The Irony of Social Selling in the Digital Area

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Social selling in the digital area occurs when salespeople use social media to interact directly with prospects. It involves developing relationships by interacting with prospects on social platforms such as Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn. Social selling and digital marketing are different things, although they work well in tandem. Digital marketing focuses on sending out messages to many people, whereas social selling is focused on cultivating one-to-one relationships.

Social selling has been used long before the advent of digital platforms. Starting in the 1940’s and 1950’s, salespeople started building connections with their clients. They built these connections by taking prospects golfing, to the country club or to an exclusive event. By building a relationship, and highlighting common interests, you will increase the likelihood that a purchase will be made.

Social selling has made a comeback in recent years for two main reasons:

1)  Due to the connectivity brought about by advances in digital platforms, it is now easy to communicate with prospects using the internet.

2) Social selling is making a comeback because of changes in the way people buy products and services. Now, 60% of the buyer’s journey takes place before a salesperson is contacted. This means that before a prospect reaches out, they’ve already done most of their research which means a salesperson is less likely to be able to influence their knowledge.

How can digital channels create human connections?

One clear way that digital social selling parallels social selling of the past, is through the growth of digital connections. This mirrors the concept of growing your network, meeting people at the country club and industry events. This was the way social selling was originally completed.

A good salesperson needed to be part of the right social groups to get a meeting with a warm lead. To get your message across, you needed to know somebody in order to work your way into an organization. Simply getting your message in front of somebody who may be interested in purchasing your products or services was extremely difficult, expensive, and time-consuming.

Today, it is easier than ever before to make connections with people. There are many ways to find qualified leads, both digitally and in the physical world. Social media is leading the revival of social selling and is one of the most effective digital methods for generating leads.

Using social media to make connections

Social networks, such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat, are a clear indicator that social selling is back like never before. These platforms allow businesses to build connections with potential leads by following and engaging with them on the platform. This parallels the way in which salespeople network in the physical world. In the original wave of social selling, salespeople connected with potential leads by taking them to lunch or some other form of social interaction.

Social networks are more effective at creating these connections for a few reasons.

1. Social media websites have no cost to sign up.

This is a clear cost-savings because you can interact with potential leads at no expense.

2. Social media is a quick way to make a connection

In the original wave of social selling, an invitation to dinner, golf or some event was practically required to get in front of a lead. The prospect might not humor you if the offer does not seem worth the time. That constraint is no more, which takes a burden off company expense accounts.

On social networks, people provide a description of themselves along with their likes. You can also see members of their network. Depending on the platform, different information will be provided. On LinkedIn, for example, people will provide information about their current position, previous jobs, and their professional skill set. That is one of the reasons why B2B sales use LinkedIn to prospect clients. Depending on your niche, who you are prospecting, and what their interests are, you can use different social networks to target leads.

Ratings and Reviews: Connecting the World

Another way that modern social selling mirrors social selling of the past is the growth in popularity of customer reviews. It has never been easier to see what other people think about a business or their product. Websites like Yelp and Google+ have hundreds of millions of users. Yelp users post 26,380 reviews per minute. So, it is likely that your business has already been reviewed many, many times. Reviews are significant because 92% of consumers read online reviews in 2016, up from 2015.  These reviews are important because they can be prospect’s’ first impression of you.

The online review ecosystem reflects another aspect of social selling from the past. Word-of-mouth reviews used to be the only way for leads to get an unfiltered opinion of your business. There are several limitations of word-of-mouth reviews, including the inability to verify the truthfulness of the review. Another limitation is the fact that you must already know (or work hard to seek out) somebody who has done business with the company in question.

Online reviews have given consumers access to more information than ever before. While the truthfulness of reviews is still open to question, brands now have an opportunity to respond. The size of your personal network is no longer a factor in accessing reviews. This means that a potential lead can get opinions on your business from all different customers, regardless of their locations. While these reviews are done online, they are still done by real people and should be considered. There is a good chance your prospective customer will have seen the review.

So how can you combat bad reviews? This article does a great job of examining what to do and what not to do about bad customer reviews.

Content has become less complicated to produce

Another reason that social selling is making a comeback is because reality-based content and entertainment can be easily produced. Digital channels crave content. It’s the fuel that keeps the cycle running smoothly. Without quality, engaging content, digital channels would slow down to a crawl, due to a void of information. For business purposes, content can come in many forms, but for most industries, the content must be based in reality.

Reality-based entertainment and reality-based content have become much easier to produce thanks to improved digital tools. Thanks to a variety of web applications, every picture can look beautiful. Stock photos are high quality and available in droves to ensure engaging images can be added to your content. Video and audio have never been easier to produce. People can create any form of content they want. They no longer need the level of expertise required before technological advances made content creation more accessible.

Today, creating content has never been easier. With improvements in technologies such as cameras, monitors, and editing software, video has become prolific. 78% of people watch online videos every week, 55% watch every day. This form of media has become extremely important in today’s digital environment, partially because it is very engaging, partially because it is easy to create.

It has never been easier to produce content and get it out to the masses. Content allows you to share, comment and otherwise interact with prospects in the digital space by presenting a talking point. This content revolution is changing the way social selling takes place.

How can brands use digital social selling?

There has been an undeniable culture shift over the last decade, with social selling becoming a key linchpin for salespeople. This shift has lead to several brands wondering: “What do we do now?”

There are several key activities for brands to manage when implementing social selling in the digital area.

  • Creating content for your team to disseminate.

Content is one of the most important aspects of social selling. As a form of inbound marketing, social selling should involve building confidence through education. By educating prospects, they will grow to trust you, and when the time is ripe they will seek your business out.

  • Keep Conversations Local

Social selling is most effective when used on a local level. If salespeople have tools that allow them to geo-target their prospects, keeping the conversation local is much easier. These tools are available as part of many larger suites and are immensely valuable to salespeople. Another way to help target local leads is to have location-specific campaigns that speak to common pain-points of the local demographics.

By targeting locally and creating educational material for salespeople to use when social selling, it allows them to limit their conversations to the most qualified prospects possible. This will increase the ROI of your sales efforts by limiting the number of interactions your sales team has with cold leads.

Conclusion

It’s almost ironic that the digital area was once thought to be the domain of isolationist hermits who didn’t want human interaction. Now, it is the place where billions of people go to share information, review products, converse with businesses and make purchase decisions. The landscape has changed, and just like in the 1950’s, social selling is a key tool for any business.

Before the transformation of the digital landscape, golf trips and exclusive events dominated social selling. If you didn’t have a membership at the best local country club or tickets to a hockey game, you would have a very difficult time getting in front of a warm lead. Today, those barriers have become less important. All you need is a digital platform, informational material and the willingness to start a conversation. Social selling today mirrors social selling of the past in many ways and is a tactic that should be considered by financial service professionals.

Do you use social selling to generate leads for your financial service business? Is it still golf trips and hockey tickets or do you use digital platforms? What is your favorite way to use social selling techniques? Do you use Twitter or LinkedIn? If you do follow us on those platforms to hear more news about selling in the digital space!

The Human Side of Digital Engagement

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Over the last decade, digital engagement has become an integral part of any marketing strategy. As the internet has grown from an academic and military repository to the hub for commerce, engagement, and content, people have changed their expectations about online experiences.

In fact, expectations have changed so much that, according to Gartner, 85% of customer interactions are predicted to happen without human contact by 2020. If you are rushing to automate your processes, hold your horses. There is still a human side of digital engagement; one that is absolutely critical to the success of your customer engagement strategy.

Here are four ways that humans can influence your digital engagement efforts:

1. Customers expect human interaction as an option

Human interaction is still a very important part of any customer service and engagement strategy. While there are many instances in which a consumer would like an automated experience there are still many where human interaction is still needed. 83% of U.S. consumers still prefer talking to a human instead of resolving issues over digital channels.

Are consumers willing to pay more for help from a real person? It appears that for the most part, they are. According to the Financial Brand, 38.2% of consumers are willing to pay more and 37% of consumers do not have an opinion on the matter.

Consumers Willing to Pay for Help: Digital Engagement

This fact can be taken advantage of by offering various levels of service. Consider an advisor that offers access to robo-advice for a small fee, but no in-person time with the advisor themself. That advisor can attract one niche to their business by offering robo-advice as a low-cost option, aimed at a certain type of investors. That same advisor could market their “full-service” package to more affluent investors and charge a higher fee. The “full service” option could include personal, in-person advice from the advisor themself along with other “premium” features. This would allow the financial advisor to market their services to two different niches, all at different price points.

While digital channels are very important there still needs to be a way to offer human interaction to every customer who wants it. Some are even willing to pay for it.

The need for human interaction is especially true for complex issues:

2. Complexity: Associated with Human Interaction

A Forrester study about self-service found the following statistics:

  • Use of the help/FAQ pages on a company’s website for customer service increased from 67% in 2012 to 76% in 2014 while phone interactions have remained constant at a 73% usage rate.
  • Online chat adoption continues to rise – from 38% in 2009 to 43% in 2012 to 58% in 2014.
  • The use of communities and virtual agents jumped by over 10 percentage points each.

These statistics show that while self-service problem solving is still growing in popularity, the option to talk to a real person is still very important. Self-service solutions such as FAQs can only solve basic problems. A real person, either over the phone or through some digital communication channel, can suss out more complex problems and help implement solutions.

Some customers prefer to ask their questions over the phone. 27% of consumers prefer to ask commercial questions over the phone (pre-sale) and 35% of post-sale customers prefer to do the same.

Regardless of the communication channel customers want the option for a personal touch.

3. Consumers prefer human context inside a brand

In the Kurt Vonnegut novel, Player Piano (1951), the world was mostly automated, with only engineers and doctors remaining employed. Everything in the world is operated by robots except for restaurants and barbershops. Waiters and barbers were able to stay employed because the working elite felt that replacing them would make dinner and haircuts become too “impersonal”.

Even in a dystopian novel written far before the age of customer engagement, some level of human interaction is absolutely necessary. The same idea goes in business today. When your customer comes into your office, you should greet them as if they were an old friend. They should be able to get to know the people that are providing their financial services.

Reach out to your customers. Start a conversation with them. Answer their questions. Provide human context by mentioning something about employees, customers, partners or thought leaders. Show the customer that your brand lives in the same world that they do.

For more information on the benefits of personifying your brand, check out our article on brand personification.

4. Improving Customer Experience (CX)

Providing human interaction is a way to ensure a balanced engagement strategy. Take, for example, this chart by the Financial Brand  that takes a look at what banks think the biggest opportunities for CX improvements were over the past year:

Biggest opportunities for CX improvements in the next year in Digital Engagement

While improving websites was the #1 priority, employee development and call centre improvements are the next two distinct options.

This shows that while a digital presence is important, there are plenty of opportunities to improve the quality of human interactions in banking. Human interactions are very important to consider when planning customer experiences. Financial institutions realize that employees are one of their biggest assets and they wish to develop them even further. Employees are not digital but they are one of the most effective ways to supplement digital channels through human-to-human interaction.

According to Gallup, retail banking customers who are fully engaged bring 37% more annual revenue to their primary bank than actively disengaged customers. Just under a quarter of banks believe they can develop their employees to provide better experiences to their customers. Providing better experiences will increase customer engagement which will lead to more revenue for your business.

Conclusions

Humans play a critical part in digital engagement. People are not ready for a world in which there is no human interaction in business, in fact, the opposite may be true. Many people have had their fill of digital-only experiences and are looking for more human-to-human interaction. Some people want a combination of both. Regardless, you should ensure that you can offer human-to-human relationships to customers who want those experiences. From helping customers traverse complex situations, to dealing with complaints, to putting a smiling face on your brand, people can do a lot for your branding efforts. Your customers will have a better experience if a human is there to empathize with them while solving their problems. Banks and other financial service professionals have been putting forth the effort to bring higher quality interactions to their customers. 

Do you provide a human face to your digital engagement strategy? Let us know over on Twitter @VeridayHQ how human interaction has helped your customers get a better experience. Every brand can benefit from a little bit of humanization.

The Importance of Digital Marketing In Financial Services

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Fundamentals are important in anything you do. As Jim Rohn, author, motivational speaker and mentor to Tony Robbins, once said:

“Success is neither magical nor mysterious. Success is the natural consequence of consistently applying the basic fundamentals.”

Having great fundamentals are as important in digital marketing as they are in anything. The profession is constantly shifting to new places and adopting new technologies. Every now and then, it pays for marketers to reexamine their fundamentals.

The financial marketing landscape is quickly shifting to new, unforeseen territories. Some firms are implementing chatbots, artificial intelligence (AI) and other cutting-edge technology solutions. Others are still playing catch-up; designing websites, getting on social media and finally beginning to create digital content. The digital world is extremely competitive and you need to be prepared for it.

This article will discuss a few reasons why you need to get serious about the fundamentals of digital marketing.

1. The Great Wealth Transfer

Younger generations will be inheriting $30 Trillion from baby boomers over the next 30-40 years. Financial service firms, including advisors, brokers and banks, need to prepare to court these digital natives if they wish to continue managing the wealth currently held by baby boomers. This shift of wealth can be a never-before-seen opportunity for FinServ providers, or it can be the event that leads to the extinction of many members of the FinServ community. Advisors, brokers and other FinServ firms, who do not get on the digital bandwagon will lose their client base. They will be unable to attract younger clients, and as baby boomers begin to transfer their wealth, outdated FinServ providers will quickly become irrelevant.

If you cannot communicate in a way that speaks to younger audiences, you will be one of the FinServ providers who loses clients and capital quickly. The younger generations expect social interaction and digital communication, even with their FinServ providers. To gain the trust of generation X, Y and Z, you will need to be present digitally. Check out this article to learn more about marketing to millennials. 

Communicating in ways and places that speak to your audience is a key fundamental to digital marketing. Consider what your messaging is, and how it speaks to your target audience. Can you easily be reached online? Is your website engaging and able to draw people in? These are key factors to consider when rexamining your digital marketing fundamentals.

2. Young Adults Using Social Media

FinServ providers aren’t going to have to wait very long to feel the younger generation’s impact on their business. Do you actively target millennials? They are far more likely than their parents to pick their FinServ provider through internet research and social media. Research by McKinsey showed that two thirds of the buyer’s journey touch points in finance are consumer-driven. The consumer-driven touch points include word-of-mouth (sometimes taking place on social media), online research (using a search engine to find information) and customer reviews (both offline and on websites such as Yelp).

These younger generations, such as millennials, basically require you to have a high-quality website in order to gain their trust. If FinServ providers don’t have a strong digital marketing presence, they risk becoming irrelevant. Digital marketing includes being present (and active) on social media, having a quality website and communicating with prospects via the channel(s) of their choice.

Remember, there are 2.3 billion people using social media, you should be one of them. Engaging and sharing quality content on social media is an excellent way to attract clients. Social media use has become a fundamental piece of the digital marketing equation. Information gets spread online through social media. Every generation uses at least one social network en masse. Not having a strong social media presence to share and spread content, news and as a touch point for communication is a huge mistake in digital marketing. Strong use of social media is a fundamental of digital marketing.

3. Baby-Boomers Love Social Media Too

Baby Boomers love Facebook. They represent about half of Facebook’s user base, and more than half of adults over 50 use some form of social media. You might not be aware of that fact, but the last decade has seen a major digital transformation. Everybody, from the youngest consumers, to the oldest grandparents are now active on social media and regularly use the internet.

The gap between the average person’s expectations for technology options, and what technology options FinServ firms provide is very, very wide. This gap has always existed. Financial service providers are slow to react to new technology. Compared with other industries, technology leaders in FinServ are behind the 8-ball. Just over two thirds of CEO’s in the financial sector are worried that they are too slow adopting technology.

If you want to grow your client base using digital marketing, social media is a fundamental aspect. Everybody uses it, and it has become a primary source of information for a large number of consumers. There are some aspects of the digital transformation that are often poorly implemented due to poor fundamentals.

So, what are some of the reasons financial service providers are so slow reacting to the digital transformation?

Compliance

The main reason financial service firms are so slow on the adoption of digital marketing is compliance issues. FINRA has guidelines for oversight of content, but many leaders are worried about compliance issues involved with the adoption of new technology. They are worried that confidential information can be stolen, and that the new technology will not aid in oversight. Another worry is that the solution won’t make a meaningful impact on compliance timelines. Compliance is a very big deal in FinServ. However, that does not mean you should be gun-shy about adopting digital marketing tools and tactics, especially when there are marketing and compliance solutions built especially for financial institutions.

Digital marketing is essentially a requirement for growing any business these days, therefore you need to have your compliance requirements sorted out before beginning. There are many solutions to help with this process (such as Digital Agent). Compliance is such an essential, fundamental aspect of digital marketing that it needs to be dealt with as soon as possible. Once you have a compliance system in place, you can begin content marketing, using social media, and engaging with customers online, without fear of breaking an industry regulation.

Leadership Disconnect

Another reason why FinServ firms might not adopt digital marketing practices or invest in technologies, is because their leaders do not know of their existence. Older people might not realize that there are many, many demographics who spend a large amount of time on social media platforms, simply because they don’t use them. They justify this anti-technology rhetoric by saying all of their clients are the same age as they are, that everyone is like them. This allows them to (wrongly) sit in their own bubble and not have to face change.

These leaders don’t realize that every generation is on social media, every generation searches for business online. They will severely slow down efforts to modernize, losing clients in the process because the leader doesn’t cater to them. To summarize, leaders who (for whatever reason), may not understand the ubiquity of technology across all industries. As a marketer, you might need to advocate for the adoption of even the most widespread technologies.

To be successful at digital marketing, your business must have full buy-in from leadeship. It is a digital marketing fundamental and without it, your efforts will fail. Digital marketing takes a unified, agile approach to be successful, something that cannot happen without a connected leadership team, working hard to make things work.

Legacy Systems

One reason that FinServ is behind on adopting digital marketing technologies is that very few of the leaders realize the pressing need to change. Very few (if any) leaders in FinServ rise out of the marketing department. Most leaders do not realize the extent to which their business is falling behind on technology adoption in the marketing department. The average leader in financial services simply struggles to see the value in adopting new technologies that may speed up certain processes.

It’s not that leaders do not wish to stay up-to-date with marketing technologies, but due to expensive legacy systems and ingrained processes, they simply can’t. There are simply too many obstacles blocking the path to change. These obstacles, along with leadership who are somewhat disconnected with the reality of the situation, are the reasons that FinServ providers are falling behind on technology adoption.

Having legacy systems slow you down can be annoying, it can even be quite harmful to your business. It is not breaking any fundamental principles of digital marketing, but can be a symptom of having disconnected leadership. To be successful at digital marketing, you will need to be flexible, you will need to be able to adopt new practices and technologies as they gain popularity. A fundamental aspect of digital marketing is staying on top of current trends. If legacy systems are preventing you from doing that, something must change.

Inadequate Flexibility

Smaller, or independent firms often have a much easier time reacting to technology trends. Their flexibility allows them to control compliance issues in-house, not having to communicate with another department or location. They can motivate change internally. The fact that these firms are less reliant on legacy systems and procedures make them less resistant to change.

Many digital marketing technology solutions do not carry with them a significant up-front cost, especially compared to a decade ago. For this reason, smaller firms are at no disadvantage compared to giant institutions with legacy systems. The larger your organization is, the slower the compliance process can be. There is more material flowing through the compliance department, slowing everything down. The more reliant on legacy systems an organization is, the slower the organization will be to adopt in new technologies. If you cannot stay up to date on the adoption of technologies, it will be very difficult to succeed in digital marketing.

If you have those legacy systems or procedures, don’t worry too much. With proper leadership, willingness to change, and an investment in technology, you can easily become a leader in digital transformation in the FinServ industry. 

Think back to your marketing fundamentals. Communication is a key component, another is delivery of your message where it will be received by the intended audience. Ensure that you are constantly working on getting the basics right, or else, as the digital age progresses, you will lose clients and your practice may dry up. It is important to stay modern, ensure your digital marketing efforts have a basis in strong fundamentals.

How are you preparing for the great transfer of wealth to millennials? Is anything holding you back from adopting technology? What do you think the major reason that FinServ hasn’t adopted these technologies sooner? 

What Does Your Branding Communicate About Your Firm?

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This post was authored by Claire Akin and originally appeared here on GuideVine.

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How important is branding in your buying decisions? The last time you purchased a car, did you select your choice based on fuel economy, insurance costs, and price? Or did you buy your car based on how it made you feel? Our personal brand is no different; it’s based on the emotional response we elicit in our clients and prospects.

For all products, including smartphones and automobiles, people buy personality, not the product or service. But in financial services, that is doubly true. People hire you because they like and trust you, so they believe you’ll do a good job taking care of their money.

Your Branding: Who You Are, Not What You Do

One of the most common mistakes advisors make in their personal branding is to emphasize that they’re the best at what they do. Unfortunately, people don’t care if you think you’re the best money manager in the country. People care about who you are, so your branding needs to evoke your values and personality.

The idea is to embody a core value that people think of when they think of you. In personal branding expert Tim O’Brien’s book, “The Power of Personal Branding,” he explains that your brand should be the singular and unambiguous word that comes to mind when people think of you. If your photo was in the dictionary, which word would it be next to?

Reliable?

Trustworthy?

Caring?

A good listener?

I work with an advisor who exclusively serves anesthesiologists and helps them with not only personal financial planning, but also running their practices. He’s known throughout the anesthesiology industry as the advisor to see. Is it because he knows the industry better than anyone else? Or because he creates the best financial strategies for anesthesiologists? Perhaps. But I suspect the real reason anesthesiologists flock to him is because his wife is also an anesthesiologist. When they describe him to others, they lead with “He understands us.”

Ask Your Clients

When I conduct Client Satisfaction Surveys on behalf of advisors, I ask their clients “Why did you choose to work with this advisor, instead of another advisor?” This usually lends some very insightful information. Then, we ask, “What one word or phrase describes your advisor.” This becomes their personal brand. The feedback is always interesting.

One advisor who focuses on helping women who are going through a divorce has always led with his wealth management services through his marketing. After reviewing his client feedback, we realized the word that came up over and over was “advocate.” Women hired him because they wanted an advocate on their side during the difficult decisions they were making during the divorce and while investing their settlement assets. We adjusted his marketing to reflect this important attribute.

What’s Your Personal Brand?

What is the one thing that you do better than anyone else? It may be financial planning, creating portfolios, or choosing investments. But what is the one thing you do better than anyone else that really matters to your clients? It may be educating them about the options available to them, explaining complex concepts in a way they understand, or providing an understanding ear when they’re going through a difficult time.

Combine that quality with who you serve best and you have your personal brand. Think about not only the type of clients you work with most often today, but who you most enjoy working with. These are your ideal clients. Consider the folks who you are best suited to help and personally like serving.

One advisor I was speaking with was surprised when he answered this question. He revealed, “To tell you the truth, the clients I really like working with just happen to fall into two groups. The first are LGBT couples and the second are Jewish.” He was surprised because he isn’t LGBT or Jewish. But his clients cited that they work with him because he’s “approachable,” “friendly,” and “warm.” In his area of the country, there can be hostility towards both communities and they value his caring and friendly approach. He has become known as the go-to personal for both groups within his community.

Help Others Refer You

By embracing a concrete personal brand, you help your clients, your network, and even those who don’t buy to refer you business. Financial advisors are a dime a dozen, so you’ve got to give people a memorable way to explain who you are.

If you think your clients refer you to their friends and coworkers by explaining, “He’s an independent, fee-based, fiduciary wealth manager,” you’re wrong. You need to give people a tangible, emotionally-driven way to introduce yourself to others. Here are some examples:

  • Doug helps business owners pursue true wealth
  • Tom does faith-based financial planning for families
  • Linda helps widows make their money last for the rest of their lives
  • Rick helps university faculty make the most of their benefits package
  • Larry helps dentists catch up for retirement in a hurry

What’s your hook? Who do you serve and how do you help them? That’s your personal brand. Once you identify your personal brand, your work isn’t done — it has just begun. Embrace your brand and begin working to be the go-to person for that need.

Consider which skills and resources you need to add to be even more exceptional within this niche. Develop your service and offerings around your target group of clients. Join groups and write content for your specific area of specialization. But most importantly, introduce yourself consistently to everyone using your personal brand.

Take The Pressure Off Networking

One added bonus to having a distinct personal brand is that it takes the pressure off networking and asking for referrals. Who hasn’t felt uncomfortable when they meet someone socially who is obviously trying to network new business? Whether it’s a financial advisor or a mortgage broker or a real estate agent, we have all clammed up when someone we meet is sizing us up as a prospect.

Having a distinct personal brand relieves the pressure of networking because people understand exactly what you do and who you serve. When you meet someone socially and explain, “I help high-capacity donors make tax-efficient investments,” they no longer feel like a target. They are free to ask questions and naturally think of their friends who belong to the group that you serve as people you may be able to help.

Embrace your personal brand and try it out to see how it feels. I guarantee it will make networking, finding referrals, and bringing on new ideal clients much more natural.

Digital Marketing (In Finance) Without Blowing Your Budget

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As a financial advisor, do you sometimes struggle to find potential clients? Are referrals not bringing you the same quality of business as they used to? Eventually, your practice may grow beyond your network, meaning you may need to attract clients from the outside.

It’s time to start marketing your practice online (if you aren’t already)! There are many ways to get your marketing efforts started. You may be thinking of putting a banner ad on the front page of the Financial Times, but after looking at the price, you realize that is a lot of money for one Ad…. It’s important to get a good ROI on your marketing efforts, especially if you don’t have the mountain of capital the big banks have.

So, how can you have a successful financial digital marketing plan while staying on a budget? Here are 6 ways you can use digital marketing to grow your brand and increase your leads, without breaking the bank.

1. Create High Quality Content

One way you can get the word out about your advisory business is by producing and distributing high-quality content. Use your expertise as a marketing tool. Giving out small snippets of advice about a variety of overarching topics that will interest your potential audience, for free. Education is a key marketing tool in 2017. Educate your followers, with the goal of establishing yourself as a thought leader among financial advisors.

Now, creating high-quality content can be time consuming; writing a blog post, webinar, ebook or some other form of content takes time. You can spend a lot of time writing or producing other forms of content (audio, video, interpretive dance (please don’t try this, it doesn’t work very well when selling financial advice)) but besides the time invested, it has low costs and can generate a high ROI. There is another benefit of creating high-quality, unique content. Search engines favor high-quality sources that add value to the reader. Blogging is an effective way to rank higher in search results because they are continuously updated with fresh, useful content. As we mentioned in a previous article:

“Search engines love websites that are constantly being updated with unique and fresh content.  When Google spiders come to audit your site, they report back whether your website is of high quality (or not) as a result of whether it is constantly updated with new, unique, and quality content.”

Well-written, unique content is seen as a high-quality source, and will help you rank higher in search results. This will lead to more traffic to your website, at no additional cost.

Remember, content marketing costs less than outbound marketing, but generates up to 3 times the number of leads. This is done by producing and distributing high-quality content on your website, blog or other digital properties.

2. Email Marketing

In today’s digital age, email marketing is one of the most effective forms of marketing in terms of ROI. A study by Campaign Monitor found that for every $1 spent, email gives back a whopping $38 in ROI, while also offering the broadest reach. Email marketing is subject to regulations, such as CASL in Canada, meaning that everyone has to sign up for your newsletter individually. This can mean that building a respectable email list can take some time. Even with the new laws and regulations, email marketing is extremely effective.

Some key aspects of email marketing are: having an eye-catching email template, on-topic subject lines, an interested audience (email list) and a personalized feel for the reader. Remember, people get hundreds (thousands? millions?) of emails per week. If value isn’t provided in your newsletters they will unsubscribe. Nobody wants their time wasted. A piece of advice: spend some time making your email look and feel perfect, and making sure it adds value to the reader. It will be worth it. The ROI of email marketing is astronomical, you will regret not putting the extra effort in.

One method you could use to create interesting emails, is to reuse content from other inbound marketing efforts. A newsletter is a great place to share your blog posts, articles, or podcasts for a second time.

3. Location Targeting

Most people want to do their shopping, errands, and business conveniently, near their location. As they say in real estate: location, location, location.  It matters, especially when it comes to digital marketing. According to Hubspot, 72% of consumers who did a local search visited a store within five miles. Local searches also lead 50% of mobile visitors to visit stores within one day. These statistics are very telling and significant, and should be taken into account when crafting your digital marketing strategy.

Use location data to show the audience things such as: where you’re located in relation to them, your contact info, business reviews, and more. To be able to properly target locally, you should put your business on “Google My Business”. It is a service by Google that allows companies to appear in search results filtered by location. It allows people to see where you are located (on a map) when they Google you. To learn more about Google My Business, check out our article on it here.

People, especially those on mobile devices, are increasingly willing to share information about their location with you. They do this thinking that by providing more information they will be provided with a more personalized, relevant experience using the website. Location targeting is quite cheap and easy to implement but can be scaled up to deliver more expensive, complex solutions, such as sending content and promotional material to your audience, depending on their location.

4. Great Landing Pages

Landing pages are an extremely cheap, yet effective way to increase your number of leads and get the most out of your digital marketing efforts. Any solution you can use to host your website will have an option to create new pages. This means you can (and should) have a personalized landing page for every campaign you are running. Having dedicated landing pages will ensure your audience is only presented with information (and a call-to-action) that is relevant to the reason they are visiting your website in the first place.

When you send someone directly to your homepage, (or blog page, or any page with information) they may feel overwhelmed and unsure where to navigate to next. Create landing pages geared towards an audience coming from a specific source, stripping out all non-essential features and focusing your message on what is relevant to that audience. People can recognize a well-designed website and they WILL remember it, and hopefully, return.  Remember, a professional website is the difference between a client calling you, or a client calling your biggest competitor. Landing pages are easy to create, will improve your user’s experience will help improve your ROI (seeing as they don’t cost anything to create except time).

It will be many people’s first (and only) impression of you. According to Hubspot, 55% of people spend 15 seconds or less on your website.

5. Effective Calls-To-Action

Having an effective call-to-action (CTA) on your digital property is one of the most important (and inexpensive) ways to generate ROI using digital marketing. A CTA is a prompt to get the audience to complete a specific action, a goal at the heart of any digital marketing strategy.

If you don’t ask people to do something, they won’t do it. That’s a fact of life. Calls to action motivate people to complete actions that can help you meet their needs.

Take for example, the call-to-action from Netflix below. The CTA is very clear: “Join Free for a Month”. It is nearly impossible to miss that giant red button. It screams for attention. The messaging is also very clear: “Watch anywhere. Cancel anytime.” They present their full value proposition within the CTA (and within the first few seconds of arriving on their site).

Financial Digital Marketing on a Budget: CTA, Netflix

As an advisor, you should have at least one call-to-action on your website. You might not be able to entice people with an offer as tempting as Netflix, (who can pass up free movies for a month?), but there are other options for your industry. This could be a unique and valuable eBook, offering them insights and advice related to your expertise. You could also offer a “Free Consultation” and tempt them with a clear value proposition such as: “Discover the reality of your financial situation.” “Subscribe to my blog”, or “Contact Us” are other examples.  Any action you want your prospect to take can be encouraged with a well placed, persuasive CTA.

Whatever you choose, ensure your CTA is motivating and actionable. CTAs don’t inherently come with any additional costs. They can be as simple or as complex as needed. Whatever solution you use to host your website, it should have an easy way to add a call-to-action.

6. Paid Search

Another way to generate strong ROI in financial digital marketing is through Search Engine Marketing (SEM). SEM involves using paid search ads to ensure that your offerings are the top results for a particular search topic. The issue with SEM is that some terms, especially financial service keywords, can be extremely expensive. In fact, the most expensive keywords, in general, are related to finance and legal services. For example, “insurance”, “attorney” and “mortgage” are the top 3 most expensive keywords.

To save money and generate a better ROI, you can use paid search to creatively target local customers. What’s the point in having someone located in Moscow find your website via search if you’re located in Moose Jaw? They won’t be interested in a financial service provider that they can’t meet in person. To avoid targeting too broad of a geographical range, use long-tail keywords such as “Financial Advisor in Moose Jaw”.

To gain the most value from SEM, use lesser known keywords and geographic targeting. Ensure people are directed to a page that has relevant information that is related to the search topic, with compelling calls-to-action.

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So, what did you think of these 6 methods to raise your financial digital marketing ROI (with little to no budget)? Do you find any of these methods effective? Which ones do you use? Let us know on Twitter @VeridayHQ.

Advisors: Get to Know Evergreen Content

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You’re a Financial Advisor, looking to use content marketing to expand your client base. You’re a busy person, always in a meeting, or at least on your way to one. You are already working more hours per week than you’d like to. You aren’t able to spend hours a day writing or producing new content for your marketing efforts. There simply is not enough time.

Content marketing can be difficult at times. You spend hours creating the perfect piece of content. You’re hoping it will provide value to your target audience; entertaining and educating them using their favorite form of media. The downside of content marketing: you spend hours creating this content and it doesn’t get seen by as many people as you were hoping.

I’ve been there. We’ve all been there. I would spend hours (weeks) writing the perfect essay, crafting the perfect presentation. I would create great work but I always felt somewhat disappointed, knowing that only a few people would ever see my work (and care). The feeling is frustrating. Today, I’m here to tell you that you never need to feel that way as a content marketer. There are methods of creating content that allow you to use and reuse content in order to get the most mileage out of your content efforts.

I’m here to introduce you to the best type of content for reuse and social sharing. It is called “evergreen” content. It will save you time and energy creating content that becomes outdated once the market or trend shifts, or the regulatory landscape changes. Evergreen content has the longest lifespan of content, generating traffic and leads for a very long time after it is published.  This type of content is called “evergreen” because, like a coniferous tree, it is not beholden to the seasons. Evergreen content stays “green” all year round, having nothing to do with current events or current industry landscapes. It will be useful to a reader whenever they come across it, whether tomorrow or a couple of years from now.

Evergreen content can come from any asset you create for any purpose. Creativity is the only hindrance. Do you have a pitch book? Turn it into a series of blog posts. You are an expert. Use your experience and knowledge to benefit the people consuming your content (and in turn, help you become a thought leader). Some examples of evergreen content for financial advisors could be: 

  1. How to Start a Retirement Plan
  2. 10 Ways to Become Financially Independent
  3. Frequently Asked Questions About (Insert product/service/offering here)
  4. Interview with (member of your team, influencer, industry expert, really anyone)
  5. 10 Reasons Why You Need an Advisor to Manage your Retirement Fund

Really any “How-to”, List, FAQ, Interview, or case study that does not revolve around the current industry landscape can be considered evergreen content. It can either be repurposed material or brand new content.

Whether you realize it or not, you already have plenty of starting points for creating evergreen content. Your pitch book, training materials and other existing documents in your business (that does not contain confidential or proprietary information) can be easily transformed into a piece of content to share. You can explain why your mission statement is the way it is, an explanation of various types of investments, advice columns, what you have helped others accomplish, or any other subject in which you have expertise.

You don’t need to stay on top of industry news or events for those type of articles. Simply create a version of your material that visitors to your website can consume in an easy way. The material should help them learn more about you, your business, or a topic that might affect them. Any subject which could establish you as a thought leader and will still be relevant in a few years is fair game. It is commonly considered best practice to update your articles as regulations or industry landscapes change. This will ensure that the information you are providing is always up-to-date and accurate.

Evergreen content remains fresh over time. It can be reused, shared repeatedly on social media and repurposed into another format. It is an extremely valuable tool to grow your reach and influence without spending an unnatural amount of effort.

One important tip to consider when creating and sharing your evergreen content is:

Update the content when new information becomes available!

Keeping your content fresh will ensure that someone viewing the piece will know that your business is up to date. Without a modern website you will appear to be “behind the times”. This will lead to some consumers thinking you are an outdated relic of an older time and taking their business elsewhere.

If you don’t believe having a website is critically important please check out the following articles:

7 Things People Hate About Your Website
Advisors: Why just having a Website isn’t enough
How Financial Advisors can use Content Marketing to Boost Website Traffic

Do you create evergreen content for your marketing efforts? Do you find evergreen content generates a high-level of engagement? Is timely information more effective for your blog or website? Let us know over on Twitter @VeridayHQ.

The Three Biggest Marketing Mistakes Advisors Make

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This post was authored by Claire Akin and originally appeared here on GuideVine.

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Marketing financial advisory services can be complex and frustrating. Advisors today are confused because what worked in the past often doesn’t work anymore. Additionally, many have spent thousands on marketing mistakes that didn’t pay off and are wary of new approaches. But without spending on effective marketing campaigns, your business will certainly have a difficult time growing.

Yet, many advisors become paralyzed by their marketing efforts. They aim to get a market update or newsletter out, but after several rounds of edits, the project falls by the wayside. Their old website is an embarrassment but a website overhaul seems too overwhelming. They know they need to update their marketing but aren’t sure where to start. Sound familiar? Here are the three biggest marketing mistakes advisors should avoid.

1. Being a Perfectionist

Why is it that some advisors take weeks to create a new website and some take years? Does the quality of the website reflect the struggle and time spent? Rarely. Top advisors let go of perfectionism in favor of execution. This doesn’t mean their marketing results are sub par, in fact their marketing is much more effective because they deploy more engaging content and ideas on a regular basis.

Top advisors know that their marketing is always going to be a work in progress. They update their branding, website, and content every few years, so there is less pressure to reach perfection with each iteration. They’re able to get blog posts, videos, and advertisements out quickly to meet deadlines and keep their marketing on schedule.

As a result, their communications are nimble and they can afford to be timely with their marketing. When the stock market goes down or a big news story breaks, they can quickly release a marketing campaign to take advantage of the event. They stay top of mind with their network and centers of influence because they put out solid content on a regular basis.

On the other hand, perfectionist advisors conduct painful rounds of edits to each piece of content, including too many team members in the process. They decrease their posting frequency and kill the enjoyment of the process.

What perfectionists don’t realize is that most readers don’t care about a completely polished post. Your clients and prospects read your blog because they want to hear your thoughts and opinions on a topic. Blogs are a place to share ideas, a living breathing conversation, not a scientific journal. Advisors who are growing their business stick to a schedule and get their ideas out, no matter what.

2. Not Asking for Help

The most successful advisors run various marketing campaigns simultaneously and have someone else orchestrate their marketing calendar. They employ ghostwriters and outsource creation of their marketing content and ads. While each piece is based on their insights, opinions, and philosophies, they don’t create every blog post, whitepaper, or video script from scratch.

Marketing is typically based on a different skillset than financial planning. Top advisors understand that marketing consultants offer creative and technical skills that advisors rarely possess. By outsourcing to a qualified expert, you can save time, avoid costly mistakes, and take advantage of proven ideas with your marketing efforts.

Especially when it comes to the intersection of technology and marketing, like using your email marketing software or adding technical features to your website, it pays to outsource to an expert. Once you find a marketing pro you can rely on, you’ll be surprised at how much you can get done in a hurry.

3. Not Embracing Technology

Marketing today is one part technical and one part creative. Because many marketing campaigns take place in the digital world, technology is critical to creating and tracking your efforts. From your website to email marketing to social media, it’s important to use top technologies that can make your marketing more effective and save you time.

Technology investments result in more efficient and productive business models and make finding new clients easier. You would never attempt to run a marathon without food and water, yet trying to grow your business without fuelling your technology engines yields the same painful result. Plan to invest in your marketing technology and make updates as better solutions become available.

How to Move Forward

Unfortunately, there’s no step-by-step playbook for marketing your business in today’s digital world. Your most effective marketing plan will depend on your business, the specific demographic you’re trying to reach, as well as your personality and branding. But the confusion and complexity of marketing is no excuse for inaction.

Understand that your marketing will always be a work in progress. Make a commitment to create and stick to a marketing calendar, then track what efforts work best so you can do more of them in the future. Don’t take your marketing too seriously and remember that people want to hear from you, so enjoy the process and share your unique opinions and insights.

Three Digital Transformation Lessons Financial Services Can Learn From Other Industries

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This post was authored by Christine Reyes and originally appeared here on Liferay.com


It’s no secret that digital transformation is a necessity for long-term, traditional players in business, if they want to stay relevant to consumers. In a recent study of financial service leaders, 49% of respondents stated they were roughly halfway through digital transformation, and an additional 37% were in early stages. The fact that so many leaders are making inroads in digital innovation is a good sign for financial services. It means that they’re paying attention and preparing for any coming disruption.

However, being “roughly halfway” through digital transformation means that FSI still has a long way to go. The numbers around customer experience improvement efforts hint at some of the remaining obstacles in transformation. Of those surveyed, 55% are currently working on coordinating their customer experience across channels, and 36% are gearing up to begin this work.

This means that, except for a few leaders and laggards, financial services are in the middle of redesigning their customer experience or about to start. In order to sustain this great momentum and not get stuck, FSI should look to examples from other industries that are farther along in the transformation process.

Here are three lessons from the retail and food industries to help financial services carry digital innovation into customer experience.

Three Digital Transformation Lessons Financial Services Can Learn From Other Industries

Lesson One: Pay attention to micro-moments

Google has identified different kinds of micro-moments, which it defines as “moments that decisions are made and preferences are shaped.” One fun example of this from the food industry is Taco Bell’s TacoBot. It integrates with Slack so that you can order food through an instant message. Since Slack is primarily used as a work tool, this is an innovative way to capture the moments when hunger is setting in during the work day.

Or take, for example, what Google calls I-want-to-know and I-want-to-go moments. Consumers are searching for information on their mobile phones the moment a question occurs to them, and searches that include “near me” have doubled in the past year. Banks could take advantage of this through mobile apps that use geo-location to let customers know that they are nearby and available to help with any financial questions they have.

Lesson Two: Find technology that makes brick and mortar stand out

With the rapid rise of IoT gadgets and VR technology, retail companies have to be brutal about which digital trends are worth pursuing and which will fade away. The point of coordinating customer experience across digital and physical environments is to “help the physical, brick and mortar, three-dimensional retail environment distinguish itself from an online experience,” according to a recent article on Forbes. Currently, consumers still depend on in-person interactions for many of their finance needs. Financial services companies need to establish processes for evaluating technology that enable them to both boost their digital channels, as well as redesign their physical locations so that all touchpoints are seamless, easy to use and valuable for their customers.

Lesson Three: Culture is hard to change

People don’t like it when things change. In 2011, JCPenney launched a digital initiative that failed spectacularly, leading some to conclude that its digital strategy was flawed. But when you look at the department store today, they’ve implemented many of the digital initiatives that were attempted five years ago. This suggests that the obstacles they faced were about people and culture, not technology or strategy. See this recent interview with Lance Thornswood, the Senior Director of JCPenney’s omnichannel digital platform. He states that, even when initiatives were successful, trying to create a new work culture “pushed people so outside their comfort zones that the natural tendency was to snap back to the old ways.” He goes on to say that seeking consensus within the company leads to risk-aversion and stops innovation in its tracks. Instead, executives should empower their employees to pursue new ideas that they really believe in. This creates a more optimistic culture that doesn’t condition employees to say “no” to risk. Financial service leaders need to be aware of the resistance to change within their own companies and find ways to guide their employees through the transition.

Final Takeaway

There’s one more thing that financial service leaders can take from the final JCPenney example: it’s not too late to change. Even if your company is stalled on digital transformation and customer experience improvement, it might not be too late to recover. It will take time and coordination across your organization, but hopefully these lessons from those who’ve been there will inspire you to keep pressing forward.

Outbound Vs. Inbound Marketing for Financial Advisors

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Marketing is a necessary task for any business.  However, there are seemingly infinite ways to go about it given the current digital landscape. You might find yourself wondering, “how should I go about marketing my Advisory business?

Referrals used to be the bread and butter marketing tool to spread the word about your financial service offerings. Do a good job for one client, they tell two friends or family members and boom, off to the races. Today that method, while still sometimes effective, can’t be leaned on as heavily as before due to the many factors and channels that consumers are using to make decisions in today’s digital world.

So, what should you do? Plaster your name all over local benches? Take out ads in the paper? Make a commercial? Use one of the many digital marketing channels available at your disposal? How should you go about getting the word out about your business?

In this article, I will discuss two contrasting methods of marketing that will get your name out there; who the audience for each is, how the message will get in front of the audience and how the audience will likely respond to each message, as well as how that affects your business.

Outbound VS. Inbound Marketing

It’s a simple question that can confuse and confound those outside the marketing department. In reality, it simply refers to traditional marketing methods, such as broadcasting, print, direct mail and telemarketing. Everyone has been exposed to these methods, either through an ad on TV, fliers stuffed in your mailbox, or annoying phone calls while you’re eating dinner.

Why do we call traditional marketing “Outbound”? The term was intended to mirror “Inbound Marketing”, which is the process of tailoring marketing efforts to attract qualified prospects to your business and giving them an experience that turns them into promoters of your brand. Major techniques in inbound marketing are content marketing, social media marketing and search engine optimization (SEO). The major difference between inbound and outbound marketing is that inbound marketing is generally targeted at consumers who are already interested or have an awareness, in some way or another. Outbound marketing is less targeted and casts its net on a wide group of people in an attempt to get them interested. “Outbound” marketing is sometimes referred to as “interruption” marketing because whatever people are doing (watching a TV show, reading the paper, watching the road while driving) is interrupted by the marketing message (commercial, a full-page ad in the paper, billboards).

Why Inbound Marketing Works

Inbound Marketing will continue to be effective in 2017 for a plethora of reasons; from the fact it can effectively target specific segments of the demographics, to the value it brings to potential customers pre-purchase, to the convenience and cost savings for the company.

Inbound marketing costs 62% less than a traditional marketing campaign and generates 3 times the traffic of a traditional (outbound) marketing campaign. It makes sense though, writing a blog post or a few Tweets is far less expensive than purchasing ad space. A domain name costs only a small amount per year and the long-term costs associated with maintaining social media feeds, a blog, website or other assets that are common in inbound marketing are quite low compared with various forms of advertising. Even advertisements online (Google Adwords for example) would cost far less than TV ad time.

The lower costs, and the agility of inbound marketing means that you may personalize the message to its target market to a near infinite extent. For example writing a blog post about how investing would work in the Harry Potter universe (to attract wizards and fans of wizardry), or what Batman’s portfolio would look like (to attract Gotham billionaire Bruce Wayne) at very little cost and in very little time compared to traditional forms of marketing. Inbound marketing allows hyper-targeting, tailoring your message to a specific audience in a way that will feel personal and convey that you can speak to and meet their specific needs and challenges.

Convincing people to trust you with their assets is hard. No matter what medium you use. Selling your financial service to people online, and showing them that you can meet their needs and benefit them is even harder. While inbound marketing generally costs less than outbound marketing, the challenge of appearing to be a legitimate solution to someone’s problem can be much more difficult online.

By sending a hyper-specific message to somebody who already recognizes that they have the need for a specific financial service, inbound marketing generally ensures that all marketing efforts are put in front of people who will actually consider your message, increasing your chances of attracting an MVP customer that can help grow your business.

So why is outbound marketing dying?

There are many reasons why outbound marketing is losing its lustre, from it’s interruptive nature to the slow, inflexible, and often costly process of creating an outbound campaign.

A commercial break in the middle of your favorite TV show, an unexpected cold-call (which always seem to be at the most inconvenient time), spam mail with offers you aren’t interested in coming into your home and bringing clutter with it. People are growing tired of the interruptions and will do what is needed to avoid the interruptions.

Over 200 million people worldwide use ad-blockers when browsing the internet, which renders banner, sidebar and pop-up ads ineffective for a large part of the target audience. The trend of blocking ads is not limited to browsing the internet. More and more people are using PVR’s or services like Netflix, Shomi or Hulu to avoid watching TV ads. Outbound marketing has annoyed people into avoiding as many ads as they can.

Another issue with outbound marketing is the fact that these measures are often slow and inflexible. TV commercials, print ads in major publications, and billboards all take significant time to develop and arrange for them to be released to the public. This means that it is very difficult (and expensive) to have an ad that is current and based off what prospective clients want. Inbound marketing efforts such as Social media, content marketing and SEO are much more agile, meaning campaigns and marketing efforts can be real-time and relevant, with more flexibility and timeliness, all at a much lower cost.

In addition to the difficulties mentioned above, there are issues in outbound marketing involving putting your message in front of the appropriate target at a reasonable price. There are still a few mediums with high viewership for a specific market segment (such as ESPN for sports fans) but many segments do not have such an outlet. This means that to market your product to your target market you must cast a wider net, perhaps by making a commercial and playing it during a show with massive viewership, hoping that some of your target market is watching. These efforts are very costly and generally return a very low ROI.

If we were trying to attract clients to our financial advisory firm we could put an ad on the back cover of our local newspaper, potentially paying tens of thousands of dollars for that ad space. The issue is that although some targets may see the ad, it still got in front of many people who wanted nothing to do with it and are not at all interested. This can be a wasteful process. We could spend far less money designing a top notch website, paying for a domain name and using SEO to ensure that every single person who Googles “Financial Advisors in (Where you live)” will see our website, and our thought leadership content. Simply put, inbound marketing is far more effective at matching your value proposition to a target customer.

Today, if people want something, they Google it, Bing it, or Yahoo search it. They understand there is a market for whatever they are looking for, from financial services to a new furnace. People today don’t want to be sold something. They want to buy it themselves.

Not today, but soon

How does this affect you? That depends entirely on how you want your business to grow into the future. Are you satisfied with an aging client base, who will soon begin to retire, divest and live the easy life? Would you rather have a client base full of millennials just getting into the workforce, still needing to buy a house, plan for a family and work for many years to come?

Generally speaking the older someone is the more likely they are to be influenced by outbound marketing. Younger generations want personalized, unobtrusive marketing efforts. For your practice to thrive and survive in the future you will need to meet the needs and expectations of those generations.

Why you need to recruit milleninials

For your business to thrive you need clients who are still in the Wealth Accumulation stage of the Financial Planning Life Cycle (as shown above). At this time most Baby-Boomers are moving through the “Children in College” phase and into the “Empty Nester” phase. Roughly 10,000 baby boomers turn 65 every day and that will continue for the next 15 years.

To maintain relevance in such a competitive industry, financial advisors must work twice as hard to cater to the future, even if that means moving away from word-of-mouth referrals that has been the gold standard for your entire career.  It may mean moving towards having a strong digital presence that draws in targets who have already identified a need that you might be able to help with.

Another reason to focus your marketing efforts on inbound tactics is that studies show 70% of internet users would prefer to learn about products via content instead of advertisements. Roughly half the world’s population uses the internet, with that figure even higher in developed nations. With the increase of internet users with adblock technology installed and the population steadily migrating away from traditional forms of media and towards digital media, nearly every industry is going to have to get serious about their content marketing, use of social media and their ability to personalize messages.

What does this mean?

For financial advisors and financial service providers, inbound marketing can be the next generations referral system. Instead of attracting one client and building through their network, establish your own network. Create engaging, informative content that can help solve consumer’s challenges and put it out into the world so those looking can find it, and more importantly find you.

This means you need to create your own social network, create engaging content, teach people things about finance through creative, engaging, educational content. Have them come to see you as a thought leader and when it’s time for their purchase decision, it’s likely they will choose the most experienced, capable financial advisor in their social network, which thanks to your efforts educating and engaging them is YOU.

Don’t be left behind in the new generation of digital marketing. Establish your name and build your social network. The only way to thrive in the future of of financial services is to show the world just how good you are – online!

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What’s your most successful method of attracting people to your practice? Do you still rely on referrals? Are you a LinkedIn giant or is your website the go-to place to learn about finance? Let us know on Twitter @VeridayHQ #OutboundIsOut

4 Steps for Marketing in the Digital World

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This article was written by Guidevine’s Head of Advisor Success, Khalid Usmani, and can be found here

Marketing is the cornerstone of growth for any business, and as the adage goes, one has to spend money to make money.

But advisors must ask whether they are spending their marketing budget effectively and whether their strategy is keeping up with consumer preferences.

An effective marketing and branding strategy should position an advisor and firm to evolve with consumer preferences. Not only must the messaging resonate with the target audience, it must also be easily accessible to them.

Clients are online, whether it is creating a Pinterest board for a new outfit, watching a YouTube video for a cooking recipe or checking their Instagram feed while standing in line at Starbucks.

And when it comes to financial information, studies show that 54% of high-net-worth investors between the 55 and 64 use LinkedIn for financial communication and research.

So advisors should be online with them. And the best way to do this is with an omni-channel approach to marketing.

Although it may seem that one social-media network is more important than another, each platform serves a unique purpose. Two-thirds of adults with investment accounts have a social-media account, so to ensure that advisors reach these prospective clients, it is important to be available to them on all platforms.

But it isn’t enough to simply post to multiple channels. With the vast amount of information online, the challenge to actually get the message through is increasing.

An advisor’s content must be interesting, engaging and relevant. Quality content about the client experience, investment approach or thoughts on the market can help enrich a digital footprint and keep people coming back for more.

Where to Begin

Here are some thoughts to get started on effective marketing in the digital world:

1. Clarify the target market and the firm’s objectives. Are you trying to reach a particular market niche; a specific age group; an interest group?

2. Create consistent and connected digital accounts (e.g., LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube) to reach more consumers.

Do all the firm’s accounts carry consistent branding? Is it using a dashboard to manage accounts and ensure that posts are well-timed and appropriately coordinated?

3. Share and create interesting, informative and relevant content. Keep number one in mind when creating original content and links to others’ posts that will resonate with the firm’s target audience.

4. Engage with the audience, so that it is a two-way conversation. Advisors must ask themselves if they provide meaningful responses to comments on posts?

With 63% of affluent consumers taking action after learning about financial products and services on social media, an advisor’s digital presence must be relevant and robust. Considering these four steps will get the ball rolling.