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.

Monday, July 16, 2012

New Insights from Industry Experts

Kathleen Rehl on Honeycomb Marketing

Allan Slider on Building a Strong Online Presence

MP3 File

Matthew Bellis on Generating Warm Introductions to Qualified Prospects

Peter Montoya on the new TechLeaders Conference for IBD Executives in March 2012

MP3 File

Sunday, July 15, 2012

How to Elicit from Feedback from a Client Advisory Board

I've been out and about, attending conferences and speaking with lots of advisors about VALUE - what does it mean to clients and the public given everything that's gone on the past couple of years - and how they are refining their Value Proposition in light of all that?

The audience and panelists at the fi360 Annual Conference last week had some really good ideas on Articulating Your Value as an AIF or AIFA designee. If you are a part of the fi360 community, be sure to go to the designee portal and download my slides and presentation audio recording.

I've been on the discussion boards recently with Members of the Garrett Planning Network talking about Articulating Your Value as a Member of the Garrett Planning Network. So, Garrett Members, you know how to access that conversation.

It was fun meeting members of NAAIM - the National Association of Active Investment Managers - in Orlando on May 3 and discussion how to get started with a Media Relations plan.

More great news - Bob Vere's new white paper report on The Future of Advice is now available for FREE DOWNLOAD at You won't want to miss reading this 109 page missive.

Let the good times roll!

Next week, I host a discussion forum online for - the topic? Articulating Your Value as an Advisor Today. It's free and open to all financial advisors, so do join what I hope will be a robust discussion there. Who knows, maybe I can use your comments in a future article or speech.

FYI I'll be in Chicago next week for the NAPFA National Conference May 19-21. I'm moderating a panel discussion Friday May 21 on What's Working Now: Best Marketing Ideas with 4 accomplished NAPFA members from various sized firms. Looking forward to seeing old friends and new there.

Then in June, I'll be speaking twice (Power of PR / Ask the Media Stars is presentation #1 and Redefining Your Value as an Independent Financial Advisor is presentation #2) at Securities America's annual conference in Huntington Beach June 2-8 and then at Pershing Insite on June 11 (the topic there is Redefining Your Value as an RIA Today).

So ... back to the interactions I've been having with Garrett Members. Sheryl Garrett, founder of the Garrett Planning Network, Mary Lacey Gibson, business planning coach for the Garrett Planning Network, and I came up with a few tips on how to gather feedback from your clients so that you can build a strong Value Proposition.

Here, with a little reworking, is the gist of that conversation.

To get it right ... your Value Proposition, that is ... you know what your best qualities and, gulp, weak spots are. A good way to start the process of understanding the real value you bring is to speak with your clients directly. While surveys can be good, personal conversations oftentimes yield a more candid and meaningful conversation.

Here are some tips on getting feedback from a select group of your clients - in person.


  1. Determine your list and invite the right people.
    · Review your client list.
· Select 8 to 12 clients that you feel you have a real solid relationship.
· Give them a call.
· Tell them that you're forming a client advisory board and you really appreciate their friendship, respect their opinions and would love to get their feedback on how they feel you could best improve the quality of your clients' experiences with you.
· Invite them all to meet with you together. If that’s not possible, visit with them individually in-person or over the phone. In-person is best as you will have a more rich and honest conversation that way.
· Tell them you will send an email (or mailed) confirmation and short list of questions in advance of the meeting. Ask them to come prepared to talk about the questions.
  1. Get them thinking between the invitational call and the feedback meeting.
· In an email or letter, recap the time, date, location and purpose of the meeting. Include a list of questions. Ask them to come prepared to talk about the questions.
· Questions might include:
a. If you were to describe me and the work we've done together to a beloved family member or friend, what would you say?
b. My business grows through referrals from satisfied clients. What would you suggest I do to increase the likelihood that clients will recommend me to their family and friends?
c. When you were first searching for a financial advisor, what factors caused you to select me? What could have made that process better for you?
d. What do you appreciate most about our relationship?
e. Is there anything bothering you about our relationship?
  1. Host the meeting.
· Pick a quite, comfortable setting. Use a conference room or private meeting room and have breakfast, lunch or refreshments catered in. Minimize distractions.
· Welcome people as they arrive and get everyone settled.
· Provide an opening statement about the purpose of the meeting. Ask people to be totally candid.
· Ask your questions and take notes. Have a staff member or trusted business colleague take a duplicate set of notes (you may not be able to hear and capture everything on your own).
· Thank the attendees and promise to use their advice.
  1. Send a thank you letter or email.
· Recap the top take-aways.
· Tell them you are in the process of incorporating their feedback into your business.
· Invite them to a Progress and Update Meeting in 60 days so that you can report in and get additional ideas on how to improve your service to them.
  1. Repeat Steps 2-4 above, but instead of asking them the original questions, ask them to come prepared to offer additional insights and advice based on the key takeaways from the last meeting and the progress report you’ll provide.
In addition to a client advisory board, we also suggest a business advisory board. Find successful business owners, in particular, service businesses, in your community that you can learn from, share your ideas, gains and pains with. These people, once they understand what you are trying to contribute to the health of the community will become your referral sources and cheerleaders. All of them are serving the same small market and may have experiences that mirror yours.

You may be amazed how generous people are when they know you and like you and you ask for their help. We like to help people we care about. These clients won't expect anything in return for their candid feedback and wonderful ideas, other than seeing you take action and keep the channels of feedback flowing. Your clients want you to stay in business. They will help in any way they feel they can. Just ask.
Consider a Legacy Profile written by award-winning journalist and celebrity profile writer Jane Wollman Rusoff!

As a financial advisor, you are always looking for ways to add value and bond with your clients. Here is one of the most creative and insightful ways I've found to help you do just that.

Listen to this 17 minute interview as I speak with Jane Wollman Rusoff and get her thoughts on building trust and affinity with clients. Jane has developed a special offering just for financial advisors so that you, too, can provide a wonderful gift to your most important clients.

A Legacy Profile starts with a personal conversation, over the telephone or in person. Jane has an immense talent for drawing people out. The telephone or in-person conversations with Jane are recorded, transcribed and edited by Jane. The oral history becomes much more than a transcript, though, as Jane -- who is a veteran journalist -- exercises her judgment to create a Legacy Profile that serves as a short autobiography and legacy document for your client.

The client's Legacy Profile is likely to be one of the most cherished documents you can ever provide for them. Your clients will be pleased with your thoughtfulness. You'll get new insights into their values, attitudes and goals. The Legacy Profile will help you understand, in a life planning type of way, what your clients want out of life. And the process could even open the door to your meeting with the next generation in your client's life.

I know from personal experience how powerful and wonderful these Legacy Profiles written by Jane Wollman Rusoff are. My family and I hired Jane to write a book length autobiography that captured my father-in-law's most important life stories. This digital history of his life will outlive him and honor his memory once he is gone. It will help generations to come understand their family legacy.

While you may not wish to provide a book length document to your clients, every advisor can afford and should consider providing a Legacy Profile to their best clients.

You can learn more at 


Saturday, July 7, 2012



Free Webinar on Tuesday July 17, 2012 at 2:00 pm ET / 11:00 am PT


All financial advisory firms strive to be profitable. But some profitable business models are more stable and sustainable than others. A firm that operates efficiently is more profitable than a firm with shaky operations and an overwhelmed staff. A firm that is not dependent on one or two “star” producers is more sustainable than a firm that relies on a star. A smoothly functioning firm also is better able to focus its energy on obtaining more “ideal” clients and creating an enterprise that will be valuable when principals wish to cash out. 

Strong, sustainable firms begin by delivering superior service to clients. These firms also forge superior operational efficiency and effectiveness. And they are committed to continuous improvement, both in updating staff members’ skills and defining, documenting and executing workflows for greater productivity. Finally, technology such as the single-database wealth management platform by Interactive Advisory Software (IAS), pulls it all together by providing all staff members with access to client information and advanced tools so that they can deliver the highest level of service. 

When that level of excellence is reached, client retention will be almost automatic, and client referrals will soar. Wealth managers on staff will be able to use their advanced analytical skills, instead of “putting out fires.” Regulatory compliance will be systematic. The firm will be able to smoothly absorb new clients or even add new advisors with existing books of business. And the firm will be attractive as a buyout or merger candidate, if that’s the direction that the principals choose. 

Leaders of advisory firms realize that client service and operational efficiency are the primary drivers of their businesses. However, they don’t always know how to get where they want to go. They get lost in the day- to-day challenges of running their business, and they neglect long-term strategies. For a while, even a firm with shaky operations can succeed if the principals have good sales skills or a good track record as an investment manager. Eventually, however, the weaknesses will catch up with the firm, especially as it adds clients. 

On Tuesday July 17, 2012, at 2:00 pm ET / 11:00 am PT in a free educational webinar, Marie Swift and a panel of experts will explain how to build a stronger firm that cannot only accommodate growth, but can actually generate it by providing services that turn clients into lifelong advocates.