Hangouts on Air

Google is discontinuing Hangouts On Air. That news came out recently, this after Google launched the service in 2012. And while it had a slightly slow start for the mainstream, in the last year has gotten extremely popular with folks to use it as a marketing tool.

It’s an alternative, say, to using Citrix’s GoToWebinar if you’re trying to do a wider range of more informal webinar style approaches, or if you’re trying to stream this video straight to YouTube, or straight to your website as it happens as well as using the recording. So there’s some functionality there that was really compelling for the everyday user and it certainly didn’t hurt that Google didn’t charge for this service compared to what some other solutions can cost for those who are doing guerilla marketing or marketing on a shoestring.

Now, the news is not all bad but we are gonna have to go back to YouTube and learn a bit more about how YouTube works under the hood. Many of us are used to uploading videos that we have created to YouTube to share them. However, YouTube has YouTube Live which you can use in Hangouts on Air like operations after September. And there is a help document on the YouTube site that we’ll put in the show notes that you can go to and learn about how to schedule once we get into September, how to schedule those events. However, it is gonna be a little bit different because some of you may have been using the Q&A feature, or Showcase, or Applause features and Hangouts on Air.

We are familiar with Showcase and Q&A and had been using those, so it has been a little bit of a conversion for us as well to move to the YouTube Live. However, the ultimate output of YouTube recording and the ability to share and embed that on your site does not change, so it’s not complete disruption to your infrastructure. However, it will be a little bit of a change for you. A couple of key things to think about: YouTube Live offers Live On Demand Streaming as well as Scheduled Streaming. So Scheduled Streaming is a little bit more like Google Hangouts on Air. Live On Demand streaming requires some software, that software that you can buy, for example, from a company called Wirecast if you’re gonna do that on a PC or a MAC.

There’s open-source software called Open Broadcaster Software that allows you to actually get some tools on your computers that allow you do to live, on demand streams. So that is an interesting new potential channel for you to explore as you migrate from Hangouts On Air over to YouTube Live.

The core offering which is your ability to produce and share a live video that can be watched by an audience as well as can be watched post-event as a recording will still sustain and remain for you.

The biggest difference is probably gonna be the Q&A, as you’re gonna have to use some other social channels perhaps to bring your questions to the fore. For example, versus Q&A you could have folks tweeting to a particular hashtag for your event so that you can field questions socially as well as before and after the event to allow you to answer those questions. The biggest thing to really prepare for with anything in a change like this is just to make sure you rehearse. Just like you did for Hangouts On Air to get comfortable with the interface and the sidebar, getting the cameras and the audio right, you’re gonna wanna schedule a few test runs in YouTube with yourselves or with some friendly peers, or even a friendly customer who could give you feedback on sound and quality. So that you really feel like you have yourselves mapped out for using the new service, especially if you have a regular, like we do, monthly production that was on Google Hangouts on Air that we’re using YouTube Live.

Periscope as a tool for advisors

Periscope is a great and very unique live video streaming tool. I say unique not because there are not that many tools, there are a lot of streaming tools. What’s really interesting is its ability to directly integrate with Twitter in real time.

Periscope is an app you can put on your Android or iOS device. And it allows you to shoot live video and broadcast it to Twitter, as well as those would be captured and of course shared for review later. Some things to think about: Unlike YouTube, where you can build longer form or structured videos, think about the fact that you’re doing this on mobile and most will consume it on mobile. And so you may want your length and format to be fairly quick, at least at the beginning, as you learn how your audience reacts. There are some really neat things you can do to understand how your audience reacts, but first let’s think about some strategy.

If you’re using Twitter, you know your followers and what some of their preferences are. It would help to take a closer look at who has engaged with you, perhaps tweets or topical areas that have done very well for you on Twitter, with high engagement, lots of re-tweets, lots of likes, lots of comments, because you could potentially explore taking those topics and identifying, “Is there a way for me to do a Periscope live video?” For example, I was recently at a financial services conference this summer and we had a digital hub set up to coach on more advanced social media topics. And as a set of advisors came into the hub to have a discussion with us, some of them were very versatile, very experienced on social media and, on a whim, they had a conversation about fiduciary responsibility and retirement plans and retirement techniques with clients on Periscope right in the hub, right there on the spot. And they spent about five or six minutes passing the phone and having a conversation with their audience. And of course they had several thousand collectively followers.

And so this nearly went viral for them and was a really creative and unique use for them being together at an event where they’re normally from different corners of the country. And so you can imagine, you can think these scenario of events you’ll be at, topical areas where you have peers, that you have conversations, perhaps you’re presenting at conferences, or participating at conferences and wanna have your own side bar at an event. So these are all great ways that you can do short form, concise video streaming that will be shared to your Twitter audience, as well as stored there for replay.

Now there’s some interesting things you can do with the Periscope app that’s really great. And one of those, as I mentioned earlier, figuring out who responds to your videos is that you can watch the likes and comments in real time on Periscope and even respond right there on camera, so to speak. As you see them, you can respond to them verbally to really drive folks into following your Periscope videos, especially if this is gonna be a regular thing for you. So certainly posting it to Twitter is great. There are some privacy settings that allow you to location tag, where you’re not listing the exact precise coordinates, so you can set the app to do a geographic region, so, “I’m in Boston, I’m in Cleveland, I’m in Miami, I’m in New York,” versus a specific street corner or address, which could raise some more privacy concerns. So this allows you to tie it regionally into Twitter, and as you know, with Twitter they tailor tweets to folks that expose their location, so this gives you a chance to reach a new audience.

So, very interesting and compelling capabilities on this app. It works for both Android and iOS, and you’ll find that you can first start by installing the app and connecting your account and doing some watching and some homework, just like we talk about with other social networks, where we suggest that you invest the time and energy in identifying who good participants on social media are, and also looking at potentially negative or unsuccessful attempts to use social media to get a sense for how this will work for you.

As always, we welcome your feedback and questions.

Can advisors leverage Pinterest?

Pinterest has come a long way since it launched. In fact, Pinterest was one of the first social networks to reach 10 million as quickly as it did in terms of users. But today, as of 2016, it has more than 100 million active users, of which in the United States nearly half of those are adult women. So there’s an interesting mix of a constituency for us in the financial services field to reach on Pinterest. And it’s really even more different than a Facebook or an Instagram which allows you to get a sense for people’s personal interests, especially when you’re thinking about your clients or your prospects.

But it also, because of the nature of how Pinterest is built it also allows you to ensure that people understand who you are as an individual, as an organization, and as a team. So let’s just think through a couple of basic fundamentals. One, you want your prospects and clients to get to know you a little bit better. And this is where you can decide to allow a little bit of the personal to blend into the professional. This doesn’t mean pulling back the curtain, so to speak, on your personal life, because many organizations prefer not to do that.

However, because of the relationship nature of what we do in this industry, there’s a little bit more of that going on at the business level than perhaps in other industries. And especially when it comes to financial advice and planning and goal-making, often we’re using some of our own personal experiences and some of our successes and failures in life with our financial goals to inform how we communicate to our clients and our prospects. So step one with Pinterest, before you get to know your clients, is to make sure that folks can get to know you. And the beauty of Pinterest is it is boards-driven, so it’s very visual. But that doesn’t mean that everything has to be a picture. Pinterest allows you to share links, to share videos, pictures, and other pointers, so to speak, that can drive folks to other content.

You can think about this from a business perspective and what we’ve spoken about before on the Social Media Minute. What you’re really doing with your social networks that wrap around your business and your business website are to find meaningful ways to bring people back to your website where you have something valuable to share, to give to them as information, or you’re driving them towards news or information, valuable data, that will help them make decisions based on conversations that you’re having with them.

So number one is think about those boards. You may wanna board for your business, to talk about the services you provide, the things that you think about as an organization. You may wanna expose your team and allow them to share some of their specific pursuits, again from a professional standpoint, what they do for you and what interests them. And then of course, you can have a board for yourself as a principal, or as an adviser, with an organization to tell a little bit about where your focus is and the things that you’re thinking about. These could be anything from global monetary policy news, all the way down to how to dress at work, interesting places where you eat or meet with clients. So it can be a little bit of everything that you can bring to the fore. What you’re really trying to do is let prospects and clients get a better sense for your culture and how you run your organization.

Now, you can turn the tables here. We often talk when we’re talking about CRM and Customer Relationship Management, that we wanna track personal interests, who’s interested in art, who’s interested in wine or beer-tastings, who’s interested in specific kinds of restaurants? Who likes to travel? Who likes sports, specific events, specific community activities or maybe philanthropic organizations? You can learn a lot of this by connecting with your clients and your prospects through your Pinterest account and start to understand what matters to them, what they’re sharing. And that leads us to kind of the wrapper that allows you to turn this into engagement. We’re always talking to you about how to connect with others on Twitter, on Facebook, on LinkedIn especially, and how to reach out and engage properly.

Similar to Twitter, you can engage with the @ symbol when you want to reach out and connect to a particular user, organization or account, as well as you can use the liking pins and sharing pins functionality, which plays along very nicely as you would see on Twitter again or on Facebook or LinkedIn. So a very common set of tools to allow you to span engagement across those networks. But equally as important is how you weave your Pinterest activity into your overall communications to your clients. If you’re going out in a newsletter on a regular basis, you can reference some of those activity or perhaps call out your favorite pins of the week or the month or the quarter. You can have recommended pins for others to see. You can also start to think about, if it makes sense, to share personal interests through your communications. For instance, calling out the best restaurant referenced, or the best vacation or event referenced, something that would generate interest across a broader group of individuals.

And then finally, we wanna think about ways that you can drive people to you, and there’s some ways to do that beyond just direct engagement. For example, if you’re a subject matter expert in a particular area, you may want to cultivate a board specifically on that topic that you can drive and curate yourself. If you’re with a group of peers in the industry, even potentially competitive peers who are not in your direct geographical reach, you may want to curate content from all of those individuals or some of those individuals to create a very rich destination on a particular topic. So as you can see there are a number of different ways to leverage and get started with Pinterest and you’ll also find, as I’ve mentioned, that it’s a very common set of tools that should not be a learning curve for you beyond understanding the basic layout of Pinterest. And so, with that, I would encourage you to take a good, strong look at Pinterest and let us know if you have any questions.

Blane Warrene, Co-Founder & Board of Directors Member at QuonWarrene, speaks at the 2016 Morningstar Investment Conference in Chicago

Blane Warrene on … Digital Communications and Repelling Cyber Devils from Impact Productions Group on Vimeo.

Four ways to maximize your CRM’s ROI

CRM often seems like a magic bullet solution to build your business. “Set it up and you are done.” But picking the right solution and getting it integrated into your business properly is a big job. It is far too common not plan appropriately for introducing a new CRM system.

Even done well, it is easy to get mired down in the optimization of systems, like CRM, when thinking about efficiency. When you have the basic elements of your CRM coordinated and running in your business, it is time to maximize your return on investment in this powerful technology.

chartsWorkflow

Invest your time in documenting the processes you need to effectively serve your clients. This is best done prior to even opening your CRM, whether on a whiteboard or on paper. Having your CRM Workflows aligned with your documented processes will ensure that the work of your team is focused on delivering on your services. Moreover, it removes wasted time and steps that spend unnecessary dollars of staff time.

Who Are Your Clients (or how do they fit in your model)

If you’ve defined how you deliver services, also make sure you understand who should be getting those services. Clients come in all shapes and sizes, and you absolutely know the segmentation of those clients to your service delivery.

You will absolutely amplify your margins if you clearly define how much revenue each client drives into your business. Let’s be clear, this is not a dehumanizing exercise to think only about the bottom line. You are impacting the lives and dreams of your clients. However, if we are being honest, we also consider the assets we are managing or advising to determine the level of principal advisor and staff investment in time to each client.

Opportunity Tracking

Getting efficiency in service delivery is critical – yet – only, half of the battle. The relationship nature of what we do extends to how we develop new business. If you are seeing results from working with clients, you should anticipate a more robust and relevant referral and lead pipeline.

Your CRM should allow for a sales management solution – allowing you to define leads as well as qualified opportunities. You should be committing the same level of discipline to defining your sales pipeline stages and qualification components as you do to your workflow and client service delivery. This will enable you to direct the time of you and your team to moving opportunities through your sales funnel.

charts2Reporting

Ugh. We know. Reporting is a huge abyss of need often lacking definition. However, reports can be your friend if you apply discipline to what you should be looking at.

  • Workflow – focus on looking for bottlenecks. Instead of just watching tasks and how they get done – explore where folks get stuck – where they need help and perhaps are hesitant to ask. Don’t penalize for failure when you can identify where you can re-organize team members for more effective processes.
  • Client segmentation – understand how your clients are categorized and make sure you focus on steps that deepen relationships as your team delivers services.
  • The “pipeline” – always be looking at your overall pipeline – Tune in to these key criteria – a) those ranked above a 75% likelihood of becoming clients (short and mid term cash flow) and those in the early stages where your team believes you will need to contribute to move them through the funnel.
  • A final note on pipeline – you have to take a bit of your emotion out of it – and be aware of when you should step back from pursuing a prospective client if it either does not fit your firm culture or will not be profitable.

For your CRM to drive profit or really even be useful, your entire team has to use it. It sounds simple and intuitive and yet in our work with financial practices, we see time and time again, CRM’s being used to primarily manage contacts. With proper selection, implementation and optimization your CRM tool can save you time, help you earn new business and drive firm profitability.

Feeling stuck? Contact us and we can help.

Five Ways for Advisors to Save Time

Saving time seems more complicated the more connected we get. It seems our striving for technological efficiency can work against us in many cases. However, with a few tweaks, an advisor can save time throughout each day. It is a mix of behavioral habits and leveraging the systems you put in place.

Embracing the (Mobile) Virtual Assistant

hands-coffee-smartphone-technologyPractice management technology has come a long way – and with its support for integration to tools like Google For Work and Office 365 – this means those CRM calendars can often sync with your calendar. By default, this means it gets to your phone. Likewise, the virtual assistants known as Cortana, Siri and Google Now have also evolved.

This means as you get your day started, you can have an excellent view into your agenda and reminders/tasks. Having tested all three, I have a preference for Cortana and Google Now. For Cortana, which runs on Windows 10 PCs, you install the app on iPhone and Android devices, and sync with your computer. For Google Now, it simply does a solid job of picking up additional tasks and dates from your inbox – especially if using Google Apps for work. Siri does a fine job, but seems more tuned for your requests versus proactively monitoring your inbox to surface tasks and the like.

Getting a rhythm with starting your day with these tools can shave 15 to 30 minutes off of morning prep – which is clearly a LOT of time in our digital age.

All of these platforms also offer dictation which can save a ton of time and make previously unproductive time in the car productive again by allowing you to dictate emails and text messages. Additionally, tools like Copytalk and Mobile Assistant take this to the next level by integrating directly with Redtail CRM and other tools advisors use on a regular basis.

Avoid Inbox Paralysis

Inbox ParalysisEmail remains a critical business communications tool – yet we know how we can get lost in managing emails and lose sight of important tasks. One excellent tool for doing this internally with your team is learning to use non-email methods of communicating. This is much easier than you might think since so many firms have moved to Google or Microsoft Office 365 for their email and collaboration tools.

Both platforms offer cloud-based storage of documents and chat tools for your internal team (be they in office or remote). This means at minimum you could reduce your internal email flow quite a bit by using chat for questions, answers, requests as well as linking to files team members need. I have seen this approach rescue several hours a week across a team of only two or three people. The key is remembering to stop and think – before I email this – can I link it to team members on chat? Side effect? Your inboxes will shrink and you’ll stop seeing dozens of out of date copies of files in folks hands. Everyone works from one central repository.

Optimize Your Team Meetings

Standup MeetingsMuch like you’ve streamlined the start of your day and how you communicate digitally, also apply some useful (and not unheard of ) practices to your team meetings. You can in many cases also use these for meetings with clients or partners, however, they are most effective with your team.

Always have an agenda. If there are not specific items to cover and address, don’t meet.
If you’ve traditionally booked an hour, try thirty minutes with a clear agenda
Stand in your meetings. This eliminates a lot of wasted time.

Leave phones and laptops out except for scribing notes and presenting materials.

Ask Your Provider to Fine Tune CRM

By adjusting your perspective on your time, communications and meetings – you can also ask your provider or consultants to insure your CRM supports your new efforts to rescue time. Let them know you want to be certain you can:

  • Link and sync your calendars to the CRM calendar (no manual work)
  • Identify how you get your email integrated with CRM to reduce manual copying of communications into your system
  • Can tasks be synchronized with your email/calendar?

If you cannot do these fundamental things with your CRM – you may want to reassess your provider.

Use a password manager

Password ManagerWhile we’ve talked a lot about using a password manager as a way to add rock solid security to your practice, one benefit of using one that is often overlooked is the amount of time saved. When you employ a password manager passwords are always just one click away. No more fishing through notes, files, your wallet or anything else. One password entry and you have access to all of your passwords. Since these tools can generate a secure password for you, additional time is saved. This means that every single day, on the dozens of sites you use to manage your practice, you save time.

As you can see this is about efficiency leveraging both technology and behavior. However, instead of keeping you immersed in the tech, this frees up the time you need for thinking about, speaking with and meeting with clients – the lifeblood of what you do. Leveraging technology to increase effectiveness and efficiency is not always easy but we can help. Contact us to talk about personalized recommendations.

Register today for our April Financial Technology Spotlight

In this Financial Technology SpotlightDavid Coyle, Senior Vice President – Business Development at Vanare, and Neal Quon discuss the steps needed to build a successful practice.

The webinar will be centered around evaluation of your practice.  How well is your business running? Are you using technology to make your business more efficient?  Is your practice set up for growth and scale?  Have you taken the steps needed to build a practice that is on a strategic path?

Join us Tuesday, April 5th, to learn how to:

  • Evaluate Efficiency – How efficient is your business? 
  • Evaluate Technology – How are you using technology and are you getting the most out of it
  • Evaluate Growth Strategy – How are you growing your business and bottom line?

Register today!