Look smarter to your clients, prospects, or boss with alerts

Will you look smarter to your clients, prospects, or boss if you stay current on news stories about them? Of course.

Free Google Alerts

The free Google Alerts service provides email updates of the latest Google results (web, news, etc.) for your topic.

You can get information from Google on how to sign up. It’s easy. You will need a Google account.

Search tips

I’ve gotten the best results by selecting “all results” instead of “only the best results” in response to the question “how many.” That’s probably because my alerts are for very narrow, specific topics. “Only the best results” sometimes yielded no results, when “all results” yielded some. I noticed this with the alert for Financial Blogging: How to Write Powerful Posts That Attract Clients. Some of the results come from poor-quality websites. That’s been useful because it has made me aware when my book’s copyright has been infringed.

If I were searching on a broad topic, such as “investment management,” I’d select “only the best results.” I’d also narrow my topic to a specific kind or aspect of investment management.

I adjust my settings so I only receive alerts once a week. Otherwise the flow of emails could overwhelm me.

There are many other tracking services, such as Mention or Talkwalker.  However, Google Alerts is free and widely accessible. It’s a great starting point.

Other uses

Are you researching a topic for a blog post, white paper, or other purpose? Set up an alert for your topic. It may yield some helpful information.

If you’re searching for something to blog about, a Google alert on a broad area may make you aware of a great topic you wouldn’t know of otherwise. It can also yield ideas for content to share via social media.

Also, keep an eye on your reputation by tracking your name, website, and other relevant topics.

 

NOTE: This post was originally published in 2008. I’ve updated and expanded it since then.

Finding your best clients

Learning what works for you in winning clients is a good way to make your marketing more efficient and effective. I’ve described my approach on this blog. But two webinars by consultant Mary Cravets of Simply Get Clients inspired me to revisit this topic.

List marketing techniques and top clients

Cravets suggested that participants draw two columns on a piece of paper. In the left-hand column, list all of the marketing techniques that you use consistently or inconsistently, or that you’d like to try. In the right-hand column, list your top five clients.

Draw lines

The next step was for participants to draw a line from each top client to the technique in the left-hand column that brought them that client.  In other words, participants identify how they gained their best clients. That’s a great refinement on my original idea of analyzing all of my new clients in a given year. After all, wouldn’t you rather duplicate your best clients rather than your average clients?

For me, the visual impact of seeing the lines on my paper converging in one place was stunning. I tend to think of my newsletter and blog as major contributors to bringing me clients. But this exercise said that it’s really the internet and LinkedIn. Of course, my blog and newsletter are essential to my presence in both of those places.

Act on what you learn

The next step is to focus more on the techniques that bring you your best clients, and then do more of that. You should also deemphasize the less productive techniques, so you can win better clients with less effort.

In my case, the mix of ways I gained my top five clients was similar to how I gained all of my new clients last year. However, that might not be true for you, especially if you’ve tried new marketing techniques over the last year.

Take a closer look at how you gained your top clients so you can spend more time on those techniques. Then, maybe you can cut back on some of your time-consuming marketing that doesn’t get results. And, maybe you can spend less time on marketing, and more on what you enjoy.

Focusing on your best clients, rather than any new clients, can improve your business.

Flip the exercise

You can also learn from doing the reverse of this exercise, suggested Cravets. List your 5 worst clients, and then draw lines to the techniques that brought those clients to you. This may suggest techniques that you should avoid. For example, perhaps those clients came from a lead-generation service rather than from referrals. It may be time to put more energy into cultivating referrals.

 

NOTE: I expanded and revised this post after seeing a second presentation by Cravets in May 2021.

Financial advisors, a media platform can boost your business

I heard good things about Qwoted, a platform that connects reporters with sources, from some writer friends. So, I asked the firm for a guest post on how advisors can benefit from such platforms, which also include HARO and ProfNet. The post below by Madelynne Kislovsky, Qwoted’s deputy editor and marketing manager, is the result.

Madelynne told me, “Over 400 financial advisors use Qwoted, thanks to dozens of weekly source requests from reporters looking for insights from wealth managers and financial planners.”

Financial advisors, a media platform can boost your business

By Madelynne Kislovsky

Securing earned media opportunities is a crucial element of any marketing strategy. A necessary first step to garnering free media coverage is building relationships with reporters, which boosts the chances of getting your quotes and ideas in front of the audiences of top publications. The coverage you gain as an expert in your field will play a valuable role in the perception of your business by establishing you as a trustworthy source in your industry. Hiring a PR company to manage this can be costly and attempting to secure media opportunities with no guidance often stretches small business owners too thin.

While doing it yourself can be intimidating, there are platforms that assist with obtaining media coverage fast. Qwoted helps professionals in any field cut through the noise and connect with reporters who are looking for specific information around a particular topic. Reporters can also search Qwoted’s media database directly to find vetted, relevant sources. As a member of the Qwoted community, you’ll receive relevant source requests daily, which provide context around your outreach to reporters and propel you as a credible media source.

Sharing your expertise is never a poor choice, as any brand can benefit from securing earned media coverage on either the local or national level. However, reaching out to a journalist requires a collaborative approach. Keep the reporter’s needs in mind throughout the conversation, especially because most good journalists can sniff out your motives right away.

Here are some tips:

  • Respond to source requests as soon as possible to increase your chances of securing the media opportunity.
  • Include written responses to reporters’ questions in your initial pitches. You’ll make the reporter’s job simpler by immediately providing what they’re after. This will improve your chances of being included in the story.
  • Stay away from lengthy anecdotes and “TL;DR” paragraphs.
  • Be thoughtful and offer value without expecting anything in return. The ultimate goal is to build relationships with the media. This approach will provide more returns in the long term.
  • Do a bit of research on the journalist beforehand to learn about the topics they cover.
  • Make sure you have a plan should you receive a piece of coverage. You’ll want to leverage your earned media across your website, social channels, and directly with customers and prospects.

Garnering earned media opportunities doesn’t have to be expensive, difficult, or time-consuming. Make the most of your time by securing media opportunities the smart way. Research affordable alternatives and find which media request platform works best for your business model. You’ll find yourself securing opportunities and expanding your brand faster than you thought possible.

 

Focus on WIIFM, not the article

Nobody gets excited about reading an article. That’s the thought that crossed my mind when I received a newsletter that opened as you see in the image below.

 

The person sending the newsletter had good intentions. He knew that the SECURE Act brings changes that can affect the retirement planning of his clients and prospects. However, he didn’t convey that the changes were going to offer opportunities for readers to gain—or to experience pain. As a result, few people are likely to click on the link to read the article. It might be a great article. But the newsletter doesn’t give readers a reason to click.

Readers care about the WIIFM—What’s In It For Me. They want to know how they’ll benefit—or how they can minimize their pain.

The SECURE Act offers both gains and pains. That could inspire better headlines, such as:

  • GAIN: Avoid required minimum distributions—and the related taxes—for longer under the SECURE Act
  • PAIN: New limits on “stretch IRAs” mean you may need to adjust your retirement plan.

If you think about it, I bet you can apply this lesson to create better headlines.

A great way to annoy your editor

Would you like to guarantee that the editor of a magazine, blog, newspaper, or other publication never asks you to write for them again? Then, follow the advice in this article. I feel confident that your assigning editor will ignore your future proposals.

Surefire way to annoy

Here’s my advice: Accept a clearly defined assignment from an editor, and then turn in a story on a different topic. After all, if your new topic is interesting, the editor should be delighted, right?

No, no, no.

An editor’s perspective

When I’m wearing my “editor hat,” and I ask you to write on a specific topic. I want an article on that topic. That’s because the topic fits in with the rest of my editorial calendar. Also, I believe that my readers are interested in the topic.

Despite this, I’ve run into a writer who ignored the assignment that I’d given him. He turned in his article late, and didn’t comment in his cover email about his change of topic. When questioned, he said, “Oh, I figure everyone already knows all about that. I thought this topic was more interesting.”

Can you imagine how that infuriated me? Plus, then I had to start over in finding a writer to tackle my original topic.

When an article idea doesn’t work

There will be times when assignments don’t work out. Perhaps I was testing a hypothesis for which there’s not enough supporting evidence. Perhaps you weren’t able to gain access to the resources needed for the story.

I understand that things happen. However, please figure that out before your deadline. And, tell me about your issues early in the process. Don’t just drop a story on a different topic into my email inbox.

 

 

Tips for managing author approvals

Managing author approvals can challenge the patience of financial writers and marketers. The process can be equally distressing for authors, if it’s not done well.

Here are some tips that will make managing author approvals easier for you.

1. Set expectations

Educate your subject matter experts about the process. Start by telling them the purpose and timeline of the piece they’re helping you with. They’ll be more helpful if they understand why it’s important.

2. Communicate clearly

Put your deadline for comments in the subject line of your email seeking approval. Here are a couple options:

  • Due March 2—check attachments
  • Pls review by MARCH 2: white paper attached

Reinforce your message by repeating the deadline in the body of your email. It could start like this: “By MARCH 2, please …”

3. Request an accuracy check

Don’t ask for “edits” or “suggestions.” That can lead to an unnecessarily wide-ranging rewrite.

Instead, ask the expert to “check for accuracy.” This, at least theoretically, limits the scope of their edits to what’s essential.

I often say, “Please check that my edits haven’t introduced any inaccuracies.”

4. Use “Track Changes” wisely

I send drafts to my clients with “Track Changes” turned on. I want them to highlight their changes in the drafts they return to me. That allows me to pay closer attention to edits they make. Those are the spots where typos, clunky wording, and information that disrupts the document’s flow are likely to sneak in.

I leave Track Changes turned on while I edit a draft. That helps me check my work before returning it to the client. If I make substantive changes, I use Microsoft Word’s “Comment” feature to explain the changes. However, after I make those comments, I typically accept all changes.

I don’t highlight all of my changes because most clients aren’t interested in nitpicky details. I accept all changes to spare authors those distractions. Instead, they can focus on the substantive changes I’ve highlighted. I typically identify significant changes using a Comment that will appear in the right-hand margin of the article.

5. Criticize the words, not the expert

You may need to push back against edits made by the expert. When that happens, criticize the words, not the expert.

For example, don’t say “I hate the way you wrote this.” (I’m exaggerating to make my point.) You may be able to rewrite the sentence without comment. Or, you could say, “Here’s a streamlined sentence that makes the same point.”

6. Send a gentle reminder

Has your deadline passed, and are you still waiting for comments?

Your subject matter experts have many demands on their time. Your needs are not their top priority. Because of this, they don’t always finish their work for you on time.

The first time an expert misses a deadline, send a gentle reminder. Consider using a sentence such as, “I imagine you’ve been busy, so you weren’t able to send your feedback by the deadline.” However, reinforce the importance of your revised deadline by reminding the expert of its importance to corporate goals.

7. Know how hard you can push

“If I don’t hear from you by [DATE], I’ll assume that you approve this document.” That’s a bold statement that I was able to make at a staff job, when I had the backing of my boss. Don’t do this unless you are confident of your boss’s backing. In any case, it’s better to get the expert’s approval. I always did.

8. Use the personal touch

When I worked on staff for an asset management firm, I’d sometimes walk to an expert’s office to request approvals. It often worked.

If you work offsite, a phone call can help you cut through the clutter in the expert’s inbox.

9. Use a “stick”

If you’re an outside writer, you can apply a “stick” as incentive for your client’s staff to move along the approvals. My agreements typically have a clause that requires final payment after the first submission or “when feedback on the first draft becomes overdue.”

Your ideas?

If you have ideas about how to managing author approvals, I’d love to hear from you.

You may find more ideas in my posts on getting employees to follow style guidelines and managing difficult portfolio managers.

 

The image in the upper left is by Majays31 [CC BY-SA 3.0]

Social media and digital marketing for investment managers

Darien Gould did a great job hosting my webinar on investment blogging for the Third Party Marketing Association last summer. I was intrigued by the statistics she found on social media marketing by investment management firms, so I asked her to blog about the topic. The guest post below is the result.

I’m particularly taken with Darien’s point that social media and digital marketing can help small firms compete against larger firms. In the world of financial blogging, I’ve noticed how smaller firms can show more personality than their larger peers. Smaller firms are also often nimbler in dealing with compliance.

Darien and I would love to hear if these statistics and suggestions match up with your experience in this arena.

Can social media and digital marketing be effective for investment manager marketing?

By Darien Gould

 

Digital marketing and social media were hot topics at the eWomen Network entrepreneur conference I attended last summer. But as a marketing consultant I have heard investment managers express a lot of resistance to social media. They typically use digital media only as an electronic substitute for paper marketing materials, and web pages are often only brochures about the firm. This made me wonder, can social media and digital marketing be effective for investment manager marketing?

After the conference, I did a quick survey of information online. I found that the answer is yes! Social media and digital marketing can really benefit investment managers—and give smaller firms an edge over their competitors.

Reports from Peregrine Communications and Greenwich Associates show that institutional investors and consultants increasingly use digital and social content to research and track managers. If you’re not active in these arenas, you’re hurting your visibility.

Statistics from Peregrine Communications

Here are highlights from Peregrine’s 2018 Connected Content, as reported in Peregrine’s BEST PRACTICE: Hidden Habits of the Best Asset Management Communicators:

  • Seasonality: Traffic from institutional investors to investment manager websites was seasonal. Compared with the average number of visits, manager websites enjoyed more than 26% more visits between August and October, and 29% more visits between December and February. Digital content on a website increases prospects’ interest in the company, and can lead to repeat visits. This makes it important to refresh your content more frequently during these five months.
  • Effectiveness: Thought leadership and demonstrations of firm strengths can differentiate firms in the increasingly competitive fight for investor interest. The firms getting the most attention from prospect searches use client-centric terms like “solutions,” “services,” or “clients.” If you’re an investment manager, does your content focus on solving your clients’ problems?
  • Social media: More than two thirds of institutional investors use LinkedIn for research. However, one in five asset managers has no presence on social media at all. This reinforces my suggestion that you can use social media and digital marketing to differentiate your firm from your competitors’ firms.

Statistics from Greenwich Associates

Greenwich Associates’ study, Investing in the Digital Age, yielded insights into the use of social media in the investment process and its impact on investment decisions:

  • 63% of institutional investors now consume social media while less than half consume finance-specific publications.
  • 58% of respondents use social media to seek support or service from their asset manager.
  • LinkedIn is the most thought-of provider of personalized market information.

Step up to digital and social media marketing!

My conclusions? Compliance and legal concerns don’t have to exclude all social media marketing. Reinforcing your firm’s brand and demonstrating your firm’s strengths through thought leadership don’t require discussion of performance or specific stock selections. And the same digital marketing that can interest prospects in your firm are also effective for highlighting your value to current clients.

These new marketing techniques level the playing field and allow even the smallest manager to compete for the attention of prospects against even the biggest investment firms.

I am curious, is your firm using digital marketing? What social media platforms do you use?

Learn more

You can follow my postings about investment marketing on Twitter at @DG_Analytics and on LinkedIn at  linkedin.com/in/dganalytics. While you’re on Twitter, also check out postings from @PeregrineComms and @GreenwichAssociates.

 

Marketing tips from Allison Baird of Boston Private

Allison Baird, Boston Private’s senior vice president of products & solutions, shared some thoughts on marketing as part of a Q&A panel at a conference run by Skyword on June 6, 2019.

Here are some interesting comments she made:

  • Typically, the board thinks of marketing as “fluff” that’s not really important. But now marketing is becoming more data-driven, which elevates marketing in the organization.
  • No one wakes up in the morning thinking, “I wish someone would sell me a financial product.” They’re thinking about their kids, about an upcoming trip, or things like that. That’s part of what drives Boston Private’s approach to marketing, including its separate microsite, TheWhyofWealth.com.
  • Big banks spend $1 billion or more a year on technology, so it’s very important for smaller banks to make the right technology choices and to find partners who can help them innovate.
  • Do client surveys to understand clients better—not just annual surveys, but also pulse surveys to follow up client interactions. For marketing, it’s very important to understand who you are and what you represent.
  • Boston Private is on all major social media channels except Snapchat. Employees are trained in compliance. The company also has monitoring so it can pull content quickly, if necessary—it’s good to put the technology in place to do that easily.

For a case study of Boston Private’s “Why of Wealth” marketing, read “Why Ask Why: How Boston Private’s Marketing Strategy Builds Trust Across Generations,” written by a Skyword contributor. Boston Private’s microsite at TheWhyofWealth.com downplays discussion of Boston Private in favor of zeroing in on its clients’ motivations for growing their wealth. This focus on clients and prospects fits with something I tell my clients: Focus on “you,” the client or prospect, not “we,” the providers of services or products.

If you’re marketing wealth management, it’s important for you to use all methods at your disposal—including the latest technology—to understand what drives your clients and prospects. Then, reflect that understanding in your marketing communications with them.

Marketer’s perspective on investment marketing compliance

My colleagues in investment marketing and writing roles were generous with their feedback on my draft of “6 tips to keep your compliance officers happy.” One of them wrote a reply that stands on its own. I’m happy that I received permission from that marketer to publish that reply. It’s anonymous to avoid the step of going through compliance review.

A marketer’s perspective on investment marketing compliance

Here are a few reactions to your post from the perspective of a marketer, which is somewhat broader than that of a writer.

Respect matters

Your post makes several valid suggestions about building a strong relationship. To me the most important one is about mutual respect.

Because Compliance and Marketing have different jobs to do, their work can seem to be at cross purposes. Compliance’s job is to protect the firm, to keep it out of trouble. While Compliance may strive to stay under the radar, that is the opposite of what a marketer does. A marketer’s job is to call attention, which by definition requires doing something different, being unlike the others.

You and I, and the readers of your blog, are likely familiar with situations when the relationship has devolved—Compliance complains of Marketing trying to get away with something while Marketing blames its ineffectiveness on the clichéd “Sales Prevention Department.” This reflects laziness on the part of both.

What works is when Compliance and Marketing each brings their best. I like the idea of trusting Compliance to include them early in a new initiative, and it’s a beautiful thing when, consulted early, Compliance can collaborate and provide insight beyond the line editing of copy. This assumes that Compliance recognizes Marketing as being thoughtful, prepared, and generally aware of the guardrails (what you detail in your post)—and yet still capable of original thought.

Paths of junior marketers

I’ve seen junior marketers go a few directions after being introduced to the rigors of Compliance review:

  • There are those who rebel. They won’t work for an asset manager long.
  • At the other end of the spectrum: Those who offer no fight, they can’t and won’t defend how they’ve presented something. They roll over and the result is the marketing communications are written by Compliance officers.
  • Then, weirdly, there are those who take it upon themselves to become so proficient in the rules that they become quasi-Compliance experts themselves. Over time, their work becomes bland, colorless and designed to do little more than breeze through Compliance review.

None of the above leads to effective marketing, in my opinion.

Be effective marketers

There’s no question who has the power in the Compliance/Marketing dynamic, but I like to see the marketers who find a way to work with Compliance while resisting the urge to capitulate.

We focus on Compliance because they’re who controls whether our communications get out the door. But let’s not mistake them as the client. Compliance’s concern is the regulators, and we all accept that as their role. (In fact, years ago an academic study found that regulated businesses overall think the regulator is their customer.)

But while a clean FINRA letter is important, it’s not the only hurdle an asset management marketer needs to clear—there’s the ongoing need to attract attention, to persuade, to convert clients and prospects. Marketing still needs to do marketing, which requires a certain stamina that extends even beyond the Compliance relationship-nurturing you describe in your post.

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.