By: D. Bruce Johnston, President, DBJ Associates
With hope and fear. If they can publish a few blog posts, advisors can extend the life of a public relations story nearly effortlessly. With social media and its ability to generate attention inexpensively, it’s hard not to consider it.
The difficulty comes in when you ask an RIA what they are willing to pay for it. An RIA must opt for at least a minimal, consistent effort to communicate their subject matter expertise to their prospects.
So, while the vehicles underlying all that publicity are almost free, the talent to assemble content and distribute it is not.
And that’s the rub: RIAs need to make a commitment to reach out and sustain an effort to attract new prospects into their loop. Whether an RIA is ready to take the deep dive into social media, he or she needs to answer four questions.
- Do I like the idea of using nearly free marketing tools to attract prospective clients? This one is easy: “Yes.”
- Should I “do-it-myself” — or recruit professionals to help me? The RIA must decide whether they want to take time away from client-facing activity to master the web’s ins and outs. Caveat: Do-it-yourself errors can be a deal breaker.
- Am I committed to spending some money? RIAs don’t have to commit to hefty retainers, but they do need to commit somewhere between $5,000 to $10,000 initially to dedicate to professional resources.
- Am I willing to experiment a bit, journey into unknown territory? I have found that this is the most important question for advisors to answer. An experimental sense of social media’s possibilities is the key. There is no locked in blueprint for how to proceed. Social media strategies are a trip through a new frontier; the efforts are flexible, motivational and engaging when done well. And, if you make a mistake, they are pretty easy to correct.
Why is it that a prospect who won’t return an advisor’s phone call won’t hesitate to connect with that advisor on LinkedIn? Why is it that a prospect will unsubscribe from an advisor’s newsletter and then immediately start following that same person on Twitter?
I think it’s a matter of control: individuals like to pick and choose what they want from a service provider and who they want to have a conversation with — and that includes RIAs.
But advisors cannot join the conversation if their potential prospects don’t know where to find them.