good looking but not too good looking. This was risqué because, before this time, women were only able to smoke in designated places. Bernays then had his photographer record and photograph the event. Women were encouraged to light their “torches of freedom” in support of fighting discrimination against women.

Perception Behind Torches of Freedom

Bernays took the above photos and published them around the world. The campaign was talked about everywhere. The women’s walk in the parade was seen as a national protest, and women around the world embraced it. And they lit their torches of freedom. Sales of cigarettes to women increased from 5% in 1923 to 12% in 1929 to 18.1% in 1935.

Was it a women’s movement? Absolutely. Women obtained the right to vote in 1916 and continued to fight discrimination at home while men went off to fight in World Wars I and II. But Bernays carefully orchestrated the torches of freedom campaign for the purpose of increasing the market share of women who smoked. And it worked. The perception was cigarettes equaled protesting.

What is the Perception You Want to Create?

Take a look at the above example. For the same reason that Bernays created the torches of freedom, we at Geraci want to create the perception of being a world-class organization with aggressive attorneys and top-of-the-line conferences and magazines. We want the private lending community to understand that we are all things private lending. We are doing that through a variety of ways summed up in “dominating the conversation.” We’re publishing a book, creating a platform, and all of our goals are showing the community that we will add value to them every way we can.

The Flip Side: See Through Perception to Find Reality

There are three truths. There’s my truth, your truth and then THE truth. – Chinese proverb

Are you sure you’re seeing THE truth? In the above example, women’s truth was the torches of freedom as a women’s movement. The cigarette company’s truth was a sophisticated public relations campaign aimed at getting women to buy more cigarettes. THE truth? To me, the truth is that it was both. It was a sophisticated marketing campaign that took a symbol of protest, the cigarette, and turned it into something that had more meaning than either side probably intended.

The same thing can be said about Apple. Apple’s truth is they want to make a large profit. Did you know it only costs $200 to make an iPhone? And yet they are able to charge a 75% premium for your enjoyment of it. Knowing that, we still pay it. Why? For some people, Apple is a way of life, a cult, if you will. The perception of Apple is that they are rebels, and that owning a part of their “culture” means you adopt their rebel status. Some people even get tattoos of Apple’s logo. What does that say about Apple’s perception? What is Apple’s reality? Apple is a company that drives products to the masses and profits to its shareholders. What is THE truth about Apple? A bit of both, like the torches of freedom.

What are your torches of freedom? What perception do you want to create that makes you appear better, faster, stronger? What makes Geraci perceived to be the authority on private lending? Don the pinstripes. Be the Yankees. Create the perception. Own the reality.

Networking: How it can grow your Loan Origination Company

Clients themselves are not enough to build your portfolio. As a loan originator, you also need to build your professional network.

“Even successful real estate investors can grow complacent,” says Shawn Miller, CEO of 5 Arch, a private mortgage company for residential real estate investors. “But you are only as good as your most recent deal. Networking is a great way to ensure future opportunities and continued success for your loan origination company.”

Here are two ways networking can help boost future profits:

1. Forge new relationships. Networking groups bring together like-minded people. You might meet potential investors strike up a friendship with like-minded professionals. Either way, getting out there and talking with business colleagues gives you a much-needed break from crunching numbers.

2. Establish your reputation. It is hard to grow your business when nobody outside of your immediate circle knows what you do. Before you blow your budget on a billboard by the highway, here is a simpler solution: “Bring along a stack of business cards and a firm handshake to your next networking event and start introducing yourself and your accomplishments to others,” says Miller.

Now  that you can see the potential impact of networking to your bottom line, here is where to mix and mingle with folks in the field:

Auctions — There is usually only one reason to go to a house auction, and everyone is there for the same reason. Go often enough, however, and you will start to see the same people, so you will likely get an idea of who is serious about growing his or her real estate investment business and who needs someone on the inside of loan acquisitions.

Community groups — Your local Chamber of Commerce or economic development corporation is a great place to make professional connections. Community organizations such as these host mixers and other networking events, usually at a discount to members. Attend a few and start chatting, suggests Miller. “You may be surprised how many people are looking to buy or sell a home, or they know someone who does.”

Real estate investment clubs — These local organizations join both beginner and experienced real estate investors in a dynamic learning environment. Become a mortgage mentor to a newbie investor, or simply connect with others to see how they are taking their portfolios to the next level — and how you can help. If you are looking to grow your business outside of your immediate community, Bigger Pockets is an excellent online resource that will help you connect with real estate investors and loan originators all over the United States, Canada and Australia, says Miller.

Trade shows and conferences — Before social media, these were really the only ways that professionals from all over the world could meet in person, however briefly, in the same time zone. Today, they remain an excellent way for you to spread the word about your loan origination company. “Even in the digital age, conferences and trade shows are still excellent opportunities to connect, learn, and grow as an investor,” says Miller.

Social media — Of course, platforms like Twitter and Facebook have all but eliminated constraints when it comes to communication. Now, we can post and tweet from wherever we are, no matter the time of day. Take advantage of being “on” 24/7: Join a Facebook group dedicated to real estate investing, or search relevant hashtags on Twitter to find out who is tweeting about #RealEstateInvesting on the #WestCoast, for example.

Whether you connect with others online or in person, it is important to keep building your professional network to increase your opportunities — and ultimate success — in the loan origination business.

How to Market to Millennials

Mortgage professionals are always seeking out the right demographic on which to focus their marketing efforts. So, there is little wonder why more loan officers and realtors are now looking to millennials for new business. This generation offers enormous potential for signing new clients, as the core demographic comes of age with regard to their career, families, and future financial goals.

With a majority of millennials well into their careers, they now turn their focus to building a family and laying down roots within their chosen community. The demographic now represents the largest group of potential homebuyers in the nation.

It sounds strange, but the question is how do you reach them? Millennials grew up in the age of technology. They entered their teens during the tech boom of the 1990s. They most likely don’t remember not having the Internet available to them, and they may be the most technically diverse population in America. Marketing to this group is an entirely different endeavor.

What Distinguishes Millennials?

The millennial generation consists of people born between 1977 and 1995, and it now encompasses more than 80 million individuals ranging in age from their early 20s to late 30s. Nearly 50 percent of all jobs in the United States are held by this demographic, and that number is likely to increase by double digits in the coming decade. While more than one-third of this group holds a degree, they may also carry a heavy debt burden from their college years. Besides racking up student loan debt, millennials like their creature comforts, and most hold other debt, such as auto loans and credit cards.

Growing Up in the Age of the Internet

Millennials not only grew up surrounded by technology, but they embraced it. For many millennials, their education evolved from written books to online studies. They were immersed in the tech realm by necessity but quickly learned to succeed in today’s workplace, they needed to understand and master technology. They communicate faster and more efficiently than the previous generation, and rest assured, they are ready to take on the next big innovation.

Millennials may be the most socially aware generation. With 24/7 news cycles and a constant stream of new app or social media platforms introduced, this demographic is immersed in national and global events. However, they shun typical marketing efforts. They are a savvy bunch and understand the difference between click bait and informative content. With so much information at their fingertips, their comprehension level is high, but the tolerance for exhaustive marketing pieces is small. They value the amount of content they have access to but primarily focus on only that content that relates to them.

What Millennials Want from Their Mortgage Company

Trustworthiness-Millennials look to build trust with whoever they do business. So, pursuing trust with millennial clients from the beginning is paramount to a continuing relationship. Upfront honesty and sincerity, truthfulness in the process, and finishing what you begin, will help lock up a customer for life.

Online Presence-Millennials do everything online. They work online, they shop online, and they pretty much live online. Being connected 24/7 provides them instant access to colleagues, friends, and news. Why should mort- gages be any different? A mortgage company with a strong online presence and brand, coupled with online processing and customer service, will earn the respect and future business of millennials.

Peer Support-Based on the popularity of Yelp and online reviewers, millennials value the input of their peers on all types of services and products, and mortgages are no different. When the time comes to purchase a property with a mortgage, this demographic will research, review recommendations, and ask a friend. A mortgage company with strong performance reviews will rise in rank.

Social Consciousness-Growing up in the era of 9/11 and beginning their careers during the recession, millennials have a keen awareness of how small actions can affect world events. They seek out and do business with companies that have a social conscience. Mortgage companies that give back to society rise to the top of the list.

Exceptional Communication- Raised on technology that allows people to communicate with nearly any- one instantly, millennials want to talk with their mortgage lender regularly. More than communication, they want to be involved in the process. Providing up to date and accurate information is key to building trust.

How to Make Your Marketing Work

We have explored how millennials think and act, and what they want in a mortgage lender. Now, let’s break down how to develop a strategic marketing plan that works.

Introduction-With millennials, it is all about getting to know someone. Use your social media presence to not only promote your business and products but also to introduce yourself to prospective clients. Tell them about your company and the real people behind the brand. Ex-plain why you are the right mortgage professional for all of their needs, and why you uniquely understand their financial plan and how you can play a part in ensuring their reach it.

Online Presentation-Today’s social media platforms and an endless supply of virtual marketing resources pro- vide companies an opportunity to market to thousands in the blink of an eye. Also, in our data-driven world, there is a wealth of information for the asking. Targeting your marketing with accurate demographic data that includes education, income, financial wherewithal, and the market history of potential clients can help focus your online energy toward this group. Getting a reaction from your posts, building a strong online presence, and following up with the millennial generation through online, speed- of-light mechanisms will help drive more new business faster and more consistently than with traditional forms of
marketing.

Education-Although a majority of millennials are college educated, some may not have insight into the benefits of owning a home, as well as the responsibilities that come with that obligation. By developing marketing pieces that spotlight insightful information and then sharing this information with thoughtful and enthusiastic copy, you will engage your audience and deliver enthusiasm with a call to action.

Brand Creation-Use the information you have learned about millennials to build a brand around what is important to them. Homeownership is a big step, and they want to work with knowledgeable, trustworthy, and tech-savvy individuals to help guide them through the process.

Follow Through-You created the marketing plan, hit the social networks, and broadcast your message to the world. Now, it is time to live that message. Be familiar, be consistent, and follow through on your promises. Building that initial trust was key to earning millennial business, but living up to your commitments and proving your dedication to your client’s best interest will earn you their loyalty.

Millennials will become one of the largest real estate buying demographics over the next decade, but marketing to the group presents its challenges. While millennials are near the top of wage earners for their age group, they also carry too much debt. In a housing market that is near or at the peak of all-time highs, designing a mortgage solution around current obligations could be a delicate endeavor.

However, millennials present a tremendous opportunity to capture a major portion of the future home buying market, while building the type of loyalty that only comes around once in a generation.

What do Customers Look for in a Loan Originator?

Mortgage originators are always looking for the best marketing techniques to earn more business. However, with so much competition in the marketplace, it is no longer enough to have slick advertising materials or a strong social media presence. Originators must understand what today’s borrowers expect from a loan officer.

Here are seven actions that help you earn the respect of home-buyers, home sellers, and the average borrower.

1.Walk your borrowers through the entire mortgage process.

Most borrowers understand the broader points of obtaining a mortgage, such as how their credit, income, and assets are the key underwriting criteria used to qualify them for a loan. However, many are confused by loan-to-value calculations, debt-to-income ratios, amortization schedules, and other mortgage terms. A good loan officer understands how to prepare a borrower for a mortgage application by walking them through the requirements.

2. Ask questions and welcome feedback.

From the time you entered the mortgage business, you probably heard the best way to sell a loan was to ask the borrower what they want in a mortgage. This simple approach still works. Most borrowers, even if they have bought or sold real estate before, value a loan officer who understands their expectations. Likewise, loan officers should take heed of the feedback they receive. Asking a few simple questions and listening to their concerns will help you develop a firm grasp of your borrower’s expectations.

3. Ensure you are always communicating.

While some borrowers need more attention than others, most want the same thing from their loan originator: responsiveness. Returning messages promptly and keeping them informed of the process is the best way to build trust and gain referrals. When a loan originator is not responsive to a customer’s concerns, however trivial, they risk alienating them, or worse, slowing the loan process to the point of cancellation.

4. Provide exceptional organizational skills.

You have likely run across some disorganized borrowers. However, they still demand organization from their loan officer, and that is probably the reason they are seeking a loan originator. To be successful, you must be organized in your approach to disclosures, locking rates, and the closing. By letting borrowers see your organizational skills and their benefits, their confidence in you will build and help seal the deal.

5. Always be honest and direct with your clients.

Always be upfront and forthright in any communication with your clients. Questions should be answered truthfully and without hesitation. Honesty is one of the most important qualities to offer, because your client will respect your suggestions and feel confident in the integrity you bring to the transaction.

6. Be educated and well-informed about the products you offer.

Many borrowers are confused and unsure of what loan product may be best or even appropriate for their fi
nancial situation. A firm understanding of the products you sell builds their confidence in your ability and will reassure them they made the right decision.

7. Refrain from placing too much pressure on your clients.

Many borrowers feel highly stressed when considering important financial decisions. Don’t add to their consternation by placing more pressure on their decision-making process. You will always need to address time-sensitive matters, but when offering a loan solution, demanding the borrower make a decision may leave them second guessing if they made the right choice in their selection of a loan officer.

Of course, there are other factors that play into a borrower’s decision-making process, but focusing on these seven essential actions will better prepare you as a loan professional and help you focus on what matters most to your borrowers.

Focus your Marketing Efforts on What’s Important – Only What’s Important

It’s all about the marketing, right? Every business owner understands this underlying principle. Whether you are selling a clothing line, flower arrangements, or a service, like say, mortgages – marketing is the key to your success.

The digital age has ushered in a wealth of marketing opportunities, but with it comes certain challenges. For mortgage loan originators, digital marketing can be a daunting and sometimes frustrating endeavor. While some excel and relish the digital marketing space, most originators would rather be, well, originating.

Marketing requires some market savvy, a little bit of imagination, and time and effort. Loan originators can probably think of better ways to spend their time rather than creating a new marketing plan. However, developing a good mortgage marketing campaign is worth the effort because marketing works. Not any marketing, but smart marketing. If you are going to spend time and resources on promoting yourself, stick to the techniques that are
proven to work.

Getting Started

Before beginning a new digital marketing campaign, you need to change your way of thinking about lead generation. Digital marketing is more about business development rather than simply generating new mortgage leads. People go online looking to learn, to investigate, and to understand how the choices they make will affect them down the road. View your marketing campaign as a way to engage an audience and familiarize them with your business. Social media is perfect for this type of communication and makes it easy to get the word out and remind followers exactly what it is that you do. It does not always have to be about selling. Sometimes it is as simple as reaching out with an interesting story or engaging article.

While reaching out to the public, keep your eye on the prize. Find referrals and focus on meeting other parties that can refer you new business. Facebook, Google, and LinkedIn all have groups for virtually every type of business. Joining these groups and engaging members with a conversation about topics you are familiar with is a good way to get your feet wet. Not only will you converse with like-minded individuals, but you may learn something about your industry and your client base that you may have never considered otherwise.

Developing Relationships

Marketing has always been about developing relationships. Digital marketing is no different, and with the mortgage industry, the best way to grow your business long-term is to build business partnerships. A new business relationship provides much more value than a loan lead. Sure, leads can convert to applications and result in a closing, but a partnership, say with a referring realtor, adds more value to your business in the long run.
Building professional relationships with builders, accountants, realtors, business bankers and others is
an excellent way to grow your business. Social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter allow you to stay in contact with your partners and take in interest in their business as well as personal lives. It is always a good idea to seek opportunities where both parties can benefit. Look for openings that will allow you to refer your clients to their businesses as well.

Target Demographics

Marketing is as much about demographics as it is anything else. Know your target audience. Whom do you want to speak with directly to sell your services? Sure, most loan originators would like to reach out to everyone who owns a home or is planning to buy one, but that is not very realistic. Instead, define your target business partner and go after that base. You have a much better chance of garnering new business by reaching out to a select group of realtors, rather than blasting the entire real estate market in your area.

Another concern is how to make yourself stand out to realtors and other professionals in your area. One way is to specialize. Every loan originator has a niche they like to work within. Be it VA, FHA, purchase money, construction financing or hard money loans, whatever it is, show your business partners why they should pick you. Many lenders choose to market for business that is most profitable, but still, it is smart to consider other options, such as fastest to close. Whichever product suits your taste, be specific, offer clarity, and demonstrate that you excel in providing that product to borrowers.

Digital Marketing Platforms

When developing any good marketing plan you want to focus on delivery systems that work. For years, originators relied on direct mail to reach out to potential clients. The problem is, that approach still requires your potential lead to open your letter and read it. In the digital age, several platforms allow you to get your message out and reach a far greater audience. For loan originators, there are seven leading digital marketing tools you should focus on when developing your marketing campaign.

Personally Branded Website

A website is an excellent way to provide a “digital business card” to the world. Many originators work for a company that provides a corporate website where they can direct customers to for advice, questions, or information about the types of products and services you offer. However, a personally branded website sells you. This is a site that you can personalize with information about your expertise, the types of products that you specialize in, and type of service customers can expect. Loan originators do not always stay with the same company. A personally branded site will also move with you as you further your career. It provides a way for your business partners and previous clients to keep track of where you are and what types of financing you continue to provide.

Blog

A personal blog is also a quick way for a mortgage professional to get their message out to the masses. One misconception is that you have to know how to write to have a blog. That’s not true; you don’t have to be a good writer or even know how to write interesting content to have a blog. Many bloggers just post links to articles that they think their customers would find interesting or educational. Blogs are quickly becoming the medium of choice for marketing firms. Besides offering insightful information, a blog can be shared on social media over
and over and reach an incredible amount of readers in a short amount of time.

Email Marketing

As we indicated before, email branding was one of the first digital marketing tools used by the industry, and even after all these years, it still works. While spamming has become a global scourge, email marketing to business partners or your existing customer base is still a good way to communicate. However, people’s time is valuable. Instead of sending out boring messages, many email campaigns contain only a few lines of information and then a link to a blog or website. Remember – keep it short and sweet if you want to make sure the recipients will read your content.

Facebook | www.facebook.com

Facebook recently surpassed 2 billion users worldwide. It is the undisputed champ when it comes to social media. In fact, some marketers only advertise on Facebook; it is that powerful a digital tool. Facebook is similar to a blog in that you can post articles, photos, and other content that your contacts may find interesting. Like your blog, you only want to post information that you believe will attract potential clients or business partners.
Some business users make the mistake of posting chain mail, political content, goofy videos, or other content that
may turn off many prospects.

LinkedIn | www.linkedin.com

Think of LinkedIn as Facebook for business. You can create a profile page. Share and upload information about
yourself. You can even create discussion groups and interact with other business professionals across a variety
of industries. In this manner, and the fact that LinkedIn has over 500 million worldwide users, LinkedIn is perhaps the best relationship building digital platform for industry professionals. LinkedIn provides a unique profile page whereas your contacts are allowed to give feedback on your skill sets. So, adding contacts with whom you have personally done business or those who understand your business, will become your referral base for other users that may be considering using the services you provide.

ActiveRain | www.activerain.com

ActiveRain is a website community designed around real estate and real estate professionals. The site allows users
to post relevant articles, blogs, and other information and promotes the community to comment and share the content.

Opportunity | www.myopportunity.com

Opportunity is the newest business platform to emerge that provides an interesting way for professionals to network. Opportunity is a network of business professionals whom each builds a profile detailing the services or products they provide, along with indicating what professional services he or she is seeking. The platform then allows users to reach out to others who may be in need of their services, and vice-versa. This feature is a great lead generation tool and offers users the ability to reach out to customers all over the world.

Content and Consistency is Key

As with any marketing campaign, content is king. Creating the right blend of interesting articles, updated list of services offered, and call to action is essential to your digital marketing success. With the amount of information bombarding consumers daily, finding and posting content that will have people not only take notice but actually read, is key to generating new leads and building strong business relationships.

If you are not an experienced marketer, this is the hard part – consistency. Marketing is most successful when done on a regular basis. The good news is that digital platforms make being consistent easier. To stay on your marketing task, you simply need to block out a little time each day, perhaps in the mornings or evenings, to post to your social profiles. Posting regular updates and new content will keep your profile popping in your contacts’ timelines and remind them that you are ready and able to help them.

With a little effort, some creativity, and dedication to making a difference in your business, you can be on your
way to becoming a master of marketing.

Driving a Marketing Campaign without Spam Flagging

Email marketing campaigns have been around since, well, email. Real estate brokers and lenders who previously used snail mail marketing to drive leads suddenly found they could reach a much wider audience, faster and cheaper than ordinary mail correspondence. However, the two methods have one thing in common: getting people to read your message instead of tossing it in the trash can.

Generating leads is a time-consuming and costly task. The advent of email and the internet have made message marketing easier, but a marketing campaign is still only as good as the response it generates. Whether you are creating your own email marketing or are running a paid campaign, you want the same results: People reading your message. But how do you know how many of your emails are getting through and how many get flagged as spam before ever reaching their intended recipient?

A recent study showed over 56 percent of worldwide email traffic was flagged as spam. In the U.S., the numbers are a little better. These numbers are on top of the amount of people who intentionally trash it before reading. Taking this into consideration, you would waste your time and money if you did not try to improve your inbox placement.

Testing your Message

Some email services do provide statistics about your campaign, but typically they only track open clicks and link click-throughs and do not offer much information about volume delivered. Because of this, it is prudent to test your email marketing pieces against a spam catcher before you send them off. There is a web-based program that helps email marketers tighten up their pieces before launching the campaign.

The web site mail-tester.com allows users to test their emails and provides  details  about  how  your  messages will appear to a spam filter. By sending a copy   of your email to their email address, their spam bot evaluates your message and offers a spam score, followed  up  with  advice  on  improving your  message.

The  feedback includes:

  • How your message will appear to recipients in various text and HTML formats
  • How Spam Assassin (an aggressive spam filter) reacts to your email message
  • Your  sending email address and mail server’s authentication status
  • Confirmation blacklisted
  • Confirmation your email address and mail server are not of valid hyperlinks.

These items may seem insignificant to some users, but this feedback will, in all probability, save you money and re- sources down the road. This is valuable information that can be used to create more precise and targeted messages. The spam filter analyzes words and phrases that flag an email as spam and confirms the authenticity and security of the sending email address and server. An email address and mail server can get flagged for spam at any time, even without the owner’s knowledge. This tool allows you to confirm your server’s status before you launch your ad campaign. If you have technical issues, consult your service provider or IT administrator.

Writing and Designing a Spam-Proof Campaign

A great email marketing campaign begins with a great subscriber list. Ensure the email addresses on your list consist of those who are expecting your email. Review your list for membership and ensure that those who request removal are removed.

Also, consider using a third-party email platform that has a solid reputation. Many drip email providers have taken the necessary steps to make sure they are not blacklisted and have a solid history of providing effective email delivery.

At the end of the email, provide a prominent link for recipients to unsubscribe. It is better to have a subscriber unsubscribe rather than report your message as spam.

And finally, write content and a subject line that is not filled with spam words. Terms like “free estimate” and “good credit” are red flags. Remember, spam filters work on algorithms that make calculations based on keywords. Red letters and large bolded text will also trigger a flag.

You are spending resources and money on your email marketing plan. Take a time to ensure your content is bulletproof — it doesn’t read as spam, your servers are clean, your email address is not blacklisted, and your subscriber list is solid — to increase your deliverability statistics and drive more prospective clients.

Common Reasons Email is Flagged as Spam

Email service providers are constantly updating their security rules that tag emails as spam. Here are several common issues that can send your message to the spam box:

Blacklisting: This is when an email server recognizes the sending email server as an origination point for spam. Your email server is checked against an internal list of serious spam offenders maintained by service providers. Once your email address or server is blacklisted, it is tough to get it removed. You may need to start over.

Sender Reputation: The reputation of the sending server or IP address is an important factor in whether your email breaks through a spam filter. Using a mail service that has a poor rating may result in legitimate marketing messages being tagged. Research your email service to ensure they have a solid reputation and don’t allow spammers on their system.

Domain Reputation: Email service providers have begun to track domain names to determine which is more commonly used (or misused) for spam delivery. Many times, an email account on a domain can be hacked and used to send out spam. This abuse could put the domain at risk and affect its score.

Email Recipient Activity: If your email is consistently getting rejected by the recipient mail servers, it could cause problems for your email list. Spam filters now look at the activity of certain email lists to determine how the messages are treated. If   a small number of emails are opened, or even more are deleted before being opened, it returns a “ low quality” response to the mail server, which, in turn, could lead to an unfavorable spam score.

Email Content: The content of your email message plays an integral part in how the spam filter views it. The subject header, images, links, or text content can all lead to an unfavorable score. While drafting a message, you should place just as much emphasis on word and image choices as you would on performance.