The whole goal of using Advisor Launchpad for your online marketing solution is to help you increase the amount of business you generate from new and existing clients. We want to help you find new prospects and inspire the clientele you already have to engage with you further. In this new episode of Rocket Talk, Advisor Launchpad’s Kirk Faulkner and Raudel Sanchez dive into the fundamental principles of what makes for good online marketing and how you can further your efforts using our tools.
Jeff Bezos is quoted as saying that your brand is what people say about you when you are not in the room. That is to say, your brand is your reputation and your reputation is your brand. It takes a lifetime to build and could be dashed apart in an instant.
Managing your online reputation is all about protecting this valuable asset and making sure that there is an accurate representation of your brand promise available for prospects and clients to find online. Here are five tools that you can use to manage your online reputation and make sure that when you are not in the room, people only have good things to say.
While Googling yourself might seem like an overly self-centered thing to do, it is an important activity that anyone who is serious about their online reputation needs to do on a regular basis. It is the quickest way to discover where you stand in the rankings of the SERPs (Search Engine Return Pages) that are most important to your brand. Of course, nothing is more important than your name. If you are not coming up near the top of the search for your own name, consider putting additional effort into your social presence. Several of the other tools on this list will give you the opportunity to increase your standing in the search rankings.
Be sure to also search Google Images for your name. Make sure that the pictures that come up are ones that you would want potential clients to see. If there are images that you have access to and would like deleted there is a process for that. First, delete the original picture then visit Google’s ‘Remove Outdated Content Page’. Once you have cleaned up your images, you can rest easier knowing that anyone else who runs a Google search on you will be seeing your best representation.
One of the most comprehensive strategies for monitoring your online persona is to create a simple Google alert for your name and your company’s name. Google alerts are nothing more than an email that arrives in your inbox with any news of new occurrences of the designated phrase. Since it is not feasible to consistently Google yourself every morning, a Google Alert will take care of this for you.
You can also set Google Alerts for key clients and competitors. This will give you a head start on responding to all kinds of news that affects your business. It will surprise you how powerful being the first person to respond to a new story can be in many different instances.
One of the most important aspects of your reputation has to do with your location. Attracting clients who are near you is a powerful way to increase your book of business. Local searches have been shown to more frequently lead to engagement by those conducting the search. A recent study by Google found that “a greater percentage of local searches lead to a purchase within a day versus non-local searches (18% vs. 7%).”
Local search has become much more important in recent iterations of the Google algorithm. Businesses whose information is correctly and consistently listed across the Internet gain preferential treatment in search listings. If you are looking to improve your discoverability, Google Local Listings is a must for your reputation management.
One of the most important things you can do for your brand is secure your name or your company’s name across the different sites and social platforms. Securing your name provides consistency to your users and allows your business to be seen and recognized in more places. Namechk is a site that has partnered with the top social companies to help you ensure your brand is consistent and easy to find across the internet.
Use Namechk to see if your desired username or vanity URL is still available at dozens of popular Social Networking and Social Bookmarking websites. You can also use it in the early stages of naming to find a brand identity that you can consistently register for the majority of the most popular sites.
One element of a great marketing experience that we fervently recommend is automation. If you are trying to do everything manually yourself, you will undoubtedly experience burnout and human error and it will negatively impact your ability to execute your marketing strategy. If you are using FMG Suite, you are already experiencing some of the best automation on the Internet, but if you are looking to automate aspects of your brand management outside the FMG Suite environment, there are few tools that can match If This Then That (ITTT) for its ability to automate your workload.
ITTT’s recipes allow you to create instances of automation on almost any major social platform. Do you want an email every time you are mentioned on Facebook or Twitter? Want to make sure your branded content is evenly distributed across all of your different social platforms? ITTT has everything you need to not only keep an eye on your reputation but to create the kind of ubiquitous experience that communicates you have spent the time and effort to own your brand online.
Your reputation is a valuable asset that you can not afford to let get tarnished. Use these great tools to keep an eye on your reputation and manage it going forward.
Even though branding can be a challenge, the benefits of a strong brand are definitely worth the effort. One of the best things that can happen when you focus on creating the kind of client experience you are really capable of is an increase in brand advocacy. Basically you turn your current client base into an army of evangelists, all touting your efficacy and expertise to their friends, family and coworkers.
In a Forbes article, author William Arruda identifies three steps to taking your clients down the path to advocacy. By focusing on this journey you can not only increase the number of referrals you are receiving each month, but you can dramatically redefine your relationship with your existing clientele to ensure both sides are getting the most out of your engagement.
Step 1 - Get Them Engaged
The first step along your path to brand advocacy is crafting the experience you deliver to your clients after you begin to work with them. In his article Arruda says,
“In this phase, it’s about delivering on your brand promise. At a minimum, the offering meets the need. For maximum effectiveness, the client’s expectations are exceeded through every touch point.”
If you haven’t taken time to define your brand promise, now would be a great time for that. Without understanding the deeper values you want your brand to embody you can’t know what type of experience you should be delivering.
When you begin to work with a new client, it is a powerful time in your relationship, but also a vulnerable time. A competitor could come along and supplant you as their preferred solution. That’s why in addition to providing value to your clients at this stage it is imperative you establish your points of differentiation. What makes your service unique from all the rest? Continually state your unique value proposition and then deliver on it. It will become the foundation for the next level of your advocate.
Step 2 - Get Them Enamored
The second stage of a client’s path to advocacy involves increasing their loyalty by consistently meeting their needs. In the article Arruda talks about the importance of this loyalty.
“Loyalty is critical in branding. It’s a pivotal milestone in moving clients toward ambassadorship… Authentic loyalty is directly tied to the brand promise and your company’s ability to deliver on the brand promise consistently.”
To move your clients into a state of being enamored, you must first understand their needs almost better than they understand themselves. Client needs can be broken down into three categories:
Opportunities for gain - paths of service that can deliver real value to a client.
Pain points - different ways you can alleviate stress, discomfort and take away negative influence in a client’s life.
Customer jobs - the tasks and duties a client faces everyday as defined by them.
The secret to getting a client enamored is finding your path to understanding these three aspects of their life. Altogether they make a client profile and can not only help you deliver on your brand promise to your clients but identify the aspects of your service most attractive to prospects.
Step 3 - Get Them Enthusiastic
This is the most crucial step in actually transforming a satisfied client into an avid brand advocate. Advisors need to inspire enthusiasm in those they work with. But manufacturing excitement and injecting it into your professional relationships is no easy trick. In his article Arruda has this to say about enthusiasm:
“This is the holy grail of brand commitment. Enthusiasm is contagious… When someone is willing to promote you to others – to be an ambassador for your brand – you have enlisted a client in your brand mission.”
In order to stoke enthusiasm in your clients you must first help them identify the benefits they have received as a result of their engagement with you. If they can’t see tangible changes in their life they are unlikely to get excited. But once they do identify that value, it is then that you can help them see how introducing that same value to their family and friends will increase their standing in the eyes of their community. In fact the reception of your unique value puts them into a small community with all of your other clients. Even if they never meet anyone else you work with, they know that they are members of an elite club, a swank party. You must empower them to invite more people to the party.
Make sure they fully understand your brand promise and are able to communicate it clearly. Create value-centric content (optimized for sharing) that they can use as pass alongs to open the door with their acquaintances. Then, if you have played your part correctly, they will be in a position to share how working with you has benefitted them and why others should do the same.
Financial advisors have limited time to worry about their social marketing. Between LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook, it can be especially hard to build a brand that remains unique to your firm and yet specific to each platform.
At Advisor Launchpad, we’re here to strengthen your social marketing by simplifying your focus. Our advice? Pick a platform, build a game plan, and stick to the process. It’s that simple. Rather than trying to master LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook all at once, invest your time in one platform at a time.
Today, we’ll provide an overview of each outlet so you know what types of content work best.
- LinkedIn: “The 24-Hour Trade Show Booth”
For financial advisors, LinkedIn is regarded as the most important social marketing community. While Twitter and Facebook bring more personality to the conversation, LinkedIn is usually the first destination prospective clients and industry colleagues will search you. It’s the place where thought leaders carve their niche and cultivate their audience.
To join the conversation, you need original, engaging, and thought-provoking content. LinkedIn surfers aren’t only interested in hearing about what you do. They want to know how you think. Not only do people use LinkedIn to network, but also to stay abreast of the most innovative ideas in their industry.
Inspirational pieces about your unique work philosophy or your distinct approach to financial planning will make the most lasting impressions. To captivate audiences about your company, shine a spotlight on your team, your work culture, and your firm’s successes. If you can attract readers with your business ethos alone, it’s only a matter of time until they become your client.
LinkedIn rewards topicality. Stick to your niche, focus on your audience, and publish content that continually reinforces your expertise in the financial world. Think of LinkedIn as your 24-hour, seven-day-a-week trade show booth at a financial planning conference.
What would you publish to continually attract (and retain) your visitors?
2. Twitter: “The Eternal Elevator Pitch”
LinkedIn posts age slowly, but last week’s tweets might as well be from 1850. Twitter is a social media beast that feeds exclusively on a steady stream of fresh and pithy messages.
While providing a second outlet for the content you share on LinkedIn, Twitter presents an opportunity to network in a more engaging and public way. Beyond linking to your white papers and blogs, Twitter encourages you to continuously interact with others in your field.
Retweets, comments, and even a well-timed GIF show readers that you possess a broad perspective that extends beyond your own practice. That’s an attractive quality to prospective clients. Think of Twitter as your personal newspaper, carefully curated to highlight the qualities that make your firm unique. Though much of the content on your feed may come from third parties, if you retweet it, you’re technically still the publisher.
While your LinkedIn profile largely consists of your own blogs and updates, Twitter can be an eclectic collection of tweets from The Economist, stock market updates, a random Bill Murray GIF, and the occasional thought piece of your own.
A word to the wise: while propriety is paramount, don’t be afraid to build the Twitter feed you want, not the one you think others respect.
3. Facebook: The Happy Hour of Social Media”
The secret is in the title: Face. Book. The ubiquitous social network demands one thing above all else: users want to see you. In contrast with LinkedIn and Twitter, Facebook is by far the most personal of the social media outlets.
With well over 2.13 billion active users on the platform, Facebook is less about overt branding and more about personality. This plays well into the hands of financial advisors.
While you may already have a personal Facebook page, you will want to establish one specifically for your company. When you do, lean into the recreational side of social media that Facebook enables. Continue sharing your company’s original blogs and content, but go a step further by posting videos of you and your firm.
45% of users watch over an hour of Facebook videos a week. If you can tap into that demand - whether via clips explaining a hot topic in the news or behind-the-scenes videos of your team at work - you’ll be personally inviting prospective clients into your world.
If LinkedIn is your round-the-clock trade show booth and Twitter is your elevator pitch, think of Facebook as a corporate happy hour. You’re technically still working, but you’re surrounded by people who want to loosen up and get to know the real you.
Use video to get the most out of Facebook.
We hope this guide helps clarify the larger differences between the three pillars of social media. However you choose to get started, prioritize building an authentic personality on one platform rather than a haphazard presence on all three.
Pick your platform, build a game plan, and stick to it. Over time, you’ll master each platform and reap their individual rewards.
You don’t have to be a graphic designer to get the benefits of great design. You just need to learn how to collaborate with a designer to get the best visuals for your website possible. In this episode of Rocket Talk, Kirk Faulkner and Raudel Enrique sit down and talk about the ways that you can make sure your experience working with a designer is not only fruitful but fun as well!
When prospects begin searching for a new financial advisor, they have specific needs in mind, and they know what services are most important for their financial future. Publishing content that is tailored to these unique challenges establishes you as a thought leader and confirms that you are the right fit for your new client’s needs. After all, you wouldn’t check into a hospital with a broken arm and ask to see a neurologist! Outlining your content niche highlights your expertise in every interaction with your prospects and clients, confirming that you are the right fit for their financial needs.
1. Leverage Your Expertise
Bestselling author John Gordon notes, “Experts are not called upon because they are the smartest person in every room; they are called upon because they are the smartest person in a specific room.” Most clients aren’t looking for a “catch-all” advisor. They want someone with years of specialization in a certain area. Highlight your experience working with a certain demographic or strategy in order to attract more clients with the same needs.
If you don’t have a specific specialty, take some time to think about what work you enjoy the most. This is a great way to decide what to focus on in your content marketing, but more importantly, it will allow to craft a career that you enjoy!
If your area of expertise is something broad and sweeping, you may find that you have too much competition when prospects start browsing for financial advisors. Carefully focus your niche in order to stand out from the crowd. Do you offer tax services? So do thousands of other financial advisors in your area. What about tax services for new parents? Now you’re thinning out the competition! Highlight these niche areas of specialization in every blog post and social media campaign in order to reach the right prospects at the right time.
3. Testing, testing!
Now that you have some focused content, start sending it out to certain subsets of your contact list and measure the response. If a certain piece gets more engagement than others, you know you’re on the right track! Continue this testing with different content and prospects until you have a solid idea of what speaks to your core demographic.
Creating content that truly speaks to your prospects helps you stand out from the crowd and attract the right client for your business. Take some time to consider the key needs of your ideal client and focus your content on that niche in order to prove that you’re the right advisor for the job!
Influencer marketing is the art of using paid endorsements from people who have attracted sizable and loyal audiences online. In a recent Digiday article about the real cost of influencer marketing, it stated that the going rate for an influencer recommendation was $1000 for every 100,000 Instagram followers they have. YouTube star Pewdie Pie, with his 50 million followers, earns a staggering $15 million dollars a year with endorsements and ad revenue. This is all to prove the point: influencer marketing is a very real thing.
How can a financial advisor use influencer marketing to grow their business?
It might seem like influencer marketing is only for big public-facing brands that want a lot of exposure. The truth is, influencer marketing is a perfect strategy for service professionals with niche markets that are looking to both find new leads and increase their cachet within the types of communities, online and off, that will increase prospect comfort and likelihood to take action.
Financial advisors are often worried that engaging an influencer will violate compliance rules. While you do need to be careful when working with a thought leader or expert, it should not stop you from trying influencer marketing. The key is to create content with the person rather than just have them recommend you. This way it is not a recommendation, it is a collaboration.
With a little bit of time and effort, you can leverage the power of influencer marketing to increase your own brand’s engagement, recognition, and reputation. The first step is finding the right influencer.
How do I find influencers in my market?
When it comes to finding a good influencer to work with you should not be too worried about which platform they are on. While Facebook and LinkedIn will probably be the most common if you find a Twitter profile, Instagram personality or Tumblr page that reaches your audience you should engage with them.
The trick to finding influencers is to search, search, search. Think about your ideal client. What are the types of search requests they would type? Which words would they use? As you begin to search words and phrases on the different platforms, profiles will emerge that have some amount of authority in each arena.
Here are some types of people who might be good influencers for your business:
- Thought Leaders
- Community Leaders
Engaging an influencer is simple. Reach out to them and ask them if they would be willing to consider an online recommendation. How much you offer to reimburse them (if anything) is based entirely on what you are asking for. Some influencers may be happy just to interview you in a blog or podcast. Check out the service Help a Reporter Out.
What should I look for in an influencer?
All influencers, whether they be in the world of fashion, food or Futons, have three criteria on which they can be judged: Reach, Resonance, and Relevance.
Reach - How big is their audience? Do they match your ideal client?
Resonance - How good are they at getting that audience to take action? What is their engagement level?
Relevance - How important are they in the market you are trying to influence? How much will it matter they are recommending you?
What should I look for in an influencer’s audience?
The only way to judge audiences is to look at similar influencers and get a sense of where the numbers are. Another aspect to watch is how engaged their audience is. If a Facebook page has 150,000 likes but none of their posts have a single engagement, chances are they paid to pump their numbers and don’t have much relevance to their audience.
Pay careful attention to the follower to following ratio. If the numbers are the same, chances are the influencer spends more time pumping up their followers that creating meaningful content.
With a little effort and ingenuity, you can align yourself with powerful voices online that will increase your exposure to ideal audiences and improve your chances of closing new business.
Tyra Banks is an international supermodel, a reality tv star, and a successful business owner. Now she is trying her hand at a new profession: Professor of Branding. She is co-teaching a class called The Art of Branding at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business. In a recent interview with USA Today, Tyra shared some of the main points she tries to convey to her students; ideas that have helped her shape a successful and unique brand voice.
While the worlds of international modeling and financial advisory are different in many ways, the concepts she outlined as her curriculum are as applicable to advisors as any other profession that relies on cultivating reputation and finding a unique brand voice.
BRAND VOICE IS ALL ABOUT DIFFERENTIATION
“I really had a natural way of walking that was a little different, sometimes a little wacky, and I would notice people smiling. I was like ‘Oh wow. They like this. This is my signature walk.’ So that’s when I understood …that differentiation was important.’’
As the world becomes increasingly connected, competition will continue to grow at exponential rates. The way that you set yourself aside from the crowd is perhaps the most important aspect of your financial advisor brand.
One great strategy for winning the game of differentiating yourself is to change the game completely. In their book, Blue Ocean Strategy, W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne outline the process for creating your own blue water. The metaphor comes from the feeding frenzy that happens in the ocean when a bunch of fish and sharks all show up to the same place. A smart fish won’t head towards the red water with all the competition. They will go out to the blue water where they can be away from the crowd.
How does a financial advisor find their own blue water? By taking Tyra’s advice and discovering what it is about your practice that people remember. Talk with your clients and coworkers. It is even okay to talk with prospects who considered you and went with someone else. In all cases, find out what the deciding factor that swayed a decision was for the individual. A pattern should emerge of what special talents and benefits you offer your clientele. Once you’ve identified your special “walk”, recreate your business offering around that. If it is unique, you will find yourself in clear blue water.
COMMUNICATE BRAND VOICE THROUGH CONTENT
“There’s a personal brand that you’re building even if you don’t know that you are. So I think it’s best to be equipped with the tools to make sure that you are shaping something that can serve you in the future.”
One thing we hear over and over from advisors is “I am not a writer. I am not a creative type.” While we understand that the whole reason you got into financial planning was to be an advisor, it is undeniable that good marketing relies on good content. If you want to create a brand voice you will need ammunition with which to do that. Or as Tyra says you need to be “equipped with the tools.”
In her newest book, Everybody Writes, Ann Handley observes that:
“If you have a website, you are a publisher. If you are on social media, you are in marketing. And that means that we are all relying on our words to carry our marketing messages. We are all writers.”
She goes on to describe ways that people who are not writers for a living can nevertheless become competent content creators.
The simplest way to aid in your writing is to get clear on what you are saying in the first place. Handley recommends understanding three objectives before you even put finger to keyboard:
- What are you trying to achieve?
- What information, exactly, are you trying to communicate?
- Why should your audience care?”
Take time to answer these questions, perhaps with another person. Jot down your ideas and get a solid answer to each question. Make it as clear and easy to understand as possible. Before you know it you have created a piece of ‘quality content’, which Handley defines:
“Quality content means content that is packed with clear utility and is brimming with inspiration, and it has relentless empathy for the audience.”
PROTECT YOUR BRAND VOICE FROM COPYCATS
“The most important thing is to watch your competition and to see if your brand that is now very successful is being copied, because when people see something that’s good, everybody jumps on that bandwagon. Boo, don’t you know you should just make up your own thing, because we’re about to change this, and you’re going to look obsolete because you’re going to be copying something that I don’t even do anymore?’”
Once you succeed in finding a unique brand voice, it won’t be long before you notice the copycats. Imitation may be the highest form of flattery, but in online branding, it is impossible to tell who did it first, only who did it best.
If you find yourself with pretenders coming after you, what’s the best strategy to retain your unique brand voice? According to Kathy Sierra, author of the Creating Passionate Users Blog, the worst thing you can do is try to outspend them in advertising.
“Instead of out-spending your competitors, out-teach them… Those who teach stand the best chance of getting people to become passionate. And those with the most passionate [clients] don’t need an ad campaign when they’ve got [client] evangelists doing what evangelists do… talking about their passion.”
This strategy inspired the SaaS success story 37signals, creator of the popular Basecamp, to focus all of its marketing around “upgrading their customers.” By providing their readers, prospects, and clients with the best, most insightful information, the company was able to build up a loyal following. Co-founder David Hansson put it this way in his book Rework:
“We’re trying to build an audience; we’re not just trying to have [clients]. Buying people’s attention with a magazine or online banner ad is one thing. Earning their loyalty by teaching them forms a whole different connection. They’ll trust you more. They’ll respect you more.”
GET STARTED TODAY
Once you have established your brand voice, practice making content and focus your efforts on teaching your clients and prospects valuable information, you will have successfully created an online presence that is not only unique but effective in growing your business.
If you would like to learn more about creating your online brand we invite you to watch this archived version of a live video broadcast called The 3 Keys to Branding For Financial Advisors. It is a complete interactive course and workbook that will help you develop your online brand voice.
2018 is right around the corner, and it’s the perfect time to optimize your marketing strategy for the new year. But where do you start? Before you begin setting new goals, take some time to consider what strategies worked best for you in 2017. Ask your team:
- What specific marketing strategies were most effective?
- What (if any) marketing strategies didn’t work at all?
- Should you re-allocate resources to the more effective strategies?
- Has your target audience or geographic location changed in the past year?
- Were you able to stay within your marketing budget?
Having an honest conversation about your performance over the past year is the optimal way to pick the best path forward. Once you know what worked best for your team in the past, you are ready to create marketing resolutions for the next year. Focus on creating goals that are SMART.
- Specific (targeted to a specific area of improvement)
- Measurable (gives a quantifiable result you can monitor)
- Achievable (a goal that is challenging, yet still completable)
- Relevant (something that will further your marketing goals)
- Timely (set a certain deadline for completion)
Here’s an excellent example of a SMART Goal: ”I will grow my social media presence to 250 followers by the end of the year, and post content on my social profiles twice a week.” Now that’s a SMART goal!
Though it can be daunting to draft out your marketing resolutions for the new year, these tips can help you focus your efforts and input a successful strategy for 2018.
Even if you offer the world’s best service, you need to establish trust and rapport with a prospect before you convert them to a customer. An effective way to look at this process is to compare it with sport fishing. Tug too aggressively after the first nibble, and the fish will swim away. It takes strategy, dedication, and a lot of patience to finally reel in a nervous prospect. Here are some helpful tips to become a masterful marketing angler:
1. Have the best bait
Catching the attention of a prospect can be a tricky task, but offering something irresistible is a surefire way to draw them in. Providing eBooks, quizzes, and whitepapers that speak to their financial situation incentivizes the prospect to come to you. ALP can even eliminate the work on your end by adding an eBook or Quiz Lead Capture to your homepage, allowing the prospect to enter their contact information in exchange for this valuable content.
2. Maintain Your Equipment
It’s much easier to catch a fish with a top-of-the-line titanium rod than a piece of string and a stick. Having a sleek, clean website, a polished social media presence, and targeted email campaigns optimize your chances of catching that award-winning tuna. Ensure that your branding is consistent between all platforms so prospects grow familiar with your company.
3. Cast a wide net
Though you may have a prime demographic that you try to reach with your marketing, it’s best to appeal to a wide variety of potential clients. Utilize a multitude of different marketing strategies in order to ensure that you are reaching a wide range of ages, incomes, and life stages. Posting on social media, sharing in LinkedIn Groups, presenting at conferences, and good old-fashioned networking can help you reach an expansive audience.
4. Reel it in!
Once you have engaged with a prospect, had a conversation about their pain points, and expressed what you can do to help, don’t be afraid to jump in with a little honesty. Asking questions like “What is preventing you from taking the next step?” is an open and comfortable way to invite their feedback, and this can help you perfect your messaging in the future…even if this fish gets away!
Striking up a conversation is only the first step in converting a lead to a client. By being strategic and patient with your marketing, you can convert a little nibble into a big catch.