Thursday, April 10, 2014

Many Hands Make Social Marketing A Time Saver

Business owners are time poor. That's just how it mostly seems to be.

Well, they may not need be, but that's a different issue. On the face of it there is just too much to do and no time it seems to do anything quite the way they might want to do them. As well as they might want to do them.

That is doubly so for making good use of social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Linkedin and blogging to get their business found online and stake their claim to good position on Google Search.

Why is getting found online given little priority? Perhaps because they are also too busy to spend the time and money to get good training in using technology and new media to market their business.

Social Media Fake "Gurus" Poisoning The Well For Business Owners

It is not really a wonder. For many who are not familiar with the online world, it can be confusing and changeable and frankly can be overwhelming.  The online world is also awash with people who have no experience themselves online suddenly promoting their services to others on how to use social media. They are following 5 people on Twitter, or have paid for "10,000" Likes or Follows, and have no tweets to speak of.  These are pretenders. Training sessions are generic and not specific and out of date in the information they are "teaching" small business.

Not only that but now whole franchises can spring up to take money off the unsuspecting with dollars to spend who think this is an opportunity and fall for it when told they can use their lack of knowledge of social media to pay up thousands of dollars to buy in to a franchise, so they can 'build a business' to take money off other business people - who don't know any better and have no way to know they are being hoodwinked.

Here's a tip: If your social media trainer has no content of theirs online, easy to find ... they are scamming you. And don't be fooled by the poor quality blogs and articles they buy from some third world sweatshop to pretend is their work! Social media needs authentic people working to genuinely represent their products and values. You can't fake that and expect to have any credibility.

No wonder business owners are reluctant to believe there is any way they can use inbound marketing and social media to get any kind of return to the business, or make it worth the time spent.

But it's not all bad with social media for business

Local businesses have a lot to gain by good use of social media platforms.  These should be secondary to the business's website, and finding ways to do more with less time spent, but with good oversight, then it can be very productive.

Networking is an area that is promoted heavily offline but is often not returning good value to the business. Many networking events are just another social gathering with the same old people and really just take up time.

This can be changed if your social marketing begins with a good strategy.

Your business network is a valuable resource, if it is used correctly. Richard Branson talks about 'not doing it alone', and yet finding good people who will work with you is not always easy.  It could be that there is a reason for this lack of good collaboration... Nobody is driving the process. Too busy, you know?

A productive business network

If you have a business network, it is possible to find the key to making this work for you online - and work for your network partners too. More people putting a small amount of energy into something produces more momentum than just one person alone trying to push that rock up a hill.

There are many things you can do once you have assembled a good core of business friends to leverage the time that each of you spend on social media to open the door to new business and a wider audience for your updates.

Training for this group together can help you to bond and can with the right direction, become your mastermind group to help each of you to more success in your business, both online and offline. Your business network core group could be colleagues from BNI or the business chamber, or even invited from your client base.

Social and inbound marketing training also opens the door for offline activities for example workshops - where each can bring along another person who could benefit by learning the topic, and introduce more people to the group, which in turn, opens the potential for a wider audience online.

This too, is a facet of a well-considered online and business development strategy.

And that's something worth finding some time to make happen.

Here's how to save time and get good content for your business online
Inbound marketing the new old fashioned way to do business
Financial planners: Social Marketing the key to keeping business on the books
Business writing not just on the social media wall
What every business should know about social media

 Like to know how you can do this for your business?
 Lindy Asimus 0403 365 855
  Lindy Asimus Business Coaching

  Subscribe to Actionbites Blog

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Manage Your Management Effectiveness With Coaching

Managers Do It Better With Coaching! 

Good Managers Make Good Businesses

Good managers. We all want to work for a good manager. We all want to hire a good manager. And yet the statistics tell us that many business owners and front line managers - regard their sales performance as poor. But it's not just in sales performance that managers are failing to perform well.

A recent survey by Australian Institute of Management revealed:

"The survey of almost 2000 people including chief executives, senior executives, middle managers and aspiring managers revealed the scale of underinvestment in middle management skills.

But while their leadership qualities were poor, many middle managers were at least self-aware of this shortcoming, with 63% also saying their own leadership skills were average or below.
However, when it came to communication skills, middle managers thought they had it down pat, when in reality their colleagues disagreed.
More than 50% of their colleagues believed the communication skills of middle managers were subpar."
Quite a condemnation. 

But communication skills are not the only thing lacking in managers core talents. In the same survey, this was also clear...

"According to AIM, survey participants said middle managers in their organisations were falling short in a number of key areas including leadership skills, communication and people management. The last of which is considered the most important job function of middle management."

All of which can leave managers feeling "neglected" as outlined in the survey.

Managers with poor skills of this kind though, can also report to managers and directors who themselves have poor skills in these areas.  Seniority doesn't necessarily mean good management skills either. So where does that leave the manager whose skills need improving? (And all skills can be improved.)

Taking initiative and responsibility for your own skills development is a great sign that you have the makings and potential of an excellence in managing and working on your leadership skills. Those who just sit around complaining about the company not doing anything for you are missing the opportunity. Blame and pushing responsibility for our limitations on to others is a poor approach.

While it would be sensible for companies to devote resources and implement coaching programs for managers the reality is that we want to develop these skills anyway. So taking the steps to invest in our development is a healthy mindset. For those who do show this initiative, the chances are that they may grow out of a company that does not pay sufficient attention to these important aspects of professional development over time. This preparation could mean you are a perfect fit in future to work with companies who do value these skills and recognise overall ability and hire for quality.

Soft Skills important to managers

In managing a team, the culture that you encourage to develop will have big implications in the results that your team can generate. This can be in performance and lead to a measurable dollar figure in benefit, as well as morale, which can be measured in time taken on jobs, absenteeism, mistakes or lack of mistakes, and the health of the working environment.

While managers have a range of duties that it is their responsibilities to achieve positive results in, there can be other areas that are not shown but go to the essence of what makes a manager excellent, and not just 'adequate'.

Understanding the mechanics of how everything works in your area of responsibility is a good start.

A common example... You want to know what it costs to do the work your department provides. When you know your exact costs to provide what you provide, you can then price your services correctly. You can quote effectively, you can avoid the business you win costing you money instead of making your company money.  This may seem like a thing every manager would know. They don't.

Performance management

While many companies have some kind of process for measuring employee performance, these can be formulaic and more a thing to just go through the process, belt someone if they are not showing well and feel reluctant for everyone in the process to go through.  Done well, it can be an ongoing part of your relationship with employees to track their progress, recognise their accomplishments, notice where they are struggling and provide some remedial assistance as it is needed, and encourage the best performance from those who report to you. This is a fabulous opportunity to develop a winning and supportive culture that generates excellent results.

Customers And Suppliers Need Love Too

We can get stuck in our little bubble and forget that the organisation is a co-operative of different departments and each has their value and brings something vital to the organisation overall. There is no admin section without sales. There are not sales without marketing. There is nothing to market without production. Each part of the business needs all parts of the business to function well. Just as you can create an unhealthy work environment for employees, or one that cultivates wellness, willingness to go the extra mile, and excellence, so too it is with customers, and those other businesses we rely on to support our own.

Why do we do it this way?

Look at any workplace and there will be things that get done a certain way that nobody knows why it is done that way,  just that it happens to be how it gets done. Many workplaces put people into a job without a real job description and no properly documented (or well thought out) procedure to follow. In these cases, people come into the job, fumble their way through and develop a way to do something that may be good or may not. but it works, no matter how ugly it might be. They leave, someone else comes in and keep doing it the same way and several generations later this thing for no good reason is still getting done the same way. Which may be why some businesses are still using faxes!

A good manager will ensure that all the processes that are carried out in the business are done the best way they can to deliver the purpose intended. That might be to keep some jobs the way they are because it works well and  it might be to review and test things  to make sure that that the purpose now is being served, and there are no unnecessary or time consuming tasks being done a poor way that could be done more effectively and in less time by using a new method.

Self promoting 

Sometimes the employees can be our best advocates. When the culture is good and the values are admirable then we love to tell others about the pride we feel in our employer. Of course the converse is also true. We can't force people to promote the business, but if you create the right culture, it will happen. We attract like minded people to what we create.  New customers, new hires, new opportunities can come from the networks of the people who work with us and help us achieve. Keep this in mind as you are managing because this little understood effect can have big results and feed back into the good culture and you the good manager.

Empowering others is a blessing that a good manager can bestow.

Empowering ourselves in the first instance, is part of learning new skills and accepting responsibility to be the best whatever-we-aspire-to-be that we can, and taking action to make it happen.


Quick and dirty business review
Step up in your business and manage better
Control quality in your business

Like to discuss coaching?
Call Lindy on 0403 365 855
 Lindy Asimus Business Coaching
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Thursday, April 03, 2014

Inbound Marketing The New Old Fashioned Service

In the olden days a small business would open a shop or a factory and put a sign out the front and get ready to do business with the passing customers. Some entrepreneurial businesses would go to the customer and deliver goods to their door to aid in convenience for the customer, and improve the chances of making regular sales to those customers who might go somewhere else to get their goods. 

In the old days the shopkeeper or maker might put an advertisement in the newspaper and advertise their specials. In these olden days, men went to work and women stayed at home and did the laundry and kept house and raised the children, cooked and baked and made pies or bread for the family. 

In the old days, customers would go to the store and see what was on offer and the salesman would inform the customer about the product features and benefits and the customer would make a decisions about what to buy. 

Now the way people make purchase decisions has changed. A recent study by Google shows that in practice the ways that people move from considering a purchase to making the decision to purchase happens in a whole new way. Now they do their research, learn about the benefits and features, know what the price is and what the other products that compare to that product is like and move from consideration to decision before they leave home

Be the business of choice when customers are ready to buy

Small businesses that want to be involved in that decision process, or be the place that the customer chooses to buy from depends on the activities of the small business or large business (it doesn't matter online how big or small you are), to win the attention of the customer and show that you have what they want and are easy to do business with. 

Get your website in order first

You website is the first place to start with ensuring you get found online. Your website should carry the important details about where you are how to find you, how to contact you, what you sell, what's special about your business and be appealing to visitors as your shop or factory would be.

Connected to your online shopfront, are your social platforms where you can engage with customers and their friends and new people who  have not yet visited your business but would like to. Facebook, Twitter, many platforms could be used, some would be more of a fit than others, depending on your business, but also the profile of the clients you serve and their habits and where they get  together online to chat and hang out.

Activate inbound marketing strategies and develop relationships online 

Understanding the right social media platforms for you takes some research and some testing. What we do ourselves is no indicator of what our customers' habits online are like. The only way to know is to ask, and to test.

Test not just one approach, but test many and keep testing, not just where but the type of content we are posting. Just like in your business, 'rotating your stock and facing up your shelves' is as important online as it is in Main Street in your business. Customers want you to take notice of the things they want when buying.

Stay positive! 

It can seem daunting for small businesses to attempt to begin online marketing. The rules change all the time but a well thought out strategy is the key to keeping focus and your business afloat in this new environment.

Basically, to customers, if you are not online - you don't exist. If you are online and demonstrating you have no clue - they will assume you don't know your market very well and are out of touch with your customers.

Learn new skills for the sake of your business

But your expertise is in running your business the way you have always done it and has worked for you. Now you need to learn new skills and that's not a problem, you learned everything you already know, but you can't afford to learn this stuff as you go along.

Get help, get the right help and save yourself from wasting time that could be building business, and putting yourself into situations that are bad for business. This is the time to invest in your business and you own education and reap the benefits in future sales and improved placement online.
Five levels of 'being online' for business.

Not everything has changed

In learning about the changes in the marketplace it is worth remembering that some things don't change. Some things you do well now will be part of what you do with your online marketing.

Caring about customers doesn't change.
Providing good service, doesn't change.
Taking care of all the sections of your business that need to be managed, doesn't change.

Your expenses can change ... and bring more value

Some things you can do very effectively now for very little money.

Some things that once cost your business a lot of money - like Yellow Pages advertising, you don't need to pay now at all.

You can now do more with less and do things to promote your business that only a big business once could do.

The range of customers who can now buy from you has expanded way beyond just the people who once walked past your door on a whim.

We live busy lives now. Families are juggling jobs and commitments now and have different constraints on their time.  We are not at home with the kids and baking pies, we are working and trying to pay that mortgage and every spare moment of time is precious.

But we still like to support local business and while the milkman may not call, we are doing a lot of shopping from home and seeing the delivery man or woman with our purchases is just part of our day now. Inbound marketing for business, is conventient and easy to shop for customers.

Will those parcels be coming from your business?

Related posts:
Many hands make lighter work of social media for local businesses
Here's how to save time and get good content for your business online
Inbound marketing the new old fashioned way to do business
Financial planners: Social Marketing the key to keeping business on the books
Business writing not just on the social media wall
What every business should know about social media

Like to discuss your business?
Call Lindy on 0403 365 855
Website Lindy Asimus Business Coaching

  Subscribe to Actionbites Blog

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Showcase Your Building Company With Social Marketing

Many businesses struggle to identify ways that they can make good quality content to post online to promote their industry and company specialties.

These videos are a fantastic way to showcase a building company or general construction company. They are good ways to promote the skills of the photographer or video producer too. And while they show what those in the industry may be accustomed to seeing, these can be a real mystery to customers and those not associated with the ins and outs of that industry and how work is done.

This video showing construction of a retirement village is a splendid example of the work that goes into developing a site from an idea to a new home and community for the residents and those who will work there.  That's a fantastic memento of the project and the diligence that goes into a large development - a good thing for those contemplating a development in the future to be able to see. 

This video showcases the build for a substantial family home. My guess is this would be a great memento for anyone who builds a new home. You can bet the house on the fact that the owners would be showing this video off to everyone in their social circle, and that's promotion for the company you just can't buy - but you can use to promote your business. By sharing with the new owners, and with you own social networks. This kind of content is evergreen and can be reposted from time to time.

Content To Showcase Your Business

Every business needs to develop ways to make their products interesting to potential customers. This is one example of how technology can help to showcase your business. This could be used in many different ways to promote your business over a long period, but there are many others. 

It's no longer enough to just do good work, you need to be able to demonstrate your good work - to customers and for new business opportunities.  

Related posts:
Many hands make lighter work of social media for local businesses
Here's how to save time and get good content for your business online
Inbound marketing the new old fashioned way to do business
Financial planners: Social Marketing the key to keeping business on the books
Business writing not just on the social media wall
What every business should know about social media

Like to discuss your business?
Call 0403 365 855
Lindy Asimus Business Coaching

Subscribe to Actionbites Blog

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Business Succession For Not For Profit Boards

Many Not For Profit and charities have a need now and again to make changes to the board. This could also be a good idea for a company generally. The success of any organisation depends on good working systems and ensuring good governance by a board is just one of the important elements to ensure the health of the organisation for the long term. Building a successful team requires consideration of longevity and ensuring that everyone can be replaced if needed. Learn how to train your team for duplication or succession into roles.

When is change necessary?

From time to time changes to a board may become necessary. This may be through a change in circumstances or it could be that dynamics inside the organisation are such that the board is operating less well than it should and needs refreshing.  The answer may be finding new members, additional training and coaching of existing members or it may be an issue with the planning and vision of the organisation.

Whatever the reason, a review can be a healthy way forward, and in revitalising the board it is important to act effectively to bring together all the skills sets needed to accomplish what you wish to achieve as your organisation’s overall objectives.

How to identify the need to revitalise a Board

Indicators that might suggest the need for change include:
Membership is stale and people are leaving
Nothing is getting done and the energy of the board is low
Some board members are carrying too much of the workload
There is misalignment between the board and the rest of the organisation
Old ways of doing things that suit the board are hampering the organisation
Fundraising activities are no longer working as they used to, or as they should.
Scope of the organisation has changed so it needs new skills added to the mix
Infighting and poor morale
Retirement pending
Membership  has changed and board no longer reflects members
Fundraisers have abandoned the organisation

Do you need a change?

Long standing members of the board can lend continuity to an organisation and help to keep the culture strong. While this can be a blessing, it can also work against the organisation if the objectives or the make-up of the organisation change.
Fixed terms and regulations about length of tenure can remove the problem of people overstaying their useful length of term, where members are not adding value to the board.

Why and how?

Should change be desired then it is important to have a well defined strategy for what will happen as the changeover routine.

Change for the sake of change is not likely to be productive and replacing members is more effective when you have a clear reason for the change and a defined result that the change is to achieve.  Know what you want, and why.

What led to the need for change?
Is it something that is likely to affect new members?
If the board is stale, why is it stale?
Is the organisation fulfilling its original purpose?
If funds are drying up, what’s the reason?
Is the organisation being managed well?
Are systems in place to ensure efficient duties and reporting?
Has the business plan been written, and adhered to?
Are there clear lines of communication, procedures and position descriptions?
Are members unhappy with decisions at the top?
        If you know why, now consider what has to happen to affect this change.
Is the problem structural within the organisation – or is it a people issue?
Does the system need to be tweaked, or do you need new people in place?
Is there a need to improve recruiting practices to get people who are a better fit?
Is communication poor?
Is there a lack of proper processes in place to ensure training is given where needed, and                         responsibilities matched with the appropriate level of authority necessary to accomplish.
What will making changes do to the way that meetings are held? Should schedules change too?             Should duration/ location/format of meetings change?

Changes mean finding someone to fill the role.  Recruiting, selection and inducting new members needs a process to follow for that purpose.

Have you reviewed the operation of the existing board?
Know what skills your board needs
Consider what changes are in the strategic plan that will call for special skills in the future
Profile the kind of member that your organisation needs now based on members diversity
Set up guidelines for recruiting for the future

How will you find your new members? 
Look within the networks of existing members
Look to past members and people on other boards, committees and volunteers
People with an interest in your purpose
Businesses allied with your group’s  aims, service clubs, local community figures
Professionals with special skills that you need
Members of other boards


  1. Create a checklist for how you can spread the word about your search for new board members. 
  2. Build a ‘Suspect’ and a ‘Prospect’ list to begin
  3. Select a criteria to use upon which you will decide who to appoint. 
  4. Screen candidates against your criteria

Think about your approach to prospective board members
Follow your organisation’s guidelines for selection and remember to follow up with a welcome.

Inducting New Members

It is important to start your Board's relationship with a new member on a positive note. Some Boards make the mistake of signing up a new member, handing them a manual and then largely forgetting about them, assuming they will just get on with the job. While many new Board members may well do just that, you can help to make the settling-in process a little less daunting by having procedures in place to welcome and introduce new members to their role.

Develop an effective induction process
Cover off on these areas

Then ensure that processes are in place to transition through these areas:

1. Initial Contact

2. Make the Introductions

3. The Board Manual

4. Roles and Responsibilities

5. Briefing

6. Familiarise them with the environment

7. Invite feedback

NOTE: While this is stated as for a board, it is very similar for employees or other members too. They too should have processes documented, clear roles and responsibilities laid out and an effective process for managing their performance so they can achieve great outcomes together with the organisation.

Your five year plan: Life goals and Business Vision - Here's how to make it work

Like to discuss your business?
Call 0403 365 855
Lindy Asimus Business Coaching
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Sunday, March 23, 2014

Secrets Job Seekers Need To Know To Get Hired

Here's my way of doing things. If I find a topic I want to investigate I do a lot of digging around the issue to find the answers I need. 

That works pretty well and when the topic is around looking for jobs and career topics I have a range of resources available to cover a lot of issues relating to finding a job, how to search for a job and that kind of thing. You can check out some of them here on my job/career board.

But there were some questions that I couldn't find answers to, that really left me mystified. It seemed like there was a whole secret system in place that nobody talks about but which works against some job seekers when they are looking to get into the workforce. I wanted to know what those hiring were thinking but never saying out loud! 

So I  thought I'd tap in to a local recruitment consultant who does very good work and I asked him to 'spill the beans' on some questions to see if he could shed light on these areas of arcane lore when it comes to job seeking. 

Here's what David Franze from Vespa Consulting came back with in answer to my questions. 

What is the real criterion for selection when,  say the job is entry level but pays what the applicant is willing to work for AND they can do the job easily. 

This is a common frustration for job seekers who apply for roles that are perhaps perceived to me a level or 2 below their skill set. While there are many valid reasons for people applying for lower level roles, employers still struggle with the thoughts that the same individual will leave for a better (higher paying role role) more suited to their skill set when an opportunity arises. 

The way to give yourself the best chance of succeeding in this type of scenario is to position yourself based on the level of the role. i.e. A common interview question employers will use to address these concerns are "where do you see yourself in 1, 3 and 5 years time?" Your answer needs to be in line with the level of the role, so consider answering with why you are passionate about this type of role, how your skill set will add value to the business and that you are open to what the future holds.

When someone has been self employed and looking to return to a employed position - what is the thinking that is unspoken but can rule someone out from consideration?

This is a really interesting, I for one like seeing ex business owners as job applicants. to me, someone who has owned their own business generally has determination, are innovative, decisive and have business smarts. Employers concerns are generally based around how an ex self employed candidate who is use to just managing their own workload will fit into a team environment.

Again, the best way to answer this type of question is to understand the role, demonstrate how your experience in this type of role has benefited previous clients and how you have had to integrate yourself into clients teams on many occasions and give examples.

Again, these are perceived challenges employers see and you really need to demonstrate your soft skills experience well. Prepare for interviews by having scenarios of previous experience in your head ready to go.

What if the person hiring thinks you are qualified to do the job effectively but we don't think it will be challenging /they might leave when they get a better offer/ they won't be able to be managed/ they might not stick around long term if there is no career fast track? 

This is very similar to Q1. 

What happens to a resume when it is received - what are those looking at it wanting to find and what do they hate seeing?

In the current market, with a lot of candidates and not as many jobs, it's not uncommon to see up to 100 applicants for a role depending on the level of the role. In short, 1 recruiter, with 100 resumes and competing priorities means you need to make an impression on paper.

Tip 1  Keep the resume short, nobody wants to see resumes longer than 6 pages, ideally, 3-4 pages give or take.

Tip 2 Use keywords, much like SEO, your resume needs to have the keywords in it that are in the position description or the job advert. So, tailor your resume to meet the criteria with keywords based on your experience.

Tip 3. Have an "Achievements" section for each role. This is where my eyes go first on a resume, to me, the achievements in the role show what you have done that is over and above what was expected in the role. Use your Achievements section to brag a little about yourself. This might include over achieving on targets, delivery of a big project, implementation of a new system and so on.

And Tip 4 , PLEASE, check for grammatical errors. Yes, we may be pedantic, but you never get a second chance to make a first impression so take the time to go over your resume a few time before submitting it.

What do they expect people to do at interviews to be successful

Be prepared, do your research on the company you are interviewing at, who are their competitors, what are they trying to achieve, their history etc etc. Do some pre-work.

Also, have examples in mind of how you can demonstrate your experience and lastly have some questions prepared. When interviewers ask if you have any questions, they would always like to hear at least 1 or 2. So again, its all in the preparation.

What do they think about follow up thank you letters

I think a follow up email is a nice idea and most recruiters or hiring managers would be pleased to see a thank you email. Good touch.

Why don't they bother responding to applicants when the applicants are expected to go to some trouble with their applications and interviews?

This is my biggest frustration in recruitment, and to be fair, its (hopefully) a minority that ruin it for the rest of us. I have worked with recruiters in the past who didn't respond to applicants and quite frankly, didn't care. There are good and bad in every industry but within my own I hate to see this as a practice. Put simply, it's basic human respect, you get what you give. There are also many employers out there who advertise roles directly as well and what recruiters and employers may not realise is that by not responding to applicants, they are damaging their brand. 

Summing up

So there you have it. The questions that are never asked with the answers nobody ever tells you when you are looking for work. Plan this as you would if you were running your own business. In real terms - your career IS your business.

  • Customise each application to the particular position
  •  Tailor your resume and cover letter every time
  • Demonstrate your achievements
  • Research the company 
  • Double check for any errors or omissions in your documents 
  • Follow up with a thank you
  • Rehearse your responses to typical questions you'll be asked 
  • Consider the questions you will ask if you are granted an interview
As well, think about how you can activate your networks. Get your profile 'spick and span' on Linkedin and look for companies you can approach directly, not just in response to an advertisement. 

Oh.. and if it needs saying - clean up your Facebook page if it is showing you in party mode, chronically whingeing or engaged in other activities that don't add to your reputation as a potential job candidate.

Consider how you can be more flexible in the kind of job you might take and the locations you might consider for the right job.  

If you are looking for a role that is not so high-powered as one you have held in the past, make that clear that you are looking for steady work but not the stress that comes from more highly charged (and paid) positions. You're prepared to work hard but not chasing promotion any more.

And while you are in job seeking mode, pursue activities that will aid in landing that job when it finally comes around. Learn some new skills and things to do that you can feel good about while you are not yet in that job you want to find. Feeling good about yourself helps others feel good about you too. 

A word to employers...

Another factor in all this seems to be that many companies hiring don't do it very well and I would suggest that an employer looking to add people to the business would do well to be approaching this part of their business with the same degree of professionalism that they give to operational and customer service areas.  Hiring poorly, whether it is directly or through agencies with low standards of service, you can be doing your reputation harm, in addition to costly mistakes. 

Hiring well begins with knowing your business well and having a well articulated vision for the business, clear roles and responsibilities delineated for each position in the business -  not just making up ads for the position by people who don't understand the role and what's important and what is just 'nice to have'. A bad hire can be costly so using a professional to help you get it right can be much more economical and convenient  in the long term, than being 'penny wise, pound foolish'. 

You can find David Franze at
Vespa Consulting  0402 474 555 

Related articles 

And you can find me here! 

 Like to discuss your business?
 Lindy Asimus  0403 365 855
 Lindy Asimus Business Coaching
  Subscribe to Actionbites Blog

Friday, March 21, 2014

Financial Planners - Social Media One Good Investment To Make Now

"The newest paradigm shift in financial planning 
is being driven by the emerging trans-generational wealth transfer
 - the largest in history."  

Some interesting numbers fell across my view this week, which should be of interest to any financial advisor.

These numbers from the US would probably be a close match for the experience in Australia too, though many US businesses are in front when it comes to client servicing standards by comparison.

  1. 2% of children inheriting stay with the parents' financial advisor
  2. With the death of their husbands, only 45% of women stay with the current financial advisor.

What does this mean for financial advisors? It's vital to learn to build strong relationships or risk losing out in the coming avalanche of inter-generational transfer of wealth that is about to unfold.

What we want from our financial advisors

Here's what one recent survey in the US found about clients' views on what's important to them. This is the response according to an article on Forbes

“The CFA Institute & Edelman Investor Trust Survey.”
The survey asked respondents which of the following factors was the most important to them in selecting an investment manager (while the question in the survey related to investment managers specifically, but I would argue that the results are relevant to advisors and other industry participants as well):
  • Trusted to act in my best interest – 35%
  • Ability to achieve high returns – 17%
  • Commitment to ethical conduct – 17%
  • Recommended by someone I trust – 15%
  • Compliance with industry best practices – 8%
  • Amount/structure of fees – 7%
By more than 2 to 1, more respondents felt that the most important thing to them in picking an investment partner is that they feel that they can be trusted to act in their best interest. Returns were less important, and fees were at the bottom of the list."
We can see from this that trust is a big factor for clients. That should come as no great surprise and yet if we look at the focus of activity in the financial services industry, there is little that is remarkable in service standards that would lead us to have any great trust in one firm over another.

Building relationships just doesn't seem to be a priority for financial planners and financial advisors, whose focus is often on rate of returns, fees and commissions.  To gain trust, matching priorities needs to be demonstrated.

Doing The Right Thing

From this we can see that ethics is important to clients. They want to feel that  they have placed their trust in someone whose behaviours they can reasonably expect will follow the client's best interests and that the advisor will be sufficiently in tune with their wishes and investment style to recommend products and strategies that take into account the wishes, capacity for financial resilience, temperament, aspirations, wider goals and the risk management needs of the client.

 What does ethical and professional financial expertise look like?

Financial advisors don't just need to  be professional and have high standards of ethical behaviour. They need a way to show that. How do customers know how this plays out in your business? How do their friends see that this is an important issue to you and how you run your financial planning business? It is in our actions that our values play out. It is the topics that interest us the standards we hold for ourselves, the public platform we develop to showcase these aspects of our professional and personal identity as well as the services standards that we set in place within the business.

Establishing Trust

We love to be really heard. Talking less and listening more is a good start. But it is not enough to just listen, we need to also carry that through to understanding how that fits into a broader context. So listening is not very useful if what we are told is not translated into the plan that is to be implemented.  This is an element of what we could call 'ecology' and should be consistent not just with the words spoken, but the beliefs and values behind the words. Listening is one step in the process. Clarifying and assuring you know what that means to the customer, is the next step to the really important end stage - understanding.

We Do Things Differently Now

While conservative establishments like financial planning companies have established ways that things get done, all of which are likely to be convenient for the financial houses,  not necessarily so for the customer.

Customers are not standing still. Technology is putting information as close as their fingertips and they don't want to hang around for yearly statements and feedback when they can now access other things they need in real time. The old business models will have to change and become more convenient and accessible for clients.  That's also key to streamlining processes and opening new means using technology to find additional touch points to stay in contact with clients, be of value to clients and establish your relationship with them as being a useful addition to their life.

Leveraging Time and Information To Create And Post Quality Content

Technology, social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin, blogs, instant message and SMS text services can all help to make life more simple and functional and save time for advisors and clients alike. Maintaining contact in the ways that are most beneficial and wanted by the client is also how you show that you have listened and heard what they want when it comes to how they want to work with you.

While some aspects of service can be automated and direct, when it comes to public methods for informing and educating around financial matters, this can be in your hands as the trusted advisor, for both clients and others in their network who could become clients in the future. But this can only happen if you have the means and have developed the resources necessary to be a visible as the credible expert and trusted industry authority.  When that happens you are placed well for them to turn to you as their first and most reliable source when it comes to matters of a financial and life planning nature.

Where To Start 

Begin with forgetting your assumptions about what you think you know about your clients. The chances are that what you think about your client base is not right. Those clients you think are your best clients may not be any more. And those "C" grade clients you have not seen for years - could be someone else's "A" grade client ... or will be in the future.
  • Begin with a good analysis and review of your client base. This cannot be just on fees, but needs to be assessed using a range of metrics that are objective and subjective and take into account the lifetime value of a customer to your business. 
  • Audit your current method of servicing customers
  •  Map the current servicing strategy in diagram form 
  • Check metrics on rate of business lost  
  • Identify bottlenecks in the service delivery area  
  • Quantify system for and metrics for new business acquisition   
  • Quantify lost business and system reporting method  
  • Diagram customer feedback system  
  • Review marketing plan

That's a good start. Each of these areas will take some digging to get the information you need to fully understand the present situation.

The next step from there on is to develop your plan what you want to achieve in the future term and how to go about proceeding to What Happens Next.

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