People Are Born With The Ability To Write, But Anyone Can Learn How To Improve
Friday, May 24, 2013 13:48

A person’s ability to write exceptionally well usually is innate. This doesn’t mean, however, that you can’t learn to improve your writing ability. A person’s ability to run exceptionally fast also is inborn, but runners can improve their foot speed by learning the techniques of running. The same is true for writers and would-be writers – they can improve their writing skills by utilizing better techniques.

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How can they do this? The answer, my friend, is found in the classroom. Traditionally, college and university campuses have been the mainstay of writing classes. Private tutors, such as professional editors and writers, also have played a role. But in today’s digital age, the largest classroom of all is found on the Internet.

Search Google for free writing classes and you’ll get 148 million results. Two of the best are 10 Universities Offering Free Writing Courses Online and 10 Amazing Free Online Writing Courses. But you are the judge. Look for what may intrigue you.

First, however, let’s talk about self-education. People who can speak well already have a leg up on better writing. The late Christopher Hitchens, a highly acclaimed author of numerous books, including three international best-sellers, taught writing. He always opened his classes by stating “that anybody who could talk could also write.” He also noted that Henry James and Joseph Conrad “actually dictated their later novels.” Quite a feat, when you think about it.

So, what’s the difference between people who can speak well and those who can’t? As in a good marriage, communication is the key. The two best ways to communicate are the spoken word and the written word. If you speak well, you are able to write well, simple as that.
Here’s one way to improve your writing. Imagine that you are going to explain to a client where, why, and how you’re going to invest her money. Select the type of client (age, income bracket, etc.) you are going to address.
Record what you say, and then play it back. Listen carefully; were your words easy to understand and, most importantly, did they convey your message? If not, change the way you say things, and record it again. Keep doing this until you’re satisfied it’s the best you can do.
Finally, take your recording to your office and play it for a colleague. If he has a question about clarity or accuracy, change it again until you get it just right.
A financial advisor who can write well has a leg up on one who can’t.
Content Isn't King. Trust Is King.
Monday, May 13, 2013 15:42

Here's a brilliant post about content marketing. While it's not written for financial advisors, the author nails it.

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"The goal of content marketing and its sidekick social media marketing is to inform and entertain prospective customers in a way that inspires them to trust you for the right reasons; authentic, legitimate, deserving and well-earned trust," says Bernadette Coleman, who run a digitial marketing agency in Dallas, on SEOMoz. "When the time comes for them to buy something, they buy from people they trust: you."




Clearly Explaining What You Do For A Living Is Critical For Establishing Credibility
Saturday, May 04, 2013 14:11


What do you do for a living? Many Advisors fumble over their answer to this question. But having a clear, client-oriented, benefits-laced statement of what you do and who you do it for is the critical first step in developing new client relationships.

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In the client’s mind, all Financial Advisors start out looking alike, and that’s not a compliment. Whether your call it your elevator speech or mission statement, it’s best to avoid settling for labels such as, “I’m a Financial Advisor.”
If you don’t, potential client may be thinking, “Yeah, right…So is the guy down the street who called me five years ago, took $500,000 of my money, and hasn’t been heard from since. In fact, he won’t even take my call! And he called himself a Financial Advisor. You mean you’re a Financial Advisor like that?”  Focus on the benefits of what you do, not on a label or title. 

Furthermore, no one wants another great hot stock tip, mutual fund or insurance policy. They don’t even want another great financial plan. What they want are the benefits. They want to find ways to protect what they’ve built, to retire early, to pay off debt, become financially independent or support a favorite charity…or any of the other multitude of benefits you provide.
Next, describe who you do it for. What are primary groups of clients you work with? Who are your target markets? Go beyond mere income and occupation to the level of common values. Income and occupation are actually disqualifiers. You may want to do business with someone because she’s a doctor worth $5 million, but she does not necessarily want to do business with you because she’s a doctor worth $5 million.
We all know that people do business with people whom they like and trust, and I would suggest that likeability and trust is based primarily upon perceived common values. Why do you naturally get along with doctors? What do you have in common? These are the keys you’re looking for.
If you don’t know, ask. You should have a good enough relationship with your clients to inquire, “What do you enjoy most about us doing business together?” Try to steer away from personal compliments, towards the more professional aspects of your relationship, drilling down to  common values. You’ve got to give potential clients something to hang their hat on.
With a little creativity you can come up with a clear, client-oriented, benefits-laced statement of what you do and who you do it for that naturally compels a potential client to follow up with, “That sounds interesting. How do you do that?” Below are some ideas to get you started:
                      I create zero tax estate plans for doctors who don’t want
                                         Uncle Sam to be their largest heir.
                      I show business owners and professionals how to retire
                               years earlier than they ever thought possible.
                               I create exit strategies for business owners
                                 through innovative succession planning.
         I show business owners how to pull money out of their business…tax-free.
                               I help small business owners attract and retain
                                superior talent in a competitive labor market.
                      I help seniors and retirees create a monthly income for life.
                I help women create a safe environment for handling their finances.
                              I help gay and lesbian couples navigate their way
                             through the unique financial challenges they face.
             I show socially conscious investors how to use and preserve their wealth
                                         to make a difference in the world.
You can customize your statement to fit the primary benefit you provide, your particular style and personality, and the market(s) you serve. Most of all, make it authentic.
Make Your Slides, Videos And Webinars More Effective: How To Set Up PowerPoint Slides For 16:9 Display Instead Of 4:3
Friday, May 03, 2013 12:36

Tags: client communications | videos

When you create slides in PowerPoint, it's smart right from the start to build them with a 16:9 aspect ratio because monitors and video players these days are all 16:9.

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Over the past decade, we've all moved from a 4:3 screen orientation on computers, TVs, and movies and to a 16:9 perspective--all of us except the geniuses at Microsoft that choose default settings for PowerPoint. When you create a PowerPoint, it will by default create slides with a 4:3 aspect ratio.

Using the 4:3 aspect ratio creates those ubiquitous blank spaces on both sides of your slides when you present a PowerPoint in "slide show view" or "presenter view."


If you create screen shots, webinars, videos of your slides, you can usually stretch the image but that will often distort the text or graphics. 


To avoid that distortion and use more of the screen, this video below shows you how to create a PowerPoint using the 16:9 orientation.


If you create presentations using 16:9 they will take up more of the screen when they're viewed. It makes your presentations use all of the real estate instead of leaving these big blank spaces. It makes presentations more effective.


By the way, if you want your slides to take up the entire screen, set the aspect ratio to 16:10 and that will eliminate the blank spaces on the top and bottom of slides.  


What's crazy is I've been using PowerPoint slides for many years without ever changing the aspect ratio to 16:9. I never took the time to understand what was causing those big blank spaces on the sides of my slides. At last week's A4A webinar, Matt Pierce, who trains people how to use Camtasia Studio video editing software, mentioned changing the page set up and that's what made me realize how easy it would be to use the full screen to display my slides. That webinar is a key first step to turning an advisor or RIUA firm into a marketing powerhouse, incidentally.  



Merrill's Thiel Says Advisors Must Change The Conversation With Clients, But His Comments Come Four Years After The Financial Crisis
Thursday, April 25, 2013 14:13

Tags: advisor industry people | asset management | behavioral finance | broker-dealers | client education | investment advisors | Merrill Lynch

To overcome the dramatic decline in public trust in banks since the financial crisis, financial advisors need to change the dialogue they are having with clients, Merrill Lynch wealth management chief, John Thiel, reportedly told an audience at the SIFMA Private Client conference on Thursday.

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“We got drunk with the performance of the bull market, 12% a year every year in equities from 1982 to 2000,” Thiel told the audience, according to OnWallStreet. “But the world changed and our dialogue, our approach, didn’t. It needs to. We need to talk about what our clients goals, concerns and priorities are and map absolute performance to that objective.”


Independent advisors take heart: A top executive at Merrill is giving a speech at Wall Street's top conference for private wealth advisors talking about problems you've probably been addressing for many years.


Thiel is not just a day late and a dollar short, he's years late with this message and Merrill has lost billions of dollars for clients. 

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