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Who’s to Blame When Leads Don’t Convert to Customers?

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Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

When something doesn’t go exactly the way we want it to, it’s easy to point fingers at external factors. We are not usually inclined to admit that we ourselves may be responsible for the undesirable outcome. Business owners — like myself and the dentists I work with — can have a lot of pride and don’t always like to think that they may be the reason opportunities are not turning into customers (or patients in our case), and so they typically only focus on the source (i.e., the leads or opportunities) rather than reflect on their own internal processes.

I know this because I have witnessed it and have done it myself in the past. As a marketing agency, my company’s entire purpose is to generate opportunities for the dental practices we serve to capture new business, and to a large extent, we are responsible for the types of opportunities that the practices receive. However, are we to blame when those opportunities don’t convert into new patients? Maybe, but also, maybe not.

Related: Ask These 5 Questions Before You Blame Your Company’s Failures on the Marketing

Collaboration is key

Marketing agencies get blamed often for producing low-quality leads, and the same is true with a highly specialized agency like mine that works only with dental practices. In theory, however, the quality of the leads we produce for a practice mostly depends on how specific the parameters are for those leads, and that is information we get from the practice itself. Naturally, the more precisely we can define the types of leads they want to attract, the higher our chances of being able to target that demographic within the area. That doesn’t mean that every single lead generated will be perfect, but many of them will be, or close to it.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll never stop saying it: Marketing is a collaborative effort between the agency and the client. The more you can work together and develop a synergy, the better the outcome will be. Dr. David Pearce, a highly respected New York dentist who has worked with my agency and now works consulting with practices on this very topic, agrees with me. In a recent article, he wrote, “The better the dentist is at understanding the marketing company, and vice versa, the more they can help each other.” He knows that to get the leads the practice wants, they need to work with the marketing agency to help them understand the practice’s needs.

Now, of course, some businesses might find it difficult to define their ideal customer or lead, and that is perfectly understandable, especially if you’ve never taken the time to really break it down. But that is also where a marketing agency can be a great asset. Marketing professionals are experts at drilling down to get answers. The more a business owner is willing to participate in that process, the better leads they will receive and the less “weeding out” they will have to do to get bad ones out of the mix.

Related: Don’t Blame The Marketing: Five Reasons Why Your Company May Actually Be Struggling

Put your process to the test

What about when you’re getting a good number of leads, but those leads are not turning into customers? Is the marketing agency to blame then? If those leads don’t meet the quality parameters that you established with the agency, then the agency bears some responsibility. However, if those leads are consistently good quality, meaning that they check most if not all of the boxes, then you may need to look internally to understand the disconnect.

Let’s take an example from my experience marketing to dental practices. Say a dentist has gotten 100 good leads from a marketing agency, but only 15 of those leads converted (i.e., became patients that followed through with treatment). That is decidedly a low number. But is it because the leads are not good enough, or is it because there is some sort of breakdown in the practice’s sales process? Again, this is where the marketing agency can be an excellent partner. If the dentist is willing to let the marketing agency scrutinize the sales process from start to finish, it can identify any weaknesses that could be keeping leads from turning into patients.

Dr. Pearce explained this in his article as well, adding, “While the marketing company cannot make the necessary changes, the best marketing companies have internal mechanisms to help each of their clients improve this process.” So, while the marketing agency may not be to blame for the low conversion rate, they can still help increase that rate to a more acceptable number, as long as the dentist is willing to work with them.

That said, in my experience, quality leads do not always turn into quality patients right away. You can contact them and get them to book their first appointment, but that is not where the work should end. As Dr. Pearce says, “Quality patients don’t just walk into the office saying, ‘Doctor, where have you been all my life?’ The best dentists have a system that meets each new patient where they are in their journey to saying yes to optimal dentistry. From this starting point, the team will nurture and grow the patient’s understanding and value of optimal dental care.” The same holds true for any type of business. Luckily, if a business owner is not used to thinking about leads and customers in this way, they have help. The marketing agency can work with them to identify areas of opportunity and convert more leads into long-term, quality customers.

Related: 5 Things to Look For When Hiring a Marketing Agency

Rely on your partner, but also do your part

If sales and marketing don’t come naturally to you or your team, then finding a good agency to partner with will make a big difference. However, for such a partnership to work, you must be open to the possibilities and ready to change how you approach and handle leads. Be sure to ask your marketing partner if they offer sales training or resources to improve your sales approach. Sometimes, they will at least have some materials you can use and distribute to your staff with some tips on how to handle incoming leads.

My company offers resources on how to properly handle new, interested leads to teach the office staff how to properly handle phone calls and form submissions from all digital marketing efforts. You can also ask your marketing company to record phone calls to further give you insight into how your incoming calls are being handled. This is a good way to provide concrete examples of what is going well and where your sales process may need improvement. In short, the more you make yourself and your staff available, the more productive your partnership will be.

It is also imperative that you be honest with your marketing partner. It’s not enough to just express your satisfaction or displeasure with the service. If you want to really capitalize on the partnership, give details. Take notes, and tell your marketing agency what exactly you are not pleased with and why. Provide real examples of what you see is not working to your expectations, especially when the relationship is new. When you give detailed feedback, your marketing partner is better able to fine-tune and target campaigns to suit your specific needs, and you will generate more quality leads together.

Once things are humming along and you have found the “sweet spot,” be careful not to get complacent. It is easy to fall back into old habits when things are going well, and then your results start to nosedive. To avoid this, request that your marketing partner check in periodically (if they do not do that already) for a status report. These periodic calls will help you and your partner keep your marketing strategies top of mind, plus they are a good time to talk about what is working and what is not. Meeting regularly keeps your marketing partner informed and keeps you and your staff accountable.

So, who is to blame when leads don’t work out? The business or the marketing agency? In my experience, it’s never entirely anyone’s fault, and also playing the blame game just doesn’t get you anywhere. Pointing the finger at the marketing agency for not generating quality leads or the business for dropping the ball with its sales process does not resolve anything. Real progress happens when the marketing agency and the business come together as partners to get better results.

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10 Things Every Working Woman Should Do This Year

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Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Self-care has become an all-encompassing term that has strayed from the importance of everyday commodities that keep us in good health and spirits. Though pampering and “treat yourself” moments still have value, here are ten ways to invest in yourself to produce long-lasting, positive results.

Related: 8 Self-Care Tips From Wildly Successful Entrepreneurs

1. Put money into a 401(k)

It’s never too early (or too late!) to start saving for the future. Depending on your employment status, there are different retirement savings accounts. 401(k)s are the most common since these are employer-sponsored and often come with an employer match. However, freelancers also have options, such as a SEP-IRA or a high-yield savings account, to put away extra, tax-free dollars for retirement.

2. Schedule a health checkup

Self-care first includes taking care of your physical health. It’s easy to discredit regular checkups when you’re feeling healthy, but make this the year to get your blood work done. It creates a baseline for your health to identify areas needing improvement or extra attention.

Also, choose areas in your life where you can make small changes. Improving your health doesn’t always mean a drastic overhaul; it may be as simple as drinking more water or adding an extra 30 minutes of exercise to your day.

Related: 3 Key Tips for Optimizing Your Physical Health as an Entrepreneur

3. Review health insurance benefits

Many people with health insurance aren’t sure exactly what it does and doesn’t cover. If you’re unsure, talk with your HR representative or your health insurance provider to get an overview of deductibles, co-payments and other supplemental benefits you may not be aware of. Then, decide if the health care plan makes sense for your current lifestyle.

Are you paying for benefits you don’t use, or do you need additional benefits that aren’t covered? Selecting the right plan will help ensure you have what you need without paying the extra expense for anything you don’t.

4. Ignite your curiosity

Maintaining healthy cognitive functions through new pursuits gives a boost to the brain. Get curious and find what speaks to you. This can be anything from exploring local museums, embarking on different hiking trails, learning a new language or reading more books.

There’s no limit to what you can do, and these activities can ignite more creativity and motivation in your work. While it may be helpful to look to others for inspiration, make them enjoyable so you’ll want to make them a regular occurrence.

5. Prioritize mental health

Mental health has been at the forefront of people’s lives over the past few years, as many have experienced burnout. We often equate productivity with a value that drives us to go beyond our means and leads to anxiety, stress and depression. Take note of your everyday stressors and see how to reduce or eliminate them. Then, replace them with relaxing outlets that allow you to recharge.

There are various ways to prioritize mental health, from practicing positive self-talk to meditation to scheduling an electronics-free day. You may have to try different solutions before you find one that fits.

Related: 5 Ways to Protect Your Mental Health as an Entrepreneur

6. Implement good sleep habits

Consistent sleep is one of the essential factors of good health but one that is often overlooked. For many, it can be challenging to wind down from the workday. Therefore, you must “train” your body to prepare for sleep by getting into a nighttime routine.

Create a sanctuary for yourself to improve your sleep habits. Enjoy a soothing cup of herbal tea, perform a skincare routine, and snuggle in with a good book rather than scrolling through your phone. Additionally, ensure your bedroom is dark and cool for ideal sleep comfort and turn on soothing sounds if it helps lull you to sleep.

7. Try something new

What have you wanted to try but have always held back? Maybe it’s public speaking or contributing to a blog. Whatever “new” has been on your to-do, make a plan, schedule it on your calendar and go for it. It’s common to hold back from these activities due to fear of the unknown or failure, but trying new things helps create confidence and can be the catalyst you need to push you to the next level.

8. Learn to set boundaries

Boundary setting is crucial to relationships yet can be difficult to master. It doesn’t always involve simply saying no to people’s requests. Instead, it requires protecting your own values when people violate them. Setting boundaries may mean spending less time with certain people, removing yourself from toxic situations, or declining invites to events that don’t improve your life. Explore areas where boundaries will help you grow, and keep in mind growth itself is a work in progress.

Related: How to Set Boundaries to Build Thriving Relationships

9. Spend quality time alone

Learning how to enjoy time spent alone is a valuable gift. We are inundated by a false sense of connection through the internet, which often makes us feel lonelier than ever. Then, we overschedule our calendars to make up for human connections, only to feel drained afterward. Slow it down and plan a few solo dates a month to see how it feels to be truly present with yourself.

For those who aren’t used to spending quality time alone, it can feel awkward and uncomfortable initially, but these stem from your own perceptions. Take in a matinee, sit in a coffee shop and read, or enjoy a concert or event you’ve wanted to attend. Alone time has been linked to improved stress management and greater life satisfaction, so it’s worth trying to give yourself more time.

Related: Turns Out, Those Who Like Being Alone Can Be More Creative

10. Get active

Getting active can take on several directions. It can be physical, emotional or spiritual. The point is to engage with people and pursuits that feed your soul. Whether volunteering within your community, setting yourself an exercise goal, or learning more about personal development, there are endless ways to get active and invest in yourself this year.

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Are You a Winner? How to Truly Define Winning in Your Business

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Businesses gauge their performance typically with dozens of goals and metrics. But you can’t do everything at once. The challenge is to get people focused on the one thing that’s most important right now. If it moved in the right direction, it would eliminate a weakness (or capitalize on an opportunity) and improve financial outcomes. You improve that, and you win.

However, not every company clearly defines winning. A catalog of goals can pull the organization in multiple directions and stretch finite resources. Numerous goals can inherently be at odds, working against each other and for conflicting purposes. For example, a cost reduction goal might undermine an innovation goal requiring a significant investment.

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Gen Z Is Making Ugg Boots Fashionable Again: Report

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Ugg boots, the furry, sheepskin boots that defined the 2000s are back, apparently, with spiking interest and Gen Z cachet, according to data from shopping website, Lyst.

The site’s annual quarterly report that highlights the “hottest” 20 fashion brands was released on Thursday, and, as Insider noted, Ugg is on it for the first time since the index began in 2017.

“Gen Z shoppers are breathing new life into once dormant brands … with over 1.2 billion mentions on TikTok — Ugg’s influence is undeniable,” the report notes.

The boots were also sold out of stores during the holidays, it added.

Generation Z, or people born between 1997 and 2012, has demonstrated a penchant for bringing back old technology and trends, from flip phones to “vintage” headphones with cords.

But Ugg boots go back much further — the word “ugg” is actually a general term in Australia that means boots made from sheepskin and fleece, according to the BBC.

The company that created the “UGG” boot, Deckers Outdoor Corporation, is based in the U.S. and has tried and failed to trademark the word in Australia (where a court decided it was a generic word and thus could not be trademarked), the outlet added.

The company says the boots began to gain popularity in California in the 1980s. They were first featured on Oprah’s Favorite Things in 2000 (a huge brand-maker back then) and became “cherished commodities” early in the decade, according to Vogue.

The boots later gained prominence again with a fashion movement that prioritized “ugly” clothes, and have since become an unironic Gen Z favorite, per Insider. Kylie Jenner was also spotted wearing them in November.

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