Marketing for collection agencies in the Accounts Receivable Management or ARM industry is extremely challenging and requires companies to walk a fine line with their marketing communications trying to sell their products and services. One of the biggest challenges is using language that is effective and also will not offend consumers or make the organization a high profile “target” for consumer lawsuits. The ability to tell your story without “saying too much” can be a difficult and time consuming task, but offers great benefits to those companies that can create a compelling presence.
Over the past 7 years I have worked with debt brokers, collection agencies, banks and other financial institutions to develop their brand and create brand awareness through web, print, email campaigns, and special events. Through this experience I have had the opportunity to work with many organizations at many different stages of their marketing development. Many collection agencies make the same mistakes; some of which we address below:
It’s OK for Collection Agencies to Say Who They Are
One of the biggest problems collection agencies have with their marketing is the fear of being recognized. Collection agencies feel that if they have a website it just makes them a larger target for lawsuits and other problems. Since recovery efforts begin with the sending of a dunning letter, consumers are already aware of your company name before any collectors start calling them. More than 50% of consumers that receive a bill will check out that company online before contact. If your organization is not represented online, consumers immediately become suspicious as to why you do not at least have a basic website. Without a website, search results for your company will only contain negative feedback. Let’s face it, if someone has a good experience with a collection agency or law firm they rarely praise you publicly.
For collection agencies dealing with consumers, it is important to look as professional online as you do in-person. Creating a website and showing the digital world you exist is the first step toward taking control of your digital reputation. View your website as a business tool (and payment collection device) instead of an informational liability.
It is ok to take advantage of social network profiles and other basic online marketing tools to take control of your online presence and search engine results. Using social profiles on LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+ and even Facebook can provide additional power to your search engine presence. Don’t go crazy with your company posts and never post anything personal, tasteful posts and retweets from well known industry news sources like InsideARM and Credit & Collections News is appropriate. You can even manage all your social profiles from one place with online tools like HootSuite. There is a strong network of collection agencies and other ARM professionals on both LinkedIn and Twitter.
Sell through Soft Words but Be Authorative
Your website is a perfect place to be marketing the products and services of your company. Both potential clients and consumers are going to see and read the information on your website and it is important to walk a fine line. Selecting the appropriate language for a website that is designed to collect payments requires the use of suggestive soft language while remaining authoritative and institutional. Sell your products and services without sounding like your aggressive or abusive toward consumers.
Using soft terms like “caring”, “understanding”, and “sensitive” gives your company an approachable appearance. The use of aggressive language shows a disregard for the value of the original creditors brand and offends consumers. This can quickly make them reluctant to speak with you about resolving their account. Collection agencies do need to be firm to be effective, but not aggressive.
Pictures Speak 1,000 Words
The images you select for your website will set the tone for how your site content is interpreted by readers. Selecting the right images is the key to your brand perception and should be authoritative without misrepresenting your organization. Pictures of skyscrapers, skylines and other general business imagery can be an effective way to demonstrate power without saying a word. On the reverse side, selecting the wrong images like putting pictures of courthouses (assuming you are not an attorney) will send the wrong message and could prove to be a potential liability.
Walking the fine line of marketing for collection agencies is something that can be done internally if you have the talent and time to commit to the project. For those organizations that choose to hire someone to write their marketing content, be sure to select a vendor that has prior ARM experience or you may end up re-writing all of their work yourself. While working on your marketing use common sense when writing your content and think to yourself, how would you feel if your parents was going to read it? If you wouldn’t say it to your grandmother, you should consider revising the language you are using.