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Letting your communications drift

So you finally decided to start sending out a regular email newsletter or regularly updating the blog on your website. Well done to you! The first issue of your newsletter is full of promises about your new newsletter keeping clients and other contacts informed and educated. And then the newsletter delivers this in spades! Roll on to a month or two later and the next edition is due to go out. You’re busy, it’s the middle of pensions season and the markets are in turmoil. You just about manage to cobble the newsletter together, everyone moaning about not having enough time. And then that’s it, the next edition never see the light of day…

Unfortunately this happens a little too frequently among financial advice firms. So apart from a bit of a gnawing sense of failure within your own firm, what messages does letting your communications drift say to your audience?

You don’t have an opinion

Your clients and prospective clients want to hear your opinions about current events. Whether they are about how they should (or shouldn’t!) react in the current market turmoil, your views of any changing legislation that will impact the personal finance world or indeed developments within the life and pensions market. Your opinions may reassure investors, allow you to demonstrate your expertise and show that you have your finger on the pulse.

Of course if you’re not sending out these opinions, exactly the opposite applies. And then your clients don’t know where you stand on these topics. And of course then there is the very real risk that they will find their way on to the email database of another Financial Broker who provides them with this expert opinion all of the time. Who will they want to deal with – the person with their finger on the pulse or the person without?

You’ve run out of ideas

Of course email newsletters also offer you the opportunity to educate your clients and prospects. You can remind them of the value of getting advice from a Financial Broker, set out the benefits of having a risk appropriate investment portfolio, remind them of the importance of having the right income protection plan in place and how to ensure that their legacy on death is not a worrying tax burden for their loved ones.

But then when you stop, have you demonstrated all that you know, that you’ve shown the breadth of your knowledge? So what about the topics that are worrying your clients that you haven’t covered? You don’t want them thinking that maybe you just don’t have knowledge in that particular area…

At the end of the day, your clients can be a rich source of content ideas. Ask them for topics that they would like covered and then write about them!

You just don’t care

Of course this is the real worry… that your clients will think that you simply have lost interest and don’t really care about your marketing and your business. That you have simply slowed down a bit and are coasting…Of course this will set off alarm bells in their heads about your approach to your wider business, your clients and their personal financial affairs. Are you just punching in time there too?

At best, your clients might just see all of this as a bit unprofessional – starting a marketing initiative that you’re unable to continue. Is this how you want them to view your business?

StepChange provides content to Financial Brokers who don’t have time to write it themselves and a newsletter service to manage the whole process of sending out regular fully personalised and branded communications to your clients. And we’ll deliver these on time, every time!

5 Tips about Social Media for Financial Advisers

In this article, I look at the phenomenon of Social Media. These points are worth considering by financial advisers who haven’t as yet ventured into this new world and indeed are useful reminders for those of us who have!

1.            It’s a conversation, not a presentation

Social media is very different to your website – compare both to a client seminar. Your website is like your presentation – this is your opportunity for you to showcase your business and products to the audience, it’s your sales pitch. Social Media however is the days before the seminar, the morning of it, the coffee break and after it’s all over! Social media is your tool to attract both existing and potential clients to attend, to converse with them about your content and then to follow-up afterwards with the key points from your sales pitch! It then offers you the opportunity to stay on their radar as they potentially consider other financial decisions in the future.

Social Media is growing, very rapidly. It’s not going to go away!

2.            Which Social Media platform is right for you?

I’ll consider the 3 main platforms. Facebook, which now tops Google for weekly traffic, originally started out as a platform for friends and family to share photos, stories and gossip! But now businesses see the opportunity to both advertise to and engage with potential customers on Facebook because of the huge numbers spending significant amounts of time on it! There are not many examples as yet of financial advisers gaining great leverage from Facebook. However some are bravely trying and good luck to them!

LinkedIn is really a must for advisers now. Think of it as Facebook for professionals at work. LinkedIn offers you the opportunity to network, meet potential customers, interact regularly with existing customers and remind all of them why they  are glad that they know you! LinkedIn offers you the opportunity to share useful information with a wide group of people that you want to transact business with. Talk to someone who knows what they’re doing and start building your personal online profile!

Twitter is a medium that allows you send messages of up to 140 characters only. However this can include links to your website, video, blog of other interesting online content. It’s very quick and easy to use. It is definitely worth considering but not as critical as LinkedIn for financial advisers at this stage. Some of your peers are tweeting (sending messages) very effectively already!

3.            Should you get rid of your website in favour of Social Media?

Definitely not! Social Media will help you to engage your customers, to want them to learn more about you as an adviser and the products you sell. However to find out this information, they are likely to look at your website. This then becomes your opportunity to really draw them in and to encourage them to pick up the phone to talk to you about their pension, investment or insurance product. Now you’ve got to make sure that the content on your website is 100% up to date and displaying the sales messages that will ensure the customer picks up the phone to meet you!

4.            Are there any pitfalls?

Yes there are. Remember what goes online, stay online – forever! So don’t update your LinkedIn status at 2am after a long night in the pub! Once you send out an update, you can’t take it back….. Also LinkedIn is for networking with other professionals. If you start using it to chat with friends and arrange social events, the people in your network will get tired of getting updates from you. They may go as far as to block any further updates from you. Now you’re just doing yourself damage by effectively pushing clients away from you. You wouldn’t do it offline, so don’t do it online!

5.            So, where should you start?

I suggest you start with LinkedIn and take it slowly. Get some assistance to develop your LinkedIn profile to a point that you are really proud of it. Get very clear about your objectives and how you will achieve them through making connections with people and then communicating with them. Some LinkedIn users have lots of connections but never converse with them. That’s like having a very full address book but never contacting anyone…..Then start making connections with people. At this stage it is best to sit back and see what others are doing. This will give you a sense of how some people are using LinkedIn effectively. Once you decide to join the conversation, commit to it and like a normal conversation, the more interesting you are, the better! Once you get comfortable, you’ll enjoy it. Best of luck!