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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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Fitting Video Marketing into Your Business Plan

How does video marketing fit into your business plan? Does it at all?

If it doesn’t, it might help to know that almost 77 percent of small business owners get results when they incorporate video marketing.

Video is a big deal, especially for small businesses. Having a website is only part of the battle, now. With almost half of internet users looking at video before visiting a store for the first time, not having some kind of video for your financial planning firm could actually be hurting you.

To Have or Not to Have Video Marketing

Compounded with our almost-impossible-to-combat instant gratification impulse, it makes complete sense that video advertising has become the easiest and fastest ways for a business to convey a message.

Hours, days and even months can go into researching and crafting the perfect medium. Thousands of marketing research dollars, testing groups, advanced analytics tools to measure things like attention span, engagement, drop off times—you name it—it’s there. It all matters.

And of course, there’s always a risk it won’t work, and we’re left wondering if we’ll get the best possible ROI or if it will flop.

When it comes to video advertising, if it moves, is pretty and speaks to our souls then guess what, we’re probably interested. We may even sign up for your newsletter.

Sounds simple—but since you’re a business owner, you know it isn’t.

Science is showing that we have even less time to capture our audience’s attention, and it’s only about 20 seconds. Yes, 20 seconds.
But does it matter to try video marketing for your practice in 2020? Yes. A huge, loud, resounding yes!

Though by no means exhaustive, here’s a quick start guide to help you to start thinking about video content for your financial planning practice’s marketing efforts.

Starting from Scratch

You’re going to want to build a plan to develop your video strategy, which will include scripting, production and editing time and, of course, sending it off to compliance. While the following list may change depending on your practice, the general idea will look something like this:

  • Target demo: Your existing clients OR prospects (you may have to develop slightly different “buyer personas” for each).
  • End objective: Do you want to increase your visibility? Build trust? Upsell?
  • Metrics of success: Sign ups, conversion rates, referral numbers, page visits, etc, social shares, etc.
  • Distribution: where is it going? Social media? Pay-per-click ads? Your website? YouTube? Sit down with your team and brainstorm a plan of attack.

What Kinds of Video Content Marketing to Use

There are so. Many. Options.

The best part of video marketing in 2020 is that you really don’t need the fanciest equipment to deliver value to your prospects.

Heck, you could be recording a value message while driving in your car with your phone recording your dashboard and you could, technically, throw it up on your social media (though, always make sure to run everything through your compliance department first).

As a financial planner, you can create:

  • Video interviews (with existing, obviously-consenting clients to give testimonials)
  • Video case-studies
  • Video ads, 30 seconds or less
  • Quick animated videos explaining a difficult financial topic
  • Tutorial videos (webinars) that pertain to tax returns, estate planning, investments, etc.
  • Snippets of or full video presentations you’ve given (events you’ve spoken at, etc).
  • Social livestreams and snippets of the best pieces of those livestreams later

Depending on your short-term end goals (building an email list, getting a warm lead, etc.) some of these may be better than others. Do you want to increase your visibility to existing clients to be able to upsell on other products and services? Do you want to establish some trust with prospects?

Like with every piece of content you create, you want it to be part of a well-planned “sales funnel.”

Sometimes, a video is just the start of one. Other times, there’s a video at every step. And, other times still, a video could be a purchase at the end of one.

You decide how you want to use your content—just make sure it’s part of a well-conceived plan.

How Long Should Videos Be?

You’re busy, right? Well, so is your prospect. Remember this fact with not just every video you create, but every email. Generally, keep it short and succinct. The rule for us marketers is to keep a video under 2-3 minutes.

There’s tons of data that shows there’s little difference in engagement between a 90-second video and a 30-second one, depending on the desired end-result.

You might be thinking, “But Kristina, there’s no flipping way I can get my point across on an intense topic like estate planning to my prospects in 2 minutes.”

The good news is that, for more “educational” content, the second best length for a video is between 6 to 12 minutes. Yes, there will be drop off, but it’s not as significant as the plummet that occurs after the 2 to 3 minute mark.

If you want to create an educational webinar or show your prospects a conference you spoke at, then that’s fine. You can manage the video length by either creating a mini-series (each piece about 6 to 12 minutes in length), or pulling the “nuggets of wisdom” and turning them into little micro-clips for your advertising.

Where Should the Videos Go?

To start, know that mobile video marketing and social media video marketing are two different things.

If you already utilize paid ads through AdWords or Bing, a video ad works similarly to a text or image pay-per-click ad.

Social media video marketing is different. Just like with your text and image ads, you should be catering your ad length and messaging depending on the platform you use.

It also means that you pay the social platform to “boost” your video to an audience verses a search engine, or that you create specific videos intended for those social platforms

It depends on where your target demo is likely to be found. If you’re targeting Gen XY and/or millennials, Instagram and Twitter is lifeblood.

Don’t Be Left Behind

The bottom line? Over two-thirds of small businesses are now using video in their marketing arsenal, and it’s expected to keep growing by 14.6 percent per year.

So, turn on that phone and record some wisdom—and then let compliance take a look!

Kristina Rocci

Kristina Rocci is the web content manager for The CWA Network (seen in MDRT, Advisor Today, FA Magazine, PlanPlus Global, etc.) a financial adviser coaching business in Rochester, N.Y. that recently released a completely free business plan training webinar for planners. She originally hails from the fintech world in Toronto with 9 years of digital marketing under her belt.


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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:

Calendar 1.png

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.