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Monthly Archives: June 2012
Written by Steve. Posted on June 29, 2012.
Having a website is no longer optional. It’s a must. Your clients and potential clients will expect it. It’s where they’ll go to check you out before they even consider getting in touch with you. So not only should you have one… it has to be good. The problem for most firms is that they don’t know “what good looks” like when it comes to websites. That’s not a criticism, it’s just that it’s not your area of specialism. Just as most marketers/web designers don’t know what good financial planning looks like.
Well the first challenge is that you haven’t got long before your typical visitor moves on. Just a few short, but vital seconds. You need to instantly attract and hold the viewer. It’s called “surfing the web” for a reason. It involves skipping along the surface, from site to site. The first job of your website is to stop visitors in their tracks and persuade them to dwell a while.
This means making it high impact and crucially, relevant. This means a complete focus on “you the client” rather than “us the business”. Why do most websites have the “About us” page as the landing page? I’m interested in me! Here’s a quick checklist of criteria to consider when creating (or indeed reviewing) your website. Why don’t you check out your own site against these criteria?
If you use a template you will have to make your information fit the template. What’s more you are unlikely to achieve any meaningful level of differentiation. We recently looked at number of websites of firms who are perceived to be “leading lights” in the financial planning world. A high proportion were using an identical template and the same “stock photography”. That’s right. Identical images in the identical spot on their websites! Of course. I’m not going to name names, but it does illustrate the extent of the problem. No wonder people comment that all adviser sites look the same.
You need to understand your competition. And that isn’t just other IFAs or even the banks, but sites like the BBC, John Lewis, Apple, Timberland. All sites where a great deal of attention and money go into creating a fabulous customer experience and journey.
It needs to reflect the personality of your business, which is one of your key differentiators. Photos of real people… your real people… staff, advisers, clients (if they’re willing), all help to give your site an authentic feel. My own website is an example of such an approach. My ugly mug all over the place, video blogs and even video testimonials. Get personal.
Your website isn’t just a brochure, it’s a place for stories, news, thoughts, space to provoke action, create conversations. It should also provide the first opportunity to engage with you, even if that is electronically/virtually at this stage. Helpful downloads in return for an email address gets the relationship established and gives you permission to interact with them further.
Your navigation should be interesting, tell it’s own story and offer a frustration free path to your user. It should also be highly intuitive. I looked at the Timberland website the other day. Take a look for yourself here and see what you think. If their sale is still on, you’ll see that it leaves you in no doubt where to go and find what you’re looking for. Does your website do that? And get someone unfamiliar to your site to take a look at your homepage. Ask them where their eyes go immediately they see the page. Is that where you want them to look?
When it comes to website copy, less is more. The viewer will not read through paragraph after paragraph, they will hop around, your content has to be clever, clear, concise and jargon free. The content has to be relevant to your target market. They have to be able to recognise that it’s them you are talking about. So talk about their issues, their problems, their worries, their concerns, before you even think about banging on “about us”!
As I said earlier pictures speak volumes but again only if they are authentic and unique to you. People like to see real people, beautiful illustrations, not easy to use stock shots that can be seen on many sites – golden eggs, oak trees, piles of money, piggy banks, couples gazing out to sea.
Although your website should be built for humans, it also needs to be set up in the right way to appeal to the search engines who like to find fresh, unique content on a regular basis. You have to think of new and interesting ways of attracting your specific target audience to your site. Content that is regularly updated, particularly video content is what Google loves.
A website is never finished. You should visit your own site often, using a critical (and possibly external) eye. It amazes me how infrequently many firms review (or even look at) their website. There is always room for improvement. And when it comes to managing the perception of your business and your brand, a website that is “good enough”… just isn’t!
How does your’s stack up against these golden rules?
Written by Steve. Posted on June 27, 2012.
This is the third in our series of video blogs in which we look at the 12 Drivers of Success for advisory businesses. This week we take a look at drivers 7,8 and 9
7. Better Alliances
8. Better Proactivity
9. Better Pricing
One option is to struggle to be heard, whenever you’re in the room… Another is to be the sort of person who is missed when you’re not. The first involves making noise. The second involves making a difference.
Written by Steve. Posted on June 20, 2012.
Here’s the second in the series of video blogs in which we look at the 12 Drivers of Success for advisory businesses. This week we take a look at
4. Better Clients
5. Better Service
6. Better Client Meetings
On some positions, Cowardice asks the question, “Is it safe?” Expediency asks the question, “Is it politic?” And Vanity comes along and asks the question, “Is it popular?” But Conscience asks the question “Is it right?” And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must do it because Conscience tells him it is right.
Martin Luther King
Written by Steve. Posted on June 13, 2012.
In this week’s short video blog, the first in a series of 4 in which we we explore the 12 drivers of success for advisory businesses, we look at drivers 1 to 3. Namely…
- Better Intent
- Better Execution
- Better Measures
If there’s no struggle, there’s no progress
Frederick Douglass, American Civil Rights Leader
Written by Steve. Posted on June 6, 2012.
We are delighted to announce the appointment of our first Associate Consultant as part of our strategic growth plans. Stewart Hutcheson became part of our team on the 1st June,having spent many years with Skandia and more recently Brewin Dolphin.
Stewart has spent his whole working lifetime in the financial services industry in Scotland, working most closely with financial advisers. His extensive IFA facing experience in both the product provider and asset management sectors has equipped him with deep insights into the challenges and issues faced by advisers in today’s rapidly changing and increasingly challenging environment.
Stewart has always tried to get a closer understanding of what made the business he was working alongside tick: i.e. “what do you really want for yourselves and your clients?” This approach has earned Stewart an enviable reputation with the IFAs he’s worked with, as a great sounding board, mentor and source of support and information.
Now in his role as an Associate Consultant with Steve Billingham Consulting Ltd, he continues to do so, but now with no “sales” agenda, other that helping your business get to where you want it to be.
Stewart still retains a real passion about the need for quality financial advice and delivers with, according to those he’s worked alongside, naturally “infectious enthusiasm” to others who are prepared to listen. He is also always happy to play “devil’s advocate” too.
Away from work as a proud husband, father and grandfather he is kept well grounded by them all. Stewart harbours an avid and life-long interest in all forms of motorsport, which continues to this day. His short-term goal outside of work is to get back to his cycling exercise regime sometime soon. As he himself acknowledges, “I know it’s not always easy to do the things we should, even though we know we should be doing them!”