Posts

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.

 

My 2019 reading, with recommendations

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.

Shakespeare lesson for bloggers

Shakespeare said, “There is nothing good or bad, but thinking makes it so.” I read this in The Happiness Hypothesis, which cites it to emphasize the importance of your mental filters.

The quote made me think about how what seems bad can ultimately turn out to be good for your blog.

1. You’re a lousy writer—and an even worse proofreader

If you recognize that writing and proofreader aren’t your strong suits, you can work around those weaknesses.

The obvious solution is to hire a writer or proofreader who can make up for your weaknesses.

A less obvious solution is to communicate in formats other than written blog posts. Play to your strengths. Consider sharing videos or starting a podcast.

If you’re not a good communicator in any format, perhaps blogging isn’t for you. If you’re in a multi-person firm, turning the blog over to other members of your firm could energize your firm’s blog. If you go this route, check out my post on “How to manage a group blog.”

2. You lack ideas

Your lack of ideas could spur you to aggressively research what members of your target audience want to read about. You could do this by asking them in your meetings, keeping a running list of the questions they ask, and doing research online and elsewhere. You could even have someone survey your clients.

If you lack direct access to your firm’s clients, try these techniques to learn about their interests.

Asking questions of your readers is also a great way to generate content.

Another approach is to blog about the mistakes your clients make.

The research you do to make up for your lack of ideas could result in blog posts that speak more powerfully to your the hopes, fears, and dreams of your ideal clients.

3. You’re a financial professional who has made financial mistakes

Financial mistakes don’t disqualify you from blogging. In fact, sharing your personal story can boost the impact of what you write.

Carl Richards’ article, “How a Financial Pro Lost His House” sticks in my mind more than seven years after it appeared in The New York Times.

4. Your blog doesn’t get responses

It’s hard to find a silver lining in this one. However, if your blog isn’t generating responses, then perhaps there’s a bigger problem in your approach to your business. For example, perhaps you’re targeting too narrow a niche, or the wrong niche, for you.

Another problem might be that you’re not spreading the word about your blog aggressively enough.

Look at the statistics generated by your blog. If they’re bad, then let that spur you to examine what you could do better.

5. Your blog attracts too many unqualified prospects

It’s disappointing—and potentially time-consuming—if your blog attracts too many unqualified prospects.

You may be able to fix this by:

  • Changing the topics you address (or how you address them) on your blog
  • Making it easier for readers to identify whether they are one of your ideal clients
  • Creating a better process for screening clients who contact you (and having referrals or products for those who don’t qualify to work with you)

Other negatives that can be positives?

I’ve  discussed several negatives that can become positives. Can you add others to this list?

Why I’m lucky clients didn’t flock to me “describes how something I initially saw as negative helped to push me in a positive direction.

Marketing wealth management to women with Charlotte Beyer

You know that women present an attractive audience for your wealth management or other financial services. “Women with Wallets,” a chapter of Charlotte Beyer’s Wealth Management Unwrapped: Unwrap What You Need to Know & Enjoy the Present, made me think about how you should market to women. Her book targets your potential clients instead of advisors.

1.Don’t treat all women as the same

Beyer points out that women are not all the same. Women who are newly widowed, single and highly successful in their field, married and staying at home with kids, newly divorced, or the beneficiary of a large inheritance will have distinctive needs. She tells women considering a firm to ask themselves if they feel they will be treated as an individual, not a stereotype.

To avoid gender assumptions, here’s what Beyer suggested in an email interview with me, “Look at each woman first as an individual, then discover her goals, her comfort with securities markets, and her hoped-for outcomes, both tangible and intangible.” She also suggests asking questions such as “How much do you know about securities markets?” and “How much time do you want to devote to your finances?”

2. Your employee policies matter, too

Showing respect for women clients and prospects isn’t enough. Your firm’s respect for women should permeate your firm’s culture.

Think about how your firm would fare if potential clients follow these four suggestions by Beyer:

  1. Request that a diverse team be assigned to you. This team should include younger and older, male and female, and ethnic variety as well.
  2. Inquire about the representation of women on the firm’s board and at senior levels, as well as the annual turnover/promotion of women professionals versus men.
  3. Find out how maternity leave policy works at the firm. Ask about flextime, paternity policy, and elder care leave.
  4. Ask what training or educational workshops are offered to women clients. Also ask what professional skills training is offered to women professionals in the organization.

In her email to me, Beyer said, “While many firms may not have answers that will satisfy the client, the willingness to examine current policies and be open to change is appreciated by clients. Cultural change comes slowly, and these questions can speed up the process.”

In addition, she said, “If a firm is proactive and begins to tackle these questions before they are asked, this shows a genuine desire to analyze gender issues. That will be detected quickly by clients and seen as a positive—even as the firm struggles to bring in more women advisors, for example. The turnover of women in financial services is well known. If a culture is not welcoming what women will remain with this firm? Good news: just asking the tough questions internally benefits that firm.

Looking for more book recommendations? Check out “My 2017 reading, with book recommendations for you.

Disclosure:  If you click on an Amazon link in this post and then buy something, I will receive a small commission. I provide links to books only when I believe they have value for my readers.

Early Bird registration for financial blogging class

Learn more about my financial blogging class!

Writing for financial experts

How should you tailor your financial writing for experts like institutional investors or financial professionals? I have many gut feelings about what you should do. But this time I’m drawing on other people’s research. Nielsen Norman Group (NNG) performs great research about how people read on the web. NNG’s Hoa Loranger and Kate Meyer discuss “Writing Digital Copy for Domain Experts” in an article that may apply to financial experts. I say “may apply” because their article only mentions “medical professionals, scientists, and engineers.”

Here are the five main findings or recommendations in Loranger and Meyer’s article:

  1. Provide facts, avoid interpretation.
  2. Citations and supporting evidence are critical.
  3. Experts care about recency.
  4. Shared vocabularies change the rules for plain language.
  5. Grammar and spelling count.

1. Provide facts, avoid interpretation

Loranger and Meyer say that experts care most about the following two types of information, as they are “on a fact-finding mission”:

  1. New information that they haven’t considered or heard of
  2. Contradictory information that is contrary to their existing knowledge or beliefs

“Lead with data and facts. Researchers can see through hype,” say Loranger and Meyer. They stress presenting facts and providing “proof for your statements.” The idea of providing proof squares with what colleagues have told me about their perception of the difference between writing for institutional vs. retail investors.

Although Loranger and Meyer’s heading says to “avoid interpretation,” I think what they really mean is to make your content “free from unnecessary fluff and vague assertions,” as they say elsewhere in this piece.

2. Citations and supporting evidence are critical

Loranger and Meyer say, “Domain experts often scan bylines and citations for name recognition. If the content is written by a well-respected person or entity, readers are more likely to trust the information.”

How might this translate into the world of investment management? It might mean the difference between using asset-class performance data from Standard & Poor’s or Bloomberg Barclays vs. data from a little firm that’s not widely known or—even worse—simply saying, “in our experience, this is how this asset class behaves.”

If possible, make it easy for the experts to access your original sources of information. Of course, that’s not possible if you’re licensing proprietary information from a provider that keeps its data behind a pay wall.

3. Experts care about recency

Experts may leave sites where article dates aren’t shown or the dates are old, according to NNG’s research.

Loranger and Meyer say, “Show dates even for evergreen content that continues to be relevant long past its publication date. Domain experts can decipher between time-sensitive developments and long-lasting concepts and older dates.” (This makes me feel good about the fact that my blog posts on this website show their publication date.)

4. Shared vocabularies change the rules for plain language

It’s OK to use technical language if your audience consists solely of technical experts, according to this article. Although I often rail against technical language, as in “Words to avoid in your investment communications with regular folks,” I’m more flexible when I work on institutional communications.

Explaining concepts that experts know well may work against you, say the authors. Experts may look at your work and decide that it’s meant for the general public. Still, I suggest that you be careful not to overestimate your audience. For example, a so-called institutional investor could be a less sophisticated investment committee member or financial advisor. Read “How to make one quarterly letter fit clients at different levels of sophistication” for my take on how to keep everybody happy.

Loranger and Meyer suggest that you use extra care if your audience includes people new to the field, if you’re discussing less-common concepts or tangential fields, or if your terms have multiple meanings.

5. Grammar and spelling count

You may think that experts care more about the information than how you write about it. Think again.

“…when your target users are highly educated, they may be more likely to catch mistakes in your writing, and they may be more critical,” say Loranger and Meyer.

Useful tips for writing online for experts

This article provided some tips specific to writing online for experts.

You can’t dump too many facts on a web page. You’ll overwhelm your readers. The solution? Loranger and Hoa suggest layering your information, using two techniques:

  1. State the summary at the top. Then provide more detail information down the page progressively.
  2. Include hyperlinks that take readers to supporting details on deeper-level pages. Experts are particularly likely to click on hyperlinks to increase their understanding of a topic.

An A-to-Z index to your content may make sense for experts, while it wouldn’t work for the general public “because users don’t often know the exact name of the topic they want,” say Loranger and Meyer.

Another online writing tip: sign up for the Nielsen Norman Group weekly newsletter. It’s one of the few newsletters I read regularly.

Financial white paper writers who say “yes”

Do you want a financial white paper writer who says “yes” to everything you write or suggest? I say “no.” Financial white paper writers who push back can be the best friends of companies that aren’t familiar with how to write great investment or wealth management white papers.

Don’t get me wrong. Your white paper writer should respect your goals and desires. However, the best financial white paper writers will push you to create the best white paper possible. They will say “no” when your white paper is weak in the areas I discuss below.

Weakness 1. Problem identification and WIIFM

yes noIf your white paper doesn’t identify a problem experienced by your target audience, then it’s not going to attract prospects or convince referral sources to pass along your name. You need to answer the question of “What’s in it for me?” (WIIFM) for your prospects. You should also understand the WIIFM for your business.

For example, imagine that you pose the topic of “401(k) plan types.” Who cares? That sounds like a dull reference work that could only interest an ERISA attorney or defined contribution recordkeeper. But how about “the 401(k) plan characteristics that boost participation and simplify plan administration”? That’s a winner that will help both participants and the plan sponsor. If your firm helps plan sponsors achieve those characteristics—or if this topic enhances your credibility as a provider of related services or products—then this topic helps you to achieve your business goals.

A good writer will ask the following questions early in their discussions with you:

  • Who is your target audience and what do you want them to do after reading the white paper?
  • What is your topic and why will your target audience care about it?
  • What problem does this topic solve for your readers?

When you and your writer get the answers right, you can attract and retain readers’ attention. Your readers won’t ask “Why the heck are you telling me this?”

Good white papers focus on solving problems, not promoting the firm that publishes them, as I explained in “White paper marketing: Walk a fine line.” If you truly seek a white paper, your writer should say “no” when your draft becomes a brochure.

Weakness 2. Poorly explained concepts

Your experts know what they’re talking about. But sometimes it’s hard for them to explain their ideas in plain English. As a result, your readers won’t appreciate the value of what you write in your white papers.

Take for example, the concepts of “asset allocation” and “diversification.” These are easy for investment professionals to understand. However, they require explanation and perhaps even some examples to make sense to less sophisticated individual investors. A good white paper writer won’t hesitate to push you on this.

Weakness 3. Poor organization and wording

Poor organization and bad wording will confuse your readers. They may even drive them away.

When you give a weak outline to good writers, they’ll fight back. They’ll propose a new, stronger outline that will let your ideas shine. They’ll also polish your wording.

Look for financial white paper writers who say “no”

You need a white paper writer who’ll be responsive to your needs. Sometimes that means saying “no” to the way your ideas are presented. That’s part of the value that good white paper writers bring.

Image courtesy of digitalart/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

How to edit your financial firm’s bios

Your employees are one of your financial firm’s greatest assets. But poorly written biographies make it difficult for your audience to understand the breadth and depth of your firm’s expertise. When you streamline and standardize your financial firm’s bios, your bios’ readers will benefit. Happy readers mean happier clients and prospects.

I’m writing this article for financial marketers, whether you’re a member of a marketing department or a member of a small investment, wealth management, or financial planning firm who wears a marketing hat in addition to offering your financial expertise. These are my best suggestions for a process you can follow.

Step 1. Identify why you want to edit your financial firm’s bios

edit financial firm biosYou can edit better when you know the purpose of your work. At one extreme, are you merely proofreading for big errors so you’re not embarrassed by someone’s title being spelled as “manger” instead of “manager” or are you looking to change the tone and content of your bios?

Here’s a list of some other goals you may pursue. You can pick from this list to give better guidance to your editor when you hire someone to work on bios.

  1. Make your bios more focused on clients by describing how clients benefit from the employee’s work, instead of emphasizing the employee’s skills and credentials. This kind of bio draws in clients and prospects because it’s more than a dry recitation of credentials. However, credentials are an important part of establishing credibility.
  2. Shift from last names to first names or vice versa. Today bios tend toward greater informality. If I were a corporate employee, my bio might call me “Susan” instead of “Ms. Weiner.” On a similar note, more bios are written in the first person. When I redid my website in 2015, I changed my biographical references to say “I” instead of “Weiner.”
  3. Add more personality. Bios are changing as “authenticity,” or trying to show that there’s a real person behind the marketing, becomes more important. You’ll find more folksy or quirky language and more mention of the employees’ passions and interests. This is particularly helpful if the employees have good stories about why they chose a career in financial services. However, it can become labored and phony if the stories are weak.
  4. Make your biographical format more consistent. If your bios have been written by different people over time, they may cover different information and use different writing styles. This inconsistency makes it harder for readers to find the information they need or to compare your employees’ roles and backgrounds. For example, some bios may start with how the employees help clients vs. others that emphasize the employees’ credentials vs. others that start with the employees’ prior experience. Others may be written in a flowery style, while some adopt a lean style. Some may consist of a few bullet points vs. others that use long paragraphs. Another form of consistency is to balance personal branding vs. the firm’s marketing goal, as writer and professional service marketer Meg Charendoff reminded me when I discussed this post with her. You want to support and promote your financial professionals, but you also need consistent messaging about people in specific roles and groups.
  5. Fix bad writing. Mistakes sneak into bios. Eliminate typos, bad grammar, and other weaknesses with thorough editing.

Depending on your goals, you may take a more or less radical approach to editing your financial firm’s bios. For example, if you pick goal #1, you’ll need to create new templates for your bios. If goal #5 is your top priority, you’ll edit with a lighter hand.

Step 2. Review a few bios to get a sense of your challenges

The first step for you—or your writer, if you delegate the work of editing your financial firm’s bios—is to review several bios. What are their strengths and weaknesses? What are common components that repeat so you’ll want to standardize how you treat them?

If you outsource this step to a writer, ask the writer for his or her assessment of what needs to be changed.

Step 3. Create templates—or at least a style sheet

If you plan to make major changes to your financial firm’s bios, you’ll benefit from creating templates for each distinct type of position in your firm. Your template will be written like a model bio, specifying what’s included and in what detail.

Although there should be some consistency across all bios, there will be differences. For example, you may go into details about previous positions held by senior executives. Such experience is less relevant or available for entry-level employees.

No matter what approach you take to editing your firm’s bios, you need a style sheet. If your firm already has a style sheet for its communications, you’re ahead of the game. Share your style sheet with your writer, if you outsource.

In addition to matters of grammar, punctuation, and spelling, you should consider what content to include (and omit). Here are some of the issues (in alphabetical order) that you’ll need to decide:

  • Bullet points vs. narrative—when will you use bullet points instead of narrative to break up the flow of information in the bios? For example, when I edited bios that appeared as PowerPoint pages in a client’s pitch books, I converted their educational experience from narrative to bullet points that started with the name of the college or university. This trimmed the word count and made it easy for readers to see if they recognized the name of the employee’s alma mater.
  • Capitalization—when will you capitalize titles and other words? Technically speaking, you should only capitalize titles when they precede the holder’s name. You should write “President Weiner,” but “Weiner, the president.” This rule is broken more often than not in financial services. However, you must draw the line somewhere. Avoid using capitals simply to make a word look important. Don’t write that “We offer Investment Management and Financial Planning.”
  • Commas—will you use the serial comma or not? I’m personally a fan of the serial comma. However, the main thing is to pick a style and stick with it.
  • Details on employeesthere’s a long list of questions you’ll need to answer to make your bios consistent in terms of details. You may not identify all of the issues until you’ve made one pass at editing all of the bios. Where do you draw the line between considering something relevant or not? Will you include any of the items listed below? Remember, there’s a limit to how much your clients, prospects, and referral sources are willing to read.
    • College majors and honors
    • Previous employment—how much detail will you go into? Will it vary according to seniority or relevance to the current job?
    • Outside affiliations, such as board memberships or volunteer work—must they be current to be included? Which organizations are worthy of mention, especially when the employee is not in a leadership role? On the other hand, employees’ outside affiliations give insights into who they are as people.
    • Awards—must they be relevant to the job or to your local community to be included?
    • Publications—what makes the cut for inclusion? Does it have to be a national publication or a publication in your field? Or can a personal blog qualify?
    • Social media profiles—will you link to your employees’ social media profiles? Connecting with clients and prospects, especially on LinkedIn, could pay off.
    • Speeches—speeches can help to establish an employee’s authority.
  • Job descriptions—is it possible to standardize descriptions by title? If so, it will be clear to your readers when two employees perform comparable jobs.
  • Names—will you include nicknames? What about middle initials, which are often important in distinguishing between people who share common names?
  • Non-degree education—certificate programs abound in financial services so you need policies on whether to include them and on how to write about them. I’ve found it particularly hard to figure out how to refer to non-degree programs that no longer exist. Also, employees may not be consistent in what they call the programs in their resumes or bios.
  • Professional designations—which professional designations will you highlight by having them appear after the employee’s name? Which designations will you omit as irrelevant? Will you include designations or licenses that are no longer current or that haven’t been formally awarded? In some cases, the professional organization that awards the designation may have rules against its use if the credential hasn’t been formally awarded.
  • Spelling—how will you spell words that have variants? For example, will you write “financial modeling” or “financial modelling”? Will you show bachelor’s degrees as “BA,” “B.A.,” or “bachelor’s degree”?
  • States—will you spell out the names of states, such as Massachusetts, in full? Or, will you use U.S. post office abbreviations (MA) or traditional abbreviations (Mass.)?
  • Word count limits—you can’t write a book about each employee. Plus, you may have word count limits imposed by the layout of your website, pitch book, or other place where you showcase your employees’ expertise.
  • Years of experience—listing years of experience, such as “five years with XYZ Financial” or “10 years of investment management experience,” means you’ll need to update bios annually. That can be a royal pain. At best, it’s annual busywork. Consider referring to “experience since 2010” or whatever the year might be so your bios will always be current. Another issue: Will you omit years of experience if the number is too low or will you abbreviate to “more than 20 years of experience” if you don’t want your employees to seem too old?

Step 4. Edit a few bios and get them reviewed

You or your writer should edit a few bios and run them by your decision makers. This will allow you to see if you’re on the right track. It’s easier to adjust early in the process than to rewrite many bios later.

Before you begin editing your financial firm’s bios you should figure out who needs to approve their approach and content. If you’re lucky, you won’t have a huge committee with conflicting opinions. The big picture questions about your approach to bios should be decided by a select few.

For tips on managing the review process with a large group, see “7 ways to manage writing by committee.”

Step 5. Refine your templates or style guidelines

Use the information you learned in Step 4 to refine your templates or style guidelines.

Step 6. Finish editing your financial firm’s bios

Use your updated templates or style guidelines to finish editing your financial firm’s bios. Then you can start the approval process.

At a minimum, you should run each employee’s bio by her or him to check for accuracy, before getting a compliance review of the bios. Give employees firm deadlines to avoid procrastinators.

Step 7. Keep bios consistent and up-to-date with a process

Bios should be reviewed annually for accuracy and to reflect changes to your templates.

To keep bios accurate and consistent, it’s best to have one official source where users retrieve them. You’ll also benefit from a well-defined process for making changes when the bio changes between annual reviews. Give employees the name of someone to contact with updates. Give the contact person a process to follow for the review, approval, and implementation of changes. Otherwise, you’ll end up with different versions in different places. For example, an individual’s bio in a pitch book may not be consistent with that person’s bio on the website. Later, in your annual review, you may unwittingly start with a bio that doesn’t reflect the latest information.

It may be necessary to tailor bios for specific purposes, such as a short bio accompanying an article. However, those specialized bios should be drawn from the official bio. If you have multiple “official” bios, you run the risk that someone will use a bio that doesn’t conform with your templates and style guidelines.

As Charendoff says, “The review and revision project is not the end, but the beginning of the process of maintaining effective bios.”

Good luck!

Image courtesy of digitalart at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

3 ways to make your emails mobile-friendly

Mobile-friendly emails are essential. Your clients, prospects, referral sources, and colleagues are increasingly reading emails on their mobile devices. If they don’t like what they see, they may delete or ignore your messages.

Here’s an interesting statistic from a webinar on “Demystifying Brand Journalism,” sponsored by the American Society of Business Press Editors:

80% of people delete an email if it doesn’t look good on their device.

I’m not a mobile guru, but I’ve noticed three things that encourage me to read emails on my phone.

Technique 1: Short subject lines that get to the point

No matter where your recipients read your emails, you’ll benefit from short subject lines that get to the point quickly. Your first two words are key, as I’ve said in “Improve your email subject-line vocabulary with The Hamster Revolution.”

“Short and sweet” is even more important on mobile devices, which may show as few as 15 characters of your subject line vs. 40+ characters on a traditional computer. Wearable devices could make things even tougher, as explained in “What effect could wearables have on email marketing?” by Wynn Zhou on memeburn.

Technique 2: Use mobile-friendly formatting

Traditional emails, especially multi-column e-newsletters, may be too wide to display well on mobile device. Below is an example of an image that’s too big to be mobile-friendly.

I believe that traditional text-only emails will fit well on your mobile device, although you should still do your best to make your email short and easily skimmed.

If you’ve been producing an e-newsletter for a long time, check to see if you can switch to a mobile-friendly or mobile-responsive format. I made the change earlier this year, using a template provided by Constant Contact.

Technique 3: Avoid attachments

Attachments and mobile devices don’t play well together. Attachments are a pain to download and even more of a pain to read on a tiny screen.

Want to share information beyond what’s in your email? Use a link to a mobile-friendly webpage.

YOUR suggestions?

What works to entice you to read emails on your phone? Much of what works on mobile devices also works on traditional computers.

Please share your insights. I enjoy learning from you.

Top posts from the third quarter of 2015

Check out my top posts from the last quarter!

The top post targeted investment commentary writers. The other posts offered a mix of practical tips on writing (#3, 5, 10), blogging (#4, 7, 9), and email (#2, 6, 8).

    1. Are financial predictions too risky for investment commentary writers?—this post sparked lots of discussion. Please join the conversation by leaving a comment or sharing on social media.
    2. The email subject line you should never use
    3. 7 ways to manage writing by committee—read this if you’ve ever struggled with managing input from multiple people
    4. Credit sources fairly in your financial blog posts—this is important if you want to be fair and avoid copyright infringement.
    5. Financial writer’s clinic: fact vs. interpretation
    6. What YOU say about highlighting text in emails
    7. 8 ways blogging is like bicycling
    8. Email lesson from a PayPal co-founder
    9. Use a wacky days list when you run out of blog ideas—I was surprised by this post’s popularity.
    10. Don’t break up your text too much!