The Only Brainstorming / Mind Mapping Tools You Need in 2018 (Free)

The Only Brainstorming / Mind Mapping Tools You Need in 2018 (Free)

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.

 

MindMup 2 – Create and Share Amazing MindMaps

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 – Free MindMapping Software

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.

Product-Launch-Mind-Map-tb-662x0

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.

Bubbl.us – Present Your Big Idea

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.

To see how easy and fun it is to edit a mind map, try one of their free examples!

Top 8 Untapped Marketing Tactics | Increase Sales and Get Clients

Top 8 Untapped Marketing Tactics | Increase Sales and Get Clients

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.
Doubt it.
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.
If you’re brand new to Quora, a good place to start might be “Why do people answer questions on Quora?

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.
Mitch_Smith_Google_Adwords_Search_Advertising_Certification
Google_Analytics_Certification_Mitch_Smith

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.
If you’re not advertising on Bing, now is a great time to look into it while the traffic is still relatively inexpensive (or, ask nicely and I might do it for you).

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.
For a detailed step by step breakdown of how the process works, check out the guide to social influencer targeting from Kissmetrics.

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.

The Most Effective Mortgage Lead Generation System in 2018

The Most Effective Mortgage Lead Generation System in 2018

(Updated September 2018 – If you are looking for reverse mortgage leads, skip the first part and get directly to the update.)

Introducing… The FogPusher Home Buyer Magnet:

A clear and consistent approach to generating exclusive, high-quality mortgage leads, consistently.

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 in each position gave me the experience I needed to excel in a short timeframe.

In fact, prior to leaving the position in 2013 due to a nearly fatal car accident, there was only 1 loan officer generating more business than I was.  That was out of 12 Southwest US offices with nearly 40 loan officers.  I had only held that position for about a year.

I’ve always believed in helping others to the extent that they are willing to help themselves.  At that point, however, my 70+ hour weeks prevented me from helping much.  Not outside of the normal context of my job, anyway.

Today, after nearly three years offering digital business development and lead generation services full-time, I have utilized a variety of mortgage lead generation methods.  Finally, I am able to see the entire situation from a broader perspective.

After adding Google Adwords and Analytics certifications to the experiences named above, and after generating thousands of mortgage leads using a variety of methods, clarity has come knocking on my door.

Before You Buy More Pathetic Mortgage Leads, Consider a Better Alternative.

Today we use a variety of methods to generate highly-quality, exclusive mortgage leads with the best ROI & conversion ratios you will find anywhere.  And I can prove my services produce results.

In 2018, generating high-quality, exclusive mortgage leads requires a variety of skillsets, most of which are not understood by most LO’s.  It’s not your fault you don’t know. I highly doubt your venture into the mortgage finance industry began with a deep desire to figure out how to find people who want to talk about that.

Some of the skills required include landing page design, sales funnel design, ability to design effective marketing campaigns, managing hosting/DNS settings, SEO, content marketing, email automation, PPC advertising, retargeted marketing strategies, Google analytics data analysis, and integration with current websites / CRM / followup-systems.

If you want to learn about how to generate mortgage leads, it’s also extremely helpful that you have obtained your mortgage licenses, or hire somebody who has, because the advertising regulations are not designed to be wiggled around via gray areas. If you do wiggle them, wait until you see how the ignorance of the law excuse works when there is a problem.  Unfortunately, this is more common than you might expect.

The good news is that it’s absolutely unnecessary.

My direct mortgage and real estate experience, combined web design, advertising, and digital business development experience, have enabled me to acquire a fairly unique set of skills, through which I have created a powerful turn-key system for generating exclusive mortgage leads using PPC ads, landing pages, chatbots and remarketing technology. If you are considering the use of Facebook ads to generate mortgage leads, I have done a lot of that, also, and I’d recommend reading about how mortgage leads generated with Google ads will always be better than anything from Facebook.

The problem with generating mortgage leads can be found by understanding how high-quality borrower prospects go about selecting a loan to facilitate the purchase of their new home.  In order for you to catch a high-quality mortgage lead at the right time, you’d better be in front of them when they are searching for it.   in their journey becomes increasingly narrow, the higher the quality of the prospect gets.

It’s important to keep the following truth 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 track record and direct industry experience necessary to produce results.  More than likely, you have already gone there – probably more than once – and it probably hasn’t worked out so great as of yet.  (Obviously, it hasn’t or you wouldn’t be reading this.)

We work with mortgage brokers/MLO’s, real estate brokers/agents across the country who meet specific criteria in line with the services we offer.  The lead generation and sales funnel strategies we use for Realtors are generally different than those which are most effective for mortgage loan originators. This is due to the window of opportunity situation I mentioned.

If you have ever purchased a home using a mortgage, or know anybody who has – how long did you/they/whoever spend looking for the home?  How long did you/they spend looking for the mortgage?  If you are anything like the 77% of home buyers who only fill out 1 mortgage app, you/they probably didn’t spend very long finding the mortgage. There was likely more time spent finding the right home.

And there is your first clue as to why high-quality mortgage leads generated through social media will never be of the same quality as those generated using (properly and competently-planned) search engine marketing strategies.

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

=

Success

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.
  • Many mortgage brokers spin their wheels recruiting mortgage loan officers when they really need a high-quality lead gen system in place.
  • 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 sales funnel.
    The only difference between a sales funnel and a website is the intent.  Sales funnels are designed to have visitors take very specific action – websites generally contain information – which is very ineffective when it comes to mortgage or real estate lead generation.
    From 2015-early 2017 I designed websites full time, and am more than willing to do that if it is deemed necessary.  My specialty and value are in producing the assets you need to meet your yours.  I don’t do fluff.
  • 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 Most Effective Mortgage Lead Generation System in 2018

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.  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.  Learn more about that situation by checking out the 5 ways Mortgage Leads from Google Ads Eat Facebook Leads for Breakfast.

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:

  • Industry Experience
  • Money to Invest in the Generation of Exclusive Mortgage Leads – the Right Way ($10k-20k investment to set everything up – turn-key – and test it properly.  If you are an individual LO who is unable to afford this – I’d recommend showing the powers-that-be this, this, and this.  We are starting to take on more and more work for brokers that generate leads on behalf of their loan originators, and those links explain why.  If they are unwilling to discuss that, consider finding somewhere else to work that will.  Ideally, these ads will be run on behalf of the company, not on behalf of an individual person.  Pictures of people are great but in order to compete here, you must have some solidity to show. )
  • 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 our landing page about mortgage marketing funnels, where you will receive additional details.

Also, check here to learn more about Mitch and why/how things have evolved in recent weeks to lead up to where things are at today.

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.

Have questions?  Feel free to reach out.

TTFN.

September 2018 - Reverse Mortgage Lead Generation  Update

If you are looking for reverse mortgage leads, I have a system which is generating them for under $5 each (ad spend).  The setup for the campaign is $1,000. I recommend a $500 ad budget for the first month. 

This particular method allows for prospects to be called even if they don't answer any qualifying questions. 

The ongoing maintenance, testing, and optimization of campaigns is $750/month.  

This is only available in open states - Florida, Arizona, Illinois, and New York are spoken for as of the time I am writing this.  I will be announcing slowly and strategically moving forward.  There will not be an email blast, as protecting from an overlap between clients is essential to ensure ongoing success.

If you are interested in further exploring this please do these 2 things.

#1 - Email me and tell me you are interested in talking about this.  Also, tell me where you are located and licensed.

#2 - Schedule a meeting with me, here.

If you do not originate reverse mortgages, your best bet right now is to run Google PPC campaigns.  They require a variety of components and start at $10,000 including adspend.  $5,000 minimum adspend per month ongoing.  If you are not prepared to spend $20k/month on ads to maximize returns, I wouldn't even mess with it - honestly.

If you are a lender and you do not originate reverse mortgage loans but you are prepared for this type of investment into a high-quality lead generation system - feel free to reach out.  I am fairly selective on new clients for these services right now, but it's worth a shot.  Follow the same 2 steps described above, if this is you. 

Thank you

MS

!

Mortgage Lead Generation Services From FogPusher Are Now at ifunnel

 

5 Ways Mortgage Leads From Google Ads Eat Facebook Leads for Breakfast

  Updated September 2018 - Let me preface this article by clarifying that reverse mortgage leads are the exception to this situation, as reverse mortgage prospects are not using the loan as a means of closing on a home.  This makes the window of opportunity much wider...

Best Mortgage & Real Estate Leads in 2018

Before we get into (Facebook ad) campaign results, answer the following questions for yourself, truthfully.   At the bottom of this page, you will find screenshots from a variety of our mortgage and real estate lead generation/sales funnel campaigns.  If you are...

Recruiting Mortgage Loan Originators To Generate Leads? Stop.

“Your assumptions are your windows on the world. Scrub them off every once in awhile, or the light won't come in.” ― Isaac Asimov Have you had the feeling that the mortgage business has become increasingly complicated over the past 5-10 years? You put all of your...

Generate Exclusive Mortgage Refinance Leads Online [Strategies + Video]

Without experience, generating exclusive mortgage refinance leads is always easier said than done.  You likely already figured that out.   While it may not be easy or cheap, it is definitely worth it if you have patience, a marketing budget,...

Exclusive Mortgage Lead Generation Formula [6 Steps + Infographic]

Last month we generated 196 exclusive leads for our client using an exclusive mortgage lead generation system we created and implemented on their behalf. Our target audience consisted of homebuyers and alternative lending candidates who were unable to obtain...
Vapor / eCig Industry:  Converting High Performance Mod Window Shoppers

Vapor / eCig Industry: Converting High Performance Mod Window Shoppers

Everybody wants to get the best deal.

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.

Anatolian Mods SP DNA40 - FogPusher

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.

Overview

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.

TTFN.

Your Local Business v. Online Competition – Are You Even In the Game?

Your Local Business v. Online Competition – Are You Even In the Game?

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.

1st Test

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.)

  1. 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?
  2. 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?
  3. 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.)
  4. 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.

If not, then you may want to contact me for a free consultation.  Feel free to do so now or proceed.

2nd Test

Check Up from the Neck Up

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.
  • Accept cash.
  • Possibly easier return process.
  • From a marketing perspective, get discovered easier and more frequently by local customers – especially when user is conducting a local searchFortunately, 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:

  1. 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.
  2. Repeat step 1 with Facebook.com.
  3. Is having a favorable Better Business Bureau review applicable to your business?  If so, are you listed on there?
  4. 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.

3rd Test

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.