Acquiring more clients online (and practical case study)

Here I explore how finance broking businesses can acquire new clients – in particular, SMEs – for commercial loan enquiries

Whilst handshakes and relationships rule in the real world, in the digital world it’s important to follow a few key ideas to successfully market your business to target and attract commercial borrowers.

1. Ensure you have an online presence, not just a virtual business card

Yes, you probably have a website with five pages explaining what you have on offer. But do you have a blog, highlighting recent success stories or the current lending environment for small business? Become an expert and put aside 30 minutes each week to write about whatever is topical. Enable your customers to interact with your website, providing tools (for example, calculators or FAQs) or downloads (like SME business plans and budgeting spreadsheets to track cash flow). The more you add to your site, the more you empower your customer and the more likely search engines such as Google will rank your website higher. Also, by being current, insightful, regular and relevant with your content, you inadvertently prove your expertise over your competitors.

2. Source customer testimonials

Finance brokers generally do this all of the time, but have you ever thought to ask your commercial client to instead recommend your services on LinkedIn? With seven million users in Australia alone, think of the power of a recommendation on LinkedIn that is seen by all of your client’s contacts? If they own a business, it’s likely they are connected with similar companies and decision-makers who seek trust and guidance from their professional connections. Word of mouth is impactful online, just like it is offline.

3. Convert the traffic you receive.

Make sure that your website invites enquiries, and that this is prominently displayed. To begin a conversation with a potential client you only need a few details – don’t ask for too much!

4. Fish where the fish are

It’s no secret that most professionals who may require commercial loans have a LinkedIn page. There are sponsored posts and advertising options via this platform to get into the news feed and onto the screen of a potential customer. Of course, there is the option of Google AdWords, which may also assist in increasing website visitors, but advertising on ‘commercial loans’ or ‘commercial lending’ keywords may be up to $50 per click.

The following is a practical case study:

LinkedIn has two main ways to target their users: sponsored stories (posts) or creating an advertisement. To access these options, click on ‘advertising’ in the main menu of your LinkedIn account. To set up an advertising account, you will need to link a credit card and pay $5 to set up the ad account.

In this case, we will be targeting Sydney-based members of LinkedIn, who are business owners and company directors (no limit on size of company) in the manufacturing sector.

Your advertisement copy should read something along the lines of: “Commercial finance in Aus – grow your business, speak to an expert in the manufacturing sector today.”

Be selective with the messaging of your ad – you are restricted by how many characters you can use.

Now you target the members of LinkedIn who will see your advertisement, starting with location (Oceania, Australia, Sydney). This will target over 1.5 million members.

Then select your industry (in this case, manufacturing) and different categories (for example, chemicals, plastics, machinery, mining). I selected all of the available options and now I have 78,500 LinkedIn members.

Finally, select job seniority. I selected ‘owner’ and ‘director’, which left me with a total target of 10,162 LinkedIn members. You can drill down into more targeting options here if you wish (for example, age, schooling, sex).

Now, to select a budget on what you are willing to pay. There are two options to choose from:

  • cost per click (CPC), where you pay every time someone clicks on your ad
  • cost per 1,000 impressions (CPM), where you pay for every 1,000 people who see your ad.

Depending on what your campaign is targeting, LinkedIn will provide you with a recommended budget. For the above example, LinkedIn gave me the below options:

  • recommended cost per click – $5.46
  • recommended cost per 1,000 impressions – $3.09.

Because the mentioned advertising campaign is only targeted to 10,162 people, I am very happy to pay $3.09 per 1,000 views of the ad in hope that they will see it a few times, click on it and be directed to my company website so that I can capture the lead.


How to generate leads with your content (plus two examples)

Mortgage and finance brokers have the most magical potential for content at their fingertips – customer stories. So often brokers forget this and use generic industry commentary, economic data and lender products, and pricing to communicate soullessly to customers and prospects. Boring!

The default approach for anyone creating content or writing stories in our industry is to look at generic information and rewrite it. For instance, the Reserve Bank of Australia announce a rate cut and we all cut and paste information we find online for our customers. Lazy, meaningless duplicates. What value is being added there? Yet, the whole industry does it.

What could you do differently? And easily?

Here are two examples of approaching our industry value proposition through more meaningful and relatable storytelling (content). And the best thing is you don’t have to research or make it up.

After all, the best articles are the ones that tell a real story and demonstrate real understanding and expertise.

Example one: a fly-in, fly-out miner for ten years had earned a serious wage but hadn't saved a cent. We shall call him ‘Bruce’. Bruce has literally spent all his money on booze. I believe they call this ‘pissing it all away’ (in fact, that’s the headline we used for our article). So we took Bruce’s story and his cash flow management reversal – working with one of Vow’s network experts – and documented it, including his new home purchase. Bruce’s situation is not unique, and many other people like Bruce need an expert on their side. And, let’s be frank here: Bruce is a more relatable protagonist than a product or service. People are interested in people.

We took Bruce’s story, added a lead generation form at the end – “Are you like Bruce?” – posted it on the brokers’ websites and shared it on Facebook. After this, we spent $500 targeting a Facebook advertisement to anyone working in the fly-in, fly-out demographic, and the return on investment was extraordinary. One broker achieved over $22 million in new business (and counting).

Example two: marriages dissolve, right? It’s not a unique occurrence – in fact, it’s something that brokers are involved in on daily basis. In the interest of protecting our clients, let’s call them Jemima and Stuart Nguyen.

Splitting assets is an emotional and stressful time. Everyone wants to know how others before them get through times like this – how to avoid pitfalls and additional drama, and how to quickly and fairly split assets and part ways. Telling Jemima and Stuart’s story demonstrates that you are an experienced and trusted professional who has successful navigated the treacherous minefield of conscious uncoupling (thanks Gwyneth Paltrow).

Telling a real story is far more engaging than boasting achievements, products and capabilities. It also brings the soul to our purpose as professionals. We are here to help clients, and they often seek us when life events occur. So identify those events – telling real stories and solving real problems is your magic wand to cutting through the reams of copied, dull, marketing content being published in our industry.

Use content to attract leads to your business by leveraging customer stories. Be unique and be creative … good luck!


Webinar: How to advertise your business on Facebook, LinkedIn & Google

This is a practical webinar (1 hour long) which runs through the entire process in a step-by-step guide for all the major digital marketing platforms. If you've ever thought about spending money on digital campaigns as a small business, this is a must see webinar!

Watch the 1 hour webinar in full here


How to attract specialist lending clients

Specialist lending is not a new segment for finance brokers to assist with yet they are often neglected or forgotten about by many in the industry.

There are two key customer profiles we will now look at and ways in which you can target them for new business:

Self-employed and small business owners. With over two million SMEs in Australia, these customers are genuinely looking for options which will support their non-PAYG arrangements. Perhaps they have only been in business for one to two years or they require finance using their recent BAS for servicing. Here are some options for attracting these types of customers:

  • Working with accountants closely to segment their databases and make an offer to those who are self-employed. A nicely timed email to their SME clients (i.e. before or after tax time) may assist with the specialist products they require for their family home.
  • Advertising on LinkedIn or Facebook. Targeting options on these social media channels provide you with plenty of advertising opportunity for lead generation. For more info please see this detailed webinar on how to advertise your broking business online.
  • Use stories and content to generate leads. We are all storytellers in this business, let’s use those customer stories to express the universal when using the personal.

Any customer who has experienced a life changing event (i.e. divorce, illness or injury). We know that sometimes life doesn’t go how we had planned. In events like these, we may make sacrifices for less stability in income which puts these clients in the ‘specialist lending bucket’. So, how do you find a customer who has experienced a life changing event?

  • Referrals from professional services. When we suffer a significant life event we require the help of professionals. These include accountants, financial planners and lawyers to name just a few. Make yourself known as the expert in the specialist finance area to your referral partners.
  • Advertising (yes, again) via social media channels. Did you know that you can target those on Facebook who have just changed their relationship status (i.e. got divorced)? 
  • Harnessing your existing specialist lending customers for referrals. Nobody knows what an excellent job you have done except for a previous client. They know what hoops you jumped through to get their loan across the line – use their influence for referrals to others within their social and professional circles.

Think outside the square for how to get specialist lending leads in your business and if you have any other ways which work, feel free to send them to me through contact form.