There is no question that technology has changed the way society communicates. Social networking has unbelievably enriched our lives. With every wonderful evolution we are able to access more people and more information faster.
Yet with each step towards getting answers faster, it takes longer to establish a true relationship. As financial professionals who are dependent on face-to-face meetings, how do you establish credibility and trust in a society that develops first encounters online?
The answer is a consistent, engaging marketing strategy. Traditionally, small business professionals used a store front office, direct mail, seminar events and the yellow pages to gain visibility in their communities (which quickly developed into trust). These traditional strategies are still effective, but only if utilized alongside digital marketing tactics.
Today, advisors need to complement their traditional methods with an engaging website and an online presence. Advisors need to embrace online marketing, develop a strategy that incorporates their brand’s strengths and integrate it with their traditional marketing tactics. It is only a consistent message, both online and off, that can initiate trust in today’s impersonal world.
First and foremost, advisors need an engaging website. Your website is your brand. It is your first impression.
Too often, financial advisors today have a website that is simply a static brochure with a picture and biography. This is not engaging. Videos are engaging, informative downloads are engaging, interactive tools are engaging.
By focusing on unique, fun and interesting ways a visitor to your site can interact with your brand, you are helping to develop a connection between with them that they won’t easily forget.
SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION
Advisors must also optimize their ability to be found on search engines. Studies have shown that 80% of consumers will research online before making any big decisions, and 60% of these consumers start their research with search engines like Google.
SEO strategies often only focus on an advisor’s website. This is critically important, but it needs to be supported by strong search results on other areas of the web. By ensuring that your company’s contact information is available on a wide variety of other sites, specifically local listings like the yellow pages online, your brand’s overall search rankings will be enhanced.
Another search result to pay attention to? Consumer reviews on third-party sites like Yelp and Google. Now that the SEC has said that these reviews are allowed in certain instances, advisors have an avenue for receiving potential “referrals” of those who read the reviews online.
Finally, advisors need to understand and adopt social media marketing. The object of social media marketing is to get people to interact with your brand, develop a connection with it and then recommend you to friends, family and co-workers.
But to do this effectively, you need to develop a strategy and be engaged. You can’t simply set up Google+, LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter profiles and expect people to come to you. It’s crucial to be an active participant and remember that content is king. This means advisors must reach out and ask people to connect, provide interesting and engaging content, have a consistent voice and post, comment and interact regularly.
LinkedIn provides a good example of how and why advisors should interact on social media. Many advisors only have a static LinkedIn page. By posting regularly, though, you can place higher in a LinkedIn search and show up in your connections’ activity feeds more often. These strategies work in multiple ways. You encourage prospects to engage with your brand; you establish yourself as a thought leader and subject matter expert, thus developing credibility and trust with your audience in the social world; and you give the prospects researching you lots of information about you. After all, prospects like feeling informed; they like having knowledge about you before they take that next step.
MERGING TRADITIONAL & DIGITAL
Finally, the integration of traditional and digital strategies is where everything comes together. You send a prospect a direct mail piece that encourages them to visit a landing page. You invite your Facebook friends to your dinner seminar. Each strategy complements the other and together they are more effective because you are showing a consistent brand, proclaiming an unwavering message.
Are these modern marketing tactics here to stay? There’s no way of knowing and the future is hard to predict. But for now, advisors who are successfully merging traditional with digital marketing today are experiencing increased visibility, credibility, stronger brand recognition and more frequent conversions. They’ve developed credibility and trust, and are reaping the benefits.
Amy Teter Romero is the senior vice president of marketing and product solutions for RME360, a fully integrated marketing and lead generation service provider that merges yesterday’s tried-and-true marketing strategies with today’s advanced technologies.