As I shared in the first part of this post, its inspiration is a recent survey by Rydex|SGI AdvisorBenchmarking, shared on AdvisorOne, that evaluated the marketing methods being used by RIAs in 2011 versus 2010. The survey found a notable decrease in advisors' recent use of social media—as many early adopters have seen only limited success thus far—as well as a decline in the use of blogs and newsletters. Many categories held relatively stable, such as seminar marketing, client appreciation events and direct mail. Yet the one surprising category with the biggest rise from 2010 to 2011: online search.
Ultimately, advisory firms that want to succeed at marketing in the digital world must take action on the following four steps:
1) Have a clearly defined target market. If you can't explain exactly who would be searching for you, what problems that person would be facing and what solutions you can provide, you'll never be found amid the sea of other financial planners who all basically say they do the same thing. This is why ultimately, most professionals will need a well-defined niche to succeed in the digital world, unless they have the size and scale to be a regionally or nationally dominant firm with a substantive marketing budget.
2) Create relevant content. People use the internet to search for the answers to their problems all the time. The key is to create content that answers and solves the problems your target clients face—so that when they search for the answers to their problems, they find you (and your content).
3) Make the content findable. The internet is a pretty crowded place. It's not enough to just create the content and wait for people to find you. It's also necessary to help get the content out there, so people will be able to find it when they want to. This means distributing it through multiple channels, from email signup lists to social media platforms to a blog. It also means making the content able to be easily shared, so that people who find your content can share it with others they know who might be trying to solve the same problem. Your prospects could refer you to other prospects before they even become a client.
4) Give a good experience when people show up. It's not enough to just have the content and help people find it; the reality is that when people find you this way, your website is the first impression they'll have of you and your firm, so it needs to be a good one. This means not only does the content itself have to be good and relevant, but the website itself has to be visually and aesthetically appealing and draw people in. As recent research has shown, out of the first 7 things your prospects notice on your website in forming a first impression, the actual content ranks a mere 6th.
By taking these steps, you can improve the results of your online search capabilities and inbound marketing, to capitalize on the world of the future where you don't find the clients—the clients find you. But only if your content is relevant enough and findable enough that it can reach them.
So what do you think? Have you gotten any new clients because they found you through your website or your content? If you type your own name or the name of your firm into Google, can you find your own firm? If your clients typed their problems into a search engine, would your firm come up as the solution?