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3 LinkedIn Tips to Implement Today

lauravirilli“What’s your story?” has become the new value proposition, according to marketing expert Laura Virili. “Even with all of our devices, we are still humans, and we still connect through stories,” she told the planners in attendance at the FPA Annual Conference—BE Baltimore. “You need to tell your story online, offline, and you need have your story down!”

But first, you need to find more people to tell your story to. Virili is a strong believer in the power of LinkedIn, and she shared a wealth of tips and strategies for using LinkedIn to expand your reach and fill your pipeline.

If you’re wondering who on LinkedIn you should be connecting with, Virili offers these suggestions: clients, prospects, alumni, friends and family, centers of influence, community leaders, professional acquaintances, former colleagues, and the next generation.

For how to best connect, here are just some of the tips Virili shared (for dozens of online resources, visit her at lauravirili.com/resources.htm).

Make It Personal
Personalize your LinkedIn invitation to connect request. You have 300 characters in that request to differentiate yourself. Sign the request with your name and phone number; don’t make people work to reach you.

Say Thanks
Send a thank you message for accepting your LinkedIn invite. That message will plant the seed to get you in front of that person, because as Virili said, “You want to use the internet to get off the internet” and build that in-person relationship.

Update Your Profile
Google gives preferential treatment to LinkedIn, so make sure your LinkedIn profile is up to date, because it will be one of the first results that surfaces when someone Googles you. Some other profile tips are:

  • Spend money on a great profile picture, and keep the headshot casual, because social media is casual.
  • Put your certifications with your name; they help identify you.
  • If you’re not a writer, hire one to help you tell your story in the 2,000-character summary section; it’s well worth the investment!

Bonus: Virili’s Daily Best Practice
Every day, go into “my network” on your LinkedIn profile and click on “connections.” This will bring up three things that are happening in your network, they’re social triggers you should respond to: birthdays, work anniversaries, and new jobs (new jobs are potential money in motion.) Take a few minutes to send personalized messages offering congratulations or best wishes.

Schulaka Carly_resizedCarly Schulaka
Editor
Journal of Financial Planning
Denver, CO


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Paid, Owned and Earned Media—a Must for Your Marketing Strategy 

 

During a recent seminar I conducted for a group of financial advisers titled, “Leveraging Marketing Content to Build Credibility, Gain Visibility and Grow Your Business,” my audience posed several questions about content types such as paid, owned and earned media.

In our digital age, marketing content is king. Consumers no longer rely exclusively on print and broadcast media to get their information about products and services. Access to a plethora of online content from expert sources enables them to make educated decisions for their purchases. This has significantly altered the traditional, straightforward path to sales and created a compelling need for service and product providers to generate valuable content. The latter plays a crucial role in establishing an ongoing social media dialogue with consumers to establish credibility from the inception of the sales process, generate brand recognition and shorten the sales cycle.

In the seminar, while a handful of advisers had a vague idea of paid, owned and earned media, many desired to hear definitions of each and how each relates to content generation and, most important, how to make it part of an overall marketing strategy.

Here are broad definitions: generally speaking, paid media is useful to generate brand recognition and collect client demographics. Owned media helps build brand experience and earned media helps foster conversation about a brand. For those of you not familiar with this media triad, here is a brief overview of them:

Paid media: Any paid activity aimed at disseminating your messages and attracting visibility to your brand. Better known as advertising, it involves print and broadcast media, as well as any type of paid social media, such as promoted Facebook posts, sponsored LinkedIn ads and pay-per-click.

Paid media contributes very little to building credibility. However, it is very useful for creating brand awareness and gathering valuable audience demographics. It is a viable means of mass communication, especially when used in combination with owned or earned media and it must feature call-to-actions based on customer benefits.

Let me explain: to generate new business leads, an adviser can use paid media to promote her appearance on a radio or TV interview. She can add to her paid media a call-to-action to direct prospects to her website to download a digital “freemium,” such as a white paper or a podcast—her owned media—and capture prospects’ contact information and other key information.

Owned media: The channels created, owned and controlled by your business. These include your website, social media accounts, mobile site, blog, email list and any content you give away with the intent to generate leads.

Owned media enables advisers to be in complete control of what free content to distribute, when and how. Owned media’s popularity is rising fast, as consumers increasingly rely on online information to make their buying and investment decisions.

A recent inPowered/Nielsen study confirmed that when considering the purchase of a product or service, consumers currently seek out and rely on content generated by trusted expert sources five times more than they did five years ago. Often, the boundaries between earned and owned media are not as clear as they can appear. For example, an adviser’s blog post (owned media) when republished by a media outlet or an influential industry blog(s) will be considered earned media.

Earned media: What your followers, fans and clients say about you and your expertise. It attracts the attention of your key audiences, and if they like your brand and message(s), they become your brand evangelists and influencers by voluntarily sharing your content, insights, tips and brand with prospects and additional potential brand advocates in the social media world and by word-of-mouth.

Retweets, shares, likes and mentions, which are not paid for, are earned media. It is the hardest type of media to secure, yet it’s the most trustworthy and instrumental to the success and growth of your business. The direct effect of earned media—retweets and/or mentions of your name, an interview or quote in a leading print or broadcast media outlet—is immediate and strong credibility. Press, radio and TV especially provide an adviser with the most powerful third-party endorsement by positioning her or him as an authority and a trusted expert source.

As consumers increasingly depend on online content to gather valuable information, advisers must implement tactics that drive traffic to their websites and increase visibility for their brands, expertise and services. This can be achieved by developing holistic online marketing strategies that astutely combine paid, owned and earned media models to tell a consistent story that engages and motivates their audiences.

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


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Successful Branding: The 6 Questions to Ask Yourself

Today’s changing environment—which embraces technology, data and value—couldn’t be more exciting.

That’s what TD Ameritrade Institutional’s Managing Director Kate Healy said to a room full of FPA Retreat 2016 attendees at the Wigwam Resort.

Planners are able to communicate to prospective and current clients their qualifications and certifications, but now is the time to learn to communicate your value through branding.

“It’s great that you have the credentials, now you need to make the connection,” Healy said.

Currently, financial services ranks below the chemical industry when it comes to trust in the industry. That’s not great considering current clients say what they value most is having an adviser they can trust.

“We have to change that narrative,” Healy said. “You need to be able to tell the story of what you offer.”

Branding is what creates clients’ emotional connections to you. It shows who you are and it matters in differentiating yourself from the competition, establishing credibility and making clients comfortable.

To start your branding process, you need to ask yourself six questions, Healy said. Those questions are:

  1. Who are you? Find an independent third party to poll your clients about who you are and how you add value to their lives.
  2. Who do you serve? Figure out who you currently serve.
  3. What do you do? Showcase your unique value proposition.
  4. How do you do it? This doesn’t mean the six-step financial planning process—everyone does that—but this is the specific twist you add to that process. Maybe examine using different words you could communicate to current and prospective clients.
  5. Why do you do it that way? So you’re a fiduciary, but why? Tell the story behind why you do things the way that you do them. Why did you become a financial planner? Infuse your story with that human element.
  6. Why are you the best choice? The reason clients pick you most likely isn’t your education or fee structure, it’s most likely the connection they felt with you on a personal level.

The important thing is when current or prospective clients see or hear your story—as told through your company branding—it makes them feel something. They’ll remember you and most likely choose you because of that emotion.

“Emotion is the yellow highlighter in your brain,” Healy said.

Did you miss Retreat this year, or just want to register for 2017 early? Join us next year at Château Élan in North Atlanta, Georgia April 24-27, 2017. Use this code (PARET17) for $100 off if you register before May 31, 2016.

AnaHeadshot

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