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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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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.