How to Make a Great First Impression? Hint: It’s Not All About You.

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

If you think about it, every prospective client meeting is a job interview. As with any interview, it is important to do a little online research before the first conversation occurs. Your prospects, even referrals, are certainly doing their research on you, to get a sense of whom you are and if you could be a fit for them.

This doesn’t just apply to prospects. Knowing your existing clients is important too, and not just because financial advisors need to meet suitability and/or fiduciary standards, but also because building deeper relationships is good for client retention.

“You probably have the names of your client’s kids and pets, and some basic information about your prospective clients in your CRM, but today you can go several steps farther,” said Brian Kostick, Vice President of Practice Management atActiFi(tm), a software and solutions company creating scalable business execution programs for the financial services industry. Kostich presented on this topic during a business-development workshop presented in partnership with Scottrade Advisor Services® in early July. “Staying on top of clients’ industries, favorite causes, and concerns will make you stand out as an advisor. Knowing what makes your prospective clients tick can help you during the sales and engagement process.”

Tips from the NYC workshop

During his opening comments, Scottrade® Advisor Services executive Brian Stimpfl said that advisors can deepen relationships with existing clients and cultivate new ones by understanding the process behind growth. Explaining the rationale behind the workshop, Stimpfl said “We want advisors to look at every step in their service model, from developing their pipeline to onboarding new clients.”

“This is a relationship business. Advisors need to cultivate relationships,” said Kostick during the marketing and prospecting portion of the workshop. To that end, he said advisors need to research potential clients, including checking social media. He also cautioned against “winging it” in meetings. “Be prepared and have set an agenda for your meetings.

In conversations, advisors need to ask good questions. The goal is to learn about the potential client rather than to sell their services. Afterward, they need to follow up with a summary letter and a call to action—something they can follow up on a few weeks later.

Reaching out is also simple, especially with all the new digital communication tools available. They enable a variety of interactions that weren’t necessarily available earlier, whether it’s a reach out with a newsletter, invitations to workshops and lunch-and learns, an offer to provide a second opinion, an email with a link to download one of your special reports, a personalized video message, and other similar types of communication. This helps keep you front-and-center as people move from lead to prospect to client. (For additional marketing tips and insights, please read Generating New Business in a Digital World.)

“Prospective client meetings deserve the same level of attention as an interview would. Before meeting with a prospect, it pays to do a quick Google search,” Kostick said. “What might you find? A press release announcing an executive position; a major charitable donation; board memberships; wedding announcements; family obituaries; and more. In less than ten minutes, you’ll have a better idea of who the person is, including the issues and causes he or she cares about most deeply.”

But don’t just stop there, go a step farther, Kostick urged. “If your prospect works at a notable company in town, look up the firm. Is it leading its industry? Is it facing special challenges? Rumored to be in play for a takeover? Now you have insight that could affect the prospect’s financial status, and can bring some real insight to your meeting.”

And use searches to build a profile of a prospect’s industry or company, especially if they are at a smaller company or are a business owner/entrepreneur. This will enable you to show in-depth understanding and knowledge of the prospect’s needs and challenges.

Also consider setting up Google News Alerts for your very best prospects and clients. As you see things about them in the local news or broadly online, simply send them congratulations, a note with a relevant piece of information and/or an invitation to meet again and discuss their situation.

The Digital Footprint, and How to Use it

Today, most Americans use social media, whether it’s LinkedIn for professional networking, Facebook for less-formal socializing, or Twitter for swapping news bites. Each platform builds their digital footprint and can serve a potential purpose for an advisor, if you know what to look for.

On LinkedIn, looking up prospects can give a view of their business life and accomplishments. In addition, you may find that you have connections in common. Just before a meeting or interaction, it also makes sense to take a quick peek at current activity on the profile, perhaps you’ll see something new on their page or notice a string of posts on a particular topic that could be telling.

Facebook provides an interesting look at what matters most to prospects, and your clients. This is where you’re most likely to get glimpses of their charitable endeavors, their family projects, their travels and their hobbies. Sometimes there’s a connection to something you might care about—and a source of a bond. Even if you are not be connected to your current / prospective client on Facebook, there is often some information visible to the general public.

You may also find that your prospects or clients use Twitter as well. Skim their Twitter feed and look for clues. What are they tweeting, commenting on and retweeting? Even though these are brief communications, they indicate what captures someone’s attention and actively triggers interaction on their part.

If this all seems daunting, you may want to consider technological help. One of the easiest ways to do this is to begin with your CRM system. Some of the more modern CRMs, such as Wealthbox, actually show information from a client or prospect’s social media feeds. Having that information at your finger-tips, and in the same place as your other information on the person, cuts out an additional step or two in the process suggested above.

In his best-selling book, Take the Cold Out of Cold Calling: Web Search Secrets, Sam Richter, an award-winning author and Chief Marketing Officer for ActiFi, offers additional online search secrets, tips, tricks, and tools to find and use this type of information. The bottom-line is, preparing for meetings like they were a job interview, plus a little effort to better understand your prospects and clients via their digital footprint can make a big-time impression, while also improving your relationships (and margins).

26 Apps to Optimize Your Work Day

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As a digital marketing company, we are always interested in the latest and greatest applications that can help to optimize our workday and improve productivity. We all know that sales can be a tough business. Our sales team knows that success in sales is all about mastering sales skills such as strategic prospecting, active listening and time management. Our sales team also recognizes the importance of having a positive attitude and a good balance between work, sleep, exercise, relaxation, socialization and winding down time.

We found this Infographic, courtesy of Hussle, that we thought would be helpful for our Financial Advisor and Enterprise audience. It’s a great read on some fantastic tools for time management, organization, exercise and more, that can help you to be more productive while also finding time to indulge in some much needed down time.

Here’s Hussle’s ‘Work Day Productivity Hacks” infographic to help supercharge your day!

26 Apps to Optimize Your Work Day

 

5 Things to Consider When Purchasing Portal Software

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This post was authored by Martin Yan and originally appeared here on Liferay.com

It’s not easy shopping for enterprise portal software. There are many factors to consider such as reliability, long-term costs and the ease of development. Not to mention things like meeting compliance standards or working with a customer service team that actually cares about your needs.

Regardless, the goal of any sensible organization is to maximize business value by reducing costs and mitigating risks. Here are five specific things to look for when evaluating the right portal vendor for your project:

1. Keeps it simple yet robust

Many enterprises are saying goodbye to the complex and monolithic systems of old. Instead, they are looking for something that is lightweight and feature-rich. They want a product that has the ability to evolve with business needs, which means having built-in expansion features like microkernel architecture and plugins. Having a tool or product that is simple yet robust lends itself to a rich user experience and ease of integration with other technology.

2. Makes it easy to consume relevant content

This is becoming all the more important as demand grows for personalized user experiences. A good portal infrastructure should allow new features and services to be added into the existing infrastructure. It should provide authentication, authorization and role-based content delivery (RBCD). This means that users receive content unique to them depending on their roles and permissions.

3. Combines content, portals, and apps

Not too long ago, portals were thought of mainly as a channel for a specific web experience (think employee portal) alongside other siloed products. App platforms were used to build individual apps. However, many modern portals now include a full workflow enabled WCM system as well as social collaboration and app platforms.

4. Addresses both the enterprise and department

In the past, it was not uncommon for companies to use different sets of software for various enterprise-wide and departmental projects. For instance, a company might use IBM for an enterprise implementation and Microsoft SharePoint at a department level. Now, trends are pointing towards products that can service both solutions—a scalable product that allows for code and feature reuse.

5. Allows you to code and develop as you choose

Java or PHP/Ruby? Spring or EJB? Eclipse or Dreamweaver? With various technology options to choose from, IT teams feel a lot of pressure to make the right choice when developing their project. Portals, however, aggregate content at the presentation layer and allow multiple technologies to be used in the application layer. Some products also allow the various web technologies in different programming languages to be aggregated by a single presentation layer to the end user. Rather than push for a development team to choose certain technologies, a portal interface opens up new possibilities for development.

Whether you are evaluating Liferay or another platform, make sure you are doing your due diligence. The last thing you want is to be stuck with a choice that will sap your time, energy and money. Be sure to ask the hard questions and expect to receive the right answers. Your research will ensure your project gets off on the right foot.

Advisors: Metrics to Measure Your Online Marketing Success

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Metrics to Measure Online Success?

There are so many metrics you can consider when attempting to measure your online marketing success. From ROI to CPC there are a million metrics to measure online success. Which ones do you need to know? Which ones affect you? What are your goals?

As you are striving to maximize your conversion rate and enjoy the highest possible marketing ROI, there are certain key marketing metrics you can monitor and measure to gauge your digital marketing success.

Try these actionable marketing metrics below to get a better idea of how marketing is helping to drive your businesses’ revenue. Using these metrics can help you to observe the success of your efforts and make changes to your campaigns as needed:

Metrics to Measure Advisor's Online Marketing Success: What metrics really matter?

So what did you think of our Infographic?

Did you learn the key metrics to measure online success? Do you have any questions or concerns? If you do let us know on Twitter @VeridayHQ or visit our website http://www.digitalagent.com/contact . Remember we have the marketing solutions needed for financial advisors, we can help you regardless of where you’re located! You can also check out our other content over at https://www.veriday.com/blog/. We are also on LinkedIn and Facebook, just give us a follow anywhere and we can engage with you!

A Quick Guide to Choosing the Right Images for Your Website

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You know the old saying, “A picture is worth a thousand words”. Well, that definitely holds true for your website and and blog as well. One way to increase engagement and conversions on your website is by using images. However, it is only certain types of images that will be effective in doing so.  Choosing the right images for your website can often prove to be a difficult and time consuming process.

Here are a few simple guidelines to help you choose the right images to help engage your audience:

Natural Vs. Staged

I suppose there was a time back in the day, when artificially lit sets and over bright smiling people were considered a great idea, but that time has definitely passed. Today’s potential customer has been over-saturated with too perfect and staged stock shots. What people are looking for these days is honesty. The natural/candid style of shot is quickly becoming the preferred style of image for many sites. The reason for this is not just a contrary swing in style; it’s a natural choice for those who are looking for authenticity. If you’re using stock photos that are too polished and insincere looking, it casts a poor light on to your business. It gives off a feeling of insincerity and falseness that may drive potential clients away.

Out of date

When you’ve perused the millions of photos on either pay or free stock sites, you’ll see that some have aged gracefully, and some have not.

If you’re showing a scene with someone at a computer screen, be sure it is a recent image. Nothing says ‘I’m not current’ like an old fashioned monitor sitting on a desk. Or, someone using a 10 year old flip-phone. Images of a family can be timeless, but watch out for telltale signs of family photos that are clearly from years ago.

Seen this one before

Last but not least, we should talk about popular stock images.

When you’re using a site like ‘istock’ or ‘Getty’, one of the filters you can use is ‘popularity’. This means that you can select photos based on how often they’ve been used before. I would advise against that, unless the image is for something benign like a photo of a calculator or something inconsequential.

If you’re looking for anything that will be used as a feature image, remember, someone somewhere has possibly chosen the same image. There is nothing quite as awkward as seeing an image you’re using for your site, also being used by the dentist down the street, or in a piece of junk-mail, or worse, on your competitors site.

Be original. Try and use images that you’re confident your competition isn’t using.

Hiring a photographer and getting original photos is always the best solution, but second best is using something that both looks good and is singular to your site alone.

…But where do I find the right images?

1) Sources for Free Images

Once upon a time, all photos had to be purchased, but things have changed in recent years. There are many sources for photographs and images that cost you nothing, or very little (sometimes just a link to the photographers webpage).

www.freeimages.com

This site has been around now for a very long time, and you can find a lot of great images here. The main difficulty with this (as with other free sites) is quality. For every fantastic photo, there can often be quite a large number of not-so-great photos. As with anything else in life, you sometimes have to search for a bit to find the gold.

https://pixabay.com

Another great site for free images is Pixabay.com. I’ve personally had a lot of success finding great images here. If you’re looking for something here, whether it’s images of luxury, happy families or shots of business people, you’ll find lots of great shots here.

http://compfight.com/

This site is a bit different. Compfight sources all of its photos from flickr.com. For this site, you need to tweak the settings from ‘any license’ to ‘commercial’. Once that is done, search away. You’ll find the photos here are of a much higher caliber than some of the other free sites, and that’s due to Flickr’s reputation as one of the leading photography portals in the world.

Rather than payment, use of these photos is by accreditation. You simply need to include a link on your page to the photographer’s Flickr page; this is shown to you when you click the photo.

2) Sources for Paid Images

http://www.istockphoto.com/

This site is a great source for photos and images. Years ago, it was much like Flickr, but has since been bought by Getty Images, the leading stock company in the world…. which leads us to…

http://www.gettyimages.com

The big time. Getty is just about the biggest player on the block for photography. They also own most of the other stock companies…

http://www.thinkstockphotos.ca

This is another site owned by Getty images. This is the site that I would use the most often and would recommend to anyone. It compiles all the stock companies owned by Getty, so you’re getting the best of the best.

—————————————-

Now that you know where to find the images and have an understanding of what constitutes a great modern and engaging photo, all it takes now is some time. Although you’re not supposed to judge a book by it cover, we all know that we do. Take the time to properly choose the right images that best represent your business to your customers and prospects. A well-picked image will be remembered and will reflect well on you, but a poorly chosen image will also be remembered, and potentially reflect negatively on your business.

 

Financial Advisors: Here’s How To Recharge And Refresh For Greater Success

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

“Summertime – and the livin’ is easy,” or at least it should be. But in today’s digital world, it can be hard to take a real break and recharge.

Larry Rosen, a noted psychology professor, researcher, and author of the book iDisorder, warns in a recent Reuters article that if a financial advisor is constantly connected, it will eventually wear them down.

“Given the ‘epidemic proportions’ of our addiction to smart phones, learning how to sign out and turn off is becoming vital for our mental health and well-being,” said Reuters reporter Hilary Johnson in her piece, Advisers Should Recharge Selves, Not Phones, in Summer, before moving into real life stories and advice from financial advisors Gordon Bernhardt, founder of Bernhardt Wealth Management; Nancy Popovich, a managing director with The Wise Investor Group; Colleen Schon, a managing director at Anthem Advisors; and Joe Belfatto, a partner at wealth management firm Massey Quick. (This piece is well worth the read).

THE PAUSE THAT REFRESHES

A recent infographic (below) from Laura Vanderkam, author of What the Most Successful People Do on the Weekend, provides a good visual of how to make the most of any downtime. She says weekends – especially Sunday nights – can become a springboard to a productive week.

weekend success Infographic

In addition, here are some quick tips gleaned from years of reading and studying other successful business people. You might want to try some of them this summer:

ONE: CREATE WHITE SPACE

Speaker and book author Juliet Funt says that, if we are not careful, today’s always-on world will rob us of something she calls “white space.”

“White space is improvised or scheduled time and thought for which we have no predetermined agenda or plan. It is open, uncommitted time during which our thoughts can be fluid, flexible and free-form,” Funt says. “It is time during which strategic thinking occurs, creativity soars and focus returns.”

She encourages us to daydream and to notice when the world makes us wait – and to relish it because that is an opportunity to become more calm, confident, patient and present. One way of embracing Funt’s advice is to study other people in airports and hotel lobbies. Without being obvious about it, do a little “people watching” try to imagine what is going on in their lives and feel empathy or joy based on your perceptions of what might be going on with them. For instance, if someone seems stressed or absent minded, smile and nod in passing, or just beam a little loving kindness their way. They may not them feel better, but you sure will.

TWO: SPEND TIME ALONE

In an article penned for Inc.com, Margaret Hefferman, author of A Bigger Prize: How We Can Do Better Than the Competition, asks, “when did you last spend time alone?” She talks about the importance of solitude, saying things that should resonate with today’s busy financial advisors:

“As business leaders, we find ourselves besieged by peers, colleagues, employees, board members, assistants, family members. Nobody gets enough of our time – and that includes ourselves. Instead, life becomes an unending tennis match, in which we’re constantly responding to whatever comes over the net: successes, mistakes, challenges, doubts, and needs. The most essential quality of an entrepreneur isn’t boldness or creativity. It’s stamina.”

Amen to that! We need stamina and patience i to be resilient and effective in the midst of a tidal wave of activity. Getting enough sleep, exercising, and eating right are important, too. And if your workout is solitary, without noise and digital stimulation (perhaps even outside in nature), then you accomplish two things at once: being alone in a way that keeps both mind and body in shape.

THREE: CULTIVATE A BEGINNER’S MIND

Beginner’s Mind, according to Wikipedia, is a concept in Zen Buddhism. It refers to having an attitude of openness, eagerness, and lack of preconceptions when studying a subject, even when studying at an advanced level, just as a beginner in that subject would.

“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few,” says Shunryu Suzuki in his classic book Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind. “Zen is not some fancy, special art of living. Our teaching is just to live, always in reality, in its exact sense,” he continues. “So we should be concentrated with our full mind and body on what we do; and we should be faithful, subjectively and objectively, to ourselves, and especially to our feelings.”

“When you do something, you should do it with your whole body and mind,” Suzuki continues. “You should be concentrated on what you do. You should do it completely, like a good bonfire. You should not be a smoky fire. You should burn yourself completely. If you do not burn yourself completely, a trace of yourself lf will be left in what you do.”

The concept of having a beginner’s mind should make total sense intuitively, even if you are not a Buddhist or everyday Zen person. Try being fully present when people are talking to you, to enjoy each bite of a crunchy apple as if it was the first you’d ever tasted, to delight in your team’s insights, and to let others be smarter than you because, after all, you are just a beginner – you don’t have to be the all wise and powerful Oz.

These are just a handful of things that you can do to recharge. We hope you found them useful and get to practice them or something else that helps you rebuild, if not this weekend, then at least this summer.

Advisors: Choosing the right images for your website

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Including images and photography on your websites and blogs is something most people tend to do. Using the right images can help you to connect and engage with your target audience. The old saying ‘an image is worth a thousands words’ definitely applies here. However, choosing the most appropriate image can often prove to be difficult and time consuming.

Here are a few simple guidelines to help you choose the right image to help better engage your audience:

Natural Vs. Staged

I suppose there was a time back in the day, when artificially lit sets and over bright smiling people were considered a great idea, but that time has definitely passed. Today’s potential customer has been over-saturated with too perfect and staged stock shots. What people are looking for these days is honesty. The natural/candid style of shot is quickly becoming the preferred style of image for many sites. The reason for this is not just a contrary swing in style; it’s a natural choice for those who are looking for authenticity. If you’re using stock photos that are too polished and insincere looking, it casts a poor light on to your business. It gives off a feeling of insincerity and falseness that may drive potential clients away.

Out of date

When you’ve perused the millions of photos on either pay or free stock sites, you’ll see that some have aged gracefully, and some have not.

If you’re showing a scene with someone at a computer screen, be sure it is a recent image. Nothing says ‘I’m not current’ like an old fashioned monitor sitting on a desk. Or, someone using a 10 year old flip-phone. Images of a family can be timeless, but watch out for telltale signs of family photos that are clearly from years ago.

Seen this one before

Last but not least, we should talk about popular stock images.

When you’re using a site like ‘istock’ or ‘Getty’, one of the filters you can use is ‘popularity’. This means that you can select photos based on how often they’ve been used before. I would advise against that, unless the image is for something benign like a photo of a calculator or something inconsequential.

If you’re looking for anything that will be used as a feature image, remember, someone somewhere has possibly chosen the same image. There is nothing quite as awkward as seeing an image you’re using for your site, also being used by the dentist down the street, or in a piece of junk-mail, or worse, on your competitors site.

Be original. Try and use images that you’re confident your competition isn’t using.

Hiring a photographer and getting original photos is always the best solution, but second best is using something that both looks good and is singular to your site alone.

…But where do I find the right images?

1) Sources for Free Images

Once upon a time, all photos had to be purchased, but things have changed in recent years. There are many sources for photographs and images that cost you nothing, or very little (sometimes just a link to the photographers webpage).

www.freeimages.com

This site has been around now for a very long time, and you can find a lot of great images here. The main difficulty with this (as with other free sites) is quality. For every fantastic photo, there can often be quite a large number of not-so-great photos. As with anything else in life, you sometimes have to search for a bit to find the gold.

https://pixabay.com

Another great site for free images is Pixabay.com. I’ve personally had a lot of success finding great images here. If you’re looking for something here, whether it’s images of luxury, happy families or shots of business people, you’ll find lots of great shots here.

http://compfight.com/

This site is a bit different. Compfight sources all of its photos from flickr.com. For this site, you need to tweak the settings from ‘any license’ to ‘commercial’. Once that is done, search away. You’ll find the photos here are of a much higher caliber than some of the other free sites, and that’s due to Flickr’s reputation as one of the leading photography portals in the world.

Rather than payment, use of these photos is by accreditation. You simply need to include a link on your page to the photographer’s Flickr page; this is shown to you when you click the photo.

2) Sources for Paid Images

http://www.istockphoto.com/

This site is a great source for photos and images. Years ago, it was much like Flickr, but has since been bought by Getty Images, the leading stock company in the world…. which leads us to…

http://www.gettyimages.com

The big time. Getty is just about the biggest player on the block for photography. They also own most of the other stock companies…

http://www.thinkstockphotos.ca

This is another site owned by Getty images. This is the site that I would use the most often and would recommend to anyone. It compiles all the stock companies owned by Getty, so you’re getting the best of the best.

—————————————-

Now that you know where to find the images and have an understanding of what constitutes a great modern and engaging photo, all it takes now is some time. Although you’re not supposed to judge a book by it cover, we all know that we do. Take the time to properly choose the right images that best represent your business to your customers and prospects. A well-picked image will be remembered and will reflect well on you, but a poorly chosen image will also be remembered, and potentially reflect negatively on your business.