Not too long ago, your expertise and skills (not to mention charming persona) were probably enough to get your foot in the door with many prospects. Cold calling wasn’t fun, but it did help grow your business.

Today, most business decision makers have little interest or patience for unsolicited intrusions. According to LinkedIn, only four percent of buyers have a positive impression of a salesperson contacting via a cold call.

Why the change? Technology. Blame the Internet, satellite and cable television and radio, DVRs, mobile technology, and more. Business-to-business and business-to-consumer purchasing is now in the hands of the buyer.

Your marketing must reflect this evolution. In the simplest of terms, your strategy must switch from an outbound to an inbound perspective. You have to cut way back on all the old school ideas: cold calling, telemarketing, direct mail pieces, print ads, and email spam. In their place you need to concentrate on permission-based marketing tactics: newsletters, blogs, social media, search engine marketing, and other value-adds.

The key here is the phrase “permission-based,” which means people actually tell you they want you to share your smarts. They consider you an expert, and not because you say so, but because you demonstrate your thought leadership.

Thought leaders are at the forefront of their industry. To build and establish your social success you must become a thought leader. You must write, speak, publish research, and use social platforms to amplify your reach.

Write – Consistently offer followers your perspective on the things they care about; the topics that keep them up at night. You don’t have to write pages and pages, in fact, short, sweet, and to-the-point tips are great. When you have something a little more complex to cover, consider breaking the information down into digestible chunks (maybe several blogs) and use visuals like infographics to help break up the copy.

Speak – You are in a people-facing business, so hopefully that means you’re comfortable speaking in front of a crowd. Use that skill to interact directly with your clients and prospects. Reach out through industry-specific gatherings, association meetings, conferences, and local events. Also consider hosting small invitation-only dinners or luncheons so you can showcase your industry knowledge and relate in a more intimate environment.

Publish research – No, you don’t have to write a 100-page thesis, just offer up your expertise with some well crafted studies. These one- or more multi-page handouts make for great lead magnets that can help you capture and grow your audience. Keep in mind, they don’t just have to be in a standard written form; consider also using videos, PowerPoint presentations, or live broadcasts.

Amplify your reach – Social platforms and your website are crucial to building your social success. You need to consistently and actively participate with new and ongoing conversations by sharing your smarts and offering quality, curated content on LinkedIn and Twitter. Likewise, you can use these sites to promote your blogs and research with short summaries and links to the full content on your website to help build your audience base. By regularly adding fresh content to your website, you feed the Google search engine beast and improve your digital footprint. (If you want help understanding how to make all this happen, check out my April ShoeFitts Digital Institute live broadcast, Can Social Media Marketing Work for You?)

Building your social success starts with a strong permission-based marketing strategy. Remember times have changed. You cannot garner that success by shoving your foot in the door. You need to provide client-centered material with a clear value-add, so people want to open their doors. Become a thought leader and share your thoughts; your social and business success will follow.


With 25 years in the financial services industry, Sheri is a recognized influencer, popular social media speaker, and a creative marketing force. As president of ShoeFitts Marketing, she collaborates with broker/dealers, financial advisors, third-party administrators, and financial professionals to help them leverage marketing tools and social media strategies to make meaningful connections that build business and grow sales.



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