The World Needs More Storytellers

As a public speaker, I have a dream of creating my own TED Talk. Spending eighteen minutes on stage expressing a passionate idea I believe can change the world. (Of course, my concept would center around rebooting the way we teach, talk, and share information about money and retirement.) Yep, it is on my bucket list. Last night, I added another dream on to the list: become a better storyteller. (And maybe, one day, be a speaker at The Moth.)

Last night, we had the opportunity to attend a showing of The Moth, an organization dedicated to the art of storytelling; it was an amazing night. The stories were compelling and interesting and the storytellers themselves were absolute pros. They had ten minutes to create a connection with the audience and they did. We laughed, cried, applauded like crazy and during the intermission we yapped up a storm about what we’d heard and, more importantly, what we’d felt.

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Three Easy Tips to Elevate Your LinkedIn Usage in 2014

ShoeFitts Marketing President Sheri Fitts explains how LinkedIn can improve visibility, strengthen client and competitor knowledge, and provide strategic business opportunities and connections.

Portland, OR

December 23, 2013

With the year quickly drawing to a close, now is the ideal time for retirement plan professionals to improve their LinkedIn profile and make better use of the business-oriented social media site in 2014.

“Optimally harnessed, LinkedIn can improve your visibility, strengthen your understanding of clients and competitors, and provide strategic business opportunities and connections,” explains marketing and social media strategist Sheri Fitts.

“In late December, and every time I prepare for an upcoming financial services conference or marketing strategy meeting, I take a few minutes to review my LinkedIn profile,” furthers Ms. Fitts, president of ShoeFitts Marketing.

LinkedIn profiles do not have to be lengthy to be effective. Instead, Ms. Fitts says Three Easy Tips to Elevate Your LinkedIn Usage quickly improve messaging and utilization include:

1. Optimize Your Profile

“Too often I see incomplete profiles that lack professional headlines, summaries, and business-appropriate photos,” according to Ms. Fitts. “These are such missed opportunities. Beyond the gaps, ask yourself: what is my profile communicating? If you don’t like the answer, maybe it’s time to make some changes.”

Remember, Fitts says: “LinkedIn profiles let you control a part of your digital footprint.” At a minimum profiles should feature:

  • Professional looking photo, not a poorly cropped picture from a costume party. Retailers Target and JC Penney still offer photography services, or a friend can take a photo using diffused or indirect lighting and minimal background distractions. For tips on using a phone’s camera see: How to take amazing photos with your cameraphone.
  • Vanity URL. Instead of the standard, non-specific link to a profile, professionals should create a custom URL by clicking on the pencil in Edit Profile. The URL should be unique and feature a name or a business to elevate search engine optimization (SEO).
  • Six-second elevator pitch for Your Professional Headline. Just under a profile name is a 120-character space for a quick and meaningful sentence to explain unique and valuable services.
  • Summary statement. “Make this an interesting and compelling story offering your personal insights and knowledge,” says Fitts. “People prefer doing business with someone they know and trust so write in the first person, be sincere, and don’t restate your resume!”
  • Website and email links. In the Contact Information rolodex icon below the profile photo are spots for an email address and up to three website links. This area also includes links for instant messaging and twitter, plus phone and address information.

2. Cyber Sleuthing

“Google Search is a great way to conduct research, but LinkedIn lets you glean information directly from the profiles of your key contacts, clients, and competitors,” Ms. Fitts notes. With a little LinkedIn sleuthing she says professionals can learn the following:

  • People’s interests and hobbies. Look for business, education or personal connections to ease introductions and elevate contact.
  • Marketing strategies and positioning; particularly useful with competitors.
  • Business and professional emphasis; learn what’s important to clients and potential clients.

For more LinkedIn sleuthing suggestions visit: What Did You Learn Today?

3. Build Contacts, Curate and Share

“Build LinkedIn contacts as you would your friendships,” Ms. Fitts says. Make contacts meaningful by using common sense and etiquette:

  • Send Connection requests immediately after conferences and meetings while the contact is still fresh.
  • Don’t send generic Connection invites. Delete the standard request text and replace it with a personal note.
  • Reject requests. Not all requests are good ones; if a request seems questionable, reject it or send a reply asking for more information.
  • Watch out for compliance issues with endorsements. Most retirement plan professionals cannot accept endorsements or recommendations; hide these by selecting “do not show my endorsements” when editing Skills & Expertise.

About ShoeFitts Marketing
ShoeFitts Marketing is a Portland, Oregon-based company specializing in marketing strategy and social media development for the retirement plan industry. The company’s approach is simple: use the right tool for the right job. ShoeFitts knows how to work within the parameters of the regulated environment from decades of experience working in the financial services marketplace. The company has galvanized industry marketing and social media efforts by developing a cache of premium products and customized training sessions, and using progressive strategies to provide fresh opportunities for clients to establish standout roles in their industry.

401kWire Names Sheri Fitts to 100 Most Influential People List

Expertise from a 20-plus-year career in defined contribution market brings ShoeFitts Marketing President Sheri Fitts accolades from retirement plan industry members.

Portland, OR

December 23, 2013

ShoeFitts Marketing President Sheri Fitts is one of the 100 Most Influential People in the Defined Contribution Industry according to the recently released annual 401kWire.com survey. “I’m extremely honored to be recognized and join such esteemed company in the defined contribution industry,” said Ms. Fitts.

ShoeFitts is a marketing and social media strategy leader that specializes in helping retirement plan advisors, third party administrators, and financial service organizations. “Our specialized focus allows ShoeFitts to hone in on industry-specific solutions for social media and digital marketing best practices within the parameters of this highly regulated marketplace,” Ms. Fitts explained.

Ms. Fitts launched ShoeFitts in 2012 and has quickly created recognition for both herself and the company. The 100 Most Influential People in Defined Contributions survey conducted annually by 401kWire.com is the most recent accolade for Ms. Fitts.

Ms. Fitts is also a celebrated global speaker and presents keynote addresses, breakout sessions, webinars, and daylong boot camps. She engages audiences by sharing stories of her own experiences and experiments, successes and learning moments, as well as a sweeping range of marketing and social media strategy-based topics, weaving humor and sincerity into her delivery.

About ShoeFitts Marketing
ShoeFitts Marketing is a Portland, Oregon-based company specializing in marketing strategy and social media development for the retirement plan industry. The company’s approach is simple: use the right tool for the right job. ShoeFitts knows how to work within the parameters of the regulated environment from decades of experience working in the financial services marketplace. The company has galvanized industry marketing and social media efforts by developing a cache of premium products and customized training sessions, and using progressive strategies to provide fresh opportunities for clients to establish standout roles in their industry.

LinkedIn: Three Tips to Elevate Your Efforts in 2014

Every time I prepare for an upcoming financial services conference or marketing strategy meeting I take a few minutes to review my LinkedIn profile and do a little homework on fellow attendees and participants. Why? Because optimally harnessed, LinkedIn can improve your visibility, strengthen your understanding of clients and competitors, and provide strategic business opportunities and connections.

Here are three tips to elevate your efforts in 2014!

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First Impressions are Lasting Impressions

Our opinions of a company or a person are formed in that introductory split second. That impression—positive or negative—shades our experiences and actions going forward. Unfortunately, that first assessment may be absolutely incorrect. But when we define these initial perceptions, as seen through our [metaphorical] lens, as fact, they can be difficult to reframe; it’s challenging to entertain alternate viewpoints. When our own prospects, clients, colleagues, or communities’ view us through a skewed lens, we may never have the opportunity to shift the perception of who we are and the value we bring.

This is what marketing and branding is all about; helping people and companies create that invaluable positive first impression providing clarity to ensure 20/20 vision. Spending time and resources on brand development is paramount to establishing a robust and legitimate client base—a linchpin of our success formula.

Most of us know that the web is the first place people interact with companies. Have you ever passed over a restaurant or salon because the website looked disorganized? I know I have. I truly believe the chaotic energy of a poorly executed website is an indicator of what I can expect if I were to patronize the business. We relate to what we see and react with our money based on how we feel. In business, it is so important to be mindful of people’s feelings.

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Sheri Fitts Stresses Social Media Etiquette for Retirement Plan Professionals

Well-crafted social media and marketing messages need courtesy and manners to avoid common decorum errors and the wrath of Nana.

Portland, OR

October 30, 2013

Marketing and social media strategist Sheri Fitts is following in her Nana’s footsteps by stressing the value of proper correspondence etiquette and values in today’s competitive retirement plan industry.

“We live in a world of conversational messages and hashtags. A limit of 140 characters creates the demand for shorter bits and bytes,” explains Ms. Fitts. “Even so, there is no substitute for a well-crafted message.”

For Ms. Fitts, and Nana, spelling, punctuation and grammar matter, and saying ‘thank you’ is an important part of any relationship. “A note with a preposition at the end of a sentence was unacceptable 50 years ago and it is still intolerable today,” relates Ms. Fitts.

To avoid the wrath of Nana, Ms. Fitts recommends retirement plan professionals use the following tips:

  • Always spell check. If you know you’re a challenged speller, or wonder whether ‘persuasive’ has one ‘s’ or two, get help. “I love my Mozilla Firefox web browser because it points out any misspellings for me — a great little shortcut,” Ms. Fitts notes.
  • Proofread your postings before you submit them. Granted, leaving out a word or typing something incorrectly isn’t the end of the world. But to a reader, your postings can demonstrate your brilliance, or reveal your lack of care. Be part of the conversation, or be ignored. Why invest time in social media if you’re going to be ignored?
  • Remember that manners matter. If you’re reaching out to connect with someone, include a personal note in your request. The hollow and generic request on LinkedIn is just that, hollow and generic. It doesn’t provide any context, personal or otherwise, about why you’re interested in connecting.
  • Your friends are a reflection of you. If you’re ever concerned about a connection request from someone, simply decline. If they don’t know you, they aren’t likely to be offended. If you feel compelled to respond, simply reply (without accepting) and ask them to share a bit more about their request and why they think connecting would be a good idea.
  • Say ‘thank you.’ Finally, in keeping with Nana’s rules, always say ‘please’ and ‘thank you.’ When someone sends you a connection request and you accept, quickly send a thank-you note. It helps solidify the relationship. And you can use it as an opportunity to position your business and share a bit about how you help your clients.

Read the full blog post here.

Ms. Fitts is the president of ShoeFitts Marketing, a marketing and social media strategy leader that specializes in helping retirement plan advisors, third party administrators, and financial service organizations. She launched ShoeFitts in 2012 after 20-plus years in the 401(k) industry. Both the company and its owner are quickly garnering recognition and praise throughout the retirement plan industry. Ms. Fitts was recently named one of the 100 Most Influential People in the Defined Contribution industry by the 401kWire.com annual survey.

Ms. Fitts is also a celebrated global speaker and presents keynote addresses, breakout sessions, webinars, and daylong boot camps. She engages audiences by sharing stories of her own experiences and experiments, successes and learning moments, as well as a sweeping range of marketing and social media strategy-based topics, weaving humor and sincerity into her delivery.

About ShoeFitts Marketing
ShoeFitts Marketing is a Portland, Oregon-based company specializing in marketing strategy and social media development for the retirement plan industry. The company’s approach is simple: use the right tool for the right job. ShoeFitts knows how to work within the parameters of the regulated environment from decades of experience working in the financial services marketplace. The company has galvanized industry marketing and social media efforts by developing a cache of premium products and customized training sessions, and using progressive strategies to provide fresh opportunities for clients to establish standout roles in their industry.

ShoeFitts Marketing Presents Social Media Series for Retirement Wholesalers

“Harnessing the Power of Social Media – for Wholesalers” is a three-part series that will give wholesalers what they need to jump into the social media world.

Portland, OR

September 11, 2013

ShoeFitts Marketing announces a webinar series designed to give retirement plan wholesalers a new way to access and interact with their advisor prospects. “Harnessing the Power of Social Media – for Wholesalers” is a three-part series that will give wholesalers what they need to jump into the social media world.

“Wholesalers know how to pick up the phone and call prospects. But today, business is done online. If you’re not using social media to connect with your prospects online, you’re missing out on an invaluable opportunity to deepen your relationships,” says Sheri Fitts, President of ShoeFitts Marketing. “Social media is an undeniably valuable and relevant marketing resource. Our series will teach you how to use it to your advantage.”

In “Harnessing the Power of Social Media – for Wholesalers,” participants will:

  • Familiarize themselves with the social media landscape, quickly, effectively and compliantly
  • Learn how to take charge of their online presence
  • Learn how to use social media for competitive intelligence
  • Get a head start on the fourth quarter selling season
  • Apply what they learn to their own business by developing a short-term social media plan to fit their specific business needs

Registration is currently open. In order to provide personal attention to each attendee, the number of participants is limited to 20. Sessions will be held on October 4, 11 and 18, from 12-1 pm EST.

Each one-hour session will cover the basics of using LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and other new media to find prospects, learn about them and engage them where they are – online.

The complete course is $279, and includes:

Three 45-minute, weekly presentations with significant time for Q&A, recorded for busy schedules
One individual, 30-minute strategy session with ShoeFitts Marketing
Offline assignments designed to reinforce what is learned
A short-term social media strategy to nurture leads and drive sales

“This special social media series will inform, motivate and inspire. Offering hands-on training, it is designed to help participants jump in with both feet and get the most benefit from their time and effort,” Sheri says. “Those who join us can expect to learn quickly and hit the ground running.”

To register for “Harnessing the Power of Social Media – for Wholesalers,” visit http://tinyurl.com/ShoeFitts-SocialMediaSeries.

About ShoeFitts Marketing

ShoeFitts Marketing is a Portland, OR-based leader in marketing and social media strategy that specializes in helping retirement plan advisors, third party administrators and financial service organizations. Our approach is simple: use the right tool for the right job. We know how to work within the parameters of this regulated environment from decades of experience working in the financial services marketplace. We’ve galvanized industry marketing and social media efforts by developing a cache of premium products and customized training sessions, and use progressive strategies to provide fresh opportunities for clients to establish standout roles in their industry.

Marketing: What the other guy is doing while you’re being too busy.

As a small to medium-sized firm you are up, day after day, against established players that have more resources, more brand, customers, references. It is the story of David versus Goliath. That is the story that makes entrepreneurship exciting.

So the question is how do you beat Goliath? And it’s not through the better product, because no one knows about your services or product at the beginning. When you start, no one knows you. No one knows your name. So, you’ve got to break through the noise, you’ve got to break through everything your competitors are doing.

How do you do that? Marketing.

People tell me regularly that they don’t have time for marketing, that’s basically like saying:

  • I don’t have time to win customers.
  • I don’t have time to build a successful business.
  • I don’t have time to really get known in the marketplace and increase my position and branding of it.

Yipes that’s a little harsh! Let’s back up for just a moment. Here is what we know about sales in the retirement plan world:

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Advisor Website Check-up

Originally posted on 401khelpcenter.com

When was the last time you lifted the hood on your website?

As recently as just a few years ago, advisors were able to get by with a very minimalist website with a logo, a bio, a photo and perhaps a map to your office. For many, that kind of simple brochure-ware met their online needs.

Times have changed.

Today, advisors need more than a bio page and a contact us form. Today’s prospects and clients are using your web presence as an indicator of how effective you are in conducting your business. More and more customers indicate that the advisor’s website plays a role in the final decision around whether or not they will do business with you.

We’ve assembled the top five mistakes Advisors are making when it comes to their website. How does your website measure up?

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Sheri Fitts Nominated to 401kwire.com’s 2013 list of the “100 Most Influential People in Defined Contribution”

Pop the cork and send up the confetti!

ShoeFitts Marketing is celebrating the nomination of Founder, President, and Creatif Extraordinaire Sheri Fitts to 401kwire.com’s 2013 list of the “100 Most Influential People in Defined Contribution.” Even as the inaugural year of ShoeFitts Marketing is still underway, Sheri’s ongoing influence in the DC marketing and social media space is undisputed. You know it, we know it, and now readers of 401kwire.com will know it, too!