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Need some social media marketing tips? Meet an unlikely rapper

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“You want money? You gotta work! There are no handouts, honey; and that’s for sure…You gotta work! It takes work.”

These opening lines to a new rap music video offering personal finance tips are, it’s safe to say, off the beaten path, and not just for those steeped in the hip-hop scene. Rhyming and dancing to a beat are not usually associated either with the button-down conventions of the financial services world.

The video’s creator: Brittney Castro, a Los Angeles-based advisor who, just three years after kick-starting an independent practice, is garnering industry attention for the innovative digital marketing techniques she’s using to build her business. A key component of Castro’s outreach, social media, was the focus of an afternoon workshop at the Financial Planning Association’s 2015 annual meeting, being held Sept. 26-28 in Boston.

Path to independence

A millennial in her early thirties, Castro started in the business at Ameriprise Financial. While working for the company from 2006 to 2010, she produced financial plans for some 200 clients, and created and implemented marketing strategies to attract new business.

She also racked up, during this period, an impressive set of educational designations. Among them: certified financial planner, business financial advisor, advanced financial advisor, chartered retirement planning counselor and accredited asset management specialist.

Then, in 2012, she set up her own registered investment advisory firm, Financially Wise Women, with a view to serving people she’s flagged as her target market: professional and entrepreneurial women, many of them young millennials like herself, who are “passionate about life and want to gain clarity around their money.”

To that end, Castro brings a decidedly millennial flare to the effort. Enter the social media and other digital tools that she described as essential to building a successful practice today.

“If you’re not using social media, then you’re falling behind,” said Castro. “You need to make these digital solutions part of your marketing toolkit.”

The hub of Castro’s marketing plan is her business website, where she promotes her unique brand through blog posts, speaking engagements, tweets and “Financially Wise TV:” YouTube videos that aim to appeal to her target demographic with a mix of straight-talk about personal and business planning and life style tips to promote wellbeing (example: how to “live mindfully”).

Castro is not shy about giving away advice on the site. The more free content you provide, she said, the more credibility and goodwill you’ll earn, as prospects will gain an appreciation of your knowledge and expertise.

Of course, do-it-yourselfers can use the information to do their own planning (or try to). But most of the busy female professionals visiting her site, said Castro, follow up with an appointment because they know they need the financial assistance of a professional — and a financial plan tailored to their life goals and objectives.

“The more content you give away, the more you’ll get back,” said Castro. “Don’t be afraid to give it all away, keeping in mind that the content you’re sharing is generic and needs to be customized for the client.”

To be sure, some free content — Castro’s Financially Wise Toolkit, reports, checklists, webinars and some videos — can only be had in exchange for a valuable bit of information: your e-mail address.

The contact is added to a “drip” e-mail marketing solution powered by Infusionsoft. The sales and marketing software can, in addition to other features, import, segment and centralize information about prospects and clients; create personalized messages to be distributed at scheduled times, and handle payments via an online shopping cart.

Castro uses the drip marketing campaigns to “nurture” leads and to “talk my tribe.” The e-blasts include weekly “value newsletters” covering a financial or lifestyle topic of interest. Others are invitations, such as to a seminar to a workshop. Still others include practice updates, changes to tax law or other financial developments, and planning issues to review on reaching certain milestones (e.g., marriage, the birth of a child or retirement).

To aid in converting leads to clients, Castro starts an e-mail with an opening personal story, quote or question. That’s followed by a “value link” to a blog, video or article on her web site. There’s also a call to action — telling readers the next step to move the planning process forward.

“It takes on average seven ‘touches’ to convert a prospect to a client,” said Castro. “However you reach prospects — whether via e-mail or social media — the connection needs to direct them back to the hub, your website, where they can get more info.”

Turning to social media, Castro said she diligently spreads her message through multiple networks. She emphasized, however, that content has to be tailored to the “language” of each portal to be effective. A 140-character post is fine for Twitter, but may seem awkwardly truncated for, say, Facebook or LinkedIn.

Each network also is best suited to a certain frequency of posts. Content can be uploaded once daily to Facebook and Instagram. On Twitter, you can post throughout the day, whereas on YouTube a weekly or monthly video should suffice.

In all cases, said Castro, consistency is key. If you’re publishing regularly on the different networks, but then allow days or weeks to pass by before posting again, the online outreach will be less effective.

Also, clients generally turn to a social network for particular content. Thus, Facebook works best for “visual” or “story-time content.” Those looking for new blog content tend to navigate to Instagram. And YouTube is ideal for “edutainment.”

Which brings us back to that rap video. This and similar content are valuable because they humanize the advisor, and thus help in the rapport-building process.

“Don’t be afraid to push boundaries,” said Castro. “Clients and prospects want to know that you’re someone with interests outside of work.”

“Also, when using social media, be casual and conversational,” she added. “Be yourself. You want your personality and voice to come through in your messaging.”

Such casualness contrasts with the rigor Castro brings to her e-mail campaigns. If a particular e-blast has a lower than desired “open rate,” Castro might change the subject line and resend the memo to those who didn’t read it the first time. Oftentimes, the tweak has the desired effect, doubling the open rate.

Tools of the trade

Castro flagged other resources in her digital arsenal. These included:

  • Hootsuite (for scheduling posts)

  • Google Docs (for filing and sharing content in the cloud)

  • Trello (for managing projects)

  • MailChimp (also for e-mail marketing)

  • iStock photos (a repository of royalty-free stock photos, vector-art illustrations, audios and videos)

  • (an online marketplace for services); and

  • Odesk (an online work platform where professionals can connect and collaborate remotely)

Castro said these digital resources have boosted her productivity hugely. And that’s enabled to her to focus more on what she loves doing most: meeting with clients and prospects to help fulfill their financial goals and aspirations in life.

“Social media and other online tools have freed up so much of my time,” said Castro. “I’ve also streamlined the marketing work by delegating as much as I can to my team.”

Additional reporting on FPA 2015 annual meeting:

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