Today's prospective clients are not only tech savvy, they're also shopping around for the right adviser. That's a big departure from years ago, when a large percentage of new business came from client referrals and a marketing campaign started by picking up the phone. From there, it was up to advisers to connect with the client, describing their unique value proposition, the firm, their services, and how they could help that person manage their wealth effectively.
These days, a simple web search can give prospects a lot of initial data about you and your firm, so it's important to actively manage your online profile and your brand.
Here are a few tips to consider:
Your firm's website. Does it have the right look and feel to represent your firm? Are there pictures and bios of your team, a mission statement and a list of your services? Prospects searching for your firm want a welcoming experience that gives them a clear idea of who you are and what you can do for them. On a related note, be sure to do a regular web search of your firm's name to make sure you're easy to find. Is your site optimized for search engines? Are your pages tagged with keywords? Before you can make a good impression, you have to be found!
Your firm's social media presence. Advisers are still cautiously approaching social media, but your clients are already using networking sites such as LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook all day, every day. Even if your pages aren't packed with content, you should be involved and at least aware of what your clients are doing.
Your personal profile. Clients and prospects will find you online, so be careful about how you present yourself on your personal social networking sites. Make sure to check your privacy settings to manage what people can access online without your consent.
Online news and PR. If someone does a search for your firm's name or your name, what will they see besides your website address? Coverage in local media? Outdated information? Maybe a questionable review on Yelp? Don't underestimate the power of a good search engine. Regular searches and a process for addressing any negative content are a good way to manage how your firm appears to prospects.
While referrals are still key to building new business, advisers can no longer afford to overlook the importance of their online presence and how they present themselves to prospective clients. The impression you make through your digital footprint is just as important as selling yourself on the phone or in a meeting. Protecting your online brand is your responsibility and can play a significant role in your firm's marketing success.
Gregory H. Friedman is co-founder and chief executive of Private Ocean, and president and chief executive of Junxure.