Khalid Usmani, who is the Director of Advisors Success at GuideVine, and Marie Swift, who heads up PR and marketing consulting firm Impact Communications, recently spoke about marketing Financial Advisory services in a noisy digital world.
The audio interview can be accessed here:
Here is a summary of key points.
When it comes to your digital footprint, a couple of things are very important:
- It’s about widening your reach
- It’s about deepening your appeal
Drilling down on point number one, widening your reach:
Using the Internet has become increasingly important as a medium for people to make important decisions and forge relationships.
A recent study done by PricewaterhouseCoopers shows that 83% of people do research online before they make a purchase or major decision. They know what they are likely going to buy before they even set foot inside a store or call a service provider.
Another study, from Pew Research shows that since 2013 the number of people using online dating sites has gone up 3x. The interesting thing here is that it’s just not people age 18-29. The biggest increase in use came from people between ages 35 and 65.
For Financial Advisors, the big take-away is that people will find you in all kinds of places online. They may find you on your website, LinkedIn profile, Facebook, or different web portals so it is important to make sure that you are visible where your ideal clients are. Make it easy for people to find you.
To learn more about being discoverable online, read The Digital Reality for Financial Advisors.
Drilling down on point number two, deepening your appeal:
Deepening your appeal is perhaps the most critical part. You can certainly be on lots of different platforms and be on social media. But just being there doesn’t really make you different. What matters is making sure you have a deep connection on those platforms.
There are three things to think about if you want to stand out:
- Thought leadership
Messaging – It is important to have consistent messaging. You’d be surprised the number of Advisors that have a dramatically different message on their website than they have on their LinkedIn profile. Make sure you have a consistent message and a consistent brand across the various digital platforms that you use so that the prospective client is seeing a similar brand across the board.
Thought Leadership – You must also have great content and be able to show how you’re different from the crowd. Too many Advisors rely 100% boilerplate content that they have purchased to distribute via their websites and/or social media. While using some purchased content is fine, relying it 100% means that you are not being truly authentic. The best strategy is to break away from the pack and show value to the potential prospects by highlighting your thought leadership. Share what you think is going on in the market or your ideas on a particular issue that a lot of your current clients face and make that conversation real online.
Call-to-Action – It is important to have a compelling call-to-action. If there isn’t a clear path that is obvious to visitor when they come to your website, they will just bounce off. So have a button and some language that specifically calls out and invite the visitor to connect with you, to download one of your latest market perspectives, to watch one of your videos, or interact with a piece of software on your site. This also translates into how you set up your LinkedIn profile or even GuideVine profile – what’s the purpose? What do I want the prospect to do when they are on each page?
Advisors who focus on widening their reach and deepening their appeal can add millions of dollars in net new assets directly through their online channels. In order to be more discoverable online, you’ll need a marketing hub (typically your website) and a number of satellite pages that connect in to and out from your hub. Imagine a big spider web on the World Wide Web. Your website or blog is the primary place where you want everybody to eventually migrate. Having satellite entities, such as a GuideVine profile page, social media profiles, and articles published on other credible is essential due to cross-linking (boosts your search engine page rankings). When people Google you by name (or by specific terms or even generic terms), your LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and GuideVine profiles will show up. So think about building a multi-page footprint online.
Of course Advisors are busy people, so when it comes to building your digital footprint think about:
- What are your goals?
- Who’s your target?
Not every Advisor should be on every single platform out there. That is just not a good use of time. You as an Advisor have to identify what are the key platforms that you want to be on and then prioritize from there. GuideVine actually has a process for this – a trained professional helps the Advisor create a step-by-step game plan. It is important to focus on the basics:
- Getting the profile set up
- Making sure the cover photos and profile pictures are consistent and professional
- Ensuring that the descriptions are the same and support the overall brand identity you’re trying to promote
Content – Once you’ve got the basics down, think about your content. Make sure you have great content – that it’s frequent, and that it’s consistent and appropriate for the target audience that you are going after. A lot of Advisors think that “creating content” means they have to write something from scratch – and that seems overwhelming to time-crunched Advisors, especially those for whom writing is not a natural strength. But studies have shown that video and infographics and other forms of visuals get shared more often than just text alone. So adding in the visuals can help you broaden your reach and deepen appeal.
One of things GuideVine has learned in having thousands of videos and tens of thousands of views is what things consumers really like when it comes to liking an Advisors video. Bottom line: having a profile page with some text doesn’t really get the Advisor’s message across. Most Advisors will agree that the wealth management business is a very heavy relationship-based business. Part of the thought process that any prospect goes through before they select their Advisor is, “Is this Advisor an appropriate fit for me from a personality perspective?” So don’t just include a list of services you offer and a narrative about the types of experience you’ve had. Try to show some personality – that’s part of what the consumer is hoping to get a sense of when they view your website, social media and profile pages online. Clients want to feel comfortable sharing details about their personal lives, not just their financial lives – and they don’t want to share those more personal details with just anybody.
Video is a fantastic way to quickly showcase your personality to someone; it saves them having to take all the time to come in person and meet with you and can speed up the get acquainted process. Videos are a quick way for you to showcase how you’d work with someone and make someone feel comfortable before they actually connect with you. GuideVine stats show that advisors that have videos have significantly greater levels of engagement.
Advisors who use their videos across various platforms including their website, LinkedIn, and any other place they have a presence, are seeing 2-3 times in terms of number of plays – and that translates into greater engagement with them.
Engagement – The third level of this is when you get to engagement. You’ve got the basics and the mechanics down; you have the great content there. Now how do you drive engagement? Part of it is building a larger followership. One of the best ways to build a larger followership is to make sure that you are actually talking to people online and creating a community around your content and ideas. Just having a big megaphone out there and saying, “Hey this is my brand and this is what I do,” but not listening to people and reacting to people’s real concerns online makes is a shallow strategy. To make it a much deeper, richer, experience, engage with people online. That is the final element that will drive dividends for your Financial Advisor firm.