power your advice

Digitizing your Advisory Business for 2020

Written by: Brett Fulmer | Finaeo

In our last blog of the year, Brett Fulmer, Finaeo Ambassador, reviews his favourite digital tools for advisors. Learn how you can grow your business in 2020 by strengthening your personal brand and online strategy.In order to connect with today’s tech-savvy customers, advisors need both a strong personal brand and digital marketing strategy. Americans spend an average of 6.5 hours a day online, which creates extensive opportunities for advisors to engage with clients through digital channels.As an advisor myself, I know that clients will often turn to the internet to gather more information before deciding whether or not they want to work you. Having a strong personal brand can improve your credibility and ensure prospects come across content that supports your expertise and knowledge.It’s a great time to reflect on your current digital strategy. Below, I have compiled a list of resources you can use to help you build personal relationships with clients online.

Logo design and business cards

Brand elements like logos, fonts and colour palettes are important, as they have the power to evoke certain emotions. This means something as simple as a logo or a nicely designed business card can influence the way a client feels when they come across your name for the first time. Building a personal logo is a great first step in shaping your online brand. Don’t have graphic design skills or a budget to hire a designer? No problem! There are free tools you can use like Canvato create your own personal logo.

Personal websites

It’s good practice to establish a personal hub you can refer clients to and manage communications. This way, if you change jobs, agencies or career paths, you will still have control over your online image and contacts. For example, I use BrokerBrett.com as my personal website, which I manage separately from my agency website. These days, you can set up a website fairly efficiently without any skills in design or software engineering! Tools like Wix, Squarespace and WordPresshave a variety of templated solutions that you can customize and launch within a day.

Company-branded email address

Setting up a company-branded email address is essential in maintaining consistency and building your personal brand. For example, my website URL is www.brokerbrett.com, therefore I made sure my email address ends in brokerbrett.com as well. Now that the resources exist to customize your domain, using generic email addresses (those that end in gmail.com, yahoo.com, aol.com, etc.) are becoming less common. You can set up a custom domain or company email address using GSuite for roughly $5/month.

Social media strategy

Social media can serve as an effective medium to help you reach your target customers and build your professional network. However, it’s important to keep in mind that the audience, and therefore your approach, may change based on the platform. People seek different things from different social channels, and it’s helpful to pay attention to the type of content that resonates on each one.You want to have a healthy ratio of professional posts (about the industry and your services) and personal (fun posts, daily activities, events). Everyone’s online strategy and preferences will differ. You’ll likely go through a process of trial and error to find out what works best for you, and what generates the best results. I found that using the following breakdown has helped me balance out the number of personal and professional posts, based on the platform.– LinkedIn: 90% professional, 10% personal– Facebook (business account): 80% professional, 20% personal– Instagram (business account): 80% professional, 20% personal– Twitter: 50% professional, 50% personal– Facebook (personal account): 10% professional, 90% personal– Instagram (personal account): 10% professional, 90% personalWith that in mind, you also want to make sure that you are engaging with other people’s content just as much (or more than) you are posting your own. Building an effective social media strategy is much more of a “give and take” than anything else. Similar to how relationships work in-person, social media engagement goes both ways.I know that may sound like a lot of work! Fortunately, there are tools available like Hootsuite and Buffer to help you manage and schedule your posts. These may come in handy, especially if you’re posting frequently and using multiple platforms.

Content Creation

When it comes to deciding whattype of content to post, I like the idea of “documenting” what’s happening in my daily life as opposed to creating content from scratch. For example, in this blog, I’m sharing information about what I’m doing and what’s currently been working for me. That’s much easier than researching something new to write about. Additionally, creating short video clips or live-tweeting from events and conferences can ensure you are part of meaningful conversations and online communities. You can achieve all of this just by sharing what you’re doing. Using keywords and hashtags strategically will go a long way here (check out Agent Branding System’s hashtag guide for advisors as a starting point)!

Professional headshots

You don’t need to spend a lot of money on this (in fact, my headshot was taken at a brewery supply store before a family event). You’ll need a professional-looking headshot to use for various websites and social media channels. It may sound like a minor detail, but it really does go a long way when it comes to making a good first impression.

Optimization Tools

The following tools can help you further streamline your workflow:

  • RingCentral is a great virtual phone service you can run off a smartphone app.
  • Fiverr allows you to secure various services (like graphic design) for $5. However, you may need to provide a lot of direction and/or pay for a few different versions before landing on something you like.
  • AirTable is a project management software to help you track and stay on top of multiple projects.
  • Slack is a robust and effective communication and information sharing tool, which has become somewhat of a necessity for startups these days.
  • Calendly automatically schedules meetings and phone calls — eliminating the back and forth involved in finding the right time and sending calendar invites.
  • Remember, there is no “right” way to do this. Digitizing your business is a journey, and your process will evolve as you learn more about your style and audience along the way.I hope this provides a helpful starting point for thinking about how to digitize your advisory business and have some fun this Year building your personal brand!Guest contributor: Brett Fulmer

Related: The 5 Biggest Financial Services Technology Trends in 2020