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Hearsay Social Named One of Gramercy Institute's Most Valuable Partners in Financial Marketing

Screen Shot 2016-07-18 at 3.21.50 PMThe Gramercy Institute, a leading global network for senior marketers from the world’s leading financial institutions, recently released its 2016 list of 20 Most Valuable Partners in Financial Marketing and Hearsay Social is honored to be included.
“In 2016, financial marketers must engage with true strategic partners in order to effectively compete,” explains Bill Wreaks, CEO and Chief Analyst of the Gramercy Institute in a press release. “Understanding which partners provide real value through true partnership can make a tremendous difference to the achievement of marketing success.”
Members of the 2016 judging panel included senior executives from several Fortune 100 firms including:
Renee Baker, Sr. Manager, Marketing & Investor Relations, Aberdeen Asset Management
Jeffrey Kochie, Vice President, Marketing, Blackrock
Jacqueline Quasney, Senior Brand Manager, Personal Capital
Erin Meijer, Director, Thought Leadership and Content Strategy, Guardian Life
Amy Jackson, SVP, Content Marketing, Bank of America
Amy Sokotch, SVP, Media, Citibank
Francie Staub, Director, Digital Marketing, TD Ameritrade
Bryan VanDyke, Managing Director and Head of Digital, Morgan Stanley
Phillip Wang, SVP, Brand & Advertising, Wells Fargo Bank
Unlike many awards programs that allow companies to nominate themselves, the Gramercy Institute program requires submissions from clients at a financial brand who either currently or had at one time worked with the nominated company. Nominators provided an assessment of each nominee’s value to the financial firm’s marketing success, its innovation, its customer support levels, and its ability to delivery on expectations.
At Hearsay Social, one of our core team values is to put our customers above all else, and we’re both proud and humbled that our 130-plus enterprise customers consider us to be critical partners to their long-term success and growth.
For more information, check out the Gramercy Institute’s announcement.

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5 Ways to Integrate Social Media Into Your Daily Routine

shutterstock_168278123Having an online presence is a critical part of building connections with prospects and maintaining relationships with existing customers. Many financial services professionals are now promoting their businesses online via social media and other digital channels to stay top of mind.
But changing up an existing routine isn’t always easy. Adding another channel to your marketing mix takes time to establish and grow, and figuring out how to incorporate a new communication outlet into an existing workflow or process of doing things may be a challenge initially.
Once established, though, leveraging digital marketing channels as part of your sales process can reap considerable benefits. Robert Edgin, who represents American National Insurance Company and its subsidiaries and affiliates, has integrated digital channels into his day-to-day in a meaningful way that drives real business results.
Here are five strategies that Robert and several other agents at American National have successfully implemented to optimize their digital presence.
1. Start With a Clear Goal
Think about your overall goals for your practice. Your social profiles and websites should enhance the activities you are already doing to meet those goals. Robert says that “95% to 98% of all new business is referral based.” He is at the point in his practice where almost all of his business comes from existing customers in the form of referrals or additional products and services. He uses social media as a way to connect with his current clients and foster productive relationships with them.
2. Have One Message Across Multiple Channels
There are a lot of approaches to getting in front of people, but none resonate stronger than a unified message. It’s important to participate in a variety of channels because your customers and prospects like to consume information in different ways. If you are promoting an upcoming event on social media, refer contacts on your email and newsletter distribution lists to it. All of the communication that you do should work together. Robert uses a combination of newsletters, social media, email and video messages to enable multiple communication touch points with his customers and partners.
3. Leverage Centers of Influence
Centers of influence (COIs) can come in many forms – look to your clients, colleagues, experts in your industry or even other professionals. Amplify your message through your existing network by posting engaging content online. Build a mutually beneficial referral network with complementary local businesses. Distribute print materials to your partners that point to your digital presences and make it easier for interested prospects to find you!
4. Get Help
If digital marketing isn’t in your wheelhouse, delegate the responsibility of managing that aspect of your business-building efforts to other colleagues in your practice. Many social media sites and social media management tools have the functionality to invite other users to help manage your pages. If you work with a carrier that offers tools to help you operationalize your marketing efforts, evaluate how these tools can be helpful to you.
5. Be Consistent
Make planning and scheduling your social media and digital content a part of your regular routine. This may take a bit of time at first, but thinking ahead gives you the opportunity to effectively deliver a strong and consistent message. For example, if you are planning a local event, point print collateral and emails to your social sites and or/website for more information on how to participate.
This article originally appeared in ThinkAdvisor
For best practices on how to use social networks to engage with clients and build deeper relationships, visit
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7 Big Takeaways from Digital Marketing for Financial Services Summit

Nestled in the heart of the Toronto financial district, digital marketers, social directors, and compliance officers from North America assembled for the Digital Marketing for Financial Services Summit annual event.  The event is built for financial marketing executives and focuses on dedicated streams around social & compliance, big data & optimization, mobile marketing & customer experience.
It would be difficult to sum up all the topics covered and discussions held during the breaks, so here are my top seven takeaways from the event:
1) It’s all about the customer experience
Jon Day of SapientNitro kicked off the event with some sobering statistics noting that only 54% of the public trusts Wall Street, haunted still by the prolonged downturn of 2009-2009. In order to rebuild investor trust, technology can help scale and create more personalized experiences.  At a foundational level, consumers expect financial services companies to help meet their needs and those that thrive go the extra mile by making it engagement easy and value added.  For brands, scaling via technology can help them save money, convert opportunities into sales and provide value through enhanced experiences.
Action: In order to rebuild trust and meet consumer expectations,  financial services organizations need to create personalized memorable experiences that consumers will share.
2) We’re living in a multi-device, multi-channel world 
Access to information via multiple platforms is commonplace these days, and consumers expect brands to reach them via their preferred channels.  The good news is that multiple channels don’t necessarily mean new content creation as much as the creative process of repurposing it.  A single white paper can be converted into a presentation, an infographic, or a podcast all amplified via social assets.  An approach that worked well for us when we launched the Advisor of the Future Executive Report in February, maximizing its exposure and providing readers different ways to experience the content.
Action: Identify the primary mediums your customers use to consume content, and create and repurpose content and distribute in multiple mediums.  
3) Reduced barriers of entry = success
Opening a checking or savings account should be easy.  Finding out your balance should be easy.  Moving money from one account to the other should be easy.  Financial services companies that find creative ways of making the process of becoming a client easy will thrive.  Online banking has solved for the ease of client acquisition for everyday transactions seamless and the real opportunity lies in doing the same on longer term client relationships that include credit, mortgage and investments.
Action: Reduce barriers of entry to secure the customer by making the process simple, and build loyalty by making the maintenance and access to information intuitive and easy.
4) Mobile, mobile, and mobile
The conversation around mobile and its growing use permeated every conversation and presentation at the event, especially smartphone usage.  Erin Elofson, Director of Financial Services of Facebook Canada shocked the audience when she shared that there are 7.2 billion SIM cards, outnumbering the number of people in the world.  In addition, there are approximately 100 countries in the world with more mobile phones than people.  I’ll let that sink in.
This year we crossed over where 51% of offline sales were influenced by the web, and more and more of that experience is being done on a handheld device.  The bottom line: if you don’t have a mobile strategy or your website is not optimized for a mobile experience you are placing your company, product and service at risk.
Action: Develop a mobile strategy that recognizes how your consumers are likely to seek out information or experience your product/service.
5) Collaboration wins
Creating a digital strategy does not happen in a single silo, but through collaboration. Implementation, especially in a regulated industry like financial services, requires buy-in and approval from multiple stakeholders. The earlier you engage stakeholders and make them part of the process, the easier it is to implement, process and maintain your digital program. The journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step, and digital transformation begins in the conference room.
Action: In order to build a digital strategy, assemble a team of key stakeholders to represent the interests of their departments and identify the opportunities and risks associated with a digital strategy, and stay at it.
6) The growing influence of Millennials
Millennials are more than just a demographic as much as a mind set. These digital natives have only known a working world with the internet. These savvy collaborators are influencing the experience, the content and the mediums.  As they become the majority of the workforce in 2020, they will drive it.
Millennials demand so much from companies and brands, and expect things at their fingertips on a 24/7 basis.  They consume content in multiple formats and prefer information via text, social, instant messaging, and blogging to share content and connect. Are you doing enough to connect with this growing base of investors?
Action: Create a strategy to address the changing and evolving expectations of the market influenced by Millennials. Focus on adding value, being authentic and socially responsible.  Leverage technology to personalize, simplify and amplify.  You can do it!
7) Content IS the ad
Traditional advertising is transparent, and consumers don’t like to be sold too- they want a conversation.  Savvy marketers are finding ways to increase brand awareness by developing creative content that helps tell their story aimed at adding value. Embed your message in stories, pictures, infographics.  In short- tell better stories where your product or service plays a starring role.
Action: Develop personas based on demographics and psychographics to understand your client and use this date to drive the kind of content that clients and prospect want, and the mediums that will make the most sense to tell your story.
In summary, the Digital Marketing for Financial Services Summit offered up two days of interesting conversations and themes that sparked new ideas and themes.  What was clear was that digital technology, especially mobile,  is moving and evolving faster than the industry is prepared to adopt.  Thereby, the ability for financial services companies to adapt and then adopt will prove to be a competitive advantage.
Are you ready? To learn ways to engage today’s social, mobile customer, read about our predictive social suite for advisors.
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Review of the Digital Marketing for Financial Services Summit

Screen-Shot-2014-12-16-at-15.52.28In episode 19 of Hearsay Social On the Air we review the main themes explored at the Digital Marketing in Financial Services Summit in New York. In addition, we provide our commentary on the recently released Putnam Investments Advisor Survey on Social Media use.
Join the conversation on Twitter with @VictorGaxiola and @ronnykerr using hashtag #HSonAir
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The Internet of things and other 2015 trends you need to know about

key15As a special holiday treat, eMarketer is sharing a complimentary report entitled Key Digital Trends for 2015.
The report is broken up into three distinct sections. First, it describes the the five key trends in consumer behavior and technology adoption that every marketer needs to know about. Next, it delves into five buzzy technologies that could possibly gain traction in 2015, but are still unproven. Finally, it plainly calls out the areas that “are more hot air than hard reality.”
Here’s a brief outline of the findings:

Five key things you need to know about 2015

  1. ‘Responsiveness’ will rule
  2. Mobile search will surpass desktop
  3. Programmatic will move beyond digital display
  4. The Internet of things will become a thing
  5. Cross-device targeting at scale

Five things that might get big (but might not)

  1. Wearables: not quite ready to wear
  2. Mobile payments? Wait until next year
  3. New life for social commerce
  4. Will content marketing sputter?
  5. Cord-cutting: still more hype than reality

Five things you won’t need to worry about

  1. The desktop
  2. QR codes: not the next big thing
  3. Social TV: the conversation is pretty quiet
  4. Baby boomers: going bust
  5. Privacy? Security? Yawn.

Learn more by downloading the full report and exploring additional resources below.

Disrupting the buyer journey at the Digital Marketing for Financial Services Summit

Digital Marketing SummitLast week we participated in the first Digital Marketing for Financial Services Summit held in New York. Although the organization has held successful events in Canada, this was the first time it had brought the Summit to the U.S. as well as the first time that Hearsay Social participated as a sponsor.
The two-day event focused on challenges, opportunities and trends facing marketing professionals in financial services. Attendees representing wealth management, asset management, banking and insurance heard from industry thought leaders, influencers, and their peers in a number of sessions covering everything from 2015 trends to social media to gamification. Zeroing in on the marketer’s experience, the Summit brought to light the value of digital technologies to promote the brand and build awareness. Compared to other conferences I’ve attended, I found the conversations and themes more macro and strategic than tactical and field oriented.
Here were some of the main themes from the Summit:


The key word of 2014 and this summit was disruption. It’s become clear to marketers today that the increased volume of potential marketing channels is challenging the way brands position their products and services to address their market. With the increasing number of mediums, cutting through the clutter of white noise is getting more and more difficult, and attracting consumer attention is requiring more creative approaches.
In his presentation, “Blending Heritage and Innovation,” Bryan VanDyke (Executive Director, Head of Digital Strategy, Morgan Stanley) shared that digital disruption shows no sign of slowing, affecting everything from how we buy travel and pay our bills to how we consume media (newspapers, music, movies, and television). The financial services industry will not be immune to these digital disruptions and are being challenged to adapt.  He suggested that firms consider adjusting by providing the following:

  1. Global presence: Be everywhere, always on, on all devices, service all needs.
  2. Be personal: Be relevant, actionable, and clear respective of your audience.
  3. Be insightful: Be thoughtful, holistic, visual and easy to grasp.
Hearsay Social booth at Digital Marketing Summit
Michael Gardineer manning the Hearsay Social booth at the Digital Marketing for Financial Services Summit

Digital is not just about technology

Digital is not just about technology because it’s more importantly about building connections with your customers. Firms getting caught up in technology challenges are overlooking the value in establishing a strong strategy first and then proceeding with a methodical approach that’s aimed at strengthening relationships.
In his presentation, “Strategy Considerations for Digital Marketing Transformation and Innovation in Financial Services,” Bill Barrett (Managing Director and Global Head of Digital Marketing, BNY Mellon) challenged participants to be disciplined in their digital adoption, and suggested 10 tips to follow:

  1. Develop an achievable strategy
  2. Ensure executive sponsorship
  3. Socialize with key internal stakeholders
  4. Seek out advocates in all areas of the company
  5. Listen to your audience
  6. Start from scratch if necessary
  7. Avoid “design by committee”
  8. Don’t believe everything you hear
  9. Don’t take on too much at once
  10. Keep experimenting

In essence, Bill provided a blueprint for the process marketing teams should follow when carefully adopting digital strategy: note, for example, that he specifically says in step one to develop an achievable strategy, taking into account the challenges an organization may have at the onset wanting to tackle too much at once.
Bill also reinforced how marketing teams must be mindful that their strategy needs to be flexible and nimble in order to adapt to changes recommended by consumers and internal stakeholders. If your brand is everywhere, especially in the minds of your consumers, you might as well take advantage of that by listening to their feedback and experimenting.

Alicianne RandThe buyer journey

Consumer buying behaviors are changing, and the products and services they buy are being influenced more and more by marketing and front of the funnel activities. In her presentation, “Content Marketing for Financial Brands as Publishers,” Alicianne Rand (VP Marketing, NewsCred, @aliciannerand) shared how content is core to who we are and how we live our lives. On average, we are exposed to 5,000 marketing messages every day, and we are being conditioned to tune out the noise. When you consider that only 0.01% of banner ads are ever clicked and 85% of TV ads go unwatched, how can you compete for the attention of consumers?
The fact is we choose what matters and is relevant to our lives, and today 70% of B2C and B2B purchase decisions are made before a buyer even speaks with a sales representative, according to Alicianne. As a result marketing departments are taking on more responsibility and accountability in the buying journey than ever before.
To cut through the noise, marketing departments must modify their approach with social media and other scalable digital technologies to personalize the experience and make the content more relevant to the individual consumer. Alicianne suggested that we challenge the old way of doing things with a new approach:

  1. From brand-led to value-driven: It’s all about consumers’ needs and the value proposition the brand can provide. Don’t constantly talk about who your company is and why it matters; instead position your products and services around the challenges they solve and the time or money it saves.
  2. From ad campaigns to always-on brand newsrooms: The 24/7 digital cycle is forcing brands to let go of traditional campaigns and instead leave the digital door open at all times. This is especially true for global brands that have consumers in every time zone. Social is always on, so having a presence isn’t enough if you don’t have the resources to support the ongoing conversation that is taking place. Airlines have been some of the fastest to adapt to their global customer needs both in availability and support in real-time
  3. From demographics and target audiences to the individual: Access to big data and insight data is making it easy for the brand message to be personalized to the individual needs of consumers as opposed to the general messaging to a single demographic. Targeted digital advertising platforms such as Facebook Ads has made this process much easier leveraging the data users provide to provide a more laser-focused delivery.

To conclude, we are undergoing a digital transformation that is affecting how we market and position the value that brands add to the market and to individual consumers. This is forcing brands to question their traditional methods and embrace the opportunities that digital technologies provide to connect with the right customer, at the right time, with the right message.

Congratulations to the newest class of Gramercy Institute's 20 Rising Stars!

Gramercy Institute 20 Rising StarsThe Gramercy Institute, a network of senior marketers from the world’s leading financial institutions, this week celebrated 20 up-and-coming leaders in the financial services marketing industry.
The people listed below run the gamut: some are responsible for traditional activities like brand strategy and advertising while others are driving rapidly evolving projects like digital marketing and social media content strategy.

  • Jared Barchus, Marketing & Brand Strategy, Morgan Stanley
  • Kimberly Bindra, Director, Duff & Phelps
  • Wendy Buzzeo, Director, Digital Marketing, MetLife
  • Tricia Conboy, Director of Advertising, Sun Life Financial
  • Katie Cowley, Marketing & Communications Manager, Aberdeen Asset Management
  • Kathleen Gambarelli, Digital Media Manager, Ptarmigan Media
  • Claire Good, Associate Director, Sullivan
  • Rohini Gupta, AVP, Global Advertising, Natixis Global Asset Management
  • Michael Herrera, SVP, Digital Marketing, Citi
  • Tom Hughes, Vice President, Marketing, Allianz Global Investors
  • Stephanie Lynch, Associate, Goldman Sachs
  • Wendy Marcone, SVP, Global Banking & Markets Marketing, Bank of America Merrill Lynch
  • Shantini Munthree, Head of Brand Management, Vanguard
  • Janelle Nowak, Social Media Content & Channel Strategy Manager, Capital One
  • David Partain, VP-Digital Strategist, Northern Trust
  • Justin Pesola, SVP, Digital Media, Citi
  • Hunter Ricks, Digital Marketing Strategist, Lincoln Financial Group
  • Geoffrey Sanders, SVP, Digital Marketing, Citi
  • Shayaan Seraj, Digital Media Supervisor (TD Bank Group), Starcom Mediavest
  • Chad K. Smith, Head of Global Content Syndication, BlackRock
  • Ashley Sobel, Associate Director, The Media Kitchen
  • Nicole Stonehouse, Vice President, State Street Global Advisors
  • Leah Weis, Marketing Manager, Digital, E*TRADE Financial

They’re each crucial not only to their respective organizations, but also to driving new success and innovation in the financial services industry. Congratulations to all of you who made the list!

Disrupting financial services: Hearsay Social CEO Clara Shih presents at Tiburon CEO Summit XXVI

“Financial services (and particularly asset & wealth management) [are] beginning to be disrupted much like retail, publishing, journalism, music, & travel industries.”

While specific discussions were off the record, this was the #1 high-level trend addressed at this year’s Tiburon CEO Summit XXVI, an executive event that brought together the leaders in financial services and technology to discuss the industry’s most important topics.
Hearsay Social’s very own CEO Clara Shih joined executives from across the financial services industry, including Mark Casady (CEO, LPL Financial), Mary Mack (President, Wells Fargo Advisors), Jeff Saut (Chief Investment Strategist, Raymond James & Associates), Jon Stern (Managing Director, Berkshire Capital), and Bill Van Law (President, Investment Advisors Division, Raymond James Financial), onstage to tackle many of these topics and trends.

From left to right: Personal Capital Corporation CEO Bill Harris, LearnVest CEO Alexa von Tobel, Betterment CEO Jon Stein and Hearsay Social CEO Clara Shih sharing insights at the Tiburon CEO Summit XXVI.

Clara provided a contrarian “pro-advisor” view amidst an interesting panel of mainly “robo-advice” entrepreneurs Bill Harris (CEO, Personal Capital), Jon Stein (CEO, Betterment), and Alexa von Tobel (CEO, LearnVest). Afterward, industry leaders Mark Casady (CEO, LPL Financial), Mary Mack (President, Wells Fargo Advisors), Scott Curtis (President, Raymond James Financial Services), and Mark Tibergien (CEO, Pershing Advisor Solutions) validated the importance of technology in keeping up with ever-changing client expectations as well as being able to recruit and retain the next generation of advisors.
In fact, this was the second most important underlying trend discussed, on a list of 50 trends shared by Tiburon: technology powers the future of financial services. From products to channels to digital marketing and social media, technology is changing how asset and wealth managers engage with both current and prospective clients. 
Among the hundreds of financial and technology leaders in attendance, it was refreshing to see the industry’s commitment to embracing new technologies and innovations in order to move business forward.