A rising generation of advisors grew up with cutting-edge technology. Now they’re using it to reach their target market.
XAutoplay: On | OffAcross America, young, diverse advisors seek to win over communities that have rarely sought out financial planners. To market themselves, these advisors are harnessing social media and other technologies in new ways.
By definition, niche marketing involves narrowly focused outreach. Social media enables advisors to reach a small subset of the general population that they’re ideally suited to serve.
Brian Thompson, a certified financial planner in Chicago, launched his firm in 2016 with an emphasis on advising gay professionals. He has sought to build visibility by designing a website geared to his audience.
“The website screams that this is the right place if you’re looking for an advisor who looks like you and reflects what you’re looking for,” Thompson said. “I use very deliberate language to signal safety to the people I’m targeting.”
To capitalize on content marketing, Thompson writes a blog and aims to add video and audio elements to his website. His goal is to make it easy for LGBTQ consumers to discover his firm online.
“People are very specific in what they’re searching for (on the internet),” he said. “So I have to keep current on trends in social media and search engine optimization rather than get complacent.”
Advisors are learning that they can use online content not just to showcase their expertise, but also to engage prospects and learn from them. By inviting comments on their blog posts, educational videos and podcasts, advisors can gain a better understanding of their followers and hone in on their needs.
Advisors who market themselves to underserved communities often expand their social media horizons. They may experiment with different tools and test the results.
Jiyao Xu, a Los Angeles-based certified financial planner, seeks to attract young Chinese professionals in the U.S. He recently created a profile of his newly opened firm using WeChat, and he shares it with his friends and online followers.
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While he’s still assessing WeChat’s effectiveness in helping him gain clients, Xu is harnessing technology in other facets of his business. He uses MailChimp for his newsletter and Squarespace to design his firm’s website.
“It’s very hard to reach the people that I want to reach,” Xu said. “I’d love more tools to help me reach Chinese professionals living in the U.S. of a certain age and income. So I’m doing lots of pro bono stuff like public education events” instead of relying solely on social media marketing.
To reach their target market, advisors like Xu combine high-tech and high-touch outreach strategies. In October, Xu volunteered to educate consumers at a “Financial Planning Day” event in Los Angeles.
Similarly, Mark Boujikian regularly conducts educational sessions at local libraries that are free and open to the public. A certified financial planner in Rolling Hills Estates, Calif., Boujikian wants to raise consumers’ financial literacy — and build his business in the process.
Advisors As Teachers
While Boujikian resides in a seemingly affluent area, he says that many locals are “property rich but have minimal retirement assets and low cash flow.” He seeks to educate them about financial matters and win some of them as clients.
“They may need an advisor but either don’t have the means to hire one or they’re insulated by a language barrier,” he said.
In 2017, he has led 18 sessions in nearby libraries. They consist of a 45-minute PowerPoint presentation followed by Q&A. The talks attract 35 to 40 attendees on average, he says, and he offers a free follow-up consultation.
“About 90% accept my offer so that can mean 30 or more meetings with each one lasting 90 minutes,” Boujikian said. “It’s a lot of time, but I typically get two to three clients out of it.”
In tracing social media’s evolution, Boujikian sees more opportunity to connect with people to educate rather than sell to them. He expects online resources to feature what he calls “more financial hacks — tips and tools to bring people together to learn and improve their financial literacy.”
Like many advisors eager to teach and inform, Boujikian is passionate about spreading financial wisdom to a wider audience. That’s especially important when certain segments of the population resist or express skepticism.
Miguel Gomez, a certified financial planner in El Paso, Texas, faces what he calls “an uphill battle” in convincing some members of the Hispanic community to hire an advisor. He says that many of them lack trust in financial institutions and stash cash at home.
“Technology has given me a voice to educate, to tell people it’s OK to invest,” Gomez said. His uses Facebook to post information and both Zoom and GoToMeeting to conduct remote conferences.
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