Ep 128: DEEP DIVE – Seth Greene – The Lead Generation Tips No One is Telling You


Seth Greene is the nation’s foremost authority on growing your business. He is the cohost of the SharkPreneur podcast with Shark Tank’s Kevin Harrington—named one of the top ten podcasts to listen to in 2019 by Nasdaq. He’s also the founder of the direct response marketing firm, Market Domination, and a seven-time best-selling author.

Today on Stay Paid, Seth discusses how you can use direct marketing to fill your pipeline, not only generating leads for your business, but referrals as well.

Key Points:

  • Direct response marketing can boost your business no matter the industry you’re in
  • Specialized events are a great way to drive referrals
  • Standing out and following up is the key to turning leads into clients

Q: Can you share the 30,000 foot view of your life story?

I went to Syracuse University for musical theater. My life goal at 18 was to be a Broadway star. It really was. End of the first semester, I packed my duffel to come home for Thanksgiving break. My dad calls me and says, “Don’t just pack your stuff to come home for Thanksgiving break. You have to move back home and transfer to a local college. We got the tuition bill and we can’t afford it. See you for dinner. Bye!” So I called my mother in tears and ended up staying. Every semester I got the same phone calls. They got the tuition bill and freaked out. By the third time, sophomore year, I realized it was going to happen every semester and I didn’t have to worry about it. I decided to switch my focus and did graduate with a degree in theater but followed my parent’s advice for a backup plan and became a college financial planner. I wanted to reduce that stress and financial burden for other kids and their families.

So I started as a financial planner for A.G. Edwards. When I passed my Series 7, and had all my licenses, and got back from training, my branch manager said, “Here’s a book where all your clients are going to come from your entire career.” It was the phone book. He literally said, “They’re all in their tiger, go get ‘em.” I didn’t know any better. I literally made 300 cold calls a day, interrupted strangers, trying to build a business. Terrible. Not much fun. I decided there had to be a better way. He said, “Cold calling widows and orphans was good enough for me in the 70’s it should be good enough for you now.”

I found direct response marketing legend Dan Kennedy. I begged my wife to let me borrow more money than our mortgage to let me go hire him and learn direct response marketing and she finally said yes. I went from the 6,700th ranked financial advisor—that’s last place—to the top 30 in the country in two years. All thanks to what I learned from Dan and implementing that. I got written about in Registered Rep and Insurance Newsnet and every trade journal in our industry. My phone started ringing off the hook. And this was before the internet, I was hearing from financial advisors saying, “I want to do what you did.” And I said, “Dan, what do I do?” and he said, “Start a marketing company.”

So 13 years ago I started MarketDominationLLC.com and that was a direct response marketing firm for financial advisors. We’ve since branched out to 63 different industries because the properties of our direct response marketing work no matter what industry you’re in. We’ve served almost 2,700 clients, literally in every time zone on the planet. We’ve generated over 30 million prospects for our clients, and we’re having a blast. And we’re crushing it in the coronavirus because everyone is at home on social media, which means that I can spend a ton more money for social media ads for our clients we do that service for, to drive them more prospects.

Q: What are some of the ideas you have to help small business owners generate leads consistently?

We’ve got three ways to do that. Number one is we have a program that generates referrals from other related professionals like accountants and attorneys. We have a program that is called our internal marketing machine that gets your existing clients to refer a lot more. And then we have online lead generation where we are running Facebook ads, Google ads, LinkedIn ads, YouTube ads, driving traffic of new qualified prospects into a marketing funnel for our clients to generate new leads every day.

Q: Let’s talk about the internal clients you have. How do you get more business out of them?

Everyone listening, if you are a ReminderMedia client and you aren’t doing the bi-monthly magazine, shame on you—you should! I’m a client, full disclosure. So, after you have done ReminderMedia’s magazine, we survey your clients via direct mail, they fill out four pages of information about their lifestyle—what books and magazines do they like to read, what sports, do they like wine, do they like golf? All of the different things they do for fun.

And then we send them direct mail twice a month. We send them a postcard, warm and fuzzy, and then we send them a monthly gift—it’s a small trinket. Because most of our financial advisors are regulated by FINRA and are only allowed to gift $100 per person, per year. Anybody else can spend more, but it might be a journal, it might be a wristband with an inspiring “anti-COVID” disclaimer. It’s a little trinket, not to get them to be bribed but to get them thinking warm and fuzzy thoughts about you.

And once a quarter we do a themed client appreciation event. Obviously, depending on what he rules are and how many people you can have at a gathering, and what’s open and what’s not, that might change. But you might take your six top clients who play golf and say, “Come with me, I got a golf pro for a couple of hours to teach you this cool thing. If you want to come you have to bring a member of your foursome.” And now you’ve got these six guys who you don’t know hanging out with you all day who are thinking, “Oh my God, my advisor doesn’t do anything like this. How do I talk to you?” We’ve done all kinds of events, depending on the lifestyle. We’ve done wine tastings and say, “Bring a couple you drink wine with.” We had one advisor who, as it turns out, a lot of her top clients were in a sewing circle. They were elderly widows who quilted together. So they brought in this quilting expert and they brought in fabric and made a quilt together and framed it. So you can do all kinds of crazy stuff once you know what your clients are into. And what we’ve found is if you stay in front of them twice a month and once a quarter, every quarter, rotate and do a different lifestyle event, you will easily double if not more, the number of referrals you get a year.

Q: What would the lead capture form look like in an event setting, as well as online?

If it’s at a physical event you have to have a sign-in sheet. If you’re in my industry, financial advising, FINRA requires you to have a sign-in sheet for proof of who shows up. They all registered, theoretically, to come. So if you have Bob and Bob is bringing a friend, he has to tell you who’s coming. If Bob forgot and just shows up, everybody has to fill out the sign-in sheet and then it goes into a CRM system and they get dripped on until they become clients. In which case, they go into a different CRM system. Or they die, or they tell you to go away.

If it’s online, if it’s a webinar, which is the online version of a seminar because restaurants are closed right now. So we’re telling all of our advisors who were doing seminars to switch them to online, and it’ll cost you less anyway. If they’re registering online, we do a lot of e-books, like a free report. Our most popular online funnel for financial advisors is how to crash-proof your IRA, because the market, while we’ve been doing this, has tanked like a third in a week and a half. So, we’re crushing it in this 11-page e-book on how to protect your IRA from the stock market crash because it’s topical. So they are filling out a form with name, email, and cell phone number. Then the next step is, in case they abandon it, we already have their info. But they are asking three questions: Are you concerned about the market crashing? How much of your nest egg would you like to protect? And then, would you like the 11-page e-book to confirm? Our advisors can then rank those leads. If they say, “I want to protect $0–$100,000, maybe they send them an automated email sequence. If it’s a million plus, they might get on the phone right that second and call them.

Q: There’s a lot of places you can generate leads. Where are you generating them, is it Facebook, Google, pay per click?

It depends on the target market and the offer. For example, if it’s business-to-consumer, and they’re residential, Facebook might be your best place. Let’s say you’re a real estate agent specializing in incoming doctors, that’s LinkedIn. Those doctors might be on Facebook but we won’t find them as easily or affordably on Facebook, whereas LinkedIn, you can search by employer and job title.

On Facebook you’re interrupting people. They’re not on Facebook looking for an ad, they’re on Facebook looking to see what everyone else is stockpiling in their pantry. So Facebook is interruption marketing, but they’re already on it so it works. If you do Google, it’s keywords, negative keywords, targeting—we have a whole team doing that all day long to make it work, which is why it works. You tried it, you didn’t master it. And on the LinkedIn side, if you do traditional LinkedIn ads on the side it’s probably too expensive. However, there’s a little-known form of LinkedIn marketing where you can pay LinkedIn to send an email directly to your prospect. So, it’s not in their LinkedIn inbox it’s in their email. It’s 100% deliverable because it’s coming right from LinkedIn to their primary inbox. Because nobody is doing it—LinkedIn hasn’t marketed it very well—the cost per email sent is ridiculously cheap and the open rates are insanely high. We’re getting open rates 20–30%, whereas on cold email normally a 1–5% open rate it good. You can target any group you want, you don’t have to own it. So, for example, if you’re a real estate agent and you wanted to work with affluent business owners, you could pick the chamber of commerce LinkedIn group in your city and pay LinkedIn to send an email to every chamber of commerce member.

Q: What’s a good benchmark for an ad spend budget?

First of all, I’m going to get rid of the budget question. You shouldn’t have a marketing budget, it should be unlimited. But I’m going to make you go backward. How much can you afford to pay to generate a lead? How much are you willing to pay to get a customer? If you know in the first year the average person sends 600 magazines, they do it six times a year. I make $1,200 and I have a 50% margin, so I make $600. Would you invest $300 to make $600 and double your money, of course you would. So then your budget to acquire a customer is $300, and as long as you can bring in customers at less than $300 an ad spend, back up the truck and spend as much as you can.

Q: How do you get clients from lead captured, funneled and nurtured, to the close?  

The advisors in professional practices that work with us are responsible for the close. So we’ll build the funnel, we’ll fund the ads, we’ll generate the leads—anytime a lead comes in they’ll get it in real time—and we’ll send an automated direct email sequence. But they are responsible for calling that person and booking the appointment, booking the listing presentation, booking the consultation, or whatever their next step is. Unless it’s an e-commerce client, because we do have some of those. But in most cases, they’ll have to do something to physically move that sale forward. I can bring a horse to water, you’ve got to make them drink.

Q: So how many touchpoints are you seeing within a nurture campaign? 

We have nurture campaigns for clients that are five steps, but we have some that are two years. I had a client say, “I’ve been getting your emails for two years. I left my brokerage firm and went independent so I can do this type of marketing, and now I’m finally ready. Thanks for dripping on me for two years, because otherwise I would have forgotten about it.” It’s not his job to remember me. It’s my job to make sure he doesn’t forget.

Q: What’s the biggest mistake you see with people not being able to close leads?

Number one is being boring. We try and fix that and let us do the work, because most professional practices, their marketing looks just like everyone else’s. If you can swap out your RE/Max logo for Century21 and everything else is the same, that’s boring. You have to stand out in how you package, how you market, how you relentlessly follow up.

The second is not following up. We had a dentist that we had this issue for, where we did an automated email sequence and after a month we generated 32 leads and he got zero patients. He said, it’s not working I want to quit. I said, “We’re in month one and it’s 32 leads, how is that possible in month one of lead generation. How is that possible?” He said, “Well, nobody called.” I said you have to call! The emails said, “We’re going to call you to book a consultation.” The website said, “We’re going to call you.” It works if you do it the way I taught you.

Q: What routines have you implemented in your life that have driven success?

I am a big Tony Robbins student, so I do my incantations and my breathing when I walk my dog, Tanner, a golden retriever. He knows when I start chanting, he gets excited. We have a morning meeting here that kicks the day off, gets everybody excited, talk about what good news happened the day before, what we’re working on, what are we excited about? I read a book almost every single day or every other day, I read really fast. And I always make one extra call at the end of the day. So even if this is my last appointment for the day and I could go home, I make one last call, even though I’m the CEO—I call one lead on our list that hasn’t closed. You would not believe, if they get a phone call from me, I feel like a rock star. I’m not calling them to sell, but magically they close themselves because they’re so excited I called.

Q: What would you go back and tell younger Seth?

It depends on how much younger you’re talking, but we’ll say when I started in business: hire sooner, build systems faster so that you don’t have to manage everybody and deliver the service, market more, and ride the roller coaster because it’s going to work out.

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Action Items:

  • Pick-up the phone and reach out to the leads you’ve been ignoring


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