(Prior to implementing any of the strategies referenced in this article, please consult with your firm about digital policies.)
In the 1970s, Kodak realized that digital photography could be an innovative technology and even went as far as inventing the very first digital camera in 1975, before shelving the idea. In the early 1980s, Kodak conducted a study on the future of its technologies and concluded that digital photography could replace their film-based business within ten years. Nevertheless, Kodak decided to remain committed to their traditional film-based strategy; a decision that would leave them following in the footsteps of their competitors for decades to come. Kodak filed for bankruptcy in 2012 primarily because they failed to respond to changing technology and disruptive forces.
Similarly, disruptive forces are now changing how affluent clients are finding financial advisors. Traditionally, advisors have primarily relied on client referrals to get new clients, but advancing technology and changing mindsets are changing how consumers find a financial advisor. Failing to respond and embrace this shift could cause you to fall behind the competition and miss prospecting opportunities.
What We’ll Cover
- How the affluent find financial advisors
- How "Google My Business" can improve your online visibility
- How to create and optimize your Google My Business profile
First, How Affluent Consumers Find Financial Advisors
As an advisor, you know that referrals and personal introductions are one of the best ways to acquire affluent clients. When affluent consumers, ages 45-65 years old, begin their search for a financial advisor, “asking friends or family” still is the top method. But the favored method for affluent consumers under the age of 45, is searching online, and when they search online Google is by far the tool they use the most.1
Younger Affluent Consumers Rely on Search More Than Friends and Family for Finding an Advisor
Method for Starting a Search for a Financial Advisor
|Ask friends and family for recommendations||39%||46%||45%|
|Ask another professional for recommendations||13%||21%||34%|
|None of the above||5%||6%||11%|
So what would typical advisor-search results on Google look like? You can try it yourself. Google “financial advisor in [your town].” You should get results that resemble the screenshot below. If your practice shows up in the results, congratulations. If not, read on.
The “local listings” search results are shown in the map section, often referred to as the local search 3-pack. It’s advantageous to appear in this group because when people search for a product or service near them, they’re usually very close to making a purchase: 50% of people who conduct a local search will visit a business that same day.2
Try to Get Into the Google’s Local Search “3-Pack”
When a consumer does a Google search for financial advisor, they’ll see the local search 3-pack under the map image. Your goal: get onto this list.
In addition to finding advisors by using a local search, some affluent customers may still be referred to you by others. It’s likely that before they call you, they’ll Google you by typing the name of your practice into the search bar. When they do, if you have a Google My Business listing, they’ll see your business at the top of the search results and also prominently displayed in the right sidebar. This sidebar is the Google Knowledge panel. It includes details from your profile, such as address, phone, hours, reviews, etc. Next, let’s focus on how Google My Business could improve your search rankings.
Your Google My Business Profile Determines What Shows Up in Google’s Knowledge Panel
If a consumer is referred to you, before they meet with you in-person, they’ll do a Google search on your firm. When they do, if you have a Google My Business listing, they’ll find info about you in two areas: 1. At the top of the search results, 2. In the Google Knowledge panel.
Second, How Google My Business Can Improve Your Online Visibility
Improving your online visibility is called search engine optimization or SEO and there are many methods and strategies that can be used to improve your listing in search results. One way is to hire a company that specializes in it. While that will definitely help improve your search ranking, you may have to pay around $1,000 a month or more just to get started.3 Google My Business is a free and simple method that can increase your chances of showing up in local search results.
If you haven’t heard of Google My Business, you’re not alone. In a recent webinar poll, 79% of advisors either didn’t know what Google My Business was or weren’t taking advantage of the tool.3 Google My Business allows businesses with physical retail locations to manage how they appear on Google Search and Maps. You can provide useful information that will show up in search results, like your business’ name, what you do, your location, phone number, website, hours of operation, and pictures.
In addition to improving your search results, Google My Business provides an integrated experience for consumers using laptops, tablets, or phones. Below is a screenshot taken on a phone.
Your Google My Business Profile Provides Easy Ways for Prospects to Connect With You
“Call” link provides a single click to call function
“Directions” link brings up the mobile version of Google Maps and provides driving directions to your location
“Website” link provides easy access to your website
Additionally, Google My Business provides business owners with metrics after your listing is up and running via Google My Business Insights. You will be able to see how customers find your listing on Search and Maps and what actions they take after finding it. For example, you’ll know whether prospects found your listing by doing a general search for “financial advisor,” or if they specifically searched for the name of your practice. Google My Business will also tell you which actions prospects took with your listing, including:
- Visits to Website
- Direction Requests
- Phone Calls
Third, How to Create and Optimize Your Google My Business Profile
You may already have a Google My Business listing. If you’re not sure, here is how to find out: Visit Google My Business and sign in. If you don’t have a Google account, you’ll be prompted to create one first. Next, you’ll go through the Google My Business verification process to claim your business on the site, if you haven’t already. You’ll be asked to enter info about your business, such as your address, phone number, and business category (with options such as financial planner or financial consultant). Then you’ll want to optimize your business listing from your Google My Business dashboard.
Need more help? This video walks you through how to create a Google My Business listing.
Many users don’t optimize their listing and miss out on a lot of potential search traffic. You can do this by entering information such as your business hours, your website’s URL, and your business description. Think of your business description as an “about us” section. Tell people why they should come to you instead of your competitors. Make your description informative, but not too formal—and don’t be afraid to let your personality shine through. You have 750 characters for your description, so add more than just a sentence or two.
As you complete the various sections, the dashboard will show you a percentage of how complete your listing is.
You Can Find Out How Complete Your Profile Is
Google My Business Insights lets you know how complete your profile is and the steps you need to take to complete it.
Photos will be an important part of your listing. Google found that businesses with photos receive 35% more clicks to their websites and 42% more requests for driving directions than businesses without photos.4 Consider hiring a photographer to take quality photos of your business location, interior, and your team.
Your profile is also capable of hosting up to 30-second long videos. You don’t have to spend a lot of money to creating videos for your listing, they can be shot with your phone. Some video ideas include:
- Overview video: Tell viewers a bit about your business—who you are and what do you do; why prospects should work with you and why you’re different from competitors
- Give a tour of your office
- Highlight an employee
“What If I Get a Bad Review?”
Your business will likely get both good and bad reviews, whether you have a Google My Business Listing or not. If people can find you on Google, they can write a review about your practice. And Google isn’t the only place people write reviews; reviews can also be left on sites such as Yelp or Facebook.
Does having a Google My Business listing increase the chances of getting a bad review? Yes. But it also increases your chances of getting good reviews—and good reviews can help your search rankings. Google is more likely to show a reviewed page in the mapped listings over a page that doesn’t have any yet. This video (youtube.com/watch?v=2OWYARAwkyQ&feature=youtu.be) provides good info about what to do if you get a bad review. Basically, it’s best to do nothing; don’t comment or respond to bad reviews.
3 Things to Remember About Google My Business
First, the way prospects find financial advisors is changing. Unlike older affluent prospects, younger affluent prospects start their advisor searches online rather than asking friends or family for a recommendation. Second, a Google My Business listing can improve your chances of being found online if local prospects are looking for a financial advisor. And, your listing will give them the info they need to take action immediately, such as a phone number or a link to your site. Third, having a listing is good; optimizing it with a business description, photos, and videos is even better.
Many advisors are missing out on prospecting opportunities because they don’t have a Google My Business listing—or don’t know what one is. Take a lesson from Kodak: They saw changes coming, but didn’t adapt to them. If you haven’t already, it’s time to take advantage of Google My Business.
A Secret (Search) Weapon
We’re not sure why most advisors don’t have a Google My Business listing or even know what one is. But now you do. Don’t be like Kodak and fail to embrace this powerful tool.
- Download this article as a PDF
- Visit Google My Business and sign in. If you don’t have a Google Account, create one.
- Create your Google My Business Listing and start optimizing it
1Today’s Digital Affluent Research, The Oechsli Institute, 10/19 (Note: This research was fielded in September 2019 on 403 investors with investable assets of $500,000 or more)
2The Ultimate Guide to Google My Business, Hubspot, 4/26/18. Most recent data available.
3Have you Googled Yourself?, Hartford Funds webinar, 12/3/19
4How to Use Google My Business to Get More Customers, Hootsuite, 5/22/19
Links from this paper to a non-Hartford Funds site are provided for users’ convenience only. Hartford Funds does not control or review these sites nor does the provision of any link imply an endorsement or association of such non-Hartford Fund sites. Hartford Funds is not responsible for and makes no representation or warranty regarding the contents, completeness or accuracy or security of any materials on such sites. If you decide to access such non-Hartford Funds sites, you do so at your own risk.
Hartford Funds Distributors, LLC, Member FINRA.