FAQ

How should I integrate COIs into my client meetings?

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Inviting COIs such as attorneys, accountants and insurance professionals into your client meetings can be an effective way to show, and not just tell, the value you bring to clients. The goal of doing this is to forge a successful, reciprocal referral relationship. While CEG Worldwide is probably the best resource in the industry for helping advisors build strategic alliances, here are some general steps to help you get you started: 

  • Identify and vet the COIs who you are interested in building strategic relationships with. 
  • Take COIs individually through your wealth management process as if they were potential clients. Explain to each COI that in order for you to refer business to them, it is important that they understand your process.
  • Ask the COI how they could contribute to the meeting if it were a prospective client in their seat and they were sitting on the same side of the table as you.
  • Invite the COI to five to 10 client meetings where you believe they could add value for the client.
  • Evaluate whether you and the COI would have a good reciprocal referral relationship going forward, and discuss how you can work together more closely. 
  • Offer a complimentary second opinion service to the COI’s clients.

 

Other Resources

http://www.cegworldwide.com/resources/bp-strategic-alliances

 

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How should I promote my media coverage?

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Media coverage is a great (and free!) way to create awareness and build credibility for your business. You also have the opportunity to use that coverage outside of its original publication. Here are some tips we suggest:

LinkedIn

  • Connect with the journalist.
  • Post a link to the media coverage as a personal profile status update and tag the journalist.
  • Post as a business page status update.
  • Add to the publications section of your personal profile.
  • Post to your LinkedIn groups.


Facebook

  • Post to your business page.
  • Post to your individual page (if archived).


Twitter

  • Follow the journalist who covered the story.
  • Post to your personal Twitter account and tag the journalist.
  • Post to your business Twitter account and tag the journalist.


Website

  • If you have an "As seen on" section of your website, add the logo of the publication to this section if not already there.
  • If you have an "In the News" section of your website, post a link to the media coverage here.


Newsletter

  • Add a section to your newsletter called "In the News," and include a link to the media coverage with a brief summary.


Reprints

  • If the piece is a profile about you or your business, or if it is an article you wrote, you may want to purchase print reprints to hand out to prospective clients or digital reprints to email. You may also want to consider a plaque or framed version for your office. Reprints can be costly, so think carefully before doing this to make sure the expense is worth it.


Comments

  • If people comment on the media coverage on its original publication site, you may want to engage in the conversation. Check with compliance before doing so. 
     

"Thank You" Note/Email

  • Send the journalist a "thank you" note or email in order to continue the relationship. Mention other areas in which you might be a valuable resource for the reporter.

Should we promote awards that we win?

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This question has two components: a marketing one and a compliance one. From a compliance standpoint, you will need to speak with your compliance officer or consultant. We have worked with clients where promoting certain awards (e.g., the Five Star Wealth Manager award) was not permitted in their state. Please check before you promote any award.

As for marketing, before you promote any awards, ask yourself the following questions:

Is the award legitimate?

Is the award legitimate or more of a marketing program? For example, the Five Star Professionals award exists to sell advertisements, reprints and plaques. Legitimate awards usually require that you complete an application or nomination process in order to be considered (e.g., InvestmentNews awards, Business Journal awards, the FPA Heart of Financial Planning Award). If you or someone you know did not nominate you through such a process, the award is probably a marketing program. And if the award you are promoting is primarily a marketing program, you should probably not promote it. Not only does the award lack integrity, but it may also put you at risk from a compliance perspective.

Are you being awarded for sales?

Does the award acknowledge you for being the best producer? If so, you should personally be proud of that achievement but do not promote it to your clients. It’s a sales award, and your clients don’t want their advisor to be the best salespersonthey want their advisor to be the best financial advisor.

All other awards and lists (e.g., Forbes Top Wealth Managers) are worth considering for promotion. Ask yourself, "Does this award and the awarding body reflect the values I want to convey to clients?" The answer to this question will answer your question as to whether you should promote the award.

 

Other articles on this topic:

http://www.fa-mag.com/news/financial-advisors-should-avoid-bogus-awards--8156.html

How much should I pay for a website?

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Websites can really vary in price. We have seen advisory firms pay anywhere from nothing (or nearly nothing) to in excess of $50,000. How much a website costs depends on a variety of factors including:

  • Is the website custom coded or coded based on a template? Custom coding adds a lot of time and, as a result, a lot of expense.
  • Is the website custom designed or designed based on a template? Custom design adds a lot of time and, as a result, a lot of expense. 
  • Can you take your website with you to other hosting providers? If you can take your website from one host to another (such as a WordPress site), usually the website will be more expensive. If it is a captive host such as Advisor Websites or Squarespace, you will usually pay less since the provider is guaranteed revenue as long as you keep the website active.
  • How much consultation will the web service provide? If they have a process that is well thought out and they provide recommendations, the website will cost more. If they expect you to lead the relationship, the site will cost less.
  • Do they provide copywriting services? We have rarely come across a website provider that offers copywriting, but if they do, you can expect it to be expensive.
  • How many add-ons or integrations will you need? The more you add on, the more you can expect to pay. 

Below are some providers in different price ranges. Please note that all websites will have a monthly subscription or hosting fee, which is not included in the prices below.

Nearly Free

Inexpensive (less than $5,000)

Mid-price ($5,000 to $15,000)

Expensive (more than $15,000)

When making a decision about how much to pay for a website, take into consideration how much a website plays into your marketing strategy. If it will be used simply as a tool for prospects to research your company, a less expensive site is probably appropriate. If you want a top-notch site, don't skimp on price. Generally, you get what you pay for. 

Should I participate in a paid radio or TV show?

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We have seen a few firms that have had tremendous success with paid radio and TV shows. We have also seen more firms fail with these same initiatives. The difference between those that fail and those that succeed comes down to a few factors:

  • Successful firms make the radio/TV show the central focus of their marketing plan, not merely a part of their marketing mix. All other marketing campaigns complement this strategy (e.g., educational workshops, social events, podcasts, videos, books).
  • They mentally commit to the show indefinitely, not just for a few weeks or months.
  • The shows are on a consistent schedule, usually daily or weekly.
  • They constantly integrate a call to action in their show, such as registering for a workshop or signing up for a complimentary retirement review.
  • The show reaches the same demographic as the firm's ideal client (e.g., retirees).  
  • The advisor host usually has an outgoing personality and loves to be on the radio or TV.
  • The host is willing to make the personal sacrifices it takes for a successful show. This usually means giving up weekends or forgoing flexibility in their schedule.
  • The firm gets corresponding spots or advertisements to promote the company.

You should not consider a paid radio or TV show if:

  • You are considering it only on a short-term or limited-engagement basis.
  • It is not part of your core marketing strategy.
  • You are paying to be a guest on someone else’s show unless it is a long-term cost-sharing partnership opportunity.
  • It is something that was recently presented to you and not something you have been considering for some time.

A general rule of thumb is if someone is reaching out to you to offer you a TV or radio show over a short period of time, the opportunity probably benefits them more than it benefits you. Instead, you should look at how radio/TV plays into your overall marketing plan and then reach out to media outlets that make sense for your strategy.

Should I have a business Twitter profile?

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Maintaining multiple Twitter accounts and attracting followers to multiple profiles can be challenging, so in general you'll be more successful with fewer profiles. Whether you should have a business profile depends on the size of your business:

Solo Practitioners
For a solo practitioner, you should have one personal account to use for business purposes. Because it is a personal account representing an individual, the mix of content should be both professional and personal. You should experiment to find the appropriate mix for your target audience. If you find yourself using the Twitter profile more than 50% of the time for personal use, then you may want to have two profiles: one with a business slant and one that is purely personal. You may also want to consider a pseudonym for your personal account to avoid content you post showing in search results for your name. This approach should only be used for advanced Twitter users who have the time and passion to successfully grow and maintain multiple accounts. Otherwise, one account that is more professional than personal is recommended.

Silo and Ensemble Firms
For firms with multiple advisors, a business profile is recommended. This account should be used entirely for professional content; however, showing a human side of the firm through this account is also encouraged (e.g., candid office photos). This account should be managed by a designated person(s) in the firm to ensure consistency in the firm's voice and in the frequency of posts.

Individual advisors may also have their own accounts if they are interested in engaging on the platform. If an advisor is representing the company in any way, they should tweet a mix of professional and personal content. There should be more emphasis on professional content, but the personal content gives the advisor more depth and, as a result, makes it easier for others to personally connect with the advisor online. 

If advisors find that they are using the Twitter profile more than 50% of the time for personal use, then they may want to have two profiles: one with a business slant and one that is purely personal. Advisors may also want to consider a pseudonym for the personal account to avoid posts showing in search results for the advisor's name. This approach should be used only for advanced Twitter users who have the time and passion to successfully grow and maintain multiple accounts. Otherwise, one account that is more professional than personal is recommended.
 

Should I advertise my business?

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In our experience, traditional advertisements such as print ads, radio commercials or TV commercials rarely yield the results that financial advisory firms are looking for. You should consider ads only in the following situations:

  • They are part of a long-term, consistent advertising strategy in which your goal is to gain greater awareness and not generate leads within a small audience (e.g., a specific niche market, a small town).
  • You are advertising a special event where the goal is to get people to register for your event.
  • The advertisement will produce a tool that you can use for credibility marketing purposes (e.g., San Diego Magazine's Best Financial Advisors profile where you purchase a plaque of the profile to put in your lobby or you hand out reprints to prospects).
  • You are advertising in order to support a charity, association or organization that you are trying to build or deepen a relationship with (e.g., advertising in a program for a local charity's gala).

Even in these situations, our experience has been that results have been mixed at best.
You should never advertise in the following situations:

  • A one-time advertisement that does not provide you with a credibility marketing piece
  • If you plan on advertising for less than one year
  • If you are relying on the ad to generate leads
  • If your call to action for the ad is to schedule an appointment
  • When the advertisement is a significant percentage of your marketing budget

A general rule of thumb is if someone is reaching out to you to do an advertisement, it is probably not a good idea. Instead, you should look at how advertising plays into your overall marketing plan and then reach out to media outlets that make sense with your strategy.