In today’s digital age, it is an absolute mistake not to use online tactics to grow your assets and get new customers. But it’s also a mistake to let “online marketers” confuse you with complex tactics that don’t work. You understand your business better than anyone. Financial advising is a reputation-based business built on hard-earned client referrals. Your hard work is already paying off and earning you referrals. By using simple tactics that complement your work, you’ll have an easier time converting those referrals and convincing prospective clients to use your services.
Why Online Tactics are Important in 2015
The Modern Investor - In 2015, the first thing people do when considering a firm or business is look them up online. Michael Kitces, a nationally recognized financial speaker and consultant, explains, “Even firms that derive most of their new business from referrals may find that those who were referred check out the advisor online first – now widely accepted as a basic form of due diligence when selecting a professional to work with.” In fact, the research shows that 63% of prospective clients look up their recommended financial advisors online and base their decision on what they find. If you don’t have a professional online presence, you’re not maximizing your ability to convert those referrals. You’ve already worked hard to build a solid reputation so don’t throw that away by missing the last step in the referral process.
An Overcrowded Industry - The world of financial advising is reaching a “differentiation crisis.” It’s no longer enough for your firm to offer “customized, individualized financial advice” and expect to see the same kind of client growth that advisors saw a decade ago. Those who continue to rely on the same old organic channels of client acquisition in 2015 will hopelessly churn their gears, left behind in the dust by other firms who learn to adapt.
The Wrong Way: Complex Strategies That Won't Work
The industry is flooded with companies trying to confuse you with complicated marketing tactics. A general rule of thumb is “if you can’t imagine a potential client doing it, it’s probably a waste of time.” Stay away from marketing strategies -- like SEM, Display Advertising, and other CPC/CPM advertising -- that don’t make sense for your business model and treat your company like a low-grade product.
Bad Examples: Here are some things that will be a waste of your time and money:
The Right Way: Compliment What You Do Well
President and founder of Nexus Strategy, a leading consulting firm to the wealth management industry, Timothy D. Welsh, CFP® sums this up nicely:
“At its roots, marketing for advisors is a fairly simple process. Understanding your target audience, developing a message that will resonate and then getting that message out through the right communication channels are the core elements. Thus, don’t get distracted by promises of leads through unproven channels such as paid search and the like. Personal referrals are key to growing your business, so focus on channels that enhance the referral process.”
Establishing a Professional Online Presence
Get Your Domains - Start by visiting a domain registrar like GoDaddy.com or hover.com and purchase a domain or two that contains your firm’s full name and your full name (e.g. yourfirmsname.com and yourname.com). The important thing is that the name remains together (e.g. JohnSmithFinancial.com rather than JSmith.com). Getting a domain with your full name in it is one of the best ways to help your website or profile rank well in Google searches.
Build High Quality Sites - Your website will serve as a central hub for all the information about your firm: financial advising services, your mission, past performance, your team, your bio, your contact info, press, awards and so on. The more comprehensive the site, the better chance it has of ranking higher in search results and impressing potential clients. As Sophia Bera from Gen Y Planning explains, “Your website is the first thing that people see and it’s the one area that most financial planners do not spend enough time and money investing their resources.”
Optimize Your Sites - Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of creating or improving content to make sure it shows up as high as possible in search results for a specific keyword or phrase. In this case, you want to optimize what potential clients see when they Google your firm or name. There are a number of factors to consider for SEO purposes, including site structure, relevant content, and appropriate use of keywords. Optimizing these factors doesn’t automatically reserve you the #1 spot on Google, but it does play a large role in how you rank when people search your name online.
Publish Original Content - For firms looking to really stand out from the competition, building a professional online presence won’t be enough. Those looking to do more than the bare minimum will want to regularly publish content online to position themselves as thought leaders in the financial world and in their respective niches. It’s simple to add a blog component and start publishing with minimal effort. A good second option is posting consistently on reputable blog sites like Medium or contributing to LinkedIn Pulse
Note: On February 3, BrandYourself is hosting "The Right Ways & Wrong Ways to Market Yourself Online”, a free webinar for RIAs and financial planners who are ready to put their best foot forward online. Our in-house financial analyst Reid Covington will be speaking with Sophia Bera, CFP®, founder of Gen-Y Planning, and Justin Wisz, co-founder of Vestorly, about how financial planners can use modern marketing strategies that work, to grow their prospects. They’ll walk us through the ins and outs of compliance rules, cover the best ways to build attention-grabbing content, and identify pitfalls to avoid when building your online presence.
Patrick Ambron is CEO of BrandYourself, which specializes in Online Reputation Management