Ontario, Canada -- (ReleaseWire) -- 05/08/2014 -- According to Kirk Lowe, Founder and Chief Branding Tactician at TactiBrand, a tactical branding and engagement firm, whether it's an advisor or an RIA, if the website doesn't have a clear and compelling purpose for the business, it likely is a waste of time and money.
Financial advisors have traditionally relied on a professional service to either implement a template or custom design a website. As an expert on managing wealth; advisors feel they shouldn't have to be a digital marketing expert too. However, it's not easy finding trusted help that knows the financial business.
Financial website providers often:
- Don't know the industry and therefore they either require a lot of learning that increases fees, they rely on the client too much for content and direction, which also increases costs, or they build a version of what the advisor down the street is using.
- Are technical experts, not marketing experts. They focus on bells and whistles such as calculators, article libraries, stock market tickers, and newsletter sign ups. They are great at getting a site for what appears to be a reasonable price, but the real cost is actually huge. These sites typically have a huge opportunity-loss cost by missing out on attracting and resonating to with a specific audience. Bells and whistles don't attract clients, a clear value proposition that resonates with their situation does.
- Produce volumes of financial websites, seminar marketing and content. There's often more value in this approach than any above but for most firms, it leaves them wanting and needing much more. The biggest issue is looking like everyone else, having access to the same generic content as everyone else and really not standing out in any area such as design, content or message. They produce average websites that appeal to their average clients (FAs). That's just what the "volume" business is. Mass produced websites with accompanying content are not what financial advisors need to get real results from their website.
10 Reasons Why an Advisor Website Needs a Makeover
#1 – Lack Focus
Many sites have a lack of focus. They jump from one idea to the next or one service to ten. It's as if they forget who they are marketing to. A site (design and content) and its message need to be highly relevant to a target the audience.
#2 – Lack Appeal
Website layouts and designs have improved significantly with the advent of content management systems such as Wordpress and Joomla, but now advisors are forced to put their ideas and content into a template that isn't suitable for their audience, message and purpose. Mass produced website templates continue to lack good design and intuitive navigation. Even with their recent upgrades in content (generic financial videos) and social media integration. Content needs to drive the template – not the other way around.
#3 – Lack Purpose
A website can-be, should-be, a key driver for a financial business. This might include prospecting objectives, client communication or brand awareness. Regardless, it's critical to know its role in ales, service and marketing process before building. Is the site aimed at getting people to attend regional workshops? Is it aimed at influencing social media networks? Is the site aimed at impressing 50+ aged advisors to join your RIA? Is it integrated with a radio program and or book? Is the website a place you want prospects coming back to time and again? Are you looking to build credibility or are you looking to build your client base?
#4 – Lack Depth
Depth is the single most significant deficiency with all types of financial websites. From the large broker dealers, to the RIA to the independent advisor website, they lack proof they are what they say with any kind of depth. They are shallow marketing copy heavy online brochures. When most consumers look at an RIA website that says, "We are Trusted Advisors", without clear proof or support, they think yeah right. Financial companies and professionals rarely showcase how they are different; with highly relevant papers or articles, video, clearly articulated investment philosophies, diagramed planning or investment process, a book, a consistent message throughout, a clear niche, and a clear target audience. Depth builds trust and people need to trust before considering next steps. Trust is not achieved by writing, "our clients trust us" on a website. Too often websites say, "we do this and that" when they should be answering "and this is how we do it, who we do it for, and why".
#5 – Lack Engagement
One of the most important roles for most websites is user engagement. This is the equivalent of a call-to-action, but its purpose isn't limited to "call us". Engagement is getting an ideal prospect (website visitor) to click on something to learn more about a firm's insights or to begin experiencing what it would be like to be a client. Engagement keeps visitors on a site longer, gets them experiencing the firm and builds trust.
#6 – Lack Differentiation
Next to lack of depth, differentiation is the next most deficient, although important, website attribute. In an industry that seems similar in many ways to many people, being seen as different can't be marginalized or ignored. To the general consumer, all FIs are the same – unless they have a compelling reason to choose an financial advisor, they will gravitate towards a brand they recognize that is 5 minutes closer to drive to. Finding and articulating uniqueness in a way that resonates and seems different or better, is critical to people wanting to take next steps. A website is often the first place they go before they ever speak with or visit a company.
#7 – Lack Visibility
A successful website can fulfill a simple role such as impressing people that were referred and motivating them to take next step. Even if that was its only role and the website performed and it did that well, there would be a high return on investment. A successful website can also be one that attracts ideal prospects to a website and influences them to the point where they contact you. This initial attraction strategy can be achieved via search engine optimization, social networking, public relations, direct advertising, online ads, print ads, media ads, email campaigns and personal introductions. The best tactics for increasing visibility are having great content (papers, posts, checklists, etc), content online (website, blog, content hubs), and then sharing via social networks. Public relations would be a good add-on here too.
#8 – Lack Visuals
Showing how someone is different through visuals and video is huge to having marketing success. There's a specific "how we do it" that needs to be addressed. People like processes, it breeds confidence; it says, "they've done this before". It also helps people understand what is being done so they feel informed. Using visuals (diagrams, videos, infographics) to describe how and what a company does is crucial.
#9 – Lack Mobile Readiness
It's expected that mobile viewing of one's website will surpass desktop viewing within a few years. If a website is meant to impress on a desktop or laptop, it ought to achieve the same results on a mobile phone or tablet.
#10 – Lack Creativity
Websites are an incredible tool to build a brand and grow a business. It's an opportunity to be creative and stand out, yet mostly there is safe and common approaches to website design, development and deployment.Too often the same stock imagery is used over and over again.
There remains a significant competitive edge for financial firms that want to reach out and position themselves. The time to change has never been better.
About Kirk Lowe
Kirk Lowe is the founder and Chief Branding Tactician at TactiBrand, a tactical branding and engagement firm. Kirk challenges financial firms and advisors to consider the application of their brand and how to tactically achieve results. His weekly blog posts on KirkLowe.com share wisdom about financial services marketing and brand building tactics.
Kirk tells his story without compromise to financial professionals, executives and CEOs who want to listen.
Visit http://www.TactiBrand.com for more information about what Kirk and the TactiBrand team can do.