#Liferay Named a Leader in Portals for the Sixth Year

As one of Liferay’s proud Platinum partners, we are thrilled to see it named a leader in Gartner’s Horizontal Portals Magic Quadrant. Liferay Inc., which makes open source portal software, is a Leader for the sixth consecutive year and positioned furthest in completeness of vision and ability to execute in the Leaders quadrant.

Gartner, a leading information technology research and advisory company, positioned the evaluated vendors in the portal market based on independent research and analysis.   The Magic Quadrant gives enterprises a way to assess how well technology providers are executing their stated visions and how well they are performing against Gartner’s market view.

According to Gartner, “the past five years has witnessed a massive transformation of the market for horizontal portals. The nexus of mobile, social, cloud and information has at once heightened the demand for this ‘personalized point of access.’

Liferay will be showcasing its award-winning portal technologies at the annual Liferay Symposium North America, held November 16th and 17th in Chicago. Attendees representing businesses in several verticals will find strategies for increasing enterprise productivity, mobility, and audience engagement from over 60 available business sessions, case studies, and technical workshops

Veriday will also be in attendance at the Liferay Symposium as an event sponsor. As a dedicated Liferay technology partner, we look forward to this event to learn more about the latest and greatest innovations Liferay has to offer.

To lean more about Liferay, visit www.liferay.com.

The Benefits Of “Google My Business” To The Financial Advisor

Google My Business is a great way to connect your business to web users looking for your service. In a previous post, I explained just exactly what Google My Business is all about. Here are 3 key reasons why you shouldn’t wait any longer to get your practice on Google My Business.

Reason #1: Produce Better Search Result Information

When you list your business on Google My Business, it gives Google more awareness of who you are, what you do, and most importantly, where you are located. Here’s an example of what you can expect your search result to look like when not using this Google service. In this example, I did a search for “beaufort planning”.

Search results with no Google My Places listing

Ok, so what, right? It produced search results and if you’re “The Beaufort Group” you’re doing a happy dance since you’re listed at the top. But what about the information it provides to the user? There’s a link, some preview text describing the firm and the website address to their website. Is this useful?

Now, here’s another example search I did on “veriday”.

Enhanced search results using Veriday

With this example, there are 3 distinct visual enhancements between the first and second example provided by simply getting listed on Google My Business.

  1. The Address information (i.e. where it reads 5450 Explorer Dr., etc.) This is inserted below the description of the website on the left hand side. Google is pulling this information directly out of Veriday’s “My Business” listing.
  2. Interactive map. Google will automatically create this map on your behalf using the address information you’ve provided. This provides your potential audience with relevant location information about your business. Additionally, Google will also grab images from your profile and drop it into this search result which is a great way to present your brand to the user without requiring them to visit your website.
  3. Listing information about Veriday. This will vary from company to company depending on the amount of information provided. Everything from the address, to hours of operation, phone number and in some cases, the latest post in Google+ will display.  You can also have customer reviews show up. All of this is customizable.

Note: There is a 4th visual difference but that one isn’t directly influenced by having a Google My Business listing.  I’ll be sure to cover this in another post.

So, what makes the result in example 2 more useful than example 1? Simple, location information and contact information are the most common pieces of content that users are looking for when searching a business both on their desktop and mobile devices. By presenting this information instantly to the user, it saves them the time they would otherwise spend looking for that information on the website. In the “beaufort planning” example, I would need to hit Beaufort’s website to find more information.

Reason #2: Enhanced Mobile Search Experience

There’s plenty of data that points to the reasons why delivering a mobile experience is important for users. Luckily, Google has already taken this into account. Creating a Google My Business listing helps you deliver an integrated experience across smartphone, tablet and desktop. The best part is that you don’t need to know a single line of code to do that. Notice how the exact same example produces a very similar experience when I perform the search on my smartphone. The location and contact information is present first in the case of “veriday”, where a Google My Business listing exists.

Beaufort Planning mobile search Veriday Mobile search results

Note the 3 links that Google provides:

  1. A “Call” link. When users click on this link, it provides a single click to call function.
  2. A “Directions” link. Clicking on this link will bring up the mobile version of Google Maps and provide the driving directions to (in this example) Veriday from my current location.
  3. A direct link to Veriday’s website in case I’m not looking for telephone or address information. This is even more of a justification to have a mobile website since you want to maintain a consistent mobile experience for your visitors.

Reason #3: It’s Free

Yep. How about that. Google provides this service to advisor practices and businesses for free. What’s the catch? Well, it really is all about data, and the accuracy of data. In particular, location based data. The data that drives 1 in 3 searches performed online on Google (not including Google Maps). Google has always been about delivering simple and useful user experiences, hence why their search results don’t have a lot of bells and whistles. Here’s one last thought. If Google believes that the accuracy of location based data is an important part of search, is it safe to assume that if you have a business name similar to another business (who may or may not be a competitors) in the same geographic area and only one of you have a Google My Business listing, that Google will list you higher in search results? Looking back at Example 1 of my desktop search, where “Beaufort Group” appeared higher than “Beaufort Planning”, imagine the result if “Beaufort Planning” had a Google My Business listing. How do you think that would change?

Furniture Bank’s Chair Affair gala returns this fall in support of refugees being settled in Ontario

TORONTO, September 21st, 2015 – A series of one-of-a-kind furniture creations are set to transform The International Centre this fall as the Chair Affair gala and charity auction returns to the city on Friday, October 30th, 2015. The event is a fundraiser for Furniture Bank, a Toronto based registered charity and social enterprise that provides support to thousands of Canadians living without furniture.

Chair Affair is Furniture Bank’s signature fundraising event and is centered around a live auction where attendees from across the GTA have the opportunity to bid on chairs and other furniture items decorated and customized by local designers. All proceeds from the event will go towards Furniture Bank and their efforts to help individuals establish new homes and new lives with dignity, direction and compassion.

Veriday is thrilled to be a part of this year’s Chair Affair as an event sponsor. Veriday is honoured to be supporting such a great cause that allows them to support and meets the needs of all families without furniture across the GTA.

“The 2015 version of Chair Affair will be our biggest yet – moving to Toronto’s centre of design professionals and the interior furnishings industry – SOFA and The International Centre,” says Dan Kershaw, Executive Director, Furniture Bank. “Since Furniture Bank started, we have helped close to 65,000 individuals by providing them with a bed to sleep on, a dining table to share family meals and a desk to study on. Over 15,000 of those individuals were newcomers to Canada seeking refuge or a better life here in Canada.

“This year, we have seen a 60% increase in refugees served and we look to expand our services to meeting the growing demand. We stand ready to support any and all agencies supporting refugees settling into new lives here in Canada,” he added.

Jane Lockhart, Founder & Principal Designer, Jane Lockhart Interior Design added: “This is a cause I really believe in and to be able to participate means so much to me. I am heartened to see the creative and generous sides of so many people in the community come together for this worthy cause.”

For more information about Chair Affair and to order tickets, please visit Furniture Bank’s website: http://www.furniturebank.org/chairaffair/

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About Furniture Bank

Furniture Bank is a registered charity and social enterprise that has been helping people in the Greater Toronto Area establish their homes since 1998. We transfer gently used furniture and household goods donated by individuals and corporations to people who are in need of a fresh start. The organization’s fleet of trucks are on the road throughout the year, picking up furniture from donors and delivering items to formerly displaced individuals directly to their homes. Furniture Bank operates a 30,000 square foot facility in south Etobicoke which is equipped with a furniture showroom for clients to browse and select furniture items, a warehouse to receive and organize furniture donations and a waiting room for client appointments. Our goal is to expand these activities to support Furniture Banks across Canada.

Visit Furniture Bank online at www.furniturebank.org. Furniture Bank is also on Facebook (www.facebook.com/FurnitureBank ) and Twitter (www.twitter.com/Furniture_Bank).

Why Should Advisors Care About the New Buyer Journey?

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In 2012, the Corporate Executive Board performed a study to determine just how much buyer behaviour was affected by digital media. As it turns out, 60% of the sales cycle is completed before a buyer makes first contact with a sales person. What’s happening in that 60%?

Any good buying decision must first start with research. The proliferation of digital media has made content so readily accessible that it’s now possible to do most of your due diligence online without the need to speak to someone to make a buying decision. So, why should you care as an advisor? Well, have you ever walked into a meeting with a client and been put on the spot because your client read something online, pertinent to your business, and spent time trying to correct the conclusion they came to by reading that article? Buyers are becoming more knowledgeable and it’s re-shaping the role of sales and marketing professionals.  Understanding the buyer journey can help you adapt to these changes.

So, just what is the Buyer Journey? A buyer journey consists of the mental stages a buyer experiences before making the purchase of a product or a service. In the financial or insurance advice space, this could be a mutual fund, a specific investment strategy, life insurance premium amounts and so on. There are 3 key stages: Awareness, Consideration and Decision. Let’s take a look at each one:

Awareness

This stage isn’t about the awareness of your product or service. The title refers to the awareness of a problem that your buyer is experiencing. For example, let’s say you notice your child’s temperature is very high and experiencing severe stomach pain or, perhaps your client is noticing that their RRSPs aren’t growing at market rates. Buyers in this stage are identifying symptoms of a problem. They don’t know specifically what the problem might be but the symptoms are mentally or physically uncomfortable enough such that it compels them to “figure out” just what is happening.

Consideration

In the consideration phase, the buyer is taking the inputs (i.e. the symptoms) and attempting to identify the problem. In the example above, you might go to a doctor or perhaps read some information online (or offline) and come to the conclusion that your child has the stomach flu. Your client with poor RRSP performance, could take a look at their RRSP portfolio, and identify the fact that one of the funds they’ve invested in is performing poorly and negating the gains of the other investments. A buyer will not move onto the next stage until they’ve gathered enough information and identified the specific problem.

Decision

As you might guess, the decision stage is the point at which a buyer gathers information to make a decision to select the best possible strategy or solution to their problem. Basically, they’re comparing different solutions. Having identified that your child has stomach flu, you’re next likely behaviour would be to try to find solutions that help relieve the symptoms of the virus (or, if you haven’t seen a doctor yet, going to see a doctor could also be an option). The most likely scenario with your client would, for example, involve selling that fund and either re-investing their savings it into an existing fund or perhaps investing the savings into a brand new fund or perhaps GIC. Buyers in this stage are collecting alternatives and options that they can choose from to solve their problem and will move onto the final stage which involves the purchase decision.

A good understanding of your buyer’s journey can help you adapt to the changing buyer and help increase the trust you have with clients. Increasing the trust you have with clients creates leads, opportunities and incremental revenue.

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 What would your buyer’s journey look like?  How can you create content to follow that buyer’s journey?  Stay tuned for Part 2 which will focus on leveraging the buyer journey to increase your AUM.

How to Drive Sales Using the Customer Buyer Journey

Good Content vs. Good Enough Content: Insights from Ann Handley at #INBOUND15

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In case you missed our last article, here is a quick background to this series of articles.

Ann Handley (Author, Marketer, Chief Content Officer of Marketing Profs)

“The biggest missed opportunity with content is playing it too safe.” 

Ann Handley, author of “Everybody Writes”, was the world’s first Chief Content Officer; so you could say she knows a thing or two about content. In Ann’s talk she discussed how the biggest missed opportunity with content is playing it too safe. She pointed out the three things that every brand needs to bring content from good enough to really good and memorable content: bigger stories, braver marketing, and a bolder voice.  According to Ann:

BIGGER story puts your company in the larger context of what people care about. Use your bigger story to convert more people into your squad.

BRAVER marketing upends the status quo, telling a story that hits on specific challenges your audience has (but no one else is talking about in the right way for a certain audience).

BOLDER voice is a differentiator in a sea of mediocre content. Tone of voice is your gutsiest and bravest asset. Your voice reflects your culture, amplifies your story and communicates with empathy to the people you want to reach.

Ann’s presentation was full of inspiring examples of real companies who have used the three B’s to create engaging content. Ultimately, Ann tells the crowd: “everything that your customer or prospect touches is content. So, find ways to inject your brand’s personality and culture into anything and everything.” She challenges the crowd to think of their own marketing, “if you covered up your logo, would you recognize YOU?”

I loved how she closed with the following quote:

Untitled

This quote speaks to creating bold and unique content. Sometimes, you have to steer away from the fairy tales and stories that are typical in your industry. Sometimes, you have to tell a different story, with a different point of view, in order to stand out from the crowd, and create a unique voice for your brand.

Inspirational Marketing Takeaways from #SethGodin at #INBOUND15

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“This is not a conference. It’s a movement. It’s the INBOUND MOVEMENT.”

Inbound 2015

4 days, 5 inspiring keynotes, 14,000 marketers, 170+ educational sessions later…and we are back from Inbound 2015, and more inspired then ever. For 4 days, the Veriday team attended Hubspot’s Inbound 2015 in Boston, Massachusetts.   Inbound has become one of the biggest marketing conferences in the industry, gathering thousands of marketing and sales professionals from around the globe.

Inbound 2015

The Boston Convention and Exhibition Center was packed with 14,000 marketing hungry professionals anxious to learn and discuss everything there is marketing from industry trends, to new technologies, to predictions for the future, to tips, hacks and tricks.

By the end of the week, I found myself more inspired by the Inbound movement then ever; my head filled with more marketing ideas and information then I thought possible. It would be difficult to recap my entire week; navigating through sessions, keynotes, bold talks, and trying to absorb all of the information that I could. So, here I am trying to bring you home some of my favourite talks, sessions, and miscellaneous good bits from Inbound 2015. I hope these takeaways inspire you, as they did me.

Seth Godin (Best selling Author, Entrepreneur, Marketing Guru and Public Speaker)

Seth Godin - Inbound 2015

It seemed only appropriate that Seth Godin, marketing legend and best selling author, kicked off Inbound 2015 on Tuesday evening. I have to say, I was particularly moved and inspired by Seth’s talk; his messaging about aiming higher and doing great work. What spoke to me was Seth’s discussion about the best gift you can give yourself, “saying yes”. Yes, to helping someone. Yes, to the adventure that is your life. Perhaps the best way to recap Seth’s talk is by sharing with you some of my favourite quotes from his keynote:

“The way we make change happen is by being human, by being connected, and by doing things that might not work.  We spend so much time “getting our ducks in a row.” Once you get them, what are you going to do with the ducks?”

“It’s not about the product, it’s about turning outsiders to insiders for your brand.”

“Don’t find customers for your products, find products for your customers.”

“Our job is to change from, “it’s always been that way” to “sure, let’s try that!”

“I’m not sure what the question is but the answer is yes.”

“You have to make something that some people won’t wait in line for in order to make something that some people will wait in line for.”

“What have you done lately that “might not work”? It might work it might not work.”

“Why did it make it into the museum? It made it into the museum because some people didn’t like it.”

“We like to get off the hook – the hook that says we are responsible.”

“Writer’s block” isn’t real! This term wasn’t introduced until the 1940s when writing became a profession. The reason for writer’s block is because of the lizard brain.  The lizard brain doesn’t want you to be responsible.”

 “The stories you’re telling yourself about why you can’t do it, or why you’re not good enough are all invented.”

 “Scratching is your choice – taking your eye off the ball – taking yourself away from what you could’ve been doing all along.”

Godin so elegantly discussed how people need to stop seeking approval and adhering to authority, and need to start taking responsibility. He explains that many of us have the false assumption that if we were to have more authority, we could do more, and we could do something that actually matters. In reality, Godin explains, if we want to start doing work that matters, we need to start taking action and responsibility, and stop using excuses.

Godin challenges attendees to ask themselves: How do you choose to matter? It’s not about getting bigger or winning some race. It’s about figuring out how you matter. When we are doing work that matters, we are changing other people. Stand for something. Take responsibility.  Give credit.  Embrace risks.

Godin tells the crowd that the story you are telling yourself, what you think you can’t do, and what you think your weaknesses are, are all invented.  According to Seth, “You already have what you need to get to the next level.”

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Stayed tuned for the rest of my inspirational takeaways from Inbound 2015. Hopefully they will inspire your marketing (and life), as they did me.

Financial Advisors: Making Sense of the SEC’s Third-Party Review Site Rules

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This post was authored by Marie Swift and originally appeared here on GuideVine.

Financial Advisors and the marketing consultants who specialize in working with them know that the SEC no-testimonials rule prohibits Registered Investment Advisers and Investment Adviser Representatives from using client endorsements in their advertising. But in April 2014, the SEC issued new guidelines on the use of social media and online communications, which opened the door to something new: the ability for Advisors share on their own websites and profile pages public comments about their services that are posted on independent websites (such as Yelp, Angie’s List, Wallet Hub, and GuideVine).

There are, of course, rules related to how the content from these third-party sites can be used on sites and profile pages the Advisory firm controls. Here’s how to think things through.

NO CHERRY PICKING

The Advisor must include both positive and negative reviews. This means there can be no cherry picking — the Advisor must publish all comments, unedited. Financial Advisors can’t just copy and paste the good ones and leave the bad ones behind on the third-party site.

The SEC guidance specifically says: “The investment Adviser may publish only the totality of the testimonials from an independent social-media site and may not highlight or give prominence to a subset of the testimonials.”

Advisors can also publish mathematical averages of the comments from third-party review sites.

The best way to benefit from the third-party review sites, according to many industry consultants, is to post the logo and a link to the page where the third-party reviews live.

In this writer’s opinion, it could be worth linking to the third-party review page and monitoring daily to ensure that one is comfortable with any new comments. If the comments on the third-party review site ever become a concern, Advisors have a couple choices — remove the logo and link to the third-party site or embrace the fact that studies show that companies that have a disproportionate number of marginal or negative reviews are seen as more credible and real.

CONSUMER TRUST BUILDING 

Stats from social commerce company Reevoo show that, while it may seem counterintuitive, the presence of a few bad reviews is actually a good thing.

“Reevoo found that people that seek out and read bad reviews convert better, as the very fact that they are paying such close attention means they are more likely to be in purchase mode,” says writer Vikki Chowney in an article on eConsultancy.com. “68% of consumers trust reviews more when they see both good and bad scores, while 30% suspect censorship or faked reviews when they don’t see any negative opinions on the page.”

The Edelman Trust Barometer shows that people now trust one another more than they do established institutions. People have always turned to their peers when making important decisions. Now, with social media’s impact on online search, it is easier than ever for those doing research online to find “a person like me” or “ a regular employee” — both of which are seen as more credible than a company executive or paid spokesperson.

For more insights on building trust online read this Marie Swift piece on Financial-Planning.com: Why Financial Advisors Can’t Ignore Social Media.

NO INFLUENCE ON THIRD-PARTY SITES

The SEC guidelines also state that Financial Advisors must not have the ability to influence comments from the general public on the third-party site. This means the Advisor must not try to influence how they’re portrayed on those third-party sites. The SEC is trying to ensure that potential clients get the full picture of an Advisory firm.

“Advisers would violate the SEC’s testimonial rule if they drafted or submitted comments to a third-party review site, paid others to submit favorable comments to the site or suppressed, edited or manipulated the order in which the commentary was presented,” said tenured industry writer Mark Schoeff, Jr. in this article published by Investment News, SEC Oks Use of Third Party Social Media Endorsements.

CONTENT NEUTRAL LINE-UP

Beyond just the “all or nothing” restriction covered in the “no cherry picking” section of this article, Registered Investment Advisers must keep in mind that they may only publish testimonials from an independent review website in a “content-neutral manner.” According to the SEC guidelines, this means chronological or alphabetical order. It is not okay to put the best rankings at the top and the worst rankings at the bottom.

This is one reason why this writer believes it is best to simply link to the third-party review site and then monitor the discussion threads on a daily basis.

BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU POST ON THIRD-PARTY SITES

What would you do if you saw this post on a third-party review site?

“Found Jake Advisor to be out of touch, unresponsive and arrogant.”

How about this one?

“I have known John Planner for many years. One of the nicest guys you will ever meet! He knows his business and will take GREAT care of you and your assets.”

 It is human nature to want to applaud the person posting the positive comment — but Financial Advisors should refrain from doing anything that might be construed as encouraging positive comments. So the best thing to do when a Financial Advisor sees a positive comment is to do nothing — at least not publically. It would be nice however to say, “thanks for your kind comments on xyz review site,” over a cup of coffee, while at the same time explaining why you can’t try to encourage positive endorsements online.

In the case of the negative comment above, it is human nature to want to defend oneself. As a marketing communications and reputation expert, this writer believes that it would be best if the Advisor in question posted something simple such as, “I’m sorry you feel that way. Please call me to discuss.”, if the third-party site allows responses. And leave it at that. Check with compliance first, of course, to make sure their interpretation of the SEC guidelines is in alignment with this reputational recommendation.

BOTTOM LINE

“This rule would appear to put Advisers in the clear regarding third-party review sites, such as Yelp, presuming that the Adviser really does not have any affiliation to the site, and cannot control the comments posted (e.g., by trying to delete negative comments while allowing positive ones to remain),” said Michael Kitces, director of research at Pinnacle Advisory Group, on his blog, Nerd’s Eye View.

Check with your company’s compliance department to learn more about internal policies and procedures and/or outside legal counsel to make sure all regulatory guidelines are being met at your firm. A recent report from McGladrey, LLC, a leading provider of assurance, tax and consulting services in the US, says that financial firms should be prepared for Heightened SEC Regulatory Focus. Smart Financial Advisors will be ready for questions and conducting themselves in close alignment to the SEC rules.