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Forward Thinking Magazine : December 2010
44 Macquarie Adviser Services So, how can you use the internet to communicate cleverly with your clients in a way that will support your existing communication strategy? Step 1: Your website Let’s start with the basics of online communication – your website. Almost all clients looking for a new adviser will use the internet to inform their decision. Even if they have received a referral, they will go to the website to find out more about your business. Make sure your site is well laid out, easy to navigate, and the information on there is clear and relevant. It’s a good idea to Google a few key words related to your company – such as the business name or the names of you or other planners - to ensure that your site appears at the top of the search results. You could also check the results of an internet search for financial advisers in your area, as this will be a first step for many clients who are seeking a new adviser. If your business does not appear on the list, your web developer can assist you to ensure you have enough recognisable ‘keywords’ on your site. Step 2: Get mobile The availability and accessibility of mobile broadband is set to increase with the national broadband network, making it even more important for websites to be mobile-friendly. The growing popularity of mobile computing means it is important that your website is set up for easy viewing on mobile devices such as iPad, BlackBerry or the Google Android. Your web developer can assist you here. For these reasons, the online version of Forward Thinking magazine has recently been configured for viewing on an iPad. Step 3: Get personal It’s more about the ‘you’ than the ‘what’. Thanks in part to the rise of social networking, people increasingly want to know about you. That doesn’t mean sharing your shoe size and earliest memory, but sharing your professional knowledge in a more personal way. Mobile and online advancements are all about creating connections with people. A computer presents a physical barrier between the machine and the user, which is breached by devices such as the iPad and iPhone, with which you interact with by touching the screen. A touch screen device is seen to create more of a personal connection between user and device – a more intimate experience which engages the user more with the information on screen. Step 4: Share your opinions Blogging can be a useful strategy for voicing your thoughts and opinions about planning strategies, general interest, and, particularly in the current environment, developments in regulation and what they mean for your clients. Jordan Vaka, principal of Tangram Financial Services, uses his blog to voice his opinions and to support his communications strategy. He keeps a blog so he can talk about topics that interest him, while at the same time demonstrating his knowledge and expertise. The blog is housed on Tangram’s website and is promoted to clients through monthly emails. The blog is also part of Vaka’s Google strategy, offering up something personal in response to Google searches in addition to Tangram’s website, and is a way of promoting Tangram online without paying for formal online advertising. “A blog gives planners the chance to express themselves clearly and simply,” he says. “It will complement your current marketing strategies. It’s also a forum where I can grow a ‘portfolio’ of work that I can later package and send to people as part of my marketing material.” He warns though, that blogs are not an easy solution – it takes time and dedication to produce regular, interesting blogs which deliver value to the reader. Step 5: Embrace talkback With the increasing popularity of forums and social networking, business-to-client communication has become a two-way process inviting conversation and interaction, rather than a method of just pushing information out to consumers. It may surprise you that Twitter is not just a forum for teens to compare notes on their celebrity crushes. The site presents genuine lead generation and client engagement opportunities, and is a cheap and fast way to communicate.