Although many financial advisers have already created their 2013 business plans, few have clearly defined the strategies to help them achieve those goals.
Most advisers' goals fall into one of a few key categories with which social-media strategies can help.
Client acquisition. Advisers should start by clearly identifying their target market(s) and seeking out individuals or businesses who meet the criteria.
Two social-media ways to go about this are:
• LinkedIn advanced searches allow users to search for individuals in their target market by title, industry or keyword and identify second-degree connections to whom they can be introduced. Do the research, compile a list of targeted prospects and call the individual in common to ask for an introduction. Our advisers have found far greater success with making personal phone calls as opposed to using LinkedIn's “Get Introduced” feature.
• Starting the year with a handful of dedicated prospecting appointments is another excellent way to kick-start efforts. Advisers should identify three to five top clients or centers of influence and schedule a meeting. Prior to the meeting, advisers should review the person's online connections to determine who in his or her networks fits the adviser's target market criteria. Then ask specifically for an introduction to those individuals.
Client retention. Without fail, our veteran adviser clients tell us that a key objective is to keep existing clients happy, engaged and feeling well-cared-for. Let's face it: One adviser's clients are another adviser's best prospects.
Here is how social media can help ensure that clients stick around:
• Make a list of your top 20 clients and set up Google Alerts for each of them (google.com/alerts). This will allow advisers to stay in the loop on honors and awards received, and provides excellent reasons to reach out to top clients with a quick note or gift.
• Connect with clients on various social-media sites (Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter) to stay in tune with happenings in their lives. Many advisers we work with have learned of births, deaths, promotions, vacations and a host of other key events in their clients' lives simply by paying attention online.
This does, however, prompt the question of with whom to connect. This is one of the most common questions I am asked when coaching advisers on social media.
Although there are many schools of thought, here is my advice on each:
• Facebook: The rule of thumb is that if you would consider sharing a personal dinner or outing with a client, send them a friend request. If not, advisers might want to reconsider, though requesting that someone “like” a business page is completely different.
• LinkedIn: Connect with clients, centers of influence and key prospects, provided you already have met them in person or via phone.
• Twitter: There is no request to “accept,” therefore, advisers can follow anyone with whom they have an interest, and pay attention to what their clients and prospects tweet. This will enhance advisers' conversations and engagement.
Practice efficiency. Advisers are simply too busy to fall victim to inefficiencies in their day.
They should start each week by taking a close look at their calendar, identifying any gaps in the day or week. Advisers should look to fill holes in their calendars with a dedicated prospecting meeting, or by visiting another client or prospect at the same firm.
Using LinkedIn's advanced search feature can be a great help in padding a calendar with a few extra productive and prosperous activities.
These strategies are easy to implement. However, they aren't intended to be one-shot deals.
They should be continued throughout the year, paying close attention to what works best and building from there.
There are a lot of opportunities, so advisers shouldn't let January slip by before jumping on them.
Kristin Andree (kristin @andreemedia.com) is president of Andree Media & Consulting.