Financial Advisor Marketing & Technology

Marketing & Technology For Independent Financial Advisors

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Archive for December, 2010

A Video Holiday Wish (In Song) From Advisor Products

Unfortunately, a few members of the Advisor Products staff, who can sing really well, were out of town or camera shy, but we nonethless posted this holiday greetings to our friends.

Thanks for making 2010 great, and happy holiday!

A Video Studio For Financial Advisors For Under $750

Financial advisors can build their own video studio for $750 or less. We did it and it was easy.

You can buy a support system for a backdrop for $150.

For the backdrop, we wanted that clean, white look that is in vogue on the Web right now. So we bought a white blanket at Bed Bath & Beyond for $30 and draped t over the support system.

For lighting, we used a kit that costs about $500.

For the camera, we used a Creative Labs Vado that costs $65. We also used an $8,000 professional camcorder.

See below the difference beween the two camcorders.

I’m not happy with the lighting and will work on it in the weeks ahead. Should not be hard to make it look really good. Maybe I’ll splurge and buy a better camcorder than the $65 Vado.

To see future posts on this topic, visit Advisors4Advisors.com.

An Advisor Products webinar about how financial advisors can produce video updates and optimize them for search engine rankings received a 4 1/2 star-rating from from attendees.

Here’s the video we made with the $65 camcorder.

Here’s the video we made with the $8000 professional unit.

The $27,000 Advisor Website Package: A True Tale

There’s an old saying in the financial services industry: insurance is not bought, it’s sold.

I’m seeing that with advisor websites.

Advisor websites are getting sold. Instances of price-gouging and sales hype have come across my desk more often lately in the sale of advisor websites.

Admittedly, my evidence is anecdotal, but in the 15 years since founding Advisors Products, I’ve only seen this level of hype once before—during the dotcom boom of 1999.

The rise in unsavory sales of advisor websites accompanies a shift in the industry in favor of local independent design shops. Advisors are using local designers and consultants more often, getting sold “branding packages.” In fact, local design firms and independent are now the main competitors to Advisor Products.

Advisor Products has focused in recent years on developing client portals for advisor websites, which shifted the company away from competing with traditional advisor website development companies. We often work with independent designer and marketing consultants because advisors utilize our “backend” tools—AdvisorVault, portfolio performance reporting, email newsletters, financial advisor content—while hiring  independent consultants for marketing and design assistance.

What I’m seeing is that a small number of these local design firms and independent consultants are using the technical mumbo-jumbo as an excuse to overcharge advisors, and sometimes problems are arising with misleading claims about search engine optimization or an advisor website.

This week, I worked with an advisor now on the hook for $27,000 for a website, logo, and SEO copywriting package that gives him far less than what Advisor Products provides for about a third of the cost. He’s switching to Advisor Products.

The site looks good, but it was built using an open-source content management system (CMS) template.

Open source CMS platforms are great. The big ones, WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal, are growing explosively, and local design shops have flocked to them, and for good reason.

Open-source platforms publish their source code, enabling programmers all over the world to develop plug-ins and overlays. So if you want to add a blog you your Joomla site, for example, Joomla has an app store and you choose from a long list of add-ons, called extensions, that are free or low cost.  

Cool features like blog moderation, integration with email newsletters, event calendars, news headline display, and other functionality can be added easily to a website using the extensions. Apps stores for Drupal, WordPress, and Joomla make it easy to display a Twitter-stream on a page of an advisor website, add and manage polls, or embed videos you post on YouTube.

Point is, the advisor who called this week was sold a template website built on Joomla plus a few website pages of copy that had been optimized for search engines, and a logo. Total cost: $27,000.

In addition to overcharging by a huge amount, the advisor is very limited in his ability to change content on his website because of an extremely restrictive configuration of the Joomla CMS platform.

Advisor Products works with many outside designers and marketing consultants and the vast majority are good and honest. We don’t have a monopoly on great graphic design and our development process enables advisors to use their favorite designers and consultants and leverage our specialized tools.

Advisor Products builds websites for firms using open source CMS when appropriate, depending on your circumstances. In fact, we’re in the process of integrating our proprietary financial advisor content and compliance tools for advisor websites with an open-source CMS platform.

But the growth of open source CMS platforms has allowed some greedy operators to take advantage of advisors who don’t know much about website development. So watch out.

If you want to work with a marketing consultant or design firm and also leverage AdvisorVault, Client Portals and other apps we provide to financial advisors, we welcome your business. And if you want us to evaluate the deal you are getting from a local designer or marketing consultant, we’ll give you an honest assessment.  

We’re transparent.

Using Your Apps As A Marketing Tool

Having a great client portal doesn’t only make your firm more efficient, it also helps you acquire new clients.

When financial advisors buy Client Portals from Advisor Products, they can post two videos to their websites, “Utilizing Our Firm’s Online Vault” and “Benefits Of Our Advisory Firm’s Client Portal System.”

The videos demonstrate the benefits of these advisor technology platforms to clients and prospects.

The videos are free for any financial advisor that purchases an Advisor Products website with AdvisorVault or Client Portals. Each video is branded with your firm’s logo and can be posted to any page of your website.

So prospects visiting your site see that your firm is using this advanced technology. In addition, clients are introduced to these systems in the videos, promoting their adoption.

Financial advisors utilizing AdvisorVault and Client Portals from Advisors Products are also provided with articles that explain the benefits of these systems. Advisors can publish the articles in an email or print newsletter, or on a website, helping your firm stand out from the competition.

AdvisorVault securely stores key client documents like wills, financial plans, insurance policies, tax returns, trust documents, and account statements using 256-bit encryption. Instead of emailing clients documents or storing paper copies in a filing cabinet—inherently insecure practices—advisors can provide clients with on-demand access 24/7 via a secure system.

Advisor Products Client Portals provide a secure personal website for each of your clients, serving as a central hub for managing client relationships. Portals integrate with almost all major financial advisor technology systems—portfolio management, financial planning, and CRM—and include AdvisorVault, a Calendar, a To-Do Manager for assigning clients tasks, and more.

For more information, see these two brief videos on Personal Client Portals and AdvisorVault.

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