Month: March 2018

Becoming more efficient is a perpetual task; you can always do better. The more efficient you become, the more you can free up time to spend on the things that matter most. In 2018, I set out to become more efficient as an as an individual and find ways to help streamline some of the systems here at the IFP home office. Although I found many options available online, three tools stood out among the crowd, allowing us to improve efficiencies in a number of critical areas.

Calendly

Scheduling calendar invites for meetings and calls with people outside of my company used to be painful. Someone’s assistant would request my availability, no time slots would fit the bill and we’d end up ping-ponging dates and times until we were blue in the face. I began having nightmares around the phrase, “What works best for you?”

Enter Calendly. There are a few different appointment scheduling tools out there, but we prefer Calendly because of the simple UI, ease of integration and, quite honestly, the name. After signing up for Calendly (the basic version is free) and linking your email calendar, a custom hyperlink is provided for scheduling purposes. This link brings them to a website where they can view times, check availability, and book an appointment on your calendar that works for both parties. Also, if you need to block out times and dates from your calendar, you can make that adjustment in Calendly’s settings.

Every employee at IFP has a Calendly with a link attached to their email signature. Now whenever someone asks to schedule time on my calendar, I direct them to the link in my signature. They’re able to schedule a meeting with me that’s free of conflicts without sending a single email or making any calls.

Calendly also has a robust team interface, allowing people to schedule a meeting with multiple individuals at once, see everyone’s availability on one page, and view key scheduling metrics. This is a great way to monitor your staff’s schedules and manage time efficiently.

Uberconference

Calendar invitations are typically long, convoluted messes filled with conference call instructions featuring 15 different numbers and codes. Then, once I finally dial into the session, I’m forced to listen to 90s elevator music until the host is ready to go. If there’s a screen sharing component, I might be required to download a separate software or plugin to make it all work.

They also love Uberconference’s hold music, which is a parody jingle about a man that’s been on hold all day. It seems like every other call I host, someone mentions how much they love the hold music. Uberconference also gives you a custom URL when you sign up. If you want to host a call with screen sharing, you simply provide the call participants with your custom URL, and that’s it – no downloads, no plugins. And the UI is very intuitive and simple.

At our firm, we leverage Uberconference and Calendly together. Now when someone clicks the Calendly link in my email signature and schedules time on my calendar, the calendar invite that gets generated automatically includes my Uberconference number and URL, which you can set up in your Calendly settings.

Trello

Project management is a skillset our firm is constantly trying to improve. It’s a challenge to manage multiple initiatives across multiple teams at IFP. Although, the ability to do this successfully is what separates good companies from the rest. For instance, we recently adopted the agile approach to project management for our marketing team and we needed a scalable, flexible tool to build on.

Enter Trello. Trello is a web-based project management application. Our Senior Graphic Designer used it at her previous firm, so she recommended we try it in conjunction with our new agile approach. So far, it has worked great. The UI allows us to categorize our projects easily into various columns and create “cards” for every project or to-do. These cards can then be dragged and dropped between columns, edited as details develop, and converted into more cards if necessary.

The Trello user interface is also great when managing projects on the mobile app. I liked Trello so much that I adopted it as my personal to-do manager, which I can access seamlessly from my laptop or iPhone. The column and card functionality also really helps me prioritize my to-do’s, something I wasn’t great at before.

When I talk about Trello, people often offer suggestions for other tools like Asana, but often those tools are pricey or offer bloated features that I simply don’t need. The free version of Trello delivers immense value, and the ‘Power-Ups’ you can buy as enhancements are priced very reasonably. Considering the price point and functionality, Trello is our #1.

That’s It

There you have it – three free tools that can help anyone become more efficient. Although there are many on the market, we feel that these three have provided the most benefit with no initial investment. Check them out and let us know what type of tools use and love on our LinkedIn or Facebook.

So, you officially have your own conveniently located office inside a bank or credit union. Any day now, a flood of customers that came in to open a checking account or make a deposit are going to step into your office and ask for help, right? Unfortunately for us, financial institution clients are opting to work online or another alternate method to bank. That makes the advisor’s job to create face-to-face introductions more difficult.

In the spirit of helping you build your new partnership, let’s explore some fresh approaches to attract window shoppers and create awareness within your financial institution.

Grabbing Their Attention

A new business card and nameplate on your door are decent investments to attract the naturally curious shopper. However, passive marketing won’t establish meaningful relationships with the bankers or their clients. Here’s some more active methods.

Press Release

A great way to build synergies between your existing practice and the new financial institution relationship is to draft a press release for existing clients. Press releases can often be published at no cost in local newspapers or trade publications. If you’re a member of IFP, reach out to our staff at IFP Institutional Services to assist in drafting the release and gaining the appropriate marketing approvals for the message.

Internal Newsletters

First, determine who handles the institution’s newsletters or direct mail. Even if it means throwing in a few bucks to help out with overhead costs, reaching out to build awareness with the institution’s customers is a big win.

By working with the bank’s management team, determine if you can ensure placements in each newsletter. Again, we can assist with compliant, approved messages, articles or investing tips for the clients or members of your financial institution.

Web Presence

Secondly, do you have a presence on the institution’s website? Another way to build general awareness is to provide content that explains your services, your method for working with bank clients and your practice tenants. If you have not had this conversation with your bank or credit union, contact us to learn about how we can create that page on their website or link the financial institution clients to your personal website.

In the same way you’ve worked to integrate messaging about your practice into the institution’s newsletter, the website can serve in the same way to build awareness. Articles that you’ve added to your personal website or which have used for the newsletter can be used to create short, excerpted soundbites that can be used in rotating messages on the bank’s website.

Social Media Presence

Third, understand the value and importance of building your social media presence on Facebook or LinkedIn. According to the IFP Design Group, many advisors either have a lackluster online presence or nothing at all. Work with us to learn how to create “social media events” that draw a closer link to you and the banks employees and customers.

Folks, the digital age isn’t going anywhere, so it’s time to revamp your websites, social media strategy, and contact plans in 2018.

Keeping Their Attention

Once your social media presence has been established to capitalize on your role within the financial institution, it’s important to realize this is not a “one and done” strategy. It’s essential that you maintain an ongoing, active engagement to this new population of prospects at the bank or credit union.

Once again, reach out to the individual that directs marketing at the institution. Obtain a list of client or member events for the coming year. Include all community events where the financial institution is a sponsor. Attend these bank-sponsored events and start publishing messages on Facebook or LinkedIn regarding upcoming events to drum up interest.

This helps create a stronger connection to the bank and serves to engage your prior clients and create potential referrals or introductions with key bankers.

Closing Thoughts

The ability to create a continual “drip campaign” with your clients as well as the customers of the financial institution can ensure building a positive image for your practice. Allow us to assist you in building a marketing plan that build meaningful awareness and greater visibility for your practice in the coming year.