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The 6 Personality Traits of Successful People

Money is what makes all your clients’ priorities possible, Jean Chatzky, financial editor for the Today Show, told FPA Annual Conference attendees earlier this month.

And if they’re constantly worried and stressed about it, they’re probably going to stumble upon what seems like more than their fair share of problems. Though this might sound a little like wishful thinking Chatzky claims it’s true: more happiness will lead to more money for your clients.

Chatzky outlined the six traits of successful and wealthy people that she identified through her research. Chatzky conducted a study of 5,000 people and found that personality traits are just as important as good financial habits.

Here are the six factors Chatzky found were key to success:

Happiness or optimism. Happiness is key to success—just not too much of it. Among Chatzky’s study participants, those who were too happy (a 10 on a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being blissed out) weren’t as successful as those who were an eight. The eights were better problem solvers, they lived longer, were more successful, earned more money, had higher amounts of emergency savings and received greater evaluations from their colleagues. If your clients are too happy, perhaps find a way to make them a little more cognizant of reality; but if your clients are miserable, figure out how they can make themselves happier.

Resilience. Thomas Edison “failed” hundreds of times when inventing the lightbulb, but he didn’t see it that way. He said he succeeded in proving that hundreds of ways didn’t work. People who have resilience can overcome problems in their work, personal and financial lives more readily than people who aren’t resilient.

“The best news about resilience is that you don’t have to be born with it,” Chatzky said.

Connectedness. People who had built up a good amount of social capital—connecting with people—were more successful than people who did not have good connections. These people made time to connect with people despite their “busy” schedules. Successful people not only made time to connect with friends and family but also to forge new relationships.

Passion. Having passion about a career is what moves people from a life of financial struggle to one of financial success. The people who have passion just want it more than others. These people are not just pursing a job or even a career, they are living and doing what is their calling. Figure out what your calling is and live your passion.

Financial Habits. Successful people are habitual savers, have appropriate debt, are able to level emotions and have a long-term plan, Chatzky said. Chances are your clients have better financial habits than the average American (most of whom are terrible savers), but it’s never a bad idea to reinforce their good habits.

Gratitude. You always want more if you’re not grateful for what you already have. Chatzky said gratitude is key among successful people and as a result of them being more grateful, they are also more generous (giving to people and charitable causes), less depressed and healthier.

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Ana Trujillo Limón is associate editor of the Journal of Financial Planning and the editor of the FPA Practice Management Blog. Email her at alimon@onefpa.org. Follow her on Twitter at @AnaT_Edits.

 


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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.


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Walking the Client Demographic Tightrope

There are moments throughout my day as a financial adviser when I feel like a tightrope walker performing a delicate balancing act.

On one side, I have my baby boomer clientele who expect a high level of personalized service, one-on-one meetings, retirement planning advice and general counsel whenever it comes time to make an investment decision.

I’m comfortable working with these clients, who I’ve primarily served throughout my 28 years in financial planning. This demographic has also had a lifetime to build up investable assets and possesses a willingness and ability to compensate their adviser.

On the other side, I know I have to start catering my services to a younger clientele if I want to be in business 20 years from now. However, this demographic comes with an entirely different set of demands and expectations. For the most part, they’re less interested in face-to-face meetings, they are just starting out in their careers and possess minimal investable funds and they are quick to do their own research and make their own decisions. This is where the balancing act comes into play.

Advisers today are stuck between a rock and a hard place. They’re comfortable serving their baby boomer clients, who also happen to be much more profitable than their younger counterparts. Yet over the next several decades, this generation is going to transfer more than $30 trillion in assets to their children, and our industry must begin to pivot our services in favor of a younger clientele if we wish to survive. However, while we know this demographic is the future, they do not exactly represent a profitable business opportunity today.

So what can we do? For starters, it’s important to remember that your career as a financial planner is a marathon, not a sprint. No one is advocating for you to completely revamp your business and cater exclusively to millennials. But here are a few steps every adviser should consider as they begin to reposition their practice for the great wealth transfer.

  1. Hire younger advisers with the wherewithal to understand and utilize the electronic forms of communication favored by Gen X and millennial investors today. These younger advisers not only bring a fresh perspective to your approach to financial planning, but will be able to counsel more senior advisers on new communication tools enabled by technology.
  2. Consider charging younger clients in a different fashion by utilizing consulting or hourly fees and establishing small account offerings with lower fee arrangements. Millennials specifically are not accustomed to paying a 1 percent management fee like your older clients, nor do they possess the level of investable assets to make this fee meaningful for the adviser. Get creative in your compensation structure, and find a way that serves both parties’ best interests.
  3. Partner with a broker/dealer that offer investments products with low minimums. These broker/dealer partners can also counsel your team on how to best put these products into the hands of your younger clients.

At the end of the day, the long-term financial needs of Gen X-ers and millennials are very similar to those of their parents, and in many ways the actual planning process will largely remain the same. However, reaching and interacting with this demographic will require a much different approach. Hang on to that balancing pole and continue to walk the tightrope. It will pay off in the end.

Beth Richardson
Beth A Richardson, CFP®, is a financial adviser at Maleta Wealth Management, a Kestra Financial-affiliated firm. She specializes in wealth management, concentrating in retirement and estate planning for senior corporate executives and high net worth individuals. 


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5 Steps to Run Your Business with Positive Intention

Years ago, when I was a rookie, I was running out to an appointment with a client I was hoping to close, when a colleague wished me good luck. My immediate response was, “Thanks, but he’ll probably have to think about it.” My peer replied, “You’re right—if you go into the meeting with that intention.”

On the ride to the appointment I thought about what my co-worker had said and realized that I needed to run my business by going into each phone call and every appointment with a vision of a successful outcome rather than with my existing, less enthusiastic mindset. I quickly changed my focus—which had been negative—and instead worked on how to handle any possible objections that might arise during the appointment.

The result was one of the smoothest presentations (and closes) I’d ever experienced. Afterward, I made the connection: the reason my meeting went so well wasn’t because my change in focus was attracting success but because I went into the appointment expecting success.

The following are the steps I’ve used in many situations, in business and life, to increase my probability of success. Apply these steps and watch how your business and life can transform for the better.

Step 1: Believe in the outcome you want. When I look back at the aforementioned story, I realize now (20 years later) that although I knew I wanted to close that prospect, I didn’t believe that I would. Knowing what outcome you want and believing in your ability to achieve that outcome can be two entirely different thought processes. That’s why it’s so important to address any doubts you have by asking yourself, “What is the evidence that this is true?” And, in my case the follow-up question was simply, “Have I ever closed a prospect before? If I’ve done it once I can do it a thousand times more.” By questioning a negative belief system you are in fact decreasing its validity and increasing your own belief in yourself.

 Step 2: Know where you are now. On the ride to that particular appointment I had a revelation that I needed to run my business with intention. Up to that point I’d actually run my business by winging it. Believe me, I’ve coached hundreds of financial advisers and insurance agents since 2004 and one thing I learned early on is that winging it doesn’t work. That is why you need to get crystal clear on where you are now and where you desire to be. In other words, what have you been doing that has been preventing you from reaching your full potential?

For me, it was taking the time to prepare recommendations while neglecting to prepare for the presentation and any objections.

Step 3: Decide what to do and do it. That appointment was a turning point in my career because I realized that people don’t want to be corrected, they want to be connected. In other words, people don’t like to be told they have been doing something wrong with their investment strategy but they do what to know that you care about them and that you have their best interest at heart. In order to show them that, you need to ask questions to help prospects see that they have a challenge (if they do) and to realize that you have the solution.

So, I decided that I would focus on having a process for my presentations, ask better questions and lead them down a path to understand what value I could offer them.

Step 4: Prepare for possible pushbacks. In business, as well as life, we’re all faced with the possibility of pushbacks, those unforeseen obstacles that prevent us from reaching our desired results. In the case of presenting the prospect with recommendations, it’s highly likely that they will have objections. That’s why I decided to study a process (and actually develop a system) to handle any type of objection. When you prepare for possible pushback, you increase your likelihood of success because you are ready for the inevitable obstacles.

Step 5: Evaluate the process. A simple barometer for understanding how well your process is working is to observe the results you’re seeing (or not seeing). If you’re obtaining your desired results, than keep doing what you are doing, but if not it’s time to go back to the beginning and start over at step one.

Why Positive Intentions Work

The more often you go into any situation with an intentional, positive attitude and a plan, the more likely that it will become a habit. If you begin each interaction knowing what you want to happen, believe in the outcome and prepare your dialogue for inevitable objections and you will no doubt increase your probability for success. The reason why running your business with positive intentions works is because it’s the antithesis of “winging it” or leaving your business up to chance. Instead, expect success by preparing to succeed.

Schedule a complimentary 30-minute coaching session with me by emailing Melissa Denham, director of client servicing.

Dan Finley
Daniel C. Finley is the president and co-founder of Advisor Solutions, a business consulting and coaching service dedicated to helping advisers build a better business.


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Spaghetti Sauce, Content Marketing and the Future of Financial Advice

Since the dawn of the financial advice industry, financial professionals have created value propositions centered on the intangible qualities they provide investors. The focus on these qualities—including face-to-face interactions, the promise of a genuine personal relationship and emotional support—has only grown stronger as the robo-advisor revolution has gathered steam.

The industry has pegged these qualities as key differentiators between human financial professionals from machines. Data from Charles Schwab, however, offers a potential challenge to this line of thinking.

The study found that investors in the Millennial and Gen X generations were not only less willing to pay for professional service from advisors (only 44 and 47 percent respectively), but they were also less likely to want to discuss investing strategies with a professional (49 and 48 percent) than their Baby Boomer counterparts (55%). Although it’s not necessarily a surprise that Millennial and Gen X investors are more likely to prefer to automate investing decisions (51 and 52 percent), it is interesting that 39 percent of Baby Boomers and 33 percent of Matures listed automation as their preference.

Regardless of how you choose to read the results, it would be difficult to disagree that the advent of powerful technology in the advisory space has introduced at least a question in investors’ minds as to how they should be managing their money. The solution is certainly far more complicated than a simple “man vs. machine” scenario, but may require a few steps outside the box. I believe the “why” behind these results has less to do with the actual value of a financial professional’s services and everything to do with spaghetti sauce.

Human Financial Professionals and the “Extra Chunky” Phenomenon

I love a good TED Talk. One of my favorites comes from Malcom Gladwell—“Choice, Happiness and Spaghetti Sauce.” In this talk Gladwell tells the story of Howard Moskowitz, whose revolutionary approach to buyer behavior and happiness brought the world “extra chunky” spaghetti sauce.

Moskowitz was a consultant in the 1970s when the prevailing marketing mantra was to “give your customers whatever they say they want.” In working with a wide range of companies, Moskowitz found that, while human beings will certainly tell someone what they like, their “wants” can only exist in the frame of reference of products already available. In other words, we may want or need something that doesn’t yet exist.

Moskowitz was eventually hired by Campbell’s Soup, makers of Prego spaghetti sauce. Prego, and its primary product, a “traditional” tomato sauce, was struggling mightily against competitor Ragu. Using his theory, instead of trying to perfect the original recipe by asking what people did and didn’t like about Prego, Moskowitz created 77 completely different kinds of spaghetti sauce and asked people to test each one.

While the diversity of the responses was incredible, Moskowitz found that people could be filtered into three categories: plain, spicy and extra chunky. The biggest shocker in the results was the number of people who chose the types of sauce that could be placed in the “extra chunky” category. This finding was shocking because, at the time of the study, there was no such thing as “extra chunky” spaghetti sauce, lending credence to Moskowitz’s hypothesis.

I think there are similarities between the original approach to spaghetti sauce and the way today’s investors view the value of human financial professionals. Just over half of the respondents to the Jackson study had ever met in person with a human financial professional. The value of these intangibles relies completely on a personal relationship, yet respondents hadn’t ever had the opportunity to interact with a human financial planner.

From this perspective, the reason many investors view these services as an unnecessary expenditure is likely because they’ve either been successful without the support in the past or they are simply afraid of paying a substantial amount of money for an unknown. In other words, they’re just fine with the traditional spaghetti sauce because they haven’t been exposed to the “extra chunky.”

You’ll recall that at one time we didn’t see a need for the telephone, the Internet, personal desktop computers, or smartphones—until we saw what the products could do. Moskowitz showed us that human beings don’t know what we really want or like until the product or service becomes available.

Consumers’ lack of understanding is often coupled with a fear of the unknown, which is generally bolstered by sensationalistic media content. Thus, human financial professionals are at a disadvantage in proving their value before they ever get a prospective client in the door. So what do we do?

Proactive Education Through Targeted Content Marketing

A successful relationship between a human financial professional and an investor is founded on implicit trust. To prove their value to investors, financial planners must first work to build a solid level of trust with prospective investors—which is easier said than done.

Although trust in financial services has increased in the last few years, the 2017 Edelman Trust Barometer showed that the industry still held the lowest level of trust of all sectors. To make matters worse, coverage of the Department of Labor fiduciary conversation from both sides of the aisle has further muddied the waters for consumers.

However, there’s opportunity here. Trust is something we can work together to rebuild and content can be an important part of the solution. To use banks as an example, a study from NewsCred revealed that, while one-third of those surveyed don’t trust their own bank, half of those respondents said they trust the bank more when they offer helpful content. Another 50 percent of respondents say that offering helpful, useful content delays their desire to switch banks. Thus, it’s clear that a certain type of investor looks at content as a factor in decision-making and trust when it comes to their financial services relationships.

But what about the other side of the coin? A survey from marketing agency Kapost showed 76 percent of financial services professionals also believe content marketing is the best way to regain trust. In my opinion, there are three main reasons why content may be able to assist financial planners in both building trust with prospective clients and representing their value propositions in a difficult climate.

  • The Importance of Common Ground. When attempting to address a discrepancy, it helps to find common ground. In the financial services industry, it can be difficult to find consensus, regardless of which group is being surveyed. Financial services providers, planners and investors are categorized quite broadly, but the individuals within these groups are extremely diverse. In the case of content, based on the above statistics, investors and financial services professionals mercifully agree. Usually, when you find this type of consensus, it can pay to act on it
  • The Correlation Between Trust and Relevant, Useful Content. Educational, product-agnostic content inherently allows marketers to build trust. Unlike advertising, where too much volume or overly aggressive messaging can hurt a brand or business, content allows us to demonstrate our intent, expertise and value one piece at a time, constructing a consistent, case for trust over the long term. If your content is truly engaging and relevant to prospective investors, you’ll be doing more than just building trust; you may be delivering that “extra chunky” recipe investors have been waiting for.
  • The Value of Targeting Different Groups With Specific Messages. Content allows planners to target very specific messages to different types of clients. As Gladwell mentions in his TED Talk, Moskowitz’s novel approach to spaghetti sauce, and behavior in general, wasn’t an attempt to find the perfect spaghetti sauce, but to find the perfect spaghetti sauces. In other words, he showed that brands should embrace the variability of their target client groups, as striving for universality casts far too wide a net.

Moskowitz chose to place the spaghetti sauce tasters into distinct groups (plain, spicy and extra chunky). This is a valuable point for planners in terms of segmenting content for prospective clients. While a financial professional can’t be everything to everyone, it’s important to attempt to place prospective investors into a few select categories and to tailor content for each specific audience. One way to do this is to review your existing client base and choose your top 10 clients based on the attributes you look for in an ideal client. From there, choose the attributes that you find most important in the planner-client relationship and use them to separate clients into different categories. If you end up with too many similar clients, try starting over with a larger sample size.

In Summary

If a financial planner can just get investors in the door for a meeting, then they’ll see the light and the problem will be solved, right? Of course not. I’m certainly not saying that content is the magic bullet to eliminate the mistrust and fear of the unknown that make today’s investors hesitate before considering a relationship with a human financial professional. But do I think that providing relevant, valuable and free content to prospective clients can help planners begin to chip away at these issues? Absolutely.

The data surrounding the unwillingness to pay for intangibles such as emotional support, face-to-face interaction and an authentic relationship should serve as a catalyst for planners to learn how to articulate their value to existing and prospective clients. And I firmly believe that content marketing can be a highly effective tool to help planners do that.

This is a piece of a whole effort—including asking for referrals from current clients, getting yourself out there in the local community by attending events and sponsoring charity work—to help investors get to know “the real you.” Because it really comes down to authenticity. If prospective clients can sense your sincerity, you’ve already overcome the most important hurdle. Expertise, knowledge and skill are all implied, but trust must be earned.

Dan_Martin_Headshot
Dan Martin is the Director of Marketing for the Financial Planning Association, the principal professional organization for CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNERTM (CFP®) professionals, educators, financial services professionals and students who seek advancement in a growing, dynamic profession. You can follow Dan on Twitter at @DanW_Martin

 


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Get Your Target Audience to Develop Your Marketing Ideas for You

Have you ever worked really hard on a marketing campaign?

Be it a blog post, social media ad, landing page and lead magnet, in-person event or anything else you tried to use as a way to grow your firm, you poured a lot of hours and energy into the effort. You were proud of what you created.

And yet when you hit publish or sent out invitations or pushed send on that email…well, cue the crickets.

Nothing. No response, not even a nibble from a curious prospective client.

Unfortunately, this happens all the time to financial advisers looking for new, innovative ways to market and grow their firms.

What’s happening here? Why do your best efforts and intentions go nowhere and fail to resonate with the audience you want to connect with or reach the prospects you want to convert into clients?

Why Your Marketing Efforts Fall Flat

What’s happening here? Why do your best efforts and intentions go nowhere and fail to resonate with the audience you want to connect with or reach the prospects you want to convert into clients?The best way to waste a lot of time with your marketing efforts is to generate ideas on what to do next on your own, in a vacuum, without getting feedback.

This is the mistake most advisers make: they think they find a great marketing idea and want to try it. They do an excellent job executing, except for one fatal flaw: they try to guess what their target market wants. They spend a lot of time brainstorming and wondering what to write in a blog, or record for a video or podcast, or how to host an event.

Doing all this hard work of pinpointing exactly what to create or do takes a lot of effort. It’s also completely unnecessary because there’s a better way. Instead of guessing what kind of content your ideal client wants and would find relevant, just ask them.

Your Target Market Can Generate Ideas for You

The best way to create a marketing campaign that resonates with the right people is to understand the following about your audience:

  • Demographics. Data like age, gender, ethnicity and location.
  • Psychographics. Information about their beliefs, philosophies, biases, fears, aspirations and more that gives insight to their perspectives and viewpoints.
  • Pain points and challenges. What do they struggle with? What do they see as a problem in their life? What causes pain or prevents them from living the way they want?
  • Needs, desires and goals. What do they desperately want to achieve more than anything else? What do they need in their lives?
  • Preferences and habits. What magazines do they read? What websites do they browse? How do they interact with media? How do they prefer to learn new information?
  • Objections. What stops them from taking action? What causes resistance or friction when they make purchasing decisions?

If you know this information, you can craft messages that directly hit on pain points and offer appealing solutions that get around sales objections. You’ll also know where to go to deliver your message and how to share information about what your firm can do for clients.

The easiest way to get that information? Try one of these strategies to understand what your target market wants from you before you start your next marketing campaign.

Comb Through Message Boards and Listen on Social Media

People are already talking about the topics you’re an expert in. And because they’re not the experts, they likely have questions they want answers to.

If you can find the questions your audience is already asking, you can design marketing content that answers those and positions you as the ultimate solution to the problems they face.

So how do you do it? Two ways:

  • Use search functions on social media to find and monitor relevant conversations. Search for keywords, phrases or hashtags that relate to topics on which you can serve as an expert resource.
  • Comb through forums, communities and message boards for relevant conversations. Facebook groups, comments on posts on Instagram or LinkedIn and Reddit forums can all provide ways to “listen” to what people talk about online—and find your next campaign topic idea.

Invite Your Target Market to Coffee or Lunch

Okay, you can’t invite everyone you want to reach to grab a cup of coffee with you. But you can identify a handful of people who represent your ideal clients—or who already are your ideal clients—and ask if you can interview them over lunch sometime.

This isn’t a sales pitch, it’s a learning opportunity. Design eight to 10 open-ended questions for your meetings, ask them then sit back and listen to the answers.

The idea is to let your guests speak freely about whatever comes up for them. After conducting a few of these conversations, compare your notes.

Do you see any trends or patterns? Any phrases that were used by more than one person? These are things that can help you better understand your audience, how they think and, most importantly, the language that makes sense to them.

Start Conversations (Instead of Sending Out Surveys)

Sending out a mass email with a link to a survey and asking people to take the time to fill it out (even if it only takes two minutes) isn’t compelling. Instead of setting them a task, try opening a conversation.

You can still do this by tapping into your contact lists. But take a personalized, personable approach rather than seeking the opinion of the crowd. You can use this sample email to help you get started:

Hi [Name],
Hope you’re doing well! I wanted to reach out to share some news I’m excited about: I’m working on a new [whatever you want to create and launch—new blog, new podcast, new video series, etc.] for my firm, and I want to make sure what we put out into the world is valuable.

Here’s where I need your help: I don’t want to create something for us, I want to create it for you.

I have a few ideas that I want to explore for the [blog/podcast/video/social media/email course/ebook/etc.], including [list your initial ideas that you think might work well for the audience].

But I don’t want to just assume you’re interested in that.

I would love  to actually talk to you about what you’d find most interesting, valuable or useful.

What can I share or explain that would help you achieve your goals? What kind of topics interest you, or what do you want to learn more about?

Please let me know! I look forward to hearing your ideas and opinions.

Your Next Steps for Marketing Success

By using the strategies above, your target audience will develop your marketing ideas for you. They’ll also give you a clear picture of who they are, which allows you to develop client personas.

Use those personas now and in future marketing campaigns. They’ll tell you what your audience wants to hear—and how they want to hear it.

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.


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5 Ways to Connect at a Conference

With the Financial Planning Association’s Annual Conference coming up in a few days at Music City Center in Nashville, it might be helpful to brush up on some tips for successful communication.

Chances are this isn’t your first rodeo, but for the first-timers, students, interns and the socially anxious among us, tips we recently gleaned from reading How to Talk to Anyone: 92 Little Tricks for Big Success in Relationships by Leil Lowndes, could come in handy, both during one-on-one meetings at the upcoming conference and with your clients.

While we won’t recap all 92 tricks, we can boil it down to the top five recurring themes in Lowndes’ book. These might seem like no-brainers, but it doesn’t hurt to have a refresher.

1.) Use smiles, eye contact to convey genuine interest: Lowndes introduces what she calls the “flooding smile technique”—don’t automatically smile the same bright smile for everybody. In fact, don’t smile automatically at first when you meet somebody, wait a split second and then have a “flooding smile” that makes the person you are talking to feel you are the smile is unique for them.

2.) Use good posture and fidgeting to convey confidence: Maintain eye contact with the person who is speaking until they are finished. Lowndes calls this “sticky eyes.” When you must look away, try to do it slowly. This will convey your genuine interest.

Standing up tall will make you seem confident and limiting fidgeting (messing with your hair, touching your face, etc.) makes you seem more trustworthy.

3.) Match the mood, actions and tone of voice of the person you’re talking to. If you want to connect with somebody, it is helpful to match them on several levels. If they are rushing to a session, don’t stop them and launch into a long story. If you have impeccable manners and always hold your tea cup with one pinky out while your opposite hand holds the saucer, but the speaker doesn’t, match the way they do things to make them feel comfortable. Echoing their tone of voice is another way to make them feel more comfortable.

4.) Be specific. You are guaranteed to get two questions when you meet new people—where are you from and what do you do. Lowndes writes that you should never have a “naked” response to these standard questions. For example, she says that when somebody asks you where you are from, you shouldn’t simply say your city, add a unique fact about your city. Be specific about what type of financial planning you do or why your practice is named what it’s named (if there’s an interesting story there).

Also, if you’re thanking somebody, tell them why. For example, if you’re chatting up a presenter, tell them, “Thank you—your session gave me some great takeaways for my practice.”

5.) Be inquisitive, interested and curious. People like to talk about themselves and if you want to make a connection, ask lots of questions and encourage them to keep talking. Learn about them and don’t just “umm” along—build off what they are saying and ask them questions. Also, remember what they say, that way when you are in a group, you can introduce that person to the others and encourage them to tell a story they’ve told to you.

Hopefully some of these tips will help you make great connections at conference. We’re looking forward to seeing you in Nashville!

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Ana Trujillo Limón is associate editor of the Journal of Financial Planning and the editor of the FPA Practice Management Blog. Email her at alimon@onefpa.org. Follow her on Twitter at @AnaT_Edits.