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If the CIA Can Tweet, So Can You: 5 Marketing Lessons from David Meerman Scott


David Meerman Scott takes a selfie with the BE crowd to prove the power of real time connection.

When David Meerman Scott turned 50, he was bigger, he said.

He proved this by showing a roomful of people at the second general session at the FPA Annual Converence—BE Boston a picture of big 50-year-old him, and new fit 54-year-old him.

He changed his mindset, he said. That’s exactly what you have to do with marketing in real time utilizing social media.

1) Provide Great Content. Generate helpful blog posts and Tweet links. You may be concerned about regulations, but Meerman Scott gave the example of the CIA tweeting, so you shouldn’t have any excuse not to, too.

“Yes you have regulations, yes you have to be ethical, but that doesn’t mean you can’t communicate,” Meerman Scott said. One of the methods to communicate is something Meerman Scott calls “newsjacking,” which is the art of injecting your ideas into breaking news.

2) Connect With Your Markets Via Social Media. Align the way you sell with the way people buy. A good example of this is Donald Trump. Meerman Scott emphasized he wasn’t endorsing Trump politically, but said the man is “crushing it” in terms of social media connection.

For example, when Trump’s phone number was published by Gawker, instead of changing his number Trump changed his voicemail message to be a campaign tool, driving callers to his Twitter page and his campaign website.

Trump is leading in the polls, and it’s probably no coincidence that Trump has Tweeted 27,000 times.

Meerman Scott also emphasized following the “Sharing More than Selling Rule,” which is 85 percent of your activity on social media should be sharing and connecting, 10 percent should be original content and 5 percent or less should be promotional stuff.

3) Real Time Is Key. You should be operating in real time. Planners know about real time when it comes to markets and the news, but when it comes to marketing, they tend to look to past information to make plans for the future.

“If you’re spending all of your time in the past and the future, you’re not spending any time in right now,” Meerman Scott said. And that’s a problem because potential clients are looking for right now.

He used the CIA as an example here, too. The agency answers questions and interacts with its followers in real time, often making comical statements like, “No, we don’t know where Tupac is,” referring to the famous 90s rapper whose death involves numerous conspiracy theories that he is alive and well.

“If the CIA can do it, what’s you’re excuse,” for not doing it, Meerman Scott posed.

4) Bring Humanity to the Organization.  Don’t ask your potential clients to first fill out a form before you give them access to your content. Make your content free and encourage followers to share it. Take a lesson from the Grateful Dead, who shared their music for free and were tremendously successful.

Also, don’t describe your firm in technical, hard-to-digest terms. Eliminate stock photos and hire a real photographer to take pictures of you and your firm.

5) Manage Your Fear. The best way to manage your fear is to change your mindset. Think of it in terms of fitness, Meerman Scott said, and be diligent and consistent.

“If you want to get fit and run around a stage like I do,” Meerman Scott said. “You can’t dabble, you have to truly become fit.”

Same thing with marketing and sales, he said.

For more on Meerman Scott, check out this recent Journal of Financial Planning article.

HeadshotAna Trujillo
Associate Editor
Journal of Financial Planning
Denver, Colo.

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Storytelling: ‘Pull’ instead of ‘Push’ to Effectively Engage Your Audience

As I pointed out in in last February’s post Use Storytelling to Persuade Your Audience to Take Action, despite the apparent fascination with communicating in sound bites and 140-character Tweets, human beings continue to love and be fascinated by stories. Stories capture our attention by evoking memories, stirring feelings and establishing an emotional bond with the story’s main character and the storyteller.

In her book The Story Factor author Annette Simmons explains that in the world of business stories help deliver information, direction and inspiration in a far more persuasive manner than arguments based on pure logic. She maintains that when we seek to influence or convince our audience with cold, hard facts and figures, we are implementing a “push” strategy, which can easily trigger some form of antagonistic retort. She defines storytelling instead as a “pull” strategy, one that doesn’t alienate listeners but rather lures them into the conversation.

Everyday interaction with clients and prospects provides financial advisers with abundant material for storytelling. Think about all the conversations you have with families seeking to get out of debt or buy their first house, individuals dreaming of launching their own business, parents wanting to give to their children a superior education. These are real examples of human challenges and struggles that your audience can easily relate to. Most important, real life cases make them pause to think and reflect and, ultimately, help them find an answer to their most immediate challenges, or just give them hope.

So, what are some of the most common elements of good storytelling? Here are a few:

Keep It Simple
Good storytellers are pros at making their accounts easy to understand by employing the same language that their audiences speak. This prevents listeners from experiencing distractions arising from pausing to process unfamiliar terms. Effective narrators begin their accounts portraying the challenge that the story’s hero faces. Then they move to describe the attempt(s) made to solve the issue and bring it to a close explaining when and how the problem was successfully addressed.

Short and to the Point
People have limited attention spans. Ergo, you should tell your story as rapidly as possible and make your relevant points as soon as you can. The story you decide to tell need not to be lengthy, overflowing with details. When picking a specific story, make sure it has an emotional component, be it humor, pathos or joy. However, do not struggle to make it overly funny or intersperse it with humor. Ultimately, you are not trying to amuse your audience. Rather, you want to convey some valuable information that will spark in your audience’s brain memories and emotions that would help them connect with you.

Keep It Real
The best stories are those that the narrator has experienced firsthand. Your story should contain aspects that your audience can swiftly relate to. For example, an audience comprised of entrepreneurs will likely be engaged and better respond to a story that involves entrepreneurs rather than college teachers.

Stick to the Beginning-Middle-End Format
Make sure your story adheres to this easy-to-implement structure. Seek to establish a strong opening (beginning) to set the tone and introduce the character(s). Use the middle part to clearly articulate the key problem(s) and conflict(s) that the hero of the story faced prior to finding the appropriate solution. Then, continue your narrative taking the audience to the end of the story. Once your account is over, do not rush to take questions, instead take a pause. It will help your audience to reflect on your words and build a stronger emotional connection with the main character or topic of the story.

A simple, well-narrated and persuasive story is one of the most powerful and effective means of engaging your audience. Ultimately, we are beasts of emotion more than logic. We love to tell and hear stories. Consequently, even the most email and text message addicted client or prospect will find the time and appreciate a concise and well-told story.

Claudio PannunzioClaudio O. Pannunzio
President and Founder
i-Impact Group
Greenwich, Conn.


Be Proactive in a Reactive Environment

Has the recent stock market volatility got you feeling like you are on an emotional roller coaster ride? One day headlines read, “After Historic 1,000 Point Plunge, Dow Dives 588 Points at Close,” and the next day they read, “Dow Roars back, Rallies 620 Points!”

If you find yourself caught between the media hype and hysteria wondering what you should think or expect next don’t wait for the market to dictate your actions, instead do what other successful advisers are doing and start being proactive in a reactive environment.

1.) Be Proactive with Your Knowledge
We’ve all heard the saying, “Knowledge is power,” and no truer words can be spoken when it comes to understanding a volatile stock market. Your clients look to you to know what is happening and why. In times like these, it is important to not only research the facts (and myths) but to keep current on them at all times. Take time to educate yourself and then your clients.

2.) Be Proactive with Preparing the Story
Knowing what is happening and knowing how to translate that to your clients are two very different things. That is why it is so important to have a process for explaining what the current market story is.

Over the years, I’ve created many practice management tools for financial advisers and insurance agents. One of the best tools that you can use, especially now, is what I call “The 60 Second Market Story.” It is a process for mapping the past, present and possible future outcomes of the stock market. If you can explain to your clients what has happened since the beginning of the year, what is currently happening, what your analysts are predicting may happen in the short-term, and do it utilizing a story format that your clients can comprehend—without all the industry jargon—you are doing more for them than a majority of your colleagues and peers.

3.) Be Proactive with the Client Calling Process
Once you have prepared what it is you want to share with your clients, it is important to know who exactly to share it with. Take time to create a list of your clients to call. The initial calls should be to clients who may be most concerned about the market, but you should also plan to contact each of your clients. Then, block off a specific time each day to make those calls. Be sure to tell them not to panic if the volatility continues, as it is an expected part of the stock market cycle.

Why it Works and What to Expect
Most clients know that market volatility is not your fault but you do need to remember that client communication is your responsibility. This will help mitigate your client’s natural fears by assuring them that you are staying in touch with them, sharing your expertise with what is going on with the market. The reason that this process works is because clients will appreciate that you understand their concerns and. Remember: an adviser who cares creates loyal clients!

If you read this blog and need help mapping out your “60 Second Market Story,” email Melissa Denham, director of client servicing at melissa@advisorsolutionsinc.com for our complimentary white paper on this topic.

Dan FinleyDaniel C. Finley
Advisor Solutions
St. Paul, Minn.

Editor’s Note: For a related webinar titled, “Behaviorally Smart Client Engagement,” click here. CFP CE credit is available for this webinar.

To have discussions with your colleagues who are also trying to communicate successfully with their clients during this recent market correction, visit FPA Connect’s “Market Volatility and Financial Planning” forum.

For more information on on FPA Connect, Knowledge Circles, CE, or any other resource that could help you at this time, visit our Professional Development Center.