Be specific about your advantages, or lose prospects

It’s hard to stand out among financial firms offering similar services and products. That’s why I agree that you should be specific about your advantages, as suggested by Marie Perruchet in One Perfect Pitch: How to Sell Your Idea, Your Product, Your Business—or Yourself. Learn and share your differentiators.

Perruchet says:

A key differentiator should be specific. All customers expect good value, fair prices, excellent customer service, and reliability, to name a few. You are bringing unique value to your market. You solve a unique problem for your customers. That’s the key differentiator.

 

Find your differentiators

How do you identify your differentiators? While Perruchet’s book is geared to entrepreneurs pitching to investors, some of her questions for uncovering uniqueness can help financial advisors, too. Here are some of them:

  • “Remember your last interaction with a client who loves your product. What made him rave about it?”
  • “Remember the last time a client, user, or partner told you about your product’s efficiency. What did the person say?”
  • “Who is the human resource who stands out and affects your product the most?”

After answering Perruchet’s questions, can you quantify the contribution that your differences make to the results or experience of your clients? If you can, that’s powerful.

Still struggling to find your differentiators? In an email interview with me, Perruchet suggested that you ask your clients why they’ve enjoyed working with you. Ask questions such as, “Why would you recommend me to your friends? Can you tell me of situations where I have really made a difference?” Push your clients to be as specific as possible. Next, share what you’ve learned with your leads to see how well it resonates with them.

Perruchet suggests that you tell a customer story. Create an imaginary character. Walk us through his painful day. Show him experiencing real problems that are solved by your (new) product features. Consider using client testimonials or case studies, if you work in an area of financial services where that’s allowed. Check with your compliance officer to see what’s allowed. However, you’re not likely to have much luck if you’re an investment manager.

Perruchet’s take on advisor mistakes

Knowing that Perruchet has worked with some financial advisors, I asked for her insights specific to that experience. She kindly shared her list of the top mistakes that financial advisors make when pitching to prospects. By the way, I love her tip about trying your pitch on your friends. I suggest a similar technique for testing your writing.

Mistake 1. Not simplifying the pitch 
Problem: A pitch should be simple enough that the person who hears it can remember and tell it to others in their own words. The lead you pitch to today may not become their client, but they may have a friend who is shopping for a financial advisor and is a perfect fit for you. What should they tell their friends about you? How can you give them the elements to pitch for you to their friends?

Solution: Practice with friends who are not in your field (or co-workers) and ask them for feedback on your pitch (for example, is it clear, am I specific). Ask them to put your pitch in their words. You will spot the mistakes right away.

Mistake 2. Not discussing specific problems they enjoy resolving for clients
Problem: You need to discuss the main problem you resolve for clients. Generalizations don’t work.

Solution: Give examples as many times as possible and speak using simple English. For example, do you enjoy working with people who want to buy a house in the next three years, who have moved from a foreign country so they don’t understand the U.S. financial system, or who don’t know how to start saving in their first job out of college? Or maybe you prefer clients who just sold shares of their start-up and don’t know what to do with the proceeds, or who need to start saving for retirement? Be specific so people retain images in their heads. For example, make them visualize their retirement in Palm Springs.

Mistake 3. They have a great 15-minute script, but they don’t do their homework about their leads.
Problem:  Your pitch won’t resonate with your prospects if you repeat a pitch by rote or you fail to provide relevant situations to the clients.

Solution: Do research about your prospects before you meet them. A great deal of information is available via the internet or social media. Then you can refer to their specific situation. For example, you can say, “as you have a new kid,” or “as you have just changed jobs,” or “as you have just refinanced your home.” When you understand the struggles they face, you can tell them about clients who faced the same and similar situations, and how you helped them. People think they are unique but they are going through universal problems.

 

Disclosure:  I received a free copy of One Perfect Pitch from McGraw-Hill in return for agreeing to write about it. Also, if you click on an Amazon link in this post and then buy something, I will receive a small commission. I only link to books in which I find some value for my blog’s readers.

Keep on clicking links, or make unhappy discoveries later

Do you ever get tired of clicking links in your online and emailed publications to make sure they go to the right place? I do.

It’s frustrating to click, click, click because 999 times out of 1,000 the link goes to the right place, and I see what I expect to see there. But what about the 1,000th time?

My shock from clicking a link

As I worked with my virtual assistant on my marketing emails for my upcoming investment commentary webinar, I thought, “I don’t need to continue clicking links to my registration page on EventBrite. We’ve used these emails and links forever. What could go wrong?”

After all, my assistants and I have used EventBrite since 2012. Over the years, each assistant has quickly gotten the hang of updating the dates and fees on the registration page, while repeating the same formatting.

I clicked anyhow, expecting to see the usual formatting with my logo at the top. Instead, I saw something similar (I didn’t think to save a screen shot) to the following:

My surprising result from clicking lniks

My logo and some of the usual text had been stripped out of my event registration page, apparently due to an “upgrade” in EventBrite’s software.

I tweeted to EventBrite to learn about the changes, and emailed my VA for help. Luckily, both responded quickly. Now I have a new registration page with my logo and some color, as you’ll see below.

new webinar registration page

 

What a difference clicking links makes! As a result of clicking the links, I found a problem that would have embarrassed me if I’d waited for my readers to discover it.

Clicking links lesson for you

What’s the lesson for you? Keep on clicking links to check that they meet your expectations.

After this experience, I think I’ll check more links than I used to. I must resist the urge to assume that everything is OK.

To learn more about my investment commentary webinar

Want to learn more about writing investment commentary? You’ll find the details of my webinar on my website and you can register for the webinar.

Not sure if you’ll be available at the time of the webinar? Don’t worry, you can watch a recording.

Financial call transcripts: are they good for marketing?

In my last staff job for an investment manager, I ran a weekly conference call with portfolio managers and other investment experts. Relationship managers and other portfolio managers dialed in to hear our experts’ views on the market and specific asset classes. My experience with those calls prejudiced me against using financial call transcripts for marketing. I’ll you why. But I’ll also share tips for getting more out of transcripts, if you use them.

My experience with a fixed-income call transcript

I remember a relationship manager asking me to order a call transcript to share with his colleagues and, possibly, some clients. I said “no.” Anyway, a few days later, I was surprised to receive a transcript in my email inbox. How did that happen? The relationship manager went behind my back to order a transcript. The company sent me a copy because I managed the call.

The relationship manager got his transcript. However, he didn’t really get what he wanted. After reading the transcript, he realized that it wasn’t useful. Even with editing, the transcript wouldn’t be compelling.

With that introduction, I’ll explain why financial call transcripts often aren’t good for your marketing.

3 reasons financial call transcripts may not work

Reason #1: Calls may not be as meaty as written documents

A spontaneous, unplanned call may bounce around and fail to go into depth on any one topic. This may work for some audiences, especially if audience members feels they are getting special access to normally inaccessible experts.

However, this type of call may not translate well into a transcript. It may be difficult for readers to glean useful information.

For example, imagine that your expert sprinkles tips about emerging-market stocks, investment-grade bonds, and tax planning advice throughout a call. Your expert’s wanderings are likely to  irritate your transcript’s readers.

Your transcript readers are also likely to be turned off if your expert fails to fully develop any topics. A transcript full of one-liners gets boring. that’s true even if your speaker is a top comedian. Most financial professionals don’t have comedians’ gift of gab.

Reason #2: A conversational style may not translate into writing

You can ask your transcriptionist to delete ums, ahs, and other meaningless fillers. That’ll make your transcript more readable.

However, there are other practices that work well in conversation, but poorly in writing. A conversational style tends to use more words than a good written document. For example, when speaking, a person may say “I’m going to talk about this and then that.” In contrast, a document may go directly to “This and that are important because…”

I believe that most written communications in the financial world benefit from passing my first-sentence test. However, a discussion that passes this test might sound stilted and unnatural.

Reason #3: Typos abound

Many factors can prevent an accurate transcript:

  • Speakers may not enunciate clearly.
  • The technical quality of the recording may be poor.
  • The transcriptionist may be sloppy or not know your industry. For example, I read a transcript that included the term “coverts,” as if it were referring to espionage. In fact, it should have said “converts,” a short form of “convertible bonds.”

3 ways to get more mileage out of recorded calls

1. Create speaking notes for your speakers

Provide some structure for your speakers before they get on your call. This will give your call more structure than a freewheeling conversation.

Here are two techniques to consider:

  1. Use a Q&A format. Draft questions that your moderator will ask on the call. It’ll help if the questions build in a logical order. Of course, a good moderator doesn’t stick 100% to the predetermined questions. It’s good to respond to the answers your experts give. Consider giving the questions to your expert in advance. It’ll help tongue-tied guests like me. On the other hand, some speakers may over-script and over-rehearse their answers. When you know your experts, you can manage them in the best way.
  2. Use speaking notes. I don’t recommend writing a word-by-word script. Detailed scripts tend to sap your speakers’ energy. Your speaking notes could be a list of topics, or the notes could go into more detail. Sometimes it’s good to provide bullet points for powerful statistics or stories. Stories tend to stick in people’s minds long after the facts disappear.

2. Proofread, copyedit, or rewrite transcripts

At a minimum, someone who listened to your call and someone who knows English usage rules should proofread your transcript. This will help you to avoid embarrassing mistakes.

Do you want to go beyond proofreading? There’s a spectrum from simple copyediting to rewriting the content to make it flow better.

3. Add headings

A transcript typically presents pages of text broken up only by the start of new paragraphs. When you add headings, you add visual variety. You also make it for readers to skim the document. They can figure out if the transcript touches on a big topic that interests them.

4. Create a highlights document

Back when I managed the weekly investment call for my employer, we didn’t use transcripts. Instead, I created a document that shared the highlights of the call.

Since my document was for internal use only, I wrote the highlights as bullet points. That meant it didn’t take as much time as writing in full sentences in a document that would pass my first-sentence check.

Bonus tip for working with a transcriptionist

Consider giving your transcriptionist a list of the technical terms that appear in your transcript. That may avert some mistakes.

YOUR tips?

Do YOU have tips to help marketers get more out of financial call transcripts? Please let me know.

 

Use Trello to manage your VA’s marketing help

If you’re a solopreneur like me, you may hire a virtual assistant (VA) to help with routine tasks like marketing. As your VA’s tasks multiply, the two of you may have trouble tracking them. You may find yourself searching for an email trail or wondering if you’ve told your VA about a specific task. That’s why I started using Trello, an online collaboration or project management tool. Here are my tips for using Trello to manage your VA’s marketing help.

Ask your VA what tool they use

When you hire a VA, ask how they track their projects. If you’re using the same tool—say, Trello instead of Asana, another popular tool—your communications will flow more smoothly because of greater integration.

However, different tools don’t pose an insurmountable obstacle. I use Trello, while my VA uses Asana with many of her clients. I think she has to import my tasks into Asana.

Set up boards that reflect your process

Boards are columns that contain cards that represent individual tasks. While Trello says that “a board represents a project,” I think of each board as a category of tasks.

My key boards are “TO DO,” “IN PROCESS,” and “WAITING for Susan’s input,” as you’ll see in the image below.

Trello boardsEach board consists of multiple cards. Each card represents a  task, such as “fix cover image–Draft LinkedIn post” in the upper left of the image. As you and your VA make progress on a task, drag it from one board to another.

A card keeps in one place all of the information related to a specific task. It cuts down on the number of emails you send and receive because all conversations about the task appear on the card.

Cards typically move from TO DO to WAITING. They may repeat the cycle by returning from WAITING to TO DO (or maybe IN PROCESS) before hitting DONE, a fourth board that is like a graveyard for completed tasks.

Pick deadlines wisely

Learn your VA’s approach to deadlines, and take it into account when setting deadlines and organizing tasks.

For example, your VA may wait until the deadline day to read about and start the tasks due that day. This causes problems if you have a big project due all at once. It also hurts if a small project is due on a busy day for your VA. If you have a huge project, you should break it down into small steps and make the first step’s deadline early. This helps VAs to pace themselves.

Breaking down tasks and scheduling them at appropriate intervals is probably a good approach for working with any VA. Time is money. The less time your VA spends assessing your schedule, the more time they can spend helping you with your marketing. Also, the typical VA balances multiple clients. I imagine that it’s hard for them to keep multiple projects straight in their heads.

Use checklists for multi-step tasks

A Trello checklist can help your VA track all of the necessary steps in completing your marketing tasks. For example, here’s the start of my monthly newsletter checklist.

newsletter checklistIn the beginning, I created one checklist per card, as with my monthly newsletter. More recently, I’ve created Trello cards that consist of multiple checklists. For example, my blogging class card includes 16 checklists organized in chronological order. It starts with a checklist called “13 weeks before class starts [week of 11/21]” and ends with “week after class ends [week of 4/3].”

Trello lets you copy checklists. After we complete one set of blogging class checklists, my VA will rename and re-date the checklists for the next class.

These reusable checklists have made my life much easier. I think they also make it easier for my VA to manage my gazillion small tasks.

Use Trello to track “use it or lose it” hours

Many VAs let you prepay for a discounted package of hours. However, they may not let you roll over unused hours into the next month. Or, they may limit the number of hours that you can roll over. On the other hand, if you need more hours than what you’ve prepaid for, you’ll pay a higher rate.

I have two monthly Trello cards to help me track my VA’s hours. A mid-month task asks her to tell me how many hours I’ve used. A late-month card asks her to tell me if I’m within two hours of using up my monthly allotment.

Archive or delete completed Trello cards

To keep Trello useful for a quick overview of pending tasks, you should move completed cards out of sight. This could mean moving to a DONE column.

Alternatively, you can archive cards, which would allow you to search and find them later. Note: your VA won’t be able to view cards that you’ve archived.

Deleting cards is the next step beyond archiving. If you delete cards, they’re gone forever.

Free vs. paid version of Trello?

I use the free version of Trello. When I had a temporary free upgrade to Trello Gold, I didn’t use it. However, if you have a technologically more complicated business than I do—or if you have a larger team—you may find a paid version of Trello helpful.

Bonus tip

Don’t make the mistake that I sometimes make. Don’t forget to hit “Send” after you create a new card or comment in Trello. If you don’t hit “Send,” your VA will never see your task or comment.

Also, you can read my tips on “9 Ways A Virtual Assistant Can Streamline Your Financial Advisor Blogging” on the Nerd’s Eye View blog published by Michael Kitces.

Marketing lesson from clashing clocks

I’m a regular at my gym. I go there to use the elliptical machine, work out with free weights, and take spinning classes. But sometimes I learn lessons that have nothing to do with exercise—like the lesson of the clashing clocks.

For years, my gym has had two wall clocks facing each other. One was above the mirrors next to the exercise mat. The other was on the opposite wall.

For years, it has driven me crazy that the two clocks disagreed about the time. Sometimes they differed by only a minute. Other times, the gap was as much as five minutes. That made a big difference when I was watching the clock to figure out if I needed to go clip into my spin bike for the start of class.

I complained occasionally to management, but the clocks never stayed aligned for long.

One day, things changed for the better. But that didn’t happen in the way that I expected. The gym didn’t buy two perfectly aligned clocks. Instead, they permanently removed one clock.

This is a clever solution because it forever removes the potential for members to complain about a mismatch between two clocks that they can see by simply swiveling their heads. This solution saves time for management and costs them nothing.

What clashing clock can YOU remove?

Your business may have the metaphorical equivalent of clashing clocks.

For example, I imagine that you may have marketing messages for different products that conflict. You could spend time rewriting your marketing collateral. Or, you could simply stop marketing one of the products, assuming that it isn’t core to your business.

Or, you may be active in six social media channels. If your marketing isn’t consistent across those channels, you can drop one or more of them. Sometimes less marketing is better marketing because you spend the time to do a better job on your remaining tasks.

You needn’t limit your clashing-clock analysis to marketing. Perhaps there are components of other parts of your business that you can eliminate.

What clashing clock can you remove?

 

If you enjoyed this post, you may enjoy “Financial blogging lessons from my spinning class” or “Learn what works in winning clients.”

 

Image courtesy of Serge Bertasius at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

10-minute boosts for your financial content marketing

Financial content marketing helps you to attract new clients by boosting your visibility and showing that you can solve their problems. Great financial content takes time to create. But you don’t always have big chunks of time to devote to your content strategy, writing, editing, and promotion.

Don’t despair! You can give your content a boost when you have as little as 10 minutes to spare.

Generate financial content ideas tailored to your audience

  1. Mind map ideas around one of your key topic areas. Put the topic in the middle of your map and record any idea that pops into your head. I discussed a variation on this exercise in “Photo + Mind Map = Blog Inspiration.”
  2. Generate ideas by reading an article—any article. I got the idea for this article from reading “Time Crunch: 13 marketing tips that will take you 10 minutes or less” in the Journal of Financial Planning (July 2016). However, any article can spur ideas if you let your mind run free. For example,  the Boston Sunday Globe‘s “More height warnings coming to Storrow,” which discussed trucks crashing into road overpasses, made me think about those crashes as a metaphor for individuals ignoring warnings about their finances. It could turn into an article about “3 warning signs you shouldn’t ignore” or a topic in behavioral finance. It could also serve as a story for content about auto insurance, or infrastructure investments. You can also riff on the titles that appear on a magazine cover.
  3. Ask your target audience what they want to learn. One technique is to pose a question on social media. The cool thing is that when people comment on your social media post, people whom you don’t yet know may see it and comment. This expands your network. I discuss other techniques in “Financial content: Ask questions of your readers.”
  4. Do keyword-based research. Brainstorm ideas around the keywords for which you’d like your website or blog to rank high. Some online tools, such as AnswerThePublic, spit out ideas based on the words that people input into search engines.
  5. Set up a Google Alert. See what people are talking about in your main areas of interest.

Create financial content

  1. Introduce content you’ve already created. It took me less than 10 minutes to write an introduction and load an infographic that I’d had my virtual assistant create for me. You can see the results in “Infographic: 5 Ways to Add Personality to Your Financial Writing.” You can take content that you’ve created elsewhere—an infographic, video, podcast, webinar, SlideShare, or guest post on someone else’s blog—and re-purpose it on your blog.
  2. Assign a task to a team member. You don’t have to do all of the financial content marketing work yourself. For example, every month I email my virtual assistant with introductory text and a list of articles to highlight in my newsletter.
  3. Request a guest post. Ask an expert, referral source, client or other person for a guest post.
  4. Draft a list of questions for a Q&A post. Think of a topic that you’d like to cover in an “interview” via email. After you gain your interviewee’s consent, send them a list of questions to answer.
  5. Start a blog post with the intention of not finishing. You don’t have to finish every post in one day, especially if you’re pressed for time. Sometimes it’s good to stop a post before you finish dumping your thoughts on the page. Later, when you return to the post, it’ll be easier for you to resume writing by expressing the thoughts you had left unstated in your last session.

Edit your financial content

  1. Assess your draft’s readability. You can use a free online tool like Hemingway, which I discuss in “Free help for wordy writers!”
  2. Proofread by listening to your content. I describe this in “My best tip for editors who proofread their own work.” Of course, fixing things may take you more than 10 minutes.
  3. Send your content to a colleague or a professional for proofreading, copyediting, or other feedback. Another set of eyes is always helpful.

Amplify your financial content marketing

  1. Install an SEO plugin. I use the free version of the Yoast SEO plugin for WordPress to boost my awareness of how to highlight my keywords.
  2. Learn more about SEO. You can find relevant videos on the Google Webmasters channel on YouTube. Some of them, like “SEO for startups in under 10 minutes,” are short. You can also check out classes on the Google Webmasters website.
  3. Write a social media status update. Promote your content via LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, or whatever social media channels work best for you.
  4. Research a blog for a potential guest post. My two-part post, “How to guest-blog on personal finance or investments,” tell you how to approach blogs for guest posts and gives you links to some blogs that accept guest posts.
  5. Pitch a guest post. Email your potential host to propose a guest post.

Early Bird pricing ends Jan. 31

Hourglass image courtesy of Graphics Mouse at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

4 tips for mutual fund fact sheet templates

“What’s your best advice for someone who’s creating mutual fund fact sheets?” A colleague’s question spurred this list of tips for mutual fund fact sheet templates that you can use repeatedly.

1. Write your fact sheets so they are compelling, clear, and concise

Focus on the information that your readers care about. Replace jargon with plain language. Trim unnecessary words.

Of course, you’ll still need the disclosures that your compliance officers demand. But even those can be clearly written. As I pointed out in “Ammo for your plain-language battle with compliance,” there’s no legal requirement to use jargon in disclosures. In fact, plain language may offer you a better defense, says lawyer Joseph Kimble in Writing for Dollars, Writing to Please: The case for plain language in business, government, and law.

2. Scavenge from your other marketing materials

Assuming that your mutual fund’s other materials are well written, you should borrow content from them for your mutual fund fact sheet templates. You’ll raise the standards for your fact sheets when you recycle compelling, clear, concise language. You’ll also benefit from consistency across your communications.

3. Hire a writer or an editor to improve the fact sheet template that you’ll use repeatedly

It’s hard for you to view your mutual fund fact sheet template through the eyes of an outsider. You’re too immersed in your product. Hire an outside writer or editor to help.

No budget for outside help? Show your draft to members of your target audience. Don’t simply ask them “Do you have any suggestions?” or “Do you understand?” Ask them, “What are the main messages of this fact sheet—and can you sum them up in your own words?”

4. Consult a designer

Effective design, with plenty of white space and a layout that makes it easy for readers to find what they seek, can make a big difference in your fact sheet’s effectiveness.

Some fact sheets present a cacophony of data. Others draw readers’ eyes to the most important information.

YOUR ideas?

If you have suggestions for how to create better mutual fund fact sheet templates, please comment. I enjoy learning from my readers.

 

Disclosure: I received a free copy of Kimble’s book after mentioning it in another blog post. If you click on the Amazon link in this post and then buy something, I will receive a small commission. I only link to books in which I find some value for my blog’s readers.

Image courtesy of ratch0013 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Print newsletter vs. e-newsletter for financial marketers

Should you send a print newsletter or an e-newsletter? I’m asking this question because I just added a 28-page paper newsletter to my “to read” pile. This newsletter wouldn’t have commanded my attention if it had come via email. While newsletters printed on paper and sent via the postal service are becoming dinosaurs, you may find them worthwhile.

The case for a print newsletter

The big reason to send a print newsletter is to break through the clutter encountered by e-newsletters. I have e-mail inbox rules that move most e-newsletters into a folder called “newsletter.” I rarely read them. I even skip newsletters that would interest or help me because there are too many of them.

Marketing via mail generally achieves higher response rates. According to “2015 DMA Response Rate Report: Direct Mail Outperforms All Digital Channels Combined By Nearly 600%“:

Direct mail achieves a 3.7% response rate with a house list, and a 1.0% response rate with a prospect list. All digital channels combined only achieve a 0.62% response rate (Mobile 0.2%; Email 0.1% for a Prospect list and 0.1% for House/Total list; Social Media 0.1%; Paid Search 0.1%; Display Advertising 0.02%).

Direct mail’s 3.7% and 1.0% response rates for house lists and prospect lists respectively look attractive compared with the 0.1% response rates for email. Of course, your experience may differ from the DMA’s results.

Another plus of print is your control of what readers see in front of their eyes. This contrasts with e-newsletters, where readers’ email programs or browsers may distort your layout or blank out images.

The case against a print newsletter

stamps for print newsletter

Stamps on the envelope of the 28-page newsletter that inspired this post

I see three main drawbacks to print newsletters: cost, timeliness, and lack of analytics.

It’s relatively expensive to send a print newsletter via the U.S. mail. A $1.57 worth of stamps adorned the newsletter I just opened. Other costs may include envelopes, paper (fancy stock is pricey), ink, and design work. Only design work might apply to an e-newsletter, though you may also need to pay for an e-mail marketing provider, such as Constant Contact or MailChimp.

Taking a contrary view on cost, “2015 DMA Response Rate Report: Direct Mail Outperforms All Digital Channels Combined By Nearly 600%” argues that direct mail’s costs are competitive with other media, perhaps partly because of print’s higher response rates. Here’s the article’s take on costs:

Cost-per-acquisition for direct mail is very competitive. Direct mail stands at $19, which fares favorably with Mobile and Social Media (both at $16-18), Paid Search ($21-30), Internet Display ($41-50) and even email ($11-15).

Print newsletters take longer than e-newsletters to reach your readers. That’s partly a function of the creation process, especially if an outside designer or printer is involved. Plus, you must give your newsletters to the post office and wait for their delivery.

Unlike e-newsletters, print newsletters don’t give you detailed analytics. You can’t see who opened your newsletter or which content attracted the most attention.

Use both instead of only a print newsletter

Enjoy some of the benefits of both printed and electronic communications by using both formats, if your budget permits.

For example, like the person who sent me the 28-page newsletter, you can email your list about with teaser copy about your printed newsletter. You can also include a link to an online version of your paper newsletter.

Another possibility: use print for your regular newsletters and use e-newsletters for more time-sensitive communications.

What are your results?

If you’ve used both a print newsletter and an e-newsletter, how do your results compare? Would you recommend one over the other? I enjoy learning from you.

 

Dinosaur image courtesy of Geerati/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Get more mileage out of your financial webinar or podcast

Webinars, videos, and podcasts about investments and other financial topics are a great way to highlight the expertise of your firm’s subject-matter experts. But are you getting the most out of your financial webinar or podcast? Probably not.

Some members of your clients, prospects, and referral sources will never watch a financial webinar, video, or podcast. That’s true no matter how professionally you produce it. Even if your topic is central to the problems they’d like to solve.

What can you do?

If your time is limited, use the techniques I describe in “Videos: 3 ways to make them palatable for video-haters like me.”

If you have the time and resources to do more, consider the techniques I list below.

1. Create an infographic

The visual learners among your target audience will appreciate an infographic of tips or a key process from your financial webinar or other presentation. For a sample, see my “Infographic: 5 Ways to Add Personality to Your Financial Writing.” After they look at your infographic, they may be more willing to sign up for your presentation.

Your webinar, video, or podcast audience may also enjoy your infographic as a review of your presentation. You could offer it as a “thank you” present for audience members who join your email list or respond to a survey that follows your presentation.

An infographic can also do double duty as a blog post.

2. Create a worksheet

Repackaging your tips or process into a worksheet makes it easier for readers to act on your information. They love worksheets.

I’ve created worksheets using Adobe Acrobat Pro that are nicely formatted, but can be filled and saved by the reader. The combination of nice formatting and the ability to save is a winner. A one-time effort by you gets big results for your readers.

Like an infographic, a worksheet can be a reward for people who participate in your presentation or join your email list. It’s less appropriate as a blog post because worksheets typically don’t fit in the available space. Still, you could offer it as a free download from your blog.

3. Write blog posts

A typical webinar or other presentation holds the seeds of multiple blog posts.  Plant those seeds by writing the blog posts.

Of course, your presentation may have its roots in earlier blog posts or other written pieces. If so, congratulate yourself for having learned “A top technique of financial advisors who blog successfully.”

4. Create an e-book

For the die-hard readers in your audience, you can turn your financial webinar or other presentation into an e-book. Your notes—or a transcript of your live presentation—is a great starting point. The fact that you’ve attracted people to attend your presentation confirms that there is a market for your book. My book, Financial Blogging: How to Write Powerful Posts That Attract Clients, grew out of my blogging class for financial advisors.

5. Use the audiovisual format that you skipped earlier

If you produced a great webinar, consider converting part of it into a podcast to attract people who listen when they can’t watch educational materials. You can also see about being a guest about your webinar topic on somebody else’s podcast.

On the flip side, perhaps your podcast contains an idea that would benefit from engaging your audience’s eyes in a webinar or video.

6. Turn compelling statistics or one-liners into social media status updates

If you’re active on social media, you know how hard it can be to keep your status updates flowing. Use your presentation’s compelling statistics or one-liners as social media status updates.

If you identify these updates before your presentation, you can use them to promote your event.

7. Put a clip on your website

A clip from your financial webinar, video, or podcast can spice up your website. Try it and see.

8. Try something else

The possibilities for reusing your content are vast. Please leave a comment about opportunities that I haven’t mentioned. I’d also like to hear about how recycling your presentations has earned results for you.

6 design tips for your first infographics

Infographics are a powerful way to attract people who are more visually oriented. They also are a great way to re-purpose ideas that you’ve published earlier in a text-heavy format.

I learned some lessons in the process of working with my virtual assistant on the design of my first infographics. She also contributed to this post.

1. Pare your word count

Infographics are short on words. That’s part of how they boost the visual impact of your text. Here are statistics from various sources on the appeal of visual content, which HubSpot shared in “37 Visual Content Marketing Statistics You Should Know in 2016“:

  • “Researchers found that colored visuals increase people’s willingness to read a piece of content by 80%.”—for more details, see the Xerox article (PDF) that’s the source of this statistic cited by Hubspot.
  • “Content with relevant images gets 94% more views than content without relevant images.”
  • “Infographics are Liked and shared on social media 3X more than other any other type of content.”

I created my first two infographics for this blog by dramatically paring the word count of blog posts that I’d written earlier.

2. Get help from a designer, website, or template

I’m lucky to have a virtual assistant (VA) who’s more visually savvy than I am. Kelly, my VA, created my infographics using templates from Canva. I sent her my text and some suggestions about images. Then I turned her loose.

Canva offers pre-designed templates. This is helpful if you struggle to choose colors that complement each other or if you need a boost of creativity in terms of the graphic layout. Within the  template, you can change the colors to anything you want. Be careful not to choose colors which either clash with each other or blur together into a bland landscape. The pre-designed templates already have color choices which are complementary, done by a designer. If you wish to change the colors, the Adobe Kuler site gives many complementary color palettes that you can choose from. This will help you identify an attractive, appealing color scheme.

After starting the first infographic, Kelly figured out that we’d need a paid account to customize the dimensions of the graphic. It is hard to choose the exact dimensions before getting started because you don’t know how well your content will fit inside those dimensions. With a paid account, you can customize the dimensions partway through your design process so that it fits your content. I mention this so you’re not surprised if this happens to you with Canva. You can get a free one-month trial to see if Canva is right for you.

Canva isn’t the only tool for creating infographics. Some people use PowerPoint. HubSpot, for example, offers some free infographic templates using Powerpoint. There are other providers of free or low-cost tools. Contently’s “The Pros, Cons, and Costs of the Top 5 DIY Infographic Tools” reviews some alternatives.

If you can hire a professional designer and use tools designed for a big-company budget, I imagine that you can get much nicer results.

3. Think about images for your infographic

As you create your infographic, think about the images that can represent your ideas. Visual appeal plays a bigger role in infographics than in articles or even blog posts. Images are essential. Even if you discuss abstract concepts, you need images to represent them.

Working with Kelly on my first infographic reinforced for me how important the images are. For the second infographic, I inserted screenshots of some stock photo images that I thought might work.

Kelly pointed out that the images used in an infographic have to go together. They need to have a similar look, which might be a bit cartoonish, like the piggy bank pig in my first infographic. These computer-generated images are called vectors by many sources of stock illustrations.

For consistency—and to conform with a template—they may even need to be the same color, as in my second infographic. For this reason, Kelly found it easier to use premium images from Canva in my infographics. This was especially helpful for the second infographic, which required black images, because she was able to change the color of a premium image. Another possibility is to license images from a source that allows you to edit photos, using a paid program such as Adobe PhotoShop, or vectors, using a program such as Adobe Illustrator. If Adobe Illustrator is too expensive for editing vectors, a friend of mine suggested Inkscape, a free program. However, she doesn’t have much experience with the program. My virtual assistant says that, like Illustrator, Inkscape looks like it’s aimed at design professionals, rather than regular folks.

Make sure that you don’t infringe copyright with your image use. Use images from reputable sources. Pay for and credit them, if necessary.

4. You may need to let go of some preferences

I have a bias against light text on dark backgrounds, which is known as reversed type. I don’t like it because it’s typically harder to read, especially if your readers have eyes that are starting to weaken.

Many infographic templates feature blocks of alternating colors, some of which use reversed type. While I managed to avoid reversed type in my two infographics, I lost some color appeal as a result.

5. Check design as well as proofreading

When you review an infographic, you need to look for mistakes in the design or layout, as well as typos and other errors typically targeted in proofreading

For example, line spacing may be off, a line may not extend evenly across the page, or colors may be misplaced.  It may help you to find a design-savvy person to check your final product.

6. Remember that JPG files can’t have links

I was keen to insert clickable “share” icons in my first infographic for my blog. Oops, clickable links aren’t possible in the JPG image file format. While they’re possible in a PDF, I can’t display a PDF on my blog.

Again, clickable links are an area where having a big-company budget can probably help you.

YOUR tips?

I’m still finding my way with infographics. I’d like to learn more. Please share your tips.

Image courtesy of seaskylab/freedigitalphotos.net