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A Study in Disruptive Marketing

JD Carlson’s LinkedIn profile photo looks like a mug shot; long hair, lots of facial hair, no smile. The hero image on his profile is a photo of him surfing. In the world of same same same, he is different. In fact, he is unforgettable.

I’ve followed JD and his firm for some time. Obviously when someone’s profile photo is radically different it stands out. (I wouldn’t necessarily recommend a mugshot for everyone, but for JD it works.) More importantly, I’ve admired his use of the social world from afar. His firm, Plan Design Consultants, is a content creation powerhouse with a video series, an ongoing blog and a very active social media presence.

Several weeks ago, while at the Excel 401k Conference, I had the opportunity to see JD and his team in action. Video camera, microphone and lights in tow, they marched into the opening night cocktail reception with a ready-made quiz, filming contestants and awarding tickets for winners as a way to drive traffic to their booth. (1. Great idea for some fun content. 2. Great idea to drive booth traffic.)

Their booth was also set up for video – somewhat like an Ellen DeGeneres set – cozy couches, lights, cameras. During the event, they filmed interviews advisors and industry influencers about various topics; likely their favorite one, “Why Your TPA Sucks.”

Here’s the interesting bit, many folks at the conference asked me, “What do you think about them?”

“Frankly,” I said, “Guess what? They’re disruptors. They’re conversation starters. They’re asking different questions. And you’re talking about them.” “That is exactly what marketing should do.”

Marketing should make you unforgettable.

Obviously I’m a fan. But, let me outline, from a marketing geek perspective, what they’re doing right.

Authentic Branding: Dr. Seuss said it best, “Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.” Their brand is true and unique. Absolutely JD could show up in a suit and tie. But that isn’t who he is – or how he chooses to move around in the world. (Note: He did wear a stylishly hip jacket and jeans at the event, he wasn’t in-your-face surfer.)

Tribe Clarity: They are uber clear on their tribe. Financial advisors. They aren’t trying to be all things to all people. They aren’t marketing to advisors AND CPAs AND employers. Nope. Only to advisors. And their content and singular intention shows.

Thought Leadership: In his book, Influence, Robert Cialdini lists six ways humans influence other humans. Authority, consistency, two of his principles that come into play with a thought leadership strategy. Rather than simply saying they are thought leaders, JD and his team consistently show up in a teaching and smart-sharing capacity; bringing useful information and new ideas to their tribe. (Oh! FYI: There is nothing worse than a singular blog from 2014. What does that say about one’s ability to be consistent in their business dealings?!)

The content they create is valuable and insightful. It isn’t just for show. It is helpful, thoughtful, and credible. And smartly, they distribute their content through a completely separate website, 401kAcademy.com, focused entirely on the most important link in their distribution chain, financial advisors.

In addition, their consistency helps builds upon Cialdini’s similarity principle. Similarity is the “know-like-trust” principle or my favorite word, propinquity; the more you’re around someone, the more they like you and trust you.

Multichannel Approach: In a nutshell, they are creating content in a variety of formats, a website filled with hands-on resources, videos (which also speak to the second largest search engine in the world, YouTube), a blog and social media activity. Social activity not only in the form of pushing their own content, but supporting others. Their video series, Retireholiks, is equally as authentic and disruptive. The team gathers on a couch, discusses issues facing advisors and the retirement plan industry and drinks beer. (Along with a bit of additional fun and games.)

Sure they could create white papers and webinars. (Yawn.) But those aren’t disruptive or innovative in any way! Sure their efforts take time and energy, and likely a bit of bank. Are they serving their tribe?Are they creating buzz? Are they having fun? Are they appealing to their ideal client? Likely so!

What might you do to shift your marketing to the status of unforgettable? How might you step out and be bolder with your brand and your messaging? Or, how might you show up more human and authentic – as a full person, beard, surfboard and all?

Digital Institute Embraces the Social Media Sphere

New ShoeFitts Marketing monthly broadcasts show financial advisors how to utilize key digital concepts and ideas in their daily practice.

Portland, OR, January 14, 2016: Financial services industry professionals can now take full advantage of digital marketing to elevate their brand, find and develop leads, and increase sales by attending the new monthly ShoeFitts Digital Institute live broadcasts. Featuring host Sheri Fitts, CEO of ShoeFitts Marketing, the series breaks down social media know-how into manageable and executable steps.

“Nearly every day, one industry group or another reports that financial services individuals who are embracing the digital sphere are exceeding and outselling their peers,” explains Fitts. “The ShoeFitts Digital Institute specifically helps professionals in the financial services industry understand how to bring the most important social selling ideas and concepts into their practice.”

For instance the January 21 broadcast, The State of Social in 2016, explains the top social selling hacks. “In this show, I share the latest trends and tips, plus showcase the sales and business growth opportunities,” Fitts says.

The February 18 broadcast, How to Make Digital Marketing Work for You, walks attendees through the steps necessary for determining and executing a well-conceived and holistic approach. “Not sure how to get started? No problem,” Fitts explains. “I outline the key digital marketing plan considerations, including how to leverage digital channels, and how to measure and evaluate your return on investment.”

Fitts, with some 25 years of marketing experience in financial services, understands the tremendous selling power of today’s digital marketplace since there are now some 1.5 billion global social media users spanning all generations and demographics. She recently launched a comprehensive self-paced eCourse, Social Selling for Financial Advisors, to address social selling in today’s competitive marketplace.

“Financial services professionals must embrace the digital sphere and understand how to effectively utilize social selling to make connections and elevate their sales,” Fitts says, adding: “The digital space is playing an ever-increasing role in the business-to-business environment, particularly in the people-facing financial services industry.”

About Sheri Fitts and ShoeFitts Marketing

Sheri Fitts, a well-regarded global speaker, engages audiences by sharing stories of her own experiences and experiments with marketing and social media strategies.

ShoeFitts Marketing helps clients be unforgettable. The Portland, Oregon-based consulting organization draws on decades of experience in the financial services marketplace to identify, create, and implement inspired marketing and social media strategies and solutions for its clients.

For more company information visit ShoeFitts Marketing and like ShoeFitts Marketing on Facebook. Follow Sheri Fitts on Twitter and LinkedIn. ##

Lay the Ghost of Compliance To Rest!

Boo!

Don’t let the ghost of compliance haunt you this Halloween. It’s time to dig that grave and lay the ghost to rest.

Sound a bit ghoulish? A trick instead of a treat? Not to worry.

I know many people fear using social media because of compliance concerns. Whenever I speak or train on the issue of social selling, the worry and barrier I hear about most often is compliance. But this isn’t 2006 (when I first started teaching folks about the social space). Even the SEC acknowledges that YELP exists.

Happy Halloween!

To help you get over your compliance fear, I’m giving away my Mastering Compliance module for free. Frankly, my intention is that you’ll find it helpful, entertaining, and encouraging. Encouraging enough to compel you to take the plunge into the full eCourse, Social Selling for Financial Advisors.

However, let’s not go there right now. Just take the Mastering Compliance course. It’s free. It’s short. It’s pretty much everything you need to create a solid foundation for moving your social selling forward. Because, if you’re not using social as a piece of your sales puzzle, you’re missing out. Social media and social selling are not hard or frightening when you understand and implement some simple, thoughtful guidelines.

There is tremendous selling power in today’s digital marketplace with 1.5 billion global social media users spanning all generations and demographics. This collective group, known as Generation D (digital), includes some 75 million investors with over $27 trillion in assets.

You know that cold calling sucks. And studies show that more than 90 percent of the time it flat out fails. Yet, you also know you want more warm leads.

Lets lay the compliance ghost to rest. Join me in Mastering Compliance. I make it fun, interesting, and helpful. Even better, it’s free! Just like Halloween candy.

Don’t Know Where You Are Going?

Iconic coaches, top athletes, high achievers, and innovative start-ups all know setting goals is an important component for success. Yet, regardless of industry or stature, anyone and everyone looking to attain business growth needs to define a process and plan, and with today’s connected world those goals must encompass social media.

“If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up someplace else.”
~ Yogi Berra

What should those goals include? Within the context of your overall sales and marketing program your social media plan should detail the following: brand perception and awareness, public relations, thought leadership, engagement and time management, competitive intelligence, and lead generation.

Clearly, there are many points to consider, but if you want rock your sales, you need to focus on the latter two and incorporate social selling. Just what is social selling? In short, social selling means actively using the resources available online and on social platforms to ferret out information about prospects so you can form meaningful connections that lead to business.

Social media is no longer just a tool for B2C purchases; businesses left and right are using social media to research, validate, and converse about B2B purchases. A recent McKinsey & Company article notes: “Business-to-business selling has become less linear as customers research, evaluate, select, and share experiences about products.”

Now consider the impact on sales:

  • 78.6 percent of sales people using social media outsell their peers. source
  • 55 percent of B2B purchasers source information on social media. source
  • You are five times more apt to get your foot in the door if you have a LinkedIn connection. source

Convinced? Good! Be sure you have a copy of our Six Steps to a Spectacular Social Strategy to guide your efforts. Then, hang on for more insights, tips and resources on social selling coming your way next week.

Six Steps to a Spectacular Social Strategy

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How To Avoid Obsolescence: What Martha Stewart Can Teach Financial Advisors

Martha Stewart originated today’s hip and growing maker movement- giving us the tools, advice, guidance and inspiration to elevate every part of our home. So, of course, when I bought my first home, one of the first things I did was order a subscription to Martha Stewart Living. Martha (anyone who loves her magazine is immediately on a first-name basis with her) put every bit of her marketing brilliance into her magazine. It was a slightly different size than any other magazine available, so it always stood out. The photographs were high art even when they focused on the most domestic elements (even cleaning materials looked stunning).

Every month, I poured through the pages, dreaming about building my nest and enriching my life in the process. Should I paint my walls robin’s egg blue or sage green? Even my chicken rose to a whole new level. Martha’s attitude was always to imagine that with planning, industriousness and some creative juice, anything was possible and would make your life more beautiful. I made everything from homemade mustard to fennel-topped crackers. In fact, I still make her clove and cardamom-spiced apple butter each autumn and her Cioppino every Christmas (minus the mussels).

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Promoting Events in Social Media – Your Top 10 List

Welcome to 2015. Yes, it’s time for marketing planning and deciding what trade shows you’ll attend and conferences you’ll hold. Some of the most useful information (and gossip) I gather comes prior to my actual attendance at an event. Well thought out, interactive social media campaigns extend the life and excitement around an event. Read more

Cialdini Influence: Tapping into the Power of Reciprocity

Women’s clothing retailer Anthropologie emails me a special coupon for my birthday. My friend’s local realtor brings her a pumpkin in the fall and offers a photo with Santa in December. A colleague receives a yearly birthday card from her husband’s college alma mater… Read more

ShoeFitts Announces Digital Marketing Program for Retirement Plan Advisors

Portland, OregonOctober 1, 2014 — ShoeFitts Marketing announces the January 2015 launch of a much-anticipated ready-to-go digital marketing program for retirement plan advisors. Aptly called Ready, Set, Sell, the program provides advisors with both the content and technical know-how to implement consistent retirement plan marketing each and every month. Read more

ShoeFitts eBook Helps Financial Services Industry Harness the Power of Social Media

The “100 Tips for Social Media Success” by ShoeFitts Marketing president Sheri Fitts brings a comprehensive social media game plan to professionals in the financial services marketplace with easy-to-follow instructions in an engaging and colorful format.

Portland, Oregon (PRWEB) July 29, 2014

Renowned social media expert and ShoeFitts Marketing president Sheri Fitts has released a comprehensive eBook designed to help the financial services industry understand and harness the power of social media. In “100 Tips for Social Media Success” Fitts speaks to both beginners and novice social media users with insightful advise and recommendations.

“People have been asking me for a handy guide they can follow to become more engaged on key sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter,” explains Fitts. “Social media is not complicated but it can seem overwhelming. The eBook helps take the mystery and uncertainty out of the social media process with quick tips and implementation strategies.”

While professionals in the financial services marketplace increasingly understand the importance of social media, Fitts says many of them still see the activity as a unique, occasional communication tool.

With the new eBook Fitts reminds readers that social media needs to be an integral part of any marketing plan, and that it is no longer an option. “The financial services industry must respond to the growing role of social media and embrace the key platforms with considered, consistent activity.”

Fitts keeps the social aspect at the forefront with her eBook by utilizing conversational and easy-to-follow tips with catchy images and a colorful layout.

“100 Tips for Social Media Success” starts with the basics, such as creating a Facebook timeline, determining the best platforms to use, and developing the appropriate voice and content that aligns with a financial service professional’s brand or identity.

More advanced tips cover crafting and enforcing a social media policy, understanding compliance and regulatory concerns, and engaging with common sense and considerate behavior.

“100 Tips for Social Media Success” is available on the ShoeFitts Marketing website.

About Sheri Fitts and ShoeFitts Marketing
Sheri Fitts is 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.

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.

 

Choices: Courage or Commonplace?

I was faced with a challenge: Which subject line would I use in that first ShoeFitts email communication? I had two options—was I over thinking things?—and needed to choose a direction. This was a newsletter announcement letter being sent to thousands of people. Let’s face it: It’s easy to offer up the expected.  Or, I could get courageous and step outside of my comfort level.  Granted, the success of my bottom line wasn’t hinging on that initial contact, but I knew my words would determine the voice for all future communications and it would set the stage for my relationship with my valued newsletter readers. These were people that receive hundreds of emails a day regarding ERISA, fees, and fiduciary and retirement readiness. Certainly important words, but other people already had those covered. What are my words? The strategies I’ve developed, my creativity, and the words I’ve built around that are what I sell. Was I willing to walk my talk?

One of my passions is the art of fusing glass. I’m fascinated by the science of combining glass and heat to create beautiful patterns shaped into bowls and plates. (I love it so much that I have a studio in my garage.) When I was first learning this craft, I didn’t share my creations with others. Over time, as my confidence grew, I would display pieces on my desk. Colleagues and friends were impressed and expressed interest in purchasing them.

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