The Power of Storytelling in the Business World

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Storytelling is one of the most inherently human activities that exists. No other species has the documented ability to tell stories the way we do. Stories greatly affect how people view topics. Storytelling, as opposed to any other method of communication, has the capacity to plant thoughts, ideas, and emotions into the audience’s brain.

Science has shown that our brains react differently to stories than to information with no narrative elements. When we hear a story, many different areas of the brain are activated. When hearing a story, the entire brain lights up with activity but when information is presented in a non-story manner, only the brain’s language processing areas become engaged.

Information in a story stimulates the brain in a way that makes it feel as if it’s experiencing the story itself. If I was to describe someone with leathery hands or a velvet voice, the sensory cortex of your brain would react. If I described my movements in the thirty minutes after getting out of bed, the motor cortex of the brain would be stimulated. These are the same parts of the brain that would be activated if you touched leather, a velvet curtain or when you experience motion.

People are moved by stories in ways that other forms of communication simply cannot match. Stories create emotional and psychological connections that help information gain traction in the audience’s brain.

Businesses across all industries work to take advantage of people’s natural attraction to storytelling. By communicating relevant information in the form of the story, it will engage the audience in a way that simply detailing the relevant information never would.

There are 4 main areas to consider in order to tell the most effective stories about your brand:

1. Humanize your message

Conveying information in the form of a story has the effect of humanizing your message. Storytelling can convey feelings of trust, authenticity, and sincerity; traits often associated with other humans.

Authenticity enables feelings and emotions to be conveyed. Authenticity is a leading reason why content associated with individuals within an organization has become so important to how brands interact with their audiences. It is best practice in content marketing to attach a name to company emails, blog posts and other forms of content. Content created by a brand’s CEO, the users of a product, or a customer-facing employee is more successful than content labeled with just the brand name.

People relate to other people, and storytelling evokes that connection. The most successful brands create emotional attachments with their customers. Consumers want to trust brands, and it is far easier for consumers to trust another human than a faceless entity. Storytelling can create that human connection and increase the trust consumers have in your brand.

2. Be emotional

Stories are a fantastic way to convey emotions to an audience. If someone becomes emotionally attached to an idea, it will stay in their mind. By creating an emotional connection with an audience, you can draw their continued attention.

One way you can use emotions to create more effective content is by drawing on empathy to forge connections with the reader (or viewer). You can easily create more effective content by putting the audience at the heart of the story and explaining how the information affects them.

In the competitive market for people’s attention, a story without an emotional connection will be ignored and quickly forgotten. Perhaps the most important feature of a story is connecting the information within to a human lens. In some situations, emotion can be more important to a decision-maker than facts.

3. Framing context

Humans think in terms of cause and effect. Regardless of the activity, people think in narratives. People create short stories about every little thing that happens to them. They enjoy sharing personal conversations and anecdotes. People naturally communicate first and foremost through stories, and brands can take advantage of that fact.

Storytelling affords brands the chance to talk in terms of cause and effect, and explain how their message directly affects individuals. People want to relate information to their own experiences whenever possible. Storytelling gives brands an opportunity to explain why the information they are providing is relevant to their target audience. Framing your content in this fashion will allow you to retain the interest of your audience.

4. Retaining interest

Listing facts and figures is not an engaging way of communicating information. Powerpoints, academic papers, and lectures are jam-packed with information but are not as effective a medium for communicating information as storytelling. They do not engage audiences as much as stories because they can come across as “dry” to most of the intended audience.

Storytelling, unlike other methods of communicating information, can maintain audience interest in a world of information overload. By creating peaks and valleys in the “flow” of the story, brands can create suspense and stakes within their story. Consider your favorite novel, movie or play. It is very likely there are suspenseful moments sprinkled throughout the content to create suspense.

Stories allow brands to retain their audience’s interest by motivating “action centers” within their brain. You can use various narrative techniques to engage audiences, peaking their interest and keeping their eyes on your content. No other form of communication has this benefit.

These facts about human psychology boil down to one lesson: People may forget facts, but they never forget great stories.

How to convey warmth through storytelling in financial services?

The financial services industry is no exception to the rule. Storytelling is still the most effective way to communicate relevant information to an audience. You can incorporate stories into all aspects of your marketing campaigns, client loyalty, and sales efforts.

Most people will say that they understand the importance of saving for retirement, but many do not invest enough in their 401(k) or other retirement plans. If you tell them “save more”, they might not listen to you. Provide that information in a narrative and the psychology of storytelling can help them understand the importance of the information you are providing.

Tell them a story of a family who did not save enough for retirement, and as a result suffered consequences, putting immense pressure on their loved ones. This story can help illustrate the importance of saving for retirement in a way that your audience can relate to.

You could explain how you would help a potential client plan for retirement, but that might not motivate people to make smarter decisions. Tell a story about a young couple who you met with the exact same mindset the audience has. Use the story to show how your advice made their life better. That story will resonate better and will influence their emotions to motivate action.

You can tell millennial audiences a story about one of their peers in a dire financial situation. Explain how with your services, you can help them save for their dream vacation. When you tell a story, your goal should be to have the audience empathize with the characters in the story. 

Any financial services professional can use storytelling to help their clients understand the importance of various financial situations. When pure information doesn’t motivate client action, a story can evoke emotions that may cause your client base to take action.

Does your business tell stories to better relate to your audience? We would love to hear the story of your brand. Let us know your story on Twitter @VeridayHQ or contact us on LinkedIn here.

Financial Marketers Not Ready for the Future?

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The financial services industry spends $8.37 billion (USD) per year on digital advertising. But with 615 million devices blocking ads worldwide, marketers need to adopt an inbound marketing strategy if they want to improve the success rate of their digital marketing efforts.

Every financial services organization is attempting to become more efficient and effective in their digital marketing efforts. From investing in new technologies to leveraging data to improve personalization, financial services organizations are working to drive more engagement in their marketing campaigns.

Trends in financial services marketing include increasing efforts in developing their brands, utilizing web-based selling, developing interactive content, and doing a better job of targeting individuals using mobile channels. The business goals associated with these marketing trends are to improve their capacity to up-sell and cross-sell while growing their overall client base.

These goals prove that the industry as a whole is embracing the digital age. There are a few difficulties financial marketers face, including difficulties in measuring ROI, an inability to get the most from their data, an inability to efficiently personalize their marketing efforts and overwhelming expectations from upper management. All of these difficulties come coupled with a systematic lack of funding for digital transformation efforts.

How are these difficulties hampering financial marketers? Let’s examine 6 of the challenges faced by financial marketers:

1. Measuring ROI

92% of organizations in financial services believe that measuring marketing performance and proving results are a challenge. As you can see in the graph below, more than half of financial executives believe their organization could do a better job of establishing marketing ROI. This number increases even more when focusing on marketing executives.

Financial Services Marketers Not Ready for the Future

Why do financial service providers struggle to quantify marketing ROI? The answer may lie in the fact that financial service organizations were slow to adopt digital marketing tactics. This late adoption meant that financial service providers are still playing catch up. Especially when it comes to digital marketing analytics.

Even though digital marketing produces an insane amount of data (click-through-rate, engagement, reach, etc.), they are of little interest to those outside of marketing. Non-marketing stakeholders are generally more concerned with ROI and sales. If an activity does not drive revenue, it is hard to justify the expense. Marketers in financial services (and other industries as well), must work to prove their value in dollars and cents.

2. Limited Skillsets and Insufficient Use of Data

These two challenges are very closely related to each other. Many marketing departments in financial services lack the skills required to effectively draw conclusions from data. By no means is this problem solely experienced in financial services. Every industry is facing a similar challenge. To offer personalized experiences to your audience, you need to be able to draw conclusions from data. Data silos need to be broken down, results need to be measured and insights need to be drawn. These activities can only be accomplished if marketing departments have the required data skills, this can be done by hiring personnel with adequate data skills.

Only 11% of organizations in financial services said that data analytics was not a problem. This shows the widespread need for data professionals with robust analytical skills in marketing. Without these skills, marketers cannot draw accurate conclusions about their audience. Without an accurate view of your audience, how can you produce content that speaks to their interests, pain points, challenges, and questions?

These missing skills also factor into why financial services companies struggle to calculate ROI from marketing. The department simply does not have the skills available to calculate these stats. In order for financial marketers to make better use of data, investments need to be made in human resources that can break down data silos and draw conclusions from available data.

3. Lack of Personalization

Personalized marketing is one of the goals of most, if not all, digital marketers. An increasing percentage of marketing budgets in financial services are going towards digital channels. This has made mass media buys a less popular option for marketers. One way to succeed in digital marketing is through producing content that is relevant to your target audience.

Offering personalized content and communications increase the rate of success for content marketing. 71% of respondents cited brand awareness and thought leadership as the most common objectives for content marketing in financial services. Customer retention/loyalty was a close third, cited by 69% of respondents.

The lack of personalization in financial services can be attributed to two main factors:

  1. The first factor preventing greater personalization in financial services is that thought leadership and brand awareness do not have a tangible, easily calculated impact on ROI. Since financial services executives are heavily focused on increasing profits and ROI, content marketing budgets can be difficult to justify.
  2. The second, more systematic reason that financial services marketers struggle to offer personalized content and communications can be attributed to the constraints surrounding regulations. All content and communications from financial service providers must be recorded and pass a compliance review. It does not matter if it is a blog post or direct email. If it is a marketing activity, it must be reviewed for compliance. The delay between drafting communications and gaining approval hamstrings the ability for marketers to personalize communications.

If financial services marketers could pass content and communications through compliance without massive delays, personalized content and communications could be produced and published more effectively.

4. Inability to Effectively Automate 

A major difficulty for marketers in financial services is the inability to effectively automate marketing functions. Marketing automation can be used in many ways and is a very valuable tool for any digital marketer. So why hasn’t automation been used to its full potential by financial services marketing teams?

In financial services, there are many rules regulating communications between organizations and individuals. Regulations are also in place to protect customer data, and to regulate branding and marketing All these regulations must be considered by financial marketers when creating and distributing content. Because of these regulations, marketers may be hesitant to employ automation. The penalties for non-compliance are so high that marketers may not trust automation with following the rules. The risk simply is too high to justify the reward. Another reason why financial marketers might be hesitant to adopt marketing automation technologies are the existing legacy systems. The legacy systems in place at financial institutions might not have the technological ability to automate their processes.

Without the ability to effectively automate certain processes, a limited number of initiatives can be undertaken at once. Automation can improve a company’s ability to:

  • respond to customer requests in real-time,
  • help the company alter details of a program in an agile manner,
  • make scheduling social media posts, emails, and content more efficient,
  • marketing in real time,
  • reactive marketing,
  • event marketing.

5. Overwhelming Expectations, Underwhelming Budgets

It appears that the final, and potentially most impactful challenge that financial marketers face is overwhelming expectations from leadership. Thanks to the increased popularity of digital marketing over the last few years, there are many areas that marketing departments need to quickly improve upon. Financial marketers need to develop skill sets for dealing with data, they need to find ways to quantify their impact on the bottom line, and they also need to revamp their marketing plans to make better use of digital channels.

Since marketing has changed so much, there are many changes that marketing departments need to undergo in order to overcome digital marketing challenges. These changes need to occur in short order, as there is still a “race” to capture digital marketing authority amongst financial service providers. The amount of change that needs to occur relatively quickly has lead to high expectations from leadership.

The graph by The Financial Brand (below), shows the biggest challenges for marketers in 2017.

Financial Services Marketers Not Ready for the Future

The main challenge for marketing departments in financial services is due to budget constraints. The quantity of change that needs to occur in a tight timeframe, along with tight budgets, has lead to some financial marketers feeling overwhelmed. They are simply being asked to do too much with too little.

Takeaways for Financial Services Marketers

To all the financial services marketers reading this, I feel your pain. Due to the increasing ubiquity of the internet, we have seen an unprecedented change in the way goods and services are marketed over the past decade. Because of the complex, far-reaching regulations that affect marketing financial services, this change has been especially difficult for financial marketers.

All the problems discussed in this article are interrelated. You cannot properly utilize your data unless you have the skill set to analyze it and break down silos. If you cannot analyze the data to draw conclusions, you cannot prove the ROI of marketing efforts. If you cannot prove ROI to executives, they will not increase your marketing budget. Without an increased budget, you cannot hire people with the skills to break down silos and analyze data.

It’s a vicious cycle that will be very difficult to break out of. To break the cycle, marketers will need to gain buy-in from non-marketing leaders. The key to everything is proving the value of digital marketing in terms executives can understand: dollars and cents.

Do you want to get more out of your digital marketing efforts? Do you want to expand your content marketing strategy through your affiliate marketing channels? We might have the product for you. Digital Agent is a marketing compliance platform, built specifically for financial service providers. It can help your agent network create personalized content that can be easily approved by compliance for publication. For more information, you can go to www.digitalagent.com. If you have any questions please feel free to contact us. Follow us on Twitter @VeridayHQ.

Content Marketing Vs. Public Relations (PR) [Infographic]

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Communicating information to your audience is a very important element of gaining their attention for your brand. Marketers are always looking to new mediums to send their messaging out to the audience.  Advertising was very popular in the days before the internet, but today’s digital age has lead to two main strategies dominating marketing departments across multiple industries: content marketing and public relations (PR).

The Content Marketing Institute defines content marketing as:

“a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience. Ultimate goal is to drive profitable customer action.”

The Public Relations Society of America defines public relations as:

“a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.”

As you can see, both of these definitions are quite similar. This infographic from CJG Digital Marketing examines the differences between the two practices.  

At Veriday, we believe content marketing is an effective strategy for regularly communicating relevant information to your audience. If done correctly, you will increase customer engagement and therefore increase the size of your client base. While public relations has its merits, we believe that content marketing is the more effective of the two marketing strategies. We believe it is more effective because PR is usually used during special events or crises, while content marketing is a regular occurrence.  
Content Marketing Vs. Public Relations

9 Star Wars Quotes That Can Make You A Better Financial Agent

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In 1977, George Lucas released his third film as a director: Star Wars. It was a massive success, leading to five more films before the production company behind the Star Wars franchise (LucasFilm) was sold to Disney. The space epic is centered around a series of intergalactic conflicts, exploring how your destiny is forged by the decisions you make. 

Throughout the course of the series, a variety of characters deliver quotes of great wisdom. The advice and ideas they share in these quotes are not only useful within the context of the films, but teach lessons that can be applied to the financial service industry. The lessons from Star Wars involve: keeping your business secure, having self-confidence, being patient, finding value where it might not be apparent, and making smart decisions.

I’ve compiled 9 of my favourite Star Wars quotes that I believe give insights into how you can become a better financial agent.

1. “You are unwise to lower your defenses.” — Darth Vader, Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi (1983)

This quote by Darth Vader was delivered while dueling his son, Luke Skywalker, on the second Death Star. While you probably won’t need to defend yourself against a lightsaber anytime soon, this quote can still be of consequence. It can apply to a variety of scenarios for financial agents, but it is most fitting when considering digital security.

You would be unwise to lower your defenses, especially those surrounding your company’s data. If you do not ensure that your data is heavily protected, you risk losing confidential information to hackers. In the financial service industry, this means breaking industry regulations and putting sensitive information at risk. Your clients would not appreciate a data breach; an event that would jeopardize your relationships with them.

You should take every possible measure to ensure you protect your data. This means training your employees to spot vulnerabilities and investing in a secure solution to store your data. 43% of cyber attacks target small businesses, and 60% of small businesses go out of business after a cyber attack. Digital security is a big deal, and you need to be constantly vigilant of potential breaches.

After being scolded about lowering his defenses, Luke promptly had his right hand cut off in a duel with his father. You don’t want your business to suffer the same fate.

9 Star Wars Quotes That Can Make You A Better Financial Agent

2.  I find your lack of faith disturbing.” – Darth Vader, Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope (1977)

Our second quote by Darth Vader is another versatile statement that can be applied to a variety of scenarios. In the original movie, this line is delivered right before Darth Vader does something evil. Today, we will frame this quote as positive and make it about believing in yourself.

If you come to a decision, in business or in life, be confident that you made the right choice. You meticulously research and work with your key decision-makers to make the right financial plan for your client. Don’t let doubt creep into your mind and shake your confidence regarding the decision. Unless a strong amount of evidence comes to light that you made an error, stick to your guns. Believe in yourself. You are very capable and have the experience and knowledge to make the right decision.

Darth Vader was a villain, dominating the galaxy with the Emperor. It’s very sad because, in another life, he probably could have written a very successful self-help book.

3. You know better than to trust a strange computer.” — C3PO, Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

9 Star Wars Quotes That Can Make You A Better Financial Agent

C3PO, the overly formal protocol droid, has the second lesson about security on this list. After R2D2 commented that the hyperdrive of the Millennial Falcon was broken, C3PO delivered this line. The ship was in the middle of a space battle, and R2D2 was given the information by the enemies computer. While the information R2D2 received was ultimately correct, C3PO raises a good point. You shouldn’t trust strange computers (or systems, or emails, or anything).

If you receive a notification, an email, or another alert about a problem, you should independently investigate that problem. If you don’t have the resources or knowledge to investigate, you should find someone in your organization who does. The most common phishing techniques can be combatted simply by being vigilant and questioning things that don’t seem right.

Also, be aware of strange hardware. USBs and other storage solutions can be used to upload viruses, ransomware, and other malware onto your computer. Do not plug in a USB that you don’t know the origin of. Don’t trust a strange computer and be aware of potential cyber threats.

4. Patience you must have, my young Padawan.” – Yoda, Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

This quote was originally delivered by Jedi Master Yoda to the young and inexperienced Luke Skywalker during Luke’s training. Luke was rushing his training so he could go fight his father Darth Vader. Yoda, on the other hand, felt he needed more training. Despite his unconventional way of speaking, Yoda always conveys great wisdom. There are many ways that patience benefits financial agents, but today we will take a look at two in particular.

The first scenario where patience applies in finance is when trading stocks and securities. When you look to make a trade, you must set your rules for entry. At what price point will you make the trade? At what point will you sell what you currently possess? Should you sell after turmoil? These decisions are all very important. Being patient can ensure that you make the right decision at the right time.

The second scenario where patience is a virtue in finance is anytime you help a client with their finances. You are a professional. You have the training and the knowledge to help them make a plan that fits their needs. Be patient, and encourage them to be patient, when investing or saving for the future. It takes time to save for things such as retirement. Be patient. When working with clients, you should be like the Master Yoda of the conversation. Convey your wisdom and speak the truth.

5. Judge me by my size, do you?” – Yoda, Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

9 Star Wars Quotes That Can Make You A Better Financial Agent

Yoda is full of grammatically incorrect quotes brimming with wisdom. As he accuses Luke Skywalker of misjudging his power, Yoda asks a question that should be asked more often. You should be very cautious when judging opportunities. Just because a company is small, doesn’t mean it is a bad investment opportunity. That small company could grow to become extremely profitable. Perhaps a great investment opportunity is severely undervalued. When it comes to trading, be careful of judging things by their size.

Just because a client doesn’t have a lot of assets, does not mean that they should be treated as such. There are a number of reasons not to judge somebody by the size of their wallet. That person could win the lottery tomorrow, and be a multi-millionaire. They could inherit a large fortune, or simply work their way up the corporate ladder quickly. All of these scenarios leave that person with more assets than they currently have. If you treat them poorly while managing their wealth (pre-windfall), you risk driving them off when they “make it”. Simply disrespecting clients of lesser means, may hurt your assets under management in the future.

Take millennials as an example. Financial advisors often ignore them because they currently don’t have many assets. In reality, millennials are the future for financial service providers because of their growing spending power. In due time, they will control a significant amount of the world’s wealth. Financial advisors who can draw a millennial client base before the generation fully realizes their wealth will have an advantage over their competition.

6. “You can’t stop change any more than you can stop the suns from setting.” – Shmi Skywalker, Star Wars: Episode 1 – The Phantom Menace (1999)

The mother of Anakin Skywalker (AKA Darth Vader), Shmi Skywalker, was a relatively minor character in the Star Wars franchise. She spoke this line to her young son before he turned to the dark side. The quote applies to finance (and life) in a number of ways.

You cannot do anything to stop change. It is a constant. Governments will put in place regulations that impact the financial services. Businesses will make bad decisions, and things will fail. What makes a good financial agent is your ability to anticipate and react to these change in order to benefit your client base.

Since you cannot stop change, you should embrace it. Stay on top of modern trends. Understand what technologies and strategies are emerging and how you can take advantage of them. Look for opportunities for success within changing situations. Anakin Skywalker did not heed his mother’s advice. Anakin tried to stop change and in doing so he lost everyone he loved and became Darth Vader. Do not make the same mistake.

7. Try not. Do… or do not. There is no try.” – Yoda, Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

Yet another quote delivered by Yoda to Luke Skywalker during his training. This quote is about determination. Your actions have real effects, and you should have the patience, knowledge, and confidence to follow through with your plans. If you say you are going to “try”, you are subconsciously admitting that your plans might fail.

When you go to the store to get milk, do you say “I’m going to try to get milk”? No, you don’t. You say “I’m going to get milk” with the confidence that you will be able to get the milk. You should have confidence in your plans. Believe your plan can be accomplished. Do not try. Just do it.

If you cannot ensure that you can make a plan and 100% follow through, then you may need to re-evaluate. Break down what you need to accomplish into manageable pieces, and make a plan for each of those segments. To gain trust from your customers, you need to be able to communicate exactly what you can do for them. If you can highlight what you can 100% achieve for your client, you will better be able to provide tangible value.

You need to constantly be communicating your value, highlighting what you do for your clients. Service providers face a challenge that is not faced by distributors of goods. The physical existence of goods serves as a reminder of their value. When people see their car, they are reminded of the value it provides. Services do not have that reminder, so service providers need to constantly remind their clients of the value they provide.

8. Who’s the more foolish, the fool? Or the fool who follows him?” – Obi-Wan Kenobi, Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope (1977)

Old Obi-Wan Kenobi spoke this line to Han Solo while aboard the Millennial Falcon. Han was calling him “an old fool”, and Obi-Wan returned with this biting comeback. Obi-Wan has a serious point here. If you know better, why would you follow bad advice? For financial agents, this goes two ways.

You should resist the pressure to sell financial products you don’t believe in. Major financial institutions often push their agents to promote particular products. If you don’t believe in a product, why would your client be interested in it? You are an expert. Every product or service you recommend to a client should be tailored to their unique needs. Don’t be unwise when recommending action. It is your responsibility to make the most logical, well-intended decisions, regardless of what expectations are held by leadership.

The other side of the equation for financial agents comes when they are the ones providing guidance or advice. Your clients will not be happy if they believe you have made “foolish” decisions. They lose faith in your ability to manage their finances. Bad decisions and mismanagement will result in clients using trust in you, damaging your reputation. Ensure that your decision-making process is justified and easily explainable. People understand why taking risks is important, however, they will not be understanding of foolish mistakes.

Be mindful of every decision you make; as even if made in good faith, decisions can easily result in negative results. You do not want to be seen as a fool (because you aren’t one). Ensure you advocate for the right decisions are made… even if they are out of your control.

9. “I’ve got a bad feeling about this.” – Multiple characters, Star Wars: Multiple times (1977-2016)

9 Star Wars Quotes That Can Make You A Better Financial Agent

Arguably the second most iconic line of the series (behind “May the Force be with you”), this quote speaks volumes. Every time a character proclaims: “I’ve got a bad feeling about this”, something bad happens almost immediately.

The lesson you can take from this quote is that you should trust your “gut”. Financial markets can rapidly change, with government actions or small changes in an industry having a widespread effect almost immediately. If data isn’t available to accurately forecast the expected results you should trust your intuition. Mistakes and missteps are bound to happen. You can justify your actions in those moments if you know that you stuck to your convictions and trusted your instincts.

If you have a bad feeling about something, as Luke Skywalker did right before he saw the original Death Star for the first time, you should trust that feeling. You have training and experience. Rely on that to make the correct decision.

As you can see, you can learn a lot of lessons from the Star Wars saga. Through the many adventures the heroes faced, we learned lessons to apply to finance (and business in general). What other Star Wars quotes relate to the financial service industry? Let us know on Twitter @VeridayHQ! Have an excellent day and may the Force be with you!

How are Financial Services Delivery Channels Changing?

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As Bob Dylan once sang: “the times, they are a changin”. This song-worthy statement certainly holds true in the financial services industry today. From online and mobile experiences to the internet of things, to robo-advisors and the use of artificial intelligence, things are very different today compared to a decade ago. Today, we are going to look at five graphs from the Financial Brand and see what they say about technology use in financial services.

1. Importance of Each Delivery Channel

importance of different channels

This graph examines the importance of various delivery channels to consumers.

The graph clearly shows that to consumers, the in-branch experience is the single most important delivery channel. Nearly half of consumers surveyed thought that the quality of the in-branch experience was the most important delivery channel for customer experience. In addition, nearly a quarter of respondents rank it as the second most important factor.

Notice how the smartphone app and smartphone browser experiences rank as far less important? This shows that mobile technology solutions are still far less important to the average consumer than the in-person experience, at least when it comes to banking.

Over the phone customer experience, a distinctly non-high-tech delivery channel rated very highly as second or third priority delivery channels. However, it ranked very low as a first option. This could be because if a consumer’s most used channel has a problem such as:

    • Local branch is closed for emergency
    • No internet connection is available
    • Long distance between consumer and branches
    • Laptop exploded
    • Etc.

Any of these problems could motivate a consumer to call the bank in order to solve their problem.

This means that even when you believe that digital experiences rate highly for your consumers, you will need to provide a solid in-person experience in order to satisfy their secondary and tertiary preferences.

2. Considering New Experiences

New experiences consumers are willing to try

The second graph we are looking at examines which new experiences consumers are willing to try. This graph shows that consumers are more willing to consider traditional financial service experiences. Any form of technology added to the equation will lower the adoption rate, especially among baby boomers.

Consumers are extremely willing to consider meeting in-person with a traditional financial advisor who provides personalized service for a traditional fee, across all generations. Again, this shows that consumers are very open to the idea of human interaction.

The second category, automated investment services, is less popular across all demographics. The results are the closest between this category and the previous one with millennials, who likely have the smallest amount to invest of all groups. Their relative lack of wealth, along with their digital upbringing makes them more comfortable with automated investment services.

Online financial coaching, the third option, is again dramatically less popular than meeting an advisor in person with every group except millennials. This point could tie to the one above. They do not have many assets and were raised in an environment where digital channels were emerging, making them more comfortable with those channels. Social media groups have a very little chance to be considered by any consumer, even millennials.

What I take away from this graph is the fact that consumers prefer in-person professional advice in financial services. The farther removed a service was from a professional, the less likely it would be considered.

3. Is Robo-Advice Trusted?

Is Robo-Advice Trusted?

The third graph compares whose advice is more trusted: humans or robots? While most respondents have no strong feelings one way or another, the consensus is that human advice is superior. Just over half of total respondents felt that human advisors could be trusted more than robo-advice.

Although humans are still seen as more reliable, this graph should be worrying to financial advisors who do not (or cannot) offer robo-advice. The first robo-advisor launched in 2008, so they have not even been around for a decade. By 2020, robo advisors are projected to manage over $8 trillion.

Financial advisors need to be concerned about this trend. $8 trillion is a significant amount of business to lose to automation. Financial service providers need to come together to develop a coherent strategy as to how to combat this threat. Perhaps all financial advisors will soon offer robo-advice at a rate lower than that of their standard services.

Regardless of how they combat it, a strategy must be defined soon. As the robo-advisory market matures, more and more people will be willing to adopt it. Automation is on the doorstep, how will the financial service industry respond?

4. Consumer Attitudes Towards New Technologies

Consumer attitudes towards new technology

This graph examines consumer attitudes towards new technologies, highlighting two highly sought-after groups in financial services. Now, before we get into the analysis, some factors must be accounted for. First, these are the consumers’ opinions of themselves. That might account for over half of millennials and the mass affluent claiming they are one of the first people to try out new technologies. Among these groups, being an early adopter of technology can be seen as “cool”. This wording might also contribute to the low number of respondents who claimed they are “hesitant” to try out new technology, thanks to the negative connotations often associated with that word.

Now, let’s examine what this graph tells us about attitudes towards technology adoption. It is clear, that both the mass affluent and millennials are interested in new technologies. Nearly a third of each category believe that they are the first person to try out a new technology. This points to an extreme eagerness to use new technologies. These are the consumers who will try out the latest, greatest app. They will wait in line to buy the new iPhone and they will appreciate (and use) the new features of a product.

Compared to the average person, millennials and the mass affluent will rapidly adopt new technology, they are your trendsetters. When you introduce new technology solutions, ensure that the message gets out to these groups of people.

If millennials and the mass affluent adopt a technology upon implementation and keep using the technology, it is a great sign that you have a winner on your hands. Keep this in mind when adopting a new technology for your business. Not everyone will immediately pick up new technology. Use these groups as a litmus test to gauge the success of a new technology solution

5. Adoption of New Digital Services

Adoption of new digital solutions

The final graph we will look at today examines what digital services consumers are aware of and which services are being adopted. There are two ways in which someone could view this graph:

The first way in which someone could view this is as a cynic. They would see how many people are aware of the technologies and then compare it to how many people have adopted it (or plan to). If a person looked at the graph this way, they would conclude that the financial service industry is failing at motivating the adoption of technology solutions.

The second way that someone could look at this graph would lead them to believe that the financial service industry does not consider consumer needs when introducing new technologies. Only two of the listed options have at least half of respondents planning to use the technology. These two options are arguably the most practical for financial services and could be a benefit to anybody. Digital protection against theft and fraud, as well as mobile transfer technologies, are useful to any consumer of financial services. They add convenience and safety to everybody, hence the high adoption rates. Other options listed either don’t benefit the average person, often come with significant fees, or seemingly put people’s data at risk.

Another thing that jumps off the page, is the fact that most of these options have an awareness rate below 80%, with some in the low-60% range. To me, this is the most concerning aspect of the entire graph. How can a financial institution expect to sell these solutions if people aren’t aware of them? Perhaps there is some nuance to the situation, but it appears that financial service marketers need to work on spreading awareness of new technology solutions.

Conclusion

These five graphs say a lot about the use of technology in the financial service industry. They show consumer banking habits through the perceived importance of various channels. The graphs show what experiences consumers would consider trying and how technology could take some percentage of business away from humans. The graphs also showed how consumers view technology, as well as to what degree consumers are aware of various financial services.

However you choose to read into these graphs, they must show to some extent how technology is moving in on traditional financial service offerings. If anything, the graphs should be a reminder to those in FinServ that the world is changing rapidly. In the future, your competition might not be a human, but a machine. Always be aware of your competitive landscape and consider what you can do to compete with automated services.

How did you read these graphs? Will robo-advisors ever truly become a threat to the traditional financial advisor? What can financial service providers do in order to retain more customers and fight back competition from financial technology? Let us know your thoughts on Twitter @VeridayHQ or on LinkedIn here!

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 most important thing you NEED to include in your eNewsletters

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Are you a Financial Service provider trying to gain more traffic to your website? It’s a problem many businesses in the financial sector have. There are many different ways to cultivate engagement that can help lead to more traffic, and ultimately, conversions. Today, we will be discussing how a weekly (or monthly) newsletter can increase traffic to your website and what you need to do to nurture those readers into clients. The #1 most important thing that you have to consider when developing and sending out a eNewsletter is:

Value!

Why you might ask? Well, at the heart of a newsletter should lie value for the reader. Nobody wants to get sent an email chock full of promotional materials pressuring them to make a decision. If they get an email like that, chances are their decision will be to unsubscribe from future updates. There goes your future interactions with that prospect. They also don’t want an email full of information that they already know, or can find elsewhere with a simple google search.

Value in a newsletter can be provided in a number of ways:

  1. Exclusive Content

    Exclusive content is by far the most important aspect in driving value to your newsletter.

    Unique and exclusive content is a method of providing value to your subscribers. By writing a quality article or blog post, specifically for those subscribed to the newsletter, you can drive significant amounts of traffic to your website. People love unique and fresh content, and the feeling of exclusivity is the cherry-on-top of the content cake.

    The average buyer consumes 3-5 pieces of content before they even talk to a sales rep. By offering them a juicy, exclusive article (hosted on your website, of course), you will drive traffic to your website, build trust, and potentially become a thought leader in that consumer’s mind.

    Exclusivity is how top fashion brands, car companies, and luxury goods manufacturers help promote their businesses. What is stopping the Financial Services industry from using it as part of a content marketing and email strategy?

  2.  Special Offers, Discounts and Consultations

    Special offers, discounts and consultations can be offered either in the newsletter itself or as a selling point for signing up for the newsletter. Offering exclusive offers will make the reader more likely to engage with your business, perhaps even motivating them to spend more time on your website.

    70% of email readers open emails from a brand or company in search of a deal, discount, or special offer. As an Advisor, you could offer free consultations to motivate people to contact you. The reader will think “well it’s free, I might as well hear what they can do for me”. This gives you a fantastic opportunity to meet the prospect, humanize your brand and prove to that prospective client that you are the right person to manage their money.

    While many people are looking for special offers, it is important not to inundate your subscribers with promotions. If you do, the value will diminish with every offer. Discounts or freebies should be provided with valuable and unique educational material to help the reader better decide how to use that discount or to show them that your free consultation will be worth their time.

  3. Events and Giveaways

This one is somewhat related to “Discounts or Special Offers”. It goes back to the fact that people like a deal (or in this case, free stuff). Again, it should not be used in every newsletter, but more as a promotion to generate sign-ups or reward loyalty. You can give something small away to everyone who signs up, promote exclusive events (barbecues, picnics, etc,), that get people thinking about you and your business, and potentially gets you face time with these prospective clients (even if it happens to be over hot dogs).

You could give away an iPod, a drone, or another “big ticket” item in a draw that all members subscribed to your newsletter can win. This will encourage people to stay subscribed and check every newsletter to find out who the winner is.

Conclusion

In addition to these three methods, value in a newsletter should be provided by using the right mix of educational and promotional material. About 90% of the content in a newsletter should be educational to the readers. The other 10% can be promotional material. If the right balance isn’t struck, your newsletter will be nothing more than a glorified advertisement, which is not something that will attract clients in the Financial Services industry.

By educating your readers, and providing value in other ways, you will drive more traffic to your website. B2C companies that blogged 11+ times per month got more than 4X as many leads than those that blog only 4-5 times per month. (HubSpot, 2015).  Why not repurpose these blogs in your newsletter to extend their reach and get the most mileage out of your content? A newsletter can help you increase the reach of those posts to readers which will result in an increase in traffic. Remember, provide value above all else!

Best of luck with your content creation this week! If you want more information on starting a newsletter, check out our articles “Newsletters: The Forgotten Hero of Content Marketing” and “Do Advisors Really Need Email Marketing?”. Feel free to reach out if you have any questions. @VeridayHQ.

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

6 Lessons from Inbound Marketing in 2016 & What they Mean for 2017 [Part 2]

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This is part 2 in the series “6 Lessons from Inbound Marketing in 2016 & What they mean for 2017”. In part 1, we discussed local SEO becoming more important, inbound marketing and blogging becoming a bigger part of the marketing mix, and social media becoming a lifestyle. In this article, I will focus on advertising, video content, and inbound marketing as a whole:

  1. Advertisements will have to adapt to the prevalent use of adblockers and a more critical consumer.
  • 91% of people say ads are more intrusive today than two years ago. (HubSpot, 2016)
  • 73% of people dislike pop-up ads. (HubSpot, 2016)
  • 4 out of 5 of people have left a webpage because of a pop-up or autoplaying video ad. (HubSpot, 2016)
  • 72% of consumers say they would have a lower opinion of a brand if they subjected the consumer to a pop-up ad. (HubSpot, 2016)
  • 34% of consumers say they have mistakenly clicked on an online ad. (HubSpot, 2016)

Consumers are being more and more critical towards ads. If a webpage is hindered with advertisements that effect a positive customer experience, then consumers will respond with an adblocker or even worse, simply exit the page. In my experience, there have been many times where I have instantly exited a page the moment sounds from a video played without me having prompted the video myself. If I have to be on that website, the first thing I will do is stop the automatic video. If this is the type of response consumers have to a website, they will likely leave to go to a competitors How advertising will adapt is up to the creators, but what is true is that they will need to evolve in line with consumer preferences and keep customer experience a priority.

  1. Video content is now the most popular format.
  • 55% of people consume video content thoroughly. (HubSpot, 2016)
  • 43% of people want to see more video content from marketers. (HubSpot, 2016)

The ongoing trend and popularity of online videos will take the next year by storm as more companies will invest in creating video content. 48% will create content for YouTube, the king of user-created video content, and 39% will create for Facebook, which has recently become increasingly popular. Below is the complete graph showing what distribution channels businesses will use.

inbound-stats-1

  1. Marketers will put more emphasis on inbound marketing.
  • Inbound organizations are 4 times as likely to rate their marketing strategy as effective. (HubSpot, 2016)
  • Just 61% of marketers believe their marketing strategy is effective. (HubSpot, 2016)
  • One-third of marketers think outbound marketing tactics are overrated. (HubSpot, 2016)
  • 33% of inbound marketers and 31% of outbound marketers rank outbound marketing practices, such as paid advertising, as the top waste of time and resources. (HubSpot, 2016)

This is more of an internal trend. There’s a shift occurring in mainstream marketing to try and pull consumers towards you with engaging content. This could be in reaction to #4. Advertising is slowly being viewed more negatively, so more and more marketers have chosen an inbound strategy to combat it. For more information about the differences between inbound and outbound marketing, click here.

 


 

Overall, 2016 has kept a lot of marketing trends stable. There have been numerous improvements to local SEO, advertisements, and inbound marketing that will continue well into 2017. Companies have started investing more in creating content, specifically blogging and video. It is hard to predict the future, but these statistics can give us a good idea where the general direction is going.