Generating client leads online: Give it away

Making free but valuable content available to potential prospects is the key, panel says

Nov 1, 2013 @ 10:44 am

By Joyce Hanson

Here's some simple advice for advisers hoping to generate leads online: Free stuff rocks.

Despite many advisers' fears that giving away too much information on the web will hurt their business, Brittney Castro, founder and chief executive of Financially Wise Women, believes the reverse is true.

Free information, she said, is just about the best way an adviser can use technology for lead generation.

“It's not possible to give away too much free information,” Ms. Castro, a certified financial planner with a big presence on social-media sites such as Twitter and YouTube, said during an InvestmentNews webcast on Oct. 29 about how to use technology for lead generation. “There are so many online publications that when you tailor it, that's when you make a connection.”

Ms. Castro has published a free e-book, Top 10 Reasons Women Need a Financial Strategy, which she uses to capture potential clients' e-mail addresses. She has published other online content, most of which she writes herself, although she also has used compliance-approved content provided by her broker-dealer.

Panelist Peter Velardi, chief executive of the adviser training firm FiPath4Advisers, said advisers' biggest mistake is that they worry so much about compliance concerns and personal branding that they fail to think about how to appeal to their audience's needs.

He suggested that advisers Google both their own name and the name of their firm to see whether all the right “touch points” — company website, LinkedIn profile, Twitter feed — provide an accurate picture for potential clients. “It has to be authentic,” he said.

And don't be afraid of the compliance officer when blogging or writing LinkedIn comments, said Ted Jenkin, co-chief executive and founder of oXYGen Financial Inc., who estimated that he has written about 1,000 blog posts – all compliance-approved.

“You want to try to educate your compliance department,” Mr. Jenkin said. “You need to inform them on how social media works. Don't assume they already know.”

Beyond social media, all three panelists said they use online tools to boost lead generation. Here are their top three picks:

1. MailChimp.com autoresponder. This tool helps Mr. Jenkin track potential clients' responses to his e-mails. He estimates that he'll get five responses before he gets a solid lead.

2. SalesLoft.com, available on Google Chrome, builds prospect lists and helps advisers monitor news from target companies, including job changes, in a daily e-mail. A free version of this tool pushes LinkedIn contacts to e-mail, according to Mr. Jenkin.

3. FusionSoft Services Inc., a U.K.-based e-commerce firm, is the site that Ms. Castro goes to for help in securing safe and compliant transactions over her website.

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