Marketing Corner – Maintaining Your Digital Presence

Maintaining Your Digital Presence

While there are many components of a good digital presence, many advisors simply build a decent looking website or claim their social media profiles and leave it at that. This is like buying a new sports car and leaving it in the driveway. To really get the most out of your company’s digital persona, you need to put a little time in. You might not be the most tech-focused agency, but investing a little bit of time on your digital presence can draw new consumers and have a positive impact to your overall business plan. Here are seven simple ways to stitch up your digital presence.

Complete Profiles and Update as Necessary

In a previous post, we discussed how you should claim your profiles on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn. Building a profile goes beyond claiming your business name and slapping a company logo. For instance, within a business Facebook page, you have the opportunity to provide a business bio/mission statement, hours of operation, website links, directions, and calls-to-actions. There is also the ability to “verify” your business. Take a little bit of time to make your profile a complete as possible. As things change; maybe your business moves or has different hours of operation, update accordingly. Other platforms, may have more or may have less opportunities to provide supporting information about your business. Twitter for example, limits the details you can provide, while LinkedIn allows you to provide a great deal of information within your profile.

Completing your profiles also means that you should size and format supporting branding appropriately. Most platforms will tell you recommended sizes. A profile picture, even a good one, will not inspire confidence if it looks pixilated or overblown. Same goes for banner photos, backgrounds, avatars, etc.

Update Branding And Visual Collateral

Is it time for new headshots? Has your office been renovated? Are your logos and branding out-of-date? Updating your visual collateral can make your digital presence really shine. Just as you wouldn’t want to pass around a business card that follows the design ethos of the 1980s, you don’t want to have visual collateral that is outdated or otherwise skirts principles of good design.

Commit To A Regular Content Strategy

Content marketing is an effective way to engage with your clients and new prospects. (This article is itself is a piece of content marketing, meta!) Often agents will pursue this activity and then give up. There two important things to keep in mind with a content marketing strategy: create relevant content and commit to a regular schedule. Most agents can do the former but struggle with the latter. Fresh content is beneficial to you in many ways—it helps with ranking, allows you to address the various concerns and pain points your consumer base has, and demonstrates your expertise. Get in at the level that is appropriate for you, but stick with it.

Have A Process For Cross-Platform Coordination

Don’t just hide updates, links, or good content on your website’s blog or maroon it on a solo LinkedIn or Facebook post. Disseminate amongst your various platforms and profiles. This means having a process for shepherding content or updates through your digital portals. This can be as simple as using the cross-platform utility inherent in many of these platforms (the Tweet/FB share buttons on a LinkedIn post for instance). Or you may adjust the settings within a platform to automatically post on your other profiles. Or you may even use third-party software that helps you manage your social media.

Recognize The Limits, Styles, Purpose, and Functions of Each Platform

A long blog post is not a Tweet. A Tweet is not an in-depth breakdown of new social security changes. A casual Facebook post may not be appropriate for a LinkedIn status. Each digital platform, whether it’s your own website or a social media tool, will have its own unique features, style, and “visual grammar” and utility. You can coordinate pieces through your various digital portals (see point above), but consider how the post or update will mesh within the particular “language” of the platform.

Promote and Share Updates/Content Multiple Times

If you have a piece of content or an update you might share it through your digital platforms as discussed in point 4. However, you can push the same piece multiple times over a relevant timeframe. What’s a good frequency? That’s up to you. You certainly don’t want to overshare, and you especially don’t want to overshare the same status, update, or content. However, if the piece is still relevant and you feel there are portions of your audience that may have missed your news, it’s probably okay to share again to keep it floating in the feeds.

Boost Good Content And Events

Let’s say you have a great piece of content you are proud of. Or let’s say you have an upcoming seminar event that you are excited about. In addition to posting about it through your digital channels, put a little adspend together and promote it. Sponsored content can help you grow your audience reach and promoted events can help with attendance.

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Marketing Corner – Five Ways to Deal With The Summer Slump

Five Ways to Deal With The Summer Slump

The summer months are often a down period for many advisors and agents. Reaching prospects, booking appointments, and clearing production can be difficult when large segments of your target market are on vacation or are otherwise disposed. Maybe this isn’t a problem for you; maybe you enjoy a little R+R in the summermiddle of the year. For many advisors this summer slowdown is what separates the business year into two distinct halves. Summer essentially serves as halftime, and who wouldn’t want a little breather between two busy periods, especially when prospecting is much harder at this time of the year?

You can beat the summer slump, however, and roll up new opportunities. Through alternative marketing strategies and a little refocusing, you can effectively engage your target market, boost production, and rejuvenate your practice during this down period. Here are five ways to do so.

Off-Holiday Marketing

americanWhen you think of holiday marketing, you probably think of the big three–Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s. These are certainly prime opportunities to engage with prospects. However, many advisors forget about off-holiday marketing opportunities, holidays and occasions that don’t have quite the visibility of something like Christmas. The summer period is full of these off-holidays—Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Memorial Day, Fourth of July, and so forth. These give you something to market around, an excuse to engage consumers, and a way to stand out against your competitors, since many advisors don’t off-holiday marketing.

Supplement Marketing With Digital Components

Many advisors rely on direct mail for marketing, and with good reason—direct mail still works. However, you can enhance your physical marketing efforts with digital advertising, often with a minimal uptick in budget. This can be particularly effective at dealing with the lower response rates and decreased seminar attendance you may experience during the summer.

Online Lead-Gen

onlineDirect lead-gen programs have become a big part of financial marketing. While you should not solely rely on online lead-gen programs for your prospecting, they can be a great boost in a down period. We advocate “eat later” marketing strategies because they pay off more in the long run, but to get through a short-term dry spell, a lead-gen program may give you some of the immediate results you desire.

Community Events

One of the reasons there’s a slump in the summer is because your target market is more active and focused on other things. The summer often brings a wide array of public/community events, some aimed at keeping the kids busy, some designed to take advantage of nice weather. This gives you many opportunities to engage directly with your target market. This could be through sponsorship of a regular event in your area, participation in an event, or even just attending and striking up a conversation.

Evaluate Your Marketing Plan/Create a Marketing Plan

Halfway through the year is a good time to evaluate your marketing plan. Consider your successes, your failures, and what you can improve immediately. Hopefully you took time in December to make a marketing plan; if not, the downturn of the summer is a good time to create one. A good marketing plan outlines your vision for the year (and beyond) and holds you and your team accountable. This does not mean, however, that it is a static document. Rather it is a living process, hence why the summer is good time to make appropriate adjustments.

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Marketing Corner – April 14th, 2016

Five Low-Cost, Simple, and Obvious Marketing Solutions

There’s a wide world of marketing out there for advisors and agents. Some solutions can be pretty sophisticated, using technology for advanced targeting and prospect tracking. We’ve certainly advocated for (and currently provide) many progressive digital marketing solutions. These solutions—like email segmentation, advanced display network advertising, website optimization, and so forth, help you stay in front of your consumers and ahead of your competition.

However, there are many low-cost, simple, and obvious marketing solutions that advisors often overlook when chasing new marketing platforms. It is definitely important to have one foot in the future, but that does not mean you should forget about these simple marketing methods.

Fliers

Whether you have an upcoming event or are just looking to keep your name alive in your business community, fliers are still a worthy means of branding yourself. Maybe putting up fliers will give you flashbacks of promoting DIY shows back when you were a punk rocker, but for promoting your business you really have nothing to lose.

Many might object to this method because it has an air of cheapness and grunginess about it. This is why you target community boards in high-traffic areas—your coffeeshops, breakfast bistros, library events boards–places where your ideal prospects visit routinely. Make sure your fliers have a clear message, are well-designed, and feature prominently your business branding.

How cheap is this option? To give you perspective, B+W 8X11 sheets from FedEx Kinko’s run about 12 cents a page, 59 cents for color, maybe a little more for glossier paper options.

Libraries and Hospitals

hospitalLast week we discussed best practices for running a workshop, mentioning libraries and community centers as good potential venues for holding your seminars. An expensive dinner at a restaurant or country club can certainly appeal to higher-end prospects, but at a high budget to you. Libraries and hospitals often have meeting rooms available for use—especially if your workshop is more educational than sales pitch.

We’ve found that in many cases staff members at a library or hospital will be very supportive of your event, since it is providing a service to their base community. This means that you can organize a workshop for the cost of base marketing, supporting documents, coffee and doughnuts, and a box of fresh pens.

Social Media

This entry is not so much about how you should be using social media to engage consumers (although you absolutely should), but more about how you should at least claim your business profile across social platforms. Again, we absolutely advocate the use of LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook to publish content and build a consumer following, but some advisors lack even a static corporate profile page.

We get it—for some advisors it might not make sense to be enmeshed in the sometimes twisted world of social media. But generally, having a corporate Facebook page or company page on LinkedIn is not going to cost you anything. It will make your business more visible to consumers and provide a base to begin content marketing from.

It’s cheap (or free), takes little time, and sets you on a path toward digital content marketing.

Ambient Marketing

Financial advisors often build marketing campaigns around time-sensitive events like a seminar. This is because seminars, for all the work that goes into them, can pay off huge with new clients. So an advisor may use a direct mail vendor, involve an RSVP service, and put some adspend in digital campaigns to promote his or her event. While these strategies work (and in the long-run are cost-effective), they have a very specific focus and goal—meat in the seats.

However, what kind of marketing do you do when you don’t have an upcoming event? Some advisors, looking to keep marketing costs as trim as possible, don’t do any kind of marketing—instead relying on word-of-mouth and referrals.

emailIn between events and promotions, drop some digital adspend in a display network campaign. Keep the budget where you want. It could be a huge marketing budget, or it could be a small daily amount. The point is, you have an opportunity to keep your name and branding cycling online in your community for a very low cost. There’s no specific goal, other than to build brand awareness and maybe draw people to your website, but this ambient marketing gives you a constant presence that might pay off hugely.

Cost? You could appropriate $100-$200 a month for this type of marketing. More if you’ve got the budget. Plus, with AdWords and Facebook you can specifically target your ideal clients. $1200-$2400 is not a bad price for a year’s baseline marketing, especially if it gets you clients. With this budget you should not anticipate direct leads (though it can happen) but rather a constant brand awareness that enhances other marketing activities.

Email Pipeline Marketing

Over periods of prospecting, you’ve likely gathered a list of emails. Many advisors, because they focus on new clients and new marketing activities, ignore the value of their email lists. With most email platforms, you are charged by subscribers rather than the individual number of emails you send. This allows you to build pipelines, often with no more expense than your current cost of the service. So take some time, comb through your current lists and build drip campaigns.

Cost? Maybe nothing more than your time. Maybe a little more to upgrade to a higher subscriber level with your email service provider.

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Marketing Corner – 6 Best Practices For Running a Successful Workshop

Marketing Corner – Tuesday 5th, 2016

6 Best Practices for Running  A Successful Workshop

Workshops and seminars are powerful marketing activities for advisors. Even in our digitally driven world, nothing will replace the value of an experienced advisor presenting relevant information to a live audience. It should be no surprise that many advisors and agents rely heavily on this method to prospect for new clients. A well-run and informative seminar simply works. However, new and old advisors alike miss many opportunities to maximize their workshops. New advisors may overlook small details that can derail their presentations. Experienced advisors may become too rote in running their seminars, ignoring possible blindspots that can inhibit the effectiveness of their event. To help advisors and agents everywhere, here are six best practices for running a successful workshop.

Choose Your Topic Carefully

Advisors may want to try workshops/seminars but struggle with topic selection. This is also a problem that experienced advisors may face, after exhausting a set of topics. The topic you present is the most important part of your workshop. A good topic will be relevant and provide opportunities for elaboration. A good topic will relate to things that affect your client base, whether they know it or not. You must also have some knowledge or expertise with the topic you choose so that you can present it with confidence.

So here’s how to choose your topic:

1: Find a topic or focus that is relevant to your consumers.

2: Address current trends related to this topic.

3: Provide research and stats with your topic presentation. This will lend your presentation credibility and support your main arguments

For example, let’s say you want to run a Social Security workshop. You know that this topic is very relevant for a significant portion of your consumer base. Prepare a presentation that outlines Social Security basics, then discusses specific maximization strategies. Interlace your presentation with credible stats. Focus on new changes that may impact consumers. Social Security is subject to many changes this year, with the removal of “file and suspend.”

You may struggle with topic development not because a topic is bad, but it is too broad. Social Security and retirement income planning are both important areas of financial planning, but they are broad. So if you are struggling with a topic, think about a specific focus that you can present. If you are trying to reach pre-retirees and retirees, you may want to discuss things that Medicare will and won’t cover, with the angle that a good financial plan and an LTC policy may help to protect an individual’s finances. This has a good broad topic that will appeal to many of your target consumers (Medicare), a specific focus that educates consumers, and imparts the urgency of proper financial protection (solutions you can provide).

Involve An Assistant

During your workshops, your time should be spent presenting to and engaging with consumers. Collecting forms, managing the session, handing out pens, etc. can take away time you could spend educating consumers and interrupt the flow of your presentation. Having an assistant that handles the grunt work of running the workshop can make your presentation run smoother. From the time attendees arrive to the collection of follow-up forms, your attention needs to be on the consumers. An assistant that handles much of the operational aspects of the seminar frees you to build rapport and make a strong connection with your audience.

Be Thoroughly Prepared and Organized

The more prepared and organized you are, the more time you have to spend educating your consumers. Anticipate issues, rather than react to them in moment. This means:

  • establishing an itinerary for the session
  • arriving early
  • communicating with wait staff (if say you are doing a dinner seminar)
  • having extra copies of relevant forms and pens
  • testing any tech (such as microphones and projectors)
  • running through the event with your assistant to make sure you are both on the same page
  • allocating a buffer window for issues that may occur or Q &A portions that run long
  • creating take home sheets and evaluations

Your seminar could have many more components. The important thing is that you are prepared at every moment–before, during, and after the presentation. Not only will this reflect on you as a professional and ensure a smooth workshop, it will make things like follow-up and appointment setting easier.

Choose an Appropriate Location 

Where you hold your seminar can have an impact on how well it runs. Ideally you’ll want to choose a venue that is supportive and located in a central area to your target market. You should also consider issues like road construction that may make it difficult for your target market to travel. A high-end or well-suited venue can give your workshop more credibility, causing consumers to associate their positive feelings of the location with your presentation. For dinner seminars, find higher-end restaurants or event halls that have brand recognition in your local area. For more of an educational workshop, a library or community center may suffice, especially if staff is supportive of your seminar as community event.

Advertise Your Workshop Through Multiple Marketing Channels

Direct mail is the most common way advisors market a workshop or seminar. Certainly direct mail is an effective means to get the word out and get responses. However, there are other means that can enhance the marketing of your seminar, often at a minimal cost. Don’t discount the power of a local newspaper ad placement—in many communities physical newspapers still reach a large audience, especially older consumers. Digital ad placements can also greatly improve registration responses. Even something like a boosted Facebook post can help you reach your audience. These marketing pieces, all operating at the same time, also mean that a large segment of your audience sees your workshop ads in multiple places, through multiple channels. And of course, don’t forget the power of a simple flier at the venue to reach consumers.

Follow Up

Although you are educating your consumer base with a seminar, the bottom line is that you are trying to set appointments and capture new clients. Follow-up is crucial for these things to happen. This means that you need to have some form of an information-gathering sheet where a consumer can provide their concerns and other valuable information you can use to tailor a pitch to them. If you don’t already have emails from the workshop registration process, this is your opportunity to get them. After the workshop, issue a thank you message that also summarizes what you discussed. If you plan on doing a workshop on a different topic, invite the consumer to the next one. You can also use the list to build a drip marketing campaign.

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Marketing Corner – March 24th, 2016

CD Replacement Month April 2016

A Short History of CD Replacement Months

You might know that April and October are CD replacement months. But do you know why? The history that lead to these sales opportunities is actually rather interesting and shows how economic events can ripple far ahead in time.

Nearly thirty years ago, on October 19, 1987, the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped a whopping negative 22.61%–the index’s largest percentage drop. This event would become known as Black Monday and many thought this was the precursor to another Great Crash. While markets rebounded, there remained a great amount of volatility, with after-shocks and mini-crashes like the drop that happened on October 13, 1989.

Even though the economy has been beaten and torn since 1987 (Great Recession of 2008) the effects of Black Monday are still felt today. As markets tanked in 1987, consumers pulled out of exposed investments and transferred their money into Certificates of Deposits.

Hence October and April are now CD replacement months, with six-month and twelve-month CDs up for renewal. For some consumers, CDs can seem like a great option for their money—certainly they did in 1987. With guaranteed interest rates and FDIC backing, CDs seem like a relatively sturdy ship to navigate the sometimes choppy waters of the market.

However, because of their low interest rates, CDs do not hedge against inflation well, when compared to other products, like certain annuities. This is especially true with long-range CDs that many consumers automatically renew out of habit. This means that some consumers may be losing real-world value that could be parlayed into another solution that works better against inflation and could provide lifetime income.

Obviously every consumer presents a different situation. For some, CDs may track well with their needs. Others may not even be aware that there are other options. However, what this means is that April and October are good opportunities for review, discussion, and product sales.

To help agents and advisors take advantage of these CD replacement opportunities, Legacy Financial Partners is offering our CD replacement kits. Fill out the form the to claim your free CD replacement kit.

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Speak To Clients With Language That Sells

Speak To Clients With Language That Sells

Language is a powerful tool in your interactions with clients. The best solutions and products won’t matter if you don’ t use the right language to sell them. Some advisors are naturally great at conveying meaning and clearing production with clients, while many others don’t realize how they speak may be negatively impacting their conversions. With that said, here are five best practices when talking with clients and prospects.

Focus on “You”
When consulting with a prospect or a client, it is critical that you demonstrate empathy and understanding. Focusing too much on your value, your credentials, your experience, can easily kill a sale before it begins. Make your interactions client-focused and connect to details that are relevant to your prospects. Using the pronoun “you” throughout an appointment makes it clear that you are trying to look at things from their perspective, from the things that matter to them.

Words: “You, yours, your [spouse, child], your retirement, your future” etc.

Focus on Value
As you undoubtedly know, there are many different financial products and solutions. These may have special features or unique benefits, which can add another layer of complexity when you break them down for the client. You might understand this complexity well, and may be excited by them. But when you present solutions, present the value, not the bells and whistles. Think of a vacuum salesman: the salesman knows all the technical reasons why the vacuum is great, but the consumer only cares if the vacuum will work well and lasts long. Focusing on the great, but overwhelming, details of financial products can disengage the client. Remember that financial products are difficult for many consumers to process to begin with. Simplify.

Words: “What this means for you,” “this provides you with______,” “what you and your family get from this,”

Focus on the Goal
This is related to the point above. Consider what the ultimate goal is for the consumer and why they are coming to you. Sure they may have a specific goal, like transferring a lump sum in a cash accumulation vehicle or making sure their retirement plan is tax-ready for distribution. But ultimately their goal is broader, such as a stress-free and independent retirement, the means to pay for a child’s college education, or the ability to travel. That is the large value the client is hoping to achieve. So as you discuss solutions and specific strategies, connect the pieces to the larger goals the prospect has. This will enhance the value of your solution, allow the prospect to make an emotional connection to your solutions, and give them a sense of the big picture while you discuss the details.

Words: “This achieves _______,” “With this, you will be able to_______,”

Use Positive Words Instead of Negative Ones
This is an old language-of-sales trick, but very important to remember. Using words like “issue,” “problem,” “critical,” “difficult,” and so forth, can subtly shade interactions with prospects negatively. In some instances, it may be necessary to use words with a negative connotation, but reducing your usage overall will make the interaction more positive and the prospect’s buy-in all the more likely.

Avoid: “issue,” “problem,” “critical,” “difficult,” “challenges,” “complicated” etc.

Use: “opportunity,” “benefit,” “solution,” “peace,” “manageable” “strategy”

Give Confidence
Confidence is crucial for the prospect to trust your expertise. Instead of wavering or using hesitant language, use phrases that imply completion or action.

“I’ll try” becomes “I will.”
“This can,” becomes “this does.” 
At the same time, develop your own client’s sense of confidence. This can be:

  • positive reinforcement when they show understanding of your solutions
  • praising the positive steps they have already taken toward a good financial plan
  • giving the prospect a sense of ownership in the process by giving them ample space to discuss their thoughts, worries, and goals

using “own” and “invest” instead of words like “buy” or “purchase”

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Marketing Corner – The Informed Advisor

The Informed Advisor

A few weeks ago we published a post entitled “25 Marketing Stats Every Advisor Needs to Know.” This was a collection of eye-opening marketing statistics culled from recent research to give advisors struggling with marketing and prospecting some real-world insight. Many of our readers let us know they found the post helpful, but wanted more information on how they could effectively use these stats in their marketing.

This is why we created our latest complimentary sales kit. LFP’s “The Informed Advisor” provides you with more powerful statistics, as well as short action guides tying all the information together. Learn practical information about email marketing, direct mail, social media, mobile, web design, video and more. Below is a sample of the information you will find in this kit.

Email Marketing

Learn why email marketing is still a valuable marketing solution and how you can optimize your email efforts.

For example:

Organizations using email to nurture leads result in 50% sales-ready prospects. (Forrester Research via Hubspot)

According to an Experian study, personalized messages received 29% higher open rates and 41% more unique clicks.

Action: Create a lead nurturing drip system with as much personalization as possible. Many email clients make this an easy, built-in function.

Direct Mail

Is direct mail dead? Hardly. While direct mail can be more expensive than some other solutions, the return is greater.

According to the Direct Marketing Association, Direct mail is nearly seven times more effective than email, mobile, social media, internet display, and paid search—combined.

(Direct Marketing Association Response Rate Report 2015, DMA via PremierIMS)

Action: Develop mail pieces that can also function as prestige pieces as well to maximize your cost

Video

You’ve probably heard quite a bit about how video is the next tool for marketing. Video can be a powerful tool to reach consumers and give your prospects a clean, modern experience. Using short videos can enhance your website and keep prospects on your website.

For instance, according to the Merchant Marketing Group, consumers spend an extra two minutes on websites with video, versus sites that don’t.

Merchant Marketing Group

Action: Use short videos throughout your website, especially on your home page. While it can seem that producing high-quality video is difficult and time-intensive, there are many inexpensive options that give you acceptable quality.

For more about email marketing, direct mail, social media, mobile, website design and more in your practice, request your free guide now.

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Marketing Corner – Creating Your Elephants

Creating Your Elephants

When it comes to basic customer segmenting, there are often two schools of thought: rank your prospects and clients based on value or provide total parity with your level of service. While it’s a nice ideal to treat every consumer with above and beyond care, the economy of time and resources—especially in financial services—makes this a difficult goal. So with one model, you may be ignoring consumers that may become valuable so you can target and service your elephants, those few big clients that can make your business grow at an accelerated rate. With the other model, you may spend more time with mid-value consumers that keep your practice afloat, while missing the opportunity to go after those elephants.

elephatn

What we suggest is neither model–or actually both. Consider a hybrid platform that uses technology, proper targeting, and client fostering that allows you to focus on the elephants while growing mid-value prospects and clients into high value ones.

Here are four ways to do this:

Clearly Define A Ranking System

Obviously you want to work with the best people possible, the elephants, the whales, or whatever large animal you want to use to describe high-value clients. But what does “high value” actually mean? This can mean any number of things for advisors across the country. In a basic ranking system, you might assign your clients and prospects by letter grades–A, B, C, D, and so forth. Focusing only on A and B consumers may ignore those C level (or even D level) prospects that could evolve, through your expertise, into A’s and B’s. But again, you have that issue of what an A or B client is for you. Is it investable assets? Net worth? Time span left for the next life event (and sales opportunity)? It could be all of these. Identify for your practice what these ideal clients and prospects are and consider things other than assets as a ranking signal. Referrals, community status, and industry placement, can easily make a B-MINUS/C-PLUS prospect or client into an A-level star of your book.

Clearly Define Service Levels

Ranking consumers and aligning service levels may feel a little uncomfortable, since you ideally want to provide the best service to every person, every time. Having service blindspots or treating any potential client poorly can dramatically affect your reputation in a largely reputation-driven business. So make sure that the baseline attention you can provide to all clients is substantial. Then consider what supplemental services or attention you provide to your best clients/prospects. Many advisors already do this, without a clearly defined system. Say an A-plus client calls in, needing tax documents or advice within an hour. You or your staff will probably address this client’s needs right away, even if it means sacrificing time or energy. If say a mid-value client needs the same thing, you will likely have them follow your normal appointment making process, trying to see them as soon possible, sure, but not with the same urgency as the A-Plus client. Define who your top clients/prospects are and what service levels they receive. This will make the navigation between consumer types smoother and help your support staff be on the same page.

Use Technology To Maximize/Optimize Your Time, Touches, and Efforts

photo-1431605695381-f4a9c3cdd150

It’s no secret that we are a big proponent of using drip systems and automated campaigns to reach prospects and maintain good relationships with top clients. Lead nurturing (and client nurturing) is made all the easier with digital solutions like email marketing. Many email services make this process user-friendly and accessible to producers of all stripes. All of your marketing efforts should match the ideal target you’re chasing (i.e. market segmentation) and email is no different. But what gives something like email marketing and using emails for lead nurturing an advantage is the ease in which you can segment, build lists, and track results. So while you are angling after the big fish, you able to the keep a hand on your mid-value clients or unconverted leads.

Create The Elephants

This gets into the difference between your top ideal clients and your bread and butter clients—what is separating a C ranking client from becoming a top client? And is this something you can change or wait out? Odds are, with your dutiful care and effective baseline service, a low-ranking client will naturally graduate upwards. This is why it’s important to understand the basic value proposition you provide at a minimum. You can also catalyze the process by addressing the unique challenges these types of clients face. In essence, doing what you do with a client anyway, but grooming them for the long game, so that as your solutions pay off for them, they keep coming back to you.

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Marketing Corner – Marketing to Millennials

Marketing to Millennials: What Advisors Should Know

*This post is the second part of our two-part series, discussing Generation X and Millennials. Read the first part here.

Millennials, Millennials, Millennials. Are you tired of hearing about Millennials yet?

Millennials, it seems, are subject to an endless amount of attention and discussion, from snarky thinkpieces to research attempting to explain this generation. Some of the online discourse surrounding Millennials can come across as dismissive or sociological. While Millennials do have different values than previous generations and are saddled with student debt (an average of $27,000 according to Pew) they are still a target market worthy of effort and attention for financial advisors.

The Millennial Generation is generally considered to consist of individuals born between 1980 and 2000, although many organizations may use other ranges (Gen-We.com suggests a starting point of 1978). What this means, however, is that this generation came of age just as the modern Internet developed and entered the job market just as the Great Recession ravaged the economy. In terms of population, Millennials are the largest generation. Millennials are also the most ethnically diverse and educated generation. In 2015 this generation surpassed Gen-Xers as the largest generation in the American workforce.

So what do Millennials think about retirement?

Well, one study found that this generation grossly underestimates the annual cost of retirement and that a significant amount is banking on winning the lottery (15%) or being gifted money (11%) for their retirement resources. So, there’s that.

More than half of Millennials expect Social Security to be exhausted by the time they retire and nearly forty percent expect reduced benefits, according to the Pew Research Center. In a recent Facebook Insights study of affluent Millennials, 46% indicated financial success as being debt free, while only 13% considered being able to retire as the primary indicator of financial success.

Does this mean that retirement isn’t on the minds of Millennials? Well, not exactly. It indicates that short-term obstacles and the sting of a poor economy have shaped their priorities. Millennials delay typical signposts of success like home ownership and marriage out of generational attitude, yes, but also out of practicality.

However, Millennial participation in 401(k)s has grown in recent years, which may indicate a growing concern for retirement. And this generation has actually outpaced other generations with regards to retirement saving, showing the greatest percentage increase (although Gen-X and Boomers still beat Millennials on cut of salary apportioned for retirement). Millennials also start saving earlier than when Gen-Xers or Boomers did.

In short we have a generation that:

  • Is facing reduced earning power.
  • Entered the job market just as the economy was crashing.
  • May have significant debt.
  • For reasons both cultural and practical, delay marriage and home ownership.
  • The largest generation ever in American history.
  • Currently represents the largest workforce.
  • Is risk adverse and conservative with assets

Why You Should Be Prepared For Millennial Clients Right Now

There are many reasons why Millennials represent opportunity for advisors.

Along With Gen-Xers, Millennials are set to inherit the largest transfer of wealth ever, some $30 trillion over the next 30 years. Being unprepared for this generational shift will cause you to lose out significant amounts of money.

According to Investment News, 66% percent of children fire their parent’s advisor upon receiving inheritance. This speaks to the value of maintaining good relationships with multiple generations of a family.

While Millennials face challenges to their earning power, things are improving. In five-to-ten years, many Millennials will be cresting and will be focused on retirement planning more than they already are.

While affluent Gen-Xers have more net worth, affluent Millennials have more assets.

Compared to Boomers, Millennials are twice as likely to discuss saving, retirement planning, and investing with family and friends.

According to Nielson, Millennials have the least ownership of life insurance, when compared to other generations. However, Upscale Millennial (those more established and with more assets) track closely with life insurance ownership for other generations.

Because retirement is so far off for Millennials, they will benefit most from appropriate planning strategies (compared to Gen-Xers who might have 10-15 years left of earning power and Boomers/Pre-retirees that are nearing their ideal retirement age).

How To Reach Millennials

Like their Gen-Xer parents, Millennials are generally suspicious of financial advisors and value doing things themselves. While some segments of the Millennial Generation are prepped for retirement planning, many see it as a far off project. This can derail advisors who woo Millennials with traditional strategies. What some have suggested is focusing less on the idea of “retirement planning” and more on the idea of “financial independence.” This shift in philosophy could address the way Millennials approach finances, especially with the impediment of debt. This shift makes it clear that retirement planning is less about getting to an end point, but rather a continuous strategy that follows Millennials through the remaining phases of their life, especially with Millennials not confident they will be able retire when they would like too, or at all.

Even though this is the generation that grew up with digital integration and gave birth to social media, Millennials value in-person appointments. According to a recent study by the Insured Retirement Institute and The Center for Generational Kinetics, the majority of Millennials (87% of those surveyed) said it was important for advisors with meet with them in person.

Other factors for working with a financial advisor include fee transparency and authority (i.e. highly rated).

The study also found that while Generation Y recognizes the importance of retirement planning and the value of being walked through every step of the retirement process, they are not seeking out financial planners.

Marketing and Media

According to a study by Fractl and BuzzStream, the top five most consumed content types for Millennials are, in order:

  • Blogs
  • Images
  • Comments
  • eBooks
  • Audiobooks

The majority of Millennial use mobile devices to access content.

Millennials are more confortable sharing personal information with online businesses, when compared to older generations. This is especially true regarding relevant, targeted advertising and coupons/deals for local businesses.

Direct mail is still useful at reaching younger audiences. According to the 2015 DMA Statistical Factbook (citing the USPS Household Diary Study) 9.0% of individuals aged 25-34 are likely to respond to a direct mail piece. Those aged 22-24 are 8.2% likely to respond to a mail piece. While these stats show a slight decrease from the previous year, one demographic, those aged18-21, had a significant increase, from 4.1% in 2012 to 12.4% in 2013.

–DMA Statistical Factbook via eleventygroup

According to the Pew Research Center, 89% of individuals aged 18-29 use social media. 82% of those aged 30-49 use social media.

Across all demographics, Facebook is the most popular social network.

No surprise, but 86% of Millennials own a smartphone.

YouTube is valuable source for Millennials. According to Google, 67% of Millennials say they can find a YouTube video for any subject they want to learn about.

According to a survey by web video company Animoto:

  • 50% of Millennials will read an email from a company if it has video.
  • 67% of Millennials prefer a company video, versus a newsletter.
  • 4 out of 5 Millennials find video useful when making purchasing decisions.

Basic Marketing Suggestions:

While it is certainly true that members of Generation Y incorporate the digital world into their daily lives, they still value in-person appointments and direct mail. It’s important that you build authority with your branding and don’t provide empty content that will be easily dismissed, even when read. To reach this demographic (and subsets of other generations) you must absolutely have a digital strategy, but this does not mean forgoing the essential value proposition you provide. Rather, Millennials expect to find information about you and your company across multiple platforms and in multiple ways; email, social media, mobile, video, direct mail, and more. While this can seem overwhelming, the great thing is that many forms of digital marketing are cost-effective and can be leveraged across multiple platforms or integrated into other marketing strategies.

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