Registered Reps: Is Your Website Compliant?

FSP FINRA Update

Rules – they can really stink, I know.

I wanted to be sure all Registered Reps knew about and understood the new FINRA rule regarding your website, though. It goes into effect June 6, 2016 so let’s jump right into it and get this knocked out!

What’s All This About?

If you’re a Registered Rep, then you likely know FINRA has the BrokerCheck utility on their website. The BrokerCheck allows consumers to learn more about a registered rep and make sure they are in good standing. It’s like the BBB for broker backgrounds. Well, it’s coming to your website now too.

Recently, FINRA Rule 2210 states an advisor must provide a link to this utility on your website so your consumers have easy access to by simply clicking while there. FINRA is giving registered reps until June 6, 2016 to comply. You’ve got a couple of months – so don’t sweat it yet! What’s very important to understand is the details of WHERE the link must be placed though:

Effective June 6, 2016, FINRA Rule 2210 (Communications with the Public) requires a firm to include a readily apparent reference and hyperlink to BrokerCheck on the initial Web page that the firm intends to be viewed by retail investors, and any other Web page that includes a professional profile of one or more registered persons, who conduct business with retail investors.See more at: http://www.finra.org/industry/rule-2210-brokercheck#sthash.2i0TTM3H.dpuf

Who Needs to Comply?

If you’re a Registered Rep and you have a consumer-facing website, you have to comply. Again, be very careful to understand the bolded comments provided above. This notice must be on any page where a professional bio exists of a registered rep, the initial page your firm uses (so typically the Home page of a website, but could be a Landing page if you use it for lead generation) and any other page which would contain your bio.

I would even caution to include this interpretation also means  your LinkedIn profile. Although the ruling doesn’t outright state this, I feel it’s a matter of time before they clarify it. Your profile is a biographical representation of who you are and your background. Providing a link to the BrokerCheck utility at FINRA seems not only safe but very transparent.

What Do I Need to Do?

You need to work with whoever manages your website and make sure they understand the implications of this ruling. Updating your website, your LinkedIn profile, and any other place where a bio of you as a registered rep exists is mandatory. Failure to comply always equals a penalty of some sort. 

Do not wait to comply; get it done today. If you need help, reach out and ask me. I can provide instructions or even help you get your LinkedIn profile updated so you avoid trouble with something so small.

Again, I know rules are a pain the butt. However, FINRA wants to keep you and the consumer safe and informed. Let me know if you need assistance.

Be bigger, better and more BIONIC today.

Sheryl Brown | @BIONICsocialite

Need More Content? Check this out!

FSP Gainfully
“Content is the reason search began in the first place.” 
Lee Odden said this and it’s truer than true. Financial service professionals struggle with content. It seems I hear on the daily:
  1. I can’t find content for my followers.
  2. I don’t have time to write my own content.
  3. I wish all the content was located in one place.
What if I told you this is possible today? What if I told you this was not only possible but also free to use as a financial service professional? Well, let me introduce you to Gainful.ly.

I can’t find content for my followers.

Content is truly king. Without it, you just have a blank webpage, an unfinished eBlast, or an empty blog. Content is what fills up the blank canvas. The problem is, you have to know where to go to find it and in a short amount of time, or you have to have it yourself. Yeesh!
With Gainful.ly – you literally have a one-stop shop for content. The platform is free to use for advisors. Financial professionals literally sign-up in a matter seconds, attach social media accounts and start looking for content to share. It’s really that simple.

I don’t have time to write my own content.

Look, I get it. I write a weekly blog column. This can take anywhere from an hour to three hours depending on how much research I need to do, editing, fact checking, etc. and I’m an experienced writer. What if you’re not? What if sitting down in front of a blank screen freaks you out? Well, look to Gainful.ly to provide you with the necessary content needs.
The platform reminds me of Pinterest. You have a dashboard where you pin articles to send out. I’ve never seen anything on the platform which took more than three clicks (most are two or less!).
Having a resource like Gainful.ly allows advisors to be mindful of their time, which is very important to the thousands I meet with each year. You can produce more content, but you can’t produce more time!

I wish all the content was located in one place.

Gainful.ly has been the easiest of the content platforms for advisors to use….period! The amount of content trusted providers are adding to Gainful.ly grows by the weeks. Since all of the content is searchable, you can find pretty much what you’re looking for all in one place.
Also, the platform has an application for both Android and Apple. This means you can be away from your computer and still find content to share on your social media accounts. So, no excuses, folks! You can do this!
At the very least, what will it hurt for you to sign-up for a free account and try it out? You have everything to GAIN!
If you’re part of a broker-dealer, let me know. I would be happy to introduce your compliance officer to the platform and schedule a demo with the Gainful.ly folks.

Just in case, you’re wondering too….

By the way, I receive ZERO COMPENSATION for making this recommendation, so for anyone out there who thinks I’m being paid to say any of this, nope – nothing – nada – zilch. This recommendation comes straight from my heart to yours to help you amplify your business…that’s just how I roll.
Let me know how it goes – take the platform for a whirl and share your thoughts!
Be bigger, better and more BIONIC today!
Sheryl Brown | @BIONICsocialite

Are Push Notifications Pushing You Away?

FSP Push Notifications

Ding, ding, ding went the bell…but it’s more likely your smartphone. Judy Garland was talking about your heart in the Trolley Song, but today’s phones are clanging, dinging and zinging and nobody’s actually talking. So what’s all the noise about? Push notifications.

 

I wanted to talk about the pros and cons of push notifications as it relates to financial service professionals. Should I have them turned on? Should I have them go away? And a few things in between. Let’s first start with…

What is a Push Notification?

Those are the little messages you receive from your smartphone applications. The apps are monitoring incoming data and when it arrives, the provider sends you a push notification to make you aware of something you should see.

That doesn’t sound too bad, right? I mean,  you download applications so you can work more efficiently, but what happens when a good thing is overused and abused? I also know peanut butter is a healthy fat, but if I eat a jar of it, it’s not really great for me anymore.

The Pros of Push Notifications

The obvious answer is you learn about something more immediately. The application is doing the work for you to tap you on the arm and say, “Hey, pay attention to this!” My personal examples include:

  • I want to know about a text message coming through.
  • I want to know when my best clients are emailing me.
  • I want to know if my bank account was accessed.

These push notifications help me work efficiently throughout the day. I can put my energy and brain power into things which are important and matter. I can then react on items of importance. This is a good form of disruption.

The Cons of Push Notifications

I know this is going to sound completely crazy as a social media strategist, but I took a one-month hiatus from Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest push notifications. Yep, I went to my phone and turned all my push notifications off for these platforms (as well as all other ancillary applications I have such as games, note taking, etc.) All of those notifications were no longer clanging, dinging and zinging at me throughout the days. Guess what I learned?

  • I turned LinkedIn back on immediately – I needed those notifications.
  • I’ve left all the other social media notifications turned off permanently.
  • I reclaimed my day without chronic disruption of the notifications.

There was no need for 98% of my phone applications to interrupt my day and rob me of valuable focus time. I understand developers are trying to use these notifications for marketing too, but it was a real pain in the ass to keep my attention focused on a money-making activity.

There is a myriad of other ways push notifications can really suck too. I’ve seen every one of these examples below. When developers of the applications do not take into account:

  • Is the information being shared an ad, irrelevant, trivial or downright spam?
  • Is the push coming at an inappropriate time of day (or night – I hate those!)?
  • Is the messaging appropriate to the audience?

For these reasons alone, I’ve become a huge believer now in turning all your notifications off, except for the ones which make/break your business, of course.

How have push notifications helped or hindered you? Inquiring minds would like to know! Any tricks you’ve found to help tame the notification beast? Let’s hear about them!

Be bigger, better and more BIONIC today!

Sheryl Brown | @BIONICsocialite

Are you Rockin’ your Twitter content yet?

FSP Rockin Their Twitter Content

I’m saying the scary word…yep…financial service professionals will want to plug their ears while saying, “La la la la la la la la!!!” Are you ready? I’m going there today: TWITTER! Before you completely bow out of the conversation, what if I told you there’s a really cool place you can go to get your Twitter content and you don’t even have to post it – it will do it for you?

Now that I have your attention…

Tweet JukeboxI had heard Tim Fargo’s name for a very long time. If you worked in social media – you would too. He wrote an awesome book back in 2013 called “Alphabet Success“and while promoting the book he figured out what a lot of us already knew in financial services: it takes a long time to schedule tweets! It’s the number one reason I hear financial service professionals avoid Twitter – sheer time! Gah!!

Tim (along with a few others) developed an application out of a need to save time which would post tweets on your behalf. You simply go to http://www.tweetjukebox.com and sign-up for an account to connect your Twitter account, you then select your “jukebox” which plays the type of content you want your followers to see, and then…you kind of set it and forget it.

But wait, there’s more!

I started using this tool right at the end of 2015 and I have to say, it’s been some of the most engaging posts on my Twitter account. I chose their free Quote Jukebox and turned it on. I was not really sure it would make a difference, but it was free – so why not, right? It definitely couldn’t hurt.

I’m three months in to using this platform. My impressions on Twitter have increased, my mentions have increased, the quality of my connections have increased. Basically – my Twitter got better because I’m playing that funky content on my Twitter without spending one single minute of my time doing it. Now THAT is worth talking about!

Taming Twitter

Tim Fargo’s idea which was crafted out of a simple need has literally tamed my Twitter content conundrum. The quality of the TweetJukebox quotes plus the interaction I’m receiving on Twitter (and in case you are wondering, the sentiment has been 100% positive – not a single negative reaction to date) means this tool has value.

The free version includes two jukebox subscriptions, but the paid version is only $13 per month and you can have access to ten jukebox subscriptions – and there is a lot of stuff to choose from, plus – you can add your own jukebox and be a content producer, should you want to go that route.

TweetJukebox allows you a new, funky and fresh way to reach out to your audience without a lot of time and effort on your part. This is very attractive to many of us in financial services and I challenge you to try this tool and let me know how it goes!

Be bigger, better and more BIONIC today!

Sheryl Brown | @BIONICsocialite

Say “Hello” to my little friend…

Financial Services Professionals LinkedIn Mobile App Update

I thought one of the greatest acquisitions by LinkedIn was in 2014 when they brought Connected into their suite of products. Since then, I’ve been reminding every financial services professional I encounter to download the separate Connected app to their iPhone/Android as a quick and easy way to stay in touch with their LinkedIn connections. Why would I do this when there was already a main LinkedIn mobile app? Well, to be honest, it kind of sucked…and this separate app was great for us in the relationship business.

Then they heard our cries…

Well, LinkedIn heard our battle cries and redesigned their mobile app. When you have million of users wanting something, you listen! So effective March 21, 2016, they will be retiring the standalone LinkedIn Connected app. Everything you need will be found in the newly redesigned LinkedIn app. Go ahead and delete it today because the new and improved LinkedIn mobile app is pretty freaking awesome!

Download LI appDownload LI app 2

 

 

So, Sheryl, where are my contacts now?

With the new LinkedIn mobile app, you’ll find all of your contacts under “My Network”. Here, you’ll see work anniversaries, new positions, birthdays, etc. With a tap of your finger, you’ll be able to reach out quickly and congratulate your connections on any changes going on in their professional lives. And yes, you can customize those messages, which you couldn’t do previously on the old app.

While in there, you’ll also be able to add people and search for current connections; all within one application versus several standalone products. The LinkedIn Help Center is a click away for any specific questions too. Simply go to https://help.linkedin.com and look for anything which might be eating at you!

Change is good for everyone even if it’s a little uncomfortable at first. The social media networks do listen to our needs and build/rebuild products to more closely answer the challenges we face. This application change is an example of crowd-sourcing requests at its finest.

If you have any questions about this or any other social media-related needs, feel free to reach out and ask. We are all in this together!

Be bigger, better and more BIONIC today!

Sheryl Brown | @BIONICsocialite

Client Attraction: Is it part of your everyday activity?

Financial Professionals Client Attraction

Clients do not arrive at anyone’s door without us attracting them. They don’t. So what do you think attracts clients to work with you and is it an intentional part of your everyday activity? [The operative word being “intentional” in the question.] If you hesitated to answer, then check this out.

First, let’s define the subtle differences in Push Marketing vs. Pull Marketing:

  • Push Marketing is a strategy intended to sell you something outright. You set-up a direct-selling environment to be face-to-face in sales with a client.
  • Pull Marketing is a strategy which involves motivating a client to seek you out of the crowd. You get the client to come to you.

Both push and pull marketing strategies are an important part of a marketing plan for any business. Push marketing, however, seems to be more natural for many of us in financial services to do and today, I’m will share three ways you can be  more intentional in implementing push marketing tactics for client attraction:

Giving Away Value

Free. Zilch. Zip. You simply give value away. Sounds crazy, right? I know some of you are thinking, “Sheryl, giving away my craft doesn’t pay my bills.” Think about it this way though. You’re at the cash register paying for your groceries and your favorite baseball team has a pocket takeaway for you to have a list of all their games right in your wallet. You grab it and go.

…that was pull marketing through giving away value.

What can you give away which would attract people to your business? Could you:

  • …give a class at the local library on debt reduction?
  • …become a JA teacher for a local school and teach kids about finances?
  • …write a weekly column for your local paper about money?

Be intentional about what you plan to give away and make it something of real value to someone. Don’t go into this thinking you’re going to only give half of something away and make them work for the other half, it doesn’t work like this and you’ll be perceived as a jerk. Give away value and you will attract clients to your practice. If you give value away every day, people will have even more reason to do business with you.

Social Media Amplification

You know I have to get social media in this! Salesforce reported 70 percent of brands are increasing their social media spending in 2015. (I’m sure it’s more for 2016!) Today, it’s easier to connect with our clients via social media and make better purchasing decisions.

Any pull strategy requires a highly visible brand and social media helps amplify it. Your clients expect you to entertain and inform them. As mentioned above about giving away value, this is no longer considered “courtesy”, it’s an expectation. Clients also expect to find this value through social media.

Using the local library class as an example, you could:

  • …invite clients to attend the class and bring someone else would benefit from the material by posting this on Facebook and Twitter.
  • …with your class outline create a small graphic with some key points by using a cool tool called Pablo (found at http://www.buffer.com/pablo) and talk about the material with your followers.
  • …connect on LinkedIn to the program director at the library and ask them to share your invite with their community.

Have social media do the legwork for you. It has the ability to amplify far past what you can do by one-by-one. Social media is one-to-many. Leveraging social media is a smart marketing strategy with any push or pull marketing plans and it should be a part of your everyday activity.

Word of Mouth Referrals

This is the holy grail of pull marketing and some of the most effective ways to grow your business. Too often we wait until after the sale to ask for the referral. Instead, when the relationship is full steam ahead and clients are happy, why not ask during the process? You must have a specific process in place too. It might be filling out a form or sending them a question in a survey.

Going back to the giveaway, what if you gave your current client a 30-minute consultation to give to a friend who would benefit from similar services? My trainer, Chris Meier, recently gave me five business cards with one free workout to give to friends. It took me less than 2 hours to give those away. Doing something unexpected goes a long way with clients referring you!

How are you handling birthdays and thank you notes? I tried for one year to send out handwritten notes – I couldn’t do it. I have more than 3,000 connections and it was not feasible. However, I had time to send a thoughtful email or order a Starbucks gift card with a note and send it out. I had a much higher return on those than the handwritten note, which I still send out about 400 per year. When advisors have been referred to me, many have come with the set-up that I’m thoughtful and incredibly thankful for business, which I truly am. I’m intentional in making time for this every single day too.

So what are you willing to do TODAY to attract clients to your business? What new habit are you going to begin working on TODAY to invite new people to learn about your practice? Client attraction must be an intentional part of your day-to-day duties.

Write back and share with me. Any questions, I would love those too!

Be bigger, better and more BIONIC today!

Sheryl Brown | @BIONICsocialite

 

 

 

 

A sweet treat: Cool way to show love through your content

Financial Services Professionals Why We Need More Content Like Encore

Grab a cup of coffee and let’s have a quick chat.

In any given week I am asked the same question over-and-over again, “Sheryl, how do you find all this content to write about?” Content is something all of us in financial services need more help with and I have found a sweet secret to share with you today: it’s called Encore.

Encore is a platform which turns social media “noise” into insights. The Encore Weekly Sidekick is my biggest secret cheat for fun content. Head over to http://info.encorealert.com/sidekick and sign up for their weekly email where you will have daily ideas provided to help you deliver something new and interesting to talk about on your social channels.

Now, you might be thinking, “I’m a professional financial services provider – why would I talk about the first day Trivial Pursuit was sold?” The answer is simple – financial services, as a whole, is pretty boring stuff. Yep – it’s true. I have never seen one person jump onto their Facebook and say, “I bought an annuity yesterday!” and that’s because we are pretty boring overall, but content, like Encore’s, helps us be more relatable and interesting.

Who remembers Gangnam Style?

gangnam

A Korean rapper has one viral song and today it still holds the title of YouTube’s most viewed video at more than 2.2 BILLION views! I think the dance, everything about it, is so creepy and dumb – but 2.2 BILLION views equals crazy good content. There’s not even a good takeaway on this content because unless you speak Korean, you can’t really sing along with it. In fact, every person I’ve asked what the song is about says they have no clue. [Which crazy enough – Business Insider translated for us and the song is just as dumb as the dance!]

Then, I was thumbing through Visual.ly one day, I was stunned to see this infographic – so you can learn how to do the dance. [I’m particularly fond of Step 5.]

gangnam infographic

So, how would I use the Encore Weekly Sidekick?

In this sample sidekick report, you see you will receive a monthly theme as well as a daily list of all things to celebrate.

sidekick

Monthly

You might use the Thanksgiving theme to talk about all the things you and your clients are grateful for and tie them back to financial services. For example, a daily #GratitudeJournal from the principal of your firm talking about the things they are grateful for (plus, it makes your brand human). Then, turn it around and ask your clients what are they grateful for this month?

For diabetes month, you could feature articles about how to control diabetes or talk about how insurable diabetes is today and to give you a call to talk about it.

Daily

If November 8 is Cappuccino Day, you could put a picture on Facebook and tell your clients you would love to have a cup of cappuccino and catch up with them. You could do a stock photo of coffee or – you can be really crazy – and have someone take a picture of you at the local coffee house enjoying a cup of coffee…be different! You could do a little spin on the X-Ray Day and send out a picture of an x-ray and say you would love to take a deeper look at their insurance policies and examine ways to help them save money.

To live a creative life, we must lose our fear of being wrong.

Joseph Chilton Pearce said this and I firmly believe it was directed at financial service professionals. We must lose the fear of being wrong in our clients’ eyes. Yes, we are professional people, but we are also human beings, and we need to talk about things which appeal to our clients.

Encore provides this list free of charge. They did not pay me to write this; in fact, they will find out I wrote this the same time you are. Bottom-line: I simply like their stuff! I encourage you to consider adding this newsletter to your marketing arsenal. Be sure and tag me when you post so I can cheer you on for being different this year!

Be bigger, better and more BIONIC today!

Sheryl Brown | @BIONICsocialite