If the pandemic has taught us anything, it is to be prepared for everything. Many of us in the financial services sector rely heavily on physical meetings, physical workshops, and physical consultations. However, in less than three months of Movement Control Order (MCO), it has forced everyone to communicate through the internet.
Despite the limitations to video conferencing, the quick adoption of technology has allowed us as financial practitioners to reach out to our clients and prospects in a way that has never been done before.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that we should ditch all our offline efforts and focus 100% online. We are still required to meet our clients offline for the physical connection and trust because it is harder to build trust among advisors and clients over the internet.
Having an online presence is very important especially during this time and age as we humans spend more and more time online. Therefore, it is important to start building your online profile, just like how you would do building your reputation through word of mouth.
Here, I am going to share my experience building my online presence.
Step 1: Building Your e-Office – The Website
I believe that the website is the most important element if you want to build your online presence for your business because this is the place where your clients will come to understand more about you.
Although the company I work with already has one, I created my own website to better control the description and provide more in-depth information about myself and the services that I offer in order to be more personal and approachable to my clients.
When I first started out, I thought that building a website is going to be very expensive. However, the more I researched, the more I realised that the cost of a simple website is only about RM300 a year (that’s less than RM1 a day). This includes the cost for the domain, hosting and also simple designs.
As you grow your online presence, you may want to add more advanced feature like an appointment system to automate your workload. However, as a start, a simple website is more than enough.
Step 2: (Optional) Create an Email Address with Your Domain
This is an optional step. If you are using your company’s email, that is great. However, if you are using free email address domains such as @gmail.com, @hotmail.com or @yahoo.com, you probably should start thinking about having your own email address.
Having your own email address gives the impression that you mean business. You can get this for free if you have your own domain, but personally, I am using Gsuite for business which cost me around RM25 a month.
Step 3: Creating Content
I started by setting up a blog as I feel more comfortable writing. However, you can replace articles with pictures, infographics, or videos. Contents are basically an opportunity for your potential clients to get a glimpse of your services and get to know you better.
Make sure that you are providing a fresh experience for your clients every time they visit your website by creating content regularly.
Step 4: Open the Doors of Social Media
As they say, go where your customers are. If you provide service to businesses, you may want to use LinkedIn. Meanwhile, retail customers usually hang out on Facebook, Instagram, or probably TikTok.
I used to believe that having a social media page is enough, but the downside of having a social media page without a website is that you need to be constantly creating contents in a very fast pace as you are competing with other content creators.
However, if you have your own website, it is easier for your visitors to search for a certain article/content. You can also set your own routine as no one else is competing with you on your website. Having a website is also like a repository system where you can repost old articles on social media during your downtime.
Step 5: Engage, Interact and Nurture Relationships
This is arguably the most important step. The good news is, this is no different than what you are already doing offline. Just like building trust between you and your clients, you also want to nurture the relationship with your audience.
You can do this by asking questions and running polls. You should also be answering your audience’s questions or responding to their comments. Make sure to toggle the right settings that will allow you to receive notifications if someone leaves you a message or comment on social media.
To Sum Up
Like it or not, building an online presence is more important now than ever. But it doesn’t have to be very complicated.
The setup of what is needed for your online presence is actually more affordable than what you would think. However, the tough part is actually Step 5, but hey, isn’t that part of your daily activity already?
The only difference is that you do not have waste one to two hours of your time to get dressed up, drive out and go around in circles look for a parking spot just to meet up with one client.
About the Author
Marshall Wong is a financial planner holding licenses from the Securities Commission Malaysia and Bank Negara Malaysia. He can be contacted via email at Marshall@plannerd.io