Mind mapping is a method of brainstorming ideas using visual outlines by demonstrating the connections between thoughts or data. Whether you are brainstorming ideas for your next game-changing marketing campaign, planning an important project, or even just trying to gather your thoughts on a subject, mind mapping can help you get it together.
A few of these free mind mapping tools allow for more than simply brainstorming your thoughts. With some, you can actually present your ideas in a visually-appealing way that will help your audience understand where you are coming from and how the various concepts relate with one another. This is particularly important for putting together a marketing strategy to increase sales.
I’ve assembled this list of the top free brainstorming and mind mapping tools which will be more than enough to get you through the remainder of 2017 without having to stay up all night Googling around for ‘free mind mapping tools’ or ‘free brainstorming software.’
If you know others who may need some assistance with getting their thoughts organized or for planning upcoming projects, please feel free to share. We use several of these mind mapping tools to create strategies for generating mortgage leads, business development gameplans, and more.
Capture ideas at the speed of thought – using a mind map maker designed to help you focus on your ideas and remove all the distractions while mind mapping.
Create unlimited mind maps for free, and store them in the cloud. Your mind maps are available everywhere, instantly, from any device.
Brainstorm, create presentations and document outlines with mind maps and publish your ideas online and to social networks.
Coggle – The Clear Way To Share Complex Information
Coggle is an online tool for creating and sharing mindmaps. It works online in your browser: there’s nothing to download or install.
Whether you’re taking notes, brainstorming, planning, or doing something awesomely creative, it is super simple to visualize your ideas with Coggle. Share with as many friends or colleagues as you like. Changes you make will show up instantly in their browser, wherever they are in the world.
FreeMind is a premier free mind-mapping software written in Java. The recent development has hopefully turned it into high productivity tool. We are proud that the operation and navigation of FreeMind is faster than that of MindManager because of one-click “fold / unfold” and “follow link” operations.
So you want to write a completely new metaphysics? Why don’t you use FreeMind? You have a tool at hand that remarkably resembles the tray slips of Robert Pirsig, described in his sequel to Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance called Lila. Do you want to refactor your essays in a similar way you would refactor software? Or do you want to keep personal knowledge base, which is easy to manage? Why don’t you try FreeMind? Do you want to prioritize, know where you are, where you’ve been and where you are heading, as Stephen Covey would advise you? Have you tried FreeMind to keep track of all the things that are needed for that?
Canva Mind Map – Organize your thoughts and present your big idea, beautifully.
Color code your thoughts and ideas
Mind Maps can leap from topic to topic so keep your thoughts organized by color coding your design. Change a branch or text box color according to the topic they’re assigned to so you can easily find and connect interrelated ideas. Use Canvas color palette tool to choose any color in the spectrum or type in a specific hex code.
Use images, illustrations, and icons
Adding visual elements like images and illustrations can help you concentrate more because they speak to your brain’s natural language of imagery. In fact, it’s encouraged that you use an image for your central idea. Browse through Canva’s amazing media library of icons, photos, and illustrations to use on your mind map. Search from over a million stock photos and add it to your design by dragging and dropping it into the editor.
Collaborate with partners
Brainstorm with your team anywhere in the world by getting your team’s input on your Mind Map design. It’s as easy as sharing a link to an editable version of your design. Now your team can access your Mind Map and add their own edits, thoughts and ideas any time and from any desktop, laptop, iPhone or iPad device. When you’re all done you can simply download your design as a JPEG, PNG or PDF file, share it on your social media, or email it directly to someone.
This is a Bubbl.us mind map. A mind map is a graphical representation of ideas and concepts. It’s a visual thinking tool for structuring information, helping you to better understand, remember and generate new ideas.
Whether you own a restaurant, a law firm, or an eCommerce business, utilizing under-saturated marketing strategies to maximize your sales revenue and optimize your client acquisition is crucial stuff.
But I can just put up some targeted Facebook ads and the customers will just start rolling in, right? New customers will book reservations, fill out my contact forms, and call in immediately after seeing my ads, right? Whether your objective is to create a mortgage lead generation system, to open a movie theater, or to grow your vape shop. you should always keep your eyes open for marketing opportunities which have not yet become saturated.
If you’re not utilizing well-strategized online marketing to get noticed, followed, and consumed, it’s highly unlikely that you are going to get much out of running advertising. Landing pages, ad copy, proper ad placement, keyword research, and having a proper keyword strategy are just a few additional considerations when it comes to generating business online.
After all, creating a powerful guerrilla marketing campaign would be an even better use of your time, but when you run out of viral marketing ideas, these tactics will come in handy.
Answer niche-specific questions on Quora showcase your expertise and generate specialized traffic.
Quora is one of my personal favorite websites. Their self-proclaimed motto is righteously ‘Answers to the Best Questions’ and after browsing for a few minutes you may find yourself sucked in.
The key to Quora is to utilize your experience and expertise to answer questions. In addition to having a standard Bio Section for your profile, which allows links to your websites, the site allows you to add your credentials to any question you’re answering.
The top answers are voted four by Quora users and the top answer becomes the main answer displayed under every question. After spending some time browsing some of the most popular answers you will see that users generally vote based on an answer’s entertainment value in addition to the quality of the information provided in the answer.
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing but it is worth taking note of if you intend to get traffic from your Quora efforts.
The idea is to find the questions your target customers are asking and provide the best answers to those questions. People will naturally start to follow you and read your profile / bio.
Reach the right customer with the right message and increase sales revenue with Google Adwords’ Similar Audiences for Search and Shopping.
You may have heard. There is an old advertising rule of thumb called the rule of seven which is based on the idea that potential customers need to be exposed to your brand seven times before they make a purchase. There may still be some validity to this concept in certain cases, but the truth is that if somebody is in the market to buy what you are offering, there is no reason that conversions cannot be made after 1-2 exposures to your marketing message.
Remarketing lists for search ads (RLSA) is an Adwords feature which allows you to reach out to recent visitors who have already visited your website but did not purchase.
Similar audiences for search and shopping takes this another step further, allowing you to target other people who behave similarly to the way your best customers behave, in terms of their search and shopping tendencies. Google recommends using similar audiences combined with RLSA for the best return on your advertising investment.
It is important to keep in mind that simply running advertisements is not enough in itself. Landing pages, quality copy, legitimate offers, site speed, etc.. are all taken into consideration as Google prices and ranks your ads. Lower quality = lower ranking and higher ad costs.
Discover how this could apply specifically to your business by contacting me. I am certified in both Google Adwords and Google Analytics and I can help you determine the best way to implement this into your business.
Encourage your customers to drive more traffic to your local business by creating customized Snapchat geofilters.
This may come across as a particularly confusing marketing avenue, especially if you are not a Snapchat user. Essentially, geofilters are graphic enhancements which can be added to an image which is taken within a specified geographic area.
For example, most major cities already have geofilters available to anybody taking and sharing an image or video via Snapchat. In July 2017, the ability was given for anybody to create and establish their own geofilter which, once approved, becomes available to anybody within your set geographic area. Some suggested applications for geofilters are for weddings, special events, business promotions, etc…. And with Snapchat’s user base estimated at 200 million back in 2015, there are enough people using the platform to give it some serious consideration.
Generate inexpensive search traffic by advertising on the Bing search network.
Fewer people use Bing so fewer people advertise on it and the ads are simply cheaper. But that may be changing.
If you have ever tried looking for specific information or answering a specific question on being, you likely know why there’s less search volume compared to Google. Research results just don’t compare, but that’s probably just because we are spoiled and have gotten used to Google’s AI search technology.
Fewer searches doesn’t necessarily equate to insignificance, however. As Bing’s number of daily searches per day approaches 1 billion, advertising on the Bing network is only becoming more expensive. Depending on your niche, you may still be able to find being advertising for only a few cents per click.
Discover the latest marketing tools and sales generation technology with ProductHunt.com.
Producthunt.com gathers awesome technology tools, apps and websites and showcases them all in one place. From productivity optimization tools to communication and artificial intelligence resources, producthunt.com has it all.
I recently found this website and discovered some pretty awesome eCommerce chat plugins that allow site managers to video chat with their visitors (maybe a little creepy but it’s coming), tools to quickly design virtual reality items, and some interesting productivity apps I had never seen before.
Pro tip: Save this website visit for a time when you don’t have anything pressing on your schedule or at least visit when you have an idea of what kind of technology you are looking for. Otherwise, you may find yourself lost in the abyss of amazingness.
Stay up to date with industry news, sales opportunities, and more with Google Alerts.
There are many potential uses for this tool and frankly, there’s no reason not to use it. Google Alerts allows you to get instant, daily, or weekly emails containing newly created internet content using the words you specify.
At a bare minimum, you should track your brand mentions for reputation management and backlinks opportunity purposes.
Increase sales and new clients by encouraging social media influencers to promote your product or service.
Instagram is the perfect platform to utilize influencers to promote your product or service and there are many great opportunities to find influencers who can give your brand the boost it needs, at the right price.
Keep your customers in the loop and drive new business by keeping your business fresh on the new Google My Business post feature.
Google explains best:
With 82% of people turning to search engines to find local information,1 your Google listing is the ideal place to showcase what is unique about your business. Even when customers know exactly what they’re looking for, they still want to get to know the business and see what it has to offer. That’s why Google My Business is bringing Posts to local businesses — an easy way to help attract new customers and build relationships with the customers you already have.With 82% of people turning to search engines to find local information,1 your Google listing is the ideal place to showcase what is unique about your business. Even when customers know exactly what they’re looking for, they still want to get to know the business and see what it has to offer. That’s why Google My Business is bringing Posts to local businesses — an easy way to help attract new customers and build relationships with the customers you already have.
Posting on Google gives you new ways to engage with your customers:
Share daily specials or current promotions that encourage new and existing customers to take advantage of your offers.
Promote events and tell customers about upcoming happenings at your location.
Showcase your top products and highlight new arrivals.
Choose one of the available options to connect with your customers directly from your Google listing: give them a one-click path to make a reservation, sign up for a newsletter, learn more about latest offers, or even buy a specific product from your website.
Seventy percent of people look at multiple businesses before making a final choice.2 With Posts, you can share timely, relevant updates right on Google Search and Maps to help your business stand out to potential customers. And by including custom calls-to-action directly on your business listing, you can choose how to connect with your customers.
A clear and consistent approach to generating exclusive, high-quality mortgage leads.
Before we get into the details of the two primary systems which you need to understand if you wish to generate high-quality mortgage leads using social media or search engine advertising, let’s talk about how all of this came to be.
As you will learn today, I take what I do very seriously, and I am passionate about what I do. For that reason, I view every campaign as a learning opportunity and also as a way to improve upon every other setup which I have created. The system is continuously involving and improving. After all, there isn’t exactly an instruction manual. I have had to test and build these systems myself, and I’ve been fortunate to have had some great clients willing to be guinea pigs for the cause.
As you embark upon this mission, of generating high-quality prospects for your mortgage business, it is essential to keep the following fact in mind.
Many digital marketing specialists are more than willing to offer their services to mortgage industry professionals, but very few of them have the necessary understanding of the loan products, experience working with the loan products, and track record required to formulate a campaign about the loan products capable of producing results.
I’ve run into these people time and time again since I started down this path. Today you will learn about an easier way. Use the time, money, and energy I have invested in the development of the greatest mortgage lead generation system to formulate your own method that works for your business. Or, save money and time and you can reach out to me about doing it for you.
The systems described here have come about as a result of hundreds of hours and tens of thousands of dollars invested in the optimation of the ultimate mortgage lead generation system.
Let’s discuss the story about how this came to be, as that paints a clearer picture of why it is the way it is, and most importantly, why it works.
Creation of a Mortgage Lead Generation Master
As a former loan officer, I was exposed first hand to the shortcomings most loan originators face when generating mortgage leads. Fortunately, my prior experience as a Realtor and project manager for a high-end home builder in NE Ohio, and managing lead generation/nurturing all prospects in each position gave me the first-hand knowledge I needed to excel in a short timeframe.
Before leaving the position in 2013 due to a nearly fatal car accident, only one loan officer was generating more business than I was. That was out of 12 Southwest US offices with 40 other loan originators. I had just held that position for about a year.
Several months after the accident I launched FogPusher on a full-time basis, specializing in search engine optimization and web design. Since my doctor had been pretty clear about how important it was for me to leave the stress of the mortgage industry behind me for at least 18 months, it didn’t even cross my mind at that time to work with mortgage or real estate companies. I specialized in working with vape shops.
I focused on providing these SEO and web design skills for about two years. Then in early 2017, I began extending this digital marketing wisdom to mortgage and real estate industry businesses and professionals.
Since then, I have learned a lot. I’ve generated many thousands of mortgage leads and have absorbed a library of wisdom about the way humans go about their home buying and mortgage acquisition journies & how to go about attracting their attention and segmenting their intent as they embark upon that life objective.
In May of 2018, after becoming clear about a systematic lead generation model designed specifically for the mortgage industry, I launched ifunnel Inc. – a more official and focused extension of what I started with FogPusher as a freelance project.
Messenger Chatbots: The Secret to Generating High-Quality Mortgage Leads With Facebook Advertising
If you have been following me for some time, you might raise your eyebrows to discover that Facebook advertising is at the center of one of the strategies.
You see, several months ago I had entirely written off Facebook ads as a consistent means of generating high-quality forward purchase mortgage leads.
So I went about my way, accepting the idea that Facebook ads were not ideal to use as a means of generating consistently high-quality mortgage leads and that was that.
Then, in June 2018, a client approached me looking to set up a system which produced a consistent flow of Realtor leads, which he could use to help his referral network generate new business.
Since over the past year, a significant portion of my focus has been on the creation of lead generation chatbots, I opted to dive into the world of Messenger chatbots to carry out the lead generation function of this campaign.
Once I made this decision, I asked myself, ‘Is this the solution to the Facebook lead quality problem I had discovered previously?’
Come to find out it was the problem.
By using Facebook Messenger as the lead capture, engagement, and segmentation tool, you obtain this magical ability to ask better questions. So this, in turn, enables you to (more-or-less) automatically qualify and segment any given audience.
The problem in the past was not the fact that Facebook traffic was shit, it was the fact that using lead forms to collect the leads prevented the right questions from being asked. This, in turn, prevented the audience from being segmented properly.
Asking the Right Questions Makes the Entire Difference Between Your Success and Failure Using Facebook Ads to Generate Quality Mortgage Leads
In August 2018, Facebook stopped collecting (allowing access to) third-party data about its users.
Since Facebook eliminated its third-party data in August 2018 the audience targeting has been scaled back enormously, making it impossible to target renters, homeowners, or people who are likely to be first-time homebuyers, like you could in the past.
Today, for this reason, you have to use broader audience targeting.
However, so long as you are asking the right questions of the prospects, and doing so in the right way (Messenger chatbots), you can automatically qualify, segment, and understand your prospective mortgage audience in a much easier and engaging way than what would be possible using lead form leads.
Failure to approach this situation in this specific way puts you in a position where all of your leads include only the prospect’s name, email address, and phone number. They all appear to be the same, and as a result, you have no idea where they are along their home buying journey. You don’t know what they are up to, why they are up to it, and most importantly, you don’t know how you can further help them when you generate mortgage leads in this way.
Looking back, of course. It’s an obvious route to generating crappy leads. But really, its not that the leads themselves are crap. It’s just that, without asking the right questions, all leads generated in this way are bound to be crap.
If you follow up with a person who has already found a home and who needs an immediate quote the same way you do with the people who are just aimlessly clicking stuff on facebook, you are going to spin your wheels and burn out before you make anything work. A phone call is a waste of time, actually, because you don’t know anything about who you are calling. They just clicked to learn about the free money in your ad.
There are a couple of reasons for this. The first is that, unless you are asking the right questions, you are not putting yourself in a position to offer value in direct accordance with a prospects specific situation.
The other is that, as a result of failing to qualify and segment the audience appropriately, it becomes impossible to prioritize your time according to a priority level of the lead.
Not only does generating leads in this way prevent you from offering value to these prospects, but it also makes it impossible for you to prioritize your time trying to do so. You don’t know what they are dealing with and where they are along that journey, so you cannot help them, and it’s a waste of your time trying to do so.
If you are going to use Facebook ads to generate mortgage leads, you have to do it the right way. Period. It’s all about asking the right questions and asking them the right way.
What are ‘mortgage leads’?
While this may seem like a silly question, it’s the right place to start.
If you are familiar with the old system of buying lists of mortgage prospects, there is a good chance you are familiar with this approach, and possibly even looking for that exact thing.
We don’t sell lists of mortgage leads. We set up and manage systems that generate lists of exclusive mortgage leads, on your behalf. The leads are only available to you. They are not available for purchase.
If you are here to find lists of leads to purchase, you are in the wrong place. But before you leave, I would highly encourage you to consider a better alternative.
Many of my clients who have contacted me looking for lists of mortgage leads have started out doing that because that is the only thing they were familiar with having access to in the past.
In many cases, these people have had business models which depend on a call center approach, in which their employees spend all of their time calling databases of mortgage leads, which have been sold to them and to every other company willing to purchase them. While keeping your staff busy, or more accurately, making it look like your team is working, is a novel idea, it’s far from an ideal approach. I am here to help you discover a better way.
The Absolute Most Effective Mortgage Lead Generation Systems in 2018
Today there are two primary mortgage lead generation systems we are using to generate highly-quality, exclusive borrower leads with the best ROI & conversion ratios you will find anywhere.
System #1 – for medium to large-size mortgage companies, brokerages, lenders, etc.. who have also invested in digital mortgage 1003’s and technology and that have prepared themselves for internet mortgage leads that have shown a high level of intent to obtain mortgage financing.
This system is generally designed to attract the attention of search engine traffic and capture their information using conversational engagement forms, set up on landing pages which are relevant and directly related to the intent of the various search inquiries.
Since you can expect a lead generation system utilizing this type of setup to start with about a $10,000 minimum investment, it makes the approach less than ideal for the majority of individual loan originators.
Since all campaign components of this are explicitly designed to match the value of each mortgage provider and match that to a specific search intent of their prospects, campaigns must be custom designed to suit each unique situation.
And until you have purchased enough data from Google about the performance of the ad campaigns you are running, it is impossible to optimize the ads in a way that maximizes our certainty that they will perform.
Additionally, when analyzing human behavior, it is not until we have large datasets to work with that we can make reliable predictions of how humans will likely respond to stimuli (our advertising campaigns, landing pages, and means of engagement) moving forward.
There is actually a name for this law, but I am drawing a blank on its name at the moment, and my Google searches are also falling short. Mostly, human behavior, when analyzed in small data sets, will appear to be random, but when examined in larger groups it tends to follow reasonably clear patterns.
Don’t make the mistake of half-assing your Google Ads campaign, without having the appropriate keyword groups and landing pages in order, and analyzing the performance of these campaigns using less than complete data sets. You will end up wasting your money, sinking it into the abyss of the bottomless advertising dollar money pits.
There is a way to do it but it has to be right. Moreover, it has to be thorough.
System #2 – for loan originators, mortgage brokers, lenders, etc…
The groups that utilize the first system can (and should) use this one. This system can just be implemented with a much smaller budget, making it within reach of the majority of LO’s and lenders.
This system utilizes a comibination of Facebook advertising, Messenger, a Messenger chatbot designed to give you the understanding about your audience that you need to have in place in order to help them,
Since the general ad copy, chatbot conversation, and overall approach can be borrowed from other campaigns I am running (as long as you are not in a competing market with my existing clients running these campaigns), we can set these up with a reasonable level of predictability in regard to the way they will perform.
The Magic Mortgage Lead Machine Formula
Mortgage & Real Estate Experience
Web Design & Digital Marketing / Advertising Experience
Understanding & Having a Successful Track Record Utilizing the Latest in Targeted Advertising/Lead Capture Technology
The Problems With the Old Lead Generation Models
In-house marketing manager provides no guarantee of ROI. They are expensive. You hire them and they receive the consistent job security associated with their position. Who is offering you job security?
Many mortgage loan originators fail to establish themselves as the expert. You must generate meaningful content that answers questions your target audience is asking. Put yourself in their shoes and create media that answers the questions they have. So many fail to do this even though its one of the most powerful strategies in the mortgage (really, any) business.
Live transfers are cool and all but how many people are making calls before they do research online. Millenials are more prone to use online lead capture tools before they pick up the phone – and they may never pick up the phone. Plus, in a live transfer situation, the lead has no prior knowledge of you or your company. Your closing rate on those is not likely to be anywhere close to what it can be with we have in place. After all, with live transfers you are receiving calls as they come in, they have not been screened. How effectively are you using your time if you are receiving random leads on the phone who have no idea who you are?
Buying mortgage leads online is also a waste of time and money. If you want to chase after leads that have been sold to literally everybody who is interested, be my guest. The key to succeeding is creating a system that generates high-quality exclusive mortgage leads.
Lack of lead generation & capture system in place. Most mortgage brokers and real estate brokers simply do not have a consistent lead generation/ mortgage sales funnel in place.
Prowling on Realtors for referrals is another grand waste of time, unless you have a strategic plan in place, involving offering them leads. With this system, you will have plenty of leads to send their way. If you want to get something, give it away first. Active reciprocity will change your life – not just your business.
Networking events can be fun but they rarely result in business. The only consistency to come of networking events is potential friendships, which may lead to more opportunity down the road. There is nothing wrong with attending a networking event as a mortgage professional, but it’s not the most effective way to go about acquiring new mortgage clients.
A very common misconception is that having the best mortgage website is essential to generate mortgage leads or even for effective mortgage marketing. It’s helpful if it’s used to show expertise, value, testimonials, and original content, but there are many other ways to optimize your online presence in 2018. The most important of these being, a Messenger chatbot.
I recently found significant evidence suggesting friends and family are far less likely to borrow or invest money with friends and family as they were even 5-10 years ago. I believe Google and consumer access to information have greatly contributed to this situation. For this reason, the traditional financial services business model falling apart, even for some of the larger wealth management companies. There is reason to believe a similar situation is happening in the mortgage industry. People want to make the best financial decisions they are able to make given their particular situation. This is much different than making a decision based on where their friend or family work.
The Mortgage Marketing Solution(s).
Hiring a professional who understands mortgage marketing and lead generation, with a background in mortgage loan origination and real estate sales. Have us manage your advertising and sales funnels, generating leads for you while you focus on closing loans and building strategic referral relationships.
Tracking code installation/utilization to re-target visitors with ads. Sometimes the first visit isn’t enough to make a visitor comfortable enough with you to make contact. Follow them with ads after they have visited your website (if you have one).
Market-proven ads delivered to the highly targeted audience of potential home buyers. We utilize the latest in intent-based targeting and in-market client acquisition strategy. Ongoing A/B testing.
A/B tested lead capture pages that capture your lead’s information. A/B testing is an ongoing process to maximize results.
Hot sales-qualified mortgage lead funnel which produces qualified prospects that belong to you and only you.
Implementing an automated mortgage lead generation system that enables you to generate exclusive leads for whatever your niche may be. We can generate exclusive mortgage refinance leads, commercial leads, reverse mortgage leads, etc…
Guaranteed Mortgage Marketing Profitability Formula
The formula below is used to ensure mortgage ads are profitable for clients. It applies only to the first system, using Google pay per click ads, described above.
I always recommend brokers and MLO’s to look at their current cost/loan app with their current situation (including guaranteed draws against commission/salary payments/employee benefits) and compare this to the numbers our clients are generating. Many will find that their cost to maintain loan officers is far greater than the cost of having a dedicated lead generation agency on their team.
Ad Performance Variables CPC – Cost per click CTR – Click through rate Conversion on Landing Page Conversion on Sales Page CPL – Cost Per Lead (applicable without running ads) Cost Per Loan App ————————————–
Optimization Metrics CPA – Cost Per Action (loan closing) AOV – Average Order Value ( $2,000 – $6,000)
If CPA < AOV, the setup is profitable.
My Areas of Expertise & Experience
Social Media Management, Marketing, and Lead Generation
Real Estate Sales
Custom Home Building/Project Management/Sales
Ad Targeting & Retargeting. Lead Funnels. Sales Funnels
Mortgage Loan Origination
Lead Capture / Sales Funnel Creation & Implementation
Email Automation & Automated Prospect Engagement
SEO / Web Design
Why Invest in the Best Mortgage Leads?
The opportunity is here today but it won’t be around forever. It’s 2018 and it’s time to start working smarter. Before you purchase mortgage leads online, do yourself a favor and invest in a system which generates leads on your behalf.
The thing is, if you want to generate high-quality leads, you must consider how high-quality mortgage prospects go about buying, and you must be willing and able to invest the resources necessary to reach those people, at the exact time that they are willing to be reached.
Who We’re Looking For
Our objective is to create successful partnerships with mortgage professionals. We work with banks, lenders, mortgage brokers, and LO’s who meet as many of the circumstances as possible, listed below: and brokers who have as many of the following characteristics as possible:
Money to Invest in the Generation of Exclusive Mortgage Leads – the Right Way
Positive Online and Offline Reputation (I will not fake testimonials but they are absolutely necessary. Bonus points for video testimonials.)
Ability to Handle and Effectively Manage the New Business Generated
Willingness to Step Outside of Comfort Zone to Establish Oneself as an Industry Expert
Original Content Creators (Videos, Blog Posts, Etc…)
If you feel you meet these requirements, please visit ifunnel, where you will receive additional details.
If you are looking for a solution to generate high-quality mortgage leads (reverse mortgages, residential, commercial, refinance, purchase, etc…) The pricing will vary depending on the scope of the work, but if you are going to do this right, there will need to be a budget to implement all of the necessary components required to do so.
This is not the ideal place to cut corners as it can transform your business fairly quickly. It can also be a gigantic waste of a budget if you put a person behind the wheel who should not be there.
In recent weeks I have had several discussions with my clients who own ecig retail and wholesale businesses regarding a particular challenge. Their vapor customers have begun to use their establishments as a ‘window shopping’ resource where they identify the devices they would like to have, then ultimately end up purchasing from somewhere else (usually online). Their high performance mod sales are down and uncertainty has begun to set in. Fortunately there are specific things which can be done to address this issue which can be effective for retailers as well as wholesalers.
Over the past few years I have had the opportunity to work with many vapor industry business owners across the country, some of which have created tremendously successful businesses and others which have struggled to keep their doors open. As the business development manager for a vapor hardware distribution company, I had the opportunity to collaborate with the owners of these businesses on a daily basis. In that role I began to notice some commonalities among the most successful of the bunch and now that I work with many of these same companies in a somewhat different capacity, the traits which the most successful owners have in common have begun to stand out.
One of these traits which relates particularly to declining high performance mod / hardware sales, is having the ability to identify market trends and adapt accordingly. In fact, I have found the most successful tend to be the ones who identify market trends which most vapor industry business owners would see as negative and are able to reframe these ideas in ways which are beneficial to their business. In recent weeks I have had several discussions with my vapor industry clients regarding decreases in high performance mod sales and felt this would be a good opportunity to offer some suggestions to those having the same experience. Before I get into that, it is important to consider the bigger picture of what is actually taking place.
High Performance Device Trends
I departed from the vapor hardware distribution business to develop FogPusher nearly one year ago. At that time the 70w iSticks were just coming to market and that was the most powerful device of its size available at that time. The industry has obviously been moving towards smaller, more powerful devices however, I’m not certain that even five years ago anybody could have predicted that 200w devices of that same size or that single 18650 devices which output over 100 watts would be available now. Improvements in battery and circuit technology have enabled the development of some of these tiny, powerful devices which are available today yet would have been considered hocus pocus only a few years ago. Since the technology required to develop these devices is still fairly new and the manufacturers who have access to it are still somewhat limited, the devices cost more. They are more expensive to manufacture.
Why is this important? Because every vapor customer, whether they are a seasoned vaping professionals or just getting started, want the best value they can afford when purchasing a new mod and the most valuable devices are expensive. Your customers, whether retailers or end-users, know there are online resources where they can find these products for less than what you can sell them for and likely close to what you can buy them for. In making a strictly dollar-for-dollar comparison it is impossible for you to compete. So is it time to pack up shop and find a new business? Not for most. Regardless of whether you are a retailer or wholesaler, you are not going to be the cheapest in the entire world. You CAN however, identify means of providing value in ways which justify your customer’s decision to purchase from you.
Additionally, consider what has happened in the computer business over the past 50 years. Computers which used to take up entire rooms have now been far surpassed in power, memory and everything else, by mobile phones and these devices cost a very small fraction of what they previously did. In
The Vapor Industry is Changing and You Must Adapt: Survival of the Fittest
For many of my clients in the vapor industry, mod sales seem to have taken a sudden dip – more so in recent months than ever before. Some of them own vape shops, wholesale operations and others have tobacco, cigar shops and even convenience stores which also carry hardware. Luckily, there are things you can do about the situation. First it is important to realize – and get very clear about – the fact that the industry is changing and now may be the right time to reconsider your business model and overall strategy, particularly in regard to high end mod sales.
Converting High Performance Mod Window Shoppers
Identify and clarify your value proposition.
What value can you offer to the customer that online vendors are unable to offer or that will be more convenient for the customer? Make sure this is clear when customers come in to look at higher end mods.
Do you offer in-store exchanges? Returns? Additional services outside of strictly selling them the hardware product? Assume that the customer is going to look up online prices immediately after leaving your store. If they are genuinely interested and do not buy it then, you can pretty much guarantee that they will anyway. Can you blame them though? If a retail customer is shopping a $100+ device and they can save $50 buying online and cannot justify the additional expense with anything they are aware you are offering, it probably doesn’t make sense for them NOT to take the time to find the better deal. Make sure your added-value is very clear when customers are shopping.
For wholesalers, the idea is basically the same. Shortly after I started working in the vapor hardware wholesale business I realized that my literal objective was to increase revenue but the most effective way to do that was to help my retail business customers grow their business. This was one of the strategies which I learned as a sales manager in the high end building material manufacturing industry which translated very nicely into the vapor industry. Once I made it a point to go out of my way to help my customers grow their business, the entire game changed. If you are in the vapor wholesale business, pay attention to the strategies your most successful customers are using and use your observation to help the retailers who need it. Your product might be hardware or juice but your real value is found in the resources you have available to you which you can use to help your customers grow their businesses.
If the situation is severe, make your profit on eLiquid instead.
This one might suck to think about but if your higher end mod sales have suddenly taken a 50% or more plunge, it may be time to start thinking about including eliquid with a full price purchase of your higher end mods. Make the same amount of profit but include something additional with the purchase.
Let’s say, if you are a retailer and have purchased devices which cost $65 each with shipping and you have them for sale for $110. $55 profit per device. You sell 30ml eLiquid bottles with a $15 profit per bottle. Maybe include 3-4 30ml bottles with the full price purchase. You’re likely saying to yourself, “I would rather not give away my mods at cost” and I certainly concur. However, if you are one of the businesses which is seeing their customers window shop then buy online, what is the alternative?
If your retail business has seen a tremendous drop in mod sales and you do not make a change to adapt to your customer’s online buying habits, you are going to get stuck with soon to be outdated devices and may not even get the eLiquid sale. This way you get both sales, make some profit and retain a customer who will likely recommend your business and keep coming back.
If you are in this situation and feel this might be the right solution for you, try it for a day and see what happens. Better yet, try it with a single customer. The great thing about all of this is that none of it has to be set in stone. See how it works and go from there. Chances are, as technology continues to improve and devices become more readily available manufacturer-direct, you will soon make the majority of your profit on eliquid sales anyway, if you are not already. It may be time to start preparing.
Find ways to get rid of any high performance mods which are even slightly outdated, ideally in ways that will help you sell more eliquid.
This is particularly important but if you have been fortunate enough to not get stuck with outdated devices then this article is likely not of much use to you anyway. Most retailers and wholesalers seem to have an inventory of mechanical mods they wish they could give away to make more room. If you have an abundance of devices which were big in 2014, it may be time to start looking at ways to use them to bring more traffic to your shop via social media contests, giveaways, etc…
I have seen the consequences of having an enormous inventory of outdated product in stock and it gave me a new perspective on ‘breaking even’ or taking a slight loss on these products (If you still have an abundance of Kanger Protank II’s and III’s or first generation mechanical mods in stock, you likely know exactly what I mean). There IS something worse than breaking even or taking a slight loss and it’s called never being able to sell your inventory, even if you started donating it.
If you can find ways to stimulate traffic or sell more juice using your outdated inventory, do it while you still can. If you don’t you may find yourself calling Salvation Army to inquire on vape hardware donation tax write-offs. I have actually never personally tried this but if you have, let me know how that worked out. I have literally researched everything from scrapping the materials used to make outdated products to offering them to customers for free. There are some things in this world which people do not want even if you give it to them for free. I advise against letting outdated inventory reach that point if you can avoid it.
Set up a game plan to check and re-check your eliquid and hardware suppliers. Make sure you are selling product that people want or even better, product they don’t know they want yet.
It might seem like a no brainer but you might also be surprised. The industry is full of innovation these days and whether you manufacture your own eliquid or resell other brands, you want to make sure you are going about it in the most effective manner possible, while providing your customers with the best value for their money.
Vapers are typically technologically inclined individuals and many of them spend their free time on forums or blogs discussing the latest in eliquid and mod technology. You definitely want to make sure you are offering the latest and greatest (within reasonable limits). It can be expensive and difficult to keep up with the latest mods but as long as you have a few really awesome products to choose from, this may not even be as important as the juice is. Make sure your juice is on point.
This article is not intended to present a doom and gloom situation but rather to offer means of going about solving issues which several of my customers seem to be experiencing. I have worked in the vapor industry for the last few years and many of my SEO / online marketing / web design clients consist of vape shop and wholesale owners. Since I work with businesses in the vapor industry from across the country, I also have many valuable contacts which may be of value to your business as well.
To learn more about what I can do for your business, please request a free digital marketing report or contact me and I am more than happy to talk with you about specific things we can do to increase traffic to your business and/or help it run more efficiently.
Regardless of the industry, today, more than ever before, there exists a massive amount of online and offline competition (the ‘Fog’ if you will) which must be properly addressed in order for your business to survive.
This is particularly true for industries in which your competitors have revolutionized the way business is conducted, making life less expensive and/or faster (possibly better) for customers. The mortgage/real estate industry is a perfect example of this. If you are looking to generate mortgage or real estate leads then you need to make sure you are ahead of the market learning curve.
If you do not have the consistent foot traffic you would like to have (or XYZ competitor down is having) then be grateful your doors are still open! It’s time to do yourself a favor and get your arms around the depth of the problem at hand.
These tests are a bare minimum, however, for those of you less technologically inclined, it should be a good starting reference point.
Be patient and follow the steps.
If you are a brick & mortar business owner, the more difficulty you have doing this equates to the greater likelihood that you probably need it the most.
This is not for everybody. Don’t tell me I didn’t warn you if you continue reading.
Disclaimer: My primary objective is to provide local businesses with resources to effectively compete, not to discourage you. Brick & Mortar business owners are MY business. In order to effectively compete, we must first understand the nature of the competition. In doing so, my obligation is to provide straight-forward facts and resources. Necessary self-evaluation is usually not much fun but better now than when it’s too late.
The effectiveness (or presence) of your business’ online existence. Is it actually working FOR you?
If you haven’t noticed how much time your customers are spending on their phones, then do yourself a favor and pay attention. Humans have evolved into mobile creatures and their mobile device is their second brain.
With that being said, a website in and of itself is not going to do a lot for you.
There are many websites out there and if yours is not positioned & designed correctly with the right content and strategically placed throughout the web, it’s not going to be found. In many cases, you are going to be better off not even having one.
Additionally, not only does every aspect of your online marketing need to be congruent with your website, meanwhile directing traffic back to it, but it needs to be responsive (mobile-friendly), descriptive, and original – among other things.
How to check:
(This is just a very basic surface-level method for anybody to check. I provide a much more in-depth analysis in my free consultation but hopefully, this will help paint the picture for those less technically inclined.)
Pick up your phone (or anybody’s phone). Log out of your Google account (or anybody’s for that matter, but ask permission first). Visit Google and search for your type of business and your zip code. I.e.: if you own a vape shop search “vape shop” and your zip code (vape shop 73118, vape shop 93102, etc… ). If you are a dentist, nightclub, lawyer, smoke shop, tobacco shop, search for that and your zip code. Does your business appear on the first page? Does it appear anywhere?
Do the same for alternatives for searching for your general business i.e.: for a vape shop try vapor shop 73118, vaping accessories 73118, etc… If you’re a dentist try maybe dental services 73118, oral hygienist 73118, etc… Does your business appear on the first page? Does it appear at all?
Repeat steps 1 and 2 from a laptop or desktop computer. Does your business appear in the first page? Does your business appear at all? (Search results may vary dependent upon where the actual search is taking place and your device’s local search settings. Search results will definitely vary if you are logged into your Gmail / Google account as your results are personalized to your previous searches when you are logged in.)
Repeat both processes, except this time, use your city instead of your zip code. Do you come up in the first page? Do you appear at all?
If you’re satisfied with your business’ Google search results that’s great! Proceed to next section.
Business owners have more options as to the choice of their product and service providers today than they have in the past.
If your staff is not giving off the good vibes with a welcoming (much different than ‘in-your-face’) attitude then there is a good chance you are feeding your online competitors (or even worse, the ones down the street) with a steady flow of business.
However, local shops DO have the ability to provide some distinct competitive advantages over online competitors including the abilities to:
Allow customers to experience a more hands-on, personable buying process.
An experience which is (ideally) more pleasant than clicking around online.
Provide products or services immediately vs. having to wait for mail delays.
Possibly easier return process.
From a marketing perspective, get discovered easier and more frequently by local customers – especially when user is conducting a local search. Fortunately, localization has become a priority among the major search engines as they strive to find the most relevant search results for the particular user.
These are real advantages, however, keep in mind that one bad customer interaction will make these advantages less advantageous. Especially, considering online shopping venues have the potential advantages of:
Allowing for cheaper purchases (much cheaper in some industries).
Providing a personalized online shopping experience by saving the customer’s previous shopping cart and effortlessly directing them towards the same purchase and effortless cross-sales presentation.
Allowing the customer to not have to deal with real people whatsoever or drive anywhere to shop.
Depending on the location of the online retailer, 1-3 day USPS shipping (could become quicker for products if Amazon has anything to say about it). Free shipping in many cases.
In the medical industry, customers now have the choice of seeing a healthcare provider from the comfort of their couch, via webcam.
With that being said, it is extremely important to make sure you and your employees are able to leave their fights with their girlfriends or their political upheavals at home. Failure to do so is costing you money – possibly in a great way.
How to Check:
Search your business name on Yelp.com. Are you listed? Are there bad reviews? If you’re not listed then that could be a major issue. If you have bad reviews then pay attention to what the reviewers are saying, contact me and lets start fresh.
Repeat step 1 with Facebook.com.
Is having a favorable Better Business Bureau review applicable to your business? If so, are you listed on there?
Now again with any industry-specific consumer review websites (hint: Google it).
At this point, you should either be lost or confident that you are on the right track. If you’re lost – I can help.
Are you in the same ballpark? Are you playing the same game?
This one I can’t help you out on as much. You opened the business so hopefully, you had a good plan in mind for how to keep your products and services at a comparable level or above that of your local competition.
Luckily, that is not the most important factor for a brick & mortar buyer. They generally want quality, value, and (most importantly) convenience.
Give it to them and you are on the right track.
Lost? There is hope. I am here to help. Call me at 405-496-5073.