All Posts by Crystal Lee Butler

4 Tips to Make Your Videos Look and Sound More Professional (Without Ever Leaving Your Office)

The world of DIY video recording has come a long way in the past 20 years. It’s easier than ever for financial advisors to create amazing video content right from your office. 

Recently I wrote about the benefits of using videos to market your financial advisory business. You can read that here: How Financial Advisors Can Market with Videos and Podcasts

You no longer need to invest thousands  – or even hundreds – of dollars to create great videos. With the right setup, planning and preparation, producing your own video content doesn’t have to be complicated. You can record in your office or home. 

Here are some tips to help you create the right environment for recording so that your videos look and sound good.

Choosing the Right Background

The last thing you want when people watch your video content is for the viewer to be focused on what’s behind you instead of what you’re saying. 

As a financial advisor, your goal is to create a feeling of trust and confidence in you as an expert, so think about how what they see reflects that. 

Begin by setting up your camera in the direction it will face when you record and look at the background with a critical eye. Remove any visual clutter or distractions from the line of sight, and consider if there is anything personal, like family photos, that you don’t want on display. 

If you’re worried about the color of the walls in the office, don’t be. It’s not the color that matters, but how you look against them. For example, if your background wall is a deep red, then a bright orange shirt isn’t the best wardrobe choice for your video content creation day. 

For ideas on how to style your background, check out some Youtube videos like this one

Selecting Your Lighting

Lighting impacts the overall quality of your video content. Too much light and you’ll look washed out; too little and it will look like you’re filming in a cave. 

Natural lighting looks very good on video, but the location of the window matters. The window should be in front of you, not behind you. If the sunlight coming in is too bright, though, you run the risk of stark shadows on your face or having to squint while on camera.

If you can’t depend on natural sunlight, using table or floor lights is a great substitute. The key is trying the lights in different locations to see how you look on camera. If you’re using multiple lights in the space, avoid mixing the color temperature of the lights (yellow versus white), as that can be distracting for viewers. 

Once you’ve tried different options, if you’re still not satisfied with the lights you have, purchase a ring light – a light commonly used for video and photoshoots.

The key to lighting comes down to having plenty of it without over-saturating the camera. You want just enough light so that your face is clear and viewers can easily focus on it. 

Achieving the Best Sound Quality

Nothing gets viewers to turn off a video more quickly than poor sound quality. Viewers are watching to hear what you have to say; you want your audio to be top-notch. 

Achieving good sound quality is all about having the right microphone. Most people choose to go with a lapel mic, however, a stand mic is an option as long as it’s positioned properly to pick up your voice well. 

USB mics are the most popular, as they are cost-effective and easy to operate. Look for a mic that offers the ability to connect directly to the camera so that the audio and video are together in one file. 

One additional consideration for your mic is how loud your environment is. If you plan to work and record in an environment that has a lot of background noise, then think about how that can be minimized. At a minimum, carefully read the reviews of the microphone you’re going to purchase to see what users have to say about background noise and sensitivity or purchase a microphone with noise cancelation.

Ensuring Great Video Footage

If your camera is being held by a person or is just propped up on a table, your videos will be shaky. You need a stable source for your camera placement. 

A simple tripod will hold your camera steady and give you control of the height and orientation of the camera. If you are using a phone or tablet to record, mounting brackets are available that will hold your device securely. If you don’t want to purchase a tripod, you can always prop your camera up on a nearby surface, but it will be difficult to achieve a flattering recording angle and a tablet or phone may be prone to slipping down in the middle of your recording session. 

Final Thoughts on Creating Video Content

Now that you’ve sorted out your background, lighting, and sound, it’s time to put everything to the test. 

For the first time using a setup, record a test video to see if you're happy with the look of the shot, quality, and sound. This gives you the opportunity to adjust and fine-tune your recording environment. 

Once you find the best setup, stick with it for a few videos, then consider if you need to change anything up. Some future improvements to your video content could include shooting from different angles, but the key is to focus on the basics first and then go from there. 

Don’t forget the steps you should take before you get in front of the camera. From your appearance and mindset to planning out what you’re going to say, preparation is key. If you skip over the prep work, filming video content will take much longer, and the overall finished product may not be what you want.  

For additional ideas on how to set your environment for video content, watch a couple of videos like this one to help you get started. 

Are you interested in creating video content but want to make sure it fits well with your overall marketing strategy?

Crystal Marketing Solutions offers solutions for financial professionals looking to craft a strategic roadmap by having a consistent marketing presence that attracts the right customers. Contact us to discuss your needs.

Webinar Marketing for Financial Advisors: Which Format is Right for You?

With advances in technology and the growth of online video meeting platforms, the way businesses share information and educate clients has changed. That’s exactly why webinars have become so popular.

Webinars come in a variety of formats. Depending on your audience and your strengths and weaknesses, not every format will be a fit. While some financial advisors may thrive in a webinar where they are live and can improvise as needed, for others the structure of pre-recording their content may work better.

Let’s take a more in-depth look at live and pre-recorded webinar formats, and what to consider when choosing which one is right for you. This is important because before you step in front of a video camera, you should already have your overall strategy nailed down. 

Is Webinar Marketing Right for Your Financial Advisor Business? 

While popular, hosting webinars to build business isn’t right for everyone. 

Webinars offer your existing and potential clients great value and provide an opportunity to showcase your expertise. And there’s this compelling fact: 73% of the marketers polled said webinars are the best way to generate quality leads. Prospects who are considering working with you can get a feel for who you are and what you do in a low-pressure environment. This can be particularly helpful for warming up your cold leads or generating new ones, and accelerating the sales process. 

Webinars as a marketing channel are very cost-effective, especially when compared to in-person seminars. You don’t need to rent meeting space or travel to the seminar location. As long as you have a strong internet connection and can ensure there’s a reasonable-looking background, you can create a webinar.

The content you create for webinars can be repurposed into other content, which also saves money. You can edit your webinar into short, easily digestible videos to share on social media, or create an email series based on what you taught. Although it may seem that the cost of pre-recorded and live webinars should be similar, pre-recorded webinars can actually end up costing more due to production expenses. There is an expectation that pre-recorded webinars be more polished; therefore they are often heavily edited. Unless this is your area of expertise, you’ll need to hire someone to do it.

Now, let’s break down each format in more detail. 

Live Webinars

Cost

Depending on the platform you choose, your cost will vary. Options like Facebook Live, GoTo Webinar, YouTube or Zoom can start at zero cost and go up from there. For those newer to creating live webinar content, these are a great place to get started. Your overall cost will depend on exactly what’s involved but can you easily spend as little as $50. The higher the production value, the higher your overall price tag will be. 

Who’s Attending Live Webinars?

Live webinars are at the peak of popularity, but, having your expectations in check regarding attendance will help you be realistic with your goals. It’s estimated that 78% of webinars have 50 or fewer attendees. Additionally, 59% of registrations happen within the seven days before the webinar, so that week is critical in terms of your webinar marketing. 

Why Go Live? 

Live webinars give you a chance to interact with your audience in real-time. With good audience participation, you can have an engaging conversation that goes beyond the content they see on their screen. As a financial advisor, you know that offering an excellent client experience is part of creating loyal customers, and live webinars give you a platform to build relationships. 

Possible obstacles to creating great live webinar include getting interrupted by other people and pets in the home, finding a time that works for attendees in varying time zones, and the always present risk of technical problems. 

Creating Content 

To create engaging live webinar content, you can choose from several different formats including:

  • Single speaker presentations
  • Guest speaker presentations
  • How-to videos
  • Question and answer sessions
  • Interviews 
  • Information sessions

Evergreen/Pre-Recorded Webinars

Cost

Although it may seem that the cost of pre-recorded and live webinars should be similar, pre-recorded webinars can actually end up costing more due to production expenses.. There is an expectation that pre-recorded webinars be more polished, there for they are often often heavily edited. Unless this is your area of expertise you’ll need to hire someone to do it. 

Who’s Viewing Evergreen/Pre-Recorded Webinars? 

It’s estimated that approximately 28% of people prefer watching pre-recorded webinars. People looking for flexibility are attracted to pre-recorded webinars because they can watch at their leisure and aren’t bound to a specific day and time. 

Why Choose to Pre-Record?

Pre-recorded webinars are appealing because the pressure to perform is removed from the equation, but you still have a platform to inform and educate. You can edit out mistakes, re-record sections that aren’t to your liking, and add effects during post-production. For those who have trouble with public speaking, it’s the ideal scenario as you can go at your own pace. 

The main challenge of pre-recorded webinars is that you have to find ways to make the content as engaging as possible since you won’t be interacting with the audience. When hosting a live webinar you can “read the room” and adjust your pace or your tone, or mix up the content if you feel interest waning. You can also let the conversation evolve in different directions.  However, with a pre-recorded webinar, you have to catch and keep the audiences’ attention for the entire time, so if your content isn’t engaging enough, they may not stick around until the end. 

Creating Content for Pre-Recorded Webinars

The content for pre-recorded webinars needs to consider the lack of interaction between the host and the audience, so the types of content best suited for this are:

  • How-to demos;
  • Product and service demos; and
  • Expert trainings where no audience interaction is needed .

As a final note, if you are considering creating webinar content that’s evergreen, that means steering clear of anything that may become outdated quickly. Otherwise, you’ll need to have a plan in place to review the webinar regularly so it can be updated. 

Not Sure Where to Begin? A Marketing Professional Can Help

Much of the success of a webinar comes down to one key element: having great webinar content that’s valuable, engaging, and informative to your audience.For anyone who doesn’t create webinars on a regular basis, having a marketing professional to guide you can make a huge difference in how successful the webinar is. An expert who helps you formulate clear goals for your webinar and create a strategy to effectively produce and market it can help save you time and money while ensuring you get a good ROI on your efforts. 

Are you interested in leveraging webinars as part of your marketing strategy? 

Crystal Marketing Solutions offers solutions for financial professionals looking to craft a strategic roadmap by having a consistent marketing presence that attracts the right customers. Contact us to discuss your needs.

1 How Financial Advisors Can Market with Videos and Podcasts

When expanding your online presence as a financial advisor, you have to take into consideration your long-term strategy to determine which avenue is best. Two popular options to connect with new audiences are podcasts and video content. Both have their benefits and drawbacks, so carefully consider each one before you decide.

Here’s what financial advisors need to know about creating video content versus a podcast. 

Before You Begin

As excited you may be, think about your long-term strategy. If that includes warming up a cold audience, then audio and video content is ideal for making a connection. 

An often-repeated phrase when it comes to business is that “if you build it, they will come” but this is not a strategy you can rely on when it comes to creating this type of content. If you’re creating audio and/or video content, you’ll want to have a solid email list with a good open rate. Otherwise, you may be creating content that very few people actually see.

Cost is another factor to consider when deciding between videos and podcasts. Sure, you can make a video with your smartphone and upload it yourself, but will it be professional looking enough to represent your business? Unless you have the time and skills to do things like audio and video editing, creating cover art, writing social media promotions, and more, then you’re going to have to pay someone to do those things for you.

While costs for these services vary, this is one area where you don’t want to save money. Things like poor quality audio or choppily edited video are an immediate turnoff for those watching or listening, which defeats the purpose of what you’re trying to accomplish and reflect negatively on your business. And without the right promotional copy and cover art to go along with your video or podcast, your content won’t reach more than a few people who subscribe to your page.

Podcast Content: What Financial Advisors Should Consider

What’s the Strategy? 

If you’re considering creating a podcast, it’s not quite as simple as just recording a show. Your overall strategy will need to include how the show will be marketed, where it will be published, and which social media platforms you’ll use to promote it. 

Podcasts are easy to create, highly engaging, and offer a way to build a relationship with your clients and prospects. Costs for podcasts are significantly lower than for video content.  A real plus with podcasts is that people can listen anywhere, any time.

Podcasts by the Numbers

It’s estimated that there are over 1,750,000 podcasts with roughly 45 million episodes as of January 2021. Nearly 50% of homes in the United States are fans of podcasts, and nearly 75% of people who listen to podcasts say they enjoy learning new things

These numbers represent a huge opportunity to capture the attention of potential customers for your firm if you’re targeting the right people.

Who’s Listening to Podcasts? 

If the purpose of your podcast is to warm up leads, knowing if your target audience actually listens to podcasts matters — otherwise you may just be wasting your time. Here are a few statistics to consider from PodcastHosting.org’s 2021 Global Podcast Statistics, Demographics & Habits Report:

  • 51% of podcast listeners are male, 49% female.
  • Age of listeners:
    • 12-34: 48%
    • 35-54: 32%
    • 55+: 20%
  • 41% of monthly podcast listeners have a household income over $75K (vs. 29% for US population).
  • 25% of US podcast listeners have a 4-year college degree (vs. 19% of US population).

Types of Podcast Content

As far as subject matter, anything goes when it comes to podcasts. However, you have a very short window to hook the listener in at the beginning, so your content needs to be compelling.

Think about what your audience would get the most value from. Options for podcast formats include:

  • Solo podcasts: Just you and the microphone speaking to the audience about whatever topics you choose. 
  • Interviews: Feature guests to cover a variety of topics that relate to your field of expertise and that may be of interest to listeners.
  • Educational: A more structured approach where your focus on teaching and educating the audience on specific topics related to finances.

Video Content: Is This the Better Option for Financial Advisors? 

What’s the Strategy? 

One of the biggest factors when considering creating video content is the cost. The last thing you want is for your videos to look unprofessional as this will be a huge turn-off for your viewers. For your videos to truly support your marketing goals, ensure that they are attention-grabbing and have a clear and compelling topic.

Determine your goals before you begin. What does your audience need from you? What type of information will be the most valuable to them? 

Budget to cover production, editing, promotion, and more. To keep costs in check, starting with short videos is a great way to test it out without committing too much time or money. 

Roughly 87% of video marketers have said that YouTube has been effective as a channel for video content marketing, making it the ideal platform to test the waters without incurring unnecessary costs. 

Video Content by the Numbers 

From Facebook Live to YouTube to websites, there’s no question that video content is absolutely everywhere. It’s estimated that 60% of businesses use video content for marketing purposes, and 30% of marketers feel video is just as important to their marketing strategy as their website.

In a 2021 survey of nearly 700 marketers and small businesses, when asked how video content helps their marketing strategy their primary responses were:

  • Raising awareness: 53%
  • Building trust with potential customers: 52% 
  • Engaging their audience: 49%

Why Do Consumers Watch Video Content? 

While the demographics of who’s watching videos spans across all age groups, it’s not so much about who is watching, but why they watch that matters. 

When it comes to learning about a product or service, 69% of consumers said a short video would be their preference. Videos can be a reliable way to warm up your leads, with 89% of consumers indicating that watching a brand’s video has convinced them to make a purchase. Additionally, video content is twice as likely to be shared than any other kind of content, making it easier to get eyes on the videos you create. 

Types of Video Content

Just like podcasts, your videos need to be valuable and informative to your audience. However, they need to look great. Humans are visual creatures, so consider things like the colors you wear, lighting, and background.

Types of video content that may be appropriate for financial advisors include:

  • Educational: Teach your audiences about topics related to your industry. 
  • Explainer: Give a step-by-step explanation of your products or services. 
  • Service: Showcase your services and share how you can provide value to clients. 
  • Frequently asked questions: Answer some of the common questions you get from potential and existing clients. 

Consistency is Critical No Matter the Medium 

Whether you decide to go with a podcast or videos, there’s one thing that’s critical: consistency. To get traction with your audience, they need to expect content from you at regular intervals. This trains them to look for your content, so if they go looking and don’t find a new podcast episode or video, they’ll stop looking at some point – either out of frustration or forgetfulness.

Whether you choose podcasting or video content (or neither), making an informed decision that supports your overall marketing strategy will ensure that your efforts deliver the ROI you want. 

Are you a financial advisor looking to increase your online presence and refine your marketing strategy? 

Contact us at Crystal Marketing solutions to see how we can help.

Which Social Media Platform Is Right for My Brand?

As an individual financial advisor, you may have wondered if you really need a presence on social media platforms. The short answer is “yes.”

There are countless reasons why having a social media presence is a good idea for your business, from being more accessible to your clients to establishing credibility. However, the problem that many advisors run into is that they’re trying to do it all. 

The key to effective social media management is understanding you don’t have to be on every platform. You just need to be where your clients and prospects are. By focusing on just doing one thing well and then building from there, you can get the most out of your social media

How do you choose which platform to focus your time and energy on?Let’s look at the four most popular social media platforms for business, who’s using them, and what type of content is the best fit for each one. 

Facebook

Cost

Signing up and posting on Facebook is free. If you’re looking to do specific marketing activities like run ads, your costs will start at roughly $0.97 per click and increase from there. 

Who’s on the Platform

With approximately 2.79 billion users worldwide, Facebook has consistently ranked as the number one social media platform year after year. The biggest demographic is users aged 25-34. Seniors currently represent the smallest group of users, but they are also the fastest-growing group on this social media platform. 

How Facebook is Used

Facebook’s primary purpose is to allow users to share content, stories, and news. Consumers use Facebook for everything from connecting with friends and family, to joining communities for interests and hobbies, to researching businesses through reviews and recommendations. 

Businesses can promote their content using various formats, share information about products and services, post company news, make marketing offers, and communicate with potential and existing customers. Also, paid advertising is available with Facebook ads, premium ads, and sponsored stories. 

Strategy

Primarily used for business-to-consumer (B2C) marketing, Facebook is appealing because of its reach. There are 60 million active business pages, and it’s estimated that two-thirds of Facebook users will visit the page of a local business at least once a week

Using Facebook for your business allows you to reach a wider audience while targeting your audience by location, demographics, and interest. You can gain insight into customer behavior using Facebook tools and increase website traffic and email marketing sign-ups using a compelling call to action. Facebook also gives you an opportunity to interact with customers (potential and existing) in realtime and offers a high-touch customer experience. 

Content

To make your Facebook marketing strategy effective, create and use a variety of content, including:

  • Current events: industry news, business news
  • Free resources posts: checklists, guides, live video webinars, and how-tos
  • Visual posts: Memes, comics, quotes, fun facts
  • Interactive posts: contests, quizzes, trivia
  • Q&A posts: open the floor to audience questions, or share frequently asked questions

Twitter

Cost

Signing up and tweeting is free. Twitter ads start around $0.50 per action for promoted tweets and $2.00 per follow for promoted accounts.

Who’s On the Platform

As of the end of 2020, Twitter had 192 million daily active users. 88% of Twitter users fall into the under-50 category, with the 35-49 demographic making up the largest group

How Twitter is Used

Similar to Facebook, Twitter is most used for sharing news, content, and stories. The primary difference is that Twitter limits how much you can say in one post — 280 characters. Twitter keeps your business connected to what’s going on in the world and provides an opportunity to promote your business.You may also use Twitter to learn about industry trends, see what people are saying about your products and services (as well as your competitors), and get a general sense of issues and concerns affecting your target audience. 

Businesses on Twitter can build a company profile page and leverage their tweets to push traffic back to their website using direct links. Paid advertising is available through promoted tweets, promoted trends, promoted accounts, and enhanced profiles. 

Strategy

Twitter is used for both B2C and business-to-business (B2B) marketing and selling. Building brand awareness is one of the main focuses for businesses on social media, along with building an audience organically. It’s also a great place to start a conversation and get feedback from the masses while experimenting with your tone and approach.

While your initial instinct may lean towards more formal communication, Twitter is an ideal spot to see how conversational you can be with an audience. 

Content

Short, quick hits of information are the name of the game on Twitter, so when building your marketing strategy, keep these best practices in mind:

  • Keep it short: Twitter has a 280 character limit in a post, so be sure to keep your tweets short and to the point.
  • Make it visual: Use plenty of images and videos, but don’t forget to include your company name and logo.
  • Always have a call to action: You want people to take another step after reading the tweet, whether it’s visiting your website, reading a blog post, or filling out a survey.
  • Ask for opinions: Polls and surveys are both engaging and provide valuable feedback.
  • Don’t forget the hashtags: Twitter users often search by hashtag, so include ones relevant to the content you’re posting. 

LinkedIn

Cost

A basic LinkedIn account is free; however, what can be done with the account does have limits. Many users choose LinkedIn Premium, which is the paid version and is available at multiple levels of service depending on your primary purpose.

A user who plans to be on the platform for job searching will pay about $29.99 a month, whereas a sales professional who wants to use the platform for lead generation will pay $79.99. As with other social media platforms, LinkedIn offers paid advertising. 

Who’s On the Platform

With roughly 740 million professionals on this social media platform along with 55 million companies listed, it’s easy to see why LinkedIn is so appealing. In fact, the 2020 US Digital Trust Survey found that LinkedIn is the most trusted social media platform

How LinkedIn is Used

Unlike the other social media platforms I’ve discussed so far, LinkedIn is different because it’s solely focused on business professionals. It’s used for networking, recruiting, job searching, business marketing, and more. Industry news and trends are always a hot topic, and it’s a great place to connect with people in your field while also seeing what everyone is up to. 

Users on LinkedIn can post and share content like articles from their profile, make recommendations for products and services, join networking groups for their industry, and so much more. 

Strategy

If you’re wondering whether sharing content on LinkedIn should be part of your marketing strategy, consider the fact that 94% of B2B marketers use LinkedIn to distribute content. LinkedIn offers a great deal of information about businesses, so this is an excellent opportunity to grow your brand awareness. 

Like on the other social media platforms, creating brand visibility and awareness is usually a top priority. LinkedIn offers an opportunity to establish your authority and credibility within your industry through content. Share your website and blogs, ebooks and whitepapers, and any other content you can make accessible online. It’s also a great place for networking, which can help you connect with potential clients. 

Content

LinkedIn content offers a mix of industry content, opinion pieces, and more. When considering what kind of content is best suited for your LinkedIn profile, you may want to include:

  • Long-form content: Establish your voice with original articles that tackle key pain points in the industry or put a new spin on an old topic. 
  • Talk about trends: Everyone wants to know what the next big thing will be, so get ahead of the curve and share your thoughts with readers.
  • Share videos and webinars: People love content that provides value.
  • How-tos, tricks, and tips: Be a teacher and establish your authority.
  • Spark a discussion: Get people talking about the hottest topics in your field, niche, or industry by sharing thoughts on news articles, whitepapers, and more. 

Don’t forget to participate in forums and group discussions. This is an opportunity to amplify your brand voice while connecting with your audience and industry peers. 

Instagram

Cost

Instagram is yet another free social media platform that also offers paid options. Instagram ads range anywhere from $0.40 to $0.95 for cost per click, which can include not just clicking links, but also liking or reacting to comments. Cost per impression starts at $2.50 and goes up from there.

Who’s On the Platform

As of early 2021, Instagram has over one billion users

How Instagram is Used

Instagram is one social media platform that people don’t always associate with businesses, but when you think about how massive the influencer industry has become, it’s Instagram that leads the pack. 

Consider this: 90% of people on Instagram follow a business, and 84% of Instagram users want to discover new products while on the platform. Additionally, two-thirds of the profile visits that businesses get come from people who don’t currently follow yet. All of these statistics paint a compelling picture of why focusing on Instagram as your social media platform of choice may be the right strategy. 

Instagram is very visually focused, so it offers an opportunity for users, both individuals and businesses, to explore a more creative approach to sharing content.

Strategy 

Instagram is mainly used for B2C marketing. It’s an ideal place to share existing content with your audience, saving you both time and money. Instagram is known for having a high level of engagement from users, so, with a solid strategy in place, you have the opportunity to increase your audience and drive traffic towards your website.

Content

Since Instagram is a visual social media platform, your post will garner the most attention by using high visual content, including:

  • Infographics: Compile compelling data into images that tell a story.
  • Instastories: Create short videos to share tips and tricks or information about your business.
  • Images: Pictures, memes, and more can be used to share content.
  • User-generated content: Engage your audience to share stories and experiences with your business and then promote it. 

Create a Strategy for Your Social Media Platform

By understanding how each social media platform operates and how it can help with your overall marketing, you can create a strategy that makes sense for your business. With social media users expected to surpass 4.4 billion by 2025, you don’t want to miss out on all of that untapped potential for marketing your financial services business. If you need help determining the best strategy for you, that is where Crystal Marketing Solutions comes in! 

Get in touch with us to see how we can help.

Does Your Firm Need an ADA Compliant Website?

If you wonder whether your firm’s website should be ADA compliant, the short answer is yes. While the big picture is more complicated, the reality is continuing to ignore the needs of disabled users could present unnecessary problems and legal risks that can be avoided by updating your website and providing reasonable accommodations.

What is ADA Website Compliance?

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which became law in 1990 and was amended substantially in 2009, contains a set of requirements which businesses must adhere to accommodate individuals who have disabilities. The overall purpose of this civil rights law is to ensure people have equal opportunities and are not discriminated against in public life, jobs, school, housing, transportation, and private locations that are open to the public.

As the internet becomes integral to the way services are delivered to the public, websites have become a site of contention when it comes to the ADA. 

In short, ADA website compliance means that your site is accessible to people with disabilities, including but not limited to those with visual or hearing impairment, cognitive impairment, learning disabilities, and those who must navigate websites using voice commands, by allowing for the use of tools such as screen readers and other assistive devices to consume content.

Is Your Firm Legally Subject to ADA Website Compliance?

The answer to this question is still debatable. Presently, if you are a private business with 15+ employees or a company that relies on the public or that benefits the public, you must meet compliance. But if you think this doesn’t apply to you, it’s not that simple.

If the public needs to enter your place of business regularly, you would need to meet physical ADA requirements for access, such as installing ramps in place of stairs. The argument can be made that the public should also be able to access your business through your website. Essentially, websites are considered “places of public accommodation.”

While it may seem like an inconvenience on your part to update your website to meet compliance, the public is increasingly coming to expect it as a common courtesy. Even people who do not require accommodations personally are demanding that the companies they do business with practice fair and equitable treatment towards their fellow Americans with disabilities.

Nearly 50 million adults in the U.S. may have a disability that could require them to use adaptive technologies, and as many as one in three families are touched by disability. In aging populations, such as pre and post-retirees, visual impairment is a rising concern. As many as 12% of Americans ages 45 to 64  and more than 15% of Americans 75 and older have reported vision loss. While many of those people can be helped with corrective lenses, more of your clients and prospects will have website accessibility issues than you may have considered. (1)

Additionally, there has been a flurry of Department of Justice actions, lawsuits, demand letters, and court rulings that increasingly favor digital accessibility and ADA compliance.

So whether you decide to update your website to expand your audience, protect your brand, support the disabled community’s needs, avoid legal issues, or err on the side of caution, meeting requirements rather than resisting them is in your firm’s best interest.

How to Meet ADA Web Accessibility Guidelines

When it comes to ADA website compliance, the rules are not clear cut. Meeting web accessibility guidelines isn’t a simple process; it’s not as easy as flipping a switch or adding a plug-in to your website.

The most comprehensive benchmarks available are published by the World Wide Web Consortium’s (W3C’s) Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), which state that for a website to be accessible, it should be perceivable, operable, understandable, and robust.

Perceivable

No aspect of your website can be available to only one sense, such as vision. The site be easily accessed and processed by screen readers, for example, designed to support the visually impaired, which means all images must include alt text that the screen readers can pick up. Video and audio content should include transcripts and accurate closed captioning. 

Operable

Your website should be usable and accessible in various ways, such as with a mouse and keyboard, responsive to adaptive technologies like touchscreen or screen readers, and that it should avoid elements that could be seizure triggers, such as flashing lights.

Understandable

Your website visitors should be able to identify and read the language and content easily. The site should be clearly labeled, well organized, with a well-designed layout, and should not be difficult or confusing to navigate. Any forms or interactive elements should include clear instructions and not be confusing to use.

Robust

Your website should be accessible on the current versions of all major web browsers and run on the latest technologies that allow for the use of adaptive technologies, such as screen readers. 

Following these standards will demonstrate that your firm has made a good-faith effort towards meeting ‘reasonable’ website accommodations. Familiarizing yourself with ADA requirements and downloading this checklist is an important first step. If you are concerned about ADA compliance, consult an attorney specializing in disability law.  

Sources: 

1 https://www.afb.org/research-and-initiatives/aging/special-report-aging-vision-loss

Is It Time to Rebrand Your Financial Advisor Website?

As a financial advisor, your website is often your first chance to make a great impression. So don’t miss out on the opportunity to impress your prospects. Whether your prospects find your site by searching online or researching you after being referred by a friend, failing to make the most out of this initial encounter could mean the difference between signing an ideal new client or missing out on potential business, again and again. 

In the not-so-distant past, financial advisors could get away with a basic website. As long as your firm had a site of any kind, you were doing better than the competition. However, the landscape has changed and continues to evolve at a rapid pace. The way you show up in the digital space matters, and it can mean the difference between achieving your goals and missing the mark.

If your website is more than a few years old, it’s time for an update.

If you’ve invested in a website and it’s not bringing in new business, you are due for a refresh. Your site could need a minor update or a complete rebrand. 

Here’s how to tell if your financial advisor website stuck in the past and, if it is, how to position it for success. 

Why Update Your Website

Updating your website is about more than just replacing the old with the new. Having an updated website shows potential clients that you care about your business, are actively engaged and paying attention, and are putting in the effort to share your knowledge and insights. 

Having an out-of-date website makes you appear out of touch, like you don’t care enough to keep pace with technological changes, and are too busy to be bothered. And if prospects suspect you aren’t on top of your game, they will be less likely to trust their financial future to you. 

Fair or not, this is the way impressions work. 

It’s like driving by a restaurant that looks shabby with peeling paint and 1980s signage; it might have the most delicious food, but you’re less likely to give it a try. 

Updating your website lets you implement an effective digital marketing strategy. Whereas websites from a decade ago were little more than digital brochures, now you have the opportunity to do content marketing, search engine optimization, email marketing, Facebook advertising, and more. Your website and branding need to be updated in order to get results.

Updating your website shows the world who you are now, rather than who you were several years ago. Change is the only constant, you are not the same advisor and your firm is not the same company. As you evolve over time, your presence online should evolve too.   

How to Know If Your Website Needs Updating

As I mentioned above, if your website is more than a few years old, it probably needs to be updated. And in some cases, it could be time for a full overhaul of your brand. But whether you’re too close to the brand to be objective or you don’t spend enough time online to be familiar with what consumers have come to expect from company websites, here is some guidance and the indicators signaling an outdated website. 

Ask yourself the following seven questions:

1. Is my message still relevant?

Your brand message should speak directly to your ideal client and convey that you can help them solve a particular problem or fulfill a desire they have. 

Did you start off focusing on helping young professionals begin planning for retirement, and now your firm focuses on working with pre-retirees? Did you previously work exclusively with high-net-worth families only to realize you’re more passionate about advising your upper-income middle-class American neighbors? Then the brand message on your website needs to be revised accordingly.

2. Are my images outdated?

Imagery conveys powerful meaning. When a prospective client lands on your site, they should recognize they are in the right place by seeing relatable images. Old stock photos that look like they were taken decades ago need to be replaced with fresh new pictures with an updated aesthetic. 

If a prospect would have trouble recognizing you from your headshot, it’s time for a new one—yes, even if you’ve put on some weight, gained a few laugh lines, or lost hair since your last one. An updated, friendly headshot that looks like you is a must. (See my article Tips for Taking Your Own Headshots for more information.)

3. Does my website stand out?

Back in the days when having a website—any website at all—helped you stand out, you could get away with a cookie-cutter template site. Today, you have less than 15 seconds to capture a website visitor’s attention to give them a reason to stick around and learn more about you. 

They are looking for an advisor they can trust to help them meet their goals. Having a website that paints you no differently from the advisor across town isn’t doing you any favors. If your website is a beige, boring, run-of-the-mill site, it’s time to update your brand. 

4. Has my business changed?

The answer to this question is likely yes, but is this change reflected online? If not, it’s time for a change to your website. 

Maybe you started as a one-person shop, and now you have multiple advisors or you’ve hired operations support that plays a critical role in your success. Maybe your firm started with one office, and you’ve expanded to a second location. Maybe you’ve shifted from selling products to a fee-only model. Maybe you’ve developed a signature process that you walk each client through. If there’s no sign of these changes on your website, it is time to refresh or rebrand.

5. Am I sharing content regularly?

A static brochure-like website is no longer enough. Most consumers are doing research online before making even small purchasing decisions. Hiring a financial advisor is a serious commitment, and your prospects want to know that you’re knowledgeable. They want to know your approach and perspective. Therefore you need to incorporate regular sharing and updates into your website. 

The content you share can be in the form of a blog, new articles you’ve written, a podcast, YouTube videos, or new free resources such as guides or whitepapers. The point is, you’ll want to keep people on your site and keep them coming back for more, so it’s important to incorporate a way to share content regularly and easily into your website.

6. Is my brand engaging?

This is a challenge for many financial advisors and other conservative industries. Consumers tend to be turned off by overly formal, stuffy brands, and even wealthy audiences want you to loosen your tie a bit. This doesn’t mean your website needs to be edgy or provocative; it should be engaging, friendly, and approachable.

Look over your website. Is the language formal and dry or more conversational? Will it bore readers or pique their interest? Does it sound like you or someone else? Are you speaking at people like an expert on high or telling relatable stories and asking questions? 

If your brand isn’t drawing interest and your messaging doesn’t feel like part of an ongoing conversation with clients and prospects, it needs some work.

7. Is my technology antiquated? 

If you have an old website that you haven’t kept updated, your technology needs an overhaul. While the tech side of your website is happening behind the scenes, it is a critical part of the client experience. If the site runs slowly, has broken links, or glitches, it will send the wrong message. People will click away or feel frustrated.

If you are planning to use digital marketing, you need a website that’s blog enabled, allows you to embed social media and social sharing elements, includes an email opt-in form, let’s you add or update content without relying on a webmaster, enables you to add pixels for Facebook advertising, gives you the opportunity to optimize for search engines, and more. 

Old website technology limits your reach and puts your brand at a disadvantage.

How to Rebrand Your Website

If it’s time for a new website, you’ve been in business long enough to turn to a professional. Maybe your first site was a do-it-yourself job, or your teenage daughter took care of it. But for the next round, it’s best to hire someone who knows exactly what you need to bring your brand up to today’s standards.

When looking for support in rebranding your website, select a professional or agency that understands marketing for financial advisors, rather than a web designer who only wants to make your website look nice. The point of updating your website is to enhance the performance of your marketing and get better results. 

In addition to presenting your firm in a better light, your goals should be to attract traffic, generate leads, and convert more business. Keep in mind that as a financial advisor, you should always follow compliance guidelines when creating any content for your website, so it’s best to work with someone who understands this.

It will take your time and attention. You’ll need to get clear on exactly what you want and stay involved in the process. But an experienced professional or agency will make the website rebranding process painless and set your mind at ease, ensuring you come out of the other end of it with a website you’re confident about that helps you reach your goals.

Realigning your brand is similar to rebalancing a portfolio. Over time you can drift, but think about this like a retirement plan and adjust as needed to stay true to your goals.

I hope you found this overview about website rebranding helpful. If you already have a website, and you think it might need a refresh, investigate rebranding, so you can better connect with the people you want to serve. 

Whether you’re too close to the brand to be objective or you don’t spend enough time online to be familiar with what consumers expect from websites, you may need some guidance in determining what indicators would signal an outdated website. That is where Crystal Marketing Solutions comes in! Get in touch with us to see how we can help.

How to Gather Client Feedback

Your clients are the cornerstone of your success. How they feel about your business and the services you provide matters to your bottom line and personal sense of fulfillment. Happy clients are good for business all around, so it’s important to understand your clients’ needs, expectations, desires, and sense of satisfaction with your financial services firm. This is why making an effort to elicit client feedback consistently is so important. 

Never let too much time pass before checking in with your clients to learn how they are doing, feeling, and what they want from you. 

Benefits of Client Feedback

Getting regular feedback from clients comes with many benefits. While you might not always be happy about what you learn, it’s critical to gather this information to ensure your business is on the right track so you can progress in a positive direction. 

Identify Problems Early

If your clients are not satisfied, they won’t stick around. There are plenty of other financial professionals they can choose to work with instead. All too often, advisors are blindsided to discover that a client wants to part ways. In some cases, they may assume no news is good news. Other times, they may mistake politeness or congenial interactions for client satisfaction. You need to ask and find out how the client really feels about you and your services. You may be surprised—hopefully, pleasantly so—by what you discover.

Make Improvements

It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day of running your business without stopping to make sure you’re doing it in a manner that best meets your clients’ needs. It could be that you are not providing the right services or delivering them in the most effective way. It might be that the clients you are choosing to serve are not an ideal fit for your firm; perhaps you could make a greater impact with a different demographic. Or it may be that your team is falling short of providing an excellent customer experience. If your clients don’t feel taken care of or if a particular team member is not upholding your standards, this is something you need to know.

Making incremental improvements to your business based on client feedback can save you a lot of frustration and increase your firm’s success over time.

Fine-Tune Your Marketing

Marketing includes any activity or communications you have with clients or potential clients that involves creating value and delivering offerings in exchange for value. So every time you engage with a client, you’re marketing your business. 

Effective marketing speaks to exactly what your clients need, want, and expect from you. And the best way to find this information out is through client feedback. Why guess or wonder when you can just ask and get the facts?

Client feedback can help you understand how your clients want to be reached. Are they finding value in your blog articles, social media posts, newsletters, podcasts, or videos? If so, how can you use this information to enhance what you are already doing? If not, how can you make improvements to reach them better?

Are your clients resonating with your brand personality, such as the tone and voice of the content you’re sharing? If you get positive feedback, lean into your brand and leverage it more strategically. If something about your voice or tone seems disconnected or ‘off,’ client feedback can point you in the right direction. 

For example, if you have a fun, laid back style in one-on-one conversations but your marketing style is highly polished and formal, it’s likely to fall flat. On the other hand, if you are naturally more buttoned-up, but you’re trying to be fun and edgy in your marketing, it may not ring true. It’s best to be authentic while also keeping your communications professional, so be sure to get a gauge on how your messaging is being received.

We often work with clients who tell us they don’t know what to blog about or share in their marketing content. Of course there are standard topics we can recommend, but your clients are a goldmine of information. When it comes to producing relevant content, answering their actual questions and concerns is key to providing value to existing clients and attracting more clients like them.

Generate Goodwill

Asking for feedback generates goodwill with your clients. While goodwill is intangible and difficult to measure, it is a powerful asset for your firm, often playing a major role in client retention and client referrals. 

Everyone wants to be seen, heard, and respected, and this includes your clients. By showing clients you value their opinion and input, it gives them a sense of involvement in your business. 

Asking and thanking them for feedback shows that you are sincere, have their best interests at heart, and demonstrates that you are continuously evolving and open to growth. 

Getting client feedback deepens and strengthens relationships, nurturing greater loyalty and client satisfaction, potentially developing brand ambassadors that are eager to spread the word about you. 

How to Collect Client Feedback

Collecting client feedback doesn’t have to be a complex process. Oftentimes when business owners decide it’s important to collect client feedback, they tend to overcomplicate it, mistakenly believing they need to conduct an intricate market research study. In fact, it’s better to keep it simple because consistency is key. 

Email Replies

This is often the simplest but one of the most effective ways to gather client feedback, especially if it’s regarding something in particular. 

Are you thinking about adding a service but you’re not sure if it would be a good fit? Shoot an email out to your list asking for their input. Are you stumped about what content to cover in an upcoming round of blog posts, videos, or podcasts? Ask your list. Are you wondering which workshop topic will be the biggest hit? Ask. 

Send an email and prompt them to answer you.

Client Surveys

To gather more detailed, specific, or nuanced client feedback, conduct a survey by sending out a questionnaire. 

Surveys are a good way to gather qualitative and emotional feedback. By making surveys anonymous, it offers an opportunity for clients to tell you how they really feel, allowing you to gather the most candid, honest, and accurate information possible. 

While sending out surveys can become an annoyance for clients, you should still build this data collection into your client services model. For example, you may find it helpful to send out a survey immediately following your onboarding process or after a major milestone has been reached. You may also consider conducting an annual client survey. 

Client Calls 

The most effective way to gather client feedback is by picking up the phone and having a conversation. While your regular client calls should focus on helping them reach their goals, you can always use some time during the call to briefly get a sense of their level of satisfaction. Outside of your regular client calls, checking in with clients offers an opportunity for them to let you know how they’re feeling or what they need from you.

Of course, some clients may feel uncomfortable sharing customer service gripes or dissatisfaction with you directly, but asking direct questions and expressing your sincere concern for learning what they need and how they feel will go a long way towards getting them to open up.

Conclusion

Client feedback allows you to feel the pulse of your business, deliver what your clients desire, and stay one step ahead of the market, avoiding potential problems you might not have otherwise seen coming. 

With client feedback, you can measure client satisfaction, improve your services, make necessary changes, enhance your marketing efforts, and strengthen your client relationships. The biggest advantage is that it helps you make better business decisions across the board and grow your business with confidence. 

Sometimes it can be difficult to know where to begin to get useful client feedback.  Crystal Marketing Solutions can help you set up a process to make sure that you know exactly what your clients need, want, and expect from you. Reach out to us to see how we can help!

How Much Time and Money Should You Spend on Marketing?

An independent advisor, who is one of my consulting clients, asked something that I am sure many advisors ask themselves: How much time and money should I spend on marketing?

For my client, the answer was simple—just enough to get a new piece of business. As a sole proprietor, my client has a lot of responsibilities to their business and their family. They can always make one more phone call or send one more email, and feel guilty when they don’t, because that just might be the email or call that results in some new business.

This client sees the value in marketing, and that marketing is necessary to run any business successfully.

The quick answer:

Financially, it’s really an inverse relationship the larger firms would likely need to invest less percentage wise around 3% of revenue, whereas the small firm and solo advisors would need to invest more percentage wise, around 10% of revenue. For a small independent advisor like him I would estimate about eight to ten hours per week.

But in my opinion it’s just not that easy. Below is a step-by-step plan to evaluate the cost effectiveness of your marketing.

Step one. Evaluate your priorities

A typical independent advisor wants to spend as much time as possible with their family and doing the things they love.  That is the main reason many people start their own business. Thus, an independent advisor should ask themselves: Do I want my business to grow? Am I willing to sacrifice my time doing the things you love to make that growth happen?

Step two. Breakdown your current hours

Once you have determined your priorities, evaluate how much time you spend each week writing emails, working on social media, brainstorming, and watching marketing webinars. My client recorded 20 to 30 hours per week.

Approximately how many hours per week do you focus on clients, prospects, and connections (calls, meetings, networking)? This is a mix of client and marketing work. Again, my client recorded 20 to 30 hours per week.

Approximately, how many hours per week do you work total? My client said he probably works 50 to 60 hours per week. That’s down from the 70 hours per week he worked the first few years he had the business.

Step three. Calculate your hourly rate

We are “numbers people,” so let’s do the math. Let’s say this advisor makes $150,000 annually.

$150,000/52 weeks in a year = $2,884/60 hours a week $48.07/hour

Now, that number isn’t that bad for a young financial advisor just starting out, but this client’s years of experience should lend to a much higher rate.

Step four. Time

How do you increase the rate? Not by asking your clients to pay more, especially in such a competitive industry.  You need to better allocate your time.

How is your time best spent while in the office? What are you best at? What are you trained/educated in?

  • Clients: meetings, investments, planning, etc.
  • Prospects: meetings, plans, etc.
  • Connections: calls, networking, etc.
  • Writing: building unique content

What could you outsource? The obvious answer is the marketing.

People seek you out as a financial professional — not a marketing expert. Spend your time wisely.

Step five. Develop an action plan

Determine what marketing items you need to maintain the branding you want and to expand your reach to grow your business.

In this example, my client does a great job at writing content. It’s unique to him and has generated a ton of traffic to his site. He needs to write his own content, not only because he is a compelling writer, but also because he has developed a following with that writing, which is supporting his brand.

Currently, his tasks include:

  • Write content: Weekly
  • Email marketing: Weekly newsletter
  • Social media marketing: Weekly

He needs to add:

  • Lead Generation/Call to Actions
  • Lead Nurturing
  • Revamp Website

Step six. Set a budget

There are several things to consider — your time and your dollars.

  • How much of your time should be focused solely on marketing when it can be more efficiently/effectively spent elsewhere?
  • How much money do you feel comfortable investing in your business?
  • If you did set a budget, what type of marketing would be best to invest in?
    • If you work 40-45 hours/week I would allot about 8-10 hours a week to marketing.
    • And about 10-15% of your revenue.

Recommendation. Develop your own marketing plan

If you really enjoy the marketing side of the business then keep going at it.  But connect with a few experts for guidance on things such as your website and email promotions. They will be able to help you on the development side of things.

Get knowledge for free when you can  — check out my blog to see what articles and checklists you might find useful.  But once the time spent/value ratio becomes a burden on you consider the next option.

Recommendation. Outsource your marketing needs

Let’s go back to the $150,000/year example.  You hire a marketing consultant for $1,000 a month to handle a large part of the marketing portion of your business. So your marketing hours go down from 20-30 to 10 hours a week.

That means your revenue will go down to $138,000/annually, and maybe a little more because of some new tools you will need to purchase. But you are now making more per hour and you have 20 more hours a week to spend doing something you love (family, travel, activities) and/or have room to invest more of your time into growing your client base. All while having an experienced marketing professional work efficiently and effectively for your business.

$138,000/52 weeks in a year = $2,653/40 hours a week $66.35/hour

That’s an increase of $18.28 per hour!

While the question presented by my client seemed fairly simple on the surface, it gets complicated. I tried to cover all the possible answers without just saying, “It depends!” However, at the end of the day, it does depend.  It depends on what value you place on your time and where you think your time is best spent.  It depends on your budget, and what you want to invest in the marketing portion of your business.

There are options that fit everyone’s unique situation.  There are choices between doing it all yourself, getting some help, and outsourcing your marketing needs completely.  You have to figure out what will work best for you.

Why Financial Advisors Should Offer Niche Services

One of the best moves you can make when growing your financial advisor business is to offer niche services. A niche service is an offering that focuses on one specialization within a broader market that your business can serve. It could mean that you focus on serving one particular type of client, offering a particular type of service, or offer a combination of a specific client type and service.

For example, at Crystal Marketing Solutions I focus on serving financial advisors, a niche within the professional services industry – not attorneys, architects, or IT consultants. And we offer full-service marketing and marketing consulting, not business operations or accounting. 

Although many of the same marketing principles and best practices apply to a broader range of professional services, I choose to stick with financial professionals because we are experts in that industry. We could expand our services outside of marketing to become a one-stop-shop for financial advisory firms. But by focusing our service offerings on what we do best, clients are more likely to trust our experience and expertise.

Because we have niched our services, we don’t have to ramp up our knowledge about the financial industry or undergo extensive training every time we begin working with a new client. Instead, we can begin an engagement with confidence, steps ahead of a more generalist marketing agency.

Niching works for all kinds of businesses, including financial advisory firms. Many of our clients have found success by niching down to serve a particular market or offer specialized services. Here’s why this works.  

How niche services help advisors grow their businesses

The power of niching is that it can help you differentiate yourself from the competition. You can be the best financial advisor in your area, but unless potential clients can identify the factor that makes you a better choice than your competitor, you tend to blend in and get overlooked. 

Choosing a niche helps you create a memorable brand by allowing you to hone your expertise, which is a win-win for both you and your clients. You are able to offer higher value by giving consistent service to clients with similar needs, continuously learning, and sharpening your skill set through immersion in the trenches. 

Niching also makes it easier to grow your network and generate referrals. You are able to identify centers of influence in your market and build solid relationships without spreading yourself too thin. Before long, you become known in relevant circles for working with a certain kind of client or addressing a certain kind of problem. If your friend complains of tennis elbow, you’ll immediately think to refer them to your orthopedist, not your dermatologist; that’s how niching can help your business.  

The key is the ability to create consistent, clear, unmistakable messaging. Having a niche enables you to speak to the exact challenges, needs, and desires of the people you serve. Prospects will recognize right away that your financial advisory firm is one that works with clients like them. Every blog topic, social media post, workshop, webinar, video, graphic, or email series can be crafted with the niche audience in mind. You won’t waste your time muddying the waters with distracting marketing that doesn’t apply.

Claiming a niche makes it easier to get in front of audiences that need financial advisor services and reach the people you want to serve. Whether your goal is to be a podcast guest, conference speaker, guest blogger, author, or become a go-to quotable media source, a well-defined niche will make you easier to pitch and more attractive to gatekeepers, conference organizers, hosts, producers, and journalists.

Most importantly, choosing a niche allows you to love what you do. While you will need to ensure you are selecting a viable market, you get to pick one that actually excites you. You can choose to work with the kinds of clients that make you thrilled to show up at work in the morning, rather than the ones that feel like a drag. You can focus on what you find interesting and the areas where you are best equipped to make a difference. It can change the way you view your business and enhance your sense of fulfillment. 

How advisors can choose a niche

If you are a financial advisor who serves a general mix of clients, you may be wondering how you can niche your business. You may even think it would be a mistake. After all, you don’t want to get rid of your existing client base or turn away business while you are trying to grow. The good news is, you don’t have to unless you want to. 

Instead, you can pivot and begin shifting your business in a certain direction, gradually over time. You could also offer a niche program of services that branch off from your general practice, either to test the market or with no intention of making it your only offer. 

Start by thinking through exactly how you want to specialize. Answer the following questions:

  • What gets you fired up or brings out your passion? 
  • What are you most interested in or knowledgeable about? 
  • What kinds of clients do you enjoy working with most?
  • What problems do you like to solve? What problems bore or frustrate you?
  • Where do you see a void in the market? Is there a segment that’s being underserved?

Again, you are looking to find a niche that is not only viable but also one you would enjoy. The last thing you want to do is pick a market or service that isn’t big enough, isn’t willing or able to pay you, or isn’t a group of people that you truly want to serve.

Next, you will want to determine the type of niche you want to create. You could focus on a specific industry or profession, a particular phase of life, a set of interests, net worth, values alignment, or something else. The sky is the limit and you might be surprised by how creative the niche can be.

For example, you could be a financial advisor who specializes in working with public servants, academics, military families, entrepreneurs, women breadwinners, Christian households, professional athletes, first-generation immigrants, high net worth families, recent retirees, young professionals, medical doctors, married people without children, blue-collar business owners – you name it. If the niche makes sense, chances are there’s a market for it.

Niched services might include applying a framework, formula, blueprint, or roadmap you’ve developed for your target market to solve a particular problem. Maybe you work with recent widows to help them understand their finances, high-earners with big student loan debt, people who come into a sudden windfall or inheritance – whomever – and you walk them through your program to address a challenge they are facing. 

Can you see how much opportunity there is in niching? It allows you to break away from the status quo and make a difference as you grow your financial firm. 

The bottom line

The biggest objection to niching is that people are afraid to turn down business. They don’t want to turn off their current clients or turn away prospects.  But the benefits tend to far outweigh the risks. As long as you are taking good care of your existing clients, they will not care about or even know about your niche offerings. And you still have the power to decide what new clients you will take on; you don’t need to turn anyone away.

Having a niche means having less competition. With consistent, clear, unmistakable messaging, well-honed expertise, and the respect and recognition you will be able to gain, your niche services are more likely to magnetize the clients you do want and repel those you don’t.  

If you want to read more useful tips and insights like this one, sign up for our monthly email newsletter.

Podcast Recommendations for Financial Advisors

Podcasts can be a rich source of information for everything from DIY projects to motivational coaching and discussions of cult favorites to daily world news. There are so many out there, and it can be hard to narrow down which are worth your time. That’s why I’ve curated a list of top-rated podcasts, as well as some of my personal favorites, that can provide financial advisors with insight into running a business, tips on how other advisors navigate the financial advisory space, and advice on approaching clients with technical or hard to understand topics.

The Retirement Answer Man with Roger Whitney

  • Have you ever presented something to a client only to be met with awkward silence and a glazed-over look? The Retirement Answer Man Show was born out of years of experience, a deep need to help people, and creative restlessness. In every episode, Roger takes difficult or hard to communicate financial conversations, concepts, and strategies and makes them more approachable, often with a touch of humor.

Financial Advisor Success with Michael Kitces

  • Michael brings you real success stories and insights from the most successful financial advisors and leading industry consultants about how to take your advisory business to the next level. Get a glimpse of what it’s like behind the scenes building a successful advisory business and how entrepreneurial advisors navigate the inevitable highs and lows of growing a firm. Whether you’re a new financial advisor trying to get started on the right foot or an experienced advisor who’s hit a wall, Michael gives you the insights and inspiration you need to break through and reach the level of success you want to achieve.

The Elite Advisor Blueprint with Brad Johnson 

  • Brad is dedicated to sharing the "blueprint for success" in the independent financial advising world. Based on his decade of experience consulting the top advisors in the US, that could mean doubling your revenue, doubling your vacation, or both! Continuing the successful formula of idea sharing that led Advisors Excel to be the #1 player in its industry, he distills the best advice from top thought leaders and applies it to the world of independent financial advising. He interviews with top thought leaders and industry experts, providing diversity in his content.

Becoming Referable with Stephen Wershing

  • Becoming Referable is a bi-weekly podcast that will help you increase referrals. Each episode focuses on actionable ideas that you can use in your business right away. Your hosts are referral and client engagement experts, Stephen Wershing and Julie Littlechild, and, along with their guests, they’ll share current research, evidence-based strategies, and insights from experts from within financial services and beyond.

The Human Advisor with Various Hosts

  • This podcast goes beyond what it takes to run a business and brings a more client-centered conversation to the table. By hosting advisors with various backgrounds, the show revolves around changing the conversation from how big a financial advisor’s book of business is to how well do they take care of their clients and actually help people. 

The Experiments in Advisor Marketing with Taylor Schulte

  • Taylor Schulte explores the world of marketing in the financial planning industry.  He experiments with different ideas, shares his successes and failures, and interviews outside-the-box experts. He covers everything from spending tens of thousands of dollars on print ads to hiring a Harvard data nerd to run Facebook campaigns, and he admits that most of his marketing experiments have failed and he shares so you can learn from his mistakes on what works and what doesn’t.
I hope you get a chance to check out some of these recommendations. I always enjoy listening to other people's perspectives on a variety of topics.  If you want to read more of my useful tips and insights, sign up for our monthly email newsletter.
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