What Do Millennials Want?

September 28, 2016

MarketingPro - What do Millenials Want

The mystery of how to direct your business to the so-called “millennials,” the first adults of the 21st century, continues. While every new generation means a new rulebook, finding the path is complicated by new technology and changing social attitudes. Here are three easy tips for attracting and maintaining a presence in their lives.

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Boundaries with Clients

August 3, 2016

Bride And Groom Celebrating With Guests At Reception

If you’re holding client appreciation events, it goes without saying that you’ll be inviting your clients. But how often should you invite clients to your own personal events? And how often should you accept invitations to their events? Are weddings, birthdays, and holiday gatherings an appropriate place to celebrate alongside your clients? You want to distinguish your time from client time. Chances are that many of your clients may feel awkward or out of place at an event you are sharing with your family and loved ones. The same goes for you attending their event.

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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.

Book Talk

March 14, 2016

Talking about what you’ve been reading is a great way to start a conversation via social media. Here are some pointers for bringing up the books that you’re reading via Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

  • What kinds of books?
    It shouldn’t surprise people that you might talk about books that relate to your industry. There are many books about retirement, finances, investing, and lifestyles which are related to your services. Your job is to find the books that are interesting, entertaining, and most relevant to your followers.
  • Talk back to the reviewers.
    Find reviews of the books you’re reading and share them, with a brief summary of where you agree or disagree with the reviewer. Avoid user reviews, i.e. the product reviews you find on Amazon. Favor reviews posted by traditional media. YouTube videos of conversations with the author are also a great resource.
  • But what if I’m reading?
    An award-winning novel? A mystery? The latest biography? History? Not everything you talk about has to be relevant. In fact, mixing it up is a good thing; it shows people that you’re well-rounded, and it keeps them paying attention when you’re doing something related to your business.
  • Know your community.
    There are certain books that you might not want to discuss. I’m not just talking “adult situations” here; there are a number of books, even those related to financial matters, which take political and religious points of view. A good rule of thumb when sharing about a book is to ask yourself: Who am I excluding when I’m talking about this book? You know your community best, so put that knowledge into practice.
  • Keep it lively, but respectful.
    If you’re a reader, this is a great way to connect with well-informed, educated people within your community. It might lead to meet-ups, book clubs… whatever you have the bandwidth to take part in. Just remember that people do get excited about topics they are passionate about. By keeping a friendly tone, you can show leadership by maintaining the cool even when folks get passionate or argumentative. This leadership will earn respect and, in the long run, win you business.

Reaching Out To Millennials

February 15, 2016

The current generation of young adults, the Millennials (people born between 1981-1996), are often seen as something of a riddle to their elders. When you consider that these young people have grown up in a wildly different world than even the generation before them, with so many notable technological and social differences, it’s easy to see why anyone might shrug their shoulders and ask “How do I get their attention?”

Fitness Clubs: Roughly one in five Millennials use a gym or exercise regularly. Maybe you should consider partnering with a local gym to offer discount group memberships. Or perhaps look into hiking and biking excursions. You likely have a natural area just right for this sort of outing somewhere nearby.1

LAN Parties: Millennials consume media like crazy. Some polls have them playing video games more than watching movies and sports combined. A LAN Party is where you gather a number of people with game consoles, laptops, and other platforms to take part in playing multiplayer video games. Normally attendees bring their own gaming console, but you may want to rent or borrow a device or two, just in case. Have lots of snack food available… these parties can go all weekend. Be sure to offer more than just the LAN Party as a diversion; even the most dedicated gamer needs a break! If you have an office, host it in your conference room, maybe on a weekend that coincides with a prominent game release. Do a short, 15-20 minute presentation before gaming begins. Now you have a number of young people with disposable income who know where your office is and what services you provide. You probably have one or two gamers on your staff or maybe in your family who can help advise and supervise the event.2,3

Student Debt Counselling: There is $1.2 Trillion dollars of student loan debt in the United States. You better believe that’s on the mind of a number of new college graduates. Bring in a guest speaker who talks about how to lower payments, and/or strategizes on how to resolve these burdens quickly and efficiently. You’ll probably get a number of Gen Xers and Baby Boomers in the mix, as well, as student debt is not merely a problem for the young.4

Social Media: Of course, most Millennials use some form of social media. If you aren’t already using Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, get on that immediately, if your compliance allows. Also, keep in mind that Marketing.Pro offers compliance-approved social media content every week (text posts as well as image posts.) It also offers the option to automated social media campaigns. Regular posting shows that you are in touch and easily accessible, part of their neighborhood.

1-marketingcharts.com/television/what-do-millennials-like-to-do-with-their-free-time-29750/
2-entrepreneur.com/article/238294
3-wikihow.com/Host-a-LAN-Party
4-cnbc.com/2015/06/15/the-high-economic-and-social-costs-of-student-loan-debt.html

The Elections Are Coming! The Elections Are Coming!

November 16, 2015

Like many Americans, you probably have political and social views, and those you feel strongly about. You also know that, if you work with the public in a profit-making enterprise, there isn’t much benefit in expressing any of the views which may be divisive or partisan. Whether you skew right, left, or center, your political views are likely something that you keep to yourself, regardless of whether most of your clients or customers agree with you or not.

What do you do, then, if your personal or business social media presence has been hijacked by a political conversation? It doesn’t take much to light the fuse, especially as we go into the 2016 Presidential Election cycle, when so many more people are engaged in the political process.

It isn’t enough to simply avoid some topics. Financial professionals, to name one example, deal with topics that so frequently cross over with the world of politics.

Here are three ways to keep the peace on social media.

Lay down the law: You have a right to regulate the conversation in your social media presence and/or let your followers and friends know the “rules” for your feed. Post something that will end the conversation respectfully:

  • “I appreciate the opinions of everyone here, but respectfully ask that political conversations happen elsewhere.”
  • “I know these are issues that many feel passionately about, but I’d like my page to stay neutral when it comes to politics.”
  • “I feel like this thread has gotten a bit off topic. I appreciate everyone’s thoughts and opinions, but I’d rather steer clear of politics on my feed. I hope everyone understands.”

A private word: You will probably want to delete any comments of a political nature from your feed (possible on some platforms, but not others). A quick direct message explaining your actions and why you’ve taken them will soften the blow, especially if they are a current or potential client. If they are someone you work with closely, a telephone call might also be appropriate.

The banhammer: If a word to the wise proves insufficient, or if there are repeated incidents, the various social media platforms offer you options to ban or block certain users from posting or commenting.

Considering that we are still a year away from Election Day 2016, I hope that you won’t have to use these methods too often! Our political system is one of the things that makes our country great, but, like fireworks on the Fourth of July, you want to be careful where you set it off!

Keeping Your Client Appreciation Events Interesting for Everyone

October 19, 2015

There is an unwritten social rule that we should be inclusive whenever possible. It’s important, then, to select events that will be interesting and compelling to the majority of your clients. Here are some tips for planning events with the widest audience in mind:

Ask Questions – This isn’t Perry Mason; nobody’s going to yell at you for asking leading questions. You should be taking the time to get to know your clients, anyway, with questions like “Do you (and your spouse) golf?”

Tip Your Hand – The easiest way to gauge interest is to just let the clients know what you are planning. “I’m thinking of having a skybox event at an NBA game this year and I want to know who’s interested. Does your family like basketball?” If they are in love with the idea, you’ll find out.

Vary Your Events – While you might do an annual Holiday party, avoid having the same event calendar every single year. For example: shredding parties are popular, but if you had one last year, you might not have as much enthusiasm another other this year.

We All Have Different Tastes – Of course many women love sporting events and many men enjoy the theater, but too much of one type of event might leave one spouse cold. Remember that you are cultivating a professional relationship with both partners.

LinkedIn Becomes A Go-To Recruitment Tool

September 21, 2015

Stephen Colbert used to make occasional jokes about ignoring LinkedIn requests. And it’s true, for a long time, people’s understanding of LinkedIn was rudimentary. But I am hearing more and more real evidence of LinkedIn becoming a go-to tool for major companies in search of talent.

LinkedIn is well-known as the preeminent social media experience for professionals. Not only will it allow you to create and build professional contacts, but it is becoming the new frontier in job recruitment. If you’re looking for reasons why government jobs numbers have been so great lately, there are two helpful developments you can point to: people are getting better at looking for jobs and jobs are getting better at looking for the right people.

You see, unlike other social media, your LinkedIn account serves as both a digital business card as well as a full resume. While individuals can make contacts in their area or from friend-of-a-friend connections like other social media platforms, many large corporations are spending thousands of dollars per quarter on recruitment tools to seek out and make contact with ideal candidates.

Why is this catching on? If you’ve ever hired someone, you know what it’s like to post job listings in the paper or online (you can do it on LinkedIn, as well). If twenty people reply, you’re lucky if one is even a real candidate. Historically, that problem has been compounded for larger companies. Another big problem, regardless of the size of the company, is that the best people for the job aren’t looking for you; the best people are already working.

LinkedIn recruitment tools act as an inexpensive alternative to the headhunters and staffing companies of old. With them, a company is able to search all of LinkedIn (not just a small social network) for suitable candidates. That includes people who are already employed, but might be tempted with the right offer.

What does this mean for you? You want a LinkedIn profile, you want to keep it updated, and you want to keep an eye on it. This goes if you are a green kid, fresh out of college, or an old hand with decades of experience; if the job fits you, you’re going to want to be in the shuffle.

I’d also be remiss if I didn’t remind you that you can make a great impression on LinkedIn if, in addition to keeping your personal information updated, you are sharing interesting articles, blog posts, and news items. It shows that you are engaged in the world around you and full of ideas. Marketing.Pro offers robust social media content which can be used on LinkedIn.  It can be the difference between blending into the wallpaper and standing out in a crowded room.

Are you using social media wisely?

August 17, 2015

The question isn’t “Are you using social media?” You’re on top of that, or you’re about to start. The question is “Are you using social media wisely?”

Social Media may be the most human tool ever devised. We’re social by our nature; we always want to be talking, meeting, sharing, and we always seek out community. Unlike a TV Commercial or an ad in the paper, you have the opportunity to get to know your intended audience before posting. Knowing their passions, their concerns, and their everyday lives will inform you about what to share.

As I see it, your job is to start a conversation and keep it going. This doesn’t mean responding to every post. Don’t just talk. Listen. Monitor. Pay attention. If someone posts about a new child or a grandchild, this gives you the information that this person may be thinking about starting a savings plan for college. If someone reaches a particular milestone birthday, that may be an indication that it’s time to have a conversation about their retirement savings, or maybe even legacy planning.

Here are some tips for using each of the three main Social Media Platforms:

• Twitter: 140 characters may seem like too little to communicate, but use that space wisely; link to relevant or interesting articles. If you keep a blog, link to that. Your followers will decide what they want to read, based on their own lives and interests.

• Facebook: More intimate than Twitter, Facebook is less like the town square and more like being invited into someone’s living room. If you are fortunate enough to be “friended,” be sure to balance information with some personal stuff. Nothing too personal. But pictures from a recent family vacation or outing allows contacts to see you as a neighbor.

• LinkedIn: The late night guys love joking about ignoring LinkedIn requests, but it’s your way of communicating with other professionals. People who are not necessarily in your field are there, so be sure to put your best foot forward and take part.

Keep in mind: These are just the big three today. Keep an eye on sites like Tumblr, Instagram, and others that are still developing a following. If you see a way to reach out on these sites, and your Broker/Dealers say yes, take the plunge! The main rule is staying firmly on the line between being professional, yet interesting.

Part of your presence in any social network should include interesting and topical articles and news items; if you are a doing things on your own, or have an assistant with other pressing duties, finding interesting items can feel like a full-time job. This is doubled when you factor that many people working in financial fields must have all items, even social media posts, approved by compliance departments.

While brevity is the soul of wit, you needn’t leave any tricks in your bag. Anyone who has spent any time on social media knows the power of images. Think in terms of how you can convey a message in ways that are visually interesting. Information Graphics or Infographics are image files that illustrate a complicated idea, such as significant financial changes, pie charts, and graphs. They can also be used to share pertinent quotes from recent news stories, or words of advice from experts.

Password Managers

July 20, 2015

In working on Marketing.Pro’s newest LinkedIn campaign feature, we’ve discovered that more than 60% of the subscribers in the group didn’t have their own login information. It’s a common problem, and not surprising when you consider that the best security practice is to have complicated passwords for each and every website or application. In June of this year, PC Magazine noted “The only way to keep your secure website logins safe is to use a strong password for each and never use the same one twice. And the only way to manage that task is to use a password manager.”1

Now, it’s true that you could keep track of them on paper, but there’s no getting around how insecure that is… not to mention inconvenient, if you happen to lose the paper. Having the same password for everything is a bad idea; if a hacker figures out one, he’s figured out all of them.

Password managers are secure and take all of the thinking and memory out of maintaining all of your passwords. Many can fill forms and even generate passwords for you, for extra security. They have the potential to save you and your staff hours of frustration, and keep your business’ vital information out of harm’s way.

In doing some research for this piece, I came across two great articles on password managers, outlining different brands and their benefits, differences, and prices. The first one I want to share is the article that produced that great quote above, from Neil J. Rubenking at PC Magazine.

The other piece comes from Alan Henry at Life Hacker, providing the 5 best password managers, as chosen by Life Hacker readers earlier this year.

The three brands mentioned in both articles are Dashlane, LastPass, and RoboForm, but take the time to inform your own decision; passwords are a reality of doing business using modern technology, so staying state-of-art with your security is one of the most serious decisions you can make!

Bottom line … Make the commitment now to keep your passwords in a safe, centralized location, and ALWAYS have access to them at a moment’s notice. This could save both you and your staff hours of frustration and wasted time in the future.

1 – http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2407168,00.asp [6/2/15]