by Tony Vidler
“Advisers are finding success using social sites to cull prospects, build their brand, communicate with clients and improve their referral network”
Apparently some 85% of advisers in the US are now actively using social media, and while I am mildly surprised by this result as it is higher than I expected, the truly surprising news for me is this:
It seems that finally professional advisers are getting in sync with how prospects research, connect and communicate now. THAT should suggest to those who persist with cold-calling that it just might be time to switch tactics….it is increasingly trivial and pointless.
There are certain some advisers who still swear by the cold-calling or door-knocking techniques, although they are definitely a tiny minority these days. The problems with them which the persistent simply do not understand, or refuse to accept, is that it is “interruption marketing” at its worst, besides just being incredibly inefficient. In terms of the time and effort involved the returns on cold-calling simply cannot compare to the returns from using social media well. The leveraging ability of content and reach in social is incomparable. The single advantage of cold-calling is that if you dial often enough you are eventually going to land someone who is just at the point of buying a product anyway, and you arrived just in time to complete the transaction. The law of large numbers works…but it is just such large numbers and effort…
Most consumers today – including virtually every single adviser you talk to – hates interruption marketing. We all laugh with our friends at the clever techniques we’ve all come up with for dealing with the random telephone surveys, or worse, the dreaded religion-peddlers banging on the front door offering salvation.
Cold calling just ain’t social. It is intrusive. There is an aggressive element to it even when done politely. It is presumptive in that the caller with something to sell is presuming that the consumers time doesn’t matter. There is nothing remotely socially acceptable about any of that.
We know that most intelligent consumers today have spoken to others, watched a few videos or current affairs programs, and they’ve read the papers and engaged in any number of conversations on social media channels before they talk to us.
They are not entirely uninformed when we begin to engage in professional conversations.
In fact, they have usually already begun to form opinions about the relative merits of different products and strategies before we have commenced our disclosure discussions.
It makes good sense to be present where those consumers are doing their research and forming their opinions of course, and the conclusion that can be drawn from the number of advisers now using social is that the majority of advisers are recognising this. Building networks, cementing a place as a thought leader or authority and creating professional brands which resonate are all positive steps forward in professionalism and business efficiency, with the consequence that advisers are finding new clients despite the difficulties that many have faced in recent years. Their professional positioning and professional use of social media is beginning to pay off.
The next iteration for advisers using social media marketing will be finding the right balance between being social and being professional however. The very point of social networking is that one must connect with other people at some level socially if a relationship is to be created. As it is “relationships” that advisers want with their target market clients, it follows that they must engage “socially” moreso than ever before if a relationship is to be created.
I would suggest that many professionals have laid foundations in social media, and then concluded that the work is done: “I have Linkedin, Facebook and Twitter set up, and I’m posting twice a week religiously on each of them – I’m sorted!”
That’s not quite right.
Once the social media platform has been established, and the professional profile executed well, and a network of connections is beginning to form, then the real work begins. But it is with the real work being done that the real payoff’s start to happen too. A LinkedIn profile in isolation generally doesn’t produce leads. Using LinkedIn by sharing content which catches the attention of others, or engaging in discussions with people who are interested in the same topics, or even indulging in social pleasantries such as the “congratulations” messages does however begin to create connection with people. The link between creating awareness and initial interaction is conversation though. It is conversation that creates a relationship, which in turn is the formative step in creating a genuine client opportunity at a later time.
It is that ability to be present and constantly forming or deepening relationships through conversation which makes social media knock cold-calling out of the park.
To make it really work well though, find the line which feels comfortable (professionally and personally) for sharing with strangers. Wherever that line is though, it will certainly involve loosening the tie…lightening up….sharing a little about your own world. To get more people to engage with us we need to be a little more personable, and a little more personal. Less of the col-calling. More warmth. Be human. Be social.
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