All Posts by Crystal Lee Butler

A 10 Step Plan to Manage Social Media

There is a common misconception when financial advisors start exploring social media to promote their business that it is free. It isn’t; you get out of social media what you put into it.

If you invest zero time into it, it will not do anything for your business! You will have to dedicate time consistently, though it may not be a lot of time. You may feel lost and confused by all of the things you can do to promote your business on social media, and therefore may need to enlist help to avoid spending too much of your time and money on things that may not be good for your brand.

Here are the 10 things you need to do in order to effectively use social media:

1 | Post daily

Spend time creating a content calendar. A content calendar is crucial for your business, and it will take time to put it together. Enlist help with this aspect of your social media. Even if you come up with what you want to post for the day that same morning, it will save so much time rather than trying to figure out what to post every few hours. Save time by planning ahead.

2 | Use images and video

Content isn’t just text. It includes photos, graphics and video. Be creative. There is an opportunity here to share information that may not fit on your traditional website. This way you can share a piece of your personality by sharing videos and images you find interesting. You never know what will catch someone’s eye and trigger them to follow up with you for more information.

3 | Use a scheduling tool

Use a scheduling tool or a social media management system to automatically post the content you have created in your content calendar. This will save you time throughout the day and allow you to establish a routine. You can also enlist help with this part, depending on your schedule. Once you know what you are going to post, scheduling it is super quick. Hootsuite and Buffer are just two of the many tools available for scheduling social media posts. These tools will also let you post the same content to multiple platforms with one click. Find the one that works best for you.

4 | Refresh annually

Make sure that the information you are sharing is up to date and represents your business at this moment. Does your profile picture and banner need a refresh? Could your “About Me” section use a tweak, or does some new information need to be added? Just be sure to take in intentional look every year to make sure you aren’t missing anything. It is a good idea to add this reoccurring task to your calendar now.

5 | Expand your content

There are all types of content you can use on your social media pages; the possibilities are endless. Spend your time and money on the right types of content. Below are some suggestions for types of content that may work best for you and your business.

  • Evergreen content: This will be relevant in one, two or even five years. Spend most of your time and money on this.
  • Pre-created content: You can post using tools like Riskalyze, which has pre-created content.
  • Content about you: Let people get to know you. Post a few times a week something that is going on in your life. People want to know the person behind the brand.
  • Links to:
    • Your blogs and articles
    • Articles that featured you
    • Awards that you have received
    • News items regarding your and your business or team members
    • Community involvement pictures showcasing you and your team
  • For more amazing ideas on types of content take a look at this article
6 | Set goals

How do you know when you have been successful in implementing your social media marketing plan? You won’t unless you have taken the time to set goals. You not only need to know what your end-game will look like, but you also need to be able to check your milestones. Set smaller targets, like six-month and one-year goals. An example of a simple goal would be for 10% growth in follows and likes annually. And remember, while numbers are important it’s difficult to quantify building an online presence.

7 | Make a policy

It may feel like anything goes on the internet these days, but this just isn’t true when it comes to social media business pages. Independent advisors need to create and enforce a social media policy to ensure that every team member understands what is and is not acceptable with regards to online communications. Once a policy has been created, make sure everyone is aware of and familiar with the rules. It is important to know that the internet changes daily, and that, therefore, this policy should be treated as a living document and changed and updated frequently. I have read that “a social media policy-literate workforce is a social media compliant workforce,” and I couldn’t have said it better myself.

8 | Archive your posts

When using social media, you have to be in compliance with regulatory rules. Investment advisers are responsible for ensuring that you keep everything above board. Not only are you required to keep your message above board, but it is a requirement that you archive all posts in case of problems or issues with customers. Be sure to use an archiving tool; I prefer Erado. All such activity and associated content must be kept on hand for three years.

9 | Comply with the regulators

The SEC prohibits client testimonials to be used in any form of marketing for financial advisors. Likes, recommendations and endorsements are considered a form of client testimonial and cannot be used or displayed on your page. Social networks like LinkedIn now allow users to hide these options very easily.

10 | Advertise

Why advertise? To establish your brand and widen your reach. And the bonus is that social media advertising can be very cost efficient if correctly used. If you want to try social media advertising, I highly suggest you enlist professional help to get you started. Trying to advertise your business on social media before knowing all about how people “think” on social media will likely be a waste of money.

I hope that this helps you understand how to manage your social media. Social media can help establish your brand if it’s done right.

Growing Your Financial Advisory Business Through Referrals

Obtaining new business is a no-brainer as one of the key ways to keep your operation successful.  No matter if you are just starting out or are established with a comfortable book of business, it’s important to utilize your network to help generate new business via referrals.

There are so many different ways to obtain referrals that it may seem overwhelming.  Where do you even start?  What is the most successful way of getting a solid referral?  The answer is, it depends on YOU and your business model.  What works well for one financial advisor may not work for another.  It may take some trial and error on your part to see where you end up with the most success.  We’ve highlighted some of the most popular methods that we suggest you focus on.

Use your existing clients

Who better than someone who knows and approves of you and your business practices than existing clients!  They are with you for a reason, and it’s likely because they trust you.  Providing your clients with superb customer service is the first step in the process of utilizing their network to obtain business referrals.  Making sure they are comfortable with your service model and have a consistently positive experience is what will drive them to recommend your business to others.

Consider asking clients in a meeting how satisfied they are and if they would recommend you to their friends and family.  Have a referral postcard ready for them to fill out and/or provide them with sample text to email.  You can also do something similar when doing client surveys by including a section to collect referrals at the end.  Be sure you also provide clear guidance on the types of services you provide and who you typically service so they know who to send your way.

Offering a small incentive (like a gift card, etc.) for referrals is always popular and gives your clients a reason to share the names of people they think may be interested in meeting with you.  Rotating through different incentives may entice clients to provide additional referrals as the reward changes.  Just be sure to confirm that you are in compliance with regulations when you do offer gifts to clients.

Use social media

Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter all provide a great way to connect with potential new business.  As you probably know by now social media is viral and the more you start connecting with your clients through social media, the better chance your page/profile has an opportunity to reach their friends.  Create a Facebook page and invite your current clients to “like” it, and then ask them if they wouldn’t mind recommending it to their network. Remember to remind them about the ways in which your financial services have been beneficial to them so they can use those examples when talking to their contacts.

LinkedIn is another great way to find referrals.   You can use the advanced search function to search 2nd-degree connections and narrow down by industry, title, keywords, etc.  Once you find someone you’d like to connect with, hover over the arrow next to the ‘Connect’ button and select ‘Get Introduced’ from the menu.  Now you can select the first-degree connection you want to make the introduction, and write them a message that explains why you’d like to be introduced.

Include forwarding links in your email and website

Adding a “Share this with a friend” link is something that takes a little effort on your part but may help you generate solid referrals!  How many times do you see something that your friend was just talking about and you copy and paste the link into a text or email to them?  Give your clients, potential clients and others that may just stumble upon your website or receive an email from you the opportunity to easily share your content with others.  Using a tool like “mailto” Code Generator Tool is a quick way you can create a link that can be added to a line of text on your page or email.

Professional networking

Connecting with local business organizations and societies will give you an entirely new audience of individuals.  You can consider offering your time by giving a presentation at an event the group may be hosting.  This is an excellent way to showcase what you offer. Be sure to bring business cards and any other materials you have on hand for potential new business.

Develop a partnership and stay connected with valuable business contacts that you have worked with in the past so that you can work with them to create a comprehensive flow for clients. Make sure you stay in touch with these Centers of Influence, by connecting once a month through email, meeting for a cup of coffee, or lunch. Get to know them on a personal and professional level as you want to make sure you know them well so that they can send you referrals, and you can do the same.

Thank you notes

Sending an acknowledgment of gratitude is basic but should not be overlooked.  Make sure you are not only properly thanking your clients who make referrals but also new clients for their business.  A handwritten thank you note goes a long way and who doesn’t appreciate getting one?  Don’t forget to include business cards to continue the referral process!

Growing your list of referrals does not have to be a daunting thing that hangs over your head and is a looming item on your “to do list.”  It’s something that should be worked into your existing processes so that you are constantly giving the opportunity for potential clients to know about you.  Taking some or all of these steps should help you enhance your existing processes and contribute to further business growth.

I Don’t Do It All

Being a business owner is tough and time-consuming. As a business owner, you wear many hats. As for me – I am an entrepreneur, marketing consultant, wife, mom, volleyball coach, and tennis player – just to name a few. People are always talking about having a work-life balance, but how do you achieve this elusive “balance”? The simple answer –  you can’t do it all, you need to get help!

CPA

I have great accounting software in Wave Accounting, and there are tons of others out there as well. But that doesn’t mean I want to spend hours doing all the extra tax planning and behind the scenes work that goes along with managing my finances. That’s why I have a CPA.  My specialty is marketing; his specialty is accounting. I could probably do okay on my own, but why settle for okay when you can get great by asking for help?

Financial Adviser

Most of my clients are financial advisers, and through this, I have a larger knowledge base than most when it comes to the inner-workings of the financial world. But, just like my financial adviser, clients hire me for my expertise in marketing, why wouldn’t I hire a financial advisor for their specific knowledge of investing and money management?

Attorney

A few years ago this was a scary word to me. But isn’t the unfamiliar always scary? I got to a point in my business where I had to get over my fear, and I now have a fantastic business attorney on retainer. This is a little unconventional, but I would much rather pay a monthly fee to have access to a professional for questions and issues, and to deal with the complicated nature of the contracts that are part of my business. It is such a relief to send an email and get an educated and licensed answer versus doing hours of research and still not being sure that what I have found is correct.

Assistant

This is now an antiquated term in my opinion. An assistant, especially a virtual assistant (VA), in this day doesn’t mean taking care of the typical secretarial type of tasks. There are VAs that specialize in all different aspects of business, writing, and even design.  I have a couple of great VAs that complete work in various areas of my business. I may be extraordinary at marketing for financial advisors, but I am not exceptional at proofreading my work. I am also not a multi-award-winning designer – although I do like to think I am pretty good. For the tasks that are not suited to my talents or my time, I can assign it to someone else that I trust. Without my VAs, my business nor my personal life would be where it’s at. Their talents add to my businesses success and allow me to have more free time to spend with my family.

Marketing Consultant

Yes, yes, I know I am a marketing consultant, so why would I need a marketing consultant? Well, I don’t. But I do use a marketing coach.  I know that I will never know all of the answers. There are always ways to learn more about my industry, grow my business, and help my client’s businesses as well.

I truly believe that if you feel like you know it all – then you are already behind the learning curve. Learning doesn’t end after college. There is something to be said for being able to call or email someone for advice rather than spending hours looking for an answer.

Now that we all know that I don’t need a marketing consultant, do you need one?  More than likely your professional expertise is not marketing, so why spend your time coming up with ways to promote your business, get your brand and name out there, and improve your client experience?  Think of reaching out and asking for help in this area.  There are professionals, like me, that have done the research for you, have a formal education in this specific industry, and know ways to create and implement a marketing strategy for you.

After all of the information I have provided, my best piece of advice is to look at where you are spending your time, and ask yourself the following questions:

  1.  Is this specific task helping me reach my goals?
  2. Is this the best use of my time?
  3. Is there someone else that is better suited to do this task for me?

It is so important to find balance and become comfortable with asking for help when you need it. None of us can do it all, and some of us are better equipped to complete certain tasks than others.  Don’t be afraid to ask Crystal Marketing Solutions, LLC what marketing projects we can take off of your “to-do” list.

Helpful Tips to Secure Digital Information

I know that talking IT lingo and exploring the digital realm is not the “norm” for marketing advice; but I think that it is important to protect myself and my clients, and I wanted to share what I have learned while exploring this very different topic so that you can protect yourself, your clients, and your brand.

With today’s use of online accounts and vast amounts of digital information, hackers are everywhere.  They have even more sophisticated tools and knowledge to be able to hack into virtually any system and cause irreparable damage.  As a financial advisor, there are many things you can do to go above and beyond the standard password requirements to help protect your accounts from being hacked and secure digital information.

Use Two-Step Authentication

Two-step or dual authentication will help ensure that all of you and your client’s information is secure in your system.  You can look into which of your personal and business accounts, including email, financial accounts, logins, etc., have the option of this added measure of security.

If you have an online account system for your clients, consider looking into the possibility of offering this to them as well.  The 2014 article A Two-Step Plan to Stop Hackers from The New York Times goes into great detail of how consumers feel about access to their financial information and explains that they have a strong desire to protect it.  By offering this option to your clients, you are not only showing them that you care about the protection of their financial information, but that you are in-the-know with new technology options and are willing to do everything you can to keep their information safe.

You can expand even further on two-step authentication by using something called a security token.  This is a way for an online account to require not only something you know (a password) but something you have (like a cell phone) as well.  Some online accounts will send you a one-time use passcode or token via text message.  This code allows them to make a better assumption that it is you trying to log into your account.  Security tokens provide an added layer of protection that virtually no hacker will bother with.

Another option is using use Google Authenticator. This provides you with a six to eight-digit, one-time password via text message to access your Google services.  With your username, password, and the verification code, you can gain access.

Use a Password Manager

We all have a lot of passwords that are constantly being changed and updated.  As an independent financial advisor, running your own business like me, it comes with even more accounts and more passwords.  The best way to control all of that secure information is to use a password manager.

There are many options out there for password management tools.  This article in PC News covers the most popular ones and compares their pros, cons, and price.  When considering which tool to use you will find that there is a lot of debate about password management tools that store your information on a “cloud-based” system, even though it is encrypted.  There is also some debate about the value and risk of storing your information locally on your own machine.  To each their own and in the end it is a personal decision.

There isn’t much debate about the importance of using unique passwords. You have heard it said over and over again that you should use not only strong passwords but also a different password, for every account you have.  Each password should contain a mix of letters, numbers, and special characters. Some password managers provide password generation tools that will automatically produce unique passwords for you and then you can just save them in the database.

While using this type of tool will make your digital life easier, it shouldn’t be too easy. Never turn on the automatic log-in feature of your password manager.  By doing this, you allow anyone that sits at your computer to log-in to all of your saved accounts. If you have a password management tool in place, you shouldn’t have to remember any passwords – except this one!  Make sure to keep all of your information safe and turn off this feature.

Take the time to review and consider some of these recommendations, and you can decide what is best for you and your financial firm.  Even if you only implement one or two of the suggestions listed you have made an extra effort to better protect yourself and your digital information from potential online threats.

Disclaimer: I am not an IT professional.  These are my personal recommendations and ones that I have implemented and found successful in helping to protect myself. As always you should consult a professional regarding your specific needs, hardware, and software.  Your custodian or broker/dealer is also a good resource, and likely provides additional requirements and/or recommendations.

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Helpful Tips to Secure Your Computer

I know that talking IT lingo and exploring the digital realm is not the “norm” for marketing advice; but I think that it is important to protect myself and my clients, and I wanted to share what I have learned while exploring this very different topic so that you can protect yourself, your clients, and your brand.

Everything today is digital. We use a desktop or laptop computer daily (or even hourly), and these little machines save information from our bank accounts to our meal plans. With the convenience of this technology also comes risk. Being an independent financial advisor you are not only dealing with your own personal information, but also the precious information of your clients. It is important that you take the time to research and understand your options for protecting yourself and secure your computer from various threats.

Here are several tips to protecting your computer.

  • Make sure Windows is up to date.  You need to take the time to go into your Windows settings and check that all updates are downloaded and installed.  It is also a good idea to turn on automatic updates but it doesn’t stop there.  Take the time to check them regularly and make sure everything is running smoothly.  Windows is constantly finding problems or bugs and releases updates to help resolve them.

  • Upgrade your antivirus. (This can also be helpful with your mobile devices) If you have a built in protection software or one that came standard with your computer, do not assume it is providing adequate protection. Start with doing your research and finding a good protection software to install on your computer that fits your needs.  Some options recommended to me by an IT professional are Bitdefender and Webroot/Secure Anywhere. Make sure you follow the instructions when installing new security software and run a full scan once the installation is complete.

  • Make sure you update your browser.  This will allow you to get the most recent security settings.  The choice for which browser to use is a very personal one.  Once you find one you are comfortable with, you need to check it regularly to be sure that it is up to date, and that you are using the most recent version.  This is a very similar situation to making sure Windows is up to date and assure you have the most recent bug fixes and security settings.

  • Make sure router firmware is up to date. This again comes down to having the most up to date information available to provide you with the best protection possible. You can search how to do this online and find the instructions from your router’s manufacturer website.

  • Consider using whole device encryption. (This can be done for your phone, laptops, and portable devices as well) By using an encryption method on your computer, you are making sure that if anyone ever got their hands on the data on your computer there would be no way for them to use it, or even understand it, without your security password/code. This article by TopTenReviews shows the many different types of encryption options and links to several interesting articles on the subject.

There are some advanced options for computer protection that warrant additional research and inspection if you want to be a step above when it comes to protecting your computer.

The long and short of it is that as professionals we have to go that extra step to ensure that we are doing our best to protect our information and our client’s information. As a financial advisor, your clients have trusted you with some of their most precious assets – their financial information. Technology is constantly changing, and hackers are becoming wiser. We are part of a world where the extra steps are becoming more and more important and even necessary.

Disclaimer: I am not an IT professional. These are my personal recommendations and ones that I have implemented and found successful in helping to protect myself. As always you should consult a professional regarding your specific needs, hardware, and software. Your custodian or broker/dealer is also a good resource, and likely provides additional requirements and/or recommendations.

Six Ways A Marketing Consultant Can Help You

There are a few traits that most financial advisors have in common. They are all hard workers, they strive to create a lasting legacy for future generations, and they have a passion to create their own company that provides value to customers. Something else that most of them have in common – they are not marketing professionals.

Financial advisors may not have the experience or expertise needed to develop an effective marketing strategy; they may find it hard to move the strategy into an actionable plan, convert web traffic into clients, or have a hard time using social media in the right way. It is a difficult task to create a compelling strategy and implement it in the right way with the help of countless marketing tools. Rather than just “getting it done” or keep pushing It to the bottom of the to-do list, it makes more sense to hire a marketing consultant to help you do what you set out to do – keep your current clients happy, and get new clients.

There are many reasons and benefits to hiring a marketing consultant.

Specialized expertise and experience.
I would never try to give someone financial advice or offer to manage someone’s investments.  Most consultants often have 10+ years of experience in their industry and stay up to date with the latest trends. They track and analyze different data points to make your business as successful as possible.  Additionally, these professionals understand that business growth depends on creating and managing strategic relationships with other business professionals and referrals. When you hire a consultant, you can be confident that he or she knows what to do and will get it done.

Consultants are objective… and smart.
One of the major benefits of hiring a business consultant is getting a fresh look at your company’s standing from a professional who is familiar with different types of businesses, or better yet, similar types of businesses.  Wouldn’t it be nice to know what your competition is doing right and wrong? A business consultancy will always have the advantage of being impartial, and seeing what your business needs to be successful. Leveraging a consultant’s experience will help you run your business more effectively and avoid making mistakes in the future.

They can help you build a brand and a plan.
A reputable and experienced marketing consultant will know the importance of understanding your business goals, creating a strategy that works, and implementing that strategy.  They will also help you select the best marketing tools for your business. This strategy can include things like identifying the target audience, putting together a comprehensive marketing plan, and even optimizing your website’s design to make it more attractive to prospective clients. In addition to that, a marketing firm can help you plan your marketing campaigns to retain and add to your current client base. They are also available to set up an action plan to calm the fears of your investors when the market changes.

They understand the big picture.
Developing and growing a business can be more difficult than many financial planners expect.  Business development includes a series of processes and techniques that are very important for actually growing the business.  Expansion is only possible if the owner understands that the concept that the full client experience matters.  From onboarding a new client, to taking steps to retain loyal clients. A marketing consultant will have processes in place to make sure that this often forgotten fact is not overlooked.

You have resource gaps.
There are never enough hours in the day or people in the office.  There is always that one thing that needs to get done, but everyone is already busy taking care of their specified job responsibilities.  How do you determine who will log-on to Facebook and make your business posts, who will design, write and send out your newsletter?  None of these are related to financial planning but they are all vital to the success of your business – and they are important tasks. Instead of taking someone off a higher payoff task to take care of these, you should seek outside help.  A marketing consultant will not only know how to complete these task, have the tools to do so, but it is also part of their job responsibilities.

They are more cost effective than another employee.
According to an article from Investopedia, it can cost 1.5 to 3 times the proposed salary to hire a new employee, train them, and account for the adjustment period for productivity. So not only is there no HR and new hire paperwork, there is no additional overhead, no turnover, and they are already trained and 100% productive from day one. They don’t need to learn the job they were hired for – they are already trained, probably experienced, and well researched in the area.

Should you hire a marketing consultant?
It’s really up to you. If you wait until you are ready or you “need” it – it’s likely too late.
This specialist is capable of performing and monitoring a variety of assignments that are crucial for growing a business without taking away from yours’ or your staffs already full plates. They organize their strategies based on your feedback and their expertise. It really is a perfect partnership.

The struggle may be in creating an effective small business marketing strategy, implementing it, meeting marketing and business objectives, or lacking the skill in taking your business to the next level. Hiring an experienced business consultancy can help you save a lot of time and trouble, as well as increase your profits.

Whatever the reason may be, a marketing consultant can infuse some much-needed life into a financial firm.

The 411 on LinkedIn ProFinder

New Tool LinkedIn ProFinder Helps ‘Link’ Members to Financial Advisors

The professional social network LinkedIn developed and released a new tool called “ProFinder”.  This professional services marketplace is designed to help members be able to find and connect with local professionals, including wealth managers and CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNERS™.

How does this affect you?

Although still fairly new, LinkedIn ProFinder may prove to be a useful application for both its members looking to be connected with a professional, as well as any business wishing to grow their clientele base.  At this current time, LinkedIn is asking members if they need services from professionals including CFP® (CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNERS™), Chartered Financial Analysts™, Certified Public Accountants, wealth management, insurance, personal taxes, retirement planning, or accounting professionals.

Take the first step and set up your profile.

In order to use the features that ProFinder has to offer, one must first register as a member with LinkedIn. Whether you are a professional or a prospective client, it is encouraged to create and complete a comprehensive profile, so that both parties have the necessary upfront and introductory information available to one another.

Bonus: Here is a quick video on how to set your account.

How do people connect?

LinkedIn will ask the member to choose which type of professional they are looking for or would like to be matched with. Most often, once a member clicks on their choices, a list of professionals will appear for their review and selection. When a match is made and the request is filed, the adviser will have the option to accept or reject the request. If a request is accepted between prospective client and advisor, they can then go offline to continue to discuss other services, and see if a more solid and productive client-professional relationship can be built.

Bonus: Make sure emails from notificationsnoreply@linkedin.com doesn’t go to your spam folder.

The cons.

As with anything, ProFinder is not without its pros and cons. First of all, it’s all very new and improvements are still being made. Also, professionals should be aware that this is not the ideal network to find and secure affluent clientele. Very rarely do clients with large amounts of money to invest turn to sources such as ProFinder to find highly qualified financial advisors or wealth managers. Your business will probably not gain mass traction or interest from this tool either. Given the fact that ProFinder matches members with local professionals, there may not be a lot of prospective clients searching for your type of business within a close enough distance to your area.

The pros.

The benefits however to using ProFinder is that it’s quite easy to use and only takes a few minutes to set up. It could help expand your branding and visibility as well. Any chance to further market and make your company accessible is always a benefit, so why not at least give it a shot?

So, go ahead and sign up today!

Facebook Live: Should Financial Advisers Be Using It?

It’s difficult to keep up with the ever-changing social media platform features. While live video streaming may not be new to the scene, Facebook Live is a fairly recent phenomenon that has caught on with a vengeance and has been gaining attention from many financial firms. Here’s how you can embrace it to communicate more effectively with your clients.

What is Facebook Live?
Facebook Live is a live video streaming program that aims to bring people face-to-face with hosts and/or celebrities with whom they have an interest. While many popular news personalities and celebrities have been using Facebook Live, it is available and open for anyone to utilize, and could be a vital marketing tool for your financial advisory business as well.

How does Facebook Live work?
Facebook Live allows you to stream live video feed directly from your mobile device through the Facebook application, so there is no need for downloading additional apps. It works like your smartphone camera in that you can either film yourself or choose the “away” feature to film what you are viewing.

Should you try it?

  • It’s the most popular live streaming tool. While similar tools such as Twitter Periscope, Snapchat, and Google Live Hangouts also offer live streaming capabilities, Facebook Live is by far the most popular and frequently used application offering live streaming.
  • All it costs is a little bit of your time. Compared to professional video, this takes far less time and is free – and who doesn’t like free?
  • Anyone can do it. Even if you aren’t very tech savvy, it is very simple to use.
  • It’s personal. It gives you the ability to connect on a more personal level than any typed email blast with your clients, prospects, and connections. They get to see your face and you would have an opportunity to answer some of their live questions left in the comments section.
  • It’s convenient. You can also use it when it’s convenient for you, and others can watch it when it’s convenient for them.

Facebook Live makes it possible to reach an audience easily, spontaneously, and in an authentic way.  It also allows you to humanize your business and brand, and make connections that are otherwise difficult to make. Face-to-face meetings are increasingly difficult to schedule. Financial advisors can use this great tool as a way to stay connected with clients, prospects, and connections. It also allows for a more personal and unique feel compared to just a post or picture.

How to use Facebook Live
You will need to have or set up a Facebook account. It can be your personal account or your professional business account. You will also need a mobile device or phone with video recording capabilities.

You will need to decide which audience you would like to be able to see your video.  Your audience can be public, friends only, or groups of friends that you specifically select. This is much like choosing your privacy settings on your personal Facebook page for posts or pictures.

Once you have chosen the audience for your video, they will receive a notification that you are “live now.”  Your video will also appear in their newsfeed bringing your video right to them, without any extra steps. The notification helps do some of the work for you by attracting an audience organically.

Tip: Do a trial run that is only close friends or family until you get the hang of live video.

When you should use Facebook Live
Once you have learned the logistics of Facebook Live, think of how you may be able to use this valuable tool to leverage your advisory business and distinguish yourself in the financial industry.

Here are some ideas for topics:

  • Market updates
  • Inspirational messages
  • Financial tips
  • Highlighting a recent blog
  • Communicating breaking news
  • Q&A sessions

Tip: You have the ability to download the video and post it to you YouTube page and/or website which will generate more content and enhance SEO.

If you have caught on to the popularity and benefit of live video streaming and have done your research, you might now want to give Facebook Live a try. This can be a great strategic option for your financial advisory firm.   As a marketing professional who has had to create an informational video or two in my time, allow me to offer some helpful advice on ways to make the process most effective, and maybe even a little less nerve-racking for you.

Tips for live video streaming

  1. Plan your Facebook Live stream ahead of time, tell your followers about the broadcast, and encourage them to participate. Ask your viewers to subscribe to your live videos so they are sure to receive the notifications when you are live and broadcasting.
  2.  It may seem like a no-brainer, but be sure that your mobile device or phone is fully charged, and that you have a strong internet connection before starting. Nobody wants to get cut off in the middle of a live video session. Wi-Fi is suggested, but a 4G cellphone signal will also work if it has an adequate connection. If you should happen to lose connection during a live session, the stream will remain on pause until you are reconnected.
  3. Plan out your broadcast and have enough content to fill at least five minutes. Typically, I advise keeping videos much shorter, but since these are live feeds, you want to allow for some viewers to tune in a little late and still give them an opportunity to hear what you have to say.
  4. Use a tripod for your phone, or set it on a steady surface to avoid giving your viewers a headache with a shaky video.
  5. Start talking right away by introducing yourself, your business, telling your audience what you’re passionate about, and ultimately just be yourself.
  6. Never try to sell to your audience, but always end your sessions with a call to action. You could say something like, “You can always reach me at ABC Wealth Management. Find out more on our website abcwealthmanagement.com,” or “I just posted a blog about this on our website abcwealthmanagement.com.”
  7. Make sure to avoid the embarrassment of saying something you don’t want others to hear by waiting at least 5 seconds until you hear the “ping” sound that signals you are officially off the air!

Fortunately, Facebook Live will post your video on your timeline once you are finished, so anyone that may not have been able to attend the live broadcast still has the ability to watch the video at a later time.

Like any marketing tactic, Facebook Live will require you to have a brainstorming session to determine if it’s the right fit for you and/or your financial firm, and if so, what type of programming you want to broadcast.  If you choose to give Facebook Live a try remember there is a learning curve. With time and practice, it will get easier, you will get better at it, and your followers will become loyal.

Why SEO is Important for Your Website

If you have recently started a new website or have done research on how to improve the traffic flow to your current site, you have probably seen the term SEO mentioned a few times.  You may have asked yourself, “Why is SEO important for my site?”, or even “What in the world is SEO?”, and that’s okay!

For starters, SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization.  This is crucial to your marketing plan if you ever want anyone to be able to find the website you have worked so hard to create. A good SEO strategy ensures that your website can be found in search engines when certain words or phrases are searched for, such as “financial advisor” or “financial services”. In technical terms, it determines the way that search engines crawl, index, and understand your content.

Improve Search Results

The ultimate goal is to create a strategy that places your website on the first page of search results. In all honesty, how many of us actually go past the first page? In this day and age of being accustomed to getting information quickly, most of us don’t have the patience or the time to dig much further.  A great SEO strategy will ensure that you have a higher likelihood of being the financial advisor shown on those first couple of pages, which will increase the chances that people will not only see your website but be interested enough to click on YOUR page.

Search engines offer paid features that allow you to rank your website higher in the search results, but a well thought out SEO strategy can greatly decrease the need for that.

Larger Audience

One of the biggest reasons that SEO is important for your website is that it helps put your business website in front of a much larger number of potential clients. These are the people that need and require your services. Remember – they are the ones searching for the keywords related to your business. In a service industry such as financial advising – these are the people searching for your specific services, more than likely in your specific location.  Why not do everything you can to put your business at the top of their list of options?

Ask For Help

There are so many factors that go into a successful SEO strategy.  It can get very technical and difficult to understand. My best advice would be to consult a professional that is familiar with how SEO works, and how to make it successfully work for you. Begin by asking for recommendations from friends that may have used a marketing or SEO services in the past, look at reviews, and really get to know the company you consider dealing with for SEO. By utilizing great SEO you too can change the future for your business!

Helpful Tips to Secure Your Mobile Device

I know that talking IT lingo and exploring the digital realm is not the “norm” for marketing advice; but I think that it is important to protect myself and my clients, and I wanted to share what I have learned while exploring this very different topic so that you can protect yourself, your clients, and your brand.

I have talked before about how to keep your digital information safe and how to secure your computer, but there are a few steps you can take to protect your mobile devices and help prevent anyone from getting access to your information.

It is no secret that we live in a digital world.  Nearly everyone today owns a cell phone, and carries it with them everywhere they go.  It is safe to say that many people have lost or temporarily misplaced a cell phone or tablet at some point.  What would happen if a hacker got their hands on your mobile device?

We can access our bank accounts from our phones and check email from a tablet. As an independent financial advisor, you may not be working strictly from your phone, but the ability to get more accomplished on the go has opened new doors for security concerns; not only with your information but also with your client’s information.

There are some precautions you can take to ensure that your information is secure.

  • Secure your phone with a password or pin number. This is the simplest and yet underutilized feature available to protect your device. For even more protection you can consider upgrading to a phone that offers fingerprint identification. Fingerprints are unique to each individual, and therefore the best security option for your phone.
  • Download apps only from trusted sites like iTunes or Google Play. You never want to download anything from an untrusted source. Before downloading anything, be sure to check ratings and reviews to make sure that it is all legit and not full of spam and bugs. The same goes for downloading files or opening any type of correspondence from someone you don’t know.
  • Read the application’s permission settings carefully. You need to read the privacy request the app makes so you are fully aware of what they will have access to. Here is a very recent article about a newly released app that had everyone up in arms about the access the app requested. This shows how important it is to know what you are giving permission to when you download things onto your device.
  • Backup your data. None of us have a crystal ball, and we never know when technology is going to go on the blitz. We have talked about backing up your computer, but you need to be sure to back up the information from your cell phone and tablet as well. There is nothing worse than losing all of the important information that is on your device along with all of the pictures and phone numbers. Here is an article about how to accomplish this for Android and Apple.
  • Keep your operating system and apps updated. Be sure to check for and download the most recent updates to get the newest security settings and bug fixes. Most companies are constantly working to find problems not only with functionality but also security. They release these fixes in updates, and it is important that you have the latest information available.
  • Log out of sites after you make any payment. I know I have been guilty in the past of just closing out of a window or app when I am finished making a purchase, but this is a terrible practice. You should always make sure that you are logged out of the site/app when you are finished. At least it will prompt for a username and password before someone can see all of your account information.
  • Turn off Wi-Fi and Bluetooth® when not in use. Wi-Fi and Bluetooth® are not only easy ways for you to access data from your mobile device, but it also opens a way for others to access you and all of your personal information. When you are not using those features, it is always best to turn them off. At the very least make sure you have any features that allow for unknown networks or devices to connect to you turned off. It is worth the extra step to protect your information and privacy.

After you’ve determined whether or not your current security software is reliable, updated your system, and taken steps to secure your devices, you should be much more guarded and far less vulnerable to hacker attacks or mishap that can take place just by losing your mobile device.

Disclaimer: I am not an IT professional.  These are my personal recommendations and ones that I have implemented and found successful in helping to protect myself. As always you should consult a professional regarding your specific needs, hardware, and software.  Your custodian or broker/dealer is also a good resource, and likely provides additional requirements and/or recommendations.