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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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3 Steps for Writing Stellar Web Copy

ContentIf you’re like the majority of financial advisers looking to gain the competitive edge, chances are you’re looking at revamping your online presence. But before you go crazy about new site designs and layouts, step back and look at the one foundational piece of your digital footprint: messaging and content.

Advisers typically think about what they want to say instead of what their clients and prospects want to hear when it relates to filling their site with content. They push their message out to the world with their metaphorical megaphones without considering how to draw people in like a magnet to share details.

So what can advisers do? The answer starts with writing stellar web copy. More than 90 percent of the visitors you drive to your website right now disappear and stay anonymous forever. Think about that. Think about all those potential leads; all that interest swimming under the radar. And, all that happening because your content isn’t moving your visitors to take action.

Take the next week, schedule some time on your calendar, and meet with your team to brainstorm ideas and organize your strategy before committing to a particular direction for your copy. Here’s where to begin:

1.) Describe Your Ideal Client
A compelling writer always begins by getting to know the audience inside and out. This can seem like a lot of work, and it is, but the great thing about getting to know your readers is you can use the information again and again.
Write down detailed information:

  • Target audience’s demographics (age, gender, location, income, etc.).
  • Your audience’s primary concern (with regard to the services you offer) right now; what keeps them up at 3 a.m.?
  • Why this information should matter to them.
  • Your audience’s communication preferences.
  • Do they respond better to long pages or short ones? Video, audio or text?
  • How do they spend their time?

If you can’t answer some of these questions, ask. Whether you survey your newsletter readers, ask on social media or call a few of your best clients and get their perspective, you don’t want to guess or predict the answers. The information you collect will help shape your copy. If you’d like an exercise to help jumpstart your brain when thinking about your ideal clients, click here and enter the code “marketing” to download our Digital Marketing Messaging Exercise.

2.) Find Your Focus
Every page must have one main focus, or objective. That’s not to say you can’t expect your copy to do multiple things—for instance, it’s common to hope the home page will welcome new visitors, encourage call-to-actions and lure people into reading your blog. But, it must be written with a singular goal.
A scattered voice leaves your readers feeling unsure what to do next, while a confident voice directs them from point A to point B elegantly. Your goal should determine every choice you make about messaging. In this way, you can help visitors follow a straightforward path to the action you want them to take.

3.) Organize Your Thoughts
Once you know who your ideal audience is in great detail, and you know why you’re writing a particular page, you’re almost ready to put pen to paper. But there’s still one more thing advisers and their team must do that I find so many skipping: forethought. Think about what you’re going to say, how you’re going to say it and what the overall message will be. Jot down some notes, pontificate a few headlines and opening paragraph and reflect on how you (if you were in your clients’ shoes) would respond to the direction of the copy.

  • Does the messaging answer the specific needs and/or objections of your ideal clients?
  • Does the copy engage the reader, or does it try to force information down their throats?
  • Are you writing ABOUT yourself and your services, or are you writing FOR your target audience?
  • Have you included keywords for SEO? Which ones, where and why?

This may seem elementary at first, but I assure you, after getting everything organized and laid out, your copy will pretty much write itself. The entire writing process will flow more easily without the typical frustration you may have experienced in the past. And, perhaps most importantly, because you have put some thought into your approach, the copy is also much more likely to get better results than if you simply put fingers to keyboard and begin rattling off with no direction.

When you know your audience well, your writing will connect with them in an entirely different way. They’ll be able to trust you—and thus follow your recommendations—because you’ve demonstrated you understand them. And in the current noisy world we live in, giving your audience the feeling of being understood might be the differentiator you need to connect, engage and keep those who mean the most to your business.

Ron_CarsonRon Carson
Founder and CEO
Carson Wealth Management Group
Omaha, NE

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Information Overload and Content Marketing

Organized MindIn his book, The Organized Mind, Montreal neuroscientist Daniel Levitin posits that we now consume the equivalent of 174 newspapers’ worth of information a day—five times what we consumed back in 1986. Unfortunately our brains still have the same limited processing capacity.

This may help explain why we’re exhausted after spending a day online, even if most of that day is spent looking at pictures of cats.

A few things are at play here. The advent of the Internet has given us instant access to information—no more waking up to the morning newspaper, hitting up the local library, or waiting for the nightly news. Missed your favorite radio show? No matter, it is waiting for you. The concept of time, namely its passing, ceases to exist in the realm of the Internet. The Internet is always, always present—both in ubiquity and in tense. It is now.

And boy, do we love it. Not only do humans have a natural thirst for knowledge but we are hard-wired for novelty, and all of this online information is hitting that pleasure center and leaving us insatiably hungry for more.

And with demand comes supply.

Enter stage left: content marketing.

According to the Content Marketing Institute, which we found on Google (via a search that took a slothful 0.38 seconds to perform), content marketing is defined as:

“The marketing and business process for creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.”

People want information that tells them who you are, what you do, and why they should trust you. At that point, maybe then they’ll part with their hard-earned sheckles in your direction. Creating content that delivers this information is a great approach. It combines the technology of the times with the demands of the day.

But maybe you’re starting to see the potential catch inherent in the plan.

As so many businesses have embarked upon a content marketing strategy, surfers of the web have gotten exactly what they asked for—a metric ton of information.

In fact, more information than they know what to do with.

There is so much information that supply has now arguably surpassed demand. And while technology might be operating in the future, our ability to actually process all of this information is still stuck in the Stone Age. We’re not very advanced machines.

But there’s no going home. Now that we’ve been given exactly what we want, there’s no going back. As a business, you can’t simply stop producing information (the cost and devaluing of this information is a discussion for another time).

So in a space flooded with information, what are some ways to navigate content marketing without running yourself ragged and inundating your readers?

  1. Think it through. What kind of content are you producing? Is it directly related to your product or service, or only tangentially so? While informing your readers and establishing yourself as a trustworthy source are important aspects of content marketing, conversion is essential. If your content is not converting visitors into leads, you need to re-evaluate your strategy. A good approach is to use your content to teach the value of your product or service.
  2. Produce quality over quantity. It may seem counterintuitive, what with the sheer amount of content you have to fight with to be seen, but by and large, good content performs better than more content. It’s hard to do both but if you have the time and resources, keep at it; if you have to sacrifice one for the other, quality should win over quantity every time. It’s important to note that ‘good’ and ‘quality’ depend on your approach—the BBC and Buzzfeed operate on entirely different concepts of each, and both are wildly popular.
  3. Create incentive. Make it worth the wait. If you are producing thoughtful, engaging content, your visitors will want to keep returning to see if there’s more, and will be delighted when you have delivered. If you’re producing an abundance with little value, the incentive decreases and visitors might only check back occasionally—if at all.

Another approach is to erect a barrier between visitors and your content. Build a call-to-action that requires their email or phone number in exchange for an e-book or whitepaper. This might sound strange, but arbitrarily ascribing value makes something valuable, and therefore more enticing to visitors. Just don’t disappoint.

Kellie Gibson

Kellie Gibson
Marketing Writer
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