By Robyn Levin, President
R. Levin Marketing Group
In my previous article, I discussed many effective ways to market online, increase leads and clients utilizing social networking tools like YouTube and the benefits of online video. In part two of this series, I will expand on those ideas, update you on new techniques and share some examples of how best to utilize Twitter and LinkedIn — two powerful free tools to help you get more referrals and clients.
But first, what do I mean by “stupid times” alluded to in the headline besides the obvious? I’m referring to the exorbitant salaries and bonuses paid to incompetent CEOs and staff that contributed to the rapid deterioration of our American economy and a financial fiasco on a global scale. Bailing out the failing big companies with billions of dollars without accountability on the hopes of avoiding “systemic risk;” the Madoff Ponzi schemes, banks and mortgage brokers recommending to homeowners to default on their mortgages for three months to qualify for radically reduced rates, and penalizing the Americans who maintained pristine credit by locking them out of the rate reduction for refinancing — that’s what I mean by “stupid times.” We all know the obvious problems and have mixed opinions for solutions. However, I strongly feel this is the wrong message to be sending out to hard-working Americans that were encouraged to live the American dream of financial independence, home ownership and a prosperous future. It makes it especially difficult on advisors like you; to regain their trust and instill confidence these very people need you for. It’s time to get back to basics by mastering the fundamentals of building successful businesses and leveraging technology and creativity to grow more efficiently.
As a baby boomer growing up in an entrepreneurial family, I was frequently reminded that my parents, who grew up in the Depression era, were poor. Perhaps you can relate. We were reared with a strong sense of responsibility and a great appreciation for the dollar. Invest in your education, work hard, build and maintain a great credit history and, by all means, if you start a business, learn how to make a profit. So, I took the advice literally and founded a few businesses, raised capital, wrote 40-page business plans, created a culture of fun and productivity and eventually sold a money-making million-dollar business with multiple profit centers under a 40,000-square-foot roof. This was the foundation for my entrepreneurial success, despite the fact I started in a recession. These engrained values and experiences helped me develop a blueprint to guide other entrepreneurs to a profitable path on their journey to success. In this article, I will highlight new media and marketing ideas and strategies to help you grow your practice using cost-effective sales and marketing strategies and Internet tools.
Time is money: Manage both using social media marketing
Part one of this series focused more on marketing strategies using online video and why YouTube is now the No. 1 video search site — with the “how to” section being one of the fastest growth areas. Advisors can clearly benefit from this fact. Why not put together a short series of educational clips to showcase your expertise? You can just use examples and inexpensive, good equipment to get you started quickly. Now, I want to draw your attention to “Twitter,” the free micro-blogging/text service. President Obama revolutionized political campaigning when he clearly demonstrated how to build a dedicated following using Twitter and other social networking sites that helped him win the election. So who’s using Twitter and why?
Twitter: Most popular among working adults
According to a recent study by Nielsen News on March 18th, 2009, “Twitterers (a.k.a. Tweeters) are not primarily teens or college students, as you might expect. In fact, in February the largest age group on Twitter was 35-49; with nearly 3 million unique visitors, comprising almost 42 percent of the site’s audience. We found that the majority of people visit Twitter.com while at work, with 62 percent of the combination unique audience accessing the site from work only, versus 35 percent that accessed it from home only. In an unstable economy, it might prove to be an economical and important part of an employer’s marketing strategy that helps keep consumers aware of and connected to their brand.
Here are a few examples of successful Twitter marketing from my personal experience. I was promoting a free upcoming Webinar on alternative asset investing using retirement funds, and posted it on my Twitter account. In one day, 40 people clicked the link in my post and visited my client’s Web site to register for the Webinar. One response I got on Twitter said, “Thanks Robyn, I’ll be listening at the gym.” I’ve produced and hosted 49 live Webinars throughout the last few years and average a few hundred callers each month. I tested this promotional tactic on Twitter and it clearly worked. These are recorded and archived so people can listen later. Many people told me they download and listen to the MP3s at the gym, walking their dog and driving in their car. Just think: They could be listening to your information too. Also, I’ve listened to other Webinars I found by reading Tweets created by experts I follow, and they were very informative. You can do the same for your firm. If you have a blog or Web site, post a “tweet” on Twitter (that’s a brief comment limited to 140 characters per tweet) with a link to your blog for a free Webinar, seminar or special report to download. This will help drive traffic to your Web site, collect leads, expand your audience reach and you can measure your results.
Follow trends and monitor your reputation online
Big brands are definitely monitoring their reputations, as I found out last week. I posted a Tweet that I heard it was easier to get a mortgage in Italy on an investment property than to refinance in the U.S., despite pristine credit and high income, and I also mentioned that Quicken was difficult to work with. To my surprise, I got a direct tweet from Quicken, (a response right to my twitter account) in the public timeline that said, “We’ve been doing a lot of refinancings lately. How can we help?” They gave me their direct e-mail. I shared this information with the troubled investor and he got his loan approved the next day. This is a great example of customer service and brand monitoring using Twitter. It also shows you how fast you can turn a negative situation into a positive experience.
Get leads and elevate your expertise using Twitter
How can you benefit? You can monitor trending topics on Twitter by using their search function. Download a number of free applications on your iPhone or go to Twitter.com to sign up for a free account and then search http://search.twitter.com for your key words or your competitor’s keyword phrases. A rule of thumb if you’re just getting started — find experts in your field, follow them and monitor their tweet conversations. Later, jump in and join the discussion. As I mentioned before, time is money; especially if you have limited resources. Spend 30 minutes per day researching and joining in the conversation. In a short time period, you will build a dedicated audience that will be receptive to your information. You can definitely get inexpensive leads as well as promote future seminars and events that are relevant to your audience. Follow me on Twitter and view my timeline to see how I weave personal comments with news and links to relevant information, http://www.twitter.com/robynlevin. Get the “Top 14 Twitter Tools” at http://rlevinmarketinggroup.com.
Leverage LinkedIn to get referrals, brand your expertise and network online
Another social networking site I use — and it’s especially good for baby boomers — is LinkedIn. You may have noticed that LinkedIn is the No. 1 professional networking site worldwide, with 35 million users. This is a great place to post your profile, create or join a group of like-minded people, build referrals and network with your peers, prospects and clients. Most people post a profile and forget about it. However, I’d suggest for you to spend a few hours browsing the site to build your network. I’ve advised clients to do this, and I got a little resistance initially as they didn’t want to spend the time. However, after a little nudging, I’m proud to see that some have surpassed me and now have more than 600 contacts and growing. You can create or join a group, post discussion topics, add news, add your blog for automatic updates and get involved in many ways. I created an educational group called, “Self Directed Retirement Investing Education,” which attracts many financial advisors and professionals helping clients with their investments. This is an example of an online community where you can network, post articles, news and increase your expertise, especially when you answer questions from the network. My recommendation would to post your profile, edit it later (which I often do), upload your contact list and accept people selectively that you want in your network and group. Referrals from networks have been proven to land million-dollar contracts using LinkedIn. This is also a great place to post a job opening if you’re expanding, or if you know someone looking for work, they should look here too.
You can view a five-minute video on “5 Ways to Leverage LinkedIn” at: http://www.youtube.com/robynlevin