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Top Post of 2017: 7 Deadly Sins of Website Design

Editor’s note: To close up the year we’re going to post the top three blog posts of 2017. New content will resume in the new year. This post by Samantha Russell of Twenty Over Ten is about the top mistakes people make when designing their websites. We hope you enjoy it again and that you have a Happy New Year.

 

Thinking of revamping your website? Creating a new website can be tricky and overwhelming. From choosing the design to perfecting the content, the difficulties financial advisers face when trying to create a new site can seem endless—but there is hope. As you embark on your website design journey be sure to avoid these seven cardinal sins.

1.) Lack of content. While a simplistic site can be advantageous, too little content on your website can be detrimental. If working with a copywriter, you should come prepared and be able to articulate who you are, the services you provide, what those services cost and why you are passionate about your work. These are basic content areas that prospective clients visiting your site will be looking for and if not easily found, may cause them to leave your site look elsewhere.

2.) Impersonal. When a consumer chooses a financial adviser, they decide who to work with based ultimately on how they feel about the person providing the service. It is for this reason that the “About” or “Bio” page of an adviser’s website is almost always the second most-visited page after the homepage. You don’t need to overshare. Getting too personal right away might scare away prospective clients. However, in an industry that relies so heavily on trust, it is especially important to be personable. Simply including a photo of yourself and basic personal information can go a long way in making people more likely to trust you with their finances.

Prospective clients want to know who you are, why you do what you do, what your philosophy/approach is, and hear your story. If you can take it one step further and include a quick video introduction of yourself, even better. At the very least, include two great photos—one headshot and one more informal picture—such as you with your family or enjoying a hobby.

3.) Unidentifiable CTAs. Why do you want a website for your business? What’s the point? Whatever your answer may be—whether it’s to have people contact you, sign up for your newsletter or blog, take a risk assessment, etc., the point is for prospects and referrals to vet you and then take some sort of action step. If your call-to-action (CTA) is too difficult to find (or worse—you don’t have one at all), visitors likely won’t take any action at all. For this reason, it’s critical to make it immediately clear what the next step that you want them to take is.

4.) Ineffective CTAs. On the flip side, it’s just as harmful to have too many CTAs. Too many CTAs compete for users attention and can be overwhelming. If you hit your site visitors with too many CTAs at once, they can end up leaving without taking any of your desired next steps. Imagine visiting a site that immediately has a pop-up inviting you to “Get My Weekly Finance Tips Directly to Your Inbox.” Under the pop-up is a button encouraging you to “Download 5 Tips to Retire By 60” and this is located right next to another button that says, “Schedule Your Free Initial Portfolio Review.” All of these CTAs are too much all at once, cluttering a site and making it feel spammy. Having multiple CTAs is fine, but they should be placed throughout your website more naturally, on different subpages and allowing visitors to “find” them as they peruse your content.

5.) Too Much Static Content. Some static content is a good thing—it ensures that your marketing team doesn’t have to be churning out new material 24/7 and it can be comfortably consistent for visitors. However, relying solely on calculators, stock trackers and pre-written articles or content won’t cut it. If static content is the majority of the content on your website, chances are that is feels outdated and impersonal to visitors. Instead, try to find a nice split (rule of thumb is at least 50/50) between static and dynamic content. Try writing content that focuses on the services that you provide and describes how you’re different.

6.) Contact Forms. One of the biggest and most common mistakes in web design are sites that make it too difficult for prospective clients to figure out how to reach you. This includes having super long contact forms that no one wants to take the time to fill out, not having your contact information (phone number or email address) easy to find, and having incorrect or outdated contact information or no contact information at all. Stick to the basics – if you’re using a contact form, only ask visitors for the bare essentials (name, phone number, email, reason for inquiry). Additionally, it’s a good idea to include a distinct “Contact Us” page on your site to ensure visitors see it and make sure your contact information is up to date. Just remember, a web contact form is not a lead gen strategy!

7.) Not Setting Deadlines. Developing a schedule for yourself is the best way to prevent succumbing to this seventh deadly sin. Map out when that first website content draft is due, write down the date you need to send your designer feedback on layout and images and communicate to your website designer your desired site launch date. Not including deadlines for yourself—or not abiding by the deadlines you’ve set—promotes procrastination and makes it difficult to pick back up where you were in the process. Developing a strong, realistic timeline for yourself helps ensure that your website design process goes as smoothly as possible.

 

Sam_Russell_Headshot
Samantha Russell is the director of sales and marketing at Twenty Over Ten, a web development company that creates tailored, mobile-responsive websites for financial advisers. She’s spent the last five years empowering advisers to market themselves effectively online using digital tools. With a background in marketing, social media and public relations, Russell focuses on helping business owners understand the value of their online presence and connecting them with the marketing tools and digital solutions they need to effectively manage their brand and engage clients.

 


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Six Steps to a Great 2018 Marketing Plan

It’s not too early to prepare to rev up your marketing machine for 2018. To help you get started on your marketing plan and calendar, here are six steps we recommend:

Step 1: Begin with a review of your marketing results for the current year.

  • Check your stats for the number of new client households joining your practice this year, as well as the total amount of new assets brought in.
  • What percentage of your new clients would you consider ideal?
  • How were these new clients acquired?
  • What percentage of new assets came from new versus existing clients?

Step 2: What are your marketing goals for the new year?

  • How many new ideal households do you want to bring in?
  • How much increase do you want to see in new assets under management?
  • What is your total revenue goal? How would you break down that goal by sources, such as planning fees, AUM fees, other?

Step 3: Review and refine, or redefine, how you define your target/ideal client.

  • What quantitative factors do you look for?
  • What qualitative factors do you want to see?
  • What are the typical needs and concerns that your target/ideal clients have?
  • What are the unique qualifications that enable you or your practice to serve these target/ideal clients?

Step 4: Review and refine, or redefine, your marketing messaging. How do you tell your story so that it:

  • Connects with your prospective clients?
  • Speaks to their concerns and challenges?
  • Demonstrates your ability to help them?
  • Differentiates you from everyone else?
  • Compellingly calls them to action?

Step 5: What are the strategies that you plan to put in place that will enable you to get your story to exactly the people who need to hear it—your target/ideal clients? Here are some suggested strategies to consider.

  • Raise brand awareness. What will you do to make your message (who we are, what we do, how we’re different from our competitors) known in your community and particularly to your target/ideal client?
  • Promote referrals from existing clients. What will you do to motivate your clients to introduce you to ideal prospective clients they know who need the help you provide?
  • Develop relationships with centers of influence. What will you do to establish and develop relationships with COIs that will lead to their connecting you with ideal prospective clients?
  • What other strategies will you use to engage and develop relationships with target/ideal clients?

Step 6: After deciding on your strategies, it’s time to lay out your marketing calendar, so that each month has specific events and activities that relate to your chosen strategies.

Start with your biggest and most important strategies and events, and get them on your calendar first. Then you can fill in the smaller activities as appropriate. Some planners like to include themes for certain months or seasons of the year.

Events and activities could include:

  • Client social events. Strengthen your client relationships and provide opportunities for them to introduce their friends to you in a relaxed, comfortable setting
  • Educational events. Educational events could include small workshops in your office or local library, presentations to established organizations, or teaching adult education classes at a community college or university.
  • Letters, newsletters and blog articles. Written communications provide an opportunity to showcase your knowledge and expertise in areas of interest to clients and prospective clients, and are easy to share for referral purposes.
  • Notes, cards and gifts. Individual reminders that you are thinking of your clients and prospective clients help keep you top of mind and strengthen relationships.
  • Relationships with COIs. The best relationships with centers of influence develop over time with lots of nurturing, including one-on-one meetings discussing common concerns and challenges.
  • Community involvement. Engagement with and for non-profits and community organizations can help build your brand, enable people to experience the benefits of knowing you and get your story to more people.
  • Networking. Active networking can be done many ways and in many places—in your neighborhood, at social gatherings and while enjoying your favorite sports or recreational activities.
  • Other. You are limited only by your imagination in opportunities to engage with others who could become ideal clients or who could introduce you to your target or ideal clients.

If you are energized and ready to get started but need a little more structure, we would be happy to provide a 2018 marketing plan and calendar template that incorporates the concepts described here. Just send us an email and we’ll forward the template right back to you.

susan-kornegay
Susan Kornegay, CFP® is a consultant and coach with Pathfinder Strategic Solutions in Knoxville, Tenn.


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How to Minimize Your Marketing Budget and Still Get Results

Want to know my favorite thing about inbound marketing? Anyone can do it, and you often get the best results from organic efforts.

Organic refers to campaigns and strategies that naturally attract your ideal prospects and clients to you—rather than paying to get in front of them. Organic marketing is free marketing with no barrier to entry.

So before you throw money at AdWords, before you rush out to hire a professional to do all your marketing for you, take a step back and consider that the only thing you actually have to invest is time.

How to Market Your Firm for Free

There are countless marketing strategies that don’t require a dime to implement. If you’re short on budget—or just want to stop massive marketing spends—try free or inexpensive tactics like:

  • Blogging and creating content (and publishing on platforms like LinkedIn, Medium or Tumblr);
  • Engaging on social media;
  • Creating a podcast or a video series;
  • Responding to reporter’s requests for stories or media queries;
  • Pitching influencers and media members with relevant, timely stories that contain something their audience would really want;
  • Developing your own event series where people can come and learn something for free (this could be a workshop, a webinar, a class, or just a networking event for a specific tribe of people);
  • Joining online communities and participating in discussions; and
  • Becoming part of in-person networking groups, business development initiatives in your area, and professional organizations or associations.

Minimize Your Budget Without Killing Your Time

Of course, the fact that all of the above takes a lot of time is the downside. That’s where organic, inbound marketing gets tricky.

It takes a lot of time to see results and as a firm owner or decision-maker in a financial planning practice, time is one resource you probably don’t have an abundance of. Still, that doesn’t mean you need to spend a ton of money or keep a massively inflated marketing budget to get results.

If you want to minimize your marketing budget but it’s not realistic to do everything yourself, here’s what to consider instead.

Know Your “Who” and “Why”

Always start with who you want to reach before you try and figure out what tactics you’ll use in your marketing. Where does your target audience live—online and off? How do they like consuming content? Understand your audience and what they want.

Then, be clear about what you want from your marketing. What’s the purpose or the goal? What does success look like for your firm? Marketing goals could include:

  • Brand awareness;
  • Greater visibility and name-recognition;
  • More referrals through word-of-mouth channels; and
  • Establishing thought-leadership or generating new business opportunities.

Your goals will also help inform your tactics. If you only want more exposure in the media and don’t care about creating your own blog, direct your attention to outreach strategies and PR campaigns.

If you want to be known as the go-to firm for a certain niche or as a thought leader on a particular topic, on the other hand, you’ll likely want to create a blog, podcast or video series establishing your expertise.

Build a Simple Strategy

Once you know what you’d like to do, map out a simple marketing strategy. You should be able to answer the following questions:

  • Goals: What are you trying to accomplish?
  • Metrics: How will you know if you succeeded? What does “successful marketing” look like for your firm?
  • Audience: Who is this marketing for? What are you trying to communicate to your audience?
  • Channels: What mediums or methods will you use to reach your audience?
  • Call to action: What will you ask your audience to do once you reach them?

Identify What You Love (and What You Hate)

With your simple marketing strategy in hand, it’s time to implement. Look at what you love doing, or what only you could do. Keep these tasks on your plate as long as they’re enjoyable.

Then, list out all the steps you absolutely hate doing—or just aren’t any good at. You should also list action items that you don’t know how to do (and would waste time on if you tried to figure out how to DIY).

Now, it’s time to divvy up those tasks. First, look around at your existing team and connections. Are there people in your firm who could take on some of these tasks (and want to)? Let others volunteer to help, especially if they have a passion for something like creating content, making connections and forging relationships with media, or managing systems and processes.

Outsource Wisely (and Cheaply)

Look at what’s left on your list of tasks that someone else needs to complete in order to implement your marketing strategy and plan. Sort these into two categories:

  • Time-intensive: These are relatively simple or basic tasks that most people could do—even if they don’t know how (by teaching themselves or getting a quick lesson in what to do).
  • Skill-intensive: These are tasks or projects that you need a trained expert to help you with. Not just anyone could complete these to-dos; a specific skill set is required.

Most tasks are time-intensive. Here’s where you can outsource cheaply to minimize your marketing budget:

  • Hire a virtual assistant: A virtual assistant and can help with most administrative tasks and very basic marketing functions, like scheduling social media posts, researching speaking opportunities. Good VAs range from $15 to $30 per hour.
  • Hire an editor: Can you jot down rough drafts for articles or marketing materials? If so, you might not need to spend hundreds on a freelance writer. You could simply hire an editor for about $50 per hour to wordsmith your drafts into polished pieces of content.
  • Hire an intern: You may feel wary about bringing a college student into your team, but younger talent can be immensely valuable when it comes to marketing. For best results, map out the marketing projects you want help with first and be as specific as possible. Don’t expect your intern to work for free, either. Show that they and their work are valued in your firm by paying them a reasonably hourly wage and help structure their workload by agreeing to a set amount of hours each week.

As for those remaining skill-intensive tasks? Consider working with an expert on an as-needed basis. There’s no need to keep a professional or an agency on a 24/7 retainer if you’re trying to minimize your marketing budget. A periodic consulting call or help with a few projects throughout the year may be all you need to market successfully.

KaliHawlk
Kali Hawlk is the founder of Creative Advisor Marketing, an inbound marketing firm that helps financial advisers grow their businesses by creating compelling content to attract prospects and convert leads. She started CAM to give financial pros the right tools to build trust and connections with their audiences, and loves helping advisers find authentic ways to communicate in a way that resonates with the right people.