We recognised that we always needed to have a presence through a website: if you don’t exist online you don’t exist full stop.
The process started when we were part of Honister Partners where we had initial guidance from the head of marketing there. Honnister then went into administration, so the aim then was to get reauthorised and get back in operation with existing clients.
We needed to attract new clients, but we also needed a place where we could share information with existing clients – a portal that would provide guides and specific content for them. If they want to get an up-to-date valuation, we want them to go to our website for that rather than anywhere else. And we realised that by enhancing our relationship with existing clients they would be more likely to refer us to others.
The first design we didn’t get very far with. It was limited in terms of creative approach – we wanted to be able to visualise how all the pages would look throughout the site, not just the logo and the home page.
Then we came across Blow Media, who created our current site for us. They took a very different approach and started with our current branding. They asked what we thought of it.
We discussed whether the name The Financial Advice Company should stay as it was or incorporate the term ‘financial planning’. We wondered whether this would help or hinder our message, but we decided in the end that we’d got lots of ‘credit in bank’ with existing clients with the current name and that it was probably best not to change it again.
Then we looked at the colours – we were using red and realised it wasn’t a good colour since it’s associated with financial loss and danger. We hadn’t thought of it like this. Our original logo used a butterfly, which we also realised feels a bit ‘here today gone tomorrow’.
Mission and vision
So we talked about who we are as a business what is it we try and do with our clients. We defined it as wanting to 'help clients achieve lifestyle goals and get better return on life’.
We were also looking to attracting new younger clients, but not put off anyone who was already with us and might be a bit older. We wanted something that appealed to them all. This meant that visually we wanted something fresher, something that didn’t look the same as most other financial adviser sites.
We went backwards and forwards with the agency on the initial logo - then Shelley (co-director) saw a 3D signpost sign that suggested guidance. The agency developed that and took it into the design of the site.
In terms of the site itself, we looked at lots of different adviser sites – at things like the typical site structure people have, the number of pages etc.
We wanted lots of helpful information and guides on there instead and a video to explain what financial planning is. The one we have on our home page was developed by Clients First and Andrew Hart of The Voyantist.
Once Blow Media developed the home page and the site architecture, we created the written content ourselves. But we’re now working with Phil Bray at the Yardstick Agency to refine and sharpen the wording up.
Content is king
Phil has helped us to focus on who our target clients are in order to make sure our content is really relevant to the people we want to attract.
We spent an hour producing 'client personas' by looking at looking at a number of questions as to who our ideal clients are – their age, where they live, etc, and defined their profile based on what their key challenges are with a view to creating content to address those issues.
People are interested in themselves - they want to recognise “that’s me” - you might not know them individually, but you’ll have an idea about the challenges they face. If your content meets those challenges then it helps to start to build trust.
Having read an article on website security I contacted Blow Media to discuss applying for a security certificate for the site, which gives us the padlock symbol. Google intends to start ranking secure site status higher than non secure, so this also helps our search engine optimisation.
We have also introduced secure messaging via our Clever Clogs Portal as we’re concerned that emails aren’t secure. This also ties into our back office system, which also helps from a security perspective - tracking it and keeping a record. We are moving gradually away from paper and hope to be able to do most things through the Clever Clogs Portal and our website.
We decided not to add a link to the Nucleus client log in since we wanted to drive people to the information on our site. We also felt that in many ways being able to view the value of investments on a regular basis is the worst thing you can do - it raises more questions and creates bad behaviour from a financial perspective.
Feedback and results
In general people have said they think it’s really good, they love that it’s different and vibrant.
In terms of attracting new clients, it’s more of a gradual progression - if we only had two or three a year every year then that would be perfect. Even one a month would probably be far too many for us, so we can afford focus on working even more on attracting the right clients.
Process and cost
In total the process took around eight months and cost around £10k, but not only do we have a website for that, but a new brand too.
We’re now in the process of looking to improve our communications and raise our profile even further. We launched a newsletter with a budget special edition, and we were also recently in the New Model Adviser. The article charts our history over the past decade, from the troubled days of 2012 to the thriving business we are today.
We’re pleased that our branding and communications now also reflect that success and provide the tools we need to develop that even further.www.thefinancialadvicecompany.com