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Anatomy of a Whitepaper

For financial advisors, a white paper is a strong and influential piece of content marketing. It’s a concept piece that shares an idea people should know about, need help identifying (and understanding) and help solving. The paper creates credibility and authority.

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4 Reasons Building Trust is Harder (and more important) Than Ever

People, including your clients and your prospects, are barraged with an onslaught of misinformation every day.  Having a message that resonates (your Brand) and providing evidence that you are who you say you are, is essential.

SHOUTING doesn’t work anymore.  Nor do unbelievable too good to be true claims.  People are skeptical of most any claim from an unknown entity.

Here are 4 examples of current events that bolster those feelings

Fake News

People are gravitating more and more towards mobile and online sources for their news.  They scan the headlines quickly and land on a few pieces that pique their interest.

Fake news is so prevalent that there was actually a recent experiment to try and acclimatize people so they could recognize when news, was likely real or not.1  The process was similar to the vaccination process where small amounts of a virus are injected to help the body build up a resistance.  In the Fake News Vaccine experiment, people were subjected to both fake news and contradictory real news in various combinations.  The results of the experiment aren’t relevant here.  What is relevant though is that Fake News is so prevalent that this experiment was even necessary in the first place.  (the real and fake news in this experiment was geared to climate change – see footnote if you are interested in the details)

Fake Reviews

A survey conducted by Dimensional Research states that 90% of customers are influenced by online reviews.2

The problem is that there is also a widespread skepticism about these reviews.3

  • 79% of US consumers believe they’ve read a fake review in the last year
  • 84% of US consumers said they “can’t always” spot a fake review

Fake reviews are left by the business itself or its connections.  They can also be paid-for reviews, or reviews left by ex-employees or competitors that don’t accurately reflect the business experience.

Fake reviews are a problem as they entrench the cynicism of the reader.  Can they really believe what they are reading?

Alternative Facts

First a disclaimer:  This is not a political article, it is simply an exercise in outlining why people no longer immediately believe what they read.

Kelly Anne Conway, a political pundit, is credited for starting the Alternative Facts revolution when she said: “Sean Spicer, our press secretary gave… alternative facts to that.”

That wasn’t the first time facts or statistics have been manipulated to serve the cause or the message. That has been an ongoing occurrence since word-of-mouth became a means of communication.  It was however a historical moment where the general public were advised flat out that Facts can be manipulated.

Alternative Facts are just another reason why people now think twice about the validity or credibility of what they read.

Website “Best” lists

It’s common now when searching for something on the internet to perform a search for something like “Best {whatever}”.  Typically, this will produce a list of search results something like “10 best {whatever}” or “Best {whatever} for 20xx”.

The problem is that, in many cases, the top 10 – 20 results are littered with websites that are owned, operated and maintained by the {whatever} suppliers.  It’s often tough to spot what the real comparison sites are.  Often the suppliers rate or rank or tag their products as marginally better, than the competitors’ in order to create a semblance of a true comparison.

All this really boils down to is people, once again, not knowing whether or not to trust what they are reading.

Solution

The first question you might be asking yourself is whether or not you really need a “Solution”.

The answer is absolutely, unequivocally, and without question: YES, you need a solution.

The bottom line is that your clients and prospects are increasingly skeptical of almost everything they see and read.  You need to “prove” your brand more than ever before.  The days when you could simply say “I place my client’s interests first” are gone – likely forever.

Regardless of the DOL fiduciary rules – people just don’t believe it anymore.

Even as you look around at other financial advisors, your competitors, you are likely experiencing some who claim to be fiduciaries, yet they continue to promote and sell products that provide them some sort of incentive – or even revenue.  If you don’t believe it, why would prospects that don’t know you?

If you intend on growing your practice, it has become an absolute must that you have client and prospect facing resources that “demonstrate” and “prove” you are who you say you are and that you believe in and deliver what you say you will deliver.

  • You need a clear, concise and attractive message (your Brand).
  • You need a visual representation of your financial planning process.
  • You need “easy to say yes to” resources like a whitepaper, or blog articles that display and solidify the values you believe in.
  • Finally, a couple of the best ways for prospects to “get to know you” and “believe you” before they ever meet you is through an active podcast or video channel.

Once you have a solid and compelling brand, your number two objective should be to build credibility and trust.

Sources:
1: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/gch2.201600008/abstract
2: http://www.zendesk.com/resources/customer-service-and-lifetime-customer-value
3: https://www.brightlocal.com/learn/local-consumer-review-survey

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5 Advisor Growth Strategies for 2018

According to the Chinese zodiac, 2018 is the year of the dog.¹ I have no idea what that means for you or if you even care. What I do know about 2018 is that growing your practice will take a big commitment. Here are five ideas that work well when done together and in sequence.

ONE
START THE YEAR WITH THE RIGHT MARKETING MINDSET

Do it right
Stop silo-marketing initiatives that don’t create momentum and don’t last. Buy in to an integrated, long term marketing approach that will continue working for you for year. You can add or takeaway parts, but get focused on a strategy that will last.

Think long-term
Build for many years of success, not just the next 90 days or you’ll spend each 90 day segment starting something new with little momentum from last quarter. It’s no way to market and grow.

No short cuts
There are no short cuts. Do it right. Stop paying silo-marketers for shortcut marketing. List buying doesn’t work alone. Seminars alone won’t do it. Search engine marketing only works as part of a much larger strategy. Stop lead generations tactics that aren’t built around an overarching marketing plan.

Invest
Nothing comes without hard work and smart investing. Find out what makes sense for you, not necessarily what worked for someone else. 10% of your gross revenue should be dedicated to marketing every year. It may be more if you need to build your foundation (brand, website, social profiles).

Understand your true ROI
ROI isn’t just objective. It’s subjective. Don’t ever forget the value of looking good, being intriguing and making it easy for people to engage you. Too many advisors look for clear and simple ROI guarantees. The greatest wins are the subjective ones. Confidence to close. Attracting more ideal prospects. Inspiring referrals from COIs and Clients you haven’t heard from in a while. Attracting opportunities to network, partner or contribute.

In most cases, ROI is what you make of it, not what it does for you. Stop waiting for the leads to pile in, go get them with your brand, content, website, social network and more. Have a “go get ‘em” mentality, not a “when are they coming” mentality.

TWO
EMPLOY THE RIGHT FRAMEWORK TO BUILD TRUST

Trust Formula - Framework

Own your story
Nothing is more important in financial services than having a story that differentiates you. In the least, it should clearly articulate who you serve, what you do, and why it’s important to them. Your brand precedes you. Your prospects experience your brand before they ever meet you in person. What’s your story? Are you different? Are you better? Who should work with you? Why should they care?

Prove your expertise and commitment
It’s not enough to say you are good, different or better. It’s everything to prove it and your ideal audience expect it. Show you care. Show your personality. Share your expertise. Make a commitment to creating and sharing content that tells your story and more importantly, helps them understand theirs. Prove your brand.

It’s not “build it and they will come”. Get exposed
Once you have a story, you need to get it out there in a meaningful way. Know where your audience is, find them and address them on their terms. Engage them in your story and your content. Get them to share your content with their networks. Expand. Find ways to target build your list. Use LinkedIn search. Find verticals and COIs who work with your ideal audience. Engage them too. Be everywhere you can be and as efficiently as possible.

THREE
SAVE TIME & MONEY

Stop “trial and error” marketing
Why try and fail when you can try and succeed. Find someone who’s had success with a strategy, not just a tactic. Will it work for you? Why did it work for them? Will your audience respond the same way? What hasn’t worked for them? Why? Do some research of find a firm that’s helped many different types of advisors find their way.

No more “old school” marketing
If “old school” only meant, build trust, that would be okay. What it means more often than not is trying the same things advisors did 15 years ago and expecting the same results. Old school thinks: referrals are just about asking, “free consultation” is a valid call-to-action, social media is a black hole, direct mail is personal, and seminars are purely educational. Marketing these days is about content, conversations and being everywhere.

Stop “I Hope…” marketing
Every advisors needs a strategy, not just tactics. How does your marketing work together? How do you create momentum? What’s effective and efficient?

Avoid SUNK marketing
Sunk marketing dies after it’s been used. Irt has no long-term value. Some examples are ads (digital, print), seminars (if you don’t follow up), direct mail (if it doesn’t lead to something else), emails marketing (if it doesn’t lead to something else), date specific content, and webinars (if it doesn’t lead to something else. The key is, does it lead to something else and does it have value once it’s been used? Some examples of lasting marketing: evergreen podcasts, videos, blog posts, published articles (if evergreen), and social profiles. Ten podcasts are worth more than 2. They add credibility to your cause. Digital advertising is gone once it’s done. Unless of course it led to content engagement where you can now initiate other marketing: social, email nurture, email newsletter, RSS to your blog/podcast and so on. The key here is to use “Old school” tactics and advertising to engage people in digital marketing, then you have something to build on.

FOUR
BUILD MARKETING MOMENTUM – EVERY DAY

Get sticky
Get people coming back for more. Share content that your audience will use over and over. Make your content so compelling people want to come back for more.  

Engage people
Use every opportunity you have to get people to engage in digital marketing then eventually face-to-face opportunities.

Influence people
Once people are engaged, stay in touch with them often enough and with appropriate content to further ingrain your expertise and commitment.

FIVE
IMPLEMENT, IMPLEMENT, IMPLEMENT

Focus on progress over perfection
If you’re waiting for the perfect website, the perfect paper, the perfect article, the perfect value proposition, you’’ll be missing out on more opportunities and the learning that comes from implementation.

Do what you can and build from there
Start small and focus on building momentum versus only using attraction tactics. Build your brand first, then your website, then your content, then start attracting.

Outsource when needed
You can’t do it all. You don’t have time and you won’t know how to maximize each strategy/tactic. Find help for what you don’t know or aren’t efficient at.

Simplify
Keep your marketing and relationships as simple as possible. Advisors often have 3-5 marketing vendors working for them at any given time. Start from square one, what’s your strategy? How can you simplify implementation? Can you find one or two vendors instead of 5?

Be accountable
Make sure someone on your team is holding you or others accountable. Too many advisors ignore what’s working or not and wait too long to address the inefficiencies and ineffectiveness.

Clear obstacles
Be aware of obstacles that steal your focus and keep you from starting or implementing better marketing. One of the most common obstacles advisors face is the “I already invested in this” mindset. If you invested and it didn’t work, don’t stick with it just because you spent the  money. Fix it now. If you spend too much time writing blog posts that drain the energy out of you, find another way. Try podcasting for instance. It’s much easier. If you don’t have the right technology to be efficient, find a way to get it. If you have a marketing assistant who doesn’t have the right digital skills to help you, find someone who does or enroll them in our Marketing Assistant Course.

Travel light
The bigger your marketing commitments are, the harder they become to manage and sustain; both financially and time-wise. It’s best to be really good at a few marketing tactics that work really well together than to be spread too thin.

2018
FORMULA FOR SUCCESS

Advsior Marketing Formula for Success in 2018

1 – The Chinese regard a dog as an auspicious animal. If a dog happens to come to a house, it symbolizes the coming of fortune.