Have you wondered how small businesses generate real value through their digital media efforts? While many financial advisors and other small business owners do not make large investments in their digital presence, Monument has made digital a priority since day one. In a recent Barron’s Advisor Podcast episode, “Finding Your Signal in the Digital Noise,” our co-founder David B. Armstrong, CFA, sits down with host Sterling Shea to talk about our most recent digital efforts and how they benefit our firm, our clients and our community.
The Value of Your Digital Presence During the Pandemic
As you can see on our website, we blog…a lot! We also are active on various social media sites (follow us @MonumentWealth!). With the vast majority of people staying home during this pandemic surfing the internet all day, it may be obvious to you why we’ve invested more than ever in our digital media efforts in 2020— that is, to get in front of the people who want to hear from us, providing clients, future clients, and our whole digital community with valuable insight and unfiltered opinion from our Team.
As Dave puts it in the Barron’s Advisor Podcast episode:
[Social media and blogging has become a] mainstream tool for communicating your value proposition and your opinions out to not only your clients in its efficient and effective manner, but anybody else that could be interested in hiring you.
Dave goes on to explain that people are now more than ever “online shopping for opinion and information” in the middle of a financial crisis “to determine whether or not they are doing the right thing and if they’re not, what do they need to do to change” how they manage their wealth.
These digital communications in no way replace the need to sit down with people (over Zoom!) who know how to listen and can provide personalized financial advice for your specific situation, but it does help disseminate your thoughts on important topics during a volatile time and should resonate with your audience.
While our clients and the public consume a lot of information, Dave and Sterling point out that they “get a lot of analysis, but they’re hungry for opinion and conviction.” This arena of unfiltered, educated opinion and conviction is where the Monument Team really thrives.
The Real Value of Growing Your Business
Blogging and social media is not just for efficient and effective communication, like we mention above; it also plays an integral role in growing our business. On the Barron’s Advisor Podcast, Sterling makes a very important point on the real value of growing your business:
Growth isn’t just important for growth’s sake. It’s important because it affords the opportunity for strategic reinvestment in the advisor’s business. All the elements that go into delivering an exceptional client experience, better people, specialists, technology to elevate the touch points and interaction that you have with clients is vitally important. But growth has to be intentional. Success is never accidental. You need to have a strategy, a process and accountability to deliver exceptional growth. And the nature of growth has really changed in the digital client engagement predicament that we all find ourselves in these days.
He then goes on to explain to other Barron’s Advisors and small business owners listening to the Podcast that growing your business via digital is “almost impossible for an advisor to do alone. It takes a village and making sure that your team is structured in the right way to handle all these tasks is vital.”
Assembling Your Digital Marketing “Village”
As a small business, how do you assemble your marketing team? Well at Monument, we have a Director of Brand and Marketing and a Marketing Associate who specializes in design. We’ve had various interns supporting Marketing in different areas, like video and design. As a part of our 2020 effort to ramp up our digital efforts, we brought on a part-time team member dedicated to managing our social media and also went through an extensive RFP Process to hire a Digital Marketing Agency.
On the Barron’s Advisor Podcast, Dave talks in more detail about how we carefully researched, interviewed and selected an Agency for this major initiative. We decided to partner up with Axle Eight, who we felt was the perfect cultural fit for our company and has the skills to take our digital presence to the next level.
Measuring the Value and Success of Your Digital Efforts
One tip Dave provides on the Barron’s Advisor Podcast is to beware of “vanity metrics.” He admits is can be easy to—for example–fall into the contest of who can get the most followers on social media. However, who are those followers? Do they really reflect your network? Do they represent your target market? Or has it, like he’s seen in the Financial Industry, become more of a “self-licking ice cream cone of advisors talking to each other?!” It’s certainly beneficial for advisors to exchange ideas and converse on financial topics, but be sure to keep your goals front and center for each digital media platform if you want to get the value out of your digital efforts that you’re looking for.
Step 1: Starting Your Digital Presence
People are home and online more than ever due to this pandemic, and the old way of communicating with clients, future clients, and your community via events and lunches has been thrown out the window. If you haven’t yet started interacting on social media or blogging, now is the time.
But how to begin? Dave tells the story of how he started blogging: “Sit down and write your mom an email about what happened in the market today, except don’t send it to your mom…post it as a blog.”
He goes on to explain:
I think some of the most effective blogs that I read are 350 words and I think people can get really wrapped up in this, ‘I’ve got to be ____.’ You know, ‘It needs to sound like a research report…’ I just sit down and write like I talk. I don’t know if the punctuation is right and I don’t know if the grammar is right and I’ll occasionally use a four-letter word in my blog just because that’s just how it’s coming out of my head at the time. And I’ve never had anybody come back to me and say ‘Wow, your grammar’s really poor,’ ‘your punctuation was wrong,’ ‘you had a spelling error’ and ‘I was really offended by the fact that you use this word and I’ve never ever heard that in my entire life.’
Of course, once you begin building out your media team, you can hire someone who edits your blogs, and fills in all the other areas and specialties that allow you to grow as a firm while focusing your time on managing your clients’ wealth.
Barron’s Advisor Podcast, “The Way Forward,” provides insights from top advisors and industry standouts on managing wealth, leading through crisis and planning for the future.
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