by Tony Vidler
If you are an adviser who has mastered digital marketing then you don’t need to read this. If you’re an adviser who thinks having a website IS the digital marketing plan, then you need to read on.
My reason for being that blunt at the outset is that I want to just cover some basics here…and I mean really basic. The stuff you need to have that is simply “a ticket to the game”. The basic platforms that ensure you have professional credibility in a world where prospects rely on word-of-mouth backed up by online search, and then . will take their time deciding whether to actually engage a particular financial adviser. Why? Because I continue to be amazed at the proportion of advises I talk to who still don’t get it, or, if they think they do get it they do just a couple of parts of putting together the digital presence and then wonder why it isn’t driving hordes of prospective clients to their website.
The starter pack would have to be:
Let’s face it: nobody today takes you seriously as a professional if they cannot find you online, and when they do find you online you have seconds to make a good enough impression for them to dig deeper. Go ahead and google yourself and see what sites come up in the first 3 options….and then you’ll understand why your own website and LinkedIn profiles matter so much. Get those wrong and you can forget it…the prospects move on. Get those right, and well, you might be in with a chance.
There is the added bonus of some of that actually being “free” too, and free marketing always appeals. Any publicity is good publicity, right? That’s actually an exaggeration of course as not all publicity is actually good – some can cripple a business or brand. However, any publicity (or marketing) that is free AND where you can control the content has to be good. Content control is also why these first two are so important – they are places where you can control the look, feel and messaging of your brand. They are places where you can control the agenda and drive prospective customers to yoiur areas of strength.
One thing of note though when it comes to your own website: it loses immense value if you build a really cool website but nothing ever changes on it. When people do that it is akin to building a really cool billboard on the side of a highway – perhaps interesting the first time you drive past it, but there is little reason to read it again or pay attention in any way if it never changes right? So it is with a website as far as the typical consumer is concerned….let alone how Google start to treat websites that are static content platforms. Google won’t ignore you…they’ll penalise you and bury you electronically.
Next thing to remember is all of the folk who initially engage will not become clients immediately. Most won’t…so how do we kep track of who we’ve been talking to, and where we are up to with them? Some form of database is essential unless you are comfortable with spending a lot of effort and money to attract folk simply to have a 30 second engagement with them before they have decided to move on forever.
Using that database well and creating ongoing dialogue and brand awareness requires that todays adviser reaches out to prospects on some sort of regular basis and demonstrates value. There is still nothing that really beats email for acheiving that low-cost, semi-automated, but highly personalised, ability to proactively reach out to those prospects from within your database.
Then it is time to consider the social media aspect…which inevitably leads to the question:
“which social media platforms should I use?”.
The answer (as it often is), is “it depends”. In order to work out the right answer you need to understand the evolving trends, the broad differences between the most popular platforms, and then match that with your own skillset and target market.
Social media as a method of marketing is not totally free of cost of course – though it doesn’t cost hard cash generally. It does however take some time and commitment from you. There are an array of really useful platforms and tools to help you manage multiple social media marketing efforts fairly rapidly and efficiently however – and many of them even have good free versions (e.g. Hootsuite), meaning you can manage the time commitments pretty well on a day to day basis.
Instagram might be good. But Pinterest might be better for you. Facebook might be great…or a total waste of time. Twitter or TikTok?
What it depends upon is which of these platforms your target market uses, and how they use them, together with what you are trying to achieve from being there. Are you after further lead generation, or brand building, or as a medium for building relationships? And what are you good at? writing? presenting? sketching? They all have their strengths and weaknesses of course, as do all individual advisers, so you have to figure out how you will deliver value in a way that resonates with the audience as well as fits with your skillset and comfort level.
Whatever social media platform appeals to you in your marketing, it is important to look at it as an element of the overall marketing strategy for your business. The more marketing tactics that are interwoven, the more effective the overall marketing strategy will be. It is smart business to create content for your own website, and then share it via social media channels (plural!) and extend the reach of your message. The social media platforms can extend the reach and knowledge of your brand beyond the passive “billboard” that many business websites are.
Whichever social media channels you choose to use, do not forget the 2 big tips for being effective:
* Be Relevant. It is social – so remember to engage with people, communicate, inject fresh ideas into the mix, and above all – be interesting.
* Don’t blatantly (and boringly) self-promote. Nobody wants to be bombarded with advertising, and people will switch off to your brand entirely if their only experience is being directly marketed to constantly. By all means let people know what you do – but no more than a third of the time in your communications at most. Make the rest interesting, engaging, entertaining, informative and so on. It has to be worth their while to continue following you.
A Final thought: don’t expect overnight dividends. It may take many months of actively engaging with the market before you have established the credibility and authority for your target market to decide you are worth hiring. But hang in there, with relevant and useful content being delivered to your target market via multiple mediums, you will become a trusted expert, and logical person to turn to for their business needs. The basic starter pack will get you there if you are patient, constant and consistent.