How well are you following up your events

Most of the financial planning businesses that we’re working with are busily reviewing their propositions as the country emerges from the shadow of covid lockdowns. For many firms this is simply a case of bringing forwards the benefits of remote meetings, identifying where they will fit in their offering going forwards and building remote meetings in as a core element of their proposition.

For other slightly more ambitious businesses, they have been running virtual client events over the last 15 months, mostly in the shape of regular webinars. These have been delivered by interesting and expert speakers, and by themselves too. Some of these businesses have seen their attendee numbers steadily increasing over the last few events, a real endorsement for their efforts. They rightly plan to continue delivering these webinars into the future.

These webinars have usually been excellent events, covering really interesting and valuable topics for their clients. However one area that can generally be improved is in the whole area of follow-ups – what happens after the event. Here are a few thoughts on maximising the impact of your webinar, to really ensure that it was worth all of the effort put into it.

 

Prepare in advance for afterwards

You know who your speakers are and you know the topics that they will be presenting. You may also have any presentation slides in advance.  So it’s relatively easy to have a few of the main follow-up assets fully or mostly prepared in advance. If these are left until after the event, they often get forgotten in the rush to get back to urgent client work. You can have the following prepared and ready to go,

  • A page or blog post on your website dedicated to the event. This should have a link to a recording of the event, that can be accessed via a completed form – this way you get to see who is downloading it and is interested in the topic. As part of this, encourage the user to sign up for your newsletter / other events so that you can then stay on their radar.
  • An email to attendees, thanking them for taking the time to attend and linking through to the event page on your website. Better still, prepare this in your newsletter software where you can track who opens and clicks on your email.
  • An email to people who couldn’t make it, advising them that there’s a recording available via the link to the event website page. As above, do this in your newsletter software.
  • If you happen to have any other relevant content on the topics covered on the webinar (whitepapers, blog articles, podcasts etc.), insert the links to these too.

When you prepare this in advance, you can be ready to go immediately after the webinar has finished and while it is still fresh in people’s minds.

 

Get active on social media

Then it’s time to get out and let the wider world know about the value you add to your clients. Publicise the success of your event on social media, leading people to the event page / blog on your website. Of course, once they are here, they may want to watch a recording of the event – to do so, they have to fill out your form, give you your email address and enable you to include them in your expert communications going forwards. Now you’re using your event to draw prospects to your business…

 

Review the analytics

After all of this, you’ll have pretty rich data. This will include,

  • How many people attended the event
  • Who they are
  • Who interacted with your emails
  • Who liked / commented on your social media posts
  • How many / who requested the recording
  • Some advisers have also sent out very brief post-event surveys, checking the pieces that people got most value from and seeking general feedback. This is more data to consider.

It’s one thing having all of this data, the important task is to use it. Block out an hour or two in your diary maybe a week after the event to go through the analytics. Was the event a success? What could be done better in the future? Most importantly, are their specific individuals who really engaged with the content and who might welcome a follow-up call?

 

Follow up

Where it makes sense, follow up with those individuals who were very interested in the topic. It’s quite possible that they are mulling over an issue in that space? Reach out with the offer of a remote follow-up conversation – this will enable each of you to see if there is something to explore a bit more, without investing much time in doing so. This might be where your event leads you into a wider planning conversation with a prospective client…

 

Next time you’re running a virtual event, invest a little time in post-event activity. It will be worth the effort.

 

 

 

 

 

Are you talkin’ to me?

One of the biggest marketing challenges facing financial advisers today is standing out amidst all the noise coming from blogs, social media posts and other digital activities. It’s not easy at all to connect your content with your contacts. Instead it takes a lot of effort for you to achieve your target audience recognising that you’re talking specifically to them, when they read or watch some of your content. So what can you do to increase your chances of achieving this higher level of engagement?

 

Know who you want to talk to

The first step is to know who your target market actually is. While you might be happy to actually do business with most people, it’s nigh on impossible to target everyone unless you have an insanely large marketing budget. Instead you need to be crystal clear about who your ideal client is – this may be business owners, people of a certain age, people of a certain occupation or maybe people of a certain level of wealth.

It’s then useful to work out the general characteristics of these people – we call this their persona. This will help you to really understand them as a segment of the population. This persona might include;

 

  • The demographics of the group
  • Their typical personality and what’s important to them
  • What their goals and challenges are
  • Where the opportunities might be for you to connect with them
  • What are the barriers that you might need to overcome
  • Where they get their information and where they buy
  • What sort of tone is likely to engage them best

Now you know who you want to reach…

 

Speak to your target market

This is a really critical step. Now that you know who you want to reach and the sort of messages that might land with them, write or record with these people specifically in mind. Make sure that they clearly see from the outset that you’re writing with them at the forefront of your thinking, that you are really tuned into their world. To help you do this, use suitable imagery too. If you want your images to really pack a punch, stay away as often as you can from stock images. If you can possibly use your own bespoke imagery of real people, this is hugely powerful.

Rather than setting out all that you do, speak to your target market about themselves. Write about their challenges, their specific financial issues and how they can make money work for them, as opposed to writing about what you do. You want them to read or hear your content and be able to quickly relate it to their own situation. As you are the person who is “joining the dots” for them, you will likely be the first port of call as they seek out more information.

 

Become the “go-to guy/gal”

The final step is to try and cement your position as the expert in the minds of your target market. In building on both of the earlier steps, this one requires another attribute – commitment. Nobody becomes a recognised expert overnight or as the result of a single brilliant piece of content. It takes tenacity and resilience, pushing content regularly out in front of your audience and demonstrating your value on an ongoing basis.

Very few people will see or hear all of your content, they are more likely to pick up snippets over time. So you need lots of snippets… all carefully crafted with your target audience in mind. These are the hard yards, but if carried out well on an ongoing basis, they may be the most valuable marketing steps that you take. If you’re not going to be able to produce the level of content required, get help from someone who can.

 

Know who you want to reach, focus your attention on them and go after them relentlessly. These are the ways of standing out from the crowd and unlocking your access to your ideal clients.

Videos – Vanity or Value?

In this latest post in our series of “12 StepChanges to a better business”, we briefly set out our thinking on the benefits of video marketing.

Financial advisers often raise the question of the effectiveness of video marketing. Some see it as a vanity project, as an expensive activity that yields very poor results. And sometimes that is exactly the case! But certainly not always…

Video offers a number of great opportunities to financial advisers. First of all, it offers a different, engaging medium to communicate an important message – maybe an overview of your business, your financial planning approach or indeed different aspects of your client proposition. Some visitors to a website prefer clicking on a video than reading paragraphs of text, so video gives you the opportunity to hang on to that visitor to your website a little longer.

Also, YouTube is now the 2nd most frequently used search engine in the world after Google, so video also offers great opportunities as an entry point to your website from searches.

However quality is critically important where video is concerned. To produce a good video takes a lot of time and effort – careful scripting, a lot of thought about production including the video style, the location, use of graphics, the cast, the right music etc., and the key messages to be communicated. And all of this to produce a video that should be kept really brief – the preferred length for most videos is no more than 60 – 90 seconds.

StepChange works with financial advisers and other organisations in developing excellent scripts that will achieve real “cut through” with your audience. We also regularly collaborate with a leading video production company to bring these scripts to final production, using a variety of different video styles. These videos can then be used across all of your digital platforms.

Should you want to add this engaging medium to your marketing mix, maybe it’s time to get some expert help with it? We look forward to your call.

 

Turbo charge your business in 2020

What am I doing, talking about 2020 already? Well I’m not asking you to wish your life away, but quite a number of financial advisers have observed that July and August are quieter times for them. And this quiet time offers an opportunity to do some planning for your business.

You should always be thinking short-term about your activity planning and how you are engaging and strengthening your relationships with every existing and potential clients. However now you have an opportunity to do some longer-term thinking and more strategic thinking about broader areas that will stand your business in good stead over the next few years. While it’s not an exhaustive list, here are a few areas to think about now.

 

Make sure your team are with you

When’s the last time that you gave structured thought to the development needs and engagement of your team? Now might be the time to consider their coaching needs that will help them improve, grow and ultimately benefit your business. And maybe also now is a good time for some team building, a day away from the office. This can be used to work through some of the challenges facing the business, while also mixing it in with some downtime and building a stronger team spirit.

 

Make sure you are fit for purpose yourself!

How are your own skills as a business leader, mentor, manager, business generator, client executive and everything else that you do? Now is a good time to give some thought to gaps that you might have in your own toolbox and to look at how you might close the gaps. Have you trusted people, either staff members or other business contacts who will candidly help you to identify any areas that it might be useful for you to work on? Getting help and coaching shows a desire for improvement rather than an admission of shortcomings!

 

Make sure your clients are with you

When did you last review your Client Value Proposition? It’s important to ensure that you continue to deliver the appropriate levels of service to different groups of clients at the right price. And this is an ever-moving target. So even if you previously segmented your clients, are clear about who you are targeting and have your positioning identified, this needs to be regularly reviewed. The world of financial advice is constantly changing. Your business needs to change with it.

 

Review your communications

How good are your communications to your clients? Now is a good time to stand back and look at the quality of what you produce, your client meeting inputs and outputs, your other individual communications to clients and also your (hopefully) regular marketing communications. Are your messages getting a bit tired, or are they really engaging your clients? Seek feedback – both from any analytics that are available to you and also from feedback that you seek from people who are on the receiving end of what you send and say.

 

Review your processes

Give some time to picking apart everything that you do within your business. Could you be easier to do business with, is there an opportunity to really wow your clients? At this stage, look to identify the gaps in your processes. Then put a plan in place with your team to overhaul the processes and set your business up to deliver a much better client experience in the future.

 

There are many other areas that you can think about during these quiet months – the key is to make sure that July and August don’t just slip by without much work being done. If you can make a start on some of the areas identified here, you’ll thank yourself when 2020 eventually comes around.

Have you some spare time over the summer?

It’s that time of year again… There’s a mini heatwave this week and everyone is trying to spend a bit more time outdoors. The downside is that business may be getting just a little quieter for the next month or two.

So here lies the opportunity! It’s possible that you’ll have a bit more spare time on your hands over the next while and rather than sitting there thinking about the beach, how will you use this time? It can be hard to keep your focus when there’s not the pressure of constant phone calls and emails and achieving deadlines to meet client expectations. I suggest you either go to the beach (rather than think about it), or put the time into driving your business forwards.

If you want to put the time into your business, it’s easier to keep focused when you have a plan. So what sort of things might be in that plan for the summer months? Here are a few ideas;

 

Keep prospecting and marketing

A big challenge for advisers over the summer is to stay committed to business development. It’s just hard work… as prospective clients are less likely to fully engage when the weather is good, the kids are off school etc. However business development work carried out now will pay off when the summer ends and people are 100% back to work. Don’t just give up on all of this for the summer months. Keep your prospecting and marketing campaigns going – keep making those calls, sending out your newsletter, continue your blogging and social media activities.  Now is not the time to let these activities slip!

As part of this too, plot out how you’re going to approach the second half of the year. Who are the prospects that you need to contact in the next few months? What will this contact consist of and when will it happen? How are you going to get these prospects to engage with you? While you have a bit of time, put a structured plan in place with clear actions and dates to make sure these contacts then happen.

 

Arrange to meet your key clients

This is a great time of year for catching up with key clients, outside of your regular advice interactions with them. This is not a business meeting; it’s a game of golf, a coffee, an early pint – whatever works best for them and you! This is an opportunity to show your interest in their business and lives without looking for anything back in return. The cost is small for both of you as you probably both have the time to meet. However there is real benefit in it for you, as the client will appreciate your interest without it being an “advice” or “sales” meeting.

 

Revisit your LinkedIn presence

I rate LinkedIn as a very important tool for financial planners and brokers. When prospective clients are researching you, they’ll check your company website and your LinkedIn profile. It’s really important that you’re putting your best foot forward through both of these.

In relation to LinkedIn, there are 2 areas to concentrate on over the summer.

The first is your profile. Go through your profile section by section. Are there areas that you can expand the information a little to make it more engaging? Are there new areas that you can add to your profile? Are there clients that you could seek recommendations from? All of these will provide prospective clients with richer information about you, hopefully making them more inclined to actually do business with you.

The second area is expanding your network of connections. There are 3 ways to do this;

  1. Check the “People you may know” section to identify people suggested by LinkedIn.
  2. Check the connections belonging to your existing connections. Are there people here that you should seek an introduction to?
  3. Search for people using the search bar at the top. There are new people joining LinkedIn all the time. They just might not have found their way onto your LinkedIn radar as yet.

And then when you find people that you want to connect with, remember to personalise every invitation. Don’t just use the default LinkedIn invitation.

 

Update your CRM system

Rather than wasting an hour or two mindlessly surfing the web, set yourself a target to review the records of a set number of clients every day within your CRM system. While you may have all the data in the system to meet your compliance requirements, now is the time to populate some of the softer information that can help you build really rich relationships with your clients. Information such as;

  • Their stated life aspirations
  • Their financial goals and objectives
  • Their communication preferences
  • Their interests and hobbies
  • Wider information in relation to their families

 

Refine your proposition

Your client value proposition is your magic sauce; it is that which your clients will really engage with. It would be very unusual to have got it 100% right first time and it makes sense to keep it under constant review; pick up the signals that you will inevitably get from your clients when meeting them. Now over the summer, take some time to critically review every aspect of your proposition – the areas of value that you highlight, the steps in your process, your list of services and your remuneration methods. And then don’t be afraid to make changes to your proposition. After all businesses evolve all the time, and so should yours.

 

Take a holiday & recharge your batteries!

The most important one of the lot! Nothing helps you get your focus and your energy back better than a well earned break. I hope you and your family have a great holiday and enjoy the summer!

Do you need a marketing overhaul?

In this latest in our series of “12 StepChanges to a better business”, we set out the details of how we help advice firms in Ireland to completely overhaul the marketing side of their business. With clients having a bewildering array of choices available to them and receiving approaches from other advice firms and financial businesses through many different channels, it is becoming harder and harder to stand apart from the crowd.

The StepChange Marketing Overhaul programme will help you to stand out, both in terms of your visibility and the quality of your interactions with your clients.

How we work with clients has changed quite significantly in recent years. When we started out back in 2011, our formula (which still stands the test of time!) with a client commenced by carrying out a detailed marketing planning exercise, followed by assisting in the delivery of a variety of marketing activities, This is still our launch point with many of our clients today.

However we also came to recognise that quite a number of advisers had similar challenges. For some of them, they came to us looking to start all over again on the marketing side! And so we developed our Marketing Overhaul programme, which is a pre-defined programme of 12 marketing related activities that will enable you to set your business up in good stead for the years to come. And because our clients take the programme as a package, we can apply a healthy discount to the cost.

The programme consists of the following,

 

  1. Developing & documenting a robust, repeatable Client Value Proposition that will help to build trust, engage clients, sell solutions and aid retention. This includes reviewing every aspect of the client proposition – what it is at initial advice stage, articulate on-going service packages, review meetings, how much it costs, how it is paid for (fee / commission) etc.
  2. Developing a new website for your business, built in WordPress. An approx. 10-page responsive website, with focus on financial planning, along with the inclusion of blog module. To include development of website, writing of content and project management of implementation.
  3. Provision of a bi-monthly newsletter for a period of 2 years.
  4. Updating newsletter content to your website & social sharing for 2 years.
  5. Developing a corporate brochure as a hand-out at all prospect meetings, at next meetings with all clients & a supply to be given to introducers.
  6. Leveraging LinkedIn – how to use LinkedIn effectively
  7. Developing a 6-10 slides credentials presentation (including development of PowerPoint template) for 1st meeting with a prospective client – covering Advice proposition, Investment philosophy, Service packages, Review meetings, credentials / endorsements etc.
  8. Completing segmentation of your client base to identify high value & high potential (income value, multiple transactions, ABC1) “relationship” clients. Deciding criteria, analysing database and allocating clients to segments.
  9. Implementing an activity tracking system using Excel. This will track the sales contacts of every sales person and the sales “funnel” activities completed. It enables you to view potential clients and activities that are being carried out with each client.
  10. Developing Service Overviews – 1. Pensions, 2. Investments, 3. Protection, 4. Review meetings. These single page A4 documents set out the depth of your services and demonstrate the work involved (justifying both initial and ongoing remuneration).
  11. A templated website video, branded for your advice business.
  12. 2 x Business Building consulting half days.

 

Should you wish to hear more about this programme, please contact Eamonn Twomey at eamonn@stepchange.ie or at 086 2519895.