Most people read online reviews, compare vehicles, and watch test drives on YouTube before buying a car. We take virtual house tours before stepping foot in what might become our dream home. More people are expecting a similar experience when selecting a financial professional.
The COVID-19 pandemic has only accelerated this demand.
John Gulino, Founder and CEO of GK3 Capital, has been moving aspects of his business online for years, and in a recent conversation, he provided a roadmap for financial professionals looking to expand their own digital business-building efforts.
“I saw my social media feed just a couple of weeks ago and somebody was looking for a certified financial planner,” Gulino said to set the stage. “They got 15 recommendations all with links to a financial professional's website. And, I'm sure that individual started doing a bunch of research. That's the way many engagements and relationships begin today. They usually begin online.”
Leading potential clients directly to your business
For those unsure how to get started, Gulino recommends developing an inbound marketing strategy, which at its core means establishing an online presence, that includes a website with original content such as blog posts, lead forms, a search engine optimization plan, and marketing automation. The combination of these initiatives drives traffic to your website, differentiates you from other financial professionals, and secures new qualified leads.
“When I write a blog post for GK3 Capital and I publish that blog post to 3,000 or more people, that's the equivalent of me making 3,000 cold calls,” Gulino said. “It's different than traditional strategies and tactics, but this practice is expected to accomplish the same goal, which is to identify and attract folks that have a need, then educate them, earn their trust, and help them find solutions that are right for them. That's what inbound marketing is.”
While creating the ecosystem takes work and commitment, The Inland Academy can help with its free courses and resource guides.
Finding your voice and sharing your point of view
Creating original content is often the best place to start. It showcases the financial professional’s point of view from which prospects can connect. It can be a daunting proposition, but Gulino starts by prompting financial professionals to think of the 10 most asked questions they receive during the sales process and use those answers as the basis for the initial posts.
If the thought of writing 10 articles induces anxiety, remember this isn’t a high school English paper in which grammar and sentence structure are analyzed. It’s your thoughts that count, and this forum provides prospects a glimpse of what they will receive should they become a client.
“Digital is all about being authentic,” Gulino said. “It's about being true to who you are, even though you're not face-to-face. It is not the same as being in the same room with somebody obviously, but to the extent that you can make it feel as authentic as possible, that's truly what you're looking for.”
Connecting with prospects through a screen
Gulino is often asked if it’s even possible to have a genuine relationship with someone you never meet in person. There is skepticism about whether blog posts, webinars, and your website seem too impersonal to drive sales. The counter to that question is that the person on the other side of the screen is now comfortable in this digital world based on previous digital experiences. They start and often end most shopping experiences online and expect financial advice to work the same way. Gulino says that it can.
“I just got off the phone with a prospect who was in his home office and I was in my home office,” Gulino said. “We connected as two business owners and we were completely transparent and open with one another. We had a great conversation about next steps and a way forward. And it all happened digitally. It's about earning trust, demonstrating empathy, credibility, and reliability. Those are the things that earn you business.”
For more information on getting started with your inbound marketing strategy or resources to help in your digital transition, visit The Inland Academy.