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Why Don’t People Work with You? Here Are 3 Reasons to Consider

Your firm offers a solution that people need.

So why don’t you have a line of people out your door, begging to work with you?

For one, people don’t know what you know—if they did, you could look out your window right now and see a crowd of people clamoring for your attention.

The job of good marketing is to communicate your value to people who would make excellent clients for your firm—and to do so in a way that resonates with them.

Pro tip: that might require that you talk more about your problem than your solution.

But let’s assume you’re already doing that. Let’s say your marketing does an excellent job of communicating the right message to the appropriate people at a time when they need what you offer.

Yet you still fail to get new clients in the door. What’s going on?

The Main Reasons Your Perfect Prospect Walks Away

There are countless reasons people make the decisions they do. Some are obvious and overt. Some are more subtle and harder to understand.

The first reason we, as the people making the offer, often jump to is, “people just don’t know about me yet.” Or we say, “people just don’t understand the value of what I’m offering yet.”

Those are easy. Sometimes it’s true. But many times, they’re more like excuses for yourself than reasons people don’t hire you.

If people just don’t know about you, go place advertisements in your local paper or pay to rank for important key terms like “financial planner in [your town],” or “fee-only CFP® for doctors.”

When people still don’t hire you, you can no longer say it’s because they aren’t aware you’re there for them.

When it comes to the financial planning industry, we need to dig deeper to find the main reasons people don’t work with your firm (even when it would be to their own benefit to hire you as their planner).

Here are some of the real reasons perfect prospects choose to walk away from your ideal solution for their needs.

They’re afraid of change. Going from the state of being that is called, “I don’t have a financial planner or a financial plan,” to “I have a financial planner and plan” requires a change. Some people get overwhelmed by that change.

It’s human nature to be afraid of change before you have to go through it. There’s a big unknown on the other side—even when that change is probably going to be good for you.

So we get stuck or refuse to take action, because we don’t want to deal with the discomfort of altering our current state of being.

When you market your firm, consider how you can make that change less scary. Usually, that means eliminating uncertainty and making it very, very clear what’s involved with the process.

They have a problem different from the one you’re trying to address. When you market your business, you need to understand what problems and challenges people have. Then you can offer a solution or provide relief.

The thing is, understanding the root of someone’s problem is really hard. It’s more art than science, and requires a little bit of research, a lot of empathy and a dash of guesswork.

As we discussed a few months ago, you can (and should!) ask your audience what they want from you. But you have to do that knowing people:

  • Might not know what they want.
  • Don’t want to tell you what they want.
  • Can’t articulate what they want.

In identifying someone’s problem—even when they explicitly tell you what the problem is—there is always room for error. You might misidentify the problem. You might misunderstand it and represent it the wrong way in your marketing.

As a result, your perfect prospect is going to walk away thinking, “this firm doesn’t understand my actual challenge.”

Always work to hone your message and your market research. Obsess over understanding your market and take consistent action to get deeper and more accurate insights on how they think.

They don’t trust you. When it comes to the financial industry, this is the reason of all reasons that a prospect won’t work with you. They just don’t trust you.

They don’t trust that you have their best interests at heart, they don’t trust that you’ll deliver on your promises, they don’t trust you can do what you say you can do… the list goes on.

It’s a very simple problem that can feel impossible to solve. It’s going to take time and a lot of effort—but you can win people’s trust before they work with you.

Here are a few ways to do it:

  • Always be authentic. Strive for transparency and full disclosure.
  • Use content to show people who you are (don’t just tell them). Share personal stories and experiences. Deliver that content as if you were sharing it with just one person (so be personable; don’t act like you’re delivering an address full of facts to a faceless crowd).
  • Make it easy for people to learn more about you and understand how you work before they have to commit.
  • Don’t carefully guard your processes, knowledge or ideas. Share them freely and distribute them widely. People who are open and generous with their knowledge attract far more paying clients than those who are mysterious, secretive and stingy.

If you’re struggling to get clients in the door, don’t just assume it’s a failure on the part of your target market—like a failure of being aware you exist or a failure to understand how fantastic your firm is.

Consider taking responsibility instead. Consider if one of these reasons might be the cause. Doing so will lead you to far more productive action than just shouting louder for attention, or arguing more aggressively to make your case that you’re better than the other guys.

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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Six Steps to a Great 2018 Marketing Plan

It’s not too early to prepare to rev up your marketing machine for 2018. To help you get started on your marketing plan and calendar, here are six steps we recommend:

Step 1: Begin with a review of your marketing results for the current year.

  • Check your stats for the number of new client households joining your practice this year, as well as the total amount of new assets brought in.
  • What percentage of your new clients would you consider ideal?
  • How were these new clients acquired?
  • What percentage of new assets came from new versus existing clients?

Step 2: What are your marketing goals for the new year?

  • How many new ideal households do you want to bring in?
  • How much increase do you want to see in new assets under management?
  • What is your total revenue goal? How would you break down that goal by sources, such as planning fees, AUM fees, other?

Step 3: Review and refine, or redefine, how you define your target/ideal client.

  • What quantitative factors do you look for?
  • What qualitative factors do you want to see?
  • What are the typical needs and concerns that your target/ideal clients have?
  • What are the unique qualifications that enable you or your practice to serve these target/ideal clients?

Step 4: Review and refine, or redefine, your marketing messaging. How do you tell your story so that it:

  • Connects with your prospective clients?
  • Speaks to their concerns and challenges?
  • Demonstrates your ability to help them?
  • Differentiates you from everyone else?
  • Compellingly calls them to action?

Step 5: What are the strategies that you plan to put in place that will enable you to get your story to exactly the people who need to hear it—your target/ideal clients? Here are some suggested strategies to consider.

  • Raise brand awareness. What will you do to make your message (who we are, what we do, how we’re different from our competitors) known in your community and particularly to your target/ideal client?
  • Promote referrals from existing clients. What will you do to motivate your clients to introduce you to ideal prospective clients they know who need the help you provide?
  • Develop relationships with centers of influence. What will you do to establish and develop relationships with COIs that will lead to their connecting you with ideal prospective clients?
  • What other strategies will you use to engage and develop relationships with target/ideal clients?

Step 6: After deciding on your strategies, it’s time to lay out your marketing calendar, so that each month has specific events and activities that relate to your chosen strategies.

Start with your biggest and most important strategies and events, and get them on your calendar first. Then you can fill in the smaller activities as appropriate. Some planners like to include themes for certain months or seasons of the year.

Events and activities could include:

  • Client social events. Strengthen your client relationships and provide opportunities for them to introduce their friends to you in a relaxed, comfortable setting
  • Educational events. Educational events could include small workshops in your office or local library, presentations to established organizations, or teaching adult education classes at a community college or university.
  • Letters, newsletters and blog articles. Written communications provide an opportunity to showcase your knowledge and expertise in areas of interest to clients and prospective clients, and are easy to share for referral purposes.
  • Notes, cards and gifts. Individual reminders that you are thinking of your clients and prospective clients help keep you top of mind and strengthen relationships.
  • Relationships with COIs. The best relationships with centers of influence develop over time with lots of nurturing, including one-on-one meetings discussing common concerns and challenges.
  • Community involvement. Engagement with and for non-profits and community organizations can help build your brand, enable people to experience the benefits of knowing you and get your story to more people.
  • Networking. Active networking can be done many ways and in many places—in your neighborhood, at social gatherings and while enjoying your favorite sports or recreational activities.
  • Other. You are limited only by your imagination in opportunities to engage with others who could become ideal clients or who could introduce you to your target or ideal clients.

If you are energized and ready to get started but need a little more structure, we would be happy to provide a 2018 marketing plan and calendar template that incorporates the concepts described here. Just send us an email and we’ll forward the template right back to you.

susan-kornegay
Susan Kornegay, CFP® is a consultant and coach with Pathfinder Strategic Solutions in Knoxville, Tenn.


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The 5-Step Formula to Create A Client-Generating Video In 5 Minutes Or Less

Video is one of those things you must do in order to move your financial business forward. According to a DMN3 Study, Gen-Xers and Baby Boomers spend up to two hours per week watching online TV and video. Forty-three percent of boomers watch a video on YouTube daily. Nearly half (48.7 percent) are watching videos to get information. If you aren’t providing regular video content or “tv show,” you can’t be found and you can’t help someone who needs it.

But what do you say and how can you always have something new to talk about? That’s a question we had to answer ourselves. My online TV show, The Ambitious Life has just crossed the 80-episode mark. Then there’s the hundreds of promotional videos, our reality show, Ambitious Adventures, and the 60-plus Ambitious Live courses we’ve created. And all we really talk about is video marketing.

Surely, we must run out of things to say! But we don’t.

As we began crafting original TV shows for our financial clients, we started to reverse engineer how we always had something to say. We also wanted to make it so you don’t feel the pressure to be perfect, but were instead being the best version of you while genuinely helping your clients and prospects.

In doing this, we discovered that they all followed a simple formula. You might think this formula is too simple or too easy to follow. Good. Don’t mess with it. Follow the framework I’ve laid out for you below.

The 5-Step Formula to Create Client-Generating Videos In 5 Minutes Or Less

Step 1: Introduce Yourself. This first step is foolproof. If you get this wrong, we are in big trouble. Start by introducing yourself.

“Hi, I’m X from Y.” All you need to do is replace X with your name and Y with your business name. Here’s my example: “Hi, I’m Greg Rollett from Ambitious.com.”

Got it? Good. Let’s move on.

Step 2: What’s This Video All About. In Step 2 you’re addressing the audience by telling them what this video is all about and why they should watch it. The framework looks like this:

“In this video I’m going to talk to you about X because Y.” Replace X with the topic of the video and Y with the reason why they need to hear about X right now.

In my case it might look something like this, “In this video I’m going to teach you a simple 5-step system to quickly create videos because I believe most financial planners want to create videos but don’t know what to say.”

When thinking about what to film the video about, start by going through all your products and services. Think about things happening in pop culture, like what’s happening right now with 401(k)’s and the tax debate. Make a list of as many topics as possible and keep them handy when you are going to be filming some videos.

After you state the topic of the video, then you give a reason why you are talking about that topic. People like to know why something is important and will help them to stay and watch your video. Now that you have the topic and the reason why it’s important, let’s move onto Step 3.

Step 3: The Story Hook. In step 3 you are going to do the bulk of the heavy lifting in your video, but I’ve made it easy for you. You are simply going to share a story, case study or example that talks to the main point of your video.

Stories are what bonds us together. You want to pull your prospects and audience in with a great story that relates to the topic they’re interested in. We are just looking to tell a story that helps us to make our point and do it in 2-3 (not 20) minutes.

In my example, the story might sound like this, “I want to tell you a story about a financial planner out of Surprise, Ariz. He has a great practice but really wanted to get to the next level and help even more people. I told him to think about creating an online TV show. He wasn’t sure if he wanted to be in front of the camera and if he had enough to say that would get past compliance. I shared with him this simple 5-step video formula and started brainstorming some ideas with him right on the phone. In about 5 minutes we had a dozen ideas and he was hooked. Two weeks later he was in the studio, and just last month we launched his new online TV Show, The Joe Gleason Show, which has been seen by thousands of people all over Surprise.”

That’s it. Quick story that makes your point. Once you have a story idea for each of the 5 topic ideas, let’s move onto Step 4.

Step 4: Relate It Back to The Audience. It’s time to give your audience some genuine help and tips. I know you need to be careful here, but there is still plenty to say and plenty of helpful advice you can dispense while still staying compliant.

Give them one thing (not 100 things) to do right now to get the result they desire. This isn’t a pitch for your service. This is genuinely telling them what to do. It is getting them one step closer to solving their problem (or whatever end result your product or service delivers).

I might do this by saying, “If you’re like Joe and want to take your business to the next level, I want you to go out and shoot a video today. Introduce yourself. Tell the viewer what this video is about and why they should watch. Tell a story that relates to your video’s point, then actually help them. Give them one tip to get the result they desire. Finally, tell the viewer how to get started working with you. Use these 5-steps and you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the reactions you get.”

Simple, right? It tells them what to do, but not necessarily how to do it (that’s why they need you).

Ok, write down one tip you are going to share with your video topic ideas, then on to Step 5.

Step 5: The Call to Action. No video is complete without telling the viewer how they can become a client. We do this with a simple transition after we genuinely help them.

It looks like this, “Hey, if you liked this video and want to learn more, do this.” Naturally, replace “do this” with what you want the viewer to do. That can be going to a landing page to download a free report or to call the office for a free consultation. That’s it. Don’t draw it out, just tell them how you can help them take that next step.

Follow this 5-step system and go out to film your next video. I’d love to see it. More importantly I know it will help you reach more people and make a difference in their financial lives.

Greg Rollett.jpg
Greg Rollett is the founder of Ambitious.com (http://ambitious.com), an Emmy® Award Winning media production and marketing agency for financial professionals and business owners. He is the host of the reality TV show “Ambitious Adventures,” seen on Entrepreneur.com, and the host the Ambitious Life. Reach him on Facebook or Instagram to say hello and share your videos.

 

 


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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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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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Adviser Blackout: Why Isn’t Your Site Showing Up in Google Results?

One of the top reasons advisers come to us for help is to get their site to show up early in Google search results. It makes perfect sense. You’re a great adviser, so you want to be front and center when someone searches for “financial adviser [your city].”

Before we get started, let’s look at why search engine optimization, commonly referred to as SEO, matters. (Many thanks to Hubspot for compiling all these statistics.)

  • Google gets more than 100 billion searches per month
  • 81 percent of shoppers do online research before making a decision
  • 51 percent of smartphone users have discovered a new company while performing a search on their phone

With so many people researching and finding new companies through search engines—especially Google—advisers need to make search ranking a priority.

The problem is that Google’s algorithms (which determine the results of searches) are constantly evolving. According to Google, they change their algorithm at least once a day, and they’re reported to make up to 600 changes per year.

So how are we supposed to keep up? These three factors have been proven to play a big role in determining results.

1.) Establish Authority. SEO experts are always talking about the importance of establishing something called authority. It can seem like a vague and difficult concept when it comes to web search, but it’s really fairly simple.

For the same reason I don’t show up until page six of the results when I Google “Zach McDonald,” you have to prove that you are one of the items people want to find when they search for “financial adviser [city/state].”

If your site is brand new and your visits are fairly minimal, Google won’t ascribe much importance to you.

You have to establish authority first by publishing useful blogs and promoting those blogs via social and paid ads. After that, you have to give Google a little time to recognize that people now want to see your website. Once that’s established, you’ll see your rankings rise. And when I say “give Google a little time,” I mean anywhere from six months to more than a year.

2.) Make Sure Your Mobile and Desktop Sites Match Up. Mobile searches first outpaced desktop a couple years ago and have continued to do so ever since. As a result, Google has continuously tweaked their algorithms to place more and more importance on mobile sites.

Last November, Google announced they will be adopting a mobile-first indexing strategy.

Basically, they’ve been evaluating websites using desktop content for years, but a lot of sites have “lite” mobile versions to make them easier to navigate on a phone. That leads to issues when the majority of people use their phones for searches, then get results based on desktop content, and end up on the mobile site, which may or may not have the content they searched for.

So Google’s going mobile-first (probably sometime in 2018), and that means your mobile site needs to have the same information as your desktop site. While they may not fully implement mobile-first indexing for a little while, chances are their algorithms are already leaning heavily in that direction, so now’s the time to fix this problem.

Bottom line: You don’t want Google’s bots, which determine if you belong in their search results, scanning your mobile “lite” site and missing essential blogs and other information that could boost your standing.

If you have a responsive site—where your website looks different on mobile than desktop but the content is all the same—then you’re fine. That’s one of the reasons we only develop websites in WordPress: responsiveness comes standard.

If you have different mobile and desktop versions, here are some tips from Google on how you can bring your site up to speed.

Want to talk about how we can help your website achieve true mobile-friendliness? Drop us a line.

3.) Follow These Three Simple Rules of Local SEO. One of the first rules of SEO is that content is king. Produce quality blogs and videos regularly, attract people to your site, and your search ranking will improve.

And that’s absolutely true—except when it comes to local SEO. Getting into local searches has little to nothing to do with blogs (although getting to the top of those searches is a different story). It’s typically established through your site’s pages.

Here are three simple things you (or even your intern!) can do today that can make a big difference when people search for “financial adviser [your city].”

Make sure your firm name, address, and phone number are on every page, and that they’re always cited in the same way. This one’s so important that SEO experts have even designated an acronym for it: NAP (name, address, phone number). It’s easy to do—just insert that info into your site’s footer. As simple as that seems, this is one of the most common mistakes on business websites. Wherever you insert your NAP info, do your best to keep it consistent. There is some debate in the SEO community over whether NAP formatting inconsistencies affect your site’s rankings, but it’s better better to be safe than sorry.

Register with Google My Business and Bing Places. This takes just a few minutes. Fill out your profile using the links above, and make it as full as possible. Google loves it when people play by their rules, so if you only put your name and phone number in there, chances are they’re dinging you for that. Put in your website, appointment URL, phone number, address, office hours, and even add a couple pictures. Same with Bing.

You won’t see results immediately on this one. After you register, they’ll mail you a postcard with a PIN to confirm that you’re actually affiliated with the business. It took about two weeks for our postcard to come when we registered.

Register with online directories. Claim your firm’s profile on sites like MerchantCircle, Yelp, Local.com, your local newspaper’s directory, and chamber of commerce, just to name a few. That way you can make sure your firm’s information is correct (not to mention you can easily respond to reviews if you feel so inclined). When your NAP information on directory listings matches the information on your website, the Google gods will smile upon thee. If Yelp has your number wrong and somebody tries to call you, they’ll probably either assume you went out of business or just move on to another firm.

Don’t expect overnight results. SEO is a long process. We helped a client edit, publish and release a book last year. Now, almost a year later, their book is at the top of Google results. That success story required planning, strategizing and promotion (and patience), but the end result is worth it.

Your digital presence doesn’t just happen; it’s what you make it. Follow these three steps and you’ll be on your way up in Google’s results.

zach-mcdonald
Zach McDonald is the editorial director at Mineral Interactive, which partners with client-focused firms looking for custom marketing solutions.  


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5 Top Tips to Target Your Niche Better with Video

“The riches are in the niches,” is a saying that’s still true. When you specialize in a narrow niche, it opens up broad opportunities for you. There is so much abundance in the world, and paradoxically the best way to gain a wide open field of opportunity is to go deep into one narrow area and become a rock star expert in that specialty.

When you focus on a niche, it makes everything easier. You’ll attract and capture clients more easily because you’re perceived as an expert; you’ll know where to find your ideal client to market to them more effectively; and you’ll become world-class in your level of service because you’re focused on one thing that you do extraordinarily well.

Here are five ways to make your marketing to your niche specialty irresistible using the most effective marketing tool available today: video.

1.) Get custom videos that are laser focused on your niche. When you demonstrate your expertise in your niche with video content, you show your prospects and clients that you are truly an authority and an expert, to the point that you have your own video series about your specialty!

2.) Make sure your videos are short and sweet. The ideal length for marketing videos is 1-2 minutes, so don’t make the mistake of believing that people will give you their time in our rushed world. Keep your marketing succinct. You’ll find that you’ll be a better communicator when you force yourself to be brief.

3.) Educate, Don’t Sell. The new direction of marketing is “Content Marketing”, which means that you provide valuable educational content about your niche to attract your ideal client. When you demonstrate your expertise through your digital marketing, you’ll build good will and be seen as a valuable resource for the financial questions your prospects and clients are asking themselves.

4.) Feature a mix of “talking head” and animated videos. These two styles of videos bring very different advantages. “Talking head” videos help people feel like they know you personally, which helps them like and trust you, and makes them more likely to become your client. Animated videos are usually more entertaining and engaging than talking head videos, which keeps your audience watching longer. The visual aspect of animation helps make complex concepts simple, which is a perfect fit for conveying complicated financial information.

5.) Leverage your video content on multiple digital platforms. Video is like a super tool that makes every other digital marketing strategy more effective. Post your videos on your website, your blog, your social media, and in your email newsletter to get maximum return on investment.

Editor’s note: Jill Addison will be a panelist at the Women and Finance Knowledge Circle for the 2017 FPA Knowledge Circle Summit pre-conference event in Nashville on Sunday, October 3. To sign up, click here to register for the FPA Annual Conference, and check the box next to “FPA Knowledge Circle Summit” near the bottom of the registration form. If you’ve already registered, but would like to attend the Knowledge Circle Summit, contact the FPA Member Engagement Team at (800) 322-4237, Option 2.

Jill Addison
Jill Addison is the founder and president of FA Client Machine, a digital media company specializing in helping financial advisers automate marketing, stand out with educational and entertaining videos and engage prospects and clients with a digital presence.