For over 30 years, L.M. Kohn has helped advisors build their own independent, successful practices. For us, this has meant maintaining a highly skilled and hardworking compliance department with high accessibility, as well as providing tools and technology at lower costs to help advisors run an efficient and scalable business. And while we know these items are critical to our advisors, we also recognize that there’s more to operating a successful business, including marketing and networking to build a book of business.
That’s why we were so pleased to sit down with LinkedIn lead generation expert Crystal Thies, also known as “The LinkedIn Ninja.” Crystal is a former financial advisor who for the last 15 years has focused on helping small businesses (particularly independent financial advisors) understand and implement LinkedIn to build their networks and generate leads.
Why is marketing your business on LinkedIn important to independent financial advisors?
LinkedIn is the only outlet that can allow you to directly build relationships with the people that you want to have as a client. And it lets you build them authentically as “you,” not as a big brand. The reach, the authenticity, and the cost (or lack thereof) is number one. LinkedIn really levels the playing field for independent advisors.
What are some basic steps for financial advisors to fully take advantage of LinkedIn?
The first step is not to treat it as a cold calling or cold emailing platform, or like a bullhorn to broadcast your marketing communications to the world. This is probably the biggest mistake that most people make when using LinkedIn. Treat it as if you are talking to a real person. Whether it’s a private message or a public post, you want to pretend that you’re actually saying this to someone, as opposed to say typing it in a newsletter or a cold calling script. Would you actually walk up to a person and tell them you’d like to connect, then hand them your card and walk away? Of course not. Treat everything you’re communicating as if you are looking at another person in the eyes while saying it.
Secondly, realize that your profile is the digital version of you- not your resume or your bio. It needs to speak to your target audience and stand in for you when you’re not there. Your LinkedIn profile should clearly explain the problems you can solve, who you can solve them for and why you’re a better option than the others out there. Don’t use the same marketing speak that’s rampant throughout the industry either. If everyone else is saying it, then why would they choose you?
Finally, clearly define your target market beyond simply an age group and an asset range, and develop a value proposition that speaks to their needs. Make sure your value proposition is unique, and sounds like a real person wrote it, not some marketing department.
How often should advisors be posting original content?
The LinkedIn algorithm doesn’t require you to post a lot of content, it wants you to create good content that sparks conversation. There are many white label services that will offer you regular bits of content to post to your profile, but I don’t recommend these because they’re typically very generic and don’t achieve the engagement you need. At minimum, posting one really good conversation starter a week is plenty. LinkedIn recently upped its character count for posts to 3000 because they want people to have the space to create a conversation, and you can’t get anything meaningful started with just a few words.
When you post, you cannot focus on trying to educate your audience on what you want them to know. Instead, talk about the topics that matter to them. Tell those stories about what your clients are going through (don’t mention names). Build in elements of shock and awe, and end with a moral to the story. You want to include a call to action as well, to encourage engagement with your posts. But since LinkedIn is a public stage, don’t ask them to comment on things they wouldn’t want their boss or colleagues to see, like asking them to tell you their biggest financial blunder planning for retirement. Instead, format conversation starters around the issues they see other people facing. Frame your posts in a way that people will want to talk about them.
What are some indicators that demonstrate an advisor is doing it right?
I don’t encourage people to focus on follower growth unless they are fully committed to a LinkedIn content marketing strategy. With that said, look for percentage of acceptance for your connection requests. If you are posting, make sure you’re posting to people who connect with your content. Build the right connections, because there’s no amount of posting that’s going to get you any new clients if you’re not connected to the people you want as clients. Don’t chase the big numbers, chase the right numbers.
I’d recommend for advisors getting started out, that they commit to four weeks of activity. If after four weeks, you’re only getting a 10% acceptance rate for your connection requests, you’re not doing it right. You should be getting around 20% by that time.
I consider view counts as vanity metrics, but they are useful in telling you how the algorithm sees your posts. Comparing view counts to your follower count, if you’re getting 10% or less, that tells me the algorithm doesn’t like your post. 25% is acceptable, and 50% is really good. Anything above your follower count is viral, so if you have 800 connections but a post gets 10,000 views, that is about as good as you can get.
Is there any other final advice you have to offer?
When it comes to financial advisors and LinkedIn marketing in general, there are a lot of cheap, cookie cutter services out there that sound like a good deal. But in the end, you get all these articles and PDFs you can post with copyright language at the bottom that tells viewers you didn’t write them. And if there’s hundreds of advisors posting the same stuff, do you really think you’ll be the one that shows up in your target audience’s feed?
Nothing else is going to be as good as you investing your own voice into the content that you’re creating. Don’t pay someone else to show up for you, you have to be there yourself if you want to be considered the expert. And if you’re not good at it or can’t find the time, hire someone who uses your voice and expertise to create content that resonates with your connections and doesn’t include a copyright proving that someone else wrote it.
For more information about how L.M. Kohn helps advisors build their own independent and successful practice, contact us today.
About Crystal Thies
Crystal Thies has been known as the LinkedIn Ninja since founding her company, Crystal Clear Buzz, in 2009. Although well versed and experienced in all social media, Crystal specializes in the utilization of LinkedIn for sales and business development. As a past financial planner, Crystal is one of the few social media strategists with expertise to work with those regulated by FINRA, the SEC, and IIROC. She is the co-author of “The Social Media Handbook for Financial Advisors” published by Bloomberg Press.
For more information, visit her website at LinkedInNinja.com or connect with her on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/crystalthies/.