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Marketing Merchant Services with Social Media and Blogging

If you are an agent selling merchant services or an ISO with a credit card processing company learn how to use social media and blogging to grow!

First of all let me explain what this article is not about. This article is not talking about prospecting. If you are in the field prospecting or calling on the phone, my advice is to call or walk into every physical location small business in the retail, restaurant and auto industry that happens to be in your area as well as just about any other business that isn’t a single location of a large corporate brand. I have many agents who have made it and rather than prospecting, they want to spend their time and money on marketing to bring leads in to them and to build a local brand. This article is aimed at them so let’s start by talking about what you should expect if you start a marketing campaign.

How to Sell Merchant Services in 6 Steps

If I could write an eBook knowing what I know today and then go back in time and deliver it to myself 10 years ago when I first got into this industry, this would be the one! CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD

Download our Free eBook - How to Sell Merchant Services in 6 Steps
#1  If you are starting a marketing campaign to reduce your work load, stop reading this and get back out in the field! LOL I talk to a lot of agents who really just want to walk around all day in their shorts and flip flops while their online business brings customers to them like an automated robot from the Jetson’s TV series. That is not the reality of marketing. If you want to succeed in social media, blogging or even traditional paid marketing, it takes a lot of time, work and more discipline than a regular old prospecting campaign.

#2  It costs money.  The cost of marketing comes in two different ways. First, most marketing campaigns, even social media campaigns work best if you throw some cash at them. If you have less than $500 per month to invest in marketing, my advice is to keep selling for a while and build a nice residual stream.

The second way it costs money is the money you would make selling in the field but instead you are writing blog posts or approving ads or scheduling tweets, etc. it takes a long time to build a solid inbound marketing program that is generating leads and you need to be in a position where you can invest this time without hurting financially for 6 to 12 months.

#3  It takes Discipline. Let me rephrase this. It takes tons and tons of discipline. If you are not the kind of person who can set up an action plan and keep it, you can forget about using social media, blogging or any other form of inbound marketing. You will just end up wasting a lot of time and money with no significant results. If you set up a blog and post one general article once a month you are wasting your time. If you set up a twitter profile and post a picture every third week, you are wasting your time. If you collect email addresses and send them an email every 3 months you are wasting your time and hurting your brand. Ok, now that we have that out of the way, let me tell you a step by step plan to market your merchant services business using social media, blogging and traditional forms of marketing:

Step #1  Define your target market. This is the first step and one of the toughest to think through. Let me give you a couple tips. When you are marketing online or through other forms of paid marketing, you have to be very specific and strategic about your target market. A good rule of thumb for a local sales agent is that their target market should have between 500 and 1,000 potential clients. In time you may have enough resources to go after three or four target markets this size but, your best results will be when you segment your market and target each segment specifically. Let me give you an example.

Let’s say there are 10,000 small businesses in your local market and 600 of them are independently owned restaurants. If you chose to send out a postcard mailer to all 10,000 that said, We can save you money on your merchant services! or something general like that, you would pay roughly $3,000 and get about a 0.5% response rate if you are lucky or 50 leads and out of that maybe 15 sales at an average cost per sale of $200 and again this is a best case scenario.

If instead you sent the campaign to the 600 businesses, it would only cost roughly $300 or so depending on the design work it could be $500. The marketing piece might have a picture of a restaurant owner behind the counter and say, We Save Restaurant Owners Like you hundreds of dollars per month on merchant services then under that, Phone us today for a free consultation by one of our restaurant experts. And it would have the link for your url, www.yourcityrestaurantssave.com or something like that. You would expect to get a 3% response rate or 18 leads and these would close very high so you would probably get 9 sales which means your cost per sale would be $55.00 even at the high end cost of $500. You would then send out 6 mailers over a period of time instead of one with your $3,000 investment and probably net 40+ merchant accounts for your investment of $3,000 over time as merchants opt in to your other content resources that we will talk about below. This same strategy works for SEO, social media and blogging. If you are trying to reach Small Business Owners in your city with a blog you can forget it, you will just be white noise and it will take you 5 or 10 years to get to the point where people consider you an expert on Small Business in general but, if instead your company slogan for marketing online is Payment Processing for Auto Repair Shops in the Your City Area and you post a blog every week about this topic and update your social media profiles with information about this topic, you will be at the top of all the search results conducted by this target market for merchant services within 3 months and you will quickly become recognized as the expert by this target market.

Step #2  Get creative and find a way to add value. 9 times out of 10, I would say a blog / weekly email newsletter is the obvious choice but there are a lot of options that are much better or in addition to this if you have the time and money. A weekly podcast that includes a short interview session with a business owner in your target market would be a huge value add to other business owners in your target market and of course you could produce this content as a blog article and maybe even a video as well as a podcast and then share this on your social media platforms. The key is to find some type of value that you can add and be disciplined about getting it out there especially at the beginning. When I launched CCSalesPro’s blog a couple years ago, I published 2 or 3 times every week for a long time until I slowed it down because you need a lot of content on your domain in order to rank in the search results.

Step #3 Collect Email Addresses and social media connections. If I could sum up the goal of your marketing strategy it would be this. Create valuable content for your target market every week, send out an email with this content every week to your email list and social media connections and then use every other marketing effort as a way to grow your email list.  Marketing is just like sales, there is a pipeline. You don’t walk into a business and say, “Hey, will you sign this contract right now even though we have never met?”  They would kick you out. And if you use this approach in your marketing or on social media, people will tune you out which is the digital equivalent of kicking you out of their store. Every marking piece, podcast, blog article or social media post should be designed to build trust and lead your prospects to an email sign up form or a connection on a social media platform.

Step #4  Be Consistent and Patient. Now the waiting game begins. You really don’t even need to worry that much about lead conversion at this stage. Your only focus really needs to be adding value to your target market. Obviously if you are paying for marketing then you would want to convert some leads but even then, at the beginning your goal of any marketing online or offline is to build trust and awareness of your brand, what it stands for and get a connection with that prospect.  When you are selling face to face people have an opportunity to meet you and you can quickly build trust. Online they may be on your email list for 6 or 8 weeks slowly understanding what you do and that you continuously do it before they are ready to move on to the next step.

Step # 6  Once you have 100 connections / email addresses, build your conversion plan. First of all, my personal opinion is that all lead conversion should run through your website and not clutter your social media profile. I did talk about this in my videos simply because I wanted people to know the service I offered and you should do the same but in a For your information only sort of way. So in a blog article you might say, “I provide merchant services and touch screen point of sale solutions specializing in retail businesses in the YourCity area so I have had a lot of experience with managing inventory items. Let me share some insight from retail business owners I have worked with.”  The title of the blog article though is, How to Manage Inventory Items and the tweet says, New Blog Post, Managing Inventory Items  You get the idea. So you now need to create a next step in your sales pipeline. What action do you want them to take after they give you their email address? If you are focused on selling touch screen point of sale systems like me, maybe you want to set up a product demo at their business and so every email you send out and every blog post has a button they can click to, Schedule a Free Touch Screen POS Demo or something like that.

If you are looking to sell the Merchant Services First maybe it would be, Submit your merchant statement for a free cost analysis by the only auto repair merchant services expert in Blair county! You could also use gotomeeting to create a next step like, Join our live monthly show on Friday the 21st and you could promote this and then on the meeting you know you are going to give a strong pitch for your product and take questions.

Probably the most creative next action step I have seen is one agent who reaches out to the business owner and asks them if they will do an interview on his weekly podcast. This is before he sells them. He said he goes in and brings a portable audio recorder with him, spends 15 or 20 minutes talking to them about their business and the challenges they have faced in the past with merchant services. Once he finishes the interview roughly 85% of these business owners ask him to set them up on his service! This is a powerful next action step that builds trust and is obviously a huge win for the agent who gets great content and a new client. He can do 3 or 4 short interviews per week and put them together for a 45 minute to 1 hour weekly podcast that is very useful to other small business owners.

Step # 7 Become an inbound marketing expert. Once you have completed these 6 steps, and even before that, you need to do two things to really be an expert on this. First, read the book Inbound Marketing by the founder of Hubspot and listen to the Social Media Marketing Podcast starting from the first show. If these are the only two things you do to gain knowledge about inbound marketing you will be an expert and you will be able to bring all kinds of value to your small business clients over the next 10 years as they try to transition to an inbound marketing approach.

One final tip: As usual the most effective way to succeed at something is the one thing no one else seems to do. The most effective way to market your business through a blog or social media is to start by walking into every single target business in your market and ask them for an email address so they can get free access to your targeted content. I personally think this is the most effective marketing strategy out there for merchant services. If you did this 20 hours per week, in one month you could easily collect over 500 email addresses from business owners in your target market and generate 3 to 5 sales per month after that if you kept sending great weekly content. That being said, probably 1,000 agents will read this blog post in the next month and I doubt if 2 of them will actually do this so if you are looking for a competitive advantage, here it is!

I hope these tips will help you to better market your merchant services business!
James Shepherd

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