From the August 2007 issue of Boomer Market Advisor • Subscribe!

August 1, 2007

Increase your boomer reach

By the time you finish reading this story, the information in it will be obsolete. OK, so technology doesn't advance quite that fast. But busy advisors rarely find time to keep up with everything new on the marketing side of technology. The good news for boomer advisors is this: Most of the available technology is being made as accessible and as easy to use as possible. From advancements in print newsletters, to the Internet, to the ability to integrate several platforms into one, advisors should be able to find something that works for them.

For advisors who still want to reach out to clients and prospects with something tangible, technology has made it possible to create customized, personalized, high-quality newsletters and brochures. While baby boomers are increasingly comfortable with technology, including the Internet, they grew up reading newspapers; they still like something they can hold on to as they read.

To that end, Advisor Products Inc. in Westbury, N.Y., a company that provides marketing materials to independent advisors, has created brochures that appeal to boomer clients. The nice thing about this process is that the use of digital printers allows the company to print small runs for advisors who may not be interested in huge quantities. What advisors may like even more is the fact that they don't have to come up with the content for the brochure; Advisor Products ( www.advisorproducts.com ) has a sizeable catalog of NASD-approved copy that can be plugged into customizable marketing material. The catalog has an index of stories for different types of practices, and advisors can choose pre-written profiles of ideal clients.

"The hardest part is providing good copy for small, independent advisors," says Andrew Gluck, the company's CEO. "Every dollar they pay us is a dollar they could spend elsewhere, so we created template copy."

That template copy not only saves money, it allows advisors to create value propositions about them and their practices. Too many financial professionals don't have a value statement; this provides a malleable framework to create one. In addition, with several template layouts and the ability to use a company's logo colors, the look and feel of the brochure is different for every advisor.

New wave

It has been shown by more than one survey that boomers are online for three things: To find information, to communicate with friends and family, and to shop. How they find their information can be advantageous to advisors who want to cost-effectively advertise online.

Boomers often have their favorite sources of information, one they check regularly, whether they read straight news sites or have favorite bloggers they trust. The blogs are where boomer advisors have a real opportunity to find people. Most blogs have a narrow focus and appeal to a certain set of people, and most accept advertising.

The good news? There are tens of millions of blogs out there. The bad news? There are tens of millions of blogs out there. But, says Tim McNamara, vice president of media for Boonton, N.J.-based DigitalGrit ( www.digitalgrit.com ), advisors don't have to sort through all of the blogs to decide where to advertise. Services exist to help, such as Blogads and Federated Media. These sites allow an advisor to select the precise people he wants to reach, in the precise area he wants to reach them, and his ads will pop up when the right person clicks on the blog page.

"These ads are cost-effective and targeted," McNamara says, adding a bit of advice about what an ad should look like. "Boomers actually read more content; they don't look at the pictures. Make ads targeted toward boomers more text heavy."

A possible alternative is for an advisor to begin his own blog. But with the ability to reach just as many people through other people's blogs, advisors can spend their time in front of clients instead of writing blog copy, which can be a lonesome chore.

Anyone who feels alone and underappreciated by those around him can get a big ego boost by opening a page on MySpace, the social networking site where people claim thousands of friends. And while MySpace attracts a much younger element than boomers may like, there are other social networking sites out there for boomers, places professionals can set up personal profiles and network with like-minded adults looking for personal and career advice. Eons.com, Lavalife and Linked In are just a few examples of MySpace for a more mature crowd.

What does this have to do with boomer advisors? These sites provide space to advertise, and most, if not all, of the viewers are boomers. Advances in data collection allow advisors to drill down and reach their ideal prospects. If an advisor wants to reach 45- to 55-year-old business owners in the greater Cleveland area, his ad can pop up when such a person opens the Money section at Eons or the retirement page at another site.

McNamara says it is easier to get started than most people might think, and the prices are better, too, especially now that ads can be targeted on such a localized level. An advisor in California doesn't have to pick a page and advertise on it even if someone in Maine opens the page; he can ensure only the people in his area see it. One more bit of advice from McNamara, for when people do click on an ad.

"With boomers, think about usability," he encourages. "Don't make them click too much. Take them from where you found them (e.g., the blog page or social networking site) to where they need to land. It's natural to want them to land on a home page, but if they need to fill out a form, take them to the form. Don't make them look for it."

Hands-free

Advisors rejoiced when software was created that reminded them when to send birthday and anniversary card to clients, making the personal touches easier to render. Now, technology companies are making it possible to have the same kind of touchpoints without the advisor actually having to send anything. E-marketing programs can be completely customized by frequency, client, groups of clients and the types of information sent.

San Diego-based Emerald Publications ( www.emeraldpublications.com ) has such a program. Called AutoMark, the system allows advisors to tailor marketing campaigns that can reach the right clients and prospects at just the right times. Using a central marketing portal, an advisor can use his list of contacts -- which Emerald will load -- to decide who is going to get newsletters, e-seminars, cards and reminders, financial calculators, articles, special reports and more. Everything is sent automatically via e-mail based on the advisor's frequency determinations, making it easier to stay in front of boomers virtually without taking too much time away from staying in front of boomers physically.

"We're trying to create a user-friendly interface for people to easily go on and customize pieces for clients," says Heidi Saucier, Emerald's vice president of media and technology. But the full automation won't leave advisors in the dark. "The reporting function tells them who got a birthday card or and anniversary card [or anything else] in the last six months."

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