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Improve Your Digital Presence in a Restrictive Environment

Something we’ve noticed from our work with advisers at Kalli Collective is that they are way behind in their online presence—even the basics. But, before you get defensive, hear me out. I don’t think it’s entirely your fault.

The financial services industry will always be behind other industries because of the compliance regulations set in place to protect you and those you serve. FINRA and other regulatory bodies need time to figure out how applications operate and what risks exist. They don’t allow use of such applications until they’ve had a chance to create safety measures. It was only a few years ago that advisers were allowed to have a social media profile, and by that time several organizations from other industries had already built up a reputation and following.

This lag in access combined with largely non-tech savvy individuals has created a fear of the unknown, which has created an “if I ignore it, it will go away” mindset. Many of the older, established advisers insist they don’t need a web presence because they built their business without it. It’s only in the last three to five years that advisers have started to create a presence online, but even these efforts are rarely thought out or invested in more than the bare minimum. But, don’t let this discourage you. While your competition is just scraping by with a website from the early 2000s and a social media profile they update once a year, you can reach clients and prospects with a superior digital presence.

Here are a few tips on getting started:

Take Stock

According to Pew Research, 74 percent of online adults use social networks regularly with nearly 5 million affluent investors using social media to research financial decisions. Check your current digital presence score from our Coaches Corner doc to find any gaps and areas you can “beef up.”

Define Your Annual Budget

Most marketing pros recommend that you invest 20 percent of your business profits into your marketing. This is for all marketing, not just your digital efforts. This includes business cards, brochures, signage and so on. You’ll have to judge your own situation to determine what percentage is right for your business. I do encourage you to delegate a large percentage of your marketing budget to your online presence, especially your website. Your website should be your hub of content and indicate to your clients and prospects working with you is like. Need more help? Watch our video about website budgets in FPA Coaches Corner.

Have an Overview Plan

Define your target audience. A target audience is who you’re trying to reach or connect with. Sit down and take a look at your book of business. Who are your top clients? What niches do you work with or want to work with?

Define what action/s you want your target audience to take. How can you grow your business through each segment of your target audience? What action do you want them to take?

Define where/how you can reach your target audience. Research them. Where do they get their information? What groups are they part of? What publications do they read? What are their interests?

Review every quarter. Technology is constantly evolving, so every quarter review where and how you can reach your target audience. Every year or so, review and update who your target audience is and what action you want them to take.

Create a Content Calendar

Using your overview plan, create a calendar for what content you’ll be releasing, when, where and who is responsible. Use our how-to create content document in FPA Coaches Corner to help.

Add Call to Action and Drip Funnels

It’s extremely rare to find an adviser who is forward-thinking and brave enough to create a system to funnel leads into drip campaigns and/or provide interactive sections on their website. Your website should really be more than an online brochure of your business, and each target audience segment should have its own set of funnels and drip campaigns based on the interaction of the prospect. If your prospect is interested in a 401(k) rollover, doesn’t it make sense to send them periodic emails related to that topic? By creating a funnel on your website and social media, you have the ability to do just that.

While regulations do contribute to the financial services industry being behind, it’s not an excuse for advisers to cease coming up with creative solutions and clear growth plans with what they do have access to.

Kallie_Fedusenko

Kalli Fedusenko and The Kalli Collective partners with professionals in the financial planning profession across the U.S. in their digital marketing plans. Think of Kalli Collective as your in-house marketing agency that just happens to work for your office remotely. They not only help plan, strategize and implement a marketing plan, they do the work for you so you can spend your time on what you do best—planning with clients. She is one of the newest coaches in the FPA Coaches Corner.

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Editor’s note: This piece originally appeared in the FPA Coaches Corner whitepaper, “Action 2020: Create Business Success for Today and Tomorrow.” Download your copy of the whitepaper here.  


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Making Social Media Work for You

“I need to start using social media in my practice.”

Is that what you’re telling yourself? It’s a great place to start, but there’s a lot more to social media success than just “being there.” The first question I ask planners to consider is, “Why am I using (or planning to use) social media as part of my marketing strategy?”

If it’s because you want to let the world know your political stance or complain about something, it’s probably not the best use of your time (on or off the clock). But if it’s to build a community, get the word out about your business and show you are an expert in financial planning—then social media can be an extremely valuable tool! It’s all in how you make your plan, execute it and stick with it.

I’ve included a few of my favorite tips below to help you get started.

Social Media Has Its Place…

…But that doesn’t mean it should run your schedule. It’s so easy to get sucked into your Facebook timeline, or deep into the string of replies to a tweet. Responding in a timely manner is important—and now platforms like Facebook track your response rate—but don’t beat yourself up trying to answer every message or comment 15 seconds after it comes through.

An easy solution is to turn on notifications for direct messages, which is where most people go when they are seeking help from you or your business. For comments that come through, set aside a daily time block to monitor your page(s). I recommend 10 minutes; unless you are a social media superstar, that is likely enough time to ensure that you are seeing all of the comments that have been published on each of your posts.

It’s also equally important to have an established process in place to handle complaints, mentions and comments on your social media platforms. Whether it’s the CEO or a part-time intern who is monitoring the account, you want everybody to be on the same page and know when to respond, and how to respond when it’s appropriate.

Create a Lasting Connection

Social media offers a great way to help people understand who you, and your business, really are. If your customers are really buying “you,” what do you want and need them to know ? Use your social media platforms to connect with your audience and have a discussion. Keep asking them questions and producing different types of content—if you pay attention, you’ll start to notice patterns and understand the topics that truly matter to your followers.

Did you post something that got absolutely no engagement? Take a deep breath and remember it’s not the end of the world. Social media is a process of trial and error: test, gather data and adjust your strategy.

Consistency is Critical

Raise your hand if you think consistency is important. If you don’t see your hand reflected in the computer monitor, we need to take this offline. (And if you’re the guy who raised his hand on the subway, don’t worry—you’re definitely not the weirdest one on that train.)

When it comes to social media, consistency is key. It doesn’t matter whether you post every day or once per week—being consistent builds trust with your audience. An easy way to keep track of your content is through a calendar. It doesn’t matter if you use an Excel spreadsheet or a sophisticated project management tool; find what works for you and use it. You can stop at Level 1, or go 100 Levels deep – it all depends on your skill level, interest and the time you can put toward social media. Here’s what Levels 1, 10 and 100 might look like:

Level 1: I want to post on each platform once a week. How do I make it look like I’m active on social media?

Determine the platforms you want to be active on and spread out your content. Use the ideas in Level 10 below for content generation, and set up a simple calendar like this:

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Level 10: I want to post on each platform once per day. But how in the world will I create enough content for that?!

It’s a lot easier than you think! All your content doesn’t have to be original blogs that are thousands of words each. Here’s one example:

Level 10 Calendar.png

Build fun stuff about you and your company into your social media plan. People want to know about you; they can easily learn about your products and services through your website and by contacting you.

Level 100: Alright, I’ve got all this down. I want to post on multiple social media platforms multiple times a day.

Awesome! Remember how I said you could use an Excel spreadsheet for your content calendar? If you didn’t believe me, now you should! I love Google Docs, and use it for scheduling content across the Financial Planning Association’s social media platforms.

Here’s my outline:

Level 100

It’s color-coded by type of content. Each type of content goes out the same day each week (consistency is key). I sprinkle in Instagram posts throughout the calendar, based on what content I think will work well there (it’s not a huge platform for us, so I don’t put as much attention there).

A content writer I work with swears by Airtable—I’ve used it with her, and it is a neat platform. Ultimately, it boils down to what works best for you and what will keep you organized and on track.

I’ll close with a few of my key things to remember about social media:

  1. A consistent, regular presence is key.
  2. Make sure your profile info is completed and detailed; people often go to social media instead of Google to learn more about you or how to get in touch with you. Just because something is not my favorite platform doesn’t mean I would take my company off it.
  3. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Case in point: Instagram not updating anybody’s feeds after the iOS update earlier this year. It took at least a week before I saw any new content in my feed…which means I didn’t see any new content from the businesses I follow.
  4. Create a content calendar—it makes your life easier!
  5. Your social media posts, retweets, likes, favorites (all of it) is reflective of YOU, your beliefs and your business. Be intentional with what you like and what you post.

As a final note, social media is a free* platform to tell your story. Why the asterisk? Because nothing is truly free. Organic content costs you your time, and paid advertising costs you time and money.

The takeaway? Be intentional with every piece of content you create and post.

Now, get out there and hashtag make it a great day!

Mari Shirley Headshot

Mari Shirley has worked in communications and marketing for a decade, mostly in the financial industry. She started her career in public relations at the University of Georgia Athletic Association (Go Dawgs!), and before joining the Financial Planning Association, she was a brand marketer for Dave Ramsey’s Endorsed Local Providers and SmartVestor programs. At FPA, she focuses on social media strategy and brand and digital marketing.


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Power and Pitfalls of Digital Marketing

Building a positive professional reputation is a journey. Fortunately, digital media marketing has facilitated this process. The rapid advancement of website development allows you to launch a professional and beautiful website quickly. Social media marketing enables you to push out coordinated messages across many social media platforms—LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, etc. In addition, social media publishing websites like Hootsuite, allow you post on multiple platforms at once. Even more, people are now able to find you easily and quickly. The ubiquitous Google search reveals loads of information, and there’s the rub!

A 2018 Pershing study of investors revealed that one in three investors searched advisers on Facebook and over 50 percent decided to reject the adviser based on their personal Facebook, not their LinkedIn profile or their website. Wow! This is a sobering reminder that everything impacts your success. Even lack of presence affects your brand; not having a presence can be as damaging as having the wrong kind of presence.

I recall coaching a father and son team together. The father was actively resisting a digital presence. His son was unable to persuade him of the importance of having a digital brand. When I explained that having no digital presence was the same as having no business card, no brochure, no sign on the office door and no listing in the phone book, the father immediately became an enthusiastic devotee of digital marketing.

Given the power of the Internet to enhance (or diminish) your professional reputation, guidelines are helpful. I recommend the 3 D’s of digital communication: discreet, diplomatic and dignified.

Deeper Dive into the 3 D’s

Discreet: Discretion was revered at one time. It was considered boorish, rude and self-centered to endlessly disgorge personal details. This is particularly true for older clients and prospects. Discretion will only enhance your brand.

Diplomatic: Children are taught to be considerate and not hurt other people’s feelings. That’s diplomacy in a nutshell. Some clients will not care about your personal social and political views, but others will. Aim to be a Rorschach test. Allow them to interpret you, from their point of view. Everyone likes their viewpoint affirmed.

Dignified: Self-control, moderation and honorable behavior are hallmarks of being dignified. Dignity wraps us in a pleasant, peaceful and respectful aroma. Can you imagine if everything posted on the Internet was dignified? How delightful that would be!

The 3 D’s of communication protect your reputation from the damaging 3 I’s of the Internet, the mundane posts that are inane, the strident that are irritating and the belligerent that are insulting.

Resources for Planners

Since a major tenet of social media marketing is sharing valuable content, there is a great deal of good guidance available from industry experts. Start with the eye-opening Pershing study: “Advisor Value Propositions: How Advisors Showcase Their Value to Investors—and What Investors Secretly Think.”

Then ask peers and business advisers for more resources to build your brand. Five favorite resources recommended by marketing gurus include:

  1. Social media management: Hootesuite and top 6 alternatives for 2019
  2. DIY beautiful websites: WIX or SquareSpace
  3. Logo and marketing design: 99Designs
  4. Freelance marketplace for hiring pros: fiverr
  5. Self-publishing for e-books and print books: Amazon-owned Kindle Direct Publishing (formerly CreateSpace. Amazon merged KDP and CreateSpace in 2019.)

Feel free to check out the articles and tools at Barbara Kay Coaching. Even better, reach out and I’ll help you connect to the right resource for your interests.

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Barbara Kay, LPC, RCC, president of Barbara Kay Coaching, is a business psychology and productivity expert who coaches and speaks nationwide. She specializes in growth, productivity, teams, clients, change, women and leadership. Joining the FPA Coaches Corner in 2019, she now offers free coaching to FPA members.