Webinars are some of the most powerful, yet least leveraged, resources available to financial advisors today. They let advisors reach out and communicate their value propositions to huge numbers of ideal prospective clients, without even leaving their chairs.

These live presentations — delivered over the Internet to a targeted group of investors whom you want to serve — can have a major impact on your ability to attract qualified prospects. What’s more, they’re not nearly as difficult to create and deliver as advisors may think.

You should be using webinars to raise awareness of what your firm does and what you offer affluent investors. The following basic tips will help you build webinar presentations that should have investors raising their hands to work with you.

WHY WEBINARS?

Webinars are powerful marketing tools because they enable you to reach out directly to the pre-qualified prospective clients whom you want to serve, delivering a message that you control completely. You can target the exact investors you want and present the call to action that you want to provide.

This makes producing a webinar more powerful than, say, participating in events hosted by another organization — which might have a different agenda from your own.

We use webinars ourselves at CEG Worldwide, hosting weekly presentations, and they have been an enormous part of our success — helping us reach out directly to advisors we want to serve. What we’ve found is that prospects — especially time-constrained professionals — appreciate being able to access webinars from their desks at work or at home, without having to travel to a live event at a restaurant or hotel.

What’s more, webinars are a smart way to differentiate yourself from the hundreds of thousands of other advisors with whom you compete.

The fact is, there aren’t many financial advisors doing webinars — around 6%, according to one survey we did. So this is an opportunity to be a real innovator.

Webinars are also great ways to demonstrate your expertise to prospective clients. By presenting targeted content to large groups, you will begin to be seen as highly credible; over time, you’ll become a go-to advisor among those people. Webinars can also show your personality, presenting you as relatable — someone who understands your viewers. This can prompt them to want to connect further with you.

An added bonus is that webinars are an extremely cost-effective marketing strategy. You essentially need only a webcam and a service provider — allowing you to reach out to prospects more efficiently than if you were delivering in-person presentations. Meanwhile, you can leverage your webinars and content to create research papers, e-books and other materials that will further enhance your credibility and help you to get noticed.

7 STEPS TO TAKE

The key to a great webinar is great content. You need to provide your viewers with information that is relevant to their needs and that inspires them to want to explore working with you.

When it comes to creating content, financial advisors tend to get scared and become a bit paralyzed. But even if you have never created a presentation or written a word of content in your life, you don’t have to sweat this. I recommend taking these steps one at a time.

1. Choose a compelling topic.

The main topic of your webinar must grab the attention of clients and prospects. Your best bet is to focus on a topic that will resonate with virtually everyone who attends your webinars — helping people solve their most pressing financial concerns so they can achieve their key goals.

The specific issues and solutions you cover will depend on who is in your target audience. If you are trying to attract members of a certain niche — airline pilots, for example — you will want to speak directly to the issues that this audience faces and offer ideas that speak to those issues. If you are taking a more general approach, you might focus on the biggest concerns that affluent investors as a group today face — such as preserving and protecting their wealth, mitigating taxes and transferring wealth to the next generation.

You can cover multiple topics in a series of webinars. Each should be focused in a way that gives viewers a framework for addressing these concerns, so they can achieve the lives they want.

If you’re not sure what to talk about, brainstorm with partners, team members and others who are familiar with the particular priorities of the investors you want to reach.

2. Gather and review information.

You’re probably already familiar with strategies for addressing the financial concerns you have chosen to address. But take some time to do research to make sure you are up to date in your thinking.

A few Google searches might be all you need. Or you can go deeper and talk with centers of influence in your chosen niche or read a few of the latest books. Reach out to other professionals you know well who work with your audience, such as estate planning attorneys or CPAs.

And don’t make it too hard for yourself. Get to a point where you can competently discuss the major themes you want to cover.

3. Capture and organize your thoughts.

The process of mind mapping is a great way to identify all the material you want to include and to start organizing the specific ideas you want to present. Begin by writing your topic in the center of a large piece of paper (or computer screen, if you’re using PowerPoint or a mind mapping software program). Then, capture ideas as they come to you. Connect related ideas to one another, and do not stop until all your ideas are noted somewhere on the mind map.

The key here is to go fast and avoid overthinking; ideally, you should spend no more than five minutes on your mind map.

4. Develop logical categories.

By categorizing your information, you can communicate your ideas much more effectively and compellingly. The categories should flow out of your mind map. They might be sequential (for example, a series of steps to be taken in a particular order) or nonsequential (“five things you must know about new estate tax rules”).

If you are concerned about your own writing, work with a freelancer to clarify your thoughts and make your points more focused.

Once you have created this structure for your content, do a quick check-in. Are there any holes in your knowledge that you need to fill through more research? Is there any unnecessary content that does not add to the presentation’s value? Are you using plain English, or are you loaded up with jargon? And does the flow make sense?

5. Create your webinar slides.

Most webinar services allow you to upload your own PowerPoint slides. Your slides should match the categories you identified, to provide a clear framework that you can speak to easily. The text in each slide (bulleted or numbered phrases work best) will correspond to the material you identified for each category.

Aim to have no more than 10 slides for the body of your webinar. Once done, have them reviewed by a copy editor for spelling, grammar, clarity and consistency. And, of course, as with any other presentation material, you need to run any webinar material by compliance.

6. Come up with a catchy title.

The name of your webinar should express the promise you are making. Again, in nearly every case, this will be about solving a financial challenge in order to help viewers achieve long-term financial goals.

7. Find a webinar host.

Several technology providers offer webinar hosting packages. GoToMeeting offers an out-of-the-box package called GoToWebinar; other options include Adobe Connect and WebEx Meetings. Ask the sponsors of webinars that you’ve attended and liked what packages they’ve used.

Webinars can be hugely effective tools in your marketing. If you’re among the advisors not yet doing webinars — and that includes most of you — I encourage you to give them a shot. FP

John J. Bowen Jr., a Financial Planning columnist, is founder and CEO of CEG Worldwide, a global training, research and consulting firm for advisors in San Martin, Calif.

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