As the country’s leading independent title insurance underwriter for the independent title agent, Alliant National has a responsibility to help confront the growing threat of fraud in our industry. One way we do this is through our Crime Watch program, which incentivizes agencies to report instances of fraud that they encounter. As part of the program, firms that prevent a fraudulent transaction that was to be insured by Alliant National may be eligible to receive a reward of $1,000.
Coffelt Title – An Active Partner In Fraud Detection
Coffelt Land Title, Inc., a title insurance agency that does business throughout Missouri and Kansas, recently detected three instances of fraud, and submitted them to Alliant National for award consideration.
Jessica Wackerman, who works at Coffelt as a title searcher and examiner, noticed a potentially fraudulent transaction while examining a series of files on three properties involving one buyer. “Looking at all of them together, I noticed some issues with the deeds as far as the same formatting, the spelling of grantor and grantee names, as well as notary names,” she said. “I then did some digging and found lots of issues – such as finding death information on one individual.” After noticing this and collecting the requisite information, she quickly notified her contact at Alliant National and sent in copies of the deeds and commitments.
Taken together, these various properties represented a potential fraud amount of nearly $20,000, pointing to the importance of vigilance when it comes to detecting and reporting fraud. As Jessica explains: “Alliant National’s Crime Watch program is a great thing for the agents and underwriter. It protects everyone, but it also ensures that the agents are looking into anything that might seem a little suspicious. The incentive is a nice reward for doing the research to produce all the information.”
Of course, no single program can entirely prevent or mitigate a problem as endemic as real estate fraud, which is why agencies must take other steps to protect themselves and the customers they serve. Coffelt Title itself has taken that idea to heart, investing in staff training and education to help employees catch fraud before it is too late.
Alliant National Is Making A Difference In Fraud Prevention
“I think all title companies need to be more aware of the fraud that is happening in their markets. They should not act under the assumption that it won’t happen to them or their customers,” said Jessica when asked about fraud in the title industry.
We couldn’t agree more, which is why Alliant National launched the Crime Watch program in the first place. Over the past year, we have seen the program pay off in spades. In 2022, Alliant National agents, through this program, collectively reported to us 12 instances of attempted fraud, totaling a potential liability amount of $1.8 million. In recognition of these agent sleuths, we have issued $12,000 in awards. We’re proud of our agents’ efforts to combat this systemic problem in the industry and, as this year draws to a close, would like to thank the following Crime Watch award recipients for making title insurance a safer and more sustainable field:
- Siesta Title Escrow and Services LLC | FL | Amanda Pertuch
- Title Professionals of Florida (TPF) | FL | David D. Lanaux
- Alliance Nationwide Title Agency, LLC | MO | Daniel Onwiler
- Alliance Nationwide Title Agency, LLC | KS | Ben Chapman
- Siesta Title Escrow and Services LLC | FL | Claire Hooper
- Coastal Title Services | FL | Brianna Steel
- Legacy Title & Escrow, LLC | FL | Kathy Morgan
- Caldwell County Abstract and Title Company, LLC | MO | Megan Eitel and Amanda McGinley
- Sunrise Title Services | FL | Adaliz Alvarez
- Coffelt Land Title, Inc. | MO | Jessica Wackerman
- Coffelt Land Title, Inc. | MO | Jessica Wackerman
- Coffelt Land Title, Inc. | MO | Jessica Wackerman
- First International Title | FL | Natia Johnson
Learn more about Alliant National’s Crime Watch program
Get the word out on your company by posting a steady stream of short-form content.
One thing is for sure, businesses like yours will always need an effective way to get their messages out. One of the best ways to do so is through microblogging. Producing short, snappy updates on your company is a great way to build connections with your audiences and promote your business goals and initiatives. Here is what you need to know.
What is Microblogging?
As the name suggests, microblogging is a form of blogging defined by short posts that seek to maximize engagement. Twitter has largely been the leader in this space since the mid-2000s, but many other options have emerged since then. Microblogging is no longer solely about posting short text-based messages. Today, it also encompasses video and photography-based blogging.
Why Should You Care About Microblogging?
But why should you care about microblogging at all? The data shows a clear correlation between blogging and tangible business benefits. According to recent data, “Companies with blogs produce an average of 67 percent more leads monthly than companies that don’t blog.”[i] What’s more, “Businesses that blog get 55 percent more website visitors than businesses that don’t.”[ii]
How to Get Started
While you can simply hop on Twitter to start microblogging, there are a variety of other options to explore. Let’s look at other tools agencies can use to tell their brand story:
- Short-Form Videos: You have probably heard by now, but sites like TikTok have come to dominate the cultural sphere, taking up the space once occupied by Facebook. The attraction to these sites is obvious. TikTok lets you easily create compelling videos for your prospects and customers. Statistics show potential customers prefer videos over other forms of content.
- Photo-Sharing Services: Similar to video, utilizing photos when sharing company updates leads to higher engagement levels. Therefore, leveraging a photo-centric site like Instagram for your microblog is a great way to expand its reach. And if you don’t want to limit yourself to just one, there are ample alternatives on the market just waiting for you to investigate.
- Tried-and-true: Never discount some of the tried-and-true social media sites. For instance, LinkedIn is a great option for posting long-form, thought leadership content to grow your profile on the network and simultaneously increase your professional network.
- Other Options: Of course, we could probably list microblogging options forever. Medium is yet another example of a low-cost site that offers a useful way to position your firm as an industry leader. And you can use it to post content featuring text, photos and videos.
Microblogging is a Key to Your Digital Strategy
Today’s business opportunities are on the internet. Including blogging in your digital strategy can grow traffic and raise brand awareness, not to mention drive leads and increase your overall profitability.
[i] Content Marketing Infographic | Demand Metric
[ii] Study Shows Business Blogging Leads to 55% More Website Visitors (hubspot.com)
With 2023 right around the corner, it’s time to get your marketing ducks in a row
The proverb, “Time waits for no one,” is highly applicable to the annual year-end sprint for businesses. Not only do companies need to close out the year on a high note, but they must also get a jump on next year’s strategic marketing plan. In this blog, we’ll examine how you can start putting a framework together to develop your plan and move your business forward.
A Quick Primer
Putting together a strategic marketing plan can seem overwhelming, but it is not that difficult. That’s because a strategic marketing plan can largely adhere to a simple format, which is:
- Marketing Goals
- Marketing Strategies
- Marketing Tactics
- Evaluation Methods
Now, each element of your plan needs to build organically off one another. For instance, once you have your annual goals in place, the strategies you decide on need to naturally lead to achieving each goal. A similar process will occur for your marketing tactics: Think of them as a step-by-step process for bringing each strategy to fruition.
Also, remember the benefits of making your SMART. Last year, we wrote a blog on what that means, which you can read here. Let’s get a summary:
- Specific: Don’t simply say something like: “I want to increase my customer-base.” Instead, consider the specific number and types of new customers you would like to obtain.
- Measurable: Attach metrics to your goals. This involves benchmarking where your company currently is so you can assess whether your marketing has moved the needle.
- Achievable: It’s important to “dream big,” but your final marketing plan should include goals you can reasonably hit.
- Relevant:Spend time ensuring your goals are relevant to your organization’s priorities. Be honest with yourself. Will that exciting new marketing project or initiative really help you achieve your business goals? If not, perhaps it’s worth thinking about other ways to allocate your time and resources.
- Time-sensitive: Goals are great, but they also need a clear timetable. Without a timeframe, core aspects of your marketing plan will begin to break down.
Leverage Top Trends
For small businesses, there are plenty of new developments in the marketing world to consider implementing in your 2023 plan that can help you achieve better customer relationships and higher profitability. Here are just a few trends we’re seeing:
- Video Content is King: According to research, more than 50 percent of viewers prefer to consume online content in a video format.[i]
- Partnerships: Forming strategic partnerships can help you reach new markets and gain higher levels of engagement. Of course, remember to keep it compliant.
- Interactive Content: As part of your content marketing efforts in 2023, you may want to experiment with interactive material in the form of polls, quizzes, calculators, assessments and more.
- Conversational Marketing: Chat bots, artificial intelligence and machine learning can be lumped under the umbrella term of “conversational marketing.” They offer clear advantages over traditional methods by supporting two-way conversations. If you’d like to get a basic introduction to chat bots, check out our full blog on the subject.
- Corporate Social Responsibility: The way a business conducts itself socially is increasingly a top concern for customers. How big is this trend?
- 87 percent of consumers will purchase a product because a company advocated for an issue they care about.
- 92 percent of consumers say they have a more positive image of a company when it supports social or environmental issues.
- 66 percent of consumers are willing to pay extra for products and services that come from companies committed to positive social and environmental impact.[ii]
These figures paint a clear portrait and present an obvious takeaway: Being community responsive and socially responsible pays off in real dollars and cents.
Don’t Leave it to Chance
Your business is too important to leave something like how you promote it to chance. This makes your strategic marketing plan about as important as it gets. While strategic marketing can get complicated quickly, having even a strong framework in place, one marked by SMART goals and aligned with your overall business priorities, can go a long way. Pairing this with the field’s top and emerging trends can optimize your efforts further, positioning you to obtain strong customer connections and lasting profitability in the new year.
Want a deeper dive into creating a strategic marketing plan for 2023. Check out this helpful article.
[i] Content Trends: Global Preferences (hubspot.com)
[ii] How Corporate Social Responsibility Connects Us to Consumers (corporatewellnessmagazine.com)
Few would dispute that there is a mental health crisis in our society. One in five Americans live with a mental health condition, which amounts to nearly 50 million people.[i] But perhaps even more disturbing is that mental health remains heavily stigmatized – despite these statistics. A lack of compassion for mental and emotional health disorders can have serious downstream effects. Sufferers are much less inclined to seek out treatment even if the condition is treatable like depression and anxiety.
In recognition of these societal realities, Alliant National recently conducted a “Mind, Body, Soul” initiative. Led by Stacy Stolen, Alliant National’s HR Manager, the program seeks to address the full spectrum of employee needs, while pushing back on mental health stigmas and promoting inclusive conversations at Alliant National. The results were, and continue to be, quite positive.
Mind, Body, Soul – The Six Dimensions of Health
Stolen says the “Mind, Body, Soul” initiative highlights and addresses six dimensions of employee health:
Now, you may be thinking, “Isn’t this program geared toward mental health?” It’s a fair question, but the truth is all aspects of health are interrelated. Physical, social, economic and career circumstances will impact mental and emotional well-being. By discussing the different pillars that contribute to wellness, it makes it easier to act and begin healing, Stolen says.
Whether that be finding programs to help deal with difficult emotions or making changes around the workplace to promote mental health and wellness, you must first have the right conception of the full spectrum of human needs. Only then can you start making changes to feel more healthy, supportive and whole.
Putting it Into Practice
While taking a granular approach to wellness is important, it must also be paired with action. “Mind, Body, Soul” also promotes different actions employees can take to nurture their well-being:
- Take breaks: The restorative power of a break is not to be underestimated. Whether you decide to walk your dog or do a 10-minute yoga video, a periodic break can reduce stress and improve productivity.
- Take time off: Employees should be encouraged to take their allotted time off. Stolen said it is sometimes hard to remember that the world will not fall apart if you take time off, even if it can be tempting to think so. That’s a common misperception in our society, as statistics show that more than half of all workers do not take the time to which they are entitled.[ii]
- Set boundaries: Setting boundaries between your workday and your personal time can help avoid burnout. It’s a mistake to discount the importance of taking time for yourself, as well as your family and friends.
- Lunch-and-Learns: Stolen noted that “Lunch-and-Learns” are a great way to help teams connect and collaborate.Alliant National hosts lunch and learns featuring guest speakers, and employees have a chance to check in with one another – both as people and professionals.
- Health Resources: Companies looking to promote employee wellbeing may also consider potential vendor resources. Modern Health is Alliant National’s employee welfare platform. Employees can listen to community sessions led by therapists and coaches and ask questions in real time.
How Did the Alliant National Team Respond?
Reflecting on the initiative, Stolen was struck by the amount of positive feedback received from Alliant National team members: “We heard from many employees that they were surprised that we ‘cared’ enough to focus on [‘Mind, Body, Soul’] versus bottom line numbers.”
Similarly, she was taken aback by how quickly Alliant National personnel began reaching out to leverage resources made available to them through their employee status. “I received many phone calls asking for help or advice. The calls included everything from asking where our Employee Assistance (EAP) is located, to inquiring about how to best approach a conversation with a supervisor, to requesting help with navigating health care plans,” Stolen says. “I think it speaks to the fact that we are creating a safe space for people to have inclusive conversations and address their psychological needs. Historically, mental and emotional health is a hard topic for employees to comfortably discuss.”
A Larger Trend and a Personal Mission
Initiatives like “Mind, Body, Soul” did not develop in a vacuum. Instead, they reflect long-running trends in the HR field and the workforce more generally – especially following the COVID-19 pandemic and the rise of the remote work era. “The workforce has changed significantly,” Stolen says. “Employees are demanding that their companies take a more holistic approach to wellness, and I agree!”
It’s also important to note that supporting the entirety of every employee’s needs is not only the right thing to do; it also makes good business sense. “If we do not treat the employee as a three-dimensional being whose needs encompass six distinct categories, we will not recruit and retain top talent,” Stolen says. “Employers not only need to create a workplace that offers growth and opportunity, but one that nourishes the employee in mind, body and spirit.”
For Stolen, “Mind, Body, Soul” is also personal. “To me, HR means ‘Human and Resourceful.’ I aspire to serve all employees at all levels of their being,” she said. “Employees need to be able to embody their entire selves at work – which naturally means creating an environment that’s diverse and inclusive. A healthy and happy employee is an engaged and productive one.”
Interested in discussing employee well-being strategies for your organization? Reach out to Stacy – firstname.lastname@example.org
[i] Mental Health Awareness Month – 2022 – District Health Department 10 (dhd10.org)
[ii] 23 Astounding PTO Statistics in 2022 – What To Become
Remember, not all leads are the same.
Anyone who has ever dabbled in marketing knows how complicated it can get. From preparing campaigns to working on branding, sometimes it feels like you need a pair of extra arms to get everything done. Yet seen from another lens, marketing is also relatively simple, as these individual activities often revolve around a singular purpose: generating leads. But as you likely already know, not every lead is a good lead. Let’s look at how to ensure that yours are qualified.
What are qualified leads?
A qualified lead is a lead that has been brought into your ecosystem and evaluated by your sales team as being worth pursuing. Qualifying leads is important for any business but especially for smaller firms with limited time and resources. By applying the right amount of scrutiny, you can decipher whether they truly intend to work with you and where they are in the buyer’s journey. Armed with this knowledge, nurturing your leads and turning them into customers becomes much easier.
Map to buyer personas
One of the first things to do when reviewing leads is to determine whether they map onto your “buyer personas.” Back in 2020, we covered what goes into building effective buyer personas. Not only must you establish your target audience’s demographics, like gender, age, geographical location and language, but you need to also think about psychological factors like motivations, goals and frustrations.
As you can probably guess, a good way to determine if your leads map onto your buyer personas is to include the right information fields on your website’s lead generation form. For instance, if your ideal buyer persona is between ages 35-50 and is a tech-centered real estate agent, you need to request that information from anyone who is filling out your form.
Remember the buyer’s journey
It is not enough to have a lead map onto a buyer persona; it also needs to be in the right stage of the “buyer’s journey.” The different psychological stages a lead moves through include:
- Identifying that they have a pain point or problem (awareness),
- Researching potential solutions (consideration), and
- In the case of a real estate agent, eventually deciding to work with an agent whose services best fit their unique needs (decision).
Using your customer relationship management (CRM) software can help determine where your leads are in this process. For instance, if you have your email marketing software integrated with your CRM, you can easily check and see which contacts are performing which actions in relation to your marketing emails. If a lead has received your emails before but has yet to open them or interact with an element like a hyperlink, then they are likely not ready to enter into a relationship with you.
See, what’s likely happening here with these theoretical leads is that they are interested enough in your business to not unsubscribe from your mailing list, but are not actively absorbing what you are trying to communicate. Therefore, they likely do not have an acute pain point that requires an immediate solution provided by your products or services. When leads are in that state, they may be unlikely to respond to a hard sales pitch and will require further nurturing.
Lead qualification models
Once you ensure that your leads map onto the basic parameters of your buyer personas and are in the right headspace to make a move, you may want to apply additional scrutiny. You can accomplish this by deploying a lead qualification model, such as:
- BANT (Budget, Authority, Need, Timing)
- CHAMP (Challenges, Authority, Money and Prioritization)
- MEDDIC (Metrics, Economic buyer, Decision criteria, Decision process, Pain point identification, Champion)
- ANNUM (Authority, Need, Urgency and Money)
- FAINT (Funds, Authority, Interest, Need, and Timing)
Each of these models have their own pros and cons, but each can also help someone working on the sales side of things to make an effective and informed decision on which leads merit pursuit.
Your ticket to better leads
Let’s face it; few things are more exciting in business or marketing than the prospect of working with a new customer. A new lead kicks off this process, which makes it tempting to spring into action and do everything in your power to convert the lead.
However, it’s smart to qualify leads before you move forward, or you risk overextending yourself and doing a lot of work that will ultimately fall flat. A steady, strategic approach, where you leverage all available sources of information, is a better way forward. It allows you to better allocate finite resources and expand your client base as a result.