Archive for the ‘Marketing & Branding Tips’ Category

Sharing Photos on Social Media

May 17, 2016

Photography has come a long way in a short period of time, thanks to the digital camera that now inhabits nearly every smartphone, tablet computer, or other device. This convenience has offered many new avenues for communication, notably via social media. But not all photos should be shared. Here are some practical tips for regulating photo-sharing on social media.

Always ask first. You always want to give people the expectation that their picture might be taken, whether it’s at a client event, work function, or some other circumstance. It gives people a chance to straighten their hair, apply makeup, or simply let you know that they’d rather not have their photo taken. Some people don’t mind having their photo taken, but would rather it not be shared. Police and officers of the court are often very discrete about being photographed with family and loved ones, so be mindful and respectful of that.

How does this promote my business? If you are taking these photos with the intention of sharing them on your various Social Media presences, be sure to ask yourself how this furthers your business. For example, depending on the client event, dozens or hundreds of photos could be taken. Sharing all of them, or even most of them, will likely flood the feeds of your followers and annoy them. Pick one photo that exemplifies that everyone had a great time at your event.

Spotlight local businesses and charities. It’s possible that you have a few local businesses among your clientele. Make it a regular feature to spotlight them in your social media posts. This demonstrates your involvement in the community and gives these businesses the incentive to send potential clients your way. Just drop them an email and let them know that you’d like to come in and snap a picture with them while buying lunch, shopping, or whatever the business may offer.

In some cases, it may also be appropriate to share your involvement with community events, school fundraisers, and other charity involvement you may have. Know your base, though; religious or political events always have the potential to alienate some potential or existing clients, even in a relatively “harmless” context.

Tagging people in photos. In most circumstances, I’d suggest avoiding this altogether. On Facebook, tagging can have the effect of sharing the photo automatically in the feed of the person you are tagging. It can create an awkward situation for the person being tagged. The better thing to do is to encourage people to tag themselves if they want. If you tag them in the comments section of the photo, as opposed to the photo itself, you can direct their attention to the photo without displaying it to their friends and followers.

Personal photos. Of course, you may be tempted to share your own family photos on a personal Facebook, or on Instagram. If your Broker/Dealer allows this, have at it! But, be mindful that not everyone wants to see you in your swimsuit this summer. Each of the social media outlets have different privacy settings that can allow you to regulate who sees what. If something is for just your family members or close friends, use those settings. Especially with something like Instagram, be mindful of who you allow access to your personal account.

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Your Internet Presence as a First Impression

March 17, 2014

The humorist Will Rogers famously noted “You never get a second chance to make a good first impression.” In the 21st century, we increasingly make that first impression online. Just like you wouldn’t want to see a doctor who keeps leeches in a jar, you don’t want to do business with a professional who appears out of touch or less than current in his or her understanding of their field.

Here are some tips for keeping the website looking fresh and interesting:

Show Your Work
It isn’t enough to tell people you’ve been in the business for umpteen years; everyone knows a professional in some field who has been in the game forever and, let’s face it, got a little lazy along the way. If you’re dedicated to your field, show it off in your updates by sharing articles you’ve been reading, passing along tips, noting quotes that have inspired you, and directing people’s attention to things that you are planning, such as events or seminars. Demonstrating that you are a vital presence, thinking and acting all the time, is a fine way to start a conversation with people.

Content, Content, Content
Creating a Facebook page or LinkedIn account in relation to your website only does you so much good if you aren’t engaging people. While you may have a blog, you may also lack the time and energy to create new material regularly. Don’t be afraid to look into a subscription to a service like our own MarketingLibrary.net or MarketingPRO for assistance with newsletters, articles, and social media content. If you’re too busy to write for yourself, that’s a good sign, right? Stay busy and enjoy the benefit of professionally written content, and then spend your time wisely, having conversations about the content you are posting with your clients and prospects.

Spring for a Face-Lift
Ever stumble onto a really old website that looks like it was uploaded before Y2K… very little in the way of graphics… very basic HTML? In terms of professional quality, it would be like turning up to a seminar dressed like Mike or Carol Brady. Here’s the hard truth: In five years, nearly every website you see now is going to look out-of-date in the same way. While you may have certain design cues that you want to keep, you have to be conscious about staying current in terms of functionality (ex: How does your website look on a smartphone? Does it have the same functionality?) Security should also be on the list if your clients and prospects have to log in in any way.

Keep an Ear to the Ground
Innovation is key. Imagine if you’d been the first person in your field to upload a podcast or post video of a talk on YouTube! We live in an exciting time where new and exciting ways of communicating ideas are cropping up every day. I challenge you to keep abreast of the new things coming our way and asking yourself this question every day: How can I apply this new idea to my business? There may come a day when YouTube is like an 8-track, so do yourself a favor and talk about technology with your colleagues, your friends, even your kids. Being on the cutting edge is one of the best first impressions you can make!

Starting your own networking group

February 25, 2014

Whether you’re a well-established figure in your community, starting out in a new town, or just looking to give your business a shot in the arm, leading or taking part in a networking group is a good idea. It’s essentially a group of like-minded business people who meet on a regular basis to strengthen relationships and build professional connections.

The biggest benefit of leading a networking group is self-evident: You’re seen as a leader. That perception means that, rather than asking for the referrals, the referrals will come to you. I feel strongly that someone building their business should belong to or lead at least four groups. The question is never “why network?” The question is “why aren’t you networking, and why aren’t you leading?”

Reduce the Excuse! If you’re driven enough to want to read this and improve yourself, you may also be the sort of person who puts in a lot of overtime and needs to be prodded to get out and socialize a bit. Excuses like “There’s not enough time” and “I’m too busy” are pretty common, but they are only excuses. Take charge! “Reduce the excuse” for yourself and your peers by exhibiting leadership; there are many successful professionals out there just like you, and they might be ideal participants for your group.

Of course, networking these days means Social Media. There’s a reason they called that movie about Facebook “The Social Network.” While LinkedIn, Facebook, or just regular emails are no substitute for events or meetings, they can be a way to keep everyone thinking about the group throughout the month, not to mention update everyone on event locations and important personal updates (births, deaths, and other major changes). Make use of these standard social media options, but there’s another site I want you to check out, if you aren’t using it already.

MeetUp.com is a great resource for creating and joining networks. The site is very simple to use. The moment I loaded the main page, I was given a number of “MeetUps” in my immediate area to consider. From there you can search for particular types of groups, ranging from Arts and Culture to Sports and Outdoor Activities and everything in between. While there is a fee to start a “MeetUp Group,” it‘s a very reasonable expense; normally $12 per month, they are running a starting special (as of this posting) for $6.00 a month. Simply signing up and joining groups is free. You can even sign up with your Facebook account. MeetUp.com is growing and becoming more nationally known, so do yourself a favor and get familiar with it today.

How many people should be in your group? Where should you meet? What should you talk about? For one thing, a networking group is not like professional football, where you have rules and regulations and can only have so many players on the field. A networking group can start as simply as two people in a coffee shop, or five people having lunch. Invite each member to make a mini-presentation, or, if you have the resources, invite one of the members to give a longer talk. In these early days, you can be thinking about how to grow your network and, more importantly, the best ways to enhance the experience for your fellow networkers. Over time, you can build your friendly neighborhood touch football get-together into a full-fledged stadium game.

Like so many things in life, you must give in order to receive. As I mentioned earlier, the big prize in networking is referrals. While membership has its privileges, leadership is an advantage; the whole point of networking is pooling resources and making things happen. To that end, I suggest making the point of giving referrals as quickly as is sensible. You’re not just playing Santa Claus, though: tell your fellow networkers a story about the person you are referring and help them get to know the person with whom they will be speaking. When you are given referrals, always thank the person who is sharing the information with you. And don’t forget to follow up, preferably within 24 hours. Being the example others follow, in many regards, is the definition of leadership.

In terms of organization, identify the roles different participants can take on. Leaders plan the events and recruit other attendees. Members who can sponsor the meetings and events can help belay the costs involved, especially as you grow into the sort of group that might need larger accommodation. Other supporters foster the growth by inviting their contacts. It’s also important to keep in mind that some attendees are merely there to participate in the events and aren’t looking to take organizational roles, even if they would be suited to them.

Stay focused, but not TOO focused. Not every networking group will be solely business oriented. Feel free to get inventive, but also keep in mind that while too wide a focus can be a problem, too narrow a focus can be excluding. For example, I know plenty of people who have no interest in golf, but I don’t know anyone who doesn’t enjoy fine dining with good company. Another thing to keep in mind is that you can do good for others while doing good for each other; networking and charity work go together like bacon and eggs, so organizing around a cause can be rewarding on many levels.

Leading a networking group has the potential to enhance anyone’s career. It’s also just a natural part of being a human being; you may have read over this piece and realized that you network all the time, whether you are aware of it or not! However, a conscious effort focusing on this all-important practice may prove to be one of the most rewarding and enjoyable parts of your professional life.

Should you enlist the help of a Marketing Assistant?

May 16, 2013

Marketing can be a great deal of work, especially when you have so many other tasks to complete. Is it time to hire some help? You may think you’re not ready to take on a new assistant. Then again, perhaps you’ve been ready for a while, but were too busy to really consider it.

Here are some things to think about as you consider hiring a Marketing Assistant.

WHY?

So much of staying in touch and building relationships with your clients and prospects is about reaching out, with messages and information, reminding them of your knowledge, services, or simply that they are valued. While you may feel more qualified to do this, there is something to be said for keeping your time free to handle the work you cannot delegate. Hiring a Marketing Assistant (either virtually or within your office) may help to relieve your workload and give you an opportunity to expand your marketing outreach.

WHEN?

There is no “magic formula” as to how many contacts or how many outbound messages signify that you’re ready to go to the next level. However, mailing out cards and letters, creating email campaigns and maintaining contact lists can be cumbersome, at any level. Social media (like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter) offer new options, but new challenges as well, especially in creating and finding content to share with your followers. So the answer to the eternal question “When?” is often “The moment it’s necessary to delegate the job, so that your energies are focused elsewhere.”

HOW?

Hiring a Marketing Assistant doesn’t mean you are no longer participating in the process, it just allows you to guide the direction your efforts take in a different way. There are a number of ways you can hire a Marketing Assistant, but they boil down to two options: Virtual or Live.

A live assistant may be a new hire, perhaps part time, or you may prefer to add to the responsibilities of an existing employee. Depending on your circumstances, you may have to trust this person with sensitive information. What about when they move on, are let go, or have a life event that prevents them from working? Hiring an individual who works from home (over the Internet) is much the same.

A solution that many prefer is subscribing to a marketing service that has the flexibility to create content, send marketing materials in a variety of formats, and may even offer different levels of support to meet your needs in terms of cost and features. While many of these online marketing solutions will afford you more time without the potential perils of hiring an actual employee, they often do require more interaction and input. Additionally, you want to make sure the service you select is industry-specific (compliance-minded.)

If you’re not ready to have a new employee on staff, or don’t feel you have quite enough work yet to keep them busy, a Virtual Marketing Assistant, as offered by MarketingLibrary.net, may be worth considering. (Yes, we’ll toot our own horn!) Numerous services are available which may prove invaluable as you expand your marketing reach, and generally you can expect to get more bang for your buck by pairing your virtual assistant with our robust marketing system. You can read more about this service here: https://www.marketinglibrary.net/mpva.asp

IS IT TIME?
While you may never fully be comfortable with any “hands off” solution to marketing, depending on your ambitions, you may not have a choice – at some point, you’ll no longer be able to do it all on your own. A Marketing Assistant may help you sweep an important aspect of your business practice into the “out” box, leaving you free to approach your wider goals.

Six Marketing Channels

March 1, 2013

Everyone accepts the importance of demonstrating the value of their services to the public through marketing. What may not be as obvious, especially to less experienced marketers, is where to direct your marketing energies when you’re starting out.

To that end, here’s a list of channels you can use to get the ball rolling (or pass along to a colleague or protégé for their reference).

Client Referrals: Some of your best referrals may come from the folks you are already doing business with. You can’t put a price on word-of-mouth recommendations. Provide your valued clients with a few business cards and let them know you’d appreciate them passing along your information to friends, colleagues or family members who may benefit from the services you provide. If you don’t ask, they may not think of it. Speaking of which: don’t neglect your current clients. You’re far more likely to receive referrals from clients if you stay in regular (meaningful) contact and provide excellent client service!

Professional Referrals: Forge strong relationships with other professionals and communicate clearly to them that you’re interested in receiving referrals. When and if they refer someone, treating their referral with care and demonstrating your superior client service can help to grow the referral relationship.

Seminars: Hosting a seminar where you can engage a group of potential clients is a great way to inspire some new business and break new ground. Use this as an opportunity to demonstrate your knowledge and professionalism. Select comfortable surroundings and let your personality shine through as you speak; just because it’s business, doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be pleasant.

Client Events:  Speaking of pleasant, don’t discount these relationship-building opportunities. Try starting out with educational events and, as you get to know the tastes of your clients, you can expand to more entertaining, social events.  Don’t forget to invite your clients to bring a friend.

Automated Communications: Staying in touch on a regular basis can be a valuable way to nurture your client relationship and keep them informed. A regular newsletter, either through the post or email, can become a resource to them, not to mention demonstrate that you’re invested in the relationship.

Networking: Being an active member of the community and taking advantage of local events may help you to develop your client base. Don’t join a club, group, or attend an activity with the sole purpose of touting your services, of course, but don’t be afraid to put yourself out there in groups you belong to and care about – after you’ve established yourself as a committed, active member of the group.

Also, when people hear the word “networking” these days, it’s usually preceded by the word “social.” Incorporate Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and other online options (as your Broker/Dealer allows) into your marketing arsenal.

Creating a dedicated Marketing Plan

February 12, 2013

Meeting your clients’ needs is a year-round job, so keeping in regular contact and remaining a presence in their lives is important. They need to know that you’re thinking about their needs and available to call upon when it’s time to take action.

If you’re contacting your clients on a regular basis, it’s definitely a sign of respect. Your marketing plan can help you take care of and grow business through three major factors:

1. Balance – It can be tough to balance your regular duties at the best of times. Organizing your time in a coherent schedule can make the difference between “I should have done that” and “I did it.”

2. Significance – Prioritizing can help you decide where your energies are best focused. A careful look at desired outcomes weighed against your time and other resources can help you build an effective and useful plan.

3. Consistency – Being in the right place at the right time can be advantageous in many circumstances, especially in marketing. If you’re a regular part of your clients’ lives, they may be more likely to think about your services and seek you out.

While all three factors are equally important, the easiest one to mess up is “Consistency.” How many of your “best-laid plans” have gone awry because you’ve lost track of time or forgotten to follow through? Any plan requires the determination and ability to follow through, so make that duty an important part of your day.

Creating Effective Marketing Campaigns

January 7, 2013

Client communication is one of the most important aspects of the Financial Services business, and delivering smart and effective messages via email should be a vital part of your strategy. Here are some ideas to consider when you’re building your message. This is by no means a complete list, just some concepts you should be thinking about when communicating to your audience.

Keep it short. You should avoid overwhelming the reader with too long a message; your goal is to pique their interest enough to get them on the phone with you or visit your website. Too much text in one place will either leave them with no questions to ask or intimidate them to the point of disinterest. A clear, brief message will give you more opportunities to expand on those ideas down the road.

Keep it simple. Many people open an email and glance over it before giving it a full and detailed read. This is a good opportunity, if you’ve organized your message with call-outs, bullet points, and subheads, to create a message that will catch the attention of someone skimming through the email just to understand the highlights.

Be clear. While this might seem like the most common sense advice, you’d be surprised how often the message can be lost in a jungle of terminology, lingo, and jargon. Keeping to the point and making your call to action clear can be the difference between successful communication and the recycle bin.

Be personal. Unless your name is “Occupant” or “Resident,” you probably put envelopes addressed in that way through the shredder rather than reading them. The same goes for emails; having the correct name or term of address tells the recipient that you know them and have put energy into making contact with them.

Don’t be flashy. Don’t sabotage yourself! Beyond a simple logo or photo to identify your company, excessive HTML, graphics, and music have more potential to alienate your contacts than engage them. Impress them with your message, rather than an overdone spectacle filled with bells and whistles that might take forever for their computer to load.

Get permission. Sending emails to someone who hasn’t expressed interest in getting information from you is Spam. Spam is ineffective, illegal, and just plain bad business. Remember that you want to be seen as an invaluable resource rather than an Internet pest, so use your email communication to build upon existing relationships. Reinforce that relationship by re-introducing yourself, if it’s been a while.

Join me for a free webinar January 25th

January 12, 2012

I’m pleased to be joining forces with Ron Carson, of Peak Advisor Alliance, for a special free webinar event on Wednesday, January 25th at 2pm EST / 11am PST. We’ll be discussing some of the issues that face today’s Advisors, including …

  • What are some strategies for advisors to develop a brand
    that attracts new clients?
  • How involved should advisors become in social media?
  • How important is it for advisors to have a sound investment
    management process?

I hope you’ll join us! Here are the details:

Conversations With the Masters:
Ron Carson and Peter Montoya

Join industry superstars Ron Carson and Peter Montoya as they discuss the hot issues that affect advisors today from the unique perspective that only they can bring.

Please join us for this FREE webinar!
Wednesday, January 25, 2012
2:00 p.m. ET
Click here to register.

RON CARSON is Founder and CEO of Carson Wealth Management Group, a comprehensive wealth planning firm, and founder of Peak Advisor Alliance, a coaching and resource program for financial advisors, both based in Omaha, Nebraska. With over 25 years of experience and more than $3 billion in assets under management, Ron is one of the country’s most successful and respected advisors. Barron’s magazine has ranked Ron one of the nation’s top advisors for the last five years. Registered Rep magazine chose Ron as the number one independent advisor in the country for the fourth year in a row. In addition to his planning practice, Ron is recognized as one of the country’s top trainers for financial advisors. He has spoken to audiences worldwide and shared the success principles documented in his book, Tested in the Trenches, co-authored with Steve Sanduski. Most recently, Ron co-authored with Steve, the New York Times best-selling book, Avalanche and the Blueprinting exercises that go with it. Together, these tools help advisors learn how to clarify their mission, vision, and values and create a life lived by design, not default.

PETER MONTOYA has led, since 1997, the only Advertising Agency specializing in Financial Service Professionals. In the last 15 years Peter has delivered over 1,500 presentations to Financial Advisors, developed more than 5,000 custom marketing plans, authored 3 best-selling books and is the father of two children … and he has just survived his one millionth mile on United Airlines. Obviously, Peter is committed to the success of his clients.To this end, he recently introduced the ultimate advertising compliance solution, “MarketingLibrary,” which is revolutionizing the way Financial Advisors interact with their compliance officers, including the benefit of compliance pre-approval. Just one more way Peter is working to transform the way we do business.

Email Marketing 101

December 27, 2011

When it comes to email marketing, some Financial Professionals feel a little overwhelmed. Why should you do it? When should you do it? How should you do it? … SHOULD you do it?

The answer to that last question is a mostly unqualified – YES. Unless your target market as a whole does not own computers, you should already be utilizing this medium as a form of both client generation and retention.

Now for the rest of it … here are some tips, tricks and best practices to help you along the way.

 1 – Always Ask for Permission
If the recipient has NOT expressed interest in receiving communication from you, it’s SPAM. (What’s SPAM? Visit this link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spam_%28electronic%29). SPAM does not work, and it is vile – jeopardizing legitimate emails every day.

 2 – Time It Well
Monday morning seems like a great time to communicate, right? Well, perhaps not. If you’re talking about communicating with clients who expect that Monday morning email from you – that’s one thing. If you’re communicating with a prospect who doesn’t know you as well, remember this … Monday morning is, for many people, the time when they go through and delete the most unwanted mail from their inbox. You could get lost in the shuffle!

3 – Introduce Yourself
If it’s been a while since you spoke to this contact, perhaps they don’t recall giving you their email address? Always try to make your first correspondence, (or the first in a long while), personal. Remind them how you met, and let them know why you want to be contacting them electronically. Make sure that your first subject line is personal and does not appear generic in any way – or they might delete you with their morning SPAM dump.

4 – Be Regular
This applies mainly to ongoing client communication (which, if you’re not already on top of, you should be). A regular weekly or monthly correspondence (financial news, tips, etc) is a great way to keep that relationship on track. Choose a time and day and try to be consistent. Monday AM is … okay. But if your clients are reading your email at the start of their work day, and even if you make it past the SPAM dump, they might not have the time to read your message. It may get pushed aside “for later” and forgotten. Perhaps Tuesday morning (between 8am – 11am) would be a better choice? Maybe a mid-week (Wednesday) update? It’s up to you. Try to get a feel for what your clients want – and don’t be afraid to ask them what (or when) that is!

5 – Automate Your Campaigns
Look, if you don’t do this, it’s really tough to remain on top of your communication. Setting up automatic campaigns not only helps you save time, it helps to keep your marketing consistent. Decide what you want to send, when, and to whom. Set it and forget it. This isn’t to say things should be impersonal and cold – not at all. You should be reaching out to clients and other contacts in a personal manner, too, as often as you can. But with regular correspondence (weekly updates, prospecting drips, financial news) … yes. Automate. An automated campaign should help you stay on track without pulling your hair out.

Social Media Usage & Compliance – What You Should Know

October 3, 2011

According to a recent Spectrem eZine report, 55% of the “mass affluent” and 46% of millionaires are now utilizing Facebook. So, connecting with this demographic through social media is definitely something to consider. [1]

But what are the risks of using social media when it comes to the Financial Professional? What are the regulatory considerations? First thing’s first – if you’re using or considering using social media within your practice and you haven’t yet carefully digested FINRA’s Regulatory Notice 11-39, you should. You can view it here: http://www.finra.org/web/groups/industry/@ip/@reg/@notice/documents/notices/p124186.pdf

Social Media usage and content may or may not be considered advertising – it depends. Obviously the ways in which people utilize this technology is as varied as the technology itself. Chatting, for example, may be considered “interactive content”, whereas content which will remain relatively static (a blog post, for example) would be considered advertising.

Core Compliance & Legal Services, Inc. released their “Risk Management Update” this month, with information on the latest regulatory guidelines. Definitely worth a read …

http://www.corecls.com/images/stories/CCLS_Risk_Management_Update_-_Social_Media_-_The_New_Venue_For_Regulatory_Enforcement_Actions_-_09.2011.pdf

 

[1] http://www.fa-mag.com/fa-news/8726-wealthy-investors-embracing-social-media-.html