The nature of business development, I think it’s safe to say, is changing.
You might argue (perhaps persuasively) that not much has changed when you’re sitting across from a prospect. In that moment, it’s about the needs of the prospect and determining if the fit is right. It’s just you and the prospect and the connection you make.
What’s different is everything that happened before that prospect walked into your office.
- The way the prospect heard about you might be different. Yes, referrals dominate, but they might have read an article you’d written, found you in the press, attended a webinar or listened to a podcast.
- Where the prospect went to find information on you might be different. In the past, they just showed up at your office and now they’ll google you and check your social media accounts before even reaching out.
- What the prospect expects of you might be different. In the past, knowing that you were an expert in investments or planning was enough. Now they’re drawn to advisors who are experts in their unique needs and circumstances.
It strikes me that these changes will alter the way we think about business development. In the past you had a group of prospects and you focused on building individual relationships. In the future, I believe you’ll think more about creating an audience of people who want to hear what you have to say. Among that audience will be those who, ultimately, choose to work with you.
And you see this in action everywhere. When you see advisors blogging, podcasting and running webinars, they’re building and nurturing audiences. They are building a following – a platform for their message. It’s a different approach and, I’d argue, it’s helping some advisors stand out and giving them an ‘unfair’ advantage.
Building a Platform
Building a platform is how people like me build a business and I’d argue they’re businesses that couldn’t have existed five or ten years ago. While the goal of your business development activities won’t be different – adding value for clients and prospects – the way you’ll do it will change. And this shift will demand that you get familiar with some new tools that will help facilitate the process. Thankfully, those tools aren’t terribly complex.
Today I wanted to give you a behind the scenes look at the tools we use to get our message out. Please don’t consider this an exhaustive list that compares different tools. These are simply the ones that we use and find helpful in building a platform and communicating a message and ones you may want to consider as you do the same.
How Will You Build Your Platform?
There are so many ways to build a platform that will add value and extend your message. How you choose to do that will impact the tools you use.
WordPress for blogging. We use WordPress for our weekly blog, which I consider the core of what we do. There are many options for blogging but there are two key benefits for me with the hosted version of WordPress. The first is that you own it and you want to be careful about using someone else’s platform for your content. As the saying goes, you don’t want to build a house on rented land. The second is that it’s easy to use. I can easily upload, edit and publish blog posts and that’s saying something!
Zencastr for podcasts. I do a bi-weekly podcast with Steve Wershing called Becoming Referable and we use Zencastr. Thanks to Michael Kitces for the recommendation on that. This is an incredibly simple way to record a podcast. We outsource the editing but in a matter of minutes we can upload the audio file.
GoToWebinar for webinars. We use GoToWebinar for webinars. Participants find it easy to use, you can record and there are no real upper limits on participation. We record all webinars and use those to share with others who are interested in the same information.
Zoom for recorded interviews. We use Zoom for video meetings such as interviews with advisors or thought leaders. That allows us to share interviews with both audio and video so they are more impactful.
So now you have some awesome content. The challenge is letting people know about it. If you use any of these tools, you’d be wrong to assume that people will find you. That brings us to the next question.
How Will You Broadcast Your Message?
Using social media. While I don’t consider myself incredibly active on social media, I realize it’s a good way to have an on-going conversation with advisors. I like to share interesting content that I find and I want to drive people back to our site to read content we’ve created. To that end, I use LinkedIn (including LinkedIn publishing), Twitter and (increasingly) Facebook.
MailChimp for email communications. My personal opinion is that building an email list is one of the most important things you can do if you want to create an audience of people with whom you want to create connection. We use MailChimp to share information with that group. Emails might include alerts (e.g., we have a new blog post on the site), follow-up (e.g., here is some additional information on a program for which you registered) and direct communication (e.g., an announcement of a new program). We simply could not function without a tool like this.
There are three other tools worth noting that make the use of the tools above possible.
LeadPages to create landing pages. You can use LeadPages to create professional landing pages without having to create a new page on your site. These are incredibly helpful if you want to promote a webinar or share new research or a whitepaper. Prospects click on the link you create, read detailed information, register for an event or download a paper. And you don’t need to involve your developer to get this done, particularly helpful if it’s a temporary page.
Sprout for video hosting. Once you record a webinar or interview, you need to host it without using up all available capacity on your server. We use Sprout to host all our videos.
Buffer to schedule social messages. While I think social media needs to be personal, sometimes I simply want to communicate multiple messages at the same time. And because no one wants to read multiple messages, I can use Buffer to schedule social media posts across multiple platforms at different times of day.
So that’s a look behind the scenes at the tools that we use regularly in our business. It’s possible for you to build a meaningful platform that not only adds value for clients, but makes you a magnet for prospective clients. How do you think you can use these tools to get your message to more prospects?
Thanks for stopping by,