Online Identity

On his Advisor Marketing podcast, Matt Halloran asked us for our opinions about the biggest mistake that financial services professionals make in their online marketing. His audience is made up of financial professionals, but we believe our advice can serve trusted professionals in all kinds of industries.

Our answer: they skip steps in the development of their online presence. They jump onto a new platform or try a new approach without the tools in place to make it work. They try new things, not because they make sense for their business, but because it’s the thing other people say you should do.

Financial advisors wouldn’t recommend clients take random financial advice based on what they’ve read online. And yet this is how some businesses approach online marketing. Everyone is eager to do what everyone else is doing and get quick results. Like someone putting together an IKEA table without reading the instructions, they wind up with something that’s missing a few screws.

We frequently speak with professionals who’ve bought LinkedIn or website services before they’ve even updated their own LinkedIn profile. Or they come to us wanting to create an email marketing campaign but don’t have any CRM in place. They’re missing key steps in their marketing process.

Here are a few ways to avoid making these all-too-common mistakes:

Don’t Drive Traffic Before You Have an Effective Destination

Just as you don’t want to try and build engagement on LinkedIn with an out-of-date profile, you shouldn’t focus on improving your website’s SEO until you have a site worth visiting. We’ve had clients come to us eager to build traffic even though they have no original content on their blog, or don’t even have a blog. There’s little point in drawing people to you if the first thing they’ll want to do is leave.

Getting people to visit and explore your website requires thought and planning. It includes figuring out your corporate identity, your visual branding, identifying who you serve, what you do, how you do it, and why you’re different from the competition. Then you figure out how you’re going to tell your story. It’s important that, across the board, everything is consistent and extremely clear so that people stay engaged.

A Partial Strategy Can Yield Only Partial Success

We once had a prospective client who was ready to spend a lot of money on a new website and SEO. They were sending out 20,000 postcards a month in an attempt to connect with potential new clients that didn’t offer a specific type of service they offered. So we asked, “How is that working for you?” and they said, “Well, our staff is answering a lot of questions, but it’s not converting to any business.”

We realized that we needed to spend some time developing a right-fit client. This also included figuring out who the product best serves and creating a filtering process—including an FAQ section—that could answer a prospect’s questions. Part of that filter might include spending time behind the scenes writing good content and telling your story in a clear way. The other, less effective way is to do it on the back-end by paying an employee to answer all the questions over and over again.

Effective Strategies Require Current Marketing Tactics

Things change, and your strategy must change with them. For example, a social media strategy should be adjusted for all the ways social media has shifted in the past year.

Before the pandemic, we saw a lot of professionals and organizations just trying to get online and build a simple presence, often trying to do it themselves. But since then social media has changed a lot. There are so many more people online on LinkedIn, Facebook, and the other major platforms that these platforms have become really noisy. We’ve seen engagement start dropping off, with people spending less and less time online. Brands think that they can just throw a lot of money toward the problem and run ads, but that’s really caused a fundamental shift on social media. Now the general public is tired because they know that they’re just being sold to.

We guide clients towards a more strategic approach. Sometimes that’s a podcast, because it’s a different medium that not every single advisor is on. YouTube can be another good option once you zero in on your story and find a really intriguing way to tell it.

People Want to Know More About You

It’s not enough to just post frequently or subscribe to an automated posting service. At the end of the day, nobody cares about all the information that you know. It’s really more about storytelling. When no one’s telling their story, just buying ads, they’re building a purely transactional relationship. Creating awareness and maintaining and building relationships requires a personal touch. If you’re just treating your online presence as a way to get the next sale, you can throw a lot of money into it and maybe get something in return. But at this point, this industry is about long-term relationships and how to make new connections while still fostering your existing relationships. Don’t just throw things on social media to see if anyone likes or comments. To connect, tell your story.

You need to be in alignment with who you authentically are when you’re talking about what you do. ****You want to drive awareness for your clients to know what’s available to them. If you offer something that they’ve been looking for, they need to know that. And they need to know that you’re personable and relatable, and you’re not going to make them feel stupid.

That’s really what it boils down to. It sounds simple, and in some ways it is, but there’s a lot of preparation you need to reach that point. You can get the results you want, but not if you skip important steps along the way.

We’d Love to Talk to You

If you want to hear more about what you need for marketing success, definitely listen to our podcast interview. Even better, we would love to speak with you! Learn more about The Agency or The Community.

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