Easy Ways to Build Your Blogging Muscles

Are you like many business professionals who are afraid to write? Afraid to share their smarts and blog? In the February Digital Institute broadcast, only 17 percent of attendees said they blog on a monthly basis. Moreover, over 70 percent have not blogged in the past year and/or don’t have any plans to blog. Yikes. Blogging is one of the best ways to show your clients and prospects you are an expert in your financial services niche — something advisors need to do out of the gate!

Discover the Simple Secrets to Deconstructing Digital

Do you ever feel like the basic principles of the digital world are sitting on shifting sand? One day you think you’ve got it all figured out, and then the next, you’re completely confused and overwhelmed.

Boost Your Centers of Influence with Social

Finding and cultivating referrals is an ongoing and necessary part of your business development strategy.

How to Love LinkedIn: Five Reasons to Get Passionate About Social Media

Can you really grow to love social media? From the outside, social media appears to be a struggle. Too many compliance headaches. Too much time. Too few clients online. Too little return.

Many firms have shared with me they don’t know what they don’t know. Therefore they don’t do. This approach leaves many firms sitting on the sidelines, letting the digital world pass them by.

Newsflash! The Internet has disrupted the way we acquire information and interact with the world. It is shaping an entirely new idea of what’s possible in marketing, sales, business and our world of financial services. Responding to the digital demand is no longer an option, it’s a necessity.

Have you lost that loving feeling where social media is concerned? Do not despair. Just in time for Valentine’s Day I offer five reasons why you should stop being a wallflower and start dancing. The social sphere allows you to:

  1. Easily develop a personal brand: An optimized LinkedIn profile is a sure-fire way to solidify your personal and professional brand. The time it takes to optimize your profile will immediately pay dividends in better Google search ranking for your name and your firm’s name. And, don’t forget a professional headshot. Adding a professional photo makes you 14 times more likely to be found on LinkedIn.
  1. Be where your prospects are: LinkedIn reaches 37% of the U.S. population. It is particularly popular among college graduates, those in higher-income households and the employed.
  1. Accelerate connections: When I speak about using LinkedIn for financial advisors, I often say, “LinkedIn is the largest rolodex in the world.” Imagine the ability to tap into the power of nearly 400 million people worldwide? With a bit of ongoing effort to grow your network, you’ll begin to notice the connections within connections.
  1. Scale your top-of-mind efforts: Active profiles – those that share updates and interact – are more likely to be viewed. Think of it as a super simple way to stay top of mind with just the touch of a few strokes on your keyboard. Consider this tip from LinkedIn, “To be seen, you need to move, if you are camouflaged in the crowd, you will stay well hidden.”
  1. Lead the conversation: 74% of prospects chose the company that was first to help them along their buying journey. By consistently contributing helpful content on a particular subject, advisors can begin to lead the conversation rather than follow.

Need help creating an optimized LinkedIn Profile? Or are you ready to take the social world by storm? Stay tuned for news about my social selling bootcamp. Coming later in March!

Digital Institute Embraces the Social Media Sphere

New ShoeFitts Marketing monthly broadcasts show financial advisors how to utilize key digital concepts and ideas in their daily practice.

Portland, OR, January 14, 2016: Financial services industry professionals can now take full advantage of digital marketing to elevate their brand, find and develop leads, and increase sales by attending the new monthly ShoeFitts Digital Institute live broadcasts. Featuring host Sheri Fitts, CEO of ShoeFitts Marketing, the series breaks down social media know-how into manageable and executable steps.

“Nearly every day, one industry group or another reports that financial services individuals who are embracing the digital sphere are exceeding and outselling their peers,” explains Fitts. “The ShoeFitts Digital Institute specifically helps professionals in the financial services industry understand how to bring the most important social selling ideas and concepts into their practice.”

For instance the January 21 broadcast, The State of Social in 2016, explains the top social selling hacks. “In this show, I share the latest trends and tips, plus showcase the sales and business growth opportunities,” Fitts says.

The February 18 broadcast, How to Make Digital Marketing Work for You, walks attendees through the steps necessary for determining and executing a well-conceived and holistic approach. “Not sure how to get started? No problem,” Fitts explains. “I outline the key digital marketing plan considerations, including how to leverage digital channels, and how to measure and evaluate your return on investment.”

Fitts, with some 25 years of marketing experience in financial services, understands the tremendous selling power of today’s digital marketplace since there are now some 1.5 billion global social media users spanning all generations and demographics. She recently launched a comprehensive self-paced eCourse, Social Selling for Financial Advisors, to address social selling in today’s competitive marketplace.

“Financial services professionals must embrace the digital sphere and understand how to effectively utilize social selling to make connections and elevate their sales,” Fitts says, adding: “The digital space is playing an ever-increasing role in the business-to-business environment, particularly in the people-facing financial services industry.”

About Sheri Fitts and ShoeFitts Marketing

Sheri Fitts, a well-regarded global speaker, engages audiences by sharing stories of her own experiences and experiments with marketing and social media strategies.

ShoeFitts Marketing helps clients be unforgettable. The Portland, Oregon-based consulting organization draws on decades of experience in the financial services marketplace to identify, create, and implement inspired marketing and social media strategies and solutions for its clients.

For more company information visit ShoeFitts Marketing and like ShoeFitts Marketing on Facebook. Follow Sheri Fitts on Twitter and LinkedIn. ##

Lay the Ghost of Compliance To Rest!

Boo!

Don’t let the ghost of compliance haunt you this Halloween. It’s time to dig that grave and lay the ghost to rest.

Sound a bit ghoulish? A trick instead of a treat? Not to worry.

I know many people fear using social media because of compliance concerns. Whenever I speak or train on the issue of social selling, the worry and barrier I hear about most often is compliance. But this isn’t 2006 (when I first started teaching folks about the social space). Even the SEC acknowledges that YELP exists.

Happy Halloween!

To help you get over your compliance fear, I’m giving away my Mastering Compliance module for free. Frankly, my intention is that you’ll find it helpful, entertaining, and encouraging. Encouraging enough to compel you to take the plunge into the full eCourse, Social Selling for Financial Advisors.

However, let’s not go there right now. Just take the Mastering Compliance course. It’s free. It’s short. It’s pretty much everything you need to create a solid foundation for moving your social selling forward. Because, if you’re not using social as a piece of your sales puzzle, you’re missing out. Social media and social selling are not hard or frightening when you understand and implement some simple, thoughtful guidelines.

There is tremendous selling power in today’s digital marketplace with 1.5 billion global social media users spanning all generations and demographics. This collective group, known as Generation D (digital), includes some 75 million investors with over $27 trillion in assets.

You know that cold calling sucks. And studies show that more than 90 percent of the time it flat out fails. Yet, you also know you want more warm leads.

Lets lay the compliance ghost to rest. Join me in Mastering Compliance. I make it fun, interesting, and helpful. Even better, it’s free! Just like Halloween candy.

Forget social. Focus on Sales.

 

Ten or so years ago, at the beginning of the social craze, the marketing rally cry was “Join the Conversation!” Experts pointed to the benefits of brand engagement, community interaction, and the once in a lifetime opportunity to go viral.

Value in the social world was associated with followers, likes and retweets. Frankly, that put a lot of folks off. How does this rah-rah cocktail party atmosphere create sales? Sprinkle in the regulation and compliance issues we face in the financial services industry and for most of us, social was a non-starter.

Even now, a fairly large group of financial professionals are only able to have a static LinkedIn profile. Guess what? Even if all you do is maximize your profile and use LinkedIn to help grow your connections, you can rock your sales with Social Selling.

Social Selling 1

When I speak and teach on the world of social, I start with LinkedIn for a variety of reasons:

  • A LinkedIn profile is easy to create and maintain
  • The pace is more manageable than Twitter
  • The site is very Googleicious (meaning it aids in search engine optimization)
  • Over 30 percent of American adults with annual household incomes over $100,000 use LinkedIn (check out this source for more amazing LinkedIn stats)
  • More than 300 million people have a LinkedIn profile; one out of three professionals on the planet has a LinkedIn profile
  • Business people use the site, and 35 percent of users access LinkedIn every day
  • Finally, most broker/dealers allow for, at minimum, a static profile!

I know, some of your are saying, “but what about compliance, Sheri?” My response: Don’t let compliance get in your way of some awesome competitive information; just create an optimized LinkedIn profile, run it by compliance, and then do what you can to grow your network.

In other words, pretend LinkedIn is a series of rolodexes. You don’t need to do the social stuff. Do sales instead. Then dive into the Advanced Search function. You can always take your activity to the next level, but for now, don’t worry about doing everything.

Take baby steps. Because, frankly, if you don’t engage just a little bit in the digital space you will get left behind in the dial-up world. Like it or not, some of your competitors are taking full advantage of Social Selling.

So don’t bury your head in the sand and hope social media goes away. Don’t point to compliance worries as a barrier. Do make the leap and try out the waters. I promise, you won’t drown in the deep end of the social media pool!

What Content Do I Share?

Wow! Thanks for all your recent comments and questions about social selling! Many of you are ready to up your social engagement and start rocking your sales. Along with this enthusiasm, I am hearing one resounding question: “what content do I share?”

This is an excellent question, and one I cannot answer, but can help you answer. First, sharing content is not about selling; it’s about building a relationship by sharing your smarts. The content you share needs to speak to the needs, concerns, and worries of your connections. In other words, what do they care about?

Second, remember the digital noise is vast, so you need to take this opportunity to provide real tangible help. The more you help, the more trust you gain, and the more likely you will out-sell the competition.

So, now you’re thinking, great, Sheri, but this sounds like a lot of work! Not really, once you understand there are two types of content: stuff you create, and gems you curate and share. Both are important and you probably want to do a little of both.

Curating content is all about sifting through good resources to find worthwhile information for your connections. In addition to any news feeds you already receive, consider creating specific searches through Google Alerts, Newsle, Feedly, and Mention. As part of the sharing process, be sure to add a sentence or two about why the topic is important; you don’t want to just send along a link without some type of commentary.

Creating your own content can consist of sharing blogs, updates, tweets, special reports, white papers, etc. Admittedly, creating blogs can seem overwhelming! There is nothing quite like a blank Word document or update screen to stop all creativity. However, the creative process can actually help you focus on the needs of your connections (and sometimes we lose sight of that emphasis).

One trick that helps me is the old fashioned approach; I get out some paper and pens and do a little mind mapping to take a kernel of an idea and flush it out into one or more articles. For instance, if I want to share some LinkedIn ideas, I can start with “LinkedIn profiles” at the center of the page and then add all the key profile components around the core phrase. I might draw pictures, numbers, or use words—it doesn’t matter; whatever gets my brain engaged and thinking creatively.

Sharing content is a key component to social selling because it helps solidify your thought leadership with your connections. It doesn’t have to be a grind; in fact, the process can help keep you current with trends and news, and help you regularly address your tribe’s issues and cares.

It’s okay to start slowly until you get the hang of sharing content. Maybe try for a couple curating shares per week and one or two blogs per month. Just get going and then be consistent!

 

Knocking Down Barriers

Okay, I hear you! I have been writing and talking lots lately about social selling, and some of you are asking me, “hey, Sheri, is social selling really necessary?” In short—yes!

However, I understand the hesitation, so let’s address some of those perceived barriers to social selling:

  • No roadmap – Yes, you do need a plan, but it doesn’t have to be complicated and 20 pages long! You can develop a social selling strategy similar to a general selling plan; just vary the execution steps!
  • Takes too much time – Wrong! Just the opposite is true. Social selling actually saves you time by helping you work smarter.
  • Higher ups think social media is a fad – You may indeed have to do a little selling on the value of social media, but it will be well worth your time.
  • Worried about compliance – Social media interactions must follow some rules, so check out my Seven Things to Know about Compliance and Social Media tip sheet.

I am super excited to help explain all of these concepts and more with my new eCourse: Social Selling for Financial Advisors. I’ll be launching it soon; for now, you can learn more here and ensure your place at the head of the class!

The Internet is no Baby

My friend Alice Tang remembers her first days as a financial advisor when all she did was cold calling. Yep, for eight-plus hours a day she tried to grow her book of business by working her way down a call list, hoping to set up meetings. Luckily her perseverance worked, and today Alice is vice president of BPG Wealth Management, LLC. Equally lucky for Alice, her start came in 1994 when the Internet was in its infancy.

Today, the Internet is no baby; it’s a mature ruler that dictates both business-to-consumer and business-to-business selling. If Alice tried to start her financial services career today the same way she did in 1994, she would fail.

Purchasers have the power of the Internet at their fingertips and they expect, no demand, relevant information, nurturing and relationship-building. Selling must now include social selling so you can work smart and create those connections to rock your sales.

Consider the Franklin Templeton Insights to Closing a Sale survey showing that “81 percent of plan sponsors actively sought advisors through recommendations or referrals from colleagues, peer organizations or retirement plan service providers” but only a quarter of them responded to cold calling! If these numbers are not shocking enough, you must realize this study was done in 2012 and social selling has gained even more importance since!

So, what are you going to do? A few years back IBM initiated social selling and increased sales by 400 percent! Crazy, right? If you’re ready to learn the ins and outs of social selling in the financial services world, and escalate your sales, please sign up now for pre-launch details on my new eCourse: Social Selling for Financial Advisors.

P.S. If you want to hear more about Alice Tang, check out my Women Rocking Wall Street podcast, Toughing it Out.