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

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

 

 

 

 

Would you know your ideal client if you met them online?

Financial Services Professionals Do You Know How To Identify Your Clients Online

This is a very serious question for my friends in financial services, “Would you know your ideal client if you met them online?” Seems trivial, right? You’re thinking, “Of course, I would!” Are you really sure though?

I want to walk you through an exercise today and if you’re brutally honest with yourself, you’ll love the outcome. If you’re not, this will be a complete waste of time, stop reading and go watch a cat video like this one.

The Set-Up

About three years ago, if you had asked me who my ideal client was, I thought the answer was everyone in financial services. Yep – I went out and connected to everyone and it was my epic fail moment when I realized at the end of a “heavy-duty connecting, talking, selling what I do” year – I still only had a handful of solid clients. How can that be?

Well, this ain’t no Kevin Costner movie

All the coaches and gurus tell you the “Build it and they will come” story. I was so fired up! I was offering services, giving away some stuff, providing value, etc. The passion I have for what I do is almost palatable anyway, yet I can single-handedly tell you the whole Field of Dreams business mantra is crap. You know what I was left saying, “Where is everybody?”

where is everybody

Jim Ash, the founder of Ash Brokerage, is someone I greatly admire and respect. Full Disclosure: Yes, I work for Ash Brokerage. Jim has said to me and many others, “You’ll walk by more business than you’ll ever write” and when I got to the end of my rope that year, I sat reflecting on why I had so few financial service evangelists about social media in those early times. I kept thinking about what Jim said and his words finally hit me…I’m walking by more business than I realize.

Kapow!

I made a decision to only work with certain clients from that point forward: clients I liked, clients who liked me back, and clients who referred others to me. When I sat down and classified all those clients who fit into these categories, sure enough, there was a pattern. Certain traits, niches, etc. came out very clearly. Now, how do I find them online?

LinkedIn was my go-to source. I quickly categorized and tagged these advisor clients and then I got back to work on finding more folks like them!

Meet Jo!

stickman

I drew a stick figure and named him Jo. I kept him gender neutral as my list had the same amount of women and men on it. Jo was a family person, which doesn’t mean they had to have kids, but our similarities in being committed to our family were important to both of us. Jo referred me to other people…like Jo. Jo respected my time on projects and didn’t ask for crazy turnaround times. But the most important trait in this exercise: Jo was open to learning a new skill (like social media), took it seriously and made changes. This trait was the most important one of all to bring me personal joy and satisfaction. 

Facebook has been around since 2004. LinkedIn was created in 2002. Google was 1998. This is crazy, right? I don’t want to have to convince anyone in 2016 that social media is hip, funky and fresh. It’s been around forever. All I needed was for the advisor I work with to be open to learning a new skill, took it seriously and made changes in the same direction I was willing to navigate.

By defining “Jo” I now recognize my ideal client more quickly and I’m less likely to walk by them as Jim Ash reminds so many of us. You are probably “walking by” clients online today and not even aware they are your ideal clients. This exercise created a turning point for me.

I would love to hear your comments and ideas. Please reach out and share what practices have worked best for you and let’s see if we can’t emulate this in the online world together.

Be bigger, better and more BIONIC today!

Sheryl Brown | @BIONICsocialite

 

 

 

 

What can #FinServ expect in social media marketing for 2016?

Predictions for 2016 Social Media Marketing for Financial Services Professionals

I’m not a fortune-teller and I haven’t met anyone yet who can accurately predict the future.  However, I do watch trends in social media marketing and feel it’s important that I share this information with the financial services markets so we aren’t so far behind!

Social media has been a tough place for our industry.  Whether you want to say it is compliance or the overwhelming nature of data itself, as a community of professionals we must pick a few areas and really go for it…especially in 2016.  You see, it’s getting to the point where catching up is extremely difficult.

I believe 2016 is a make it or break it year for us.

This is the year where we play or get played.

So why not try concentrating on one [or all three] of these areas as part of your business plan for 2016?  If you need help or have questions, please contact me!  I want to see you be successful!

Here are my three big predictions for 2016:

Video Killed the Radio Star in 1979 and still today in 2016.1.  Video Killed the Radio Star in 1979 – – and still is.  You can’t go anywhere online without a video playing.  When Buggles sang the song “Video Killed the Radio Star” they could not have possibly been able to predict how true that would be in 2016.  Some 37 years later and we are using video for damn near everything.

Video has lead to live streaming with tools such as Meerkat and Periscope, but I don’t see the financial services market jumping on that bandwagon quickly (compliance!!) but these tools are invading our everyday space.  Did you see the story of the police who caught the woman who live streamed her drunk driving?  The police (a lot like financial services) didn’t even know what Periscope was and after people called in to report the young woman, they had to figure out how to download the app and find her.  Video is powerful, folks.

Who would have thought YouTube would be considered a dinosaur of video…but it is.  When is the last time you went on Facebook without seeing a video auto-playing? Realize you are competing with videos from big brands too – so make ’em count!

One company in Indiana is doing it right for financial service professionals too.  Covideo in Indianapolis, Indiana has figured out how to make video for email easy and affordable.  You can turn your emails into a tool for face-to-face and just-in-time interactions with your clients.  If you’re a financial services professional and want to use video in 2016, I have an affordable arrangement set-up with Covideo to have access to their Enterprise account at the Premium account price.  Contact me for more information and to get started.

Email - it's not just a fad, I promise!2.  Email – – it’s not just a fad, I promise.  There was a smidge of sarcasm in my lead-in as I remember the days of people who said email would never stick around.  How many of you remember getting your first email address?  AOL?  NetZero?  Yahoo?  Yep – those were the days!

Today, though, email has taken on a different look and feel.  You want your email to be more original, incorporate video (see #1 above) and provide value to the person it’s bugging (and that’s all email is – a disruptor, stop trying to make it something more than it is).  Andy Crestodina of Orbit Media is quoted as reminding that quality projects are a must!  He’s right – we have to up our game!

Send me a sample of an email campaign that you’ve done – I will critique it. You want to build influence with your email, provide help to challenging situations, all the while funneling your audience back to a site where you can convert them.  It’s not an easy task.  If you’re trying to do this as a financial service professional, you might need some help…I’m just saying!

For example, are your emails visually appealing?  Do your emails look different on a desktop vs. a mobile device?  Are you using a quality (yet affordable) email provider to build campaigns that are trackable and provide feedback?  If you want, I can help you dig deeper and better understand this.  Emails should help build the Know-Like-Trust factor.  They shouldn’t be something self-serving and bothersome to your readership.

Content and Context - it's not for the faint of heart!3.  Guess what – content AND context are king!  Content with context is not for the faint of heart.  I recommend those who want to move the needle in 2016 as a thought leader to get real with their audience.  Stop being polite and get to the point of what you want them to know, learn, experience, feel and share.

Content with context lets you take your relationship-building to the next level.  My friend, Neal Schaffer, of Maximize Social Business, says it best, “I am going to be investing more in technology to help me expand relationships that I have created online.”  You can only have the right conversations with the right people when you stop being a robot and start being a human being.

Financial service professionals have mastered the business persona.  We know all the right answers for asset management, wealth creation, income protection, legacy planning, etc.  Those are very important issues, but I guarantee Grumpy Cat is going beat you out every time because the stuff we talk about isn’t fun or funny.  So, how do we change this?  For one, we start being more like Brittney Castro of Financially Wise Women.  She’s not afraid to be as silly as she is serious about money and financial planning.  She has the content WITH the context – – that’s the secret sauce, folks.  (Go follow her too – she’s pretty cool!)

Understanding that consumers are in control now is vitally important.  They pick what they want to see (to a large degree, at least).  They pick what they want to talk about.  They pick what will be shared.  Their expectation is about a relationship, some recognition, and a conversation.  The question you need to ask yourself is, “Am I providing this to my clients?”  If you have to think for more than one second how to answer this, then you’re not doing your job right in marketing your business correctly.  That’s 100% your fault, but in your defense, you’ve never had to spend so much time thinking about this question.  That’s why there are marketing folks out there you need to work with to help you out.

Any questions – let me know how I can help.  Make 2016 your year!  Stop being behind and get out in front of the pack!  You got this!

Be Bigger, Better and more BIONIC today!

Sheryl Brown @BIONICsocialite

 

Does your email sign-off hurt or help your brand? [H/T to @RZGreenfield]

emailSo here I am shoveling through my Facebook news feed yesterday when I see an article shared by Pam Moore of Marketing Nutz titled, “You’re Ending Your Emails Wrong” published on Bloomberg. Rebecca Greenfield made a valid argument and it made me really read the salutations of the emails I received from the previous day. Lo and behold I found very common ones that read:

“Good Selling”

“All the best”

“Thank you”

For financial advisors, I would think this is really important to consider: How are you ending your emails? What about doing away with a salutation altogether? Is this too insignificant to matter to you? Let’s discuss.

Sincerely Yours

I vividly remember reading a Forbes article by Susan Adams on “57 Ways to Sign Off An Email” – holy moly, right? She shared everything I thought that was imaginable until last year she updated that article to “89 Ways to Sign Off On An Email”. I then thought, really? Do we really need 89 ways (I also wonder why we have 600 channels of TV too, so…)

Adams mentioned one thing in her article that I do believe is true – your sign-off shouldn’t leave people guessing at what you mean. For example, I’m not a fan of every email ending with “thank you”. Greenfield also reiterated the very point of my aggravation with this – do you really need to thank people for that attachment you sent? How grateful do you really have to be to tell everyone the bathroom is out of paper towels? There’s a place for a heartfelt ‘thank you’ and I don’t believe it’s at the end of your email.

What about those emails that have quotes by famous people? I am also not a fan of this. What if you’re quoting someone who a prospect can’t stand? Is it an endorsement of that celebrity and what they stand for? Mark Cuban is a dynamite business person – what if I hate the Mavericks? Will that turn some people away? I think anything’s possible.

Say Nothing At All

When in doubt, I think it’s best to say nothing at all. I think your social media icons in your signature line are far more important to your brand and business than a salutation. It got me to wonder how many people actually READ to the bottom of your email anyway?

First of all, most emails today are being read on a mobile device. I just saw a statistic published a couple of days ago by eMailmonday.com that provided a survey showing 53% of total email opens occurred on a mobile phone or tablet in Q4 of 2014, which was an increase from 48% just a year prior. So are people even reading the salutation? Maybe there is something to be said, by saying nothing at all.

Who Cares?

Maybe you don’t care and that’s fine too, it’s your business. This might be so incredibly trivial to your business and feel it warrants no attention. However…

I do think from a brand perspective it should be on someone’s mind in your company to at least consider giving a few minutes of thought. I feel strongly an email signature should contain your contact information, any disclaimers needed by compliance and social media icons so others can connect with you.

I felt this was a good discussion and it made me think about my own brand. I’m less inclined to believe salutations are needed after considering all of this information and on that note I leave you with my blog salutation (this isn’t an email, ya know!)

Be bigger, better and more BIONIC!

Sheryl Brown – @BIONICsocialite

Hey Financial Advisors, do you have any #graduates in the family? Then listen up!

graduating classMy youngest child will turn 17 next week. She is ready to be a senior and even more ready for college. She wants to go to a private university and we had a conversation about the angst she was experiencing regarding the admission process. One of the questions she posed was, “Will my social media accounts help me or hurt me when I apply, Mom?” Talk about long-term planning!

The question is not only extremely relevant with the college application process going on all over the United States, but truly long term as children think about getting “real” jobs after they graduate. Can they clean up their profiles? Is it simply a process of improving privacy parameters? What about deleting unsavory photos? Let’s discuss.

Cleaning Up Your Profile

According to the Kaplan Test Prep Survey (Nov 2014) over a third (35%) of college admissions officers have visited an applicant’s social media page to learn more about them. This is higher than I thought it would be and lends one to heavily consider cleaning up their profile. Many colleges today want a more well-rounded culture of students and that means stalking students’ profiles to make sure they fit the “feel” of the school not only when on campus, but especially when off.

One’s character may be in question when looking at comments and photos. This is why it’s important to think about what you do reply to…and maybe reply a lot less publicly on things. Especially when there are heated discussions, name calling or fighting; they can be seen as an aggressive behavior and a school may think – yeah, this one’s gonna cause a raucous at school, no thanks.

Something else you may not be considering is grammar and spelling. Jobvite held a survey and 66% of hiring managers said they held this against candidates looking for a job. Imagine a teen headed to school for journalism or video production. Spelling matters!

I’m not one who believes in censoring others. If you’ve got something to say, feel free to say it. Just understand owning those words, pictures, etc. may come with consequences. I’m also not saying it’s right to judge someone by certain comments possibly taken out of context, but know the practice of profile reviews exists and make an educated decision as a family on what these admissions officers will see and the impact it could have on a pending application.

Beefing Up Privacy Parameters

There’s a lot to be said for the “world wide web” and any button that says “publish” or “post”. Once you do, imagine whatever you just shared on a highway billboard for Grandma Mary to see. If you feel good about her seeing it and reading it, then you probably have a good thing there. If you would rather die than have her see something, then there’s your sign that you shouldn’t. Too easy, right?

Can you really expect anything you post on the internet to be “private”? I say absolutely not. If you put it out there, it’s a free for all. Snapchat is an easy target where people think something they published will disappear in 15 seconds. Are your crazy? Just screenshot that snap and it’s marked in history forever.

I strongly suggest setting personal profiles such as Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Snapchat to the highest privacy parameters. It’s just a safe thing to do for a child anyway, but this will make it a little more difficult to permeate their accounts. Someone may be deterred in trying to get around the privacy settings. Every graduating teen should have a LinkedIn profile with a strong profile picture and filled out reasonably well and heavily edited.

But First, Let Me Take a Selfie

Photos in and of themselves are not the issue. Teens can take selfies with their friends, post about a great football game and share pics of their meals. It’s when the pictures and videos show risque behavior, violent tendencies and shaming others that schools begin to think twice about entry to their campus.

Colleges want to avoid potential problems and lawsuits. Taking a quick peek at an applicant’s YouTube channel, Snapchat account and Twitter feed may tell a lot about someone. I recently visited a friend’s child’s Twitter profile that had a reference to marijuana in it. The parents had no idea it was there and when brought to their attention were mortified.

Be gentle with the kids when you have these conversations too. The pressure to be cool, fashionable and carefree is extremely high for them. Children’s lives are on display for the whole world to see and pass judgment. Helping them understand you have their best interest at heart and their long-term plans in mind may help them realize how important our social presence is in important decisions like a college acceptance.

Be Bigger, Better and more BIONIC!

Sheryl Brown – @BIONICsocialite