Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Incorporating Social Media Into Your Marketing and PR Plan

I was pleased to receive a phone call earlier this year from Caitlin Nish, a writer for Dow Jones Newswires Column "Practice Management." Caitlin wanted to know if I was hearing anything from advisors regarding social media and how it was paying off for them. The article below captures some of our conversation. 

In February, I was pleased to spend two full days working in the Social Media Lab for TD Ameritrade Institutional. Thanks to all the advisors who came by my table to share what's been working for them, ask questions and converse. I also presented a 20 minute mini-presentation on Incorporating Social Media into Your Marketing and PR Plan. If you are looking for the slides, you can download them here:

I was also very pleased to spend a full day with members of the NAPFA South Region, in Atlanta last week. 60+ planners from 10 states came in for the day. We did a lot of great work together, all centered on marketing and business building strategies. A good portion of the afternoon was spent talking about how to build a strong online presence. If you are a NAPFA member who attended that paid workshop and are now looking for those slides, please contact Deidra Fulton, Mark Gibbs or John Gugle and they will forward you a link that will allow you to download the workshop slides. 

Hope you are having a super great week!
Marie Swift

Don't Go Social Alone

Social media isn't "magic fairy dust"
It should supplement, not replace, traditional marketing for wealth advisers
Snail mail not "back" exactly

By Caitlin Nish
March 2, 2012

NEW YORK -- Social media may be the hot topic for wealth advisers these days, but that doesn't mean they should abandon traditional marketing strategies.

Proponents of social media tout sites like LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook as an easy way to connect with existing clients and most effective to reach a broad number of prospects. But marketing strategists say social media should only supplement other marketing like hosting a radio show, writing articles for the local newspaper or conducting an in-person educational seminar.

Advisers have always wanted "magic fairy dust" when it comes to marketing, and social media is the latest version, says Marie Swift, chief executive of Kansas City-based Impact Communications Inc. She's encouraging advisers to pick a site or two to try the medium out, "but it's not a replacement for traditional marketing."

In fact, a recent report by research firm Aite Group found that advisers are seeing limited or diminished returns from their use of social media, but most have unrealistic expectations or fail to use it correctly.

"If you're not a good marketer in other channels, you're not going to magically become a good marketer because of social media," says Ron Shevlin, senior analyst at Aite Group.

The report concludes that wealth-management firms should focus on improving advisers' marketing ability in all media.

"If advisers are creating content that is simply more digital noise, they are doing themselves a disservice," Swift says. Building credibility by say, writing an article for a reputable publication like a local newspaper, is more important than ever, she adds.

So is knowing where your clients and prospects are spending their time and how they want to communicate with you. An adviser may be extremely tech-savvy, but that doesn't matter if his clients aren't using social media or want to use it only for their personal lives, notes Maria Marsala, a financial adviser coach in Poulsbo, Wash.

William Howell, a fee-only certified financial planner and CPA in Indianapolis, says he can count on one hand how many Facebook invitations he's received from clients in the past three or four years. Social media isn't "something that we see as high priority for the clients that we serve at this point," says Howell, who does have a LinkedIn profile. "If it does become something that is more noticeable in the future, we'll certainly go in that direction."

Howell's target market is mainly over age 55, nearing retirement or in transition from active work to retirement. And Howell says he's found those clients want to communicate by email, not Facebook or Twitter. Until that changes, he's sticking with a more traditional marketing strategy. He works with accountants and estate planning attorneys to develop referral sources, keeps his website current and does a segment on a local television station a couple of times a year.

An adviser's marketing should be designed to capture attention. And in an increasingly digital world, snail mail may well do that. Maribeth Kuzmeski, founder of Red Zone Marketing in Chicago, won't go so far as to say direct mail, the spam of yesteryear, is back. But it is "becoming more powerful than it has been over the past several years," she says. Sending a client a birthday or anniversary card adds a personal touch, and doing so through real mail can help an adviser stand out, Marsala adds.

-- Caitlin Nish is a reporter for Dow Jones Newswires who covers wealth management.

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