Financial Planners: What’s your online brand?

Will you be up ahead – or left behind?

With the financial planning industry having upped several gears in the last year, the pace of change and the need for a solid online communication strategy could be what drives you up ahead of the rest – or leaves you spluttering and worn out at the back of the pack.

A vital component of online communication is your online brand.

Online branding is a technique that uses your website, blogs (part of your website strategy), social media and emails to stay in touch with your clients in a way that creates, builds and sustains your brand. A strong online brand will differentiate you from your competitors and support your ongoing efforts to have your clients trust you and follow your advice – not just for the short term, but for the full duration of their financial journey.

Given the rise in Robo-Advisors, the new RDR policies in South Africa and the speed with which current news is communicated through mobile devices, here are three reasons why you need to develop your online brand and stay in touch with your clients.

1. Stay top of mind

With so many thought-leaders, opinion-mongers and self-help Googlers dabbling in market trends and money management tips – your clients will be receiving messages from their Facebook feed, their Twitter stream, their News apps, Tumblr, LinkedIn, Pinterest and their daily email updates. Sure – some will get filtered out, but many won’t.

If you want your clients to hold onto the advice that you give them, to stick fast when markets shake and follow through with long-term decisions that will ensure the financial wellbeing of their family and business, then they need to be hearing from you and thinking of your advice first. Developing a strong online brand will help you do this.

2. Stay current and relevant

If the last time your client heard from you was two months ago, your latest blog is six months old and you’ve moved offices – you’re practically dead in the water.

However, if your client hears from you once a month, goes to your website and sees several new blogs, follows you on social media and receives Whatsapp  messages from you – they will hold the perception that you are relevant and up-to-date with what’s going on in the industry. They will feel like they can contact you when they need you and that when they do – you will add value to their decisions.

Your clients will be considerably more likely to follow your advice and work within the plan and portfolio that you work so hard to develop for them.

3. Keep differentiating yourself

You need to create a client experience that exceeds their expectations. When your client hears from you, you want them to be glad that you are their financial advisor. When they’re at a social event, discussing life – you want them to recommend you to their friends.

The planners who will succeed in the next five years, will be the ones who embrace the changes around them, use technology and creativity to build their client relationships and aren’t afraid to re-invent the way they stay in touch with their clients.

Tim Slatter is the director of timslatter.com, a company that focusses on enhancing your ORM (online reputation management) to create, build and sustain relationships that are reinforced by trust and seen to be value-adding.

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