Open all hours – how to lead customers to your shop door
Ed Payne is director of Bristol-based brokerages Family First Finance and Clifton Mortgages
In my previous blog, I’ve talked about the reasons why I wanted to run my own mortgage and protection business and the initial hurdles to be overcome when sinking the foundations.
Having identified the opportunity and established network support, the next step in the journey was to find potential customers that need my help. I had some really good leads to get things going but what I needed was a continuous ‘pipeline’.
This is where my marketing background comes in, but some clear planning and a few simple steps can help anyone who doesn’t have any specific skills in this area.
Potential customers are out there – and these days are more empowered than ever before to search for solutions to their needs – so making yourself visible to them right when they are looking is key.
First off, you need your ‘shop window’ – somewhere that tells people who you are, what you do and how you can help them. With the intangible nature of what we offer in this industry, nowadays this really means a website.
Simple software can be used – no need these days to have technical ‘coding’ knowledge – and I used Wix.com. I didn’t need to create a website of Amazon proportions.
It should be simple to read, easy to understand with clear navigation – and of course enable someone to easily take that next step to get in touch. To me, that meant just a handful of pages, explaining who I am, what I offer, showcasing my knowledge, sharing useful information and providing obvious contact methods. I’ll grow and update the site over time from feedback and experience.
So, I had my website, but unfortunately, I couldn’t just put my feet up and wait for the hordes to knock on the door.
At this point, my ‘shop’ was effectively sat in the far corner of an unvisited alleyway. A website won’t be found until you tell people about it – you have to earn your place on the high street.
Word of mouth of course can get you a start – and it’s free!
But to attract the curious and interested, it’s also necessary to indulge in some digital networking and paid for promotion. And todays online marketing opportunities are well suited to small start-ups like myself with their low entry level cost points.
So, with a meagre budget I was able to advertise on several fronts – Google pay per click, Facebook and LinkedIn. The beauty of these channels is that there is no minimum spend and you can flick these on and off as you see fit – you’re not committed to any term length. They also have detailed reporting dashboards so that you can see in real-time how things are working.
There is still a learning curve, although the basic set-up and targeting of your potential audience I found to be fairly intuitive. But, there are no cast iron guarantees.
Creating an advert that in a few short words – and with the right visuals for social media – appeals directly to your audience and gets them to take action is an art and a science. I’m still in the early days of making this work well.
Aside from the paid for promotions, you can of course use social media to generate leads from expanding your network. So, I’ve tried to make sure that I’ve connected with all the great contacts I’ve made over the years as well as family and friends.
Alongside this, my next task is to post interesting and relevant articles that help grow my ‘brand’ as an expert who can help with people’s financial needs.
I’ve not even touched on other marketing angles that I’m testing out, for example a ‘traditional’ advert in a local community magazine and of course there’s this very article.
All these elements add to my visibility. Putting these strands together means burning the candle late into the evening but it’s necessary to keep the lifeblood of the business – people who need my help – alerted to my presence and knocking on my door.
I may not be on the ‘virtual’ high street yet, but I have my eye on getting premises soon!