Good morning! It’s “find-you-like-a-prospective-client-would” day.
It’s time to Google yourself, professionally. Not the name of your RIA, or your company, You.
What comes up on the first three pages? Check the images tab on the search. Is your pretty face found anywhere in the first 30 rows of images?
You’re an Expert
Prospective clients are looking for you. They are looking for information that confirms the positive things they have heard about you. When someone recommends you, your expert status needs to be validated by other sources. It has to be found somewhere other than your old bedroom’s trophy wall at your mom’s house.
BrightLocal’s 2014 consumer review survey shows that prospective clients want upwards of 10 reviews before making a decision to use your services. So if you are counting, the referral is one. More reference points are needed.
If information is not readily available, where do people look? BrokerCheck (FINRA’s database of advisors and investment firms) logged almost 20 million searches last year as consumers went digging for information. Yet, this information only confirms that you exist. It does little to validate your years of experience and education.
Danger of Not Being Found
There are, of course, dangers in having limited digital exposure. It can leave you wildly exposed to anyone who might write about you.
I recently sat with an advisor at Wells Fargo who is in his mid-fifties. He stated he was happy that there was limited information about him online and he wanted to keep it that way. We were sitting in his office, so I asked him to Google himself. On page one, the second search result displayed two unflattering reviews about him.
“What?!? Where did those come from?” He was beside himself. He embarrassingly spit out stories of two clients who had lost money in 2008. “It was 7 years ago! How do I get those taken down?”
With little more than a company website to represent you online, advisers can find themselves in the untenable position of having others control the message about their professional skills. For better and often times worse, most of the review sites are found on page one in search results. Having negative information show up in search results can directly affect an adviser’s ability to convert referrals.
Every Financial Professional Needs a Website: You control the message
Having an informative, well designed website sends a message that you exist, you are an expert, and have history in your industry. The reality is “showing up” is half the battle. People want to believe you are the expert the referral touted. Having a website that confirms that information multiple times and in multiple ways allows prospective clients to shorten their search for information about you.
More information is better
Search engines such as Google, Yahoo!, and Bing like records. The more the better. The more positive information that can be found about you the better the search outcomes.
Here’s what your website should have:
This may seem obvious but it is frequently overlooked. Make sure prospective clients visiting your site can reach you at the office. Don’t be afraid to put your corporate phone number on your site. The price you pay for transparency and access is worth its weight in new clients. No need to build a contact form. Contact forms with email style collection boxes are not widely used by people just doing background searches. Ideally, your name and contact information would be in the header or footer of every page.
An “About Me” page
Having an “About Me” page can be helpful to prospective clients as it can provide access points where common interests can be shared. Where you went to school, a few details about family, and hobbies are plenty to humanize you and allows for a measure of personal connection. This is the place to highlight professional experience, awards, accomplishments, and all things that bring you professional notoriety—but be sure to keep it professional and brief.
There is no greater asset to the financial advisor needing passive validation than a blog of articles. Blog articles can show:
History of experience – articles that cover specific historical events: market crashes, political events, etc.
Topical expertise – articles covering a wide range of financial issues, concerns, and challenges
Expert consistency – consistent writing demonstrates your experience over a long period of time
Links to Social Media
Having links to your professional social media pages where you contribute regularly confirms in another dimension that you exist, are professional, and others are listening to your expert advice. Make it easy for people to “discover” it for themselves.
Links to press
If you contribute to publications or have had press written about you your website is an appropriate place to showcase this information.
Remember, prospective clients care much less about the reputation of your company and need to believe you are the expert who will solve their problem. Focus on creating a mountain of information about yourself that demonstrates this effectively and your next referrals will be a breeze.
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