How RIAs can pivot from cancelled events to online success

Event cancelled due to coronavirus COVID-19

The loss of live events—especially ones proving lucrative in years past—is leaving a surprising number of RIAs with no marketing plan to generate new prospects. Perhaps this pandemic is the push RIAs need to get their digital act together.  If you have compelling content from an in-person seminar or event, you can leverage that material to build your brand online and generate interest.

Like it or not, prospective clients head to the Internet to learn about you before they ever consider reaching out.  They will google your name, look up your website, and check out your social media accounts.  You have the opportunity to use these platforms to tell the story you want people to hear.  The good news is you have an easy starting place with your live event content.  Even if you do not hold live events, you can apply these same strategies to leverage your content for growth.

Start with what you have

A well structured live seminar includes an educational element that teaches a few meaningful concepts. Ideally, the content resonates with the aspirations and needs of a specific group of people so your attendees know you understand them. To stand out in the crowded digital arena you need to drill down into hyper-targeted content that appeals to a segment of the market you wish to serve.  If you keep your live event content more generic, you will have work to do before you shift online.  

Once you’re armed with the story you want to tell, you can leverage this content in a number of ways to achieve online success.  Here are four effective options:

Host a webinar 

A webinar is simply your live event delivered online. The immediate reaction I hear when I recommend this route, especially if you usually pay someone to get the attendees to your dinner seminar or in=person session, is “How will I get people to show up?”   This is a fair concern.  It doesn’t come easy, but it will come at a much lower cost. You need to schedule the event, give it a compelling and highly targeted title, make sure it is clear who will benefit most from attending, and market the heck out of it.  This means asking others to promote it for you, sharing it on social media, emailing your list (both clients and prospects), and letting COIs know you’re hosting this session.

To turn a webinar into new business you must have a clear call to action (which is more effective with an incentive or sense of urgency) at the end of the presentation. You also need a structured follow-up strategy. If you’re used to doing this for live events, webinars are no different. With a limited window in which you can prompt for action, you need multiple touches after the event to inspire action before these registrants become part of your ongoing nurture strategy.  (For more details on how to host your own virtual event, you can download this free guide.)  

Reality Check
While one well targeted in-person event may fill the funnel for a whole quarter or longer, you will likely need to hold multiple webinars, at least until you get into your groove, to replicate this engagement.  Luckily, the effort and expense to host online is a small fraction of what your live seminar costs.  

Create blog posts, videos, or podcasts 

If your live training works well for you, then this juicy content also fits the bill for your youtube channel, blog, or podcast. (Not using any of these essential foundational platforms? Now is the time to pick a “home base” and start publishing). No need to start from scratch; recycle what you already have! Your goal should always be to find multiple ways to leverage the same content.  

You’ve already developed the powerpoint for your seminar; if it has three main topics then you have at least three articles or episodes waiting for you. Probably more.  Even if you host a webinar, or eventually hold live events again, breaking down the full educational presentation  into multiple digestible topics delivered through articles, videos or a podcast episodes will help you reach people in different modes with varying attention spans.  

Develop a social media content campaign  

A content campaign simply means that you publish content around a single theme consistently over a defined period of time.  In a social media content campaign, this may show up as 3-4 published posts a week across a 5-6 week period. The theme?  Go back to that live event content.  

Break it down into bite-sized tips that you can share across the designated timeline.  Try to use a structure to encourage engagement across the campaign.  For example, frame the content as “15 Financial Moves to Make Before Your Child Graduates High School” or “23 Ways to Earn Extra Income During Retirement.”  Once you understand how to leverage your existing content for these types of campaigns, you can schedule them throughout the year.  When done right, these campaigns happen in the background while you’re focused on other efforts. (Want more guidance?  I put together a step-by-step guide to help you build your own campaign.).  

Generate a lead magnet  

As a financial advisor, your database is one of your most valuable marketing assets.  One of the most effective ways to capture the interest of people is to offer highly-targeted free content (e.g. a downloadable guide) in exchange for a name and email address. This is known as a lead magnet and, when hyper-focused, allows you to screen in (or out) leads for your list.  I consider a lead magnet a fundamental part of any RIA’s marketing plan, as the majority of people who hear about you are not yet ready to take action, especially if they originate online. With a lead magnet, you are able to introduce yourself and nurture that relationship as you build trust and let the person get to know you.

Creating a lead magnet may seem overwhelming, but with a live event presentation already developed, you have the content ready!  Import the material into a google or Word document, fill in the holes, and send it to a graphic designer to make it look professional.  Be sure to provide your brand guidelines (at least a high quality logo file along with your brand colors and fonts) and a description of your target audience.  Don’t have a graphic designer to develop it? Cut and paste this job description and put it on Upwork where you can find high quality talent at reasonable fees.      

Go where your clients are 

With people spending unprecedented amounts of time online, including the clientele you serve, now is the time to build or enhance your digital presence. Pick one initiative to start, and add from there, knowing that you may include all of the options I’ve described in your marketing repertoire to achieve online success. It takes time and consistency to gain attention in the digital world; but if you are not there now, you’re missing out on being where your clients are.  

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