The PESO Model (paid, earned, shared and owned) is a great way to “bucket” out any marketing plan. If you missed the previous articles in the series, The Digital Reality for Financial Advisors and Embracing The PESO Model for Marketing Success (Part 2), read those pieces now before continuing on. This installment will focus on “earned” strategies, also known as public relations, media relations and/or credibility marketing.
SOMETHING TO TALK ABOUT
There’s an old Bonnie Raitt song that says, “let’s give them something to talk about” – and in today’s transparent, digital world giving people something positive to talk about could be essential to a financial firm’s long-term business health. When a financial advisor is published in or quoted by a credible media outlet, there are lots of good things for people to talk about, things that position them and their firm in a positive manner and to share via email campaigns, website and blog posts, as reprints in introductory packets, and on social media accounts.
Being seen as a media resource also creates the “wow factor” when people are checking out the firm to ensure it is a credible professional resource. It also makes it easier for others to refer right fit clients to your firm. The reality today is that it is simply easier for clients and strategic partners to send a link to an article or a website than it is to try and explain the value of working with you and your firm. There is a nice “halo effect” that occurs when a third-party media piece that quotes or profiles you accompanies the referring person’s note or conversation.
I’ve seen this time and time again over my 20+ years working with financial firms: PR, done right, can produce great dividends.
POSTER CHILD FOR EARNED MEDIA
One poster child for earned media is Carolyn McClanahan, M.D., CFP®, of Life Planning Partners, Inc., in Jacksonville, Florida. Because she is in the press so much – and is a good user of social media – the press now reaches out to her directly as a resource. In addition, people in the community tell her they appreciate that she is out there trying to spread good information – this perception automatically put McClanahan in “good guy / white hat” category.
“About 10% of our clients come from reading about us in the media directly,” McClanahan says, “however, the bigger boon is that our current clients love seeing us in the press. They share this with their friends. The majority of our clients come from referrals from current clients, and we believe that our commitment to excellence both in what we do for clients and how we serve the financial planning profession and the public is the reason for this. We spend zero dollars on marketing and our client waiting list at one point was a year. We now have our waiting list down to four months. We refer one to two clients a week to other advisors in the area.”
McClanahan does leverage her media mentions on social media and her website. “We put the larger media pieces on our website,” she says. “We always promote the pieces on social media. Reporters are now being measured by their social media outreach and ‘hits’ on their pieces, so if you help promote the articles and mention the reporter in your social media, they are more likely to reach out to you for more stories.”
HITTING THE RIGHT BUTTONS
Lauren Gadkowski Lindsay, CFP®, Director of Financial Planning at Personal Financial Advisors, LLC, in Covington, Louisiana, recently wrote a piece about funeral wishes. “I was thrilled,” Lindsay said, “mostly because I could finally show my mom that my English degree was not totally in vain.” All kidding aside, Lindsay’s piece is a great contribution to the profession – there is lots of good information in her piece. It also positions her as a credible, caring professional who is concerned about more than just her clients’ money. The piece lives online and is easily discoverable by current and prospective clients.
The personal satisfaction of seeing the first published piece must have stirred something inside Lindsay because just two months later she submitted and had published a second piece, this time on the benefits of volunteering locally and how it can pay off for a financial planning firm. Because her work as an advisor is promoted by the charitable organization or school, it is great professional exposure for her. But as she points out in her article, that’s not why she volunteers. “Serving on a board just to list it on one’s biography isn’t an authentic reason to volunteer, and it is easy to tell who isn’t being genuine when they take part in volunteer activities,” Lindsay says (Side note: volunteering is another form of public relations because you do not pay for the exposure; you offer your time and expertise in return for the free exposure).
Lindsay says that in spite of being time-crunched and “being terrible” at doing anything with her media hits, she does get quoted quite a lot since she sends comprehensive answers to journalists – usually a few sentences or paragraphs of ideas. “If they need more, they reach out to me, but some just use my email to quote me in articles,” Lindsay says.
If relevant, she sends the published pieces to clients in an eblast. She also puts them on LinkedIn and the firm’s website (this also improves search engine page rankings by adding keywords and relevant links). To find out when her pieces or quotes are published, she uses Google News Alerts, which is set up to show her whenever her company name or individual name is used online. She wants to be the first to know whenever her name comes up on another website.
OUT OF SIGHT, OUT OF MIND
Joseph Belfatto, managing partner at Massey Quick, a top-ranked wealth management firm based in Morristown, New Jersey, has a slightly different take on things. When the firm began thinking about ways to capitalize on the RIA’s tenth anniversary, they immediately thought of PR as a way to build credibility and visibility with the ultra-high-net-worth clientele they serve and strategic partners on the East coast. They knew they did not have the expertise in-house to accomplish their credibility / visibility goals so they hired an outside PR firm to help them shine a light on their good works and company milestones.
“It has been a very successful relationship,” says Belfatto. “We’ve learned so much and accomplished much of what we wanted. The goal was to raise the profile of the firm and be seen as a leading source for wealth management services and financial planning advice in the New York/New Jersey area. We compete against well-established banks and trust companies, Wall Street firms, and very high-level boutique RIAs for our high net worth and sophisticated clientele. Being visible and credible is extremely important to Massey Quick, our strategic partners and clients who refer business to us.”
However, Belfatto does admit, “Sometimes it’s hard to measure where the referrals and growth comes from, but grown we have and we see our PR firm as a part of the team effort. Visibility through public relations and positioning online is more than just table stakes… these elements are a necessity for financial firms that are serious about building and maintaining market share. It’s kind of like upgrading your office space or installing a big flat screen monitor in the conference room or entertaining clients at the best restaurants and venues, doing philanthropic work in the community, wearing the right clothing, etc. It’s hard to precisely measure the impact that a good first impression and ongoing visibility makes. The old saying, ‘out of sight, out of mind’ is applicable here,” Belfatto says.
While results can sometimes be hard to measure, Belfatto says the firm is seeing some real gains with their digital assets. “I can tell you that our website and In the News page look great. And that we are gaining traction building a following on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. When you visit our website you will see some of the best media placements. We’ve seen a big spike up in our search engine presence. Strategic partners and clients tell us they have seen us in the news or are impressed when they visit our website or see our lacquered plaques when they visit the office. Being seen in credible media outlets also gives our social media team lots of great things to put on our social media accounts.”
Bottom line: Adding a healthy dose of earned media to your marketing plan is one of the best things you can do to impress the right people and earn share of mind.