Sure, it can be expensive to invest time and money in technology and multimedia tools, and there’s no guarantee they’ll work as well as you hope, but advisors who don’t keep up will soon be left far behind. Tips from these media-savvy advisors who maximize the value of the media tools they use will help you get started.
The idea of investing a chunk of hard-earned profits in media tools, some largely unproven in the advisory space with no guarantee they’ll deliver results, doesn’t disturb Janet Pack as much as the thought of what might happen to her practice if she doesn’t keep pushing the media envelope.
“Media and technology don’t scare me,” says Pack, who heads Senior Care Alliance, a retirement planning practice in Tacoma, Wash., that specializes in estate, long-term care and Medicare planning. “Not having enough business scares me!”
The fear that the prospect pipeline might run dry is part of what motivates Pack and advisors like her to keep pumping resources into media tools, whether it’s traditional channels such as radio or newer or emerging vehicles such as social media, webcasts and the like. “I’m always looking for something new,” she says. “You just keep your eyes and ears open and do the research to find what works.”
From a weekly radio program to a downloadable e-magazine called Your Retirement (also distributed to people on the firm’s email list) to a “live” homepage social media feed on the website, media tools “are something we have made a conscious effort to integrate into every part of our practice,” says Nolan Baker, chief financial officer of the Retirement Guys Network, part of the Retirement Resource Center in Maumee, Ohio. “I counted, and we have 26 ways we use multimedia tools in our practice.”
For advisors like Baker and Pack, tools like these are proving valuable for practice-building, relationship-nurturing and client service enhancement. But in a world where technology and the public’s media preferences can change suddenly and unpredictably, there’s no set formula for how to maximize their value and no guarantee they’ll deliver ROI. It’s up to individual advisors and practices to develop their own distinct approaches to media. “It’s always a moving target to try to find the right mix or balance of tools,” acknowledges Pack. “And it can be expensive trying things that don’t work.”
You may not be inclined to use media 26 ways like Baker and fellow Retirement Guy Mark Clair. But in a media-driven world, you can’t afford not to use at least some of the tools available to you. To avoid expensive missteps, here’s a look at some of the approaches media-savvy advisors have found most effective to maximize the value of the media tools they use.
1. Investigate your options, both traditional and new
The Retirement Guys homepage alone houses a live social media feed, links to Twitter and Facebook, along with links to a blog, news, free audio CDs and downloadable reports on retirement-oriented subjects, plus the e-magazine and weekly radio show.
It’s part of a strategy to make the website a destination, Baker explains. “We are trying to make it a daily destination for clients.”
Not all advisors have the wherewithal or the inclination to develop such a broad media arsenal. Some are wise to focus on the tools with which they are most comfortable and that make the most sense to use, given their priorities and the types of people they’re targeting. “I haven’t focused as much on social media like Facebook,” notes Pack, “because I don’t believe that’s how I’ll reach the people I want to reach” — mainly retirees and pre-retirees.
Instead, she relies more heavily on traditional media such as a weekly financial radio show and a book she recently wrote, “The 10 Biggest Retirement Mistakes,” augmenting them with new tools such as webcasts, which, she says, “are truly going to become an integral part of advisors marketing themselves” in the near future.
2. Choose tools wisely
Every media vehicle has its strengths and its limitations. Determining the tools that are best for you and your practice begins by asking yourself a question, says Clair: “How are people you are targeting consuming information and media?”
The answer often comes down to target demographics. Baby boomers, Pack points out, “are much more technologically savvy than older retirees,” and thus more inclined to find value in tech and Web-based tools such as webcasts, Web conferencing and social media. Pack has developed a website specifically to offer free, downloadable workbooks and webcasts aimed at retirement-minded boomers. “Having these resources online gives people a chance to check them out on their terms, in their own living room,” she explains.
That site complements her main practice website, where visitors also will find podcasts of her “Smart Retirement” radio programs that air on a local AM station. While lamenting that the airwaves are increasingly “flooded” with advisors offering financial advice, Pack says her radio program remains the focal point of her media strategy. “It just adds so much credibility,” she says.
A radio show serves as a similar centerpiece for Chad Burton, CFP, CEO of New Focus Financial Group, a comprehensive wealth management and financial planning firm with offices in San Mateo, Calif., and Vancouver, Wash. “The most valuable [media tool] for us is still radio,” says Burton, who participates in a daily financial talk show on local radio in Portland, Ore. “The things we do with media we use to complement what we do with radio.”
That includes offering a Twitter link on the firm home page through which visitors can pose questions to Burton, plus links to branded “New Focus on Wealth” podcasts (which are popular, garnering 5,000 to 6,000 views a month, he says), blog posts, a live feed of the radio show to the firm’s pages on various social media platforms, including Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ and YouTube.