Advisor Technology | 11/02/2016
5 Ways To Make Your Firm’s Website Stand Out
Advisors often ask me what I think of their websites. Sometimes I have to take a minute to figure out what to say. I smile and quickly dig for some positives so I can construct that nice, tasty compliment sandwich (which should really be called a “criticism sandwich” based on what’s on the inside – nobody calls it a “bread sandwich.” Wait, it turns out toast sandwiches are a thing).
Other times, a website will thankfully have clear positives and I can quickly and easily point those out. But, to be honest, that happens less often than the “criticism sandwich.” The financial advisor industry is notoriously behind the times when it comes to web design.
Here are a few of the positive attributes I’ve seen on advisor websites that help set them apart from other firms, especially the brokerages.
1. Lead with who your clients/prospects and audience are.
The best sites build content around who they are looking to serve, going so far as to speak the language of the people they are seeking. They posses a level of self-awareness that tells them it’s okay to not be for everyone.
You can recognize these sites easily using our “Focus Test.”
2. Choose authentic images.
It’s okay to use stock images. As a designer, part of me dies when I admit this, but it’s true.
That being said, it’s important to choose well. Be prepared to drop $500 on good images from a repository like Stocksy or iStock. Just be careful. There’s plenty of good stock photography out there, but you want it to be good and relevant.
If you’re accomplishing #1 correctly, you’re telling the story of your client, so make sure the images you choose are images of people who could be your clients–in their stage in life, with their family structure, looking positive, joyful and full of life.
Just don’t be generic. If you are in any doubt, before purchasing anything, run potential photos by someone who is in touch with current culture but doesn’t have bizarre taste. I’ll leave you to make the call here. 🙂
If at all possible, try to include great pictures of your team and your office. This is going to set you back another $2k to $3k, but it’s worth it.
Get a photographer who knows how to use light well and is motivated to produce good photos versus just taking your money. Get recommendations from friends and colleagues. A bad photographer can ruin your team photos, but they’ll still cost you money.
Bonus Tip: Don’t put a group photo on your website. That picture becomes outdated as soon as one person leaves or joins your firm.
3. Be clear about who you are and what you are all about
I’ve found that several firms want to be all things to all people in the interest of gaining as many clients as possible. Many times, these firms’ websites have too broad of a focus, and you can’t really tell who they’re appealing to.
You have a number of key attributes that naturally come up in the first five minutes of your initial discovery meeting. These attributes set you apart from other firms and belong on your website.
Are you fee-only? Are you a fiduciary, and what does that mean? Are you active or index? How does that impact the way you would serve clients?
You don’t have to tell visitors everything – just enough to set you apart. If stating that you are an index advisor makes some people turn away, that’s okay. They would have found out eventually and still wouldn’t have worked with you. You can’t make everyone happy, so focus on your target audience.
4. Make it clear how you can be reached and make it as easy as possible to contact you
Your phone number should be super easy to find. We often put clients’ phone numbers in the footer of most pages, in addition to on their contact page, which is always accessible with one click. The reason we want the phone number so visible is that people who connect with you via phone are much more likely to start working with you quickly than people who email you or use a contact form.
But your contact form is still very important. You want it to be as simple as possible for people to reach you through your site.
Many advisors are finding success in this area through simple forms with key, time-saving questions. There are a number of DIY form builders you can embed or link to from your website.
Here are a few of our favorites:
Pros: Super easy to set up, can be embedded on your own landing pages, plays well with Salesforce and other CRMs
Cons: Not as customizable as other options, forms are hosted on Wufoo’s site.
B. Gravity Forms
Pros: Completely customizable (seriously, if you can dream it, you can build it), easy set up, forms hosted on your site, integrates well with CRM solutions
Cons: Only for WordPress, more upfront cost than other options
Pros: Looks great, unique UI, incredibly easy to use, forms can be embedded
Cons: Forms are hosted on Typeform’s site, not as customizable as Gravity Forms
5. Invest in your design
I cannot tell you the number of sites I see that are virtually indistinguishable from their peers, simply because no one has invested in the design. While your firm may not place much value on a custom web presence, a unique professional experience is important.
Advisors who don’t invest in their website are often the same people who wonder why they don’t get more leads online. They’re at a loss to explain why no one is contacting them through their drab, outdated website, but the reason is fairly clear.
Many firms get a website through a company like FMG Suites, Advisor Websites, or MIAGD. That’s all fine and good, but these solutions come up short in two areas: customization and scale.
Your website will look fine, but it will be like hotel art – bland, forgettable, and broad. On top of that, once you stop paying many template site companies, your website disappears. You need a site that actually belongs to you.
At this point in your firm’s history, you have enough unique things about your firm, your client base and your investment philosophy to tell a great story. Go tell it in a way that is clear and unique while ensuring that you own 100% of the content you are creating, not some other party.
Want some help with your website? Drop us a line.
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