Guest post: “Generate Quality, Low Cost Leads with Facebook Ads”

Kristin Harad’s video series on marketing for financial advisors caught my eye-especially because she talks about niche marketing. I’m a big believer in niche marketing.  So I was delighted when she offered to write a guest post for my blog.

By coincidence, Kristin’s guest post arrived not long after a wealth management firm executive suggested to me that Facebook ads could be a powerful tool for financial advisors.

Generate Quality, Low Cost Leads with Facebook Ads

by Kristin Harad, CFP®

Adding new prospects to your sales funnel can be a costly endeavor for financial advisors.  Workshops, mailings and other tactics can be effective, but the cost-per-lead from these channels is often quite high.  Recently, I’ve discovered how to effectively use a new marketing channel that’s been right under my nose to bring in a steady stream of quality leads at an incredibly low cost:  Facebook.

Now, you probably know that Facebook has become the second largest Web site in the world and last month it was all over the news for registering its 500 millionth user.  But what you perhaps didn’t know is that Facebook also offers an incredible self-service advertising platform that is an absolutely amazing tool for laser-targeting ads to your precise audience.  There are four reasons I really love Facebook Ads:

1)  It’s really easy to create and manage ads.  No technical nor design expertise required.
2)  You can target practically any niche.  Target your ads by location, demographics and interests. You can reach your EXACT audience.
3) It’s highly effective. Put together a well thought-through campaign and you can move people through your sales funnel to becoming paying clients!
4)  It’s really cheap! You don’t pay anything for impressions and some of our ads cost just six cents per click!  I’m adding targeted prospects to my marketing database at a cost of just 83 cents each.

It’s fast and easy to start testing your own Facebook Ads campaign.

Start by going to where you can sign up online in just a few minutes and instantly begin creating ads that appear on nearly every page of Facebook.  It’s very easy to create the ads — you can make one in just a couple minutes and you don’t need to have any technical or design expertise.

Be sure to design at least five different ads so that you can test different ideas to see which performs best.  The headline and the image you use in your ads have the most impact on click-through rates, so write a few very pithy headlines.  Images of people generally attract better click-through rates.  The more often people click on your ad, the more it will be shown and Facebook will actually reward you with a much lower price.

Next, and most importantly, think carefully about how to target your ad.

Start with location.  My firm mostly serves families within 25 miles of San Francisco, so in the Location section, I target by City, then type in San Francisco and select cities within 25 miles.  Under demographics, identify who your best potential clients are.

Next comes age, relationship status, likes and interests. Since I work with expectant parents and young families, most of my clients are between their late 20s and early 40s, so I put 28 – 44 as the age bracket.  I choose ALL for relationship status, especially since many people on Facebook don’t state theirs.  However, many advisors base their niche off of relationship status, so it can be a really power way to target.  (If you are focused on couples who are getting married, think of the precise messaging you can deliver when you target people who are engaged!)  Then, you’ll come to the small Likes & Interests section, which is where the real power targeting comes from.  This identifies users by what they have placed on their own Facebook page, and you can target them based on practically anything!

As an example, I put in ‘pregnant’ and ‘pregnancy’ as two keywords.  Based on what I picked for location, age, gender and these two keywords, Facebook estimates that my ad will reach 2,200 people.  That’s 2,200 pregnant women between 28 – 44 in the San Francisco Bay Area — my exact customer demographic!  You can’t find that kind of precision anywhere else.  More importantly, now that I know exactly who is going to see these ads, I can write messages that speak directly to them.  For instance, “Pregnant in San Francisco?” or “What New Bay Area Moms Must Know.”  It’s pretty easy to catch my audience’s attention when I know exactly who they are.  Plus, I can quickly create other ad campaigns that micro-target other groups, like expectant fathers or parents of a kindergartner.

These ads work incredibly well for me.  Dozens of people click on them each day, visiting special pages on my Web site that I’ve set up for them.  About 1-in-5 visitors take a further action on my Web site, like subscribing to my email newsletter or signing up for the monthly events that I hold.   It’s critical that you design a Web page with a specific action in mind for these visitors.  Send them to your company’s home page and they will bounce off without spending two minutes on your site.  But, if you offer an informative and relevant free report in exchange for their email address, they will opt-in to your marketing database by the dozens!

That’s what makes Facebook a great way to fill the top of the sales funnel.  Is anyone going to click on a small ad and instantly purchase complex financial products for thousands of dollars?  Of course not!  But by structuring a well-thought out campaign that is designed to pull targeted prospects into the start of my sales funnel, I can begin to form a relationship with them that will evolve over the months ahead and I absolutely convert a portion of these leads into paying clients over time!

Finally, Facebook ads are incredibly low cost.  You can set your own budget, and I’m only spending about $25 per day.  You only pay when someone clicks on your ad, and the price is usually well under one dollar per click.  I think it’s a great marketing tool that is absolutely worth experimenting with, so give it a try today at

About the Author:  Kristin Harad, CFP® is the President of VitaVie Financial Planning, a fee-only financial planning firm in San Francisco.  She offers a free video series on marketing strategies for financial advisors at

Six lessons from the CFA Institute’s conference tweets

You can learn some lessons for how to tweet a conference from the CFA Institute. It has done things right as it timed its Twitter debut to coincide with its annual conference. But there’s still room for improvement.

Lesson 1:  Deploy a team. The CFA Institute mobilized a team of 14 people to report on its three-day conference. One person will burn out if she or he tries to cover every session. Plus, it’s impossible for one person to cover concurrent sessions.

Lesson 2: Use a hashtag. The hashtag #CFA2010 allowed people to find conference tweets by both official and unofficial sources.

Lesson 3: Complement your tweets with blog posts. You can’t say much of substance in a line of 140 characters or less. You’ll engage your conference attendees more deeply when some of your tweets lead them to blog posts. Tweets may be the sizzle that leads some reader to the steak. Read the CFA Institute’s 2010 conference blog.

Lesson 4: Decide on a strategy for engaging with fellow Twitter users. The CFA Institute included non-staff #CFA2010 tweets in the Twitter feed. It might also have engaged with other people tweeting about the conference.

I may have overlooked something, but I didn’t see any CFA Institute Twitter users getting into conversations on Twitter. On the other hand, there aren’t many CFA charterholders on–or even knowledgeable about–Twitter. “You can tweet, although I don’t know what that means,” joked John Rogers, the CFA Institute’s President and CEO, to widespread laughter when he introduced the conference’s Monday morning sessions.

Lesson 5: Monitor the back channel. This isn’t an issue for the CFA Institute yet, but it’s becoming more of an issue, as reflected in the publication of The Back Channel: How Audiences Are Using Twitter and Social Media and Changing Presentations Forever by Cliff Atkinson. The CFA Institute kept its eyes on the back channel by featuring #CFA2010 tweets on its conference blog and on screens at the conference.

Lesson 6: Go multimedia. Some folks like to take in their information in written form. Others prefer audio and video. The CFA Institute did a great job of getting its headline speakers interviewed on camera by reporters and tweeting the interviews as they became available online. It has also gradually fed the interviews onto its blog.

Congratulations CFA Institute on a conference well-tweeted!

Related posts:
* My blog posts related to #CFA2010

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Copyright 2010 by Susan B. Weiner All rights reserved

Pull your white papers into the year 2010

Investment and wealth managers, you can get a lot more mileage out of your white papers today.

How’s that?

Don’t forget about the content once it’s up on your website. Reuse it using social media.

Recycle as blog posts
White paper content can be recycled into blog posts. In some cases, you can pluck a few paragraphs and drop them into your blog “as is.” However, most of the time, you’ll need to frame and re-write the content. I’ve been doing this recently for a white paper client.  

Another possibility: Send your white paper to a blogger whom you respect. Offer to answer questions about your topic on the other person’s blog. Check out “How to guest-blog on personal finance or investments,” if you’d like to explore this option

Tweet it–and don’t forget LinkedIn
It’s a no-brainer to tweet the availability of your white paper. Smart marketers go beyond this. They tweet intriguing excerpts, keeping them short enough to be retweetable. Pithy quotes are popular on Twitter.

Remember, tweets are also great fodder for LinkedIn updates. While you’re over at LinkedIn, you may also want to raise a question in a Group related to your white paper topic.

Go multimedia
Different members of your audience prefer to take in content in different ways. So, also consider turning your white papers into podcasts, videos, or interactive webinars.

Related posts

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Copyright 2010 by Susan B. Weiner All rights reserved

Using CFP in your Twitter name–Read the CFP Board’s position

Using a term such as CFP in your Twitter name makes sense as a marketing strategy for financial advisors. It immediately identifies you as a credentialed professional. However, it also means you’re violating the CFP Board’s rules.

Twitter alerted me to this issue. When I dug into the CFP Board’s Guide to Use of the CFP Certification Marks, I discovered that point 1.7 says “CFP certificants may not own or use an email address or internet domain name that includes the CFP mark.” (Sorry CFP Board, I don’t know how to make the (R) mark appear in a Blogger blog). 

Here are some examples from the CFP Board of proper and improper use of their mark.

A Twitter name isn’t an email or a URL. But Twitter does make the name into a URL following the format

I contacted @CFPBoard to ask if a Twitter name using CFP would violate its rules. Here’s the reply:

It sounds as if the CFP Board is open to your feedback about using CFP in Twitter names. So shoot SLaBonte an email, if you’d like to be heard.
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Copyright 2010 by Susan B. Weiner All rights reserved

Can you help with my Facebook dilemma?

Dilemma: I feel as if I need to change my Facebook (FB) strategy. I currently use it to hang out with family, friends, and fellow writers.

I’m sitting on two FB friend requests from people who feel like friends, but they are also in my business. 

Another source of pressure: I need to become a “fan” of client/referral source Facebook Fan Pages, so I can learn more about them. Once I do this, I will face more FB friend requests from people who are not family, friends, or writers. 

Which of the following four options should I pick?

1. Continue to accept friend requests only from people in my target categories. 

PRO: This preserves my relative privacy, though I should keep in mind that boundaries may still be breached. 

CON: Others may feel offended. Plus, I miss opportunities to deepen relationships with them.

2. Set up a second FB profile for Susan Weiner, CFA, which I’ll use for business relationships.  

PRO: There’s less risk of inappropriate information reaching my business contacts. 

CON: It becomes one more social media profile to maintain. Content will overlap with my non-business profile.

3. Set up a FB Fan Page for and try to direct business connections there, while keeping my FB page “personal.”  

PRO: A fan page is more flexible than a profile for my business. 

CON: Fan page doesn’t solve the problem of having a profile that I can use to “fan” business contacts’ fan pages.

4. Accept friend requests from everyone, but control who can see what. 

PRO: This option involves the least extra work. 

CON: I’m bound to slip up on categorizing my updates, thus letting clients in on my squirrelmania, etc. Family or friends may make edgy comments on some of my posts.

What do YOU suggest? It would be great to get comments from you.

The next session of “How to Write Blog Posts People Will Read: A Five-Week Teleclass for Financial Advisors” will start in September. For more information, sign up to receive “Information on upcoming classes, workshops, and other events” as well as my free monthly newsletter.
Copyright 2010 by Susan B. Weiner All rights reserved

If you enjoy my #CFA2010 tweets…

…you may also enjoy my free monthly e-newsletter with practical tips for your client communications. You’ll also find at least one investment or wealth management article. 

I often report on presentations to the Boston Security Analysts Society, so you know you’ll see topics of interest to CFA charterholders.

Topics in the May 2010 issue included

  • Watch out for inflation, says veteran value investor, Jean-Marie Eveillard
    Treasurys vs. Treasuries–Which is the right spelling? 
  • How to guest-blog on personal finance or investing 
  • Poll: How do you sign your business emails? 
  • Last month’s reader poll about ghostbloggers 
  • Morgan Creek Capital’s Yusko on investing

Receive a free 32-page e-book with client communications tips when you sign up for my free monthly newsletter.  

Copyright 2010 by Susan B. Weiner All rights reserved

How I’ve benefited from Twitter

“Has being active in social media helped you grow your business?”

This question from a wealth manager set me thinking. Most of my new business still comes through old-fashioned referrals from people whom I’ve met face-to-face. But that’s changing thanks to social media, especially Twitter. There’s no doubt that my Twitter has helped my business. I see three main benefits.

#1 Bigger network of experts
When I’ve got a problem to solve, I can now call on a much bigger network of experts for help. This has been especially helpful with my technology challenges, where @RussThornton, @BillWinterberg, @RussellDunkin, @Blano, and @KristenLuke have been particularly helpful. This is just a sampling of my expert sources. There are many, many other experts on Twitter whom I’ve learned from.

#2 Bigger pool of prospective clients
Twitter has expanded my newsletter circulation, which is an important source of new clients. For example, most of my teleclass students have been newsletter subscribers for awhile. I’ve consistently gained more new subscribers post-Twitter than pre-Twitter.

One of my favorite clients found me through Twitter, got to know me better through my newsletter, and then became a client.

# 3 Convenient way to network and socialize
Twitter keeps me from feeling isolated as a solo entrepreneur. It also suits my style. I can hop off a work project for 10 minutes, read and chat with some folks, and then settle back to work. I don’t need to spend an hour schlepping into Boston on the commuter rail and then an hour coming back.

Feeling happier from brief spurts of socializing help me to focus better when I’m doing actual work.

There are other benefits, too. But these three are enough to keep me tweeting.
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Copyright 2010 by Susan B. Weiner All rights reserved

Poll: Would you hire a ghost blogger for your company?

Investment and wealth managers have great skills. But writing isn’t necessarily one of them. So what’s a financial professional to do now that blogging is an important part of marketing?

Some companies hire ghostwriters to write their blog posts for them. Ghostblogging can encompass everything from coming up with the ideas, doing the research, writing, formatting posts, and even responding to comments in the voice of the company. Or it can involve a much bigger contribution from the client whose name goes on the post.

Critics say that hiring a ghostblogger is bad. In “The Ghost Speaks,” writer Michael Janofsky quotes communications consultant Shel Holtz, “I’m a huge fan of transparency. My advice to executives is: If you don’t take the time to write yourself, find another channel of communication.”

What do YOU think? Please answer the poll that will run in the  right-hand column of this blog until I replace it with next month’s poll. I’ll report on the results in my May e-newsletter.
Sign up for the next session of “How to Write Blog Posts People Will Read: A Five-Week Teleclass for Financial Advisors” starting April 22 or join the mailing list for my free monthly newsletter.
Copyright 2010 by Susan B. Weiner All rights reserved

The compliance-constrained financial advisor’s guide to using LinkedIn: Part I

“I’ll connect on LinkedIn if my clients ask me, but I don’t see the value of LinkedIn because my compliance officer won’t let me do anything.”

If this is how you feel about LinkedIn, this article is for you.

Even if you can’t post more than your name and company affiliation, you can benefit from LinkedIn in two big ways. First, your listing makes you more easily located in an Internet search. That’s the focus of this article. In Part II of this article, I will address more active, yet compliance-friendly, strategies you can apply.

It’s easier for clients, prospects, and referral sources to find you
You want clients, prospects, and referral sources to find good information when they Google your name.  LinkedIn profiles tend to rank high in such searches. 
Just make sure you’ve made your profile public by clicking on “Edit Public Profile Settings” and checking “Full View” instead of “None.”

You can increase the ease with which you’re found by creating a custom URL for your LinkedIn profile, so the URL reads Simply edit the Public Profile URL at the bottom of the “Edit My Profile” page.

Your LinkedIn profile also offers the advantage of presenting yourself as you’d like to be seen, within the confines of what’s permitted by your compliance department.

Another factor to consider: Many LinkedIn users will look for you using the site’s search box. If you’re not on LinkedIn, it’s almost as if you don’t exist.

So, hurry and put your profile up on LinkedIn. If you’re already on LinkedIn, stay tuned for my article on compliance-friendly ways to use LinkedIn. 

Related posts
* My most popular blog posts of 2009
* Guest Post: “How to Use LinkedIn When Your Compliance Department Says No”
* Twitter to the rescue of my colleague with an RFP dilemma
* How to publicize your white paper using LinkedIn
The next session of “How to Write Blog Posts People Will Read: A Five-Week Teleclass for Financial Advisors” will start in April. For more information, sign up to receive “Information on upcoming classes, workshops, and other events” as well as my free monthly newsletter.
Copyright 2010 by Susan B. Weiner All rights reserved

I’m quoted in "Using Social Media in Your Job Search: Look before you Tweet"

 Usually I’m the interviewer, not the interviewee. So I felt more anxious than usual during the interview for “Using Social Media in Your Job Search: Look before you Tweet.” Luckily I was interviewed by a capable reporter. Writer Janet Aschkenasy’s article appears on the eFinancial Careers site.

I know and like several of the writers for eFinancial Careers. So I recommend checking out the site if you’re job hunting.
The next session of “How to Write Blog Posts People Will Read: A Five-Week Teleclass for Financial Advisors” will start in April. For more information, sign up to receive “Information on upcoming classes, workshops, and other events” as well as my free monthly newsletter.
Copyright 2010 by Susan B. Weiner All rights reserved