Perception might be 25% of your brick-and-mortar practice. However, online, it’s at least 75%: Your digital reputation as a financial advisor can make or break you.

 

The minute you stick a digital toe in the water, it begins. Whether you’ve had a website for a while or you’re still in the planning phase, it’s important.

 

In fact, considering the potential ROI (if used tactically), it’s crucial. Your identity draws—or if handled poorly, repels—prospects. It affects how you’re perceived by other centers of influence (COIs), too.

 

Looks Aren’t Everything, But…

 

Like it or not, you’re involved in the big, around-the-clock online conversation. Make peace with this. Unless your business model involves slipping handwritten notes under a bolted door, there’s no avoiding it.

 

To be honest, there are no mad science means of making everybody love you (yet; we hope). On the other hand, there are ways that you, as an advisor can enhance your practice’s online appeal.

 

It works reciprocally, too: A solid practice run with integrity makes a phenomenal foundation for digital branding. Conversely, a well-tended online identity can generate stacks of leads.

 

A Non-presence Makes A Poor Online Brand Presence

 

Most people know to be careful with their digital identity where credit cards are concerned. At the same time, not every advisor actively considers their online brand. 

 

That’s like sending a cardboard cutout of yourself to meet with prospects. It may feature your good side, but it won’t engage anyone. In fact, good leads will hurry somewhere else.

 

That’s why you should ask: Since I’m already booked on this internet stage anyway, why not utilize the opportunity? 

 

Metaphorically speaking, if you’re got to be up there, it only makes sense to show up well-groomed. So, why not smile your best—and wear a shirt emblazoned with your contact info, as well?

 

Some financial planners have made an art of net branding. They’ve done it so well that prospects reach out to them. They don’t have to do much (if any) active seeking anymore.

 

Believe it or not, they’re not all marketing experts. Okay: some do have obvious gifts. At the same time, most have basically just been deliberate, sincere, and careful in their approaches.

 

Conversely, some financial planning practices have dried on the vine from neglecting their online presence. Maybe they feared a bad reputation.

 

In one sense, maybe they were right: A bad reputation, obviously, should be avoided. Nobody needs that.

 

Nevertheless, no reputation is like having that cardboard cutout sub for you in the office. It’s a non presence, ignored by the world… until its printed face droops away from its backing.

 

It beats infamy, but not by very much.

 

Carelessness Can Cost You Your Digital Reputation As A CFA

 

The internet can feel a little like the old West at times: Large degrees of anonymity encourage some people to be antisocial (to put it nicely). Some of them eagerly form a grudge—and then use it as fuel to torch a business’ reputation in reviews.

 

Whether the advisor, lawyer, or other COI deserves bad marks doesn’t necessarily factor in. Meanwhile, the grievances sometimes involve something unknown and unintended: The professional would gladly have apologized and set things right, given the chance.

 

However, none of this matters to the grudge-happy. Sometimes, it’s simply about having a fresh target. The business is left wondering why their revenue suddenly dove off a cliff… until, eventually, they discover rancid reviews.

 

We passionately support free speech at GLM, but to say the least, this isn’t cool. Remember, though: These are extreme, worst-case scenarios.

 

Thankfully, they’re not common, so don’t let this avoidable problem scare you off. You just need to understand how vulnerable your digital reputation as a financial advisor can be (if you don’t cultivate and protect it).

 

However, The ROI Can Be Amazing

 

Now that we’ve looked at what can go wrong, let’s ponder better potential outcomes.

 

Don’t get us wrong: Nothing’s guaranteed if you’re not willing to work for it. But, by the same token, the potential lead boost for your practice can be game-changing.

 

It all starts with a prospect’s initial internet search for a financial advisor. This is where a good digital reputation as a financial advisor is worth its weight in gold. If you’re on the first page and look trustworthy, they’ll probably check you out.

 

Think of your site as a door greeter for your practice. If you have even a little clout online (and the site’s clean, easily navigated, et cetera), prospects are more likely to respond by scheduling a meeting.

 

If you’d like tips on ensuring your pages greet visitors well, we discuss readability here. Let’s get back to your online identity for now, though.

 

Off-the-net prospects are far more likely to make—and then keep—an appointment if you have a solid reputation. Your first impression began at their first click.

 

However, don’t look to prestige, alone to build solid business relationships for you. In all honesty, the best net presence won’t make up for unbrushed teeth at meetings.

 

Nonetheless, when your reputation and your breath smell good, that’s a nearly irresistible combo. You’ll be poised to grow a bigger client base than you might have thought possible.

 

Best Ways To Make A Compelling Brand Identity

 

Generations enter the workplace today after growing up on social media. We’re neither celebrating nor attacking this fact. It’s just true.

 

As a result, more than half the globe uses it at some point during the week (if not daily). So, you don’t need the marketing campaign of the century to build and maintain a favorable digital reputation as a financial advisor.

 

You can’t neglect it, though. Get seriousand then we’ll show you where the fish are biting.

 

Take The Wheel

 

Your reputation is exactly that: Yours.

 

It’s also your responsibility; no one else’s. In other words, the privilege and burden of managing your digital reputation as a financial advisor rest solely on your shoulders.

 

This doesn’t make grudge-happy jerks your masters. Nevertheless, it means that it’s up to you, daily, to choose the steps you make. You have to at least oversee safeguarding your brand.

 

It’s sometimes said that half the secret of success at a job is simply showing up. The same applies with your online identity: Make bookmarks, install apps if you have to, and keep up with it.

 

Some businesses opt for professional reputation management. This helps if you can afford it. At the same time (especially for a smaller practice lacking deep pockets), it’s not essential.

 

There’s no denying that a small crew of humans and bots has advantages. A single advisor scrolling their phone can do the basics, but there are multiple bases to cover.

 

It’s not as hard as say, coding and running the back end of a website. Nonetheless, it can get time-intensive, at times. Multiple observers make damage control efforts faster and more effective.

 

We’re not trying to discourage small businesses (at all). In fact, you can run a homegrown reputation-managing setup, even on the smallest of scales. Just keep your eyes open.

 

Conquer Communications Tech For A Better Online Brand

 

One of the simplest and easiest no-budget ways to manage your reputation is by setting up Google (and other search engines’) alerts:

 

1) For example, go to Google Alerts (https://www.google.com/alerts).

 

2) Enter your business name (exactly as it’s listed on your website) into the box with the magnifying glass.

 

3) Click “Show options” and set things how you want them (making sure your email address is entered correctly, too).

 

4) Click “Create Alert.

Consider setting a separate alert for your site’s address (e.g. “https://graylinemedia.com”) before you leave. As a result, you’ll receive updates whenever your practice comes up in web forums, reviews, and more.

 

Many social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook send periodic what-you’ve-missed alerts. These often come whether you ask for them or not.

 

As a result, we might as well take advantage of them. Look into starting an official page for your practice on your favorite platforms. It’s normally free, unless you opt for the fancier stuff.

 

Poke around in the settings (often found under a gear icon on most phones and other devices), too. On Facebook, for example, look for “Notifications.”

 

Under that, find “Notification Settings.” You can’t tailor Facebook alerts as much as Google’s. However, you can select what you’re notified about, whether you’re informed by email or text, and more.

 

Certainly, professional reputation managers have cooler stuff at their disposal. At the same time, more than a few rely on these same techniques.

 

Keep Engaged, Consistently—It’s Your Digital Reputation As A Financial Advisor

 

 

You don’t have to abandon sleep to keep things on-course. Don’t bother if you’re only half serious, though. Check in as often as you can—and keep doing it, even when the horizon looks clear.

 

Don’t get paranoid on us, but vigilance does pay: The sooner you find a problem, the sooner you can fix it.

 

When the time comes, respond quickly and politely to digital communication. Treat everyone as if they’re your sole, most important customer. Think of this as free PR insurance for your digital reputation as a financial advisor.

 

Lastly, the best way to combat unfair reviews is with good ones. Whenever someone expresses satisfaction (with your planning, a podcast, or a post), ask them to hit Yelp and Google for you.

 

Consider starting an email marketing campaign to request reviews, while you’re at it. People are more likely to leave good feedback if you ask them. Throw a giveaway into the campaign to add incentive, as well.

 

Next Steps

 

Here are some action items for managing your brand online:

 

  • Maintain transparency. Remember: every word you release online is there for keeps. Attempts to hide the truth (or a mistake) often backfire severely. Therefore, keep honest in your marketing, communication, and practice.   
  • Keep consistent. Commitment doesn’t necessarily mean you post hourly. However, if you’re on less than weekly, you’re basically ghosting.  
  • Start Google and social media email notifications for your business (by name and by web address). This costs nothing but inbox space. If you choose, you can have them sent as text messages, too.  
  • Positively engage complaints. Never try to hide or delete negative comments. Instead, address them sincerely from a desire to make things right. There’s always somebody looking on. In fact, there could be a thousands of pairs of eyes involved.
  • Encourage favorable reviews. If someone seems pleased with your practice, mention that Yelp and Google feedback is always appreciated. A friendly email campaign can inspire gold stars for your digital reputation as a financial advisor, too.
       

Don’t stop learning now! Our Supercharge Your SEO series continues here.