Entrepreneurship

Make Your Finance Company Stand Out

Make Your Finance Company Stand Out by Educating Your Clients and Prospects

Make Your Finance Company Stand Out by Educating Your Clients and Prospects 900 600 Kari Switala

Do you struggle to make your finance company stand out from the crowd? If so, you aren’t alone. No matter what part of the industry you’re in — whether you are a financial advisor, CPA, lender, or other finance professional — the competition can be fierce. There are many avenues you can take with your marketing to differentiate your business, but one of the most effective things you can do is use your marketing to educate your audience.

As you likely know, money can be a frustrating, confusing, and stressful topic for many people. Helpful, educational content speaks to the concerns of your clients and prospects and offers them something valuable. It also positions you as both a thought leader in your industry and a knowledgeable professional they can trust with their finances. Providing educational content can make your finance company stand out in an increasingly competitive marketplace.

Education Provides Value

To truly set yourself apart, you need to offer something of value to your clients and prospects that the competition doesn’t: something that is both unique and relevant to your market. Offering helpful information that teaches your audience more about various topics in your industry does exactly that. 

You might be thinking, “But why should I give away my knowledge for free — isn’t that what my clients pay for?” 

Make Your Finance Company Stand Out

Here’s the thing: providing helpful information in this way doesn’t mean you’re giving away all of your knowledge free of charge. You’re simply offering people a taste of what they will get when they work with you, in the same way that getting a free sample at the grocery store gives you a taste of the product the store is selling. That free sample of pizza doesn’t fill you up — you have to buy a whole pizza for that. 

Similarly, your “free sample” of information doesn’t give your audience everything they need to manage their finances — it merely gives them an introduction to the knowledge they’ll have at their disposal when they hire you.

Educational Content Builds Trust

Educational content can also build trust with your current and prospective clients. It does this by:

  • Showcasing your knowledge of your profession and positioning you as a leading voice in your field 
  • Making you more approachable, showing that you are someone who is willing to address your clients’ financial questions and concerns 
  • Offering your audience something of value with no strings attached

Providing educational content to your audience shows that you are not in it just to sell a product or service. It shows that you care about your clients’ financial futures. 

Focus on Your Ideal Client’s Questions and Concerns

Using your marketing to educate your audience shows that you’re aware of the questions and concerns your clients and prospects have — that you’re paying attention to the things that matter to them. 

From clearly explaining confusing financial jargon to giving instructional how-tos, center your marketing content on tackling trending topics in your industry as well as the frequently asked questions you get from your clients. 

Most importantly, focus your marketing on topics that are specific to your ideal client — their concerns, dreams, and aspirations. While it may be tempting to cast your net wide by sticking to generic topics that will attract a wide range of prospects, focusing your marketing on a specific audience is a much more effective marketing strategy. Prospective clients are more likely to connect with you if they view you as a business that specializes in solutions that suit their needs. 

Take a look at our recent blog on buyer personas to learn more about honing in on your ideal audience and how doing so can benefit your business.

Once you determine what demographic you most prefer to work with, offer content that is relevant to that group. For instance, if your ideal clients are parents and families, you might focus on topics such as building up savings, college planning, or school year tax-saving tips. Or, if you want to work primarily with small businesses, you might create content about starting a business, tax laws relevant to entrepreneurs, or how to close the books at year-end.

Be Authentic: Draw From Your Passions

Something else to consider as you determine which topics to educate your audience on is your own unique set of passions. What are your favorite aspects of your industry? What topics are you most passionate about?

These topics are the ones you will likely have the most insight into, as well as those you are the most excited to talk about. Maybe you’re passionate about helping people prepare for retirement so they can live the life of their dreams in their final years; or perhaps you love explaining the complexities of tax rules to new business owners. Whatever your niche is, harness that enthusiasm and share it with your audience. This excitement and eagerness to share will come out in your content, giving you an authenticity that sets you apart.

Your own passions, personality, and history are uniquely powerful tools in differentiating your business. And bringing who you are, your background, and your unique vantage point to the table will help you attract a client base with similar values and interests. 

Share What You’re Learning

Regardless of what area of the finance industry you work in, continuing education is an essential part of staying on top of your game. As you work to keep up on your own education, share your newfound knowledge with your clients and prospects. 

Ongoing training enables you to help your clients make continuous progress on their financial goals. Sharing about the classes you’re taking and what you’re learning shows that you are continually improving yourself and your offerings. This can help you both attract prospective clients and encourage current clients to stick with you for the long term.

So don’t hesitate to talk about your ongoing professional development as well how any credentials you hold translate into better service for your clients.

Use a Variety of Methods to Educate Your Audience

Make Your Finance Company Stand Out

So now that you understand the role education plays in differentiating yourself from the competition, let’s talk about how to best get this vital content to your clients and prospects. There are a wide range of methods available that lend themselves well to educating your audience — here are some of the best.

Blog Posts. Blog posts are a great way to give either a quick overview of a broad topic or a deep dive into a more specific topic. Blogs can range from 300-2500 words (or more), so can be a versatile tool for a variety of subjects. 

To give you an idea of what a blog might look like for a company in the finance industry, we’ll refer you to two of our clients’ blogs: Wood CPA and Simplify Wealth. Take a look through their blogs and notice how their posts reflect their individual personalities and passions, as well as the audiences they are targeting.

Guides and eBooks. Guides and eBooks are ideal tools for going deeper on a topic. They are typically offered as downloadable PDFs, and can vary in format from being more of an extended blog post to something akin to a manual or organizational tool. You can even combine several of your previous blog posts about a topic to create a guide on that subject.

Simplify Wealth’s Optimize Your Life Organizer is one example of a guide that we helped create. It provides educational material and instructional guidance in a workbook format that walks an individual through the details of their finances.

For another example, check out this eBook we wrote for our own marketing purposes!

Email Newsletters. Email newsletters give you the opportunity to connect regularly with your clients. A newsletter should be short and sweet, so it isn’t a great place to go deep on a subject. However, it’s the perfect tool to highlight updates (tax changes and deadlines, for example) and to link articles (your own or ones from outside sources that you trust), guides, or eBooks on relevant topics.

Social Media. Like newsletters, social media is a great way to share quick updates and links to relevant resources. It can also be the perfect place to get a bit more personal — sharing about your own educational pursuits as well as your hobbies and interests. You don’t want to get too personal here, but you also don’t want to only share business-related information or sales pitches.

Social media is more like a networking event than a billboard: you certainly want to talk shop, but you should also share more about yourself in order to connect with people on a personal level and build relationships and trust. Check out Wood CPA’s LinkedIn and Facebook pages for some great examples!

Vlogs, Live Videos, and Webinars. Video offers a way to connect face-to-face (or close to it) with your clients and prospects. It gets not only your words, but your face in front of your audience, making you seem more familiar and providing for a different level of connection. From posting vlogs (video blogs) on YouTube to doing Facebook or Instagram lives to offering webinars on relevant topics, video can be an excellent way to bring educational content to your audience.

The methods you choose to incorporate into your marketing strategy will depend on the specific demographic you are targeting — where they like to get their information and what their particular needs are — as well as your own preferences, comfort level, and time constraints.

Make Your Finance Company Stand Out With Help From Wild Fig 

Here at Wild Fig, we have experience helping our clients in the finance industry stand out from the competition. From blog writing to email newsletters to social media planning and posting, we can help you reach your ideal prospects with quality content that educates them and showcases the unique value you bring to the table. Sign up here for a FREE 30 minute strategy session to talk more about what we can do for your business!

market your practice

How to Market Your Practice While Showing Your Prospects You Care

How to Market Your Practice While Showing Your Prospects You Care 900 600 Kari Switala

A Guide for Medical and Dental Marketing

Think about the important relationships in your life. Take marriage, for example. When you wake up every day, do you seek out your own agenda and act without consideration for your spouse? 

Hey honey! I planned our summer vacation. I’m thinking Italy. I went ahead and booked our flights, created our itinerary and reserved all our lodging. We’ll be gone for two weeks and travel all over the country! It’s going to be a great time. You’ll love it!

While Italy may be on your spouse’s bucket list, you went ahead and planned an elaborate and expensive trip without their input. What if they were hoping for an inexpensive and relaxing Southern California beach getaway instead? Your plans might leave them thinking, It’s like they don’t even know me or care about what’s important to me. 

In this case, you missed the mark and the money you spent on all those reservations might best have been spent on marriage counseling. Operating based solely on your own agenda without considering your partner isn’t a recipe for a healthy long-term relationship. 

A healthy relationship involves knowing and valuing what’s important to the other person and responding to that.

It’s the same with your medical or dental practice. Whether you’re in dentistry, orthodontics or pediatrics, your practice, if it’s successful, revolves around your patients and knowing what’s important to them. What kind of care are they looking for? 

Let’s take a look at a few important things to consider when marketing your practice in a caring, relevant and effective way:

Start by determining who you want to attract 

If you want to grow a successful practice, you have to define your target market. You might be thinking, I want to serve everyone and address every dental need. While that may be true, a targeted approach will drive your business much more effectively than a general approach. 

If you’re a dentist, maybe you want to focus primarily on children and helping them keep their teeth healthy for life. You’ll emphasize the importance of biannual recare visits, fill a lot of cavities and prepare a lot of mouths for braces.

Contrast this with a dental practice that focuses on serving baby boomers in a higher income bracket who can afford veneers and other high-end dental procedures. You may even want to be zip code-specific, targeting boomers in a large retirement community near your office. 

As you’re fleshing out your ideal client, begin to think about these important questions: 

  • What are my ideal client’s primary needs? 
  • What do they value? 
  • What do they base their decisions on?

I don’t get it. Why can’t I just target everyone with dental needs? This whole “ideal client” business seems unnecessary and I think it might hamper my ability to grow my practice. 

Think about it this way. What kind of fish do you want to catch? 

If you prefer to catch crappie, you’ll probably put a worm on your line. If you want to catch smallmouth bass, you’ll fish with leeches. Once you define your ideal client, you can craft a successful targeted marketing strategy that speaks precisely to your audience. This will help you reel in the right business and at the same time, build your brand and stand out from your competitors. 

Speaking of standing out in a crowd….

Convey your unique value proposition 

The medical and dental industries are highly saturated which makes differentiating your practice that much more critical to your success. 

With your clearly defined target market in hand, it’s time to brainstorm your marketing strategy. Once again, keep your patient at the center of the process. 

If children are your ideal client for your dental practice, for example, you will target your marketing towards their parents. Now put yourself in their shoes and consider their ideal dental practice:

  • Busy parents with young children value easy, flexible scheduling. They seek out a dentist who can see their child Monday-Friday after 5 p.m. or on Saturday mornings so they don’t have to leave work to bring their child to an appointment. 
  • They want to get in quickly when their child develops a toothache and they suspect a cavity. 
  • They want a dentist who understands children and offers special comforts to put their child’s mind at ease during their appointment. 

In this scenario, your ideal client’s values could be summed up as flexibility, responsiveness and caring

market your practice

An important component of any successful marketing strategy involves telling your story and highlighting your values. Knowing that flexibility, responsiveness and caring are important to your ideal client, you can weave these into your messaging on your About Us page, letting website visitors know that these are some of your core values—ones that you’ve built your practice on. You can create blog posts around these values. You can highlight them above the fold on the homepage of your website. You may even incorporate them into your company’s one-liner

Using these core values as a launching point, you can speak to parents’ needs and offer your solutions. 

Are their children nervous about going to the dentist because of a negative past experience? Empathize with these parents and tell them about all the comfort measures you offer that can help! Cable TV with kids programming, essential oils, warm neck wraps, comfy blankets….

Our amazing client, Eggert Family Dentistry, lists 17 comforts on their website that they offer to their patients to make dentistry as easy and pleasant as possible. Way to go, you guys! 

Busy parents who come across your messaging will quickly identify with you. Many will respond by making their child’s first dental appointment or switching to your practice because you address their concerns better than their current provider. As you continue to grow your marketing strategy and attract your ideal clients, you’ll develop a reputation in your community as a parent and child-friendly dental office, you’ll experience the snowball effect of referral traffic and you’ll grow your business. 

You know what they’re looking for. Now go get ‘em, tiger! 

Ok, so you’ve established who your ideal client is and you’re working on developing messaging that connects with them. This begs the question: How do you get your messaging in front of your ideal clients? 

Here are a few proven strategies:

Optimize your website. You have a ton of information you want to get in front of your visitors. Don’t worry—your website can accommodate all of it. Just make sure that, first and foremost, your website is always patient-centric. Again, put yourself in your prospect’s shoes, this time as you create content and design the layout for each page.

If you’re searching for a dermatologist, for example, and you’re looking at provider websites, which would be the most compelling to you? A homepage with a big block of text that talks all about the history of the clinic and the doctors that practice there or a headline that reads, “We take skin seriously,” followed by a few bullet points about their state-of-the-art technology and a list of their services? 

Also, create and post regular blog entries that convey your expertise and address your ideal client’s common questions and concerns. Once again, kudos to our friends at Eggert Family Dentistry who do an excellent job of providing consistent value through their blog! Make sure you post your blog entries on your social channels and link them back to your website! And while we’re on the subject of social media…

Leverage social media. First of all, which social channels do your ideal clients use? Let’s say you’re a dental practice marketing to the 55+ age group. You can have the best social media marketing campaign in the world but if you put it on Instagram, you’ll be sorely disappointed. Most of your ideal clients are over on Facebook connecting with their friends and keeping up with their grandkids’ sports and shenanigans. It pays to do your research!

Once you get your marketing campaign up and running on your prospects’ desired channels, use each channel’s built-in analytics tools to test and measure your results. What are the demographics of the people who are interacting with your posts? Are you actually attracting your ideal clients? Which posts get the most traffic—the ones in the morning, afternoon or evening? At the beginning, middle or end of the workweek? Are many people engaging with your content on the weekends? Tweak and test your marketing until you hone it in. 

A few social media content tips: 

  • Always provide value
  • Post regularly
  • Design posts that are interactive and engaging
  • Be consistent in your branding
  • Drive visitors to your website to learn more!

When effectively utilized, social media can be an outstanding lead generation tool that will help you target your perfect audience.

Gather patient reviews. The medical and dental industries are largely driven by reputation. Keep in mind that being a patient is a vulnerable position to be in. Patients don’t trust their health to just anyone. They want some basis of familiarity or reason to trust you. While personal recommendations take the cake for driving traffic across nearly every industry, don’t underestimate the power of patient reviews. 

Did you know that, after as few as five reviews, 68% of prospects form an opinion about your practice?

The moral of the story? Never quit gathering and posting reviews. Create a Google My Business link and post it on your webpage. Encourage current patients to write reviews, and for patients that do, add their names to a monthly drawing. 

Additional ideas include developing and implementing an SEO strategy, utilizing email marketing and recording videos of your providers discussing what they do and addressing common patient questions and concerns. Because, at the end of the day, your practice must revolve around your patients. 

Ready to take some of these ideas and run with them? Sweet. We believe crafting a patient-centric strategy will help you stand out and will drive the success of your practice. Feeling a bit overwhelmed? Sign up here for a complimentary 30-minute strategy session and learn how we can help you stand out and take your practice to the next level.

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 final interview in our series. 

We’d like to introduce you to Angela Alvig, Founder and Family CFO at Simplify Wealth.

Hello Angela! Can you please give us a brief overview of what you do at Simplify Wealth?

I am a Family CFO and the founder of Simplify Wealth. We handle the details of our clients’ finances and households so they can fully enjoy life and achieve their goals. In addition to acting as our clients’ Personal CFOs or Family CFOs, we provide wealth concierge services and outsourced support to small business owners. Our job is to make things happen for our clients and keep them organized.

What is a common myth in your industry? 

People think they need to know more before they take action regarding their personal or business finances. This is a myth. There is NO ONE who knows everything. Instead, simply “know what you don’t know,” surround yourself with a team of experts who do know the fine details in their area of expertise, and ask questions when you don’t understand. There are NO dumb questions. I find that people who profess to know the least about finances ask the best questions.

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

Stick to what you love to do—in your life and in your business—and delegate the rest. Build a team of professionals who support you in their area of expertise and free you up to do what you do best. The monetary investment is well worth what you get in return—a life that you love!

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

We love working with a wide variety of clients. They may be experiencing a major life transition they need help getting through. Or they may have a specific problem or lack of organization that keeps them from making progress in their life or business. We pull the details together and positive things start to happen. We enjoy clients who are passionate about achieving their goals and see value in delegating the details to us. Working with highly engaged clients really keeps us on our A game and we enjoy that. What I love most about the work I do is that it truly helps people and improves their lives. We hear all the time from our clients that they don’t know what they would do without us.

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

Our go-to resources are the professional advisors and experts that our clients already have on their financial teams—CPAs, wealth managers, bankers, attorneys…We learn from them every day as we tackle details for our clients. I also love the Tim Ferriss Show podcast. Learning ideas and business tips from the highly successful people he interviews has been very helpful for me as I have grown my business.

To learn more about Simplify Wealth, visit their website at www.simplify-wealth.com

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 third in a series of four interviews. 

We’d like to introduce you to Angie Wood, Owner of Wood CPA.

Hello Angie! Can you please give us a brief overview of what you do at Wood CPA?

I started my firm in December 2019. I have added two employees and the growth continues! My business focuses on advisory services, accounting, tax planning, tax return preparation, payroll and sales & use taxes. I work with clients all over the U.S.

What is a common myth in your industry? 

That having a CPA is just another costly expense that you can’t afford or that you won’t see value to justify the cost. In reality, a good CPA is an investment in your business and can help you save money by doing things correctly and timely. More and more, the industry is filled with trusted advisors for businesses with proactive advice and up-to-date knowledge. These advisors are a great resource! At Wood CPA, the tax return is just the final result of our year-long planning and not the main focus of our services.

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

Outsource your accounting and tax work! There are constant changes with tax, payroll and accounting. That can be a lot for an owner of a small business to stay on top of and implement. Business owners should be spending their time doing what they do best—running their business!

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

I love working with small businesses. Staying up-to-date with monthly accounting work and navigating all of the tax and payroll laws can be a very daunting task for business owners. Therefore, it gets pushed aside. I love taking that burden off of business owners and coming up with a streamlined process to complete their monthly books with accuracy. Once we have that information, I work with business owners on their goals—whether it’s to build up their balance sheet to help secure financing or to strategically plan to save money on their taxes. The statistics on how many businesses fail within the first five years of operation are scary. Having proper financials and tax returns is a huge part of business success.

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

There are many that I use but they are exclusive to accountants. I would say the best resource for a business owner who wants to stay on top of the changes in the accounting and tax industry would be www.journalofaccountancy.com


To learn more about Wood CPA, visit their website at www.woodcpamn.com.

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 second in a series of four interviews. 

We’d like to introduce you to Susan Anderson, Senior Vice President at VisionBank.

Hello Susan! Can you please give us a brief overview of what you do at VisionBank?

I am the Senior Vice President at VisionBank and I am involved in the lending process, from developing businesses and underwriting credit requests to managing the ongoing relationships. Most banks and bankers are not involved in that process in its entirety. I find it beneficial because I really “know” my clients and can better advocate for them when they have a need.

What is a common myth in your industry? 

That you should bank with someone in your neighborhood or close to your home or office. I do not discount the value of a bank that understands the “neighborhood” but you should be able to have a relationship with a bank anywhere in the metro area or beyond. Most people never go to their bank—they don’t have to. It isn’t just the big banks who offer all the services you need. You should be able to conduct all of your banking affairs remotely. One exception to this is a business that relies heavily on cash. However, they could still transact daily cash needs at a local bank and use a different bank for their lending needs.

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

Stay in communication with your banker. If you don’t have a banker, go to a community bank and establish a relationship. There will be a point in your business when you will need someone who knows you and your business and will be willing to assist you to the best of their ability. Think of the PPP (The Paycheck Protection Program) process and the stories you’ve heard from many small business owners who weren’t able to get their applications processed or were told they didn’t qualify when they did. They probably would have had a different experience if they had a personal banker. You don’t know when you will need someone to help you out so establish that relationship in advance.

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

I love working with small business owners and helping them make their dreams a reality. Sometimes they aren’t quite ready for bank financing. In those instances, we try to provide them with direction to get to that point. I really enjoy learning about different industries and business practices. I have the benefit of many years in this profession which allows me to work towards finding the best, most creative loan structure for each client. We keep our loan policy to a minimum to allow for greater flexibility in structuring transactions.

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

I feel like we have the best internal team and we are able to work together to determine the best next steps. We discuss things and bounce things off of one another frequently. Occasionally I go to ICBM (Independent Community Bankers of Minnesota), but not often. For “outsiders” who are looking for information, the FDIC reports on every bank and the information is available to the public. That said, hopefully you have a banker who can answer any questions you have! 

To learn more about VisionBank, visit their website at www.bankwithvision.com.

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

Online Reviews

WHY ONLINE REVIEWS ARE AN ESSENTIAL PART OF BUSINESS GROWTH

WHY ONLINE REVIEWS ARE AN ESSENTIAL PART OF BUSINESS GROWTH 900 600 Jen Hiltunen

Your online reputation plays a crucial role in attracting new customers. The look and functionality of your website, the content on your blog, and how active you are on social media all contribute to how you are seen online, but the biggest factor affecting your online reputation is customer reviews. Reviews on social media or sites like Google and Yelp can have a significant effect on whether a potential client chooses to work with your company. Let’s take a closer look at why reviews are such a powerful tool for business growth.

Social Proof

Online reviews are the biggest source of social proof your company can have — and an effective one at that. Direct customer feedback in the form of reviews creates social proof trust, encouraging others to buy. We are all much more likely to buy from or even engage with a company if others (even complete strangers) say the product or company is a good one.

Reviews have become so much a part of how we make our buying decisions that these days we’re more likely to consult online reviews when we’re checking out a new business than anything or anyone else — even our friends and family.

In case you think we’re overstating the importance of reviews for social proof, check out these statistics from Invespro:

  • 90% of consumers read online reviews before visiting a business
  • 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations
  • Customers are likely to spend 31% more money on a business with “excellent” reviews

If people like what they see in your online reviews, they are much more likely to choose your company over others.

Stand Out Online

Stand Out OnlineHaving a steady stream of new reviews also makes your company more likely to show up when consumers are searching online. Google and other search engines all have their own algorithms and ways of indexing content, but every one of them values fresh, original content — and customer reviews fall into that category. Companies with many positive reviews rank higher with Google than those that have poor reviews or no reviews at all.

A consistent influx of fresh reviews from your customers will help your business rank higher with search engines, making you more visible online and easier for potential customers to find.

Build Trust

Build TrustA regular stream of positive reviews helps build trust and credibility with your audience, positioning you as an authority in your field. Positive reviews build consumer confidence in your company, which results in more sales. They bring legitimacy to your business and let potential customers know who you are, what you do, and why you are a better choice than your competitors.

According to Invespro:

  • 72% of consumers say that positive reviews make them trust a local business more
  • 92% will use a local business if it has at least a 4-star rating
  • 56% of customers read 2-6 reviews before deciding to trust a business
  • 72% of consumers will take action only after reading a positive review

In addition, a whopping 86% of people will hesitate to purchase from a business that has negative online reviews! But note that it says they will “hesitate to purchase”, not that they definitely won’t purchase. Even the way you respond to critical reviews can help build consumer trust — a timely and appropriate response shows that you care about the experience your customers have with your business. Taking the time to respond to criticism in a positive and helpful way will go a long way with potential customers.

Get Valuable Feedback

Customer reviews can help you discover where you excel…and where you don’t. Reviews can give you an idea of what’s working in your business, what’s not, and what your customers are actually experiencing when they work with you (including the things they won’t tell you in person). They can give you tangible ways to improve as well as successes to boast about in your marketing.

While no one wants negative reviews, if you take the opportunity to learn from them they can actually be quite valuable. Knowing what problems your customers are experiencing with your business gives you the chance to fix the problem, make amends with the customer, and invite them to try you again. And as we mentioned above, our response to critical reviews can build trust with current and future customers.

Make sure to respond to every review — positive and negative alike. Offering personalized responses to reviews gives a friendly face to your company and shows that you are open to feedback.

Generate Leads

Since people use websites like Google, Yelp, Facebook, and LinkedIn to conduct research before they buy, these sites can be powerful lead generation sources. Ranking high on sites like these will help you stand out to potential clients, give them the information they’re looking for as they do their research, and show them that you are worth their time and money.

Make sure to completely fill out your profiles on these sites. If you don’t have a Google My Business account yet, set one up today (it’s free and easy). Claim your business on Yelp and complete your profile there. Fill out your profiles on social media sites like Facebook and LinkedIn as well. The more complete your profiles are on these sites, the more legitimate you look to potential clients. Once your profiles are complete, start asking past and current clients for reviews.

How to Ask Your Customers for Reviews

Asking For ReviewsWe know it can be difficult to know how to ask your customers for reviews. Here are a few tips to get you started:

  1. First, decide when to send your review requests. The ideal time to ask for a review is right after your customer experiences a success with your product or business. This is when they will be most excited about your business and have the most to say. But the end of the quarter or year can also be a great time to send out requests, since many companies are reviewing how their business has done over the past several months or year.
  2. Next, capture their attention by offering an incentive for submitting a review or testimonial — like a gift card for coffee or some company swag. Offering a little something in return for their time can convince people to take action and write a review. (Note: Some review sites may have policies against offering incentives for reviews, so check the site’s policy before offering these perks).
  3. Make it easy for your customers to leave a review. Include a link to the site you want them to leave a review on right in your email, so all they have to do is click and start writing.
  4. Prompt them with questions to answer in their review. Give them a list of simple questions to answer that will help them quickly get to the heart of why they are happy with your product or service. Use open-ended questions to avoid one-word responses.

Still feeling stuck? We’ve created a resource to help you get more reviews and recommendations from your clients. Click here to download a template you can use to write an effective review request email.

It can feel awkward asking your clients for reviews, but the benefits far outweigh those brief moments of discomfort. Plus, you might be surprised at how eager your clients are to sing your praises — if working with you has helped them or their business thrive, they will want to share that with the world.

Wild Fig Marketing is your digital marketing agency! Whether you’re looking for marketing help in the form of website design, sales or process automation, content marketing, email marketing or lead generation, we have the knowledge and experience to help you rock your brand. Contact us on our website or set up a complimentary 30-minute strategy session here!

TOP 5 BENEFITS OF WORKING WITH A MARKETING COMPANY THAT SERVES MULTIPLE INDUSTRIES

TOP 5 BENEFITS OF WORKING WITH A MARKETING COMPANY THAT SERVES MULTIPLE INDUSTRIES 900 600 Kari Switala

Recently, we lost the opportunity to work with a new customer. When we asked why they chose a different marketing agency, they said it was because that company focused solely on their industry, so they’d potentially know how to help them better than we could.

We understood their reasoning and agree that identifying a niche market you want to serve is a smart strategy, but we also think it can depend on the industry. In many cases it is highly beneficial to work with a marketing agency that has a diversified client base. Here are the top 5 benefits your business will reap by working with a marketing company that serves multiple industries:

1. New Trends

There are always new trends popping up (like TikTok, for example). Working with multiple industries gives us the opportunity to catch new trends as they emerge and see how they might apply to each industry we serve. Every industry markets very differently, so this gives us the opportunity to be on the forefront of developing new ways to use each trend. For instance, if we see a trend happening in the tech space that hasn’t hit the manufacturing industry yet, we can use it to help our manufacturing clients be thought leaders in their industry.

Because marketing is fast-paced and the way we market changes rapidly, we keep a pulse on what’s happening across multiple industries. This allows us to keep our client’s marketing fresh and relevant. We’re constantly looking for new ideas to incorporate into our client’s marketing plans to help them stand out and differentiate their products and services from their competitors.

Example: We recently started running a LinkedIn Lead Generation campaign for one of our commercial roofing clients after we saw how effective it was for a manufacturing client who was targeting a similar audience. As a result, our commercial roofing client is now generating more warm leads than ever before and he and his sales team are thrilled with the results they’re seeing and how easy it is!

2. Outside Perspective

Working with clients in a variety of industries allows us to truly have an outside perspective on you and your business, since we’re not in your industry day in and day out. We are often able to see something that could be used to help sell or market your business that maybe you (or marketing agencies who only work in that specific industry) don’t see because we’re looking at your business with fresh eyes.

Example: One of our education clients shared with us that they started their business because their own daughter had struggles with learning, and they needed a program to help her. When they found one that worked for them, they had such a great experience that they decided to buy into the franchise so they could help others like their daughter. When we heard this, our first response was that they needed to share that story in their initial parent consultations. They did, and saw a 10% increase in their conversion rate! Because we weren’t laser-focused on their industry, we were able to see things from the perspective of potential customers and understand what we would want to hear if we were considering working with their company.

3. Agility

Because we market for multiple industries and utilize different tools for each one, it takes us very little time to pivot and apply a new strategy or utilize a new tool for a different industry.

Example: We have two clients with very different businesses who are marketing to the same audience. We were able to apply lessons we learned from one client’s Facebook ad campaigns and apply it to our other client’s campaign, which enabled them to get the results they wanted faster and more easily. We’ve also been able to help both of them get more warm leads from the lead generation campaigns we’ve run and we’ve greatly improved their open and click-through rates on their email campaigns.

4. Breadth of Knowledge

At any given time our team can be doing content research for 10-15 different industries. Not only does that greatly expand our knowledge base, it also enables us to find interesting topics and research that applies to multiple industries.

Example: While doing content research for one of our manufacturing clients, we came across a great source of information and signed up for their weekly newsletter. The information we’ve gathered from this resource has not only helped us create cutting edge content for our manufacturing client, it has also benefited our clients in the commercial cleaning and commercial construction industry.

 5. Custom Content

We create custom content for your business that is developed to achieve results. While we gather trends, tools, lessons learned and more from our varied client base, we don’t recycle content. The content we create is never copied and pasted from one client to the next: Every piece we develop for you is designed to meet your specific needs and goals, whether it’s getting more website views, attracting warm leads, increasing your social media following, or another goal that is important to you. This ensures that your marketing is always new, vibrant, and engaging – never stale. Our goal is to help you stand out from the competition.

Your Business is Unique, and Your Marketing Should Be Too

Every business has a different story to tell. A cookie-cutter approach to marketing won’t help you stand out – you need a customized targeted marketing plan. The key to our marketing success is truly understanding who each client’s customers are and what differentiates our clients from their competitors. Once we know this, we can create a targeted marketing strategy guaranteed to help our clients get the results they are looking for.

If you’re looking to stand out from the crowd, Wild Fig Marketing can make that happen. Wild Fig Marketing is your digital marketing agency! Whether you’re looking for marketing help in the form of website design, sales or process automation, content marketing, email marketing or lead generation, we have the knowledge and experience to help you rock your brand. Contact us on our website or set up a complimentary 30-minute strategy session here!

Customer Relationship Management

HOW TO USE A CRM TO HELP GROW YOUR BUSINESS

HOW TO USE A CRM TO HELP GROW YOUR BUSINESS 900 600 Jen Hiltunen

Do your sales and marketing efforts feel a bit, well, flimsy? Are you concerned that prospects and sales opportunities are falling through the cracks? Or maybe you’re stressed trying to manage all the ins and outs of your customer relationships. Then you, my friend, need a CRM.

“CRM is the fastest growing software market today. It was a $14 billion industry in 2010 and is expected to reach $80 billion by 2025.”

Here are five reasons why a CRM may be the best investment your business ever makes:

1. A CRM makes it easy to follow the customer journey

Customer JourneyA CRM delineates a clear course of action for you as you navigate the customer journey, from separating warm leads from cool leads to lead nurturing to streamlining your sales. It takes the guesswork out of where customers are at in the sales cycle and helps you provide them with value each step of the way. It assures that no prospects fall through the cracks and helps you identify when there is an opportunity for cross-selling or upselling so you can strike while the iron is hot. A CRM does the heavy lifting for you and keeps prospects and customers both impressed and engaged with your brand.

2. A CRM helps keep you organized

marketing automationFew things tank productivity like a lack of organization. With CRM software, you can create workflows, automate email sequences, automate and assign tasks, keep track of customer interactions and keep leaning into the customer-service side of your business.

3. A CRM helps you keep customer information organized

Good-bye paper files and sticky notes or haphazardly emailing client information back and forth. A CRM system offers cloud-based data storage which means any member of your team can access any client information at all times in one spot. This means your customers get consistent information from your team regardless of who they speak with and it lends itself to expedient communication – a big customer-service win!

What’s more? Digitized customer files are much more secure than their paper predecessors and the risk of losing key information is greatly reduced.

4. A CRM fosters team collaboration

Team CollaborationA common CRM interface facilitates team collaboration. Each team member can update client information in real time which makes accuracy, accessibility and collaboration as seamless as possible. A CRM also helps you avoid data siloing for a truly integrated approach. Teams that operate with a CRM are more productive and work more efficiently.

5. A CRM allows you to generate detailed reports

Capturing and leveraging key metrics is imperative to the success of any business. A CRM allows you to run reports that provide detailed insight into your sales, marketing and service processes. Want to know how many people purchased products from a specific area? Curious about which leads are hot, which are warm and which ones are cold and dead? Yep, you can configure your CRM reporting dashboard to give you this information. You don’t have to spend precious time manually compiling your data from various sources to determine if you’re hitting your sales goals and you don’t have to speculate on your team’s productivity. Know exactly where you’re at with your processes and your pipeline at any time.

Do you want help implementing a CRM for your business? We’d love to help! Wild Fig Marketing is your digital marketing agency! Whether you’re looking for marketing help in the form of website design, sales or process automation, content marketing, email marketing or lead generation, we have the knowledge and experience to help you rock your brand. Contact us on our website or set up a complimentary 30-minute strategy session here!

Rise Up Free Guide

Working Remotely

COVID-19 AND COMPANY CULTURE: CREATING POSITIVE CHANGE IN A DIFFICULT TIME

COVID-19 AND COMPANY CULTURE: CREATING POSITIVE CHANGE IN A DIFFICULT TIME 900 600 Kari Switala

With stay-at-home orders and social distancing measures in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19, companies have sent their employees to work from home, some of them for the first time. Without the central hub of the office to bring their employees together, many businesses are concerned about the effect this change will have on their company culture. How do you maintain a cohesive culture when your employees are all working from different places? The truth is, your company culture will likely go through some changes during this time, but that doesn’t have to be a negative thing. In fact, it’s possible to use this unexpected shift to create positive change in your company’s culture. Here are a few ways to do that.

Stay Positive

Stay PositiveStaying positive is the best way to confront uncertainty, and keeping employees in a positive mindset is more important than ever right now. If your business has been forced to move to a remote work environment, consider it a learning opportunity rather than an obstacle. Now is the time to learn new technology, new ways of staying connected, and new ways of communicating.

The less face-to-face interaction you have with people, the more difficult it is for them to interpret the tone of your communication. Make it a point to portray a positive tone in your emails, texts, video calls, and more. Infusing positivity into your company and its culture will help you weather any change that comes your way.

Embrace Mistakes

Mistakes will happen – they always do when we learn something new. But instead of seeing mistakes as evidence that a remote environment can’t work for your company, see them as chances to learn, adapt, and grow (see how that positivity comes in handy?). Mistakes can be the avenue to finding new ways to succeed.

Even if this whole work-from-home thing was forced on you by the current situation, it can still be a valuable test of how your company handles difficult change. Does your company culture encourage flexibility, adaptability, and innovation? If not, this is your opportunity to change that.

Foster Collaboration

Foster CollaborationCollaboration is a crucial element of any company’s culture. Collaborating with co-workers when you’re not in the same place can be challenging, but it’s absolutely possible. Utilize technology to keep the collaboration going – provide your team with tools for online meetings, document sharing, task management and communication.

For example, here at Wild Fig we use Asana for task management. Asana is a web-based software designed to improve team collaboration by making it easy to manage projects and tasks. You can create projects, assign work to teammates, specify deadlines, and communicate about tasks. It really helps us stay on top of the many projects we have going on and ensures that each team member knows what they’re responsible for.

Encouraging collaboration by offering tools like this will help you maintain a cohesive team and enrich your company’s culture.

Communicate Clearly and Often

Communication is the biggest tool in your arsenal when it comes to both remote work and strengthening your company culture. Communicate with your team clearly about expectations, timelines, and more. Since you’re not working in the same space, it is more difficult to keep an eye on what everyone is working on and details can fall through the cracks. Combat this with overcommunication – in other words, repeat yourself often.

One element of communication that is especially important in a remote environment is listening. It’s time for everyone on your team to really hone those listening skills. This is especially true in video conferences – the last thing you need on a conference call is everyone speaking over each other! It will take some time to adjust (remember, mistakes will happen), but everyone will need to learn to be patient, listen to each person speaking, and reply only when a response is needed. This kind of thoughtful, respectful listening is part of a healthy company culture.

Maintain Relationships

One more note on communication – make sure to create avenues for employees to continue “water cooler” conversations. Whether it’s a Slack channel or another type of group messaging format, give employees a chance to continue building relationships with one another. Those relationships help to create a vibrant company culture and will be reflected in everything you do.

Looking for more tips to adapt your company to this new normal? Take a look at our recent blog on Leading a Remote Team!

A well-defined and effective culture is vital to your company’s survival. Switching to a remote working environment means big changes, but it can be the stimulus you need to change your company’s culture for the better.

Wild Fig Marketing is your digital marketing agency! Whether you’re looking for marketing help in the form of website design, sales or process automation, content marketing, email marketing or lead generation, we have the knowledge and experience to help you rock your brand. Contact us on our website or set up a complimentary 30-minute strategy session here!

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