All posts by John Drachman

Do you need help telling your story? If you do, take a close look at me, John Drachman. I'll provide you with a powerful way to articulate and express your ideas. Applying the skills I gained as a daily newspaper reporter to marketing and public relations, I know how to build a compelling brand or selling proposition for you. In every case, my editorial efforts helped clients raise brand awareness, energize and focus their marketing efforts and attract new business. I'd like to do the same for you.

The social media mind: Q&A with Amy McIlwain

By John Drachman, Social Media Memo

Q: Can agents and advisors use social media for actual client acquisition; and, if so, how?

Amy McIlwain: There is an ongoing debate within the financial industry as to whether social media marketing has a measurable return on investment (ROI).  While there are multiple ways to measure the benefits of social media, it’s just not as simple as looking for a direct sales return on the consumer end, with a social media effort being made on the business marketing end.  Social media is so much more than a marketing tool.

Social media encompasses public relations, customer support, thought leadership, community relations, and much more.  Companies that are making progress in their social activities are seeing comments, interactions, responses and the like.

As a result, they are also seeing business metrics moving: downloads, email registrations, client retention, decreased marketing expenses, increased brand awareness and revenue growth.

For financial professionals utilizing social media, it’s important that they realize how beneficial social media is in building and nurturing relationships. When it comes to selling financial products trust is essential and trust takes time.

This is exactly why it is so difficult to acquire clients directly from social media outlets.

Your goal as an advisor should be to position yourself and your company as an expert in your field by providing content that is of interest or adds value to your clients, insomuch earning their trust and eventually their sale.

Q: But how can you tell if it’s working?

Amy McIlwain: Smart tracking and measuring through online analytics programs will allow you to see the amount of traffic your posts, blogs and content are getting.

If you see some topics getting more hits, comments and interaction than others, change your content strategy to keep your online traffic high.  As a result of increasing traffic numbers and online interaction, you should see your business metrics increase as well.

Aside from measuring the ROI of social media on new clients, you should also see an advantageous effect with your current clients as well.

With the constant interaction and communication that social media enables, customer service will benefit and lead to high customer loyalty.  And we all know what customer loyalty leads to – referrals.  An increase in customer referrals – especially for financial professionals – is key for any business, and adds to that foundation we’ve been talking about.

Question: How difficult is it to measure the ROI?

Amy McIlwain: Financial professionals shouldn’t view social media as the savior to their marketing strategy, but rather as a tool and extension of their offline efforts.  Measuring the ROI of social media is difficult for any business, but for financial professionals especially, it’s a complex web of sales, clients, relationships and more.

Many financial professionals have the jaded perspective that if they set up their social networks and offer their products and services online, people will start buying.  As we discussed earlier, this definitely isn’t the case.

A well-planned foundation, social media strategy and patience are key.  Ultimately, setting goals and understanding the steps necessary to achieve social media success will give financial organizations a better picture of how to measure their social efforts.

About Amy McIlwain President, Financial Social Media, entrepreneur, author, speaker, and worldwide connector, Amy McIlwain is recognized internationally for radical new ways of thinking about Social Media, PR, marketing, advertising, and customer service.

About John Drachman, Senior marketing writer and Series 7 Registered Rep with Alternative Investment Resources, John is also a principal of the creative agency, The Drachman Group, Inc., and is a principal of financial services marketing firm, Advisolocity, and financial automated marketing firm, CaptureTrackConvert.

Small Businesses Are Trying and Liking New Communications Strategies

By John C. Drachman

Even in an uncertain recovery, many smaller businesses are committed to expanding their presence, yet have little appetite for going back to business as usual.

The pattern that characterized the emergence from similar market environments in the past is just  not being repeated — and contributing to low levels of hiring.

The cycle of downsizing and staffing up has been altered as executives look to more efficient ways to motivate purchasing behavior through new combinations of technology and communications.

Small is still beautiful

With an open mind, a sense of experimentation, and a relatively small budget when compared to traditional marketing, smaller firms are finding themselves rewarded by fresh attention to their ideas and products through social media initiatives.

Small businesses embrace communications technology

For managers between $25 million and $1 billion in assets under management (AUM), social media marketing and networking offers the prospect of heightened media bandwidth for a lower cost than more traditional advertising programs.

The University of Maryland’s Smith School of Business looked at the relationship between social media and small businesses and found that the technology adoption rates in the U.S. have doubled in the past year from 12% to 24%.

The data, undertaken by the University, is based on a December 2009 telephone survey of 500 small business owners. Adoption rate calculations are compared against a baseline report conducted in December 2008.

The study concludes that nearly one in five small business owners are integrating social media into their business processes — Facebook and LinkedIn were the most popular sites. In fact, 45% of surveyed respondents even believe their social media initiatives will pay off financially in 12 months or less.

Deploy more with less

If you have a small financial services firm, perhaps you have made decisions about adjusting your staffing and business model to the challenges of the current environment. Social media programs provide a way to deploy more resources and effort toward your distribution and marketing efforts without heavy additional costs