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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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4 Ways Not To Suck At Marketing

Here’s a quick compilation of financial advisor concerns we’ve seen time and time again.   We’ll start with some obvious answers to the questions and later, provide some solutions.

A typical conversation goes something like this:

1) I can’t believe how much money I’ve wasted in marketing over the last 10 years.

Answer: We can; simply because we hear it all the time. This comes from people who have spent tens of thousands (or even hundreds of thousands) of dollars with no visible ROI.

When it comes to marketing, the single biggest mistake a financial advisor can make is to spend money on marketing without a clear and sustainable plan.   Sure, there is some marketing you need. Things like business cards, a LinkedIn profile, a basic website. But, even these bring you nothing (and can actually have negative value) if they are done wrong.  

See Solution below

2) No one is completing my “free consultation” form.

Answer: No kidding. Typically, this is one of the least attractive and least used forms on an advisor’s website.   The reason: Booking a meeting is a big ask – even if it’s free. It’s a major commitment to drive to an office and spend time with someone. Especially if you don’t know them and they’ve done little to ensure you that you are the one they should be talking to.

See Solution below

3) I don’t have time to write articles.

Answer: Agreed (sort of). Advisors who can spend the time to sustain a weekly blog post are far and few between. It takes time and commitment to publish material. It’s also something that does not have immediate payback. Keeping a blog current with original content can be tough.

It may seem a little odd at first to think about a Blog as marketing but, it’s actually one of the best ways to get noticed in an extremely crowded landscape. If that isn’t marketing, then I don’t know what is.  

Make sure you stay with us for the best solution we can think of.

See Solution below 

4) My marketing isn’t producing any referrals.

Answer: That is an extremely common problem. The common and uncomfortable end-of-meeting ask for referrals is seldom effective.   Again – why is this under “marketing mistakes”?   Because – getting more and better referrals is best way to grow your practice and how you market yourself or your practice is likely the single most important influencer in getting more referrals.   If your top clients aren’t sending you more top clients, it’s most often because they are as uncomfortable asking as you are. Add to that the fact that they likely haven’t been shown how to ask. The “right” marketing makes it easy and comfortable.

See Solution below

 

SOLUTIONS:

First – thanks for sticking with me. This article turned into a bit of a rant. It just hurts a bit when there are solutions that are “right there”. I could have added a dozen more top-concerns but stopped at these 4 since they are likely the most common.

1) With respect to past experienced with marketing:

That creates an ultra defensive and high-risk view of any future expenditure.   It makes it interesting for people like us who are in the Branding and Marketing business since just about every client we’ve ever helped got burnt more than once before coming to us.

The solution however isn’t to stop spending money… the solution is to spend the “right” money in a tactical way that targets your most enjoyable clients.   There are four strategic components to ensuring your marketing dollars are being used effectively.

The first step isn’t marketing at all… it’s branding.   If you don’t build a presence (an aura even) that pinpoints who you are, who you want to do business with and most importantly why it is you chose that client base, you may as well throw your marketing money away.

There is no point spending tons of money inviting people to your party if the party isn’t for them.   You need to look and feel different than all the other financial advisors out there. And, if you think being honest, having integrity, being knowledgeable, being trustworthy or, offering comprehensive service makes you different, you’re just kidding yourself. That is how 99% of the financial advisors out there try to position themselves.  

You need to figure out who you want to work with and position your message(s) in a way that is compelling, intriguing and valuable to that audience.

 2) Regarding your “free consultation” form: 

If you complete #1 above, this will be a lot easier.   There is a hierarchy of commitments you can ask for from prospects. Booking a meeting is one or the largest commitments as it involves time and the lack of anonymity. No one wants to be “sold to” and that is what a free consultation sounds like – regardless of the ubiquitous “no obligation”.   You aren’t selling cars or real-estate. You are offering your time and expertise to potentially help them with their current or future financial needs. 

The first and easiest level of commitment is to absorb your knowledge by downloading a paper, or reading a blog post, or listening to a podcast.   The downloading part is easy and no-risk . You can collect contact information to nurture the lead later but, the less you collect and the more risk-free and anonymous you can make it, the more likely you are to get them to see who you are and what you have to offer – your wisdom.

If you do collect information, keep it minimal and make it clear that you will not spam them. It’s crazy how often people stop and don’t download something, even if they want it. Lots of people just provide fake or throw-away email addresses to get something if they have to provide an email address to someone they don’t yet know or trust. Sound familiar? Whether or not you choose to collect contact information for your free resources, the point is that this is the fastest and easiest way for prospects to start experiencing you.

The next least-intrusive way to get that first contact is through a webinar (fast, frequent and inexpensive) or event (expensive and infrequent).   The point here is that it’s more of a commitment to “spend” time with you than it is to download something and absorb it at their leisure.   This type of offer is likely a good next step once someone knows you a little already 

All that to say, start the relationship on their terms with resources or offerings that require little commitment on their part. Ensure these resources add value and tell your story (not someone else’s).

3) About the time it takes to get your message out there:

Once you’ve accomplished #1 and #2 above, it’s time to get your message out there to the world. Blogging has a ton of benefits: from credibility, to Search Engine Optimization, to building trust, to networking to attracting leads.   The unfortunate truth however is that it can take time and dedication.

One solution that is working for many of our clients is to podcast.   The beauty of that is that it is easy, since most advisors actually know their stuff and are comfortable talking about it. If you can get someone to interview you, it’s even that much easier. Once the podcast episode is complete, the content can easily be transcribed. There are services out there that do that at minimal cost. That transcription can then be edited and turned into a blog post. Again, an admin or an external service can do that.

Don’t NOT blog because it takes time. Consider podcasting as either an alternative to or support for your blogging efforts. Not only is it easy…. It’s fun too.

Once your content is in place, get it out there through email, social media and media partners when possible. It’s no use keeping your brilliance a secret.

4) On referrals:

Once you have a clear message of who you are and who you work with… once you have a website that positions your uniqueness in a way that has value to the people you want to attract… once you have a base of articles, posts, papers that support that you are who you say you are… then, referrals become easy.

Think about having your top clients help you with your messaging. Ask them if the material you are producing has value to them. Listen to what they have to say and adjust when it makes sense.   Once they understand the real value you provide it will be easy for them to introduce you to others. Make it feel natural for them. Give them a script in the form of a one-sheet to help. Vest them in your success and they will contribute to your success.

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10 Financial Podcast Sites To Learn From

Typically, you will see blog post or article titles that read something like “Top 10 Financial Podcasts” or the like. This is a bit of a different approach in that, we thought you could learn from not only the great stuff others are doing but also from the not so great stuff they are doing.

The process we followed was to search Google for titles like the ones above and get a list of popular, at least from a search engine perspective, financial podcasts.  From there, we looked at a few dozen and came up with a somewhat subjective list of what works well and what fails miserably.  We’ve purposefully left out clients we’ve worked with or helped as we knew that would throw some bias in the mix.  We have referenced a few at the bottom as a listing only in case you are interested.

This is by no means an all inclusive list so there is no need to write in and ask “what about xxx”.  It’s just a mashup of financial podcast channels we thought you could learn from.  We’ve decided to list them (and rate them on a scale of 1 to 10) from the highest to the lowest.  They aren’t rated on any kind of objective scoring matrix. They are simply rated based on general observations.   We’ve added some commentary to the earlier ones to help explain the thinking process.

Whether  you are currently podcasting or just considering it, there will be information here to help you rise to the top.

 

1 –  The Truth About Money with Ric Edelman  (10/10)

http://www.edelmanfinancial.com/radio

Pros:

  • Nice personal design showing personality
  • Easy navigation (including highlights to salient clips – really like that)
  • Nice intro (once the compliance-heavy content is over – probably should have been a .5 deduction for that but unfortunately it’s likely unavoidable for Ric)
  • Simple and non-intrusive social sharing options
  • Good value (if this were a weighted average… providing value would be worth a significant portion of the score)
  • Very personable
  • High-end production

Con:

  • Episodes may be a little long (this may be a personal bias but, keeping the episodes to 30 – 45 minutes would be a preference – no points deducted here as that is a simple personal preference.  Although, there is some inconclusive evidence that the “sweet spot” on time is the 30 – 45 minute range)

 

2 – Freakonomics Radio.  (9/10)

http://freakonomics.com/archive/

Pros:

  • Easy to navigate
  • Nice short intros
  • Good length
  • Nice imagery
  • Good interesting conversation
  • Great value for investors

Con:

  • The topic / headline don’t seem to match the podcast.  Makes you wonder if you are in the right place.  If it wasn’t for that, this Podcast channel may have gotten a 10.  The titles feel a bit like bait and switch.

 

3 – The Motley Fool  (9/10)

https://www.fool.com/podcasts/motley-fool-money

Pros:

  • Prominent but not “in your face” sign-up request
  • Easy to navigate
  • Good episode lengths
  • Nice intro with music
  • Good value
  • Interesting guest interviews
  • Easy but non intrusive social media sharing options.

Con:

  • Ad Choice ads are a little too prominent (and distracting thus detracting from the value).

 

4 – Dave Ramsay Show  (9/10)

https://www.daveramsey.com/show/home/

Pros:

  • Posts very often  3 shows per day.
  • Very topical to financial services (Value)
  • Good conversational tone with guests

Cons:

  • Intro too long.. 22 seconds before any voice.
  • Episodes could be shorter.

 

5 – The Disciplined Investor.  (8/10)

http://thedisciplinedinvestor.com/blog/podcast-summary/

Pros:

  • Nice podcast graphic
  • Consistent with weekly shows
  • Good voice and music intro.  
  • Topical to financial advice (thus good value for investors)
  • Easy navigation – including search capability

Cons:

  • A little long at about an hour each.
  • Intrusive popup to register.  (May be my personal bias but I find these distracting and a pain)
  • Technical issues and could not get some episodes to play

 

6 – Bigger Pockets Podcast  (8/10)

https://www.biggerpockets.com/podcast

Pros:

  • Introduction shows personality
  • Consistent timing (reliable source)
  • Easy to sign-up
  • Good “banter” between guests and hosts
  • Great summary text.
  • Fair graphics but could be cleaner or more relevant.
  • Loved this Channel summary:  Imagine you’re friends with hundreds of real estate investors and entrepreneurs. Now imagine you can grab a beer with each of them and casually chat about failures, successes, motivations, and lessons learned. That’s what we’re aiming for with The BiggerPockets Podcast.

Cons:  

  • Inconsistent intros.  Some have nearly no intro but if you listen to episode 242, it’s well done there.  
  • When there is no intro other than the Podcast title the transition from the intro to the actual show is very abrupt.  (needs better editing)
  • Episodes are too long – they need to learn to be more succinct.

 

7 – Quick and Dirty Tips.com   (7/10)

http://www.quickanddirtytips.com/money-girl

Pros:

  • Nice intro  (short with music)
  • Great production quality  
  • Good Narration
  • Nice length at under 30 minutes each.
  • Technically the podcasts are very well done. The Cons are enough to make me not want to go there though.

Cons:

  • A little too promotional (both self-promotion and sponsors) at the beginning.  
  • Takes 2 – 3 minutes + to get to the content.  Although the podcasts provide value, it feels like the real intent is to make sponsorship and advertising revenue instead.
  • DIfficult navigation.  (Once inside, there is a podcast play button on the top right but it took me a while to realize that since it’s in the Advertisement column)
  • Ads detract from the site.  (Way too many of them.  It may create revenue but it erodes credibility)

 

8 – The Clark Howard Show   (4/10)

https://clark.com/  

Pros:

  • Episodes are good length
  • Good podcast intro (music and introduction)
  • Consistent schedule (publishes very often)
  • Very personable

Cons:

  • Look and feel is old
  • Hard to find in search engines (likely needs a more intuitive domain name like ClarkHowardShow.com.  Clark.com was likely pretty expensive but the lack of clarity around where you are landing is confusing)  
  • Numerous ads on site detract from value/message
  • Somewhat off the bigger financial advice topic therefore, questionable overall value

 

9 – Like a Mother with Emma Johnson  (1/10)

https://www.wealthysinglemommy.com/category/radio-show/

Pro:

  • Great design

Con:

  • All podcast episodes are playing the same podcast. Likely a temporary issue at the time of this writing but unfortunately, it takes this podcast out of the running.

 

10 – Entrepreneur on fire  (0/10)

https://www.eofire.com/

Pros:

  • Good intro (music and commentary)
  • Good “technical” production
  • Consistent

Cons:

  • Good guest commentary but podcasts feel more like infomercials. Really not sure why anyone listens to these.  Feels more like guerrilla marketing than providing value.
  • Big-ass signup form that you have to “skip” to get to site.  Again.. a personal bias that “IN YOUR FACE” is not the way to build rapport.
  • Popup when you scroll down for Free Guide.  Exit “x” is subtle and it almost forces you to promote on messenger.  (Yikes.  Hate this)

 

Some Podcasts Where We’ve Helped

Here are some of the financial advisor podcasts we’ve had a helping hand with, either through branding, design, or our Top Advisor Marketing podcasting service.  They are worth a look (and listen) so you can make up your own opinion.

Beyond Conventional Podcast by Biond Financial http://biondfinancial.com/  (also did their website)
https://beyondconventional.podbean.com/

Your Optional Personal Economy Podcast  by Bennett Financial https://bennettfg.com/ (also did their website)
http://yope.podbean.com/

The Money Guy Show  by Brian Preston and Bo Hansen  (consulting only)
http://www.moneyguy.com/

If you are interested in getting your message out there in a fun and easy way, and attracting more ideal clients in the process, take a look at our podcasting service at http://top-advisor-marketing.flywheelsites.com/m-solutions/