Traditionally, advisers perceive their websites either as a viable promoting tool or a necessary evil. The most frequent complaint I hear from my clients is that keeping a site current is time consuming. Though that is true, I constantly remind them that investors are increasingly relying on websites as a means to get a first impression of an adviser’s expertise and capabilities.
Websites have steadily become your online business card—an essential component of your branding effort. Your practice possesses specific characteristics and differentiators that make it unique from your competitors. Consequently, these traits must be clearly articulated by astutely creating an effective combination of words and images that clearly convey the significance of the role you and your expertise play in the lives of your clients.
Bear in mind that the most immediate concern of an individual visiting your site for the first time is: 1) to learn as much as he/she can about you and your capabilities, and 2) to understand what it is that truly differentiates your practice from those of other advisers.
Regrettably, many advisers still continue to fail providing this vital information in the landing page of their sites. In numerous cases, the home page is overloaded with links, navigational buttons and copy that does not deliver this important information upfront. Instead, the information overload ends up distracting prospects, and making them work hard to get the most basic piece of information about you and your practice. Remember to keep messages on your website simple, specific and easy to find.
It would be impossible for me to cover this subject in one blog post. However, I’d like to pinpoint some of the most important elements that your site should include. These are:
- Clearly articulate what your practice does. In concise and crisp language, explain if you are a financial planner or a fee-based asset manager and what your specialty is. Helping your visitors get an immediate understanding of what your firm does creates an opportunity to stay on your site and investigate further.
- These days, large and small companies are often judged by the strategic partners they have. If you’re an affiliated adviser, state the name of your broker/dealer and underscore its most important capabilities and services. If you are an independent adviser, do not hesitate to indicate the name(s) of your custodian(s).
- Biographies are an important part of your site; your university, personal background and interests, and association affiliations can provide additional opportunities for prospects to reach out to you. Remember, your bio should not feature the history of your life. Extensive bios laden with dense paragraphs can be discouraging and hard to read, while bullet format ones are easy to scan to find relevant information. Headshot photos of you and other key professionals on your team add an additional personal touch to your site.
- Carefully chose the photos you’d like to feature on your site. Make sure that any type of image you select unquestionably conveys your firm’s core messages and mission. Several stock photography sites are available on the Internet and many have filters in place to help you match words with images. When in doubt, seek the help of a PR/marketing professional to implement your selection.
One last recommendation, make sure you and other members of your team periodically check your site. This is an easy and effective exercise to assess if and when your site needs to be refreshed.
If you’re planning to create or refresh content for your website and need guidance, feel free to contact me through this blog or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
i-Impact Group, Inc.