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“Call Me, Maybe?”: Why Clients Leave Their Financial Advisors

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This post was authored by Khalid Usmani and originally appeared here on GuideVine.

Given the high levels of market volatility, most financial advisors are getting more calls from their clients on how their investments are performing. But if you are the one receiving the calls, and not the one making them, then you are already behind. The best advisors follow a well-defined communication strategy with clients and stay ahead of the story.

History Is The Best Teacher

Following the initial surge of client departures in 2008, one out of four high net worth clients pulled their assets from their existing financial advisor and another third did so in the following two years. What was driving this behavior? A major reason why clients left their advisors then, and continue to do so now, is poor communication. While investment performance is always important, it isn’t the only thing clients care about. The Oechsli report, “The New World Adviser,” [note: email registration required] found that clients with $250 thousand to $10 million in investments were often more concerned about clear, timely communication and quick problem resolution than about investment performance.

Get Ahead of The Story

You should always be communicating with your clients – good times or bad. Many financial advisors make the mistake of avoiding clients during the challenging times, but sticking your head in the sand won’t make things better. Aside from sending information on how your firm is handling the market volatility, as an advisor, being responsive to any questions is critical. Nearly two-thirds of high net worth clients surveyed indicated they would leave an advisor who didn’t return their call in a timely manner. That shouldn’t surprise anyone.

Ad-hoc Messaging vs. A Defined Communications Strategy

For financial advisors, effective client communication is as much about using the right communication channels as it is anything else. If you don’t have a well-defined client communications strategy in place you are increasing the risk of client dissatisfaction. Ad-hoc communications can easily fall short or even through the cracks. Communications guided by a deliberate strategy, rather than by circumstances, are much more likely to produce the desired results. Here are five critical elements around which to create your strategy:

  1. Communicate through multiple channels with your clients. With communication, more is better – not necessarily in terms of volume, but in terms of effectively connecting with your clients through the best channel at the right time.
  2. Ask your clients about their communication preferences. This should be done at the outset, in person. If not, you should conduct a detailed survey asking your clients how and when they would like to receive information – offering a full range of options.
  3. Segment your client base by service level. Your CRM system should allow you to add profile markers indicating the type, timing frequency and channel preference for communications. Your CRM system should also be able to automate the workflow of client communications.
  4. Focus on education. Clients want to feel smart about their finances and investments. Offering opportunities to gain knowledge through an e-newsletter, social media postings, a blog, or a webcast is a form of communication that clients appreciate. It also creates more opportunity for client interaction. If you’ve segmented your client base, you can target them with more relevant information.
  5. Create and communicate service standards in a written agreement. Much of the dissatisfaction with client communications comes from not knowing what to expect. A written agreement will set the expectations for response times and contact frequency.

Finally, there is no substitute for personalized communication. This is a critical part of any advisor-client relationship. Depending on your client’s communication preference (e.g., email, phone, social media), sending them a quick, individual message can build a stronger relationship as well as provide you an easy way to address any concerns. The cumulative effect of consistent, meaningful contact with your clients creates a layer of security making them feel appreciated and that you are looking out for their interests, good times and bad.

8 Elements of the Perfect Advisor Website Homepage

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The homepage of your website is the most viewed and linked to page of the average website and as a result it is one of the most important pages on a site. If you’re a Financial Advisor looking to create a great website, here are the eight elements you need.

A Clear Value PropositionWeb address

These days, people do the majority of their research online. Therefore, it’s important that your website clearly and succinctly explain exactly what your business is about. What areas do you specialize in?
What types of services do you offer? What sets you apart from other Advisors? For many people, your website homepage will be their first contact with your business. If they have to click a bunch of links just to find out what you offer or what sets you apart, chances are they’ll simply move onto another website.

Clean, Correct Writing

The perfect Advisor website homepage requires the use of correct language. If your website is riddled with grammatical and spelling mistakes, or even just bad syntax or awkward wording, people will not take you seriously. If you’re not confident with your writing skills, make sure you hire someone who is to do your business writing for you. Quite simply, bad writing means bad business.

Clear Call to Action

A call to action (CTA) is a button or link that you place on your website to drive prospective customers to become leads by filling out a form.  CTAs also help to guide your visitors into or through your website.  CTAs help to direct focus and make your website more efficient by giving your visitors a path to accomplish their objectives.

A Professional Photo

Make sure you include a professional, high-resolution photo of yourself on your webpage. If you work as a team of Financial Advisors, include their photos, and perhaps a professional but collegial-looking group photo. By including a photo of yourself and your team, you’ll not only personalize your website, but you’ll help establish a sense of trust with your viewers.

An Informative Bio

Your bio is the place where you tell your viewers (and prospective clients) a little bit about yourself. This section is especially important as, like the photo, it helps you reach out to your clients in a personal yet professional way. Keep your bio short and to-the-point, but don’t be afraid to throw in a few fun facts about yourself.

Use Keywords

In order for you to have the perfect Advisor website homepage, you need people to visit it. Make sure people can find your website by using strategic keywords that will come up when someone is using a search engine to find out information about Financial Advisors. There’s no point in having a webpage that no one can find!

Design

The design of your website should be sleek and well-organized. It should express the unique personality of your business, and clearly outline your services.

Keep the Text to a Minimum

People’s time is valuable, and most people don’t want to read a whole bunch of text that is irrelevant to what they initially searched for. Keep the text on your homepage simple, direct and informative. Make sure all your links work as well; broken links give an impression of unprofessionalism.

Remember, your website is an expression of your business and its capabilities. Don’t just throw up any old thing on the Internet; spend a bit of time and money investing in the perfect Advisor webpage.

Before Upgrading Your Website – Part 2

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Is it time to upgrade your website? As discussed in Part 1 of this series, it is impossible to ignore the fact that most people “Google” almost everything. In fact, according to Nextopia, 86% of Baby Boomers and 90% of Millennials routinely research products online. For Financial Advisors, a professional and relevant website is becoming so critical to their business that it cannot be ignored. A website not only helps keep Investment Advisors in touch with their clients but will be necessary to gain and service new clients in the future.

So where do you start? You might be feeling that this will take time and may even be a little painful. The best way to begin is to take the steps to have all the aspects of your website well thought out so that it tells a cohesive story about you and your business.  Here are things you should consider before you begin in order to make the process more constructive and maybe even pain free.

  1. Carve out some time to work on this. Book some uninterrupted time in your calendar to go plan out what your site will look like and what you want your visitors to “feel” when they come to your site.
  2. Take a look at your competitors’ websites. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Take note of what you like and what grabs your attention. It is also important to note what you don’t like or what makes you lose interest. These negatives can be great in helping you avoid some of the pitfalls of a poor website design.
  3. Create your BRAND. This is very important! Your website is a reflection of you, how you do business and what your strengths and values are. Start by asking yourself these questions:
  • What makes you unique?
  • What do you like most about your business?
  • What do your clients like about you?
  • What are your business values?
  • How would you like to appear to others?
  1. Create a tagline. Taglines are like slogans or mini mission statements that can succinctly describe who you are and what you stand for. Once you have determined your BRAND, you can work at developing a tagline which can be displayed prominently on your website. Just to be clear, this is not a value proposition but a short, catchy phrase which reflects you and your business.
  2. Create your topics. Topics will be represented in different pages on your website or links found in the navigation bar at the top of your page. Take a look at other sites to get an idea of what you might want to include for example, “About Us” and “Products and Services”. It is important, however, that you make sure that you have at least one topic that reflects what makes you unique.
  3. Create your text. Good text is the backbone of your website. This is also where many websites get it wrong. A long, rambling essay is not going to attract the attention of your website visitors. Define what you want to get across about your business, use clear and friendly language, be concise, and be direct. Let them know, in an obvious way, why they should do business with you. Calls-to-Action are important to encourage your visitors to interact with your website.
  4. Use professional photos. Your visitors want to see a photo of you and your team. Much like house buyers looking at houses online will only consider those which have photos, most people will likely not show interest in your site if there are no pictures. Try to get several different poses of you and your team, including some that seem more spontaneous.
  5. Add interest by using stock photos. One of the most important things to take into consideration when designing your website is how users think. Think about how you navigate websites when you are online. Most users want instant gratification and a website which gives them interesting and credible information fast. They scan, not read, a website which means you have to grab their attention immediately in order for them to remain interested. You can do this by adding pictures to complement your text. Stock photos are a good way of making your point in an instant.
  6. Consider ways to keep your website fresh. Keeping your website fresh and updated has probably not been your number one priority and may seem like too much work. However, consider this, updating can result in more traffic to your site, allows you to deliver information in a timely fashion and to more individuals and lets you repeat your BRAND and uniqueness to visitors. On the other hand, not updating your website may create a negative opinion. There are many ways to keep your site updated by blogging, creating newsletters, market updates, and demonstrating community involvement. How you do it will probably depend on your firm and what support they provide.

 

Marielle Demers is an Investment Advisor Coach who has worked with Advisors across the country. She has been in the financial business for over 20 years and strongly believes that Canadians should be using an Investment Advisor for all their investment needs. As a coach, she also believes that the most important part of building a strong financial business is to see it through the clients’ eyes. She works with other experts to help you build a customized plan and to IMPLEMENT that Plan. Marielle can be reached at marielle.demers@sympatico.ca or 416 540 5158

Read how Brandon Silbermann, from Don Stockman Financial Services Ltd., used Digital Agent by Veriday to create a digital branding platform for his company.

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Reprinted with permission from Investment Executive.  

Brandon Silbermann’s digital branding initiative was powered by Digital Agent by Veriday.

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If the new way of doing business for financial advisors is at the intersection of the latest digital marketing technology and good, old-fashioned client service, Brandon Silbermann might just be the advisor of the future.

A typical day for Silbermann might include updating his practice’s website, checking his LinkedIn account and driving to a client’s farm to discuss his or her financial plan.

Silbermann, 25, is an advisor with Don Stockman Financial Services Ltd. in Waterloo, Ont., which is affiliated with Oakville, Ont.-based Manulife Securities Investment Services Inc. He officially joined the investment industry full-time in 2013 after graduating from the University of Ottawa’s Telfer School of Management, from which he obtained an honours bachelor of commerce degree in finance.

But back in 2013, Silbermann already was familiar with financial advisory work, having been involved in his school’s co-operative education program, through which he was mentored by Don Stockman, advisor and founder of Stockman Financial.

Silbermann now is an advisor with that practice with his own book of business, consisting of $22 million in assets under management. He is licensed to sell mutual funds, which are offered through Manulife Securities, and insurance products, through Kitchener, Ont.-based Financial Horizons Inc.

Silbermann has learned many lessons from Stockman, who has been an advisor for more than 30 years in the Waterloo region. These lessons include key steps in maintaining strong relationships with clients. “Don always told me to do the right thing,” Silbermann says. “Take good care of the client. Make sure you see them face to face.”

Silbermann brought to the established practice some special knowledge that is characteristic of his age group. He took on the large task of creating an online brand for the practice, which did not have a website prior to Silbermann joining the firm.

This digital branding initiative included creating a website with the help of a third-party digital-marketing company that works with Manulife. The Stockman Financial website would allow Stockman and Silbermann to communicate their skills and experience to families and small-business owners, such as farmers and skilled tradespeople in the construction industry, who are an important part of Stockman Financial’s niche.

“We have three or four generations of some [client] families,” Silbermann says. But the firm needed a way to communicate its expertise to other clients and prospects: not only an online presence, but one that stays up to date.

Silbermann ensures that the website’s functionality fits the ways in which people use technology. “The majority of web searches are done through smartphones,” he says, his empty hands gesturing as if scrolling through a smartphone screen. “So, it was critical for us to have something that is mobile-compatible so that people could see it – so it looked nice on their phones and was easily searchable.”

Silbermann is active on LinkedIn, connecting with other professionals on that social media network. He does not network through Facebook or Twitter, but he is planning to join Manulife’s social media program for advisors, which will guide Silbermann in using Twitter in a compliant manner.

Silbermann’s digital strategy seems to be working just fine. He added three new clients through his use of LinkedIn in 2015.

Silbermann does not spend much time pursuing prospects online, aside from sending out LinkedIn invitations to connect with other professionals. He finds that fellow LinkedIn users will check out his profile, then ask him questions through that social-media network. But those conversations do not remain online for long, as Silbermann’s strategy is to meet prospects in person as soon as possible.

“As much as the world is digital,” Silbermann says, “you need to put a face to a name, especially in a business that is as private and important as money.”

That principle has Silbermann convinced that robo-advisory services, which are becoming increasingly well known, are not a serious competitor. These online services cannot provide that human connection that is important to both Silbermann and Stockman, the latter of whom always emphasizes the importance of seeing clients in person, even if that means driving to the farmhouse of a client who lives outside of the immediate Waterloo area.

“Being able to be there with these people, their farming families and companies, generates a whole other level of trust, integrity and rapport,” Silbermann says. “It does not concern me how the industry is changing.”

Silbermann also is confident that his age is not an obstacle in attracting new clients. The keys, he says, are to associate yourself with a successful brand, then develop a positive relationship with individuals who can speak on your behalf. The affiliation with Manulife, which has a visible presence in the Waterloo region, and to Stockman work to Silbermann’s benefit. Once he builds trust with young clients, he can appeal to their parents.

Silbermann’s office acts as a showcase for his clients’ skills. The flooring, which looks like reclaimed barnwood and is symbolic of Waterloo’s farming tradition, was installed by a client. A painting of bright yellow construction machinery set against a skyline of tall buildings, created by a client’s son, was commissioned by Silbermann; the painting represents the type of hard-working individuals who make up an important part of Silbermann’s client base.

Silbermann also speaks to university students about entrepreneurship on his own time. One of his goals is to help his alma mater grow its investment club. He is an avid reader of books on business, technology and foreign policy. He also is working toward a certified financial planner designation.

BUILD TRUST WITH YOUR CLIENTS

Millennial-generation financial advisors should consider both traditional and digital methods to establish a strong rapport with clients and prospects, according to Brandon Silbermann, an advisor with Don Stockman Financial Services Ltd. in Waterloo, Ont. Silbermann offers the following tips to help young advisors get off to a good start:

1. Develop a mobile-friendly website

A strong online brand can help you connect with prospects and show what they can expect regarding your skills and the services you would provide as their advisor. Because a growing proportion of online searches are conducted on mobile devices, your content must be easily viewed on smartphones and tablets.

2. Be honest

Taking a direct approach with clients about fees, products and other issues will help young advisors build trust with clients of all ages, Silbermann says.

3. Connect with established brands

Joining a large firm with a positive reputation or the practice of an experienced and trusted senior advisor can help you build trust.

Working with a known entity also provides instant credibility, says Silbermann: “It helps you get over the initial hurdles of being a younger person in the industry and managing money professionally.”

4. Build a network of mentors

Consider the type of business you want to run in the future and look for professionals in various industries who fit your vision. Silbermann has four mentors, each works in heavy construction, group benefits or portfolio management. And don’t be nervous about approaching established professionals. “If you have a good connection with them, they will share a lot about how they got to where they are.”

© 2016 Investment Executive. All rights reserved.

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This post was authored by Tessie Sanci and originally appeared here on Investment Executive

Why you NEED a professional website! | Part 1

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Recently, I have been looking for a new dentist, someone who practices closer to where we live, in order to avoid the stress of the Toronto commute. Some friends graciously provided me with the names of dentists in our area. You might not be surprised to learn that the first thing I did was “google” them. What might be surprising is that the professionalism and look of each of their websites influenced me more than I expected. I became annoyed at those who did not bother to have a website and was pleasantly surprised by those who took the time to set up a professional website to convey their business practices.

As a Financial Advisor, it is important for you too to communicate your business practices and to do so in a professional manner. One of the best ways to do this is through your website. While most Financial Advisors have websites, a large majority of them do not make it a priority to upgrade them in order to use them as a communication, marketing or prospecting tool. So take the time to look at your website to see if it is a reflection of you and if it is something you are proud to have your clients and prospects “Google”.

Here are the reasons why my clients tell me they have not made their websites a priority:

1)              “I don’t know where to start.” One of the most important aspects of a good website is to have it be a reflection of you, your uniqueness and your strengths. Discovering what you want to communicate about your business takes a little time and consideration but it is well worth it as it can become the cornerstone of every aspect of your business. Start at the beginning and write down what your clients should know about you.

2)              “I don’t have time to do that.” Most of the time, I find that it is not time that is the issue but priority. Make it a priority and carve out time to work on it.

3)              “It costs too much.” Some Financial Advisors’ firms provide access to a web platform and to a department that can upgrade their website at no cost. If your firm does not provide free access, the cost of a website has come down significantly. In addition, the return on investment of a website is so high it has now become simply “the cost of doing business”.

 

So, why should you have a professional website?

1)              Don’t ignore the fact that everybody “Googles”. It’s just a fact. Your audiences are Googling everything from menus, store hours to product reviews. You want potential clients to find you online and you want to make the best first impression.

2)              The Baby Boomers are redeeming assets and the next generations are investing. Finding clients who want to invest and grow their money is a must for your business. The Echo Boomers and Generation X’s and Y’s are reliant on social media and the Internet for information. It would be safe to say that a website will be the minimum necessity for your business in the years to come.

3)              You will gain credibility. Executed properly, a professional website will not only create a great impression of you and your business, but will give you more credibility. In this very competitive environment, credibility and confidence can make the difference between a client and a prospect.

4)              You can build relationships. Yes, it’s true. If you would like to see a good example of this, take a look at Coca Cola’s website. Their primary goal is to create a “feeling” and build relationships. You can do this by adding “non-financial” information such as community involvement, charitable endeavours, local events, and relevant trending topics.

5)              You will save time and money. Although it is true that there will be a cross section of your clients who will NOT go to your website for information, the trend will be towards more and more individuals accessing it to gain insight. Providing information to your clients and prospects takes time and your time is money. A website is up and running 24-7.

6)              You will improve your client servicing. There are most likely some types of questions that your clients often ask you… Or facts that they always want to have access to. Your website can provide these facts and can also answer FAQs as a value-add.

7)              You can use your website as a quarterback to your other social media accounts. The financial industry is slower to broadly adopt social media due to compliance and logistic issues. However, because many people are now using social media as a source of news and information, more wealth firms are starting to encourage their Advisors to sign-up to sites like LinkedIn and Twitter. Once on social media, Advisors can direct traffic to their websites for more information.

Next time: What You Need To Think About Before Upgrading Your Website – Part 2

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About The Author

Marielle Demers is an Investment Advisor Coach who has worked with Advisors across the country. She has been in the financial business for over 20 years and strongly believes that Canadians should be using an Investment Advisor for all their investment needs. As a coach, she also believes that the most important part of building a strong financial business is to see it through the clients’ eyes. She works with other experts to help you build a customized plan and to IMPLEMENT that Plan. Marielle can be reached at marielle.demers@sympatico.ca or 416 540 5158.

Financial Services Trends to Watch in 2016: #FinTech & Robo-Advisor Disruption

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It is safe to say that the FinTech revolution is happening.

FinTech, put simply, is financial technology. It refers to the technology that is becoming increasingly important in the world of financial services, and is beginning to disrupt the way businesses operate. FinTech can include everything from mobile banking to modern compliance to digital investment advisory.

According to Accenture, global investment in financial services technology ventures has more than tripled during the last five years – from under $930 million in 2008 to more than 2.97 billion in 2013. The number of investments in FinTech is increasing year-over-year at an unbelievable rate. The growth of investment in FinTech signifies how technology and the Internet are changing the nature of financial services. From the ways that people pay their bills, to the way they use the Internet to invest their money.

So, what are some of the things that FinTech can accomplish for the general public?

  • Educate consumers to make smarter financial decisions
  • Digital investment advisory
  • Mobile payment
  • Provide compliance assistance
  • Enhance online shopping experience
  • Offer new avenues for loans
  • Speed payments
  • Investment management
  • Bank Technology
  • Protect assets from fraud
  • Crowd funding
  • Trading

In this article, we will focus on digital investment advisory, and what this means for traditional financial service institutions and advisory firms.

What does the #FinTech disruption mean for Financial Advisors?

The rise of FinTech is particularly significant for traditional financial services brands. We are seeing a rise of new companies offering technology-based programs that provide a complete suite of financial services and investment advice – also known as robo-advisors. This has lead to many questioning, why pay to see a Financial Advisor when you can get financial advice online for a fraction of the price?  And, why not question it? These platforms offer many sophisticated tools at a third or less of the price of a Financial Advisor.

Financial Institutions and Advisors need to ask themselves, what is in it for the client? Where can a Financial Advisor make the customer experience and human touch worth going with a traditional Advisor over a robo-advisor? With the #FinTech disruption in full swing, the online presence of Financial Enterprises and their Advisors has never been so important.

One of the best ways for traditional financial service companies to beat the robo-advisors is through developing an effective online presence and client experience.

The Future Investors

Almost 80 million Millennials will stand to inherit $30 trillion in personal wealth and grow their earnings in the coming years. Financial institutions and Advisors who have embraced the digital revolution will be the ones to thrive, and this is evident in research conducted by Fidelity. Fidelity’s research confirms that emerging affluent investors are nearly twice as likely as millionaires to find a new Financial Advisor through Internet research and more likely than millionaires to find a new Advisor through social media.

Fidelity’s research also finds that 58 percent of emerging affluent investors have a significantly more positive impression of Financial Advisors who have a good website (key word here is good.  There are many Advisor websites out there that are as non engaging as a business card). Thirty-eight percent of those investors follow their Advisor on social media sites and 30 percent say they are more likely to relate to a Financial Advisor who has a social media presence.

If the Financial Enterprise does not enable the Advisory firms to have an online presence in order to communicate with clients and prospects, the financial institution risks making their Advisors irrelevant because they are not connecting with the next generation of investors. An active and compliant online presence for Advisors is the human and real life touch that sets them apart from the robo-advisors: the ability to educate, interact and engage with prospects and clients.

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Financial service institutions have traditionally been slow to embrace digital marketing trends. In a regulated industry, it is important to make compliance and legal a part of your digital and social media teams so you have approval from the beginning of campaigns. But, the time has come for Financial Institutions to stop using compliance and regulations as an excuse to grow their brand and Advisors’ businesses.

2016 Business Growth for Financial Advisors

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

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As Financial Advisors, we start another New Year full of possibility and hope. Most of us have probably already hit the ground running, focusing on accomplishing great things. We can increase our chances of success and growth, by setting our objectives and creating measurable goals to develop a robust plan that attracts the right clients and brings in new business.

Here are some of the objectives many top Financial Advisors have included in their 2016 marketing plan:

  • Visibility: Raise profile through sponsored events and other visibility tactics on a local (or regional) level
  • Awareness: Build share of mind with the right people through targeted communications
  • Credibility: Enhance reputation by consistently being seen in credible media outlets as a subject matter expert and financial professional
  • Thought Leadership: Build thought leadership status through publication of unique insights and forward-thinking concepts
  • Digital Presence: Improve search engine ranking and become more discoverable through social media use and a strong online presence

Goals, of course, should be specific and measurable. Look at the table below. Which set of goals do you think are easier to plan for, track progress against and achieve?

Vague Goals Specific and Measurable Goals
  • Host more events
  • Host two lunch-and-learns, six affinity dinners and two client appreciation events in 2016, generating a total of thirty new high-value prospective clients, resulting in ten new clients and $10 million in AUM
  • Grow my team
  • Attract two new people to the firm, younger professionals who have the potential to become partners over time, and start grooming them as part of the succession plan, through visibility in national industry trade publications and local business community (also work with a matching / recruiting service and explore opportunities at colleges with financial planning programs)
  • Expand social media activity
  • Establish a company Facebook page to supplement our company LinkedIn page, adding one new post per week to each while staying true to the social media guidelines suggested by our marketing consultant
  • Improve website effectiveness
  • Increase website traffic by 50%, drawing a total of 2,000 unique visitors per month to the home page, with 200 of those visitors watching our signature video and 100 per month entering their basic information before being allowed to download our special report and going into our automatic six-touch nurture campaign

 

REMEMBER THE 3 M’s

Aside from creating a tactical list of marketing activities, it can be helpful to take a step back and revisit the 3 M’s: your Market, your Message, and your Mediums. It’s always good practice to have a clear sense of these areas as it can help drive how you approach each of your marketing activities.

Your Market – Everything you do should center on your target market (and it’s okay to have 2-3 of them). Who are you targeting and why? Develop an Ideal Client Profile for each market segment and be specific – where do these people congregate, where do they get their news and information, who do they trust or distrust, what commonalities do they have, what keeps them up at night? Share your Ideal Client Profile with strategic partners and internal stakeholders. Post it where you and your team will see it on a daily basis.

Your Message – Revisit your value proposition and refine key messages. Have you added a robo advisor-component or another new service offering? How does it help people, who is it good for, why did you add this new element or option? Have you added staff or new capabilities? Why is this important? If you could only say one thing about your company’s value in a clear, concise sentence, what would it be – would it be short enough to be a 140 character tweet and memorable enough that others could repeat it without racking their brains? Once your have your primary value statement figured out, think hard about the top three benefits your clients enjoy as a result of working with you; those three benefits can form the three pillars of your positioning statement.

Your Mediums – What tactics and methodologies will you use to bring your message to your ideal target market(s)? Perhaps this is the year you step into a leadership role or begin writing that book (which can open all sorts of new doors and opportunities). Event marketing is almost always fruitful if a thoughtful approach is used to create the right mix – people, content, setting, purpose and tone. Relationship marketing could include a client survey to unearth hidden attitudes, assets and referrals. Credibility marketing might include appearing on television and radio stations then sharing those clips via your website, email and social media communications. Content marketing could hinge on writing a blog once or twice a month, which you’d publish on a company-branded site and buzz up on social media, mention in speeches, etc. Once you have generated a list of potential activities and tactics, prioritize what you will actually do based on the potential return-on-investment and swing your budget in that direction.

With robo advisors, eAdvisors, and other competitors nipping at your heels, there’s no time to waste. Hammer out a marketing plan while remembering the 3 M’s – you’ll be glad you did.

13 ways to increase your e-mail open rate [Infographic]

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Do you know what your e-mail open rate is?

It all starts with the subject line. The subject line of an e-mail is crucial in getting prospects to open it. The subject line will determine the success or failure of your campaign. If your e-mail is not opened, then all of your hard work in creating the campaign has gone to waste.  You want prospects to feel like they must open, read and act on your email.   When your prospect is not expecting to hear from you, or may not even really know you, so probably has not built that trust for you, the subject line can present quite the challenge.

In our Infographic below, we share some of our top e-mail secrets with you.  These are some great techniques to help your e-mail get opened and read:

 

Top 13 Ways Advisors Can Increase E-Mail Open Rates [Infographic]

Content Marketings Tactic Your Competitors are Neglecting

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Content marketing may be the most important trend in digital marketing today. Industry surveys indicate that B2C businesses will spend on average 32% of their total 2016 marketing budgets on content marketing1. Its power as a lead generator is unmatched, and if you’re not doing it—and doing it right—you’re missing a critical piece of your marketing puzzle. Worse, you could be losing business.

Ok, ok, you’ve heard this before, right? The benefits are well documented. Experts will tell you that content marketing:

1) Builds awareness

2) Helps customers find you

3) Establishes you as a thought leader

All those are true, but there’s one major benefit that even experts often overlook, and that is: content is key to creating an irresistible brand.

What is a brand and how is it connected to content marketing?

A brand isn’t just a logo, typeface, and slogan. Your brand is the entire personality of your company. Think of it as the feelings and emotions that are evoked within a customer when they hear your name.

Brands are built slowly, piece by piece with each point of contact between you and your customers. Every ad, email, tweet, and blog post adds to your brand. Over time, good branding creates trust, establishes value, and fosters a sense familiarity.

In 2016, content marketing could be the most important tool for building your brand.

Why is content marketing so critical to creating a brand?

When you view your competitors’ websites, display ads, or marketing emails, do you ever feel they all look very similar? That’s no accident.

Today’s smart web developers and digital marketers know what makes people tick (and click!), and websites are finely tuned to be efficient and effective. The best digital practices are always emulated, borrowed, and replicated. This improves user experience, but as everyone copies the same successful strategies, variety and uniqueness decrease. This leaves many sites looking like they’re cut from the same template, because they are.

If you want to stand out from the crowd, you need a new technique to differentiate. So what’s the best way to differentiate online today? Yep, you guessed it: content marketing.

Content marketing establishes your unique value proposition

More than any other aspect of your online presence, content marketing allows you to communicate your unique value proposition; the aspect of your business that tells customers “this is why you should choose me instead of my competitors”.

Content marketing gives you the time, space, and freedom to engage deeply with customers—something that’s impossible to do in a 728 x 90-pixel banner ad.

Best of all, content marketing brims with real personality because it captures your own voice. Content takes your business beyond a robotic marketing slogan. Sure, the tone of your content should be professional, but when that tone echoes your individuality, you stand out from a noisy field of competitors.

3 simple tips to creating content that makes your brand shine

  1. Produce content that reinforces your points of difference

Before you write, ask yourself: how do my skills, my experience, my expertise, solve customers’ problems better than my competitors? The answers are your points of difference and combined they form your unique value proposition. Write them on a sticky note and place it next to your monitor.

If your content clearly demonstrates your points of difference, customers will understand exactly why they need to choose your business.

  1. Think of content as the evidence that supports your marketing claims

Say your company’s slogan is “Manitoba’s Master of Tax Minimization”. That’s a bold statement, but why should customers believe you? In the past, businesses relied on word of mouth and testimonials to substantiate these claims. Today, content marketing is the tool that proves your expertise to millions of skeptical customers before they ever do business with you.

  1. Be consistent and find your own voice

Decide on a style and vocabulary that reflects you and your business. A casual and accessible tone is effective for some audiences while others expect you to be formal and authoritative. Whichever style you choose, be sure that it carries your personal voice. This will build stronger connections, and ensures that your content feels fresh.

Summing up

Good brands are not created by telling customers why your business is great, they’re created by demonstrating it. And in today’s competitive digital landscape, content marketing is the most powerful tool for proving your value and building a business that gets noticed in a crowded marketplace.

 

1 B2C Content Marketing: 2016 Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends — North America, Content Marketing Institute. (Published: October 14, 2015).

Advisors: You’re Losing Clients by Ignoring This Critical Website Mistake

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Financial Advisors:  What do you want your website to accomplish? What is the primary goal for your website visitors? How are you directing your visitors to accomplish these goals? If the goal of your website is to create sales and get more business, then it is important that your website has effective Call to Actions, otherwise known as CTAs. A CTA is a button or link that you place on your website to drive prospective customers to become leads by filling out a form on a landing page.

One of the most costly mistakes that we see on Financial Advisors websites is in their CTA, or lack thereof. Without a call to action, your website cannot generate leads like it is intended to do. You could write the most compelling website copy, and it wouldn’t amount to anything if a call to action wasn’t clearly defined to capture that prospects information. A clear call to action will help to increase your profits by maximizing conversions and improving user experience. In effect, it is the next stage of your sales cycle.

An effective CTA provides:

  • Focus to your site
  • A way to measure your sites success
  • Direction to your visitors

As an Advisor, you can present your services and start a conversation with people who need your help.  Use calls to action to direct visitors to a contact form, a newsletter subscription, or other call to actions such as:

  • Download an E-book
  • Make an appointment
  • Free consultation
  • Interactive Tools
  • Webinars

A call to action provides your visitor with direction and a number of different progression points. CTAs must be logical and related to the content on the page. For example, let’s say you have a CTA that asks your visitor to, “Schedule an assessment of their RRSP investment mix”. What’s a logical path to that call to action? It could be, 1) Visitor enters by searching for some tips on effectively saving for retirement, 2) Visitor likes the article and decides to look at what your practice does with respect to Retirement Savings advice and 3) Visitor sees your call to action to schedule an assessment, clicks on it and submits their contact information (first name, last name, email, etc.). Think about what your calls to action will be and plan out the path for how you want your prospects to get there.

Not many people pick up the phone these days after visiting a businesses’ website. This is why it is far better to have a softer call to action that allows you to communicate with your prospects on a regular basis.

Guide to Content Marketing