As we roll into the new year of 2011, one of the key challenges for any structured settlement or settlement planning professional is the necessity of branding your professional practice and making sure that you dominate search in your local markets. Our profession has struggled through the near collapse of the financial markets in 2008 and the recession that has given us record low annuity yields in 2009 and 2010, with the result being lagging sales and experts looking for a way to jump start their sales and marketing efforts.
Until recently the cost of creating a branded professional profile in our rather unique area of specialty, structured settlements, was prohibitive for most settlement experts. It required hiring a web designer, creating content, starting a blog, launching a video channel and then trying to unravel the mystery of how to get this material on page one of Google and out into social networks. This was more expensive, required creative skills most small firms don’t have on staff and in many cases had people working with “experts” who were totally clueless in how to develop a coherent marketing plan or get you on to the first page of Google.
As part of my continuing efforts to build The Settlement Channel into a source of more than just news and commentary, I have revamped our Speaking of Settlements site into a pure industry news feed. What that means is that the shows and interviews will be industry and topic related, with out promoting a particular firm or agenda. Speaking of Settlements will have tax commentary, relevant legal and political news, as well as financial, insurance and settlement news, along with profile interviews of settlement professionals from around the country.
The Settlement Channel by contrast will continue it’s focus on the “inside business” of structured settlements and be my own personal commentary on our industry, practice management, marketing and issues facing plaintiffs and others considering a structured settlement.
What makes this change most significant is that the Speaking of Settlements news feed and show will now be fed into our newest site, The Structured Settlement Expert Directory, the settlement professions first directory that will deliver outstanding local search results for the agents, brokers and experts who choose to create a listing in their state, city or region. Our firm has been running this site in development and I am now confident enough in the results that we are ready to share it with others in our industry.
For an illustration of how powerful this can be, type into your search engine of choice, structured settlement expert Arizona, and check out the results for my local listing. The results in standard search is outstanding, in video search it is even more impressive. Now, I realize there will be those who say, “I don’t get any leads from the internet and search so why do I need to be listed in my region”. To those, I say keep thinking that way and do me a favor and type the same terms into search, but then removing Arizona and inserting your state in its place. In most instances the directory will show up on page one and who ever decides to take the listing for that state or region will reap the rewards, instead of you. The decision is yours, I am done trying to convince the settlement profession that they need to move into the 21st century in marketing. I’ll leave it to the more progressive and aggressive experts to claim their region and develop their multi-media profile and to brand their firm.
For those who are interested in learning about the benefits of a listing, simply click here on this link to the Structured Settlement Expert Directory, and go to the section which describes who might qualify and how to get started. I’m not going to list all the benefits here, but essentially if you want to show up on page one of Google local search for structured settlements as well as develop a comprehensive professional profile that brands you as the expert in your region, this is probably something you will want to check out.
As to the larger question of why in the world I am sharing this unique search and branding capacity with other professionals and only charging a very modest monthly listing fee, you will have to wait for the answer to that question later this week. Until then, check out the directory and think about whether or not it is the right tool for you to jump start your business and protect your position on the search results in your home market.
Mark Wahlstrom is the President of Wahlstrom & Associates, the host of The Settlement Channel and is generally considered one of the nations leading experts in structured settlements. Based out of Arizona, his expertise in the development of structured settlement planning is shared each week on this blog and affiliated channels of The Legal Broadcast Network.