How to get qualified prospects through an online brand
Amitab Mitbawkar, MBA, CWM
When I joined the financial services profession in 2011, the biggest challenge I faced was how to succeed with a limited marketing budget in the face of overwhelming competition. I was a client who became a financial advisor, and all I knew was that I had to differentiate myself from the competition. I didn’t want to cold call or chase clients; I wanted them to call me instead. I chose to create an online brand to encourage clients to contact me.
I came up with eight steps to get qualified prospects to contact me and buy from me online. You can pick one or more of these methods that best suit your personality, but the first three steps are important. Without them, these concepts will not work.
Step No. 1:
Create your own hero story. In our profession, people don’t buy our products or services, they buy our story and our personality. Know your story, which includes who you are, what you believe in, the reason you got into this business and what you specialize in. It can help to talk about a struggle that you faced in real life and how you overcame it. The story has to be real, believable and — most importantly — it has to be about you.
Step No. 2:
Know your audience. Your online message will only be as effective as the clarity you have about the person you’re talking to. Create a detailed profile of your ideal client and include things such as their sex, social status, age, interests and hobbies, as well as the type of family they have and what cars they drive.
Step No. 3:
Decide what problem you will solve. You cannot be everything to everyone. Identify the one major problem that you will solve for your ideal client. Think about the pain they’re going through because of this problem and write about it in detail. Then, consider how your solution will help solve this problem.
Step No. 4:
Position yourself as an expert. When you create online content, you’re automatically perceived to be an expert. If you are the author of helpful or thought-provoking content, people will look to you for the solution to their problems. Creating video content can even make you something of a celebrity. People spend hours consuming video on social media, so become a creator rather than a consumer.
Step No. 5:
Create content that is valuable to your ideal clients. Post case studies of real-life problems that people have faced and how your solution has helped them. Write how-to articles that focus on specific ways to solve a problem. Talk about regulations in your industry or about your qualifications. It can also help clients and potential clients to identify the right qualifications their financial advisors should have. Remember, content that answers frequently asked questions around the ideal client’s main problem often performs better online. Be sure to post content you didn’t create as well, such as testimonials from your loyal clients or media articles in which you were quoted as an expert.
Step No. 6:
Use different content formats. Use photos or infographics to simplify complex information. There are podcasts, videos and webinars, as well as e-books, guides or checklists that people can download. Sometimes the same content can be repackaged or converted into a variety of formats.
Step No. 7:
Go to your audience where they are. Your website tells people about you and your services, so ensure it’s professional and clean. Your LinkedIn profile taps your audience at work and connects you with professionals online, so make sure you’re speaking to them when they are at work. Facebook, on the other hand, is for communicating after work. Your YouTube channel is your own TV show. Twitter is where people voice their opinions on topics that are important to them. Podcasts are often where people want to learn.
Step No. 8:
Create wisely, but share consistently. Your content is a brand ambassador, so be careful of what you create online. Have a clear strategy on what sort of content you will create and when you will share it. Although nobody can see what you do when you’re working with a client, everybody can read, watch and listen to what you post online. Encourage people to ask their questions online so everyone can read your answers. This is an opportunity to create content that answers one person’s question directly, but might also educate others. Content that you create once lives online forever, and it positions you as an expert.
Now rinse, repeat and reuse. Take your old articles, update them and reshare. Ask clients for their suggestions, because they’ll tell you what they want to listen to, what questions they have and what doubts they harbor. Evaluate your efforts online and see what works and do more of it.
The online world has been forced upon us and our clients by COVID-19. Leveraging these methods is no longer a choice, but a necessity.