Infographic: How to Write a Great Value Proposition That Lands Clients

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What is one of the best ways to convert your visitors into clients?  If you guessed your value proposition, then you’re right.

Solid value propositions are an essential tool to achieving goals and standing out. Are you successful at creating a distinct, recognizable brand? According to a study by Pershing, 60% of investors found it hard to distinguish among Advisors because of their value propositions.

A unique and effective value proposition is one of the best ways that you can position yourself to get new business.   Your value proposition concisely explains why a prospect needs you as their Advisor, and not your competition. By having a value proposition that helps you stand out from other Advisors, you attract prospects wanting to know more about who you are and how you can help them.

The Infographic below, by QuickSpout, offers some insight into the benefits of creating a value proposition, and the top tactics for creating one for your business.

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The FInancial and Insurance Advisor's Guide to Blogging

How Financial Advisors Can Use Twitter Analytics To Produce Better Content: Part 2

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So, you’ve been publishing content consistently now for a month or more. One technique I’ve used to determine the kind of content our marketing team should be focused on curating is by looking at the engagement of all of our tweets over the course of a 2-3 month time span (honestly, there’s no science behind that number, but after 2 months of data collection, we felt that was a large enough sample size). Here is a step by step guide on how to get the information we use to inform our content strategy. After you log into Twitter Analytics you can choose the time frame for which you would like to view and collect your data.

Twitter analytics - Select time span

  1. Select a 2 or 3 month time range. Be sure to hit the “update” button.
  2. Beside the range “button” there is an “Export Data” button. Click on that button, wait a few seconds, and a spreadsheet will automatically download onto your computer. The name of the file will be tweet_activity_metrics.csv.
  3. Open the spreadsheet with your favourite spreadsheet tool (NOTE: I will be using Microsoft Excel to provide you with the next steps so be sure to use the equivalent features in your spreadsheet tool). There will be a number of different columns preset
  4. Excel Sort Button Sort by Engagements from highest to lowest (if you have no engagements, sort by impressions) and pull out the first 10-15 rows of each.\
    1. Impressions typically indicates the visibility a piece of content receives through a keyword, a hashtag, or perhaps some kind of attribution to another Twitter user.
    2. Engagement indicates to me the content I posted that drove a user to like, share, re-tweet, click, etc. Engagement is a source of truth of the quality of your data. 1000 users can see your tweet, but if no one clicks on it or interacts with it, chances are the content or the words you used were not enough for someone to spend the few seconds to even look at the page.
  5. Examine the Tweets and try to answer the following questions:
    1. Do you notice a trend across the Tweets with respect to a particular topic and subject matter?
      1. Certain subject areas might gain more attention as a result of the audience you have who are following you. Not everything you share is relevant to your audience. Write down the subject areas you feel received the most engagement and ensure you are writing down a single subject area.
      2. Are you listing statistics or quantifiable comparisons or metrics that receive more engagement?
    2. Do you notice certain keywords or brand names across these tweets?
      1. Keywords and brand names peripheral to your practice and business make a lot of sense to share and include in your status updates. Write down those keywords and / or brand names.
    3. Are there certain Twitter user names (e.g. @VeridayHQ) in the tweets?
      1. Writing down the Twitter users who are helping you get engagement is a good way document targets for potential content partnerships and collaboration. This is a well known strategy to help boost your following.
  6. After you’ve completed this exercise, let’s say you have something that looks like this:
    1. Subject matter: Retirement Planning
    2. Subject matter: Tax
    3. Keyword: money
    4. Brand: Google
    5. Twitter user: @VeridayHQ
  7. Now that you have this list, work on sharing a larger portion of your updates (50-60%) focused on this criteria and see it your engagement levels and follower counts increase at a higher rate. Understandably, subject matter may be seasonal depending on the type of industry you’re in, for example, retirement, 401k and RRSPs might be top keywords in and around the January to March time frame so be sure to use your discretion at what keywords are best to use based on the time of year.

Are you using Twitter analytics to inform your content marketing strategy? Need help? Let’s chat!

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Financial Advisors: How To Come Up With Blog Topics in 60 Seconds

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Blogging is an extremely useful digital marketing practice that can generate leads by attracting new traffic to your website. If you’re not blogging, it’s time to get started, or get left behind. If you need some inspiration, here are 6 of the most important reasons why your business should be blogging:

  1. Drives traffic to your website
  2. Increases your website’s rank in organic search results (Search Engine Optimization)
  3. Positions yourself as an industry leader
  4. Builds trust and respect with your clients, prospects, peers and competitors
  5. Retains your current clients by providing free online resources
  6. Provides you with content that can be re-purposed many times over

What do I write about? What do I have to say that’s important enough to publish? Okay, I’ve written one post, now what? I can’t come up with anything. I’ll try again tomorrow. Anyone who blogs, or has blogged before, has experienced this.

Blogging can be an intimidating space. Studies have shown that content creation is one of the most difficult parts of starting and maintaining, a successful blog for any business. Nothing is more difficult then coming up with an idea or two to write about. But without topics, you have no articles, no content and therefore no content marketing.

If you are having trouble generating blog ideas, try using the quick tricks below. We have found these steps to be extremely effective for coming up with content ideas of our own.

Step 1:

Grab a notepad and pen, sit for 60 seconds and write down as many questions as you can think of that your clients ask you on a regular basis. Don’t worry about grammar, or being clever, just write every question a prospect or client has ever asked you.

Step 2:

Take a look at your list and answer the easy questions first. What you may not have realized is that each question/answer that you’ve come up with is a potential blog post. Blogging involves writing about single topics as opposed to writing a long articles that covers anything and everything on a subject. The questions that you thought of will probably break into many different shorter blog posts.

What do I mean by breaking up questions and subjects  into multiple blog posts? Well, let’s look at the question, ‘‘when can I retire?’’. Writing a single blog post about this question would result in a post that would lose the readers interest because it is too long, has too much information, and doesn’t focus on a single topic of retirement. To create an effective blog post, break this topic up into a few shorter blog posts covering retirement.  Some good examples of this are: ‘’5 ways to save for retirement’’,  ‘‘How important is it for you to have a written retirement plan?’’, ”10 things you need to know about TFSAs”, or, ‘’what is a tfsa and how does it work?’’.

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If you follow these steps, you will be amazed at just how many questions and ideas come to mind. Following these steps will also help you to start thinking like your prospects and clients, and answering questions with content that provides real value to them. Great content can be one of the best sales tools because it is still working even when you aren’t around, by teaching and moving prospects in the right direction, and positioning yourself as a thought leader. The blogging space is big enough for everyone to be successfully involved, so start blogging today, or get left behind!

What is your greatest challenge when it comes to coming up with topics to write about?  Comment below, we’d love to help!

The FInancial and Insurance Advisor's Guide to Blogging

Social Media Considerations for Advisors: YouTube

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YouTube, owned by Google, is a free video-sharing social networking website developed in 2005. YouTube allows users to upload, watch and share originally created videos. Anybody can watch and share videos on YouTube but to access additional features a person must register for an account. YouTube users can communicate with each other through comments, responses, shares, and private messages.

YouTube Demographics & Statistics:

YouTube Demographics

  • More than 1 billion unique users visit YouTube each month (YouTube.com)
  • Over 6 billion hours of video are watched each month on YouTube—that’s almost an hour for every person on Earth (YouTube.com)
  • 100 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute (YouTube.com)
  • Reaches more US adults ages 18-34 than any cable network (YouTube.com)
  • Millions of subscriptions happen each day. The number of people subscribing daily is up more than 3x since last year, and the number of daily subscriptions is up more than 4x since last year (YouTube.com)

Financial and Insurance Advisors are always looking for new and more effective ways to communicate with current and prospective clients. Video can be a highly effective medium that can allow you to create engaging content that reaches the masses. But can it be an effective medium for Financial and Insurance Advisors?  You may be asking yourself, how, as a Financial and Insurance Advisor could I use YouTube?

Advisors and YouTube

There is no question that online video is soaring.  In fact, 60% of baby boomers and 40% of seniors consider watching online video on sites like YouTube an important part of their day.  75% of boomers and 68% of seniors report calling or visiting a business or organization as a result of seeing a particular online video.

Many people are looking for a quick and easy way to consume information without having to read a lengthy article. If you are an Advisor that is constantly creating original content and sharing your knowledge, but aren’t big on writing or creating blog posts, creating videos could be a great way to demonstrate who you are, profile your services and attach some personality to your brand.

Establish trust, transparency and an authentic voice

YouTube videos can provide you with a medium to show your clients and prospects who you are, and allow you to establish a trustworthy, transparent and authentic voice. Videos could be used to provide your prospects with useful information and great content. Producing useful, engaging and relevant content via video can help to send the message to your target market that you know what you are talking about. As an Advisor, YouTube videos can also be used to tell your unique story, vision and philosophy to help build a connection with your prospect.

Search Engine Optimization

YouTube is a Google product, owner of 75% of the search market share. Search engines and Google generally love video and reward its own users in their search engine. Uploading videos on this platform can be a good way to help your business’ visibility in Google’s organic search results. Videos are also said to be 53 times more likely to appear on the first page of search results than text pages.

Publishing Videos to Social Channels

YouTube videos can also be embedded or featured on your website, blog or to any of your social networking sites to help increase traffic and brand awareness.

YouTube videos can be used as an effective way to enhance current and prospective clients communications, however, this is not to say that YouTube can replace text all together. As many marketers have experienced, combining multiple channels is exponentially more effective than using them as standalone campaigns. Motivating consumers to connect with your business in more than one way strengthens brand association and motivates valuable engagement.

8 E-mail Marketing Tips for Financial and Insurance Advisors

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E-mail marketing is all about communicating important messages, updates, tips and promotions to recipients that have opted into receiving such emails.  E-mail marketing is an essential element of any marketing strategy and an efficient way to stay connected with your clients while also promoting your business. Despite the rise in popularity of social media, e-mail is still alive and kicking. Email marketing helps to communicate and build relationships with prospects and clients, and helps boost marketing ROI.

The objective of e-mail campaigns is to help connect you with your clients, drive more traffic to your website, and ultimately lead to new business.   Sounds simple enough, right? With the amount of e-mail people receive daily, it can be difficult to make your email stand out from the crowd. Getting people to open your e-mail is a hurdle many marketers find hard to overcome. So, what are some tactics that you can do to get more eyeballs reading your e-mail content? Let’s take a look at some techniques to improve the results of your campaigns:

1) If you know their name, use it!

Studies have shown that if people see their name in the subject line of an e-mail, they are more likely to open it. If they see their name in the body of the email, they are less likely to unsubscribe. People appreciate messages even more when they are personalized.

2) Send your email from a person, not the company.

When you send e-mail from a real person, your email open rate increases. During several tests with over 50, 000 recipients, Hubspot found that personalizing the sender name and email address increased the open rate an average of 3%.

3) Design for today’s devices

Create your e-mails so that they look just as good when opened on a mobile device. Responsive design provides a better experience no matter what device your visitor is on. Approximately 65% of e-mails get opened first on mobile devices so it is important to deliver a great user experience from the start.

4) Don’t include the entire message in your email

Include just enough in your e-mail to explain the value and benefit to them if they click the link. Try to look for opportunities to break your content up into smaller chunks and point readers back to your website, blog or landing page to read more.

5) Consistency

Send your e-mail campaigns at roughly the same times and on the same days so that your audience starts to expect an e-mail from you.

6) Educate first, sell second.

Send content that is meant to help your audience, rather then sell to them. When you freely give your audience something valuable that they’d be willing to pay for, it helps to build trust which can be a powerful selling tool.

7) Place a small headshot next to your signature.

This helps to infuse some more personality into your e-mail and puts a face to your name.

8) Create a catchy subject line

Be specific enough to explain what your newsletter is about but also creative enough to give your e-mail some personality and help it stand out from other e-mails sitting in your audiences’ inbox. Don’t be afraid to do some testing and refining around your subject lines, content and formatting to see what works best for your audience.

Despite all the marketing talk these days about social media, e-mail is still effective in building relationships and attracting customers to your business. E-mail marketing can help nurture leads and pull them through the buyer journey for you.  Try implementing these 8 techniques to help engage your audience and improve the performance of your e-mail marketing campaigns.

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What are some of the tips that you’ve followed to increase your e-mail marketing open rates?

 

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How To Leverage The Buyer Journey To Increase Your AUM

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What’s the relationship between the buyer journey and selling? (if you haven’t read my post on the definition of the buyer journey, make sure you read that one first before moving on.)

Well, as it turns out, the entire profession is changing and traditional selling and relationship techniques are becoming less effective because buyers are becoming more knowledgeable. In fact, they’re coming to the table with more knowledge than ever before and it’s making sales people too transactionally focused (i.e. order takers — please make this trade or please sell this fund).

Understanding the journey can help you connect with your client or prospect on a much more fundamental level. If you’re a financial or insurance advisor who excels, you’ve likely adopted the technique of understanding your buyer’s journey without even knowing it. When you connect with your clients or prospects throughout this journey, it will help you build trust. Why? Because each stage is buyer centric and not sales centric. The buyer doesn’t physically buy or decide to buy until after they diagnosed their problem and are satisfied with their list of solutions to solve that problem. Asking for the sale too early, makes you disingenuous and breaks trust because you’re just in front of the client or prospect for you, not them.

What does this have to do with AUM? What is the relationship between AUM and trust? Well, with my limited financial advice knowledge, AUM is basically all about the amount of money (measured in market value) that an investment company manages on behalf of investors. Is it safe to assume that the more trust that a client or prospect has with you the more they are willing to invest with you and thus increase your AUM? Well, according to Joachim I. Krueger, from Psychology Today, interpersonal trust is defined as the willingness to invest in another in hopes of being rewarded with reciprocity, while accepting the risk of being betrayed. According to this definition, increasing trust levels with your clients, enables a desire to invest in you as an individual and by doing so, they hope to be rewarded with, for example, the reciprocity of service, advice and financial gain and they accept the risk of loss. Higher trust = higher willingness to invest (i.e. higher AUMs).

Here are 3 rules I follow when working your way towards serving your clients or prospects at each stage of the buyer journey:

  1. Be helpful. If they are in the awareness stage, work with them to help them identify the complete picture of their symptoms. If they are in the consideration stage, send them helpful articles or connect them to people who might know more about problem they are experiencing than you do.
  2. Don’t ask for the sale too early. In the movie Glengarry Glen Ross you hear the term ABC – Always Be Closing. This only applies to buyers who are at the end of their buying journey. Yes, I know, you want to make the sale, you want to be the solution to your buyer’s problem, but that might not serve the interests of your buyer and it won’t help you establish trust. Asking too early could actually break trust.
  3. Be authentic. If they are in the decision stage, presenting them with 2 solutions you know they’ll never choose and then your solution isn’t authentic. Have confidence in your practice and business and place competitive solutions beside yours. It will help you weed out customers who might not fit your business and it will help you improve your services or products. Remember the relationship you are trying to establish and the types of individuals you are looking to acquire as clients. For example, clients who are price shopping (vs value shopping) will always choose the cheapest option no matter what. Even if you win their business today, they are bound to be troublesome and costly later.

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Have you ever used any of these techniques in your selling practice?

 

How to Drive Sales Using the Customer Buyer Journey

The Most Common Social Media Mistakes Financial and Insurance Advisors Should Avoid: Part 2

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We often cover things you should include in your social media strategy such as tips, tricks and trends. But, what about the things that you shouldn’t be doing on Social Media? In Part 1 of the most common Social Media Mistakes by Advisors, we covered off the following tactics to avoid in your Social Media strategy:

  1. Failing to have a plan or strategy
  2. Inconsistency in your content themes
  3. Using too many social media platforms
  4. Expecting instant results
  5. Pushing Product or Services

In Part 2, we will cover off 5 more Social Media mistakes to avoid:

6. Neglecting to post regularly

How many times do you see a company create a social network but they haven’t posted in weeks or months? It is important that you post on a regular basis. When you do so, your audience becomes attuned to the fact that you regularly share content and if the content you post and share is useful, they will increase their levels of engagement with you. Moreover, and as mentioned in Part 1, there is nothing worse then going to a Twitter page or blog and the last post is from more than a year ago. It can reflect negatively on your business and your credibility.

7. Forgetting to share others content

The one key element of Social media to note is that Social Media isn’t just media. What do I mean? Well, an example of media could be a newspaper or a website. Many advisors and business owners forget the social element of social media. Sharing, liking and commenting on the content of others is another way to build your audience and is one of the easiest ways to create engagement.

8. Not capturing leads

Many Advisors forget that Social Media is not only about engagement and sharing content but also about lead generation. Be sure to have a mechanism on your website to convert your visitors. If you succeed in sending visitors to your website from Social Media, they are indicating a level of trust with you that’s enough for them to click on a link to go to your website. Examples of ways to capture their information would be to have a newsletter sign up, contact form or a way for them to download a useful e-book or report in exchange for their contact information.

Social Media is a very cost-efficient alternative to expensive marketing strategies that can be used to capture leads.

9. Not using plain-language

Use simple, everyday words. I often use the “grand mother” test where I ask myself if the sentence I just wrote could be understood by my grandmother. Using plain spoken language will also have a higher chance of engagement from your audience since it can speak to them.

10. Waiting for an Invitation

Being proactive on social platforms is another great way to accelerate your ROI. Imagine if you went to a cocktail party or a networking event and stood at the back without ever engaging someone in a conversation. You’re not likely to have very many conversations by taking that approach. Similarly, in social media, not having a voice or proactively engaging in conversation has the same effect. Sending messages, sharing content and being inquisitive about your audience’s problems can help you identify different messaging strategies that help you connect with them.

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What is your greatest challenge in using Social Media for your business?

 

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The Most Common Social Media Mistakes Financial and Insurance Advisors Should Avoid: Part 1

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Social media can be a very powerful marketing tool and I often speak with financial advisors about how social media can help grow and support their business objectives. Here are some common mistakes I often talk about as the ones to avoid when using and engaging on social media:

1. Failing to have a plan or strategy

Social Media should be treated with the same level of thought as every other part of your business strategy. Many businesses on Twitter fail to have a clear strategy around why they are using social media and what they want to accomplish with it. Without a strategy, it can be difficult to deliver an effective message to your target audience. You need a well-planned social media strategy in order to succeed. Some key questions to answer for your social media strategy include:

  • What are the goals of the your selected social media platforms? Are you educating your audience on LinkedIN? Perhaps you are interacting in a group to provide thought leadership?
  • What are the themes of the content you will stick with when sharing content through social posts?
  • How often will you post to social media? Once a day? Once a week?

2. Inconsistency in content themes

If you are an Advisor, it’s unlikely your audience is going to be interested on a restaurant review. While a bit of variety is great, your social networks should have a clear theme that is related to your business. If you specialize in families, produce or share content that would be useful to that audience. Topics on talking to your children about money or how to plan ahead to transfer wealth to your children would be relevant to that specialty. Your prospects and clients should be able to look at your content and have a notion of what your business is all about.

3. Using too many social media platforms

One key theme I’ve consistently heard from business owners is that being on more social media platforms implies you have increased reach. If someone visits your Twitter page and only sees a couple posts from last year, it can send the wrong message to your visitor and impact your credibility.Ask yourself whether your audience exists on the social media platforms that you are considering. Commit to the platform or platforms you choose and execute against a plan. Being good at one thing is much better than being average at many.

Additionally, it’s also important to ask yourself whether social media is right for your business based on your current time availability and the stage of your business. Social media is a great way to connect to other people but the networking aspect of social media is as important as the sharing of content.

4. Expecting instant results

The promise that social media delivers ROI is not false. Much like how going to the gym and eating right promises weight loss and other health benefits. The results, however, in both of these examples are not instantaneous. Approaching social media as a habitual part of your day, understanding that followers and social media engagement take time, and putting trust in the fact that it can deliver a return on investment are the keys to getting results. It is important to remember that social media is all about relationship building, and relationships don’t build over night. It takes time to build up a following on your social networks. Embrace social media as part of your business every day.

5. Pushing Product or Services

There is room for self-promotion on social media but doing it without permission can often send your prospects away. Your audience needs you to deliver content that provides real value to them and helps to solve their problems. Sharing useful and insightful information will help build a level of trust with your audience. Building trust will lead to higher levels of engagement and a captive audience. Having a captive audience is marketing gold.

 

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Social Media has the ability to be a very effective method of connecting to the right prospects, engaging with current clients and helping to grow your business.  But just like any other business strategy, social media activity should be continuously monitored and adjusted to optimize for impact.

In Part 2 of this series, I will discuss 5 more common social media mistakes made by Advisors.

Do you have stories to share about your social media experiences or mistakes? We’d love to hear about them.

 

Inbound Vs. Outbound Marketing

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Marketing is an inevitable part of any business and is necessary in order to publicize and promote your products or services. Modern marketing is most often split between two main camps: inbound and outbound marketing.  So, what exactly is Inbound and Outbound Marketing?

Meet Inbound Marketing. This is marketing that is focused on customers finding you, often referred to as uninterrupted marketing. It is a method of attracting prospects to your business through creating and sharing fresh, relevant and targeted content. The content attracts a targeted audience through the sharing of information that they consider valuable and choose to engage with.

Inbound marketing strategies include:

  • Websites
  • Content Marketing
  • Blogging
  • Social Media Marketing
  • Ebooks
  • Infographics
  • Search Engine Optimization
  • White Papers

Hubspot reports that Inbound Marketing costs 64% less then Outbound Marketing, generates 56% more leads, and saves on average $20k per year by investing more in Inbound.

Meet Outbound Marketing. This is marketing that focuses on pushing your message out to find consumers who will listen to you. It is often referred to as interruption marketing. Outbound marketing generally casts a wide net with the hope of catching a few customers from a loosely targeted group.

Outbound Strategies include:

  • TV Ads
  • Print Ads
  • Banner Ads
  • Cold Calling
  • Press Releases
  • Direct Mail
  • Trade Shows

Check out this fantastic Infographic, by Volter Digital, which explains the benefits of Inbound and Outbound, and why Inbound Marketing continues to rise in popularity.

Inbound Vs. Outbound Marketing

 

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Are you practising inbound and outbound marketing?  What technique has been most effective for your business?  Share your comments below. 

CRM 2 will empower clients, but will it empower Advisors?

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The Client Relationship Model Stage 2 (CRM2) model will change the way clients view the service their financial advisors provide. It will empower the clients to asses the relationship with their advisor and how they are progressing towards reaching their investment goals.

The CRM 2 bill is generating a fair bit of uncertainty and fear within the advisor community. Some feel the transparency is good for everyone, while others would disagree. Some see it as an opportunity, while others will see it as a major challenge.

We’d like to know what you think. What will CRM2 mean to you? Will the CRM2 empower Advisors, and if so, how? Share your comments and insights below.