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.
What’s in a name? Ever since Shakespeare asked the question, we’ve been seeking the answer.
When it comes to your online presence, choosing your domain name is particularly important. For prospective clients, it’s the gateway to your website.
3 Tips for Choosing a Strong Domain Name
When you hand people your business card, you want your website URL to be concise and compelling. After all, they’ll be the ones typing it into their browser to visit your digital storefront.
Make your domain name sharp. It’s like that scene in The Social Network where Mark Zuckerberg is encouraged to change The Facebook to, “Just Facebook. It’s cleaner.” Details matter for domain names.
Here are 3 tips for choosing a domain name.
1. Know Your Niche
Earlier this year, we wrote about the value of owning your niche. Truly influential financial advisors corner the marketplace in their respective networks, and that process starts with choosing a domain name.
Do you specialize in insurance services, retirement strategies, or wealth management?
Consider ending your domain name with the defining feature of your company:
The full title may be Williams Insurance & Investment Services, Inc., but for your domain name, always aim for the most direct version. If you have a comprehensive menu of services, however, don’t worry about limiting your company to a single title. Keep it broad:
2. Be Your Brand
However big or small, embrace the size of your firm.
When we craft original content for clients, outfits with a single advisor occasionally fear being viewed as a one-man shop. Pluralities like “our team” may be off limits, but we encourage these firms to capitalize on the appeal of their size. Boutique offices have plenty of advantages, and when choosing a domain, individual advisor names can work very well.
Plus, if you’re in a small town where everyone knows each other, promote your likability with a domain name to match:
Conversely, if you have urban offices and a large firm, expand your domain. You could even incorporate the city in the title:
Wherever you fall on the financial spectrum, play to your strengths and choose the domain that best represents you and your firm.
3. Be Concise
Domains are less about being clever and more about being concise. That’s partially why Amazon and Apple do such great online business.
While we can debate the pros and cons of domain names for days, the ultimate goal is simple. We want clients to visit your website and get on your roster.
The only question is: how easily can we facilitate that process?
3 Extra Tips for Brainstorming a Domain Name
Here are a few rules to keep in mind as you brainstorm a new domain name:
- Demand a Dotcom: Don’t mess around with .net, .biz, .us or anything but .com. Unless you’re a truly massive company, avoid .org as well. The “.com” extension works around the globe and is by far the most popular option for modern domain names.
- Networking Friendly: Think of your domain name as your digital handshake. Does it look good on the back of your business card? Does the URL fit properly? Consider its appeal in the real world before registering the domain.
- Finish Strong: If you’re unsure of your choices, you’ll never go wrong with a few power words and a portmanteau (two words combined). Matched alongside your city, your personal name, or your company title, consider ending the domain with “wealth management,” “financial,” or “advisors.”
Finally, know that the growing power of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) extends even to your domain name. At the end of the day, your domain name is a string of keywords telling search engines like Google how to feature your site.
Choose the right domain name, and lay the foundation for the rest of your website’s long-term success.
While we want you to get the best domain for your business, don’t torture yourself in the process. This shouldn’t be as strenuous as naming a child, and realistically, having a solid digital presence is much more valuable than perfecting your URL.
Once you narrow down your list of domain names, you can easily register them with a hosting provider like GoDaddy or SiteGround.
Reaching prospective clients can be relatively simple, as long as you pinpoint what you’re offering. Know your value and others will come to appreciate it. In previous blog posts, we talked about developing biographies that are both personal and professional. The same principle holds true for identifying your niche market as an advisor: when clients purchase services, they are putting their trust in your expertise. They invest in you well before you invest their assets.
Know your niche by asking yourself these two key questions:
- Why would I be a client of my firm?
- What is the kernel of expertise that sets me apart from other advisors?
When you can answer these questions, you are on the path to amplifying your uniqueness.
Find your niche
Think of your niche like your calling card.
Here’s an example: say someone in your family is a medical professional. You’ve watched them navigate student loans, debt management and the precarious climb from residency to full-time employment in the industry. You’ve taken their late-night calls when they’ve just about had enough. You’ve felt their stress.
There’s your niche. As a financial advisor, you can market yourself as an expert in helping medical professionals build financial confidence. You understand them not only on a professional level, but more importantly, you can level with them emotionally.
Speak their lingo; earn their business.
If you can’t easily identify your niche market, ask yourself these questions:
- What kind of clients do I feel most comfortable working with?
- Which subset of my clients consistently sees the best results?
- How do I best attract new types of clients?
We can never be all things to all people, so why even try? If you’re a veteran advisor, don’t worry yourself with trying to stay hip and modern to catch the millennial crowd. You’ve been in the game awhile, use that hard-earned knowledge to your advantage. While you may also attract larger segments of the younger crowd, first start by playing to your strengths.
Market to your niche
What do most people love to read, write and talk about? Themselves! To further your marketing mission, consider writing your own white paper or newsletter to address your target audience. Athletes subscribe to Sports Illustrated and gourmands to Bon Appetit, so why not create your own literature for your niche audience?
If you can give them tailor made marketing materials in your initial meet and greet, they will view you as an expert in the field.
Reap the rewards
Here’s another question to consider: where does your target audience congregate? If they’re golfers, sailors, or independent women, find the publications, online communities and other areas where they come together. Access those communities and become a resource on which they depend.
Overwhelmed? Don’t be. You’re not actually creating a niche. You’re simply tapping into one that already exists. The challenge is to work diligently enough to become the most trusted resource in the area. We want your name to become synonymous with the product. It’s a key ingredient to any referral. News and information travel swiftly in the modern digital community, so once you strike the match, the fire will grow.
Play to your strengths and identify your niche market. Then, reap the rewards.
When it comes to establishing yourself in a niche market, first impressions are key. A modern and engaging website to which you can direct prospective clients (and current clients who can direct referrals) will help you build confidence and stay competitive.
In 1932, Lucky Strike ran their infamous advertisement: “Do you inhale? Everybody’s doing it!” Big Tobacco’s populist ploy sold countless cigarettes.
84 years later, there’s a new product that carries the same addictive properties. Only this time, it’s in digital form:
Social Media. Everybody’s doing it, including your parents and grandparents. Most everyone can relate to stories of grandmothers posting a Facebook status, but what are the implications for financial advisors?
Benefits of Social Media
The facts are astounding. Consider Brunswick Group’s 2015 findings on how people use social media to make investments: “77% of the survey group reported that they have investigated an issue based on information viewed on digital and social media.”
77%. That’s a supermajority. Social Media presents a new frontier for financial advisors. To truly take advantage of its potential, however, a game plan is essential. Unlike traditional media, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn move at the speed of light. Whereas news media can suffer from hour or even day-long reporting delays, social media lives on the cutting edge.
For investors, that kind of currency separates the winners from the losers.
In this post, we will examine the three main social media networks - Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn - to see how they can help financial advisors target, attract and retain clients.
Twitter is a highly rewarding property. You’re essentially given 140 characters to crack into someone’s conscience. There’s a reason it’s so popular, though. Twitter rewards the concise. Each post is built for spontaneity, and our culture of soundbites and headlines can’t get enough of it.
As a financial advisor, here’s how you can make Twitter work for you:
- Get the word out when you’re hosting a webinar, speaking at an event or attending an industry conference. You can draw people to your presentations, increase traffic to your website or simply let your peers know where to look for you at an event.
- Become a thought leader. Your clients care about what you think. Twitter is a great way to cultivate a readership interested in your worldview. Twitter commentary on current events often spreads faster than the news itself. By sharing your opinion or encouraging involvement, you refine your image as an authority on the subject matter while encouraging your readers to get involved.
All of the above can lead to re-Tweets, which quickly translate to Referrals.
This is a key component to targeting millennial investors, but Twitter’s baby boomer audience has grown like wildfire. FastCompany reports that 55-64 year olds are Twitter’s fastest growing audience, up 79% since 2012.
Twitter’s not just for kids anymore.
When you see people on their phones, chances are they’re on Facebook. Business Insider reports that Facebook accounts for 66% of all social media sharing on iPhones. What’s more, 73% of American internet-users with incomes over $75,000 are on Facebook.
Mark Zuckerberg wouldn’t even need a Lucky Strike ad to get the point across. Everyone is already doing it.
What makes Facebook so useful to your business?
With “Pages” and individual profiles, Facebook allows people and companies to customize and hone their brand. Facebook can help you cultivate connections with prospective clients and enhance existing relationships.
Facebook has a very approachable and open feel. Financial advisors who take advantage of Facebook can be seen in a friendly light, while still using their social media tools to promote their business.
LinkedIn is like a 24 hour networking event. Recent studies reveal the typical LinkedIn user makes over $83,000 a year and has twice the buying power of the average American citizen.
On LinkedIn, you’re in good company. Here are some of the functions of the third pillar of social media:
- Brand your business. LinkedIn gives you the opportunity to add videos, interesting biographical blurbs and much more to color your company however you please.
- Expand your professional network by connecting with current clients, increasing referrals and communicating with new client leads. LinkedIn can be a one-stop shop to identify prospective clients, to get in touch, and to set up meetings.
- From CPAs to Health Insurance agents, LinkedIn “Groups” allow you to hone in on your target audience and network with the precise people you had in mind.
With over 3 million MBA graduates, 1.39 Ivy League alumni and 7 million C-Level Presidents, Executives and VPs, LinkedIn is one area you don’t want to be left out.
Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook are all powerful social platforms that can help financial advisors target, attract, and retain clients and keep them engaged with content that is intends to interesting, informative, and helpful in resolving a concern that a reader may have.
- When you’re promoting your business on social media, you need a fresh, inviting and informative website to direct your prospects to. Advisor Launchpad builds beautiful mobile-friendly websites to capture more leads, as wells as optimizing them for SEO and populating them with captivating content.
- Still want to learn more about social media for advisors? Fill out the form below for a detailed white paper on how financial advisors can utilize social media while remaining in regulatory compliance.
Who are you and what do you do?
Identities are formed on self-opinion.
As a financial advisor, you have to know to what separates you from your peers and provide a compelling explanation in a single breath.
That’s the essence of branding.
Elevator pitches are founded on a confident understanding of your self-worth. In a world filled with so much digital noise, investors crave straightforward solutions to their financial needs.
Simple is the secret for business success.
Top 3 Ways to Hone Your Brand
To create genuine content based on your financial firm’s unique voice that is simple and effective for business growth, follow the tips below.
1. Know Thyself & Find Your Niche
When we first start helping clients develop their content, we ask what distinguishes them from the fray. It’s a tough question that is frequently met with resistance.
Some advisors have diffidently suggested that their firm possesses no original traits.
This trend must be reversed. They have plenty of original qualities that are unique to their company, but they need to dig deep to find them.
As a financial advisor, you ultimately attract the business you think you deserve. Aiming low will seldom attract high-net-worth candidates.
Whether you are an industry veteran in search of fresh copy or are a new firm looking to get started, accept the challenge of developing content that is as original as it is informative.
2. Simplify Your Brand
Here’s the real question: how do you want prospective clients to feel about your company the second they see your website?
Take out a pen and paper and write down those qualities. Client communication? Honesty and integrity? Estate planning? All of the above? Great.
In the digital era, words and images tell audiences how they should feel about you. Take control.
As you build your content and brand, identify the verbiage that amplifies your skills and captures your unique voice.
3. Sell Your Services
No matter what the stock market is doing, your business should always be in full bull mode.
Competing online requires a website that serves as the digital bastion for your business. When prospective clients identify with your company and brand, they’ll be reaching for the phone.
Your website is more than a simple post-Y2K requirement. View it as the business tool that it can be.
Hone Your Brand with Advisor Launchpad
Building your online presence is critical to generating business. Additionally, creating content that is genuine and unique to your company’s voice exponentially enhances that online presence, defining a brand for your financial firm.
At Advisor Launchpad, we offer comprehensive services to completely develop your online presence, from a beautiful website that impresses visitors at first glance to copywriting services that will keep readers coming back.
Get started with Advisor Launchpad today and watch your business grow!