Archive for May, 2012
Bob Powell, in his post today on A4A about advisors using social media, says he does not like advisors tweeting about calling the last market top correctly. I agree. Apart from raising compliance issues, most investors would doubt your ability to call every market turn. However, it is good to tell stories about clients you help. For example, let me tell you about a client of mine that I just spoke with.
His name is Adam Wright. After graduating from Penn State with a degree in supply chain management and working in the field for five years, Adam joined his mother, Kathleen Wright, and her partner, Greg Lintner at Wright Associates. Kathleen and Greg are both Chartered Financial Analysts and manage about $100 million for wealthy individuals.
Adam says he was referred to Advisor Products by a Schwab Institutional relationship manager. Advisor Products was one of several firms Schwab mentioned that builds sites for RIAs, and Adam narrowed the list down to Advisor Products because of our online portfolio reporting solution that is integrated with Schwab PortfolioCenter.
Adam, who says he enjoys technology, says he wanted to start with a simple site. Nothing too fancy.
“Because this was our first foray into the Web, we wanted something cost-effective,” he says. “Advisor Products had the simple template we wanted, while other companies we looked at were much more expensive and complicated. This was easy.”
Adam started the site development process with Advisor Products on April 18 and the RIA’s website went live on May 18.
“Your staff was proactive and energetic about getting our site built,” Adam says, adding that his calls and emails were returned promptly. “But the most important thing that I appreciated about working with Advisor Products was that we were able to delegate design decisions to you. We are process and finance people and did not want to have to make graphic design decisions.”
While I personally would like to see every one of our website clients get the snazziest graphics and get involved with their firm’s graphic design, the Wright solution was a simple one and the firm is happy with it, which is what counts. They address search engine optimization and copywriting and incorporating their processes into AdvisorVault in the months ahead.
Point is, advisors don’t need to claim to have called every market turn in their status updates or blog posts. Just tell stories in your blog about how you help people in your practice every day.
SlideShare is still the best slideshow app for small businesses. Brainshark has more features but it’s too expensive for most RIAs.
If you’re an advisor and you want to generate sales leads online, the content marketing apps you use for posting should meet the following requirements:
- Shareable. You want to post your content so it will be easy for people who see your ideas to share them with their social networks on sites like LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook.
- Embeddable. You (and your connections) must be able to embed your content on their websites.
- Displayed On All Devices. You want to post so can it to be viewed on all types of devices — smartphones, desktops, and tablets — and on all operating systems, iOS, Android, and Windows.
- Trackable. You must be able to see how many hits you get.
- Lead-Generating. You want to be able to generate sales leads from your content.
Before I tell you what to do with your marketing, please allow me to introduce myself. Unlike many “social media experts” giving advice to advisors on the Internet, I actually do this stuff. Advisor Products over the past three years posted 90 videos to its YouTube Channel and 25 “slidecasts” to its SlideShare channel. (Slidecasting is when you upload a PowerPoint slideshow and then an MP3 narration. SlideShare and Brainshark allow you to synchronize a narration with a slideshow.)
Amazingly, slidecasts have generated nine times as many views for Advisor Products as YouTube videos.
In fairness to YouTube, I put a lot more thought into the slidecasts than most of those videos. But I do believe slidecasting is a better online communication medium than video for advisors, or any business for that matter.
That’s because the focus of creating a slidecast is not lights, camera, and your actions. Slidecasting entails a deliberate act of communication of solely focused on explaining ideas — substance not form. To be sure, you could make a video that’s as compelling as a slidecast. In fact, video is a more personal medium because it shows you speaking into a camera and the camera doesn’t lie about you. However, making video that’s as effective as a slidecast requires expending the same effort at researching and explaining ideas, but it then adds the complexity of making a video, which is more complicated than making a narration.
Slidecasts are also better than video on the Web because the slides can contain links. As Marshal McLuhan would say, it is a “hot” medium — arguably hotter on the Internet than video.
SlideShare is not the only app for sharing PowerPoint presentations, of course. It’s biggest competitor in slidecasting is Brainshark.
Brainshark has more features. Brainshark’s main advantage over SlideShare is that you can view Brainshark presentations on the iPad. You can’t view slidecasts on an iPad or other mobile devices, which really is bad. But when you look at the cost of Brainshark, you’ll probably find the price difference unacceptable — especially since its main advantage will be short-lived.
Aptly named, Brainshark shrewdly hides its pricing plans to sucker you into trying the app. You cannot see Brainshark’s pricing until after you sign up for a trial version. For a social media marketing tool to use such old school, hide-the-facts marketing indicates something is wrong at Brainshark. I posted a screenshot of Brainshark’s pricing below.
Brainshark Pro lures you with by advertising a price plan starting at $9.99 monthly. But sign up for the demo, you learn that that’s $9.99 monthly per slideshow. In other words, if I posted my 25 slidecasts on SlideShare at Brainshark, it would cost $7.99 each per month — $199.75 monthly. With a price plan that’s paid once a year, Brainshark would cost me $1400 a year. At SlideShare, a Gold annual plan for $432.58 a year allows upload up to 20 presentations per month. Bottom line: SlideShare costs me $967.32 a year less than Brainshark!
In addition, HTML5 enables slidecasts to be played on iPads, so it’s only a matter of months before Slideshare crushes Brainshark by converting all of its slidecasts to HTML5 to make them viewable on any mobile device. Slideshare was purchased recently by LinkedIn.
By the way, I tried contacting Brainshark’s CEO and founder, Joe Gustafson, and Andy Zimmerman, Brainshark’s CMO, two weeks before writing this post by connecting with them on LinkedIn. Gustafson looked at my profile but never accepted the connection. Neither did Zimmerman. Again, not impressive for a social marketing company.
What’s the bottom line? Here are some practical tips, including a slidecast:
- The Advisor Products BackOffice content management system allows you to embed any slide show you create on these platforms on your blog. In fact, you don’t need to write anything except a title for your slidecast and you can make one of these presentations a blog entry. Just call the service desk if you need help (888-274-5755).
- For search engine optimization and niche marketing, it’s wise to target slidecasts to your ideal clients: doctors in Duluth, IBM employees Westchester, N.Y. with deferred compensation plans, retired professors at Arizona State University.
- Keep slidecasts short, no more than three minutes. Write three to six sentences, five to 20 words in length, about each slide. I made a slidecast showing how you can use PowerPoint’s “Presenter View” to write your script for each slide.
- Do you have a reliable way to archive and retrieve emails if you’re inspected?
- Do you systematically archive all your firm’s social media content?
- Is your practice using cloud-based vesions of Microsoft Office or Google Apps?
- Can you batch process and deliver any type of document to clients securely?
- Can you stream financial news to your social networks?
If your answer to any of these questions is “no,” please join us Thursday at 4 p.m. EST for a webinar with better answers.
Advisor Products has been in business since 1996 but solutions we’re launching now are more helpful than ever.
Our unrelenting focus on client communications for RIAs makes us unique and more valuable than ever to investment advisors.
What we are doing is high quality, priced well, and good for RIAs.
Feedback from our clients is very positive these days because our service team is stronger, but these new solutions will add to our already-strong platform.
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