by Tony Vidler
“Advisers are finding success using social sites to cull prospects, build their brand, communicate with clients and improve their referral network” according to a recent article by Liz Skinner.
Apparently some 85% of advisers in the US are now actively using social media if the results of a survey of just over 1,000 advisers can be extrapolated. While mildly surprised by this result as it is higher than I expected, the truly surprising aspect of the report was:
That is a remarkable increase by anyone’s measure, and it surely signals 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 it that finally that technique is for the birds….it is increasingly trivial and pointless. As an aside, the meaning of that phrase (“for the birds”) is slang for “something which is such slim pickings that only the birds can find anything worthwhile in there to eat”. So it is with cold-calling or door-knocking as prospecting techniques in my opinion.
I do know advisers who still swear by these 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, and it is also just 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.
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. It is aggressive – even when done politely. It is presumptive in that the caller with something to sell is presuming that my time doesn’t matter and that I have no ability to determine whether I need advice or pro9duct or whatever. There is nothing remotely socially acceptable about any of that.
We know that most intelligent consumers 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 survey from Putnam Investments which formed the basis of the article referred to earlier highlights that the majority of advisers are starting to take advantage of that. Building networks, cementing a place as a thought leader or authority and creating professional brands which resonate are all positive results for advisers in the survey, with the consequence that advisers are finding new clients from that effort. 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!”
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. That connection is the beginning of 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 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 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. Be human. Be social.
Even if for no reason other than “It’s good for business.”
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