Financial Advisor Marketing Tips

Is your current marketing program getting you the number and quality of clients you would like? Unsure how to differentiate your firm from other financial planning firms in your market? Want to increase the visibility of your firm through a local or national media campaign?

My 12 top marketing tips will help you ramp up your marketing efforts and do an overall better job of getting the word out about your firm and its services.

My First Six Tips Are:

#1. Brand your firm. Successful businesses have strong brands, or personalities, like Apple, Mercedes Benz, Holiday Inn, Band Aid, and McDonalds. When people think of these companies, specific images and characteristics come to mind, which can predispose those individuals to do business with them.

To create a powerful brand for your firm, identify the qualities you want people to associate with it -- how you want them to perceive you business relative to your competition. Then make sure that everything about your business reinforces that image, including its letterhead, web site, advertising, blog, e-newsletter, the way you and your employees interact with clients and potential clients -- even your office decor.

The president of a little-known financial services business in a much maligned industry hired me to help build awareness of his firm across the country and brand it as a company with a consumer-friendly, ethical business model, unlike most of his competitors. At first, simply getting media interviews for my client was a struggle given his industry’s credibility problems, but I persevered and eventually I was able to get him interviews with such national media The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Smart Money, FoxBusiness.com, MSMoney.com and AllBusiness.com as well as with national and local radio programs. As my client’s visibility grew, his business prospered and developed a reputation as a progressive industry leader.

#2. Evaluate your web site. Your firm’s web site is its digital calling card. For many potential clients it’s the very first impression they have of your business -- an impression that can make the difference between someone contacting you for financial advice and assistance or their looking for a different firm to work with. So it’s critical that your web site convey a positive image of your business. With this in mind, ask yourself the following: Is my web site visually interesting and informative? Does it provide a good overview of the services my firm provides? Does the site speak directly to my potential clients? Is it easy to navigate? Does it reinforce my business' brand?

Suggestion! I’m guessing that it will be difficult if not impossible for you to answer the previous questions honestly and objectively because it’s your web site after all. So ask some people you respect and whom you will believe will be brutally honest to critique the site for you. Here are some of the questions they should answer: What do you like and not like about my firm’s web site? If you were looking for a financial advisor, does the site provide enough information that you would contact my firm? Is there anything you would like to know about my business that the site doesn’t tell you? What impressions do you have about my firm after visiting the web site -- what three words would you use to describe my practice?

If the feedback you receive highlights problems or shortcomings with your site and if the image the site conveys doesn’t reflect the way you want your firm to be perceived, get help from a marketing professional.

Last year, a small business owner contacted me for marketing help, including help with her web site. The site was not well organized and the web copy was too long, poorly written, key points and calls to action were unclear and it was not key word optimized. Also, from a brand-building perspective, the copy totally failed to convey the warm, friendly and compassionate approach to service delivery that is key to my client’s success. Now that I’ve totally revamped the site, it’s a much more effective marketing tool for my client and she feels proud of it.

For a technical review of your web site and a free report on what you can do to better optimize it, check out HubSpot’s Website Grader, http://www.websitegrader.com.

#3. Become a recognized expert -- the person the media turn to when they want a quote or an interview related to your area of expertise. Begin by reaching out to the local media in your area and once you’ve had success with them, start positioning yourself as an expert with the national media.

Over a period of a couple years, I turned a successful Texas attorney into a national expert on consumer credit and money troubles. He did numerous interviews with national print, TV and radio. As his visibility in the media built, his reputation increased in the community where his office was located, and his practice grew rapidly. That visibility also helped him land numerous book deals about topics related to his areas of expertise as well as his own local radio show and a regular column in a local business journal.

Consider investing in some media training before you speak to the media. A media coach can help you become comfortable and confidant doing interviews and teach you how to make your key points clearly and concisely.

Make the most of any media attention you receive by blogging about it when appropriate and by adding links to your web site whenever you are quoted in an article or do a TV or radio interview. Also, if you are quoted in or interviewed by any well-known national media outlets, consider featuring their logos on your site’s opening page. For an example of what I am suggesting, see what a client of mine has done at his web site: http://consumerrecoverynetwork.com.

#4. Write a book related to your area of expertise. Having a book with your name on it is a great way to enhance your reputation and generate media attention for yourself and your firm. Also, being able to hand prospective clients a copy of your very own book is a sure fire way to impress them!

If you don’t like to write or see no way that you’ll ever get a book written given everything else that’s on your plate, hire an experienced ghostwriter like me, to do it for you.

After months of trying to find the time to write a basic book on the why’s and how’s of asset protection planning that he could give to prospective clients, a successful estate-planning attorney hired me to write the book for him. After an initial meeting with one another during which the attorney conveyed his vision for the book and I explained the writing process, I developed a chapter-by-chapter outline for the book, revised the outline based on the attorney’s input and then began writing using information he provided to me as well as my own research. Today, the book is drafted; we are working on some minor final revisions; and we will begin the publishing process soon.

If you’d like to learn a little about all 21 of the books I’ve ghosted or co-authored – most of them on topics related to personal finance or consumer law -- go to http://www.get-your-message-out.com/I-write-books.html.

One other thing! Don’t let concerns about finding an agent and a traditional publisher stop you from becoming a published author. E-books and print-on-demand (POD) publishers are growing in popularity and increasingly, these forms of publishing are seen as legitimate options for people who want to get their books into print. For example, my estate planning attorney client will probably print his book using a POD publisher and he may also make the book available as a download on his web site.

#5. Begin blogging. Add a blog to your web site and write about topics you believe will be interesting and useful to your current and potential clients. According to a study done by HubSpot, small businesses that blog get 55% more visitors to their web sites than firms that don’t.

By the way, if you don’t have time to blog at least a couple times a week or if you don’t like to write, ask someone with your firm to blog for you. Or, hire a professional writer to ghostwrite your blog.

I regularly edit and often do complete rewrites of blogs for one of my clients. She has great ideas for blog subjects, but she recognizes that she does not always do a good job of getting her points across in her writing.

You can also drive traffic to your site by turning selected blog posts into articles that you publish on highly-ranked articles web sites like Ezinearticles.com.

Here's Six More Tips:

#6. Develop and implement a sensible social media strategy. If you are like a lot of my clients, you are resistant to becoming active on social networking sites like LinkedIn,Facebook and Twitter because the process feels intimidating, you don’t know where to start or because you question the business value of social media marketing. But, like I tell my clients, getting involved with social media can pay dividends. It can provide you with opportunities to develop relationships with members of your target markets, to network with and learn from others in your same profession, and you can even do some informal market research via LinkedIn. Furthermore, you don’t have to become a visible presence on every single social media site right away, or even ever. It’s a matter of establishing your social media goals, developing a strategy for achieving them, which includes deciding which sites you’ll focus on, and then implementing your strategy, slowly and deliberately. Implementation includes spending time every day reading the comments that have been posted on the sites you’ve decided to become active on, answering questions, initiating discussions, making announcements, and so on.

Not long ago I helped a client with a new and innovative web-based business become comfortable promoting its services using social media. Initially she was very reluctant and even fearful about becoming active on social media sites, mainly because she did understand their potential for her and was not sure what she had to offer. I helped her understand how her business could benefit from social media, worked with her on setting some realistic goals, provided her with ideas for topics she could discuss on the sites, found a specialized social media site that was perfect for her given the nature of her business researched the appropriate groups she should join on that site and on LinkedIn, and wrote her profile for each site. Now that my client is actively engaged on various social media sites, I provide her with on-going advice and feedback. Meanwhile, her social media marketing confidence has grown and her appreciation for the potential benefits of this kind of marketing has increased. In fact, I think she’s beginning to like it!

Meanwhile, don’t become impatient if you do not realize immediate benefits from your social media efforts. Getting results takes time and consistency. The longer you stick with it, the more you’ll understand the potential of social media marketing to your firm and the more likely you'll get results.

#7. Underwrite an event in your community. Event sponsorship is an excellent way to generate goodwill and visibility for your firm. You can underwrite an existing event or you can begin your own. When you are deciding on an event, choose one with appeal to the members of your target market. Events to consider include a lecture series, a run, a neighborhood festival, a bike race, golf tournament, a charitable or arts event, among many others.

I’ve used events to help lots of clients increase their visibility and sales revenue. The events have ranged from the serious to the wacky. For example, I helped an attorney organize an evening seminar for people with money troubles; I worked with a paint-your-own-pottery shop on an event that involved high profile local chefs each painting a piece of pottery that we later auctioned off for charity; and I even helped a bridal shop organize an event during which a couple dressed like a bride and groom skydived out of a plane at a bridal expo. Not only did I plan these events, but I also helped generate media attention for each of them.

#8. Start speaking. Most communities have a wealth of local organizations looking for interesting speakers. A compelling talk about a timely or useful topic followed by a question and answer session can be an excellent way to showcase your knowledge and inform potential clients about your firm and its services. Be sure to bring plenty of business cards to hand out after your talk, and if you’ve authored a book, find out if you can sell autographed copies at the start or the end of the event.

#9. Publish an e-newsletter. Delivering timely, useful and interesting information directly into the e-mail boxes of your current and potential clients is a great way to provide them with regular reminders of your firm and its services.

#10. Conduct free webinars on subjects of interest to your clients and potential clients. A webinar is a live, online interactive seminar conducted using a hosting service. Participants register for the event online and participate in the webinar via computer from the comfort of their own homes or offices after calling a special phone number or logging in at a website.

A webinar lets you showcase your knowledge, establish personal connections with the participants, answer their questions and gain insights into their concerns and interests. It can be a great tool for marketing your services, strengthening your relationship with your existing clients and doing some informal market research.

An international training organization wanted to get the word out about its webinars. I did that using online newsletters, press releases and online advertising. Presently, I am working with two clients both of whom will soon be doing webinars for the first time. I will help them get the events set up, work with them on the topics of their webinars and will promote their online seminars using social media, online advertising, their blogs and traditional public relations.

#11. Blow your own horn. Keep your firm in the news by contacting the appropriate media when you have something to announce. For example, you’ve expanded your services, your firm is involved in a community event, you just had your first book published, you’re speaking at an important conference and so on.

Over the years, I’ve written more press releases than I can count! Those releases have made the difference between businesses and their owners receiving little or no attention for their services, products, milestones, and achievements and having local and/or national media take notice of their news and helping to spread the word via articles, print mentions, and interviews.

#12. Tell stories. Whenever possible, showcase the success your firm has had helping clients with their money by telling their stories. The stories will help reassure potential clients that working with your firm would be a good decision by building trust in its capabilities and commitment to its clients. Use storytelling to illustrate your key points in all of your communications -- on your firm’s web site, in your blog, in the presentations you make, during the webinars you conduct, in your e-newsletter, and so on.



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