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Here’s a novel idea – decide to make 2014 a year of “No Excuses”.  This year we’ll be posting lots of articles, tips, and eBooks to help you implement and maintain a solid online marketing strategy for your financial services organization.  We want to help you build awareness, engage old and new prospects, and last but never least generate more sales.

As they say – you can lead a horse Financial Advisor to water, but you can’t make her drink.  So it will be up to you to throw away excuses and implement the marketing ideas you find on this site and others. I want to help you kick the year off right so here are 7 online marketing resolutions y0ur financial services business should be making in 2014.

1) Stick to an editorial calendar.

If you’re a internet savvy Financial Advisor, then coming up with an online marketing strategy for driving visitors to your site is the easy part, it’s staying organized that’s the challenge.  The best way to stay organized is to create and maintain an editorial calendar for all your newsletters, blog articles, social media posts, and website updates.

To help you we’ve developed a simple editorial calendar template using Excel you can use to get started with.  Make it your own by adding topics specific to your organization.

2) Tell Compelling stories with a blog.

Seth Godin, my favorite business thought leader, says that people don’t listen to sales pitches – they listen to stories.  You can put this bit of information to work in your online marketing this year by incorporating stories into your content strategy (and including them on your editorial calendar). These can be stories about your clients,  people you help in the field, your partners, your friends, co-workers, you, or just average everyday stuff you observe as you journey through life.

Telling compelling stories via your business blog and social media outlets is the best way to draw in others into your efforts.  One good thing about story telling is that you can worry less about duplicate content because your story, your spin on something is well – yours.  Here’s an example.  Over on my personal blog the most socially shared post last year was a story I told about my good friend, photographer Sunny Miller.  I’ve witnessed his journey firsthand and and decided to let people know how happy I was for his success.  Turns out that lots of other people were proud of him also and shared on Facebook.

Tip: The stories you tell should not always be about results you’ve gotten…that’s marketing…and no one wants to be marketed to.  Try this, look for success stories that make the national media (even it’s a bigger brands success) tie into it with your own spin (that’s called News Jacking).  Don’t worry about spreading another companies success…if it made the national media millions already know…instead jump on the bandwagon and you can get some press to.

3) Set a goal to make at least one video this year (and don’t worry about the quality).

We think video should be a major priority this year for financial services marketing. Hey don’t worry you don’t have to produce videos that grab the attention of the Academy Awards. However, your video needs to tell a compelling story, and be useful for your target clients.

Here are a couple of quick ideas for a video:

  • Interview a client you’ve helped
  • Stand in front of a white board and explain a difficult but important financial concept
  • Do a David Letterman style count down of 10 things your clients need to know for 2014

The important thing with video is to keep it short, and to keep it fun.

4) Create targeted landing pages & content for each buying persona

Before you go throwing up web pages all willy-nilly you should take the time to consider your business’ buyer personas (sometimes also referred to as ‘customer personas’ or ‘marketing personas’). Buyer personas are the result of slicing your target audience into individual groups of people. These people are fictional representations of your ideal customers, based on real data about customer demographics and online behavior, along with educated speculation about their personal histories, motivations, and concerns.

For example, a Financial Advisor marketing to high net worth individuals might have 2 different buying personas she specifically targets: corporate executives (VP & Presidents), and small business owners doing over $5 million in sales annually.

A website approach that speaks to the needs of all high net worth individuals in aggregate, or in general, will fall short in its ability to answer the “What’s in it for me?” question specific to each individual buyer persona. But if a website addresses directly the specific needs of corporate executives, and small business owners it will make the answer to “What’s in it for me?” clearer and more personalized, contributing to a much more successful website.

5) Define (or redefine) your financial services organization’s brand and voice.

Many small financial services organizations don’t see their brand (i.e. their logo, mission statement, colors, fonts, website design, etc.) as important as – let’s say generating leads. The fact of the matter is your brand is very important when it comes to your content, online marketing, and lead generating strategy.

Making sure your brand messaging is both consistent and clear is key to getting people to identify with your company, or personal brand.  It’s important that you make sure your logos and language are consistent throughout your online and offline marketing collateral.

To retain your existing audience and help with attracting new clients gather up your marketing materials, including your direct mailers, e-newsletter, social media accounts, website, and blog, and make sure your brand is consistent and clear across all of them.

6) Optimize your financial services website for SEO.

If a tree falls in the middle of the forest and no one hears it did it make a sound.  Fact is it does not matter because no one heard it so it’s irrelevant.  Same goes for your web pages, and blog content.  If no hears about it, then it does not matter that you worked hard to produce it – it’s irrelevant.

Search engine optimization (SEO) is extremely important to reaching your marketing goals, so I suggest you jump on the bandwagon – if you have not already.

To ensure your website and blog are properly optimized use our SEO checklist. Redesigning your website?  Use the checklist to make sure all the best practices are covered before you go live. Making sure that your content is optimized effectively will help to improve your rankings on Google, Bing, and other search engines so people can easily find you online.

7) Stop asking your prospects to marry you on the first date.

Everyone knows you’re in business to make money. But if I’m a first-time visitor to your website, I want to learn more about your organization’s work, how you’ve helped others like me, and what I should be on aware of in 2014 — I don’t want to be asked to make a decision as soon as I land on the site, or the first time I talk to you, so don’t ask me to.

Instead, offer me and the majority of your website visitors who are in research mode educational information that makes you a resource we absolutely can’t do without. Asking for a commitment is important, and I expect it at some point … but not on the first date.

What resolutions are you making this year?