In this special episode of Elite Broker, The Adviser talks to digital marketing guru and Better Business Summit speaker Beth Powell, who reveals her tips for brokers looking to attract new leads, the common misconceptions about social media marketing and how brokers can build their online presence.
In this week’s episode:
James Mitchell: Hello, and welcome to Elite Broker. I'm you're host, James Mitchell, and we've got a Better Business Summit special for you this week. Joining us in the studio, as always, our regular cohost Annie Kane. How're you doing, Annie?
Annie Kane: Good, James. How're you?
James Mitchell: Not too bad. And we've got Beth Powell. Beth's a digital marketing expert, or a bit of a guru in the digital marketing space. She's also a speaker at the Better Business Summit this year. She's been a regular speaker at our Digital Marketing Bootcamps, as well, so brokers who've been to those events should be quite familiar with her. We're going to find out a little bit more about digital marketing, and how brokers can benefit. Welcome, Beth.
Beth Powell: Thanks, James. Thanks, Annie.
James Mitchell: Maybe if you can start off by telling us a little bit about how you got into the marketing space, digital marketing specifically, and some of the expertise you've gained, I guess, over that time.
Beth Powell: Yeah, it's a bit of a long story, but I'll shorten it right up. It was ... My background is in marketing and communications, and it was about a bit over 10 years ago, I moved out of a corporate role and was not sure where I was going, so I parked myself in a friend's public relations business, and said, "I'm really interested in this digital thing, so can we do some experiments?"
And she said, "Yeah, I've got some clients where we're not getting much traction, and frankly, I'd really like it if you could take them on and just see how you go." So we did it as experiments, basically.
We started doing this thing, you know, this new digital marketing thing, which I thought ... My hypothesis was that journalists are time poor. At the time, newsrooms were shrinking down the amount of staff that they had, so I thought, "Journalists will use search more. Let's see what we can do with Google."
So we started to build the profile of these particular individuals, where my friend was having real problems having traction in traditional media, and so we built the profile with the idea that that would generate traditional media, and indeed it did. The ambition of one of the clients was to get on the front page of the finance section of the Sydney Morning Herald, and traditional PR wasn't cutting it, and they'd been working at it for some months. We managed to get that happening in a pretty short time through YouTube clips, blogging, getting a decent profile, so that searchable guy on as an expert on a particular topic.
Annie Kane: So sort of SEO, so if you put his name into the Google, it would just come on the first page basically.
Beth Powell: Yeah, not necessarily his name, but what he was known for. He had a particular specialisation, so we would build content around that specialisation of him talking about that, and him commenting in other media about that, and on blogs at the time. We started a blog for him and a Twitter account as well, so that then if you searched on the specialisation, his name would come up, and he'd fill the page. If you're a journalist, and then you go, "Oh, that guy's the expert. I'll call him." So it was through that that we ended up getting on the front page of the finance section of the Sydney Morning Herald.
James Mitchell: Nice.
Beth Powell: I thought, "This is pretty cool. My hypothesis works. I'm really interested in this," and so I went off and did my master's degree in digital communications and culture and started to write training programmes and think how I want to spread the word about this, and ... Been working in it ever since.
James Mitchell: Fantastic. What would you say are some of the fundamentals, or are there some fundamentals of digital marketing that people should generally be across? You know what I mean? Sort of like a low base level that people should be across, whether it's SEO stuff or recognising what their branding should be ... What are some of the fundamentals in mortgage broking, specifically, you think that everyone should be thinking about, who operates in this space?
Beth Powell: I really focus on a particular framework called RACE. RACE stands for Reach, Act, Convert and Engage. And this framework was developed by a UK-based digital marketing guru. His name is Dave Chaffey, and he's been working with businesses all around the world, using this framework for a long time now. So it's a proven framework, and it's really quite simple, because when you think about it, a lot of people now are taught using the analogy of marriage, that we've got ... In marriage, you don't have a date, and then next minute you're married, right? There's a process that happens in between that.
Well, the same with marketing. You don't search up someone's name and then immediately book them as your broker. There's a get to know you period, and so the framework, RACE, covers that. First of all, you need to be able to be found, so that's your Reach stage. I've started to introduce this idea about being ready to reach. I think this is really important for brokers. Being ready to reach means being really comfortable with your website and also your social media profiles, having some educational marketing content out there. Now that could be a blog. It could be a YouTube channel, something like that. Then just having that content there and doing those things is gonna make you more easily found in search. Rather than kind of focus on SEO, focus on content and the kind of words that people, who are looking for your special service, would type in, so not necessarily your name, but those words.
Being ready to reach, and then active reaching is obviously being found, but then pushing out some advertising, doing some fun things with your educational content. In the RACE framework, I recommend that the first stuff that you're producing, you're offering for free. So whether that's a decent sized blog post, like something quite in-depth that gives value to the audience. Blog post or a YouTube series, or whatever, that's for free. And then you generate the interest.
Next stage is where you're asking for the email address. So you're doing something a little bit more complicated. It might be the e-book or the guide, the checklist. It could be a mini training series ... Mini video training series ... That kind of thing. Something of value ... Quizzes, as well, are marvellous here. So somebody's going to trade an email address, and then you can start building on that relationship. They're getting to know you. They like what you've got to offer. The Act phase is all about that, that kind of get to know you period. It's about having more educational ... Marketing Educational Assets is what we call them, which is kind of those things that I just mentioned.
And then obviously with the Convert stage, you've got to have a simple landing page. You've got to enable people to convert. So whatever that is, whether it's getting in touch with you, so whether it's a form that works then that plugs into your MailChimp, in the back end, or something like that. Or if you're offering something for sale ... So somebody may be joining a membership club, 'cause there's a few mortgage brokers who are doing some really interesting things in that space, then there's gotta be a page where people can convert on that. And then, things that I've spoken to you about before, James, in the magazine, is about after that process, you don't want to let those people go. You've worked quite hard to attract those clients.
James Mitchell: Yeah. They want to retain them.
Beth Powell: You want to retain them. And, sure, I might only use a mortgage broker once, and then I might not think about it for five years, but you want me, when I do think about it again, to be thinking about you. So you've got to have the processes in place, to just keep in touch, and that can be a combination of old-school things, like cards, postcards in the post, that kind of thing, but also good quality email.
Annie Kane: I think it's really interesting that you're saying that having the education side, about offering something that isn't necessarily their primary job. I mean, a lot of brokers will be like, "You know, I'm a broker. Why would I need to do all this extra stuff, and what will I achieve from it?" And I think that's what you're saying there about making yourself more of a trusted advisor, and someone who might not necessarily be needed for that mortgage broker bone right that instant, but then you've got that sort of trusted advisor category in that person's brain, because they're thinking, "You know, I remember seeing those emails," or "I remember getting this book," ... Something that's kind of constantly on the back burn, but -
James Mitchell: Especially with blogs as well, I think, as well, as sort of a channel of brokers being able to, I guess, show their expertise and a bit of their knowledge about the market in general, you know what I mean?
Beth Powell: I do know what you mean. Yeah.
James Mitchell: It's funny, with blog ... I mean, Annie and I, obviously we're across the title, and blogs are a big part of what we do on the site, and we've got three titles now, which all host blogs. It's funny, you can get some brokers who're really proactive and want to provide those blogs, and they send stuff through every month, or every week, almost. They're very proactive with it. And there's been cases where, I've often been on a broker's website, just doing some research and that sort of stuff, finding out about their business, and I've noticed they've got a blog section, but it hasn't been updated since 2012, when the cache rate was at five percent, or something like that. It's not a great look, you know what I mean? When they've done two blog posts and they're still up on the site and they haven't been updated. In terms of brokers you've worked with for example, what is some of the advice you give them, either around writing blogs or providing content or just digital marketing generally?
Beth Powell: It is a real challenged. The ones I've worked with are really small businesses, and so they're very ... Their days are rightly spent meeting clients and pushing their business forward. So I guess, the first step we take is to say, "Well, let's just do a little review of what you look like online." Any mortgage broker, who has the time or inclination, can do this themselves. Just clear your cache, and if you can do a search of yourself, where your ... It's not incognito, but you're doing a search where you take your preferences away, so that Google's not going to just deliver you information that it already thinks that you want. So do a search like that, and then you get a really good indication about what of your stuff is showing up or not. So that's the first thing.
The second thing is really know your niche. If I'm looking for somebody, specifically, who relates to me, I'm gonna be searching different mortgage brokers, and I'm going to be more interested in the one who demonstrates that he or she is suitable for what I'm looking for. So, if you don't know your niche well enough, you'll be too general, and it's not gonna work as well for you.
I think I might have mentioned to you a story about a broker who was trying to rank for the keywords, "Melbourne mortgage broker," and you know, that's hard. That's really big, it's really broad.
James Mitchell: You're playing in a big market there.
Beth Powell: Yeah, you are, and you're up against ... There's a lot of money doing SEO for "Melbourne mortgage broker," but even more than that, what does that mean to me? Well, it means that maybe you're in the same location as me, but kind of nothing more than that. So if you're targeting people of a particular gender, age group, in a particular life stage, looking for particular things ... Perhaps it's about building a retirement portfolio. Maybe it's about first home buyers. Maybe it's about getting to that stage where your kid's a little bit older, suddenly you've got a little bit more money, and maybe you're looking for investment. What type of mortgage broker are you? And write your copy around keywords that somebody who's in that kind of category would be looking for. So that's going to work for you, from an SEO point of view, but it's also going to give you the ideal prospects that you need, rather than the everyone thing. And you start to become known as an expert in that particular niche. So then you're the go-to person, and the word of mouth referral will grow around that as well.
I talk quite a lot about what the role of marketing is, and the role of marketing is not to close a sale ever; it's to create the ideal conditions for the best sales conversation that you can have. And the best sales conversation's when somebody's coming up to you and saying, "Hey, listen, I want you." You're already the trusted advisor. You don't have to do anything "salesy" to get them over the line, because they're basically saying, "You're the one I wanna work with. Where do I sign up?" Or, "Take my money." If you get this marketing assets and the positioning of yourself correct, then that is the next step.
James Mitchell: Do you think there are some misconceptions out there about social media and, I guess, that it is a free channel and that it is easy to use. You know what I mean? That you can just put something up and wait for the leaves to come in ... Do you think there needs to be a bit more knowledge about how it works?
Beth Powell: Yeah, I do, 'cause I have come across that quite a lot, where people say, "I've been on Facebook for 12 months, and I haven't got a lead from it." And I'm like, "Oh, well, you know, yeah. So?"
James Mitchell: Yeah.
Beth Powell: "Would you expect anything different?" If you're just kind of doing Facebook, maybe you're posting Happy Fridays once a week, nothing's gonna happen. And that's not Facebook particularly; that's gonna be the same as if you're in Twitter or Instagram or any of the others. So, no, it's about having the assets. So, one, building a brand, how you want it to be built, that reflects ... That your niche can identify with ... And second, having those educational marketing assets that you can promote through your social channels, and I would say paid. So if you're pushing it into your Facebook page, then boost the post so it gets to your network, and that's as cheap as anything, and a very simple thing to do. You just hit the button that says Boost. So, it's not going to be that hard.
But having said that, some people just find and they say to me, "I just can't get my head around how Facebook works."
And you think, "Okay, that's fine. Don't feel bad about that, either. Get a lesson. Get somebody to show you, or say what you want to happen, and get someone else to do it for you." I think that whole outsourcing thing is another big question that we're going to address. It's ... You know, just because you can do something doesn't necessarily mean you should. Most brokers, pushing their business forward every single day, and that's right. That's what the expert in. That's what they should be doing. If you were gonna build your ... Put a whole lot of emphasis on social media and building your social media profile, and that doesn't come naturally to you, then that's gonna be a time-suck. That's gonna be bad for your business, so in that case, I think it's a really go decision to say, "I'm gonna get someone else to do this."
But getting someone else to do it only works well when you know what you want. Right? And you're clear about what you want. So doing a bit of reading up first, and saying, "Okay, this is the kind of strategy that's gonna suit me, and now I know enough that I can have a discussion with somebody who does this kind of work, and instead of being a follower, I can be a leader or at least an equal in this," it's gonna be a much more satisfying experience. To be a good client, you have to be a partner with the supplier and work together to develop the content, to talk about what worked and didn't work, so I think that that's an important consideration. Think about, "Okay, am I gonna do it myself?" If it comes naturally, do it. If it doesn't come naturally, learn what you need to know, do a bit of reading, and then talk to somebody and be a good client by being a partner to that.
James Mitchell: I guess it comes down to personalities, you know? I mean, if you're a big personality, and you're very social media savvy, and you know your niche, then it obviously will come much easier to you. But if you're a bit more reserved, and you're not a fan of social media, then, like you said, you might need to outsource it.
One thing which I was thinking ... Brokers have a huge gold mine in their clients, because they have face to face interactions daily with their clients. I remember one broker from Digital Marketing Bootcamp, who posted on Facebook ... It might have been the same broker. Posted on Facebook after each deal settled, and the picture of that. The clients sent him a picture of the house that they've bought, and he puts it on and says, "Just helped these guys get their first home. Fantastic," all that sort of thing. So you're seeing the end result.
In terms of writing blogs and content, I think brokers, they've got so much information, and I'm not talking about the financials, but just the stories are from their clients, what they're looking for, what their dreams are and aspirations, and that sort of stuff. They can build a pretty decent picture about themes and topics, which can be written about, which would surely go down well with the rest of their audience, you would think. You know what I mean? Whether it's anxieties about rates, or this or that, or what stamp duties are- all that sort of thing. I reckon if they tap into the stories of their clients, that might potentially be a good thing as well.
Beth Powell: Yeah, and that can be the easiest thing, because you are getting stories all the time. You can de-identify it, change a few things about it, so that you keep the identities, and you can just tell the story of what position that person was in and what needed to be done for the transformation to get their ideal solution. And those stories are pretty not hard to tell, because they're there, but it's about starting to ... In my experience, it's about getting the brokers to start thinking that that's a reproducible story. So when you're hearing, go, "Oh, yeah, that's a reproducible story."
Now, the other block ... Brokers I work with are, "I don't really write," right? They say to me, "I don't really write," and they say, "I don't have time to write," or "I'm hopeless at writing."
And you think, "No, that's fine. All I need you to do is talk to me in your iPhone and tell me the story," and then me or someone else writes that thing up. So you don't have to ... Writing is not a block anymore. There's lots of transcription services or copywriting services that just write it up into a great story. In fact, I was listening to a Podcast this morning of a guy who's completely illiterate, and he's written three books, and it's all just been recorded.
Or let's say you actually really like doing videos. You can talk in front of a camera. Just set your iPhone up and tell the stories that way, and then you can have somebody just top and tail it with your- some intro music, your logo, the contact number. They can take out anything ... Some mild editing for stuff you don't like, and then you're telling stories that way, and people check in to your YouTube.
It actually brings me to another point, something you said just reminded me. I've been working with a client at the moment, we're not going so well. We're getting the clicks, but we're not getting the conversions on the landing page, right? So we're looking at our traffic to the page, and we're doing our reach steps, so we're pushing traffic to this landing page, but the conversions aren't coming through. So to me, that says, "Right. We've gotta do something. This landing page isn't gonna work. Isn't working for us."
So I said to the client, "Tell me, when you're sitting down in front of the people that you're talking to all the time, how do they describe this problem that they've got. What are the exact words they use. Exactly."
And he said, "Oh, well, I think they say such and such," which was quite different than what we'd been told in the brief to write on the landing page.
"So straight up, let's change it to that, and here's your task for the next month, while we're doing this review, is every single meeting you have, I want you to think hard about the words that they use, because then we're gonna replicate those words on the landing page."
So it's the same for the brokers: Think hard about the words, the exact words, the precision. Be precise about it. Remember it. Write it down in a notebook or something when you come out of the meetings. 'Cause they're the kinds of words that you're gonna be using when you're putting your stories together, when you're putting your landing pages together. People will tell you in their own words what their particular problem is, and that's what you're giving back to them, and saying, "I've got the solution."
Annie Kane: I just wonder, in terms of actually sort of broadly speaking terms of social media, or any other types of marketing, is there one particular channel that works particularly well, that you've discovered for mortgage brokers? For example, if they're just starting out on this journey, and they think, "Okay, well, I wanna go down the Instagram route, because I have a personal Instagram account, so I know how to do that." Is that a good channel for them, or does Facebook traditionally have more traction? I mean, what kind of the different benefits and drawbacks of the different channels and which ones, in your experience, work best?
James Mitchell: Is there a go-to?
Annie Kane: Or do we need to hire you?
Beth Powell: That's right. My hourly rate is ... You know, that's a really hard question to answer because it really depends on your niche, where your niche is, what you're comfortable publishing in. I think a go-to is Facebook, in a way, because let's say you're writing a few blog posts, and I'm not talking about having to write a blog post every day or even every week. Let's say you're write a decent blog posts once a month. It would be better to do it once a fortnight, but let's say once a month. And by writing, I mean, I've got that in inverted commas here, whether you're talking a blog post or talking a video. Just some in-depth content ... The reason why Facebook is a bit of a no-brainer is because it's so easy to distribute. It's such a good distribution channel for educational marketing content like that. And the quizzes that we do, and all that kind of stuff works really well in Facebook, but you can also do that stuff in Instagram. You've got to make sure that your audience is ... Well, there's big audience in Instagram, but are they an audience who interacts with that kind of content in Instagram is the question.
Generally, we'll kind of cross Twitter off, going to it is not something really here, but I don't know whether you were at the Digital Marketing Bootcamp, and we had a guy who's from regional, and his network was the farmers. And he just said, "The farmers ... It was all about Twitter." So Twitter was his go-to, that he didn't need to do anything else. So imagine that. He's got 140 characters in a link. How easy.
Annie Kane: All the sheep farmers in Australia follow me.
Beth Powell: Yeah, and he's just got it made. He says, "It's just been easy for me," since he discovered that. It's another question to ask. So let's say in your client meetings, you're not only really observing about what's the language that they're using to describe their issues and fears and so on, or their ideal solution; it's also, you can ask them, "So, what about social media? Would you be interested in following, and which network? Where do you hang out?
Annie Kane: I guess, as well, like kids are saying with the blogs and stuff, if you're using Twitter, it's not like you can post a whole ... You've only got 140 characters. You've gotta then direct them somewhere else, whereas in Facebook, you can just immediately put it into the page, and then ... post.
Beth Powell: That's true. So it looks prettier in Facebook. I mean, in Twitter you put the link, and the same in LinkedIn, so it all drives traffic back to your blog. Now I might be getting a little bit complicated, but one of the things that I think's important is on that blog, which is on your website, you will have the Facebook pixel. The Facebook pixel is a tracking code, and it tracks visitors from anywhere to your site. And it just enables you, then, to send particular information to people who visited your website, back into Facebook. So let's say, all the people who visited your recent blog, read that ... You want to direct a quiz to those people. You can do that in Facebook, using the pixel. It just allows you to build that relationship with those people who've already said, "Hey, we're interested in you." And it brings me back to the RACE framework, so that's a really important part in RACE is that we say, "Use the Facebook pixel, because somebody who's already put their hand up to start the sales conversation with you, they're inviting you to continue it, so you can continue that with the Facebook pixel directly back into Facebook."
Annie Kane: I think I've seen that before, when I've been shopping on a website, and then you go back to Facebook, and it goes, "Hey, do you like these trousers? They're 25% off." And you're like, "Oh, man! Maybe I will buy them."
Beth Powell: That's true. So you can do that as a remarketing thing. You can also send them something completely different, and you can say, "Okay, I want people who've visited my website in the last 30 days or the last 180 days, or people who visited my website X amount of times." So let's say you really want to target to people who seem to be ... You want to find the people who're really engaging with your content, over a period of 180 days, so you want them that they've visited more than three times. So then you remarket them, or re-target them with a specific message that's inviting them to continue the relationship with you. It just allows you to exclude everybody else, who may not be interested. Then, number one, it's more effective, in terms of your budget, but also you're building the relationship, and so it's more likely to convert into business for you.
James Mitchell: We're almost out of time, but just before we let you go, I just wanted to see if we could get some of the biggest mistakes that brokers or small businesses make when it comes to digital marketing?
Beth Powell: Okay, how many fingers and toes to I have?
James Mitchell: Just some of the biggest ones.
Beth Powell: Okay, off the top of my head is, unfortunately, websites and links and stuff break. Or it's something that ... WordPress doesn't update, and somebody launches the update, and it completely wrecks your website. So, checking.
James Mitchell: We've had experience with that as well.
Beth Powell: Yeah, me too, recently, with every single one of my sites. So then you have someone random saying, "You know, by the way, your website's not working." And you're just, "Oh, for how long?" And we had one where leads weren't getting through, and there were some, and it's crushing. So, set a little schedule alarm that every Thursday morning or twice a week, you're just gonna go and type in your URL and make sure that you're website's working. And I don't know. I never bother with the blame game, then. All I care about is just let's get this fixed. So, understand that things break. So check it, I'd say, number one.
I think not really knowing your niche. Going to everyone just kind of means that-
James Mitchell: Melbourne mortgage broker.
Beth Powell: Melbourne mortgage broker. Yeah. It means that you're just chucking a pebble in the ocean. Start thinking of yourself as a really ... "I'm an expert in a particular field, so I'm gonna demonstrate that," and set out to demonstrate it by creating content. Launching a Facebook page and having no content. That's a problem. That's not going to get you anywhere. So, start with thinking about, "Well, who do I really offer value to." Build on that, and then you'll have plenty of content to deliver through your social channels.
I think that's probably the main things.
James Mitchell: Cool. I like it. All right, well, thanks very much for joining us today, Beth.
Beth Powell: Thank you.
Annie Kane: We look forward to hearing you speak at Better Business.
Beth Powell: Oh, I'm so excited about that. It's gonna be really good fun.
James Mitchell: Absolutely. Well, for all the listeners out there, Beth will be speaking at the Better Business Summit, which is currently rolling across Australia, in all major capital cities. And for more information on that, do log on to betterbusinesssummit.com.au. Better Business Summit is partnered with NAB. And also, for all the latest news, incite and analysis, do check out theadvisor.com.au. I've been your host, James Mitchell. Catch you next time.
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