by Kirsten Hodgson
Charles Badenach is a financial and planner with the ASX listed Shadforth Financial Group based in Tasmania, Australia.
He moved into financial services in 2001 (after practising as a lawyer for many years). He built a successful business but, when the GFC hit in 2007, it struck him like a train as Badenach says “I was doing the same as everyone else, I had no point of difference.”
Writing a bestseller
Charles had always had on his bucket list to write a book designed to help people make smart financial decisions. 18 months and many hours later, with a publisher and a good editor on board, he launched ”Old Head on Young Shoulders” in 2011. The book was selected as the Money Magazine Book of the Month in May 2011 and the book, after the second edition, made the Australian Best Seller list in 2012.
He initially used Facebook to help promote the book by setting up a page, getting friends to like it and regularly sharing tips (mainly from the book itself). Charles was innovative in his approach to marketing the book which included offering a free copy to all school libraries in Tasmania. Charles also worked with the Parents and Friends Association in every school, talking to both parents and students separately about the common financial mistakes they both made and how to avoid them. Following these talks the book was used as a fundraiser by the Parents and Friends Association with the proceeds being split between Charles and the school parents and friends association (who retained the majority).
The initial print run was 3,000 which sold out within 5 months and following this success Charles’ employer, Shadforth Financial Group Limited, asked if he could organise a further print run so they could send a copy to all their clients in Australia.
After the success of the book Charles embraced social media with the support of the Shadforth Financial Group Board. He updated his LinkedIn profile, set up his own website, started writing a weekly blog, built a YouTube channel, started using Twitter, and established a Facebook business page.
CharIes has also won a number of National awards for his work in financial services including:
- Money Management Australian Financial Planner of the Year (2011)
- Financial Planning Association of Australia Value of Advice National Award in the Pre Retirement Category (2010)
- Financial Standard Innovation, Leadership and Excellence in Social Media for Financial Services in Australia Award (2012)
- Future2 Community Service National Best Practice Award (2011) for his involvement in improving financial literacy amongst the socially disadvantaged
In 2012, Charles wrote an e-book ”The Australian Financial System made easy for migrants” and distributed this to over 2000 migrant support centres and community based organisations around Australia.
How has social media helped him?
Charles is an active user of LinkedIn and rates this as one of the keys tools for developing and growing a business in the modern world. Charles uses the InMail feature regularly (LinkedIn’s paid email feature that allows a member to email any other member regardless of whether or not they are in your network). He uses this facility selectively by offering contacts and centres of influence something they’ll value as issues arise. For example, in 2012 as a result of Federal Budget changes in Australia, professionals were able to gain a tax rebate by pre–paying their private health insurance before the end of the financial year.
Charles is continually refining his LinkedIn profile to remain current with the latest changes to the structure. He has found that many clients and centres of influence now send a link to his LinkedIn profile directly to clients via email. His profile also includes a number of videos, which are a mixture of testimonials, case studies, tips, and interviews.
Charles doesn’t generally accept connection requests from other financial planners unless they work closely with one-another and he uses the privacy facility to hide his connections from public view as he uses these as a key business tool. As Charles says “you wouldn’t allow someone to look through your filing cabinet so why would you allow them to mine your data base?”
Says Charles, “LinkedIn’s enabled me to keep track of people globally. When I went to the USA as part of the 2011 Money Management Australian Financial Planner of the Year Award , I looked for 2nd and 3rd degree connections who were based in both San Francisco and San Antonio where I was stayed. I then arranged to meet up with them.“
LinkedIn provided a qualified introduction. Charles doubts many of these people would have taken his call, let alone met him, if they didn’t know people in common.
He has generated work as a direct result of his LinkedIn activity.
Charles uses YouTube a lot to share testimonials and stories and to educate clients. “When there are updates I use video because I can say something far more quickly than I can write something. I have a camera on a tripod set up in my office so it’s really quick and easy to do.”
Facebook is “like TV. It”s about entertainment. I stick to posts related to people”s everyday life that have a financial overview. I find the more personal the posts, the more traction you get.“
Charles has also been an active user of Twitter as he is of the view that “you get to find out what’s happening when, where, and why before any other channel picks it up. Having my Twitter feed on my website also helps with SEO as it’s constantly updated.”
He is still trying to work out how best to use Pinterest because financial services isn’t a particularly visual industry. However, a number of his pins have been widely shared globally beyond what has happened on other platforms.
Charles’ view is that anyone can use social media as the forums are designed for 80% of the population to use. They are not difficult: it is just like running a boardroom lunch – you can serve up cocktail sausages or fillet steak. If you focus on helping people and providing info they’ll value, you’ll do well. Social media is about sharing and caring, you need to give to get and the more you give the more you will get.
What’s your view?
1. When contacting people you don’t know, work out a common connection and offer them something of value. Focus on their needs.
2. Beef up your social profiles and include videos or slideshare presentations that will help credentialise you and answer some of the key questions your target audience will have. You also need to continually improve your profile as new enhancements are continually being developed.
3. If you’re travelling use LinkedIn to find 2nd and 3rd degree connections you can meet up with. Use people in common to facilitate the introduction or mention them when you make contact. Let the other person know why they should meet you. What’s in it for them?
4. Learn basic video skills as video is a very powerful forum.
5. Post different messages on different forums, as different platforms attract different audiences, don’t be a robot.
What would you add?
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