By John Capuano, Co-Founder, Lone Beacon Media
As an advisor, if your target consumer was attending a local financial workshop, would you go? Would you talk to them? What about the consumers you cannot physically see, but you know are out there?
Today’s financial landscape amongst advisories is constantly changing, due largely in-part to the evolving 50 plus consumer. When was the last time you used, or even saw a phone book? Today’s 50 plus consumers don’t research businesses that way anymore because they use the web. According to an Ispos/Google study, baby boomers and seniors spend 19 hours per week online and over 60% regularly use social media. When active, high net worth prospects want to learn more about you and your firm, they simply visit your website.
We’ll often hear clients, who are active in radio or television, say that they don’t receive the number of phone calls they used to…and they’re right. We always see correlative spikes in web traffic around the time one of our broadcast campaigns airs. It’s not unusual to see weekly website visits spike 100% or more after a radio or TV show airs. The same holds true for a properly placed commercial campaign.
There are too many advisors who aren’t acknowledging the digital migration, which is perhaps the single biggest trend of the last hundred years (or more). There should be no denying the fact that high-net-worth investment consumers are online, and are actively seeking information. The question we ask is why aren’t more advisors capitalizing on it?
Try this simple test; search the words “retirement planning”, or “wealth advisor” in your search engine and see what pops up. Chances are you’ll see some national brands but no local advisors. Local advisories simply aren’t competing for the online consumer. Moreover, most don’t look at the web, or their website, as a steady lead tributary.
Advisors in today’s financial world have a magnificent opportunity to dominate the digital space. Not embracing digital today is like not embracing the telephone. It’s here, it’s dynamic, it’s where your next big client is, and it’s a battlefield where you can control your position and brand. Not participating in the digital world simply cannot be an option for advisors.
We had a meeting once with the head of the digital department at a major ad agency here in Boston and asked them, ‘What’s the most important thing to do as an advertiser in the digital space?’ Their answer was one word, “Everything.” That might be an appropriate answer if you’re a major international company, but it just isn’t realistic for most local and regional businesses.
Our advice is to “own” something as best as you can and expand from there. It should start with your website…it’s your digital storefront so make sure it engages your target audience. Then pick something to build on. Whether it’s pay-per-click, social, or database marketing, make sure you truly understand what you are buying, what expectations are realistic, how it works, and how adjustments can be made along the way to maximize your ROI.
That said, the digital space is vast, it can be confusing, and there are thousands of digital “experts” who are more than happy to further complicate this space for you. To add to the confusion, you’re likely to run into one of two different types of digital professional:
- A person that works for a Digital Company. They might know a lot about the nuances of digital design, and search, but have virtually no sensibility of the 50+ consumer, how to engage or capture leads and no specific knowledge of the financial industry.
- A financial professional in a trade organization that has a web department. This might be a little better, but it’s a side business for them and chances are they might not have the best pedigree or support to truly help you. Most of these in-house media departments lack the expertise and skill sets of trained media professionals.
Start by learning from your current website. If you currently do anything at all to market your firm, people every day are visiting your website and deciding whether or not they should do business with you. They will make initial decisions based on their first impressions after visiting your website. You can easily see how they engage with you by actively looking at your web analytics.
Would it be helpful for you to know who’s visiting your site, when they’re visiting, what pages they are looking at, what towns they are coming from, how long they are staying on your site, how they found you? It most definitely would. To not look at your analytics is like being a retailer and not knowing, or caring, about the habits of people that are browsing in your store.
When we share web analytics with advisors for the first time they’re usually pretty surprised. They instantly feel empowered because they know more about how people are interacting with them…and are usually pleased about the amount of traffic they get.
Knowing your analytics can help you better decide what parts of the digital equation to tackle first. With enough time and data, patterns will start to emerge from your analytics. Things like when potential clients are most receptive and from what geographic areas might be the most fruitful to you.
Whatever your current strategy may be or look like, it is no longer an option to ignore the digital world. You have the opportunity to carve out your space online so take advantage of it today…before your largest local competitor steals it from you.
John Capuano is Co-founder of Lone Beacon Media, a sales and marketing company dedicated to the independent financial advisory industry.