Secrets to Success–Advisor’s Tips to Cultivating a Strong Online Presence

Editor’s Note: We are pleased to welcome Cathy Curtis, Certified Financial Planner™ and Investment Advisor, to the Arkovi blog. Cathy was kind enough to share her secrets to success on cultivating a strong online presence. Cathy explains how she used her passion for personal financing and investing to find her niche and develop a vibrant, growing business.

During the 10 years that I’ve been an independent R.I.A., fee-only financial advisor, I’ve learned many things about successfully marketing my practice. At first, I struggled with how to position myself in the marketplace. I knew I had a lot of offer: I had a passion for personal finance and investing; an open and nonjudgmental personality, and the drive to offer my clients excellent service. But I felt at a disadvantage because I was a career-changer and didn’t have years of experience in the financial services industry.

I soon learned that trying to be just like everybody else in the industry was not going to work. My canned and very serious website was not attracting clients; my unfocused marketing message wasn’t inspiring prospects to call me; and I was confused about where to spend my time and marketing dollars. So I plugged along, very slowly building my practice until I realized that if I wanted to succeed long-term something had to change.

I embarked on a re-branding and social media marketing campaign that just 3 short years later, has transformed my practice into a vibrant, growing business attracting the kinds of clients that I want to work with. It is truly amazing how the web and social media levels the playing field for independent advisors!

Here’s how you can take advantage of this phenomenon too:

* Decide what kinds of clients you want to work with and narrow it down as much as possible. This is called finding a niche. Were you an engineer in a past career? Perhaps you want to focus on attracting engineers. Do you think you would enjoy working with doctors or athletes? Find out as much as you can about their “pain” and build a menu of services to find solutions for them. I chose to focus on independent and savvy women usually in some stage of transition in their lives…I felt I had a lot to offer from my own financial life experiences.

* After you decide on a niche start thinking about your brand image. Think about how you want your clients to feel when working with you. What message do you want to send with your logo, your color choices, and your tag line? Once you have this down, you can get started on your website, which will be the anchor for all your other marketing efforts. Think of your website as the gateway to the experience you want to share with clients. Once someone finds your site, you want them to open the door and stay a while. And, most importantly, you want them to act – hopefully with a phone call or email to find out more about you, your services and your company.

* In addition to your website, I highly recommend starting a blog. It is an excellent way to share your financial perspective with clients – to inform, educate and hopefully entertain them. If you can’t get your thoughts onto paper without wanting to tear your hair out, find someone to edit your drafts and clean up your prose. It is money well spent.

* After your website and blog are live, get active on social media. Open a Twitter account, a Facebook business page, and a LinkedIn account at the minimum. You might also want to look at Google+. Keep your niche market and message top of mind when you are tweeting, posting, and sharing and pretty soon you will have fans, friends and followers that want to hear from you. Remember to be human! Social media is about building community above all else; it isn’t a sales platform.

At this point, you integrate your website, blog, and social media account activity together. Tweet your blog posts, post them on Facebook and LinkedIn…do a little something every day with social media. Once the foundation is set, it takes very little time to be present on social media regularly.

* If you want to go further, a newsletter that features your blog posts, media appearances in addition to educational articles, is an excellent way to touch your clients and prospects regularly. You don’t want them to forget about you, do you?

And, lastly, don’t stop face-to-face networking. I have found great success with public speaking and joining women-centric networking groups. Off-line marketing will always be important too.

At this point, I’ll bet you are thinking – “What about compliance? It’s already headache enough without having to worry about what I say on-line.” Well, it’s just not that difficult. A few must-do’s:
* Invest in social media archiving technology. Arkovi Backups is one of the top solutions for the advisor community.
* Use common sense when “talking” social media. Don’t give specific investment recommendations. Don’t brag about your investment results. Keep to more general personal finance and investing topics.
* Don’t solicit recommendations or endorsements regarding your services.
* Make sure that your practice is compliant with FINRA and SEC rules in all ways and at all times so if you are audited the process is as painless as possible.

As all independent advisors know, you have to market successfully to survive in the competitive financial services industry. Lucky for us, because of social media, we have inexpensive tools and strategies at our fingertips. If you are like me, you may get so busy that you need to hire someone to help you. Below are a few excellent resource partners to help you on your journey! Good luck!

Kristen Luke, Wealth Management Marketing: Marketing Services for Independent Advisors:

Stephanie Sammons, Wired Advisor. Social Media Marketing Solutions for Advisors.

Susan Weiner, Communications professional for Financial Services firms and professionals.

Blane Warrene, Arkovi Social Media Archiving.

Jim Wilson, James Wilson Design. Website designer.

Cindi Hill, Hill Financial Advisors. Compliance solutions for financial advisors.

Linda Massey, WordPress websites and blogs.

Chad Bockius, Socialware.

Kristin Harad, Marketing Coach for Financial Advisors.

Pat Allen, Rock the Boat Marketing. Digital Strategies for Financial Services.

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