It has become essential to have an online presence, but simply “being online” isn't enough. The information that people find when they do research online makes a very powerful first impression. Financial advisers who haven't taken the time to craft a strong, coordinated effort online risk losing prospective clients, existing clients and, for those looking to expand their practice, future team members.
Here are seven key strategies that many advisers seem to miss:
Use social media for all its possibilities. When developing a strategy, there are three major areas to consider: marketing/branding, prospecting and client loyalty. All too often, advisers focus only on prospecting or marketing. Advisers need to ensure that their overall strategy encompasses each of these areas.
Make the profile stand out. Most of the biographies that I read are dry and could apply to any adviser. Advisers should take the time to review their website and social-media bios through the eyes of a client or prospect. Is the profile reader-friendly? Does it highlight what sets the adviser apart from others? Or does it instead contain industry jargon and read primarily as a list of accomplishments, designations and licenses that no one outside our industry understands anyway? Although advisers certainly should include designations and accolades, the content should go beyond that. Advisers should allow people to get to know them a bit, and then tell clients how they can help them.
Advisers should speak in their own voice. This one is critical. Those who want to connect and build relationships with clients and prospects have to be their authentic selves, both in person and in writing. If an adviser's status updates don't sound like that person or are too promotional, people will know it and they will quit paying attention.
Build a robust database of connections or followers. Connect with clients, centers of influence, and professional and industry resources. The more extensive the network of quality connections, the further an adviser's reach. Schedule time each week to build new connections and to enhance relationships with existing ones.
Provide content that is relevant to the target market. Whether advisers generate the content themselves or link to other articles, keep top clients and prospects in mind. Educate them on topics important to them. Additionally, advisers should ensure that their content isn't always self-serving. This is perhaps the biggest mistake I see larger companies and wirehouses make. Followers don't want to see a continual stream of posts touting an adviser's latest accomplishments or pushing products and services. Seeking first to be a resource and an educator on things important to followers will go much further in creating an audience.
Actively engage online. Participate in group discussions to the extent that the company's social-media guidelines allow. An adviser who is visible, adds value and establishes himself or herself as a subject matter expert is easier for people to get to know and ultimately trust. Do not ask for business or promote yourself. Another way to engage others online is to pay it forward by connecting people both online and off who would benefit by meeting each other professionally. A quick, selfless “e-introduction” goes a long way in building a relationship. Advisers should make it part of their online activities each week to introduce at least two or three people to someone in their network who might benefit them. The effort will pay off more times over than can be imagined.
Avoid a “one size fits all” strategy. A solid, professional website is for everyone. But Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter might not be. Advisers should do research to determine the channels being used by their target market and develop a specific strategy for only those platforms. Further, while social-media sites such as TweetDeck can save time by allowing an adviser to post status updates across all social-media sites used, it may not always be wise to do so. Advisers should examine their audience for each platform, as they may be very different from one another, and create content that speaks specifically to each.
Although these strategies take some work, they will help advisers build their businesses, benefit clients and followers, and have a little fun along the way.
Kristin Andree (kristin@andree media.com) is president of Andree Media & Consulting.