Private Client Services Marketing Director, Capital Group
Business development activities to find new clients are the lifeblood of a growing financial advisory practice. Unfortunately, most prospecting strategies are not scalable because they are either too expensive (advertising, hosting dinners, etc.) or too time-consuming (attending conferences, giving free seminars, etc.) for the average firm.
That’s why social media can such be a powerful tool for scaling your business development efforts. Platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are relatively low-cost ways to reach vast audiences of potential clients. LinkedIn alone boasts more than 500 million registered users worldwide, with more than 138 million in the United States.
Keep in mind, you shouldn’t view social media as a silver bullet when it comes to business development. After all, simply creating a profile and making sporadic posts will not automatically generate an influx of new prospects. Instead, you need to develop a strategy for using social networks to connect with qualified leads, and allocate the time and resources to execute your plan.
Getting Started on Social Media
The first step in using social media as a prospecting tool is to make sure it’s compliant. FINRA and the SEC are continually updating their rules for how advisors can use social media, and there are often significant gray areas. Each wealth management firm and broker-dealer likely follows somewhat different interpretations of these rules, so be sure to check with your compliance department experts to determine your firm’s policies.
The next step is identifying which platforms are right for you. In talking with many advisors, we have found that LinkedIn is by far the most valuable social media platform for connecting with prospects. While Facebook, Twitter and Instagram can provide some additional value in terms of building your brand, LinkedIn should generally be the foundation of your social prospecting efforts.
Resist the temptation to feel like you need to be active on every social platform. It’s better to focus your energy on LinkedIn and perhaps one other site, rather than trying to be everywhere. The social media landscape is rapidly evolving, and new platforms are constantly emerging. Your clients and prospects don’t expect you to be everywhere. In fact, if you were to try to be active on all forums, it may become overwhelming from a logistical standpoint.
Once you’ve determined the compliance rules and selected your platforms, the next step is developing a strategy for using those channels to connect with people who fit the profile of your potential clients. One of the biggest benefits of LinkedIn as a prospecting tool is that it can be used for both outbound and inbound marketing efforts. Outbound marketing is when you proactively reach out to prospects, whereas inbound marketing is when you create valuable content that attracts prospects to your site. You shouldn’t view prospecting as an either/or proposition when it comes to outbound and inbound marketing on LinkedIn. Instead, develop strategies that incorporate elements of both outbound and inbound prospecting efforts.
Below are some effective outbound and inbound strategies that you can use on LinkedIn. Similar approaches can also be applied to the other social platforms, but because LinkedIn is the most effective social platform for prospecting, we suggest that you start with LinkedIn before moving on to the other platforms.
Outbound LinkedIn Strategies — Proactively Reaching Your Target Prospects
Successful networking for financial advisors, whether in person or online, is all about knowing whom you can add value for and establishing common ground with those people. The vastness of social media means that it is even more important to be intentional and disciplined about identifying the characteristics that qualify someone as a good prospect for your firm.
LinkedIn’s targeting and information-sharing capabilities make it easier to search for people with those characteristics and to find areas of common ground with them. LinkedIn provides a filtering tool that allows you to search for people based on criteria, such as title, current and past employers, industry, company size, geographic location and universities attended. This tool also allows you to filter according to what degree of connection you have with the individual.
When reaching out to new prospects on LinkedIn, keep the following best practices in mind:
Once you have added people to your LinkedIn network, you will want to stay top of mind with them. In addition to the outbound strategies described above, another good way to stay relevant is by liking, sharing or commenting on posts that the individual has made.
Beyond targeting specific individuals, an effective way to connect with people in high-value audiences is by joining groups. LinkedIn features thousands of groups, which serve as forums for people with common interests to share ideas and ask questions of each other. If your practice focuses on certain types of professionals, you may want to consider joining groups that are tailored for that profession. It is important to note, though, that many of these groups are private, so you will have to ask for permission to join. And if you do join, do not use the group discussions as a forum for promoting your firm. Rather, you should use them as a way to add value for other group members by answering any wealth management– or financial planning–related questions that arise in the discussions.
Inbound LinkedIn Strategies — Generating Organic Engagement
When it comes to using LinkedIn as an inbound tool for generating leads, the focus should be on 1) creating a profile that is easy for potential clients to find and that tells a compelling story about why you are a good fit for them and 2) publishing content that showcases your expertise as an advisor.
Most advisors just consider their website when they think about search engine optimization (SEO), but it is also important to apply SEO principles to your profiles on LinkedIn and other social platforms. These sites function similarly to search engines, so you want to make sure your profile includes keywords that your target audience is likely to use when searching for someone with your services.
When prospects visit your profile, make sure that your page conveys why you are uniquely qualified to work with clients like them. In the description of your practice, identify the specific niches that you cater to and list the attributes that you use to market your firm, such as assets under management, suite of wealth management services, years of experience, and awards and credentials. Also, make sure your site includes a current, professional photo and your company’s logo and branding. (For more on building an effective LinkedIn profile, click here.)
Conveying your expertise, however, requires more than just a well-polished profile. Use LinkedIn as a channel for distributing compliance-approved white papers, blogs, videos and other forms of thought leadership that your firm has created. In addition to showing the depth of your wealth management expertise, publishing content regularly on LinkedIn will increase your chances of showing up on potential prospects’ news feeds, building brand awareness and keeping you top of mind for when he or she is ready to hire an advisor.
Putting These Principles to Work
Like other prospecting strategies, generating new clients via LinkedIn and other social media platforms starts with having a sound strategy for whom you will target and how you will engage with your audience. While the technology of these social platforms allows you to scale your prospecting efforts to a much greater degree than traditional forms of networking, you will still need to allocate time and resources to executing your social media strategy. When done properly, these strategies can yield an impressive return on your business development investments.
About the Author
Kirk Kazanjian is head of marketing for Capital Group’s high net worth division. He has more than two decades of industry experience and is the author of more than 20 books on marketing and investment management.
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