by Tony Vidler
In a perfect world customers find you, rather than you having to find them. The world is never entirely perfect of course, but certainly we can often do better in having customers find us…and the good news is that today’s customers are out there looking for the right provider.
We need to begin by understanding how they find anyone, then we can tap into strategies that will help them find you in particular. Consumers buying behaviour has changed in recent years and our marketing needs to move with them.
Many financial services professionals however are still firmly wedded to the concepts that produced basic business results 10 or 20 years ago. To be fair, many now have a website at least….perhaps created 3 or 4 years ago, with essentially the same content that was initially put there – albeit with the addition of the thrice-annual client newsletter and the mandatory announcements about the latest movement – or lack of movement – in official cash rates.
Such a website is little more than as billboard on the side of the information super-highway. And like the billboard, most motorists are whizzing by at 100/kmh without giving it a sideways glance after they noticed it the first time.
Yet, financial professionals are themselves consumers of other goods and services and have been quick to embrace new technology and the convenience it brings. I don’t know an adviser who doesn’t google every question these days – usually from their phone while you are having the conversation with them. Professionals are themselves often very typical examples of the consumer behaviour that they are trying to deal with.
So why haven’t the lessons learned as a consumer been translated into their own marketing strategies?
The answer provides an insight into the central marketing problem for most advisers. I am continually told that the reason for not putting serious and continual effort into their website as a means of market positioning and lead generation is because the websites have not proven to be very effective lead generation mechanisms. Now that is the proverbial chicken and egg conundrum if ever I’ve heard one…
In order to generate leads from your website you first must have a website that:
1. Is able to be found when your target market are searching (and the two big search engines are Google and Youtube – so how are you positioning content and keywords to be found by them?)
2. Clearly articulates the value you create for your ideal customers on the home page, and very quickly. You’ve got 8 seconds or less to grab their attention and entice them to read on. So what can they expect to get from dealing with you?
3. Is kept fresh with regular new content that demonstrates your expertise and ability to remove complexity from clients lives. Search engines rate websites that are frequently updated…but more importantly customers rate websites that are frequently updated with useful information. There has to be a reason to go back to it a 2nd or 20th time doesn’t there?
4. Show some personality. This is the biggest tip for any professional out there….people do business with other human beings mostly. Help them get to know you a little, and to be able to feel like you are someone they can like and trust….too many adviser websites contain bland bio information that tell potential customers very little about the people and their lives. They are too often completely impersonal and robotic, and the last thing professionals should appear to be is impersonal.
5. Use real pictures, plenty of graphcis. Images matter – they do literally convey information far more rapidly than the written word, and graphics that explain what you do and how clients benefit are incredibly powerful.
The final basic tip that should be redundant (but isn’t!) is promote the existence of the website.
It sounds dumb I know but it is a simple thing that advisers frequently forget to do. Sure the website address is grandly printed on a business card and the letterhead – but without any compelling reason for anyone to visit it.
Social networking and email campaigns and newsletters are fabulous tools for promoting website presence and fresh content. If you aren’t letting the target market know of its existence, and then giving them useful information that is visually pleasing when they get there then you are doing little more than saying
…and that isn’t marketing. It is simply wishful thinking as it doesn’t help your next customers find you.