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March 2021

Helpful Tips and Insights From Minneapolis Women in the Financial Services Industry

Helpful Tips and Insights From Minneapolis Women in the Financial Services Industry 900 600 Kari Switala

One of our favorite parts of what we do is learning about other industries from our clients, referral partners and trusted advisors. One industry we’ve been learning a lot about these past few years is the financial services industry. Whether it’s filing your taxes, purchasing a home and securing financing or investing your money and creating a legacy account for your children and grandchildren, everyone depends on financial experts at some (or many!) points during their lives.

At Wild Fig Marketing, we are honored to share the company of many incredible women in the financial services industry. We took some time recently to interview four of these women and learn from them. We think you will find their insights valuable! 

This is the first in a series of four interviews. 

We’d like to start by introducing you to Alix Magner, Financial Advisor at Morgan Stanley. 

Hello Alix! Can you please give us a brief overview of what you do at Morgan Stanley?

helpful business tips and insights from Minneapolis financial experts

As a Financial Advisor at Morgan Stanley, I run an intentional wealth practice with a focus on sustainable investing. Most of my clients are purposeful women and their families who are smart, busy and successful. My practice works primarily with women business owners and professionals, tech employees, and LGBTQ+ people. In my practice within Morgan Stanley, I work with clients to make plans that work for them and I invest their money in support of their plan. 

What is a common myth in your industry? 

One of the biggest myths around sustainable investing is that aligning your investments with your values generates lower returns than traditional investing. But we have analyzed the data and found that this is simply not true. Recently, the Morgan Stanley Institute for Sustainable Investing analyzed 11,000 mutual funds, comparing the performance of sustainable investments versus traditional investments from 2004 to 2018. What did we find? We discovered that the sustainable investments performed in line with the traditional strategies—with one big difference: The sustainable funds had a lower volatility and a 20% smaller downside deviation compared to the traditional funds.1 I believe this helps to back up my view: Sustainable investing is sound investing and factoring in how businesses impact the environment, society and the global community is not at odds with good investing—indeed, it may make it more robust.

If you could only share one tip (relating to your industry) with small businesses this year, what would it be and why?

This wild COVID year accelerated many people’s long-term plans—buying a business, selling a business, working from the cabin, expanding the business…COVID has made everyone rethink their assumptions and where they want to be in the future. 

Make sure that how you’ve structured your business (how you’re incorporated and your ownership structure) supports those big plans. It’s easy to get caught up in the daily weeds of running your business. Your business structure has a huge impact on what types of retirement accounts you can offer and on your succession planning. There are a lot of potential benefits to setting up the right structure. Take the time to think through how you’re structured now and how you should be structured. Now is the time to ask your advisors and think about the future. 

Who do you love to work with and what do you love most about the work you do? 

I love to work with women who are the breadwinners for their households. My clients are women who have continued to be successful and the more successful they get, the more complex the money stuff gets and the less time they have to manage it. When the finance questions swirl in their brains, they’re thinking: 

  • How much should I reinvest in my business? 
  • What type of retirement plan or equity plan should I offer my employees? 
  • Can my spouse stop working? 
  • As complicated as my situation is, am I missing anything? 

I love working with women and their families to simplify the complexity and create systems to put the right money in the right places. I love problem-solving. And I enjoy being the person who takes care of the money so my clients can do the big things they want to with their lives. 

What’s your #1 go-to resource (websites, podcasts, publications, etc) for information about your industry?

My # 1 go-to resource for information in my industry is the Wall Street Journal. Yes, I get the actual, physical newspaper delivered to my doorstep every day. I’ve found that keeping up on U.S. and world events gives me the context I need to understand the financial markets and the world. 

To learn more about Alix, visit her website at
https://advisor.morganstanley.com/alix.magner
 

  1. “Sustainable Reality: Analyzing Risk and Returns of Sustainable Funds,” Morgan Stanley, Institute for Sustainable Investing, 2019, https://www.morganstanley.com/content/dam/msdotcom/ideas/sustainable-investing-offers-financial-performance-lowered-risk/Sustainable_Reality_Analyzing_Risk_and_Returns_of_Sustainable_Funds.pdf. 

Alix Magner is a Financial Advisor with the Global Wealth Management Division of Morgan Stanley Smith Barney in Minneapolis, MN. The views expressed herein are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Morgan Stanley Wealth Management or its affiliates. All opinions are subject to change without notice. Neither the information provided nor any opinion expressed constitutes a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

The returns on a portfolio consisting primarily of Environmental, Social and Governance (“ESG”) aware investments may be lower or higher than a portfolio that is more diversified or where decisions are based solely on investment considerations. Because ESG criteria exclude some investments, investors may not be able to take advantage of the same opportunities or market trends as investors that do not use such criteria.

Tax laws are complex and subject to change. Morgan Stanley Smith Barney LLC (“Morgan Stanley”), its affiliates and Morgan Stanley Financial Advisors and Private Wealth Advisors do not provide tax or legal advice and are not “fiduciaries” (under the Investment Advisers Act of 1940, ERISA, the Internal Revenue Code or otherwise) with respect to the services or activities described herein except as otherwise provided in writing by Morgan Stanley and/or as described at www.morganstanley.com/disclosures/dol. Individuals are encouraged to consult their tax and legal advisors (a) before establishing a retirement plan or account, and (b) regarding any potential tax, ERISA and related consequences of any investments made under such plan or account.

Morgan Stanley Smith Barney LLC. Member SIPC.

CRC#3489389 03/2021

Transform Your Blog Into a Traffic-Generating Machine

How to Transform Your Blog Into a Traffic-Generating Machine

How to Transform Your Blog Into a Traffic-Generating Machine 900 600 Kari Switala

Apple chips, hummus, Ninja warrior, the naughty list…these are not topics you’d normally connect with a content marketing company. And yet, these are some of the keywords we ranked highly for in Google searches back before we really understood keywords and search engine optimization (SEO)

Relevant keywords and good SEO can work wonders for your blog, as can consistent posting, using quality images, and visitor engagement. Without utilizing these tools, it can be difficult to get much traction. But with them, you can transform your blog into a traffic-generating machine.

First: What Not to Do

Since those early blog posts, we’ve learned a lot about the importance of optimizing our blogs for SEO. Now we can easily see why we ranked for those crazy keywords: the blogs we were writing had fun titles with analogies that drew the reader in once they got to our site, but they didn’t help people FIND us in the first place. They introduced topics that were totally unrelated to what we do. Here are a few prime examples (it’s ok to laugh…we think they’re pretty funny now too):

While these articles did cover relevant topics (smart marketing strategies, customer experience, and differentiating yourself from the competition), they weren’t written in a way that helped us attract the audience we were looking for: businesses looking for great content marketing.

Keyword Research is, Well…Key

Transform Your Blog Into a Traffic-Generating Machine

The main thing those early blogs lacked was relevant keywords that signaled to search engines what the blogs were about. Keywords essentially represent the main ideas of your content. They are the words and phrases people would type into a search engine when looking for the topics you are discussing. When you use keywords on your page that are relevant to what people are searching for, they have a better chance of finding your content. The goal is to rank highly on search engines so that your content will show up among the first options people see when they enter your keywords. This drives organic traffic to your site. 

Before you write your content, you need to determine what keywords you want to rank for. Keyword research tools like Semrush, Moz, and Google Keyword Planner are helpful when determining the keywords that will be most relevant to your audience. These tools allow you to see what keywords are the most popular and drive the most traffic, as well as how much competition each keyword has. Ideally, you want to choose keywords that are highly relevant but don’t have so much competition that you have no hope of ranking for them.

Focus On Long-Tail Keywords

You’ll want to focus your time and energy on long-tail keywords. Long-tail keywords are more specific phrases—typically 3-5 words or more—and are almost always a better choice than broader keywords. They are more targeted in their approach, so they help you connect with an audience that is more likely to engage with you. For example, a person searching for “content marketing company in MN” is much more likely to engage with us, a content marketing company in Minnesota, than someone simply searching for “marketing” would be. Long-tail keywords help you find the RIGHT traffic, not just a lot of traffic.

Make a Plan For Your Content and Stick To It

Transform Your Blog Into a Traffic-Generating Machine

To get into a good rhythm of content production, you need to lay out a clear plan. Pumping out articles just to have something on your site won’t get you the results you want. You need to know where you’re heading with your content and what kind of schedule you need to keep to get there.

Use the keywords you’ve researched to determine what topics you will write about. One easy way to do this is to start typing your keyword into the Google search bar and watch what search suggestions pop up. These suggestions indicate topics that people are regularly searching for. Or you can scroll to the bottom of the search page to the “searches related to” section for more good ideas. 

Make a list of the topics you think will be the most relevant to your audience. Then, create a schedule for yourself, setting deadlines for creating the first draft, editing, and publishing the finished content. Creating and sticking to a content schedule will help you post more consistently. And posting consistently will help you rank higher with Google and other search engines.

Create Relevant, Well-Written Blogs

Next comes the writing. Good writing is just as important as using the right keywords. Done well, a blog can help establish you (and your business) as an authority in your field. Plus, Google and other search engines aren’t just looking for keywords—they’re looking for relevant content that answers the questions site visitors are asking.

Your blogs should be well-thought-out, well-written, and grammatically correct resources for your audience. If you have a wealth of ideas but aren’t the best writer, it’s a good idea to hire out your writing (we know a great writer or two if you’re looking!). Mediocre writing won’t draw the traffic you’re looking for.

The length of your blogs makes a difference with SEO as well. Currently, the ideal blog length for the best SEO is around 2,100-2,400 words. Long-form content like this performs better in search results than short blogs. This is primarily because longer posts are naturally more keyword-rich and go into more depth on their topic, making them more likely to answer visitors’ questions or solve their problems. This, in turn, makes them more likely to get shared on social media or to get backlinks from other sites—both things that drive up web traffic. 

Place Your Keywords For Optimal SEO

Transform Your Blog Into a Traffic-Generating Machine

As you write your blog, you’ll need to include your chosen long-tail keyword throughout the copy. There isn’t a set number of times to use your keyword in your blog, but don’t overdo it—less is more in this case. In fact, don’t focus on counting your keywords at all. Instead, check their placement and make sure they’re built naturally into your topic. Carefully work your main keyword into your title, first paragraph, a header or two, and the closing paragraph. If you’ve chosen your keyword and blog topic well, this shouldn’t be difficult to do: your keyword should resonate with or serve as the entire topic of the post.

In addition to your main keyword, you’ll also want to use secondary or synonymous keywords throughout the body of your blog. Secondary keywords are related terms that help support your blog’s main topic. For example, if you were writing a blog titled “Best Winter Coats For Below-Zero Temperatures”, your long-tail keyword might be the entire title, and some of your synonymous keywords could be “winter coat”, “parka”, “down coat”, and “cold weather gear”. Make sense?

But don’t overdo your secondary keywords either. Ultimately, search engines look for high quality, highly relevant content when ranking for keywords. So it’s better to naturally work your keywords into your content less often than to stuff them in as many times as possible.

Make Your Posts Pop With Great Images

Keywords are vital, but they aren’t the only thing you can use to boost your SEO and drive traffic to your blog. Incorporating great images throughout your blog posts can help as well. Good quality images do four main things:

  1. Help readers get a sense of what you’re writing about. Visual aids like infographics and photos invite the reader in and can help simplify complex concepts.
  2. Attract more clicks. Your post’s main photo will typically show up when readers share your post on social media. A great-looking photo will make viewers want to click on the post to read more; a dull one won’t.
  3. Offer another chance to optimize for better search engine placement. Your images themselves can be optimized to help your content show up in search results. Adding your main keyword into an image’s “alternative text” field, file name, and caption gives search engines a better idea of what your post is about.
  4. Make your content look authoritative. A post with attractive photography or well-designed infographics is more likely to be taken seriously by potential readers than one using old clip art.

A couple of notes on images: First, when choosing photos for your blog, make sure to keep an eye on the file size. Image files that are too large can make your page load slower, which search engines don’t like. Second, never use photos you don’t have the rights to: you could end up paying hefty fines. To avoid this problem, grab photos from one of the many royalty-free stock photo sites available, such as Big Stock, Unsplash and Pexels.

Encourage User Engagement

Transform Your Blog Into a Traffic-Generating Machine

Once you attract readers, those readers can in turn help attract more traffic to your blog. Encourage readers to engage with your posts by leaving a comment (make sure you respond to comments!) and by sharing them on social media. The more engagement your post receives, the better it will rank with search engines and the more traffic you will see on your site.

Also, include an invitation to join your email newsletter in every blog post. This allows you to notify visitors when you post new blogs, which can result in even more traffic and shares. Make sure to include an email signup form somewhere in each blog post—this can be in the form of a pop-up box, a form at the end of the post, or simply a call-to-action line within your post that is linked to a signup form.

Update Existing Blog Posts

Another way to increase traffic to your blog is to optimize older blog posts for better SEO. If you have older posts that are relevant to your audience but haven’t generated much traffic, take the time to go back and update them.

Start by using what you’ve learned here to improve those old posts: include well-placed relevant keywords, add great images throughout, make sure the post invites comments and shares, and add an invitation to join your email newsletter somewhere in the post. Also, if the post doesn’t have headers throughout the body copy, add some to break up the text (and include your keywords in them if you can do so naturally). One note: when refreshing an old post, don’t forget to update any information that has changed since you first wrote it.

Transforming Your Blog Into a Traffic-Generating Machine Takes Time

Transform Your Blog Into a Traffic-Generating Machine

Your blog can be a great way to draw visitors to your website, but it will take consistent effort and time. Be patient—you likely won’t notice a huge influx of new site visitors from just one blog post, no matter how great it is. But over time, creating and consistently executing a solid plan for your content will transform your blog into a traffic-generating machine. 

And if you’re thinking, “Who has the time to do all of this?”, we’ve got your back. We know it can be difficult to find the time to create consistently great blog posts for your website. That’s why we offer blog writing services here at Wild Fig. We can do your keyword research, brainstorm blog topic ideas, research and write your blogs, find great images to complement them, and post them on your site for you. Plus, our writers are SEO pros who will make sure your blogs meet the standards that search engines like Google are looking for.

Ready to grow your blog and generate new leads for your business? Contact us today to get started!

Client Success Stories: Angie Wood of Wood CPA

Client Success Stories: Angie Wood of Wood CPA 900 600 Kari Switala

We’re celebrating a big anniversary here at Wild Fig: this month marks 10 years in business for us! Ten years of coming alongside companies to help them grow through content marketing…it’s hard to believe it’s been that long, and boy, what a ride it’s been! It sure is amazing to get to do something we love and see our clients thrive as a result.

We’ve had such an incredible time working with so many amazing businesses over the years, so what better way to celebrate our tenth year than sharing ten client success stories? Throughout the rest of this year, we’ll periodically share our clients’ stories with you so you can see just how effective content marketing can be when it’s done well. To begin with, we recently chatted with Angie Wood of Wood CPA about why she chose Wild Fig and how it has benefited her business.

Wood CPA: Helping a New Business Hit the Ground Running 

Angie started her business just over a year ago in January 2020. (Little did she know she’d have a pandemic to contend with in her first year in business!) She came to us before launching her business for help getting her brand, website, and marketing strategy in place. Then, once she was up and running, we developed an ongoing monthly marketing plan for her. Over the past year we have helped her with:

Naming her business

Angie came to us with the desire to launch her new business, but wasn’t sure what to call it. We helped her brainstorm ideas and ultimately land on a name that reflects who she is and how she runs her business: warm, inviting, and with expert care for each client.

Creating a Logo

Angie really wanted something that reflected her personality and how she works with her clients, and the logo we created accomplishes that. The trees we used in her logo are Aspen trees—we thought it was a cool tie-in with their rich MN history!

Developing a Marketing Strategy

We identified the right channels and messaging to use to help Angie acquire new clients quickly and effectively.

Building a New Website From Scratch

Because people do business with people they know, like, and trust, we felt it was important to help Angie tell her story and show what differentiates her from other CPAs

Running an Automated Lead Generation Campaign

We wanted a quick and easy way to help Angie build her contact list and capture website visitors’ information, so we built a website pop-up, created a Tax Strategies Guide (full of Angie’s expert advice), and crafted emails to deliver that content as well as a few other helpful content pieces.

Setting Up Online Scheduling

We knew Angie was going to be rather busy with getting her business up and running right at the start of tax season. To help shorten her to-do list, we set up online scheduling to make it easy for her clients and prospects to book time on her calendar without her having to manage that process.

Creating and Executing a Monthly Marketing Plan

We created a monthly marketing plan to help Angie attract new clients and retain her existing clients. To best reach her goals, we’ve utilized Facebook and LinkedIn posts, an e-newsletter (to clients, prospects and referral partners), and a blog to help educate clients and prospects and drive more traffic to her website.

Holding Quarterly Strategy Sessions

One of the benefits of working with our team is our quarterly strategy sessions. These sessions allow us to get a pulse on what’s happening in our client’s world, review the results from the previous quarter, and brainstorm new ideas. We like to consider ourselves an extension of our client’s team, which means we often provide ideas and support outside of our traditional marketing deliverables. For example: creating a holiday Send-Out-Cards campaign to a list of targeted prospects, providing job posting strategies to help attract top talent, and brainstorming ways to increase efficiencies.

Implementing a well-thought-out marketing strategy does more than simply get the word out about your business. It can help you attract new clients, educate and communicate with your current clients, and free up your time to focus on running your business. It has been amazing to see the growth of Angie’s business over the past year. To know that we played a role in creating that growth is an incredible feeling!

Q&A With Angie Wood

We recently asked Angie to tell us, in her own words, what Wild Fig has done for her. Here’s what she had to say….

Wild Fig: Why made you decide to work with us?

Angie Wood: Initially, I wanted to learn more about Wild Fig because I knew Jen [Wild Fig’s V.P. of Sales], really trusted that she does what is best for her clients, and is easy to work with. Once I learned more about Wild Fig, I was really drawn to the whole-package feel. As a brand new business, I needed a lot of help and everything could be done with one company! I loved that you took the time to get to know me, my business, and my goals.

Then, that information was used to pull together my business name, logo, website, and brand. These were all things I needed as I started my business. After the setup, you pulled together a monthly marketing plan that includes social media posts, marketing email, and a blog. It has been wonderful to have that “one-stop-shop” feel.

Wild Fig: What do you like most about working with us?  

Angie Wood: The people! Everyone I have worked with has been fantastic and the quality of the work has been amazing. I really appreciate that the marketing evolves as I grow. Everyone is open to my crazy ideas and pulls them into something that is beneficial and makes sense. I love that you include some personal aspects of my life to help my clients relate to me. The reports showing what topics clients have found most interesting is very useful as well.

Wild Fig: How has our work impacted your business? 

Angie Wood: Working with Wild Fig has saved me SO MUCH TIME! I can count on you to brainstorm ideas and bring them to me, rather than needing me to come up with all of the content. I mainly wanted the website and social media posts to make my new business look as official as it is, however it has been much more than that. The content has been very relevant with the changing laws, the automation for scheduling meetings has been used by so many clients, and I absolutely love that it is all handled for me so I can focus on what I do best!

In her first year of business, Angie survived a pandemic, tons of tax law changes, PPP loans, and more…while also being an amazing wife and mother of 4 great kids! And her business hasn’t just survived—it has thrived. We are so thankful for the trust Angie has placed in our team and for the opportunity to be a part of her first successful year in business. Clients like her are what has made the last 10 years in business so wonderful, and what makes us look forward to many more to come.
Looking for help building your brand, attracting new clients, and reaching your business goals? Wild Fig can help. Schedule your complimentary 30-minute strategy session with Jen here.