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Marketing any business can be a challenge. Marketing in a niche industry such as collections can be even more difficult. Sometimes it’s hard to reach prospective clients. Sometimes it’s because you have a shoestring budget to cover your efforts. Yet, your agency needs marketing to grow.
How should you focus your marketing to gain clients, no matter your agency’s size? PDCflow recently sat down with an expert. Chief Marketing Officer of Hawes Financial Group, Jeff Johnson, shares some advice.
Make an Impression in the Industry
Johnson says to connect with clients, focus on your image. In marketing, there are many ways to meet prospects and enhance your credibility:
“Look at the ‘soft touch points.’ Being credible and being present go a long way. You don’t always get a thousand leads, but you get that ‘moment in the elevator’ that could never have happened anywhere else.”Jeff Johnson
Conferences can be a huge time and budget commitment. But, they are one of the best ways to make a personal connection with a prospective client. “It’s about relationships,” says Johnson. “Those only happen by being present in the places where you can interact.”
He acknowledges that you won’t always bring back handfuls of leads from each show. These conferences are an investment in the future. Your agency’s ongoing presence at industry events will show your stability. Frequent face-to-face interaction also make prospects more comfortable doing business with you.
Show attendance is also great for market research. What better way to learn the latest trends and concerns of industry professionals? Enjoy the live classes and one-on-one meetings these unique venues provide.
“Don’t just say who you are, prove who you are.”
Like trade shows, it’s easy to get hung up on the price tag of industry certifications. But the return on investment is well worth the money and effort you put into them. “The biggest thing that has really helped bring notoriety to our organization is making sure we have industry certifications,” says Johnson.
Your agency may choose certifications from collections-centered organizations. For instance, the ACA’s PPMS certificate provides training in policy and procedure management.
Depending on focus, you may also choose industry-specific proofs of excellence. Use them to boost your reputation with industry-specific clients. Do you specialize in medical collections? Get a certification through the MGMA or another medical association. This will convey deeper understanding of the client and consumer’s needs.
Consider taking this tactic a step further with peer reviews. Another example for medical collections: the Peer Review Program offered through HFMA. Peer reviews assess your agency’s value (according to clients and prospects). These programs give clients a better insight into what you have to offer.
“Testimonials give a spotlight to the great work you’re already doing and build trust in your company.”
Testimonials can give a potential client confidence in your business. If their peers are happy with your service, you have a leg-up on the competition. Being in collections adds another pool from which you may get statements–consumers. Johnson suggests asking satisfied consumers for their testimonials as well.
Be sure when you ask for this favor, you’re not requesting your clients and consumers to do all the work.
Take note of what clients say during conversations with your organization. Write down any positive statements they make about your company. Send the statement, and allow the source to edit as they see fit. Once approved, you can use the quotes for case studies, marketing emails or ads (and of course on your website). To avoid potential issues, be clear about who made the statement and where it will appear.
Create your consumer testimonials in a similar manner. Review calls from your floor collectors and contact those who had positive experiences. Use call transcripts to create the statements for approval.
Satisfied consumers are further evidence that your agency is the right choice. If those you are collecting from end up happy, clients will choose you to settle debts on their behalf.
Use Tech for Your Debt Collection Agency
Technology is changing every business–including collections. Many agencies use software and other tools for the collection process. But many are behind the curve in using current technology for marketing. Here are some ways to use technology to market your agency.
“Your company’s website is the most important marketing cost.”
Every company should have a website. Like it or not, this has become a business necessity. Your website should include a clear picture of what services you offer. Be sure to explain what makes you the best choice for clients.
Your website can include testimonials, certification badges and event details that enhance your image. Perform routine checks of your site. Ensure all information is up-to-date and there are no broken links. These issues can detract from your image.
You don’t want your first impression to be a missing page or old information. If it is, you may lose clients before you even know they’re interested. If your agency’s team doesn’t know how or doesn’t have time to build your site, hire a professional service to do it for you. No matter who builds and maintains it, be familiar with your site. Understand the picture it paints of your agency.
“It’s important to have someone monitoring [your social media] all the time. Make sure you’re on top of negative comments.”
Not all social media is equal. Different channels need distinct tones of voice and can bring in varying numbers of leads. And each platform fulfills its own marketing goals.
- Facebook – The goal of facebook for collections is to engage with clients and peers. Don’t allow it to detract from your image with negative comments and false claims. Johnson suggests using closed Facebook groups or disabling comments for your agency’s page. This will help you to manage your online reputation.
- Twitter – Twitter can build up your industry reputation. Engage with relevant news, interact with influencers and share original content. This enhances your brand’s credibility
- LinkedIn – LinkedIn provides paid tools that make it easier to find business connections. But the costs can add up. You may decide this is only worth your money for high-dollar clients. To get the most out of the site’s free features, Johnson encourages sales teams to use LinkedIn groups.
Your agency may include Youtube, Instagram, Google + (or others) in your social media strategy. Each site has advantages and disadvantages. Weigh the pros and cons of each to get the most out of your time spent creating and interacting with posts.
Remember that using social media in your marketing strategy can walk a fine line. It can lend your brand legitimacy and help you stay connected. Yet, an inactive account may look less professional than having no account at all. Someone in your organization must update your feeds to keep new followers coming in.
“Look for a partner that will bring something unique that no one else can offer.”
If your agency invests in new technologies, show them off. Highlighting your use of new technology can be a big plus for clients. And it can differentiate you from the competition. Prospects like to know you can remain current as technology trends progress. Use this as part of your marketing message.
There are countless ways to boost your agency profile and gain new clients. Of course, each agency is different, so evaluate the resources you have to work with. These will dictate your marketing strategy. However, starting with just a few of these basics can boost your image and help you gain clients. For a list of collection agency marketing basics, download the guide:
Download Collection Agency Marketing Best Practices: