Advisors are asking a lot of big questions in the digital debate: Does online marketing really improve sales? Can consumer demand co-exist with compliance restrictions? How can success be quantified?
As the world of big-data technology changes at a lightning pace, it may take a giant company with deep pockets and a sizeable R&D budget to arrive at the answers.
With nearly 10,000 advisors on board nationally and more than $650 billion in assets under management, Ameriprise Financial certainly has the economies of scale to raise the bar for chasing consumer dollars online—and that’s precisely what the Minneapolis-based company, formerly tied to American Express, is doing.
Ameriprise is carefully constructing an image for itself, with television ads that debuted in January that feature boomer movie hero Tommy Lee Jones. And because the company is so heavily reliant on its financial planners, Ameriprise is extending its corporate image to its website’s “find an advisor” tool, which allows potential clients to search for Amerprise’s franchise-based or employee advisors by location, name or LinkedIn connections.
In January, Ameriprise Financial (AMP) reported that its final quarter of 2012 operating profits were $388 million, or $1.80 per share, versus $223 million, or $0.95 per share, in the prior year. Operating sales were $2.6 billion versus $2.5 billion in 2011, while net sales were $2.7 billion versus $2.6 billion a year earlier.
200 Pieces of Compliant Content
According to Kim Sharan, Ameriprise’s president of financial planning and wealth strategies and chief marketing officer, advisors at Ameriprise are strongly encouraged to use the company’s “premium social media package” when creating their personal brands online.
The company offers each advisor a personal website along with Facebook and LinkedIn access, 200 pieces of compliant content from which the advisor can choose, and assistance in producing an introductory video, Sharan said in New York on Tuesday at a press briefing arranged by Manhattan-based marketing and technology firm HNW Inc.
Sharan noted that 75% of Ameriprise’s advisors now have a personalized LinkedIn profile.
“They’re using it every day to prospect for clients among alumni associations, friends and family,” she said, pointing to one success story that resulted in a client choosing an advisor because of their shared interest in horse rescue. That relationship led to referrals within the horse rescue world, and the Ameriprise advisor and clients now host charitable events, Sharan said.