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 First, delete the original picture then visit Google’s ‘Remove Outdated Content Page’.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.
Today’s consumers expect a more immersive conversation with their potential financial advisor before subscribing to their services. The excess of information readily available to all consumers requires you to work harder—and smarter—to convert your leads into clients. The days of sending a one-off postcard are over. Clients want to create a relationship with you before enlisting your services.
Mapping the content that you create to different buying stages can help you maximize the success of your omnichannel strategies. To optimize the success of your content, you need to consider the different needs of your prospects at each stage of the sales funnel.
The Anatomy of a Sales Funnel
Even for the most analytic consumer, making a purchase is ultimately an emotional decision. To truly understand what will appeal to your prospect, you need to know where they stand in the sales funnel.
The most simple model of a sales funnel has three very important stages:
Stage 1: Awareness
This is the first step in a prospective buyer’s journey, and they may not even know what specific services they require at this point in the process. They are doing their research on potential financial advisors by scouring blog posts, the social media accounts of potential advisors, and industry trends in order to see what works best for their needs.
Stage 2: Consideration
The evaluation stage is much more involved, and the prospect is now looking closely at what you offer. What sets you apart from your competitors? Do you offer the specific services that they will require? In addition to the services themselves, clients will be examining their possible professional relationship with your firm. Are your personalities the right fit? Do you respond to their questions quickly and concisely?
Stage 3: Purchase
This is the final stage in your sales funnel, where you leverage your ongoing communication with the prospect to finally convert them to a client. In order to truly sell your services to your client, spend time highlighting your experience in the industry and what sets you apart from the crowd. Really drive home what you deliver for your clients! This will, of course, encompass your financial services, but don’t forget to mention how you cultivate relationships and deliver peace of mind every step of the way.
How to Tailor Content to Each Stage of the Sales Funnel
Too many companies get hung up on the sale itself and neglect the first two stages of the process. Creating a relationship with your future clients takes time, and your prospects will have unique needs at each stage of the sales funnel. An effective marketing strategy will create content that addresses those needs and distributes it across multiple channels. This sounds daunting, but don’t panic! Here are some steps to guide you through this process:
Define the content needs of each stage in the sales funnel
Before you start hammering out your content, you need to take some time to evaluate what each prospect wants to see. This can be a daunting task, but breaking down the data will help you determine the needs of each persona.This data includes the life stages of your ideal client, their demographics (age, net worth, location, etc.), and what financial services will be most helpful.
Once you have your ideal client in mind, you can brainstorm what will most appeal to this user at each stage of the sales funnel. For example:
Stage 1: Awareness
The awareness stage is vital to starting a new relationship with your prospect. This is the stage where you want to build trust and establish yourself as an authority in the financial services industry. Talk about your accomplishments, tell the story of how you started your career as a financial advisor, and post rave client reviews. Having a compelling narrative helps build brand awareness and convinces clients to pick you over the competition.
Once this content has been created, use blogs and social media to share it with the world. Posting on your social media channels gets your name out and encourages a conversation with your prospects. Be sure to respond to every comment on your page in a timely manner to prove that you care about your clients!
Once you have started a conversation with a new prospect on social media, ask for their email address and inquire what financial services they need most. This will allow you to continue the conversation in a more direct way and speak to their major pain points.
Stage 2: Consideration
This stage is a little more sales intensive, and you’ll want to convey the value that you have provided for other clients in order to prove your worth.
Begin by addressing the pain points that the prospect brought up in your first conversation. Explain how you have delivered value for your existing clients, highlight your specialties, and explain your process. Having a page of client testimonials is a great way to demonstrate your success, and it will assure the prospect that they will be in good hands!
Stage 3: Purchase
At the very end of the sales funnel is the purchase stage. The client is now familiar with your brand and the financial services that you offer, and they are ready to take this relationship to the next level. To “seal the deal” with a prospect at this stage, show off your industry knowledge by sharing whitepapers, case studies, or any recent articles that you have authored. Ask your prospect if they have any other questions or concerns, and invite them in for a face-to-face meeting at your office.
When creating your marketing strategy, you need to closely consider the stages of the sales funnel and tailor content to each step. Consumers today expect a longer conversation before committing to a service, and creating content that appeals to each buyer persona ensures that you are covering all your bases.
In the spectrum of different tools that digital marketers use, few are as powerful and versatile as the well-crafted whitepaper. Most people have heard the term by now, but many don’t understand what makes a good whitepaper. In this Rocket Talk, Kirk Faulkner and Raudel Enrique Sanchez discuss what a whitepaper is, how to create a great one and what you can do with it once you have it.
In 1996, Bill Gates saw the rising value of Internet content. While he recognized the importance of output volume, he knew the future of web copy would demand excellence.
“If people are to be expected to put up with turning on a computer to read a screen, they must be rewarded with deep and extremely up-to-date information that they can explore at will.”- Bill Gates
If there was ever need of additional proof of Gates’ prescience, this statement would provide it. Twenty years later, the Internet abounds with content and a growing user appetite for increasingly valuable material.
As a financial advisor, you have to feed your clientele with relevant and trending information. The industry is inundated with hackneyed writing, making it essential that each post enriches your audience in compelling ways. Changes to search algorithms have made web crawlers like Google, Yahoo and Bing more discerning when it comes to judging the quality of your content. Appeasing their higher standards is the key to optimizing your site for search and improving your rankings on SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages).
There are three main aspects of your content you can improve to help improve your site’s ranking in the digital marketplace Bill Gates envisioned:
Originality, Personality, and Interactivity.
Provide Original Insight
The majority of the content being produced at any given moment is simply regurgitated versions of something else that was already published. The internet is aswarm with the same article sliced 15 different ways. If you want to experience the loving electric embrace of high search rankings you need to share information and experiences that are unique to you and your business.
When it comes to sharing lessons learned in the trenches, it is not a bad strategy to overshare. By opening up your coffers of knowledge and sharing your treasure with the web at large you are not only demonstrating your expertise in your chosen area, you are providing the exact type of insight that improves a users over all experience of your site. Your bounce rate will fall, your average time on page will increase and your quality scores, the number that signifies Google’s determination of how well you address a certain keyword, will go through the roof.
Demonstrate Your Personality
When you meet a prospective client, you smile as you shake hands. Having an approachable style and voice has the same effect. Your writing tone is essential to making your clients feel welcome but also needs to communicate professionalism and expertise. This can seem like a difficult tight rope to walk. Take some time to consider your word choice. Is your language festooned with jargon or approachable to a layman?
Another aspect of your writing to consider is your character. What persona are you projecting in your online publications? Are you the only narrator they experience? One incredibly powerful strategy to help your readers connect with your writing is to introduce a cast of characters made up of members of your staff, your family or your clients. The more that your readers feel that you are sharing of your life the more they will fell comfortable trusting you with aspects of theirs.
Use Interactive Content
One of the most important aspects of a web experience is how personalized it feels to the person having it. Something as simple as recommended similar articles that appear at the end of a particular piece can be the difference between a reader spending a few seconds with your site or going further, taking a deep dive into your content library and experiencing the breadth of your content.
Being concise is the new currency. Take advantage of our increasingly visual culture and use videos and images to tell your story. Bill Gates also predicted the importance of this component, suggesting the “need to have audio, and possibly video” to give customers a complete experience. A combination of pithy writing and powerful visuals will result in increased SEO performance and a steady stream of new opportunities for your company.
Get Started on Creating High-Quality Content
Advisor Launchpad provides comprehensive digital marketing services for financial advisors seeking to establish their online reputation and get ahead of the local competition.
From copywriting to SEO to web design, we have assembled various packages to meet your budget and marketing needs.
Contact us today to learn more information.
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.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) has a language of its own. From “whitehat” to “blackhat” and “nofollow” links to “dofollow” links, this digital lexicon requires more than a few definitions to make sense of the madness.
Today, we’re looking at one of the central components of an effective SEO strategy: “backlinks.” Widely heralded as the currency of SEO, backlinks are incoming hyperlinks that point from one website to another. For example, if Advisor Launchpad mentioned an article in The New York Times, that hyperlink would be considered a backlink for the famed publication.
Backlinks are an integral piece of search engine ranking algorithms. If your website receives an abundance of backlinks from high-quality sources, Google will recognize your growing authority and boost your ranking.
While backlinks have long been part of the digital marketing conversation, the means of actually getting them have changed drastically. First, there was the old-school approach that saw hosts spamming comments sections with links to their own websites. Then came the “ends justify the means” crowd who bought backlinks from “link farms” to help increase their popularity.
Though these tactics worked for a time, Google and other search engines caught on to the schemes and leveled harsh ranking punishments (and even banned) websites attempting to cut corners. The backlink goldrush inevitably led to a more tightly monitored and regulated market.
Backlinks are crucial to help grow your online presence, but only when they are earned through networking and a consistent emphasis on producing quality content.
Here are a few tips to get started:
- Position Yourself As A Thought Leader
Backlinks themselves carry little value; it’s the destination they take you that matters most. Rather than fret over the number of backlinks you can attain, focus on the most important goal: establishing yourself as a thought leader in both your local and industry markets.
The financial advisory world is inundated with competing voices that often regurgitate the same information. Carve a niche in that community, and you’ll not only boost your backlinks, you’ll also grow your business.
- Build Your Content “Skyscraper”
What’s the best way to enhance your online presence in the financial space? Take a look at what’s already working. Run a quick Google search of popular financial blogs and articles authored by competing advisory firms. Tools like Moz’s Open Site Explorer and Buzzsumo can help you pinpoint the biggest content influencers and closely analyze their backlinks.
Take note of the topics they cover and the tone they take, then put together a game plan to exceed their efforts. Brian Dean of Backlinko calls this the “Skyscraper Technique,” an approach derived from the “whatever you can do, I can do better” school of thought.
This could entail writing a more comprehensive or “ultimate” guide to the topic at hand, providing more real-world anecdotes and explanations to personalize your content, or simply altering your blog’s structure to feature more image-based or list-driven content.
In short, be aware of the content that has a proven track record of success, then expand those qualities and put your own unique spin on it.
- Leverage Industry Partnerships
Once you have cultivated your content, it’s time to launch it in the marketplace. Your best target? Financial industry partnerships and local community alliances.
Say you published a blog that stresses the importance of incorporating an estate plan with your overall financial strategy. Your investment management firm works closely with local attorneys who specialize in estate plans. In this scenario, you could ask those attorneys to feature your guest blog on their website, or simply have them link to your article in one of their own posts. Google prizes these sorts of backlinks, as they rank high in both quality and relevance.
Beyond leveraging your industry relationships, consider reaching out to local businesses with whom you may already have clients. The power of community credibility cannot be overstated. If a local shop gives you a shout-out in one of their own blogs or newsletters, you’ll earn both backlinks and new business.
- Publicize Through Social Media
While leveraging your professional network, be sure to double your influence by capitalizing on social media. LinkedIn shares, Facebook posts, and Twitter retweets go a long way to getting your quality content on the map. Continue cultivating relationships with your social media followers, and it won’t be long before they start promoting your content.
Ultimately, getting backlinks takes time, creativity, and commitment. By focusing on developing unique and compelling content, then taking a multi-pronged approach to publicizing it, your website will gain backlinks as your company gains business.
As you’re beefing up your content marketing efforts, you might notice that your weekly blog posts aren’t getting the attention they deserve. Though this is a definite bummer, don’t panic! It just means that you need to spend a bit more time curating your content and sharing it widely. Here are some quick tips to make your next blog post the best ever!
Judge your book by its cover
Yeah, Mom always told us not to, but let’s face it: people will judge your content based on their first impressions. Taking the time to perfect the title and the introductory paragraph is key to reeling in your reader. This is essential for blog posts in particular, as eight out of ten people will take the time to read your headline copy, but only two out of ten will read the blog itself. Make sure those first impressions shine!
Balance fun and facts
Ultimately, people are visiting your blog to learn more about the financial services industry, but don’t forget to balance your statistics with a good story! Establishing a narrative engages your reader and allows them to relate to the scenarios you’re presenting.
Cite your sources!
Your teachers have been hammering this into your brain since grade school, and it doesn’t end here! Citing sources on your blog establishes you as an authority in the financial services field and shows that you’ve done your research. Helpful hint: If you’re linking directly to your source, don’t forget to check “open in new window” on your ALP Dashboard so the reader remains on your site.
Support your SEO
Be sure that you are taking the time to optimize every one of your posts for SEO keywords. Using targeted keywords in the headline, body text, and first and last sentence of your posts is essential to maximizing the impact of your SEO efforts, and this will give your blog an extra leg up in search engine results.
Announce your new post to the world
You’ve spent years building your following on social media…why let this effort go to waste? Announce your new blog post on all social channels and include hashtags for relevant keywords. This expands the reach of your announcement and brings in a fresh audience to check out your content.
If your posts aren’t getting the full attention they deserve, try implementing these strategies for your next round of content creation. Adding a little extra tender loving care to your next run of blog posts can grow its reach and bring in a fresh bunch of prospects!
As a financial advisor you are used people wanting to share your knowledge. Why not make education the cornerstone of your content marketing strategy? Join Kirk Faulkner and Raudel Enrique as they discuss what makes for great educational content and how you can make sure that the content you are sharing is value driven, action inspiring and business stimulating.