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How advisors can up their digital game

LAS VEGAS — When it comes to generating leads for prospects, old-fashioned referrals and seminars just won’t cut it anymore.

“People are searching for advisors online and advisors have to get out of their comfort zone,” said Robert Sofia, CEO of digital marketing firm Snappy Kraken.

Speaking at the T3 technology symposium that opened the annual MarketCounsel Summit, Sofia described online marketing strategies as “growth drivers of the future” for financial advisors.

Industry tech consultant and T3 producer Joel Bruckenstein agreed.

“Advisors are not engaging digitally with clients and prospects as they should,” Bruckenstein said. “They use the least expensive services, aren’t putting up original content and everything looks the same. They need to up their game.”

What should advisors do?

· Identify marketing mistakes.
Stop marketing out of context, Sofia says. “Advisors are asking prospects to provide personal financial information when they fill in profiles online,” he said.

That’s a mistake because advisors haven’t earned the prospect’s trust yet, according to Sofia. “You’re treating a cold prospect the same way you’re treating a friend, but that’s not the right way,” he maintains. “You want to introduce yourself and have prospects want to get to know you.”

In addition, too many advisors are “marketing to nobody,” according to Sofia.

“They’re paying someone for a social media presence, but they’re not getting results,” he said. “You have to create real expertise online.”

What’s more, “all advisors look the same online,” Sofia said. “They use the same content library and nothing stands out.”

· Be original – the expense is worth it.
Most advisors use digital content that is exclusively licensed, curated or mass duplicated.

Not surprisingly, these are the least costly options — but the lack of differentiation can undermine an advisor’s credibility, Sofia argues.

“The best solution is using content that is completely original and 100% differentiated,” he said. “It’s also the most expensive. An advisor’s time is too valuable to spend writing on financial topics that can establish thought leadership. But they can hire a good writer to interview them and write and edit a post or a whitepaper. They can also get this kind of service through an agency. It’s worth it.”

“You want to lead people down a path with a series of events,” says digital marketer Robert Sofia.

Advisors should also post about what interests them personally on social media, Sofia said.

In addition, he urged advisors to share videos on their website and Facebook pages. Advisors who post videos are four times more likely to convert a prospect into client than those who don’t, Sofia asserted.

Videos should be highly personal and describe who the advisor is as an individual and what interests them instead of showing sunsets on the beach with generalizations about retirement planning, he said.

As an example, Sofia played a video that his firm produced for advisor Will Hicks. The video is posted on the website of Sapling Wealth Management and shows Hicks’ home office, his house and backyard parties as he talks about why he decided to move to Seattle and the kind of services his boutique firm provides.

· Remember the process.

While content is important, it’s one piece of an overall campaign to move a prospect closer to the advisor over time.

“You want to lead people down a path with a series of events,” Sofia says.

The campaign should start with generating awareness of the firm and then recognize that prospects will evaluate the firm and look for a justification before signing on, he said.

Once they have successfully onboarded clients, advisors must work to retain their business and expand their services while building up trust. This way, clients may eventually become advocates for the firm.

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