Living on the edge – first mover advantage

Thursday 20th March 2014

Penny Pyror

When Vanessa Stoykov started evolution media group 15 years ago, it was partly as a result of her exasperation with the financial services sector’s inability to tell its story well.

First as a media agency, and now as a multi-media company, her mission since then has been to bring life to the finance industry’s narrative.

With the TV production arm, evoTV, Stoykov has been at the forefront of using digital media to help businesses get their message across.

After selling the media agency business last year, evolution media group now concentrates on evoTV, which created the very successful interview series The Bottom Line (a joint venture with CPA Australia) and the reality show for financial planners called No More Practice.

“I think it was early, it was probably too early as far as the roll out of broadband. We learned a lot in those early days, which put us head of the curve.” Vanessa Stoykov, evoTV

“It started as a communications business, and evolved about eight years ago into thinking online TV would be great for communicating,” she says.

The business is now focusing on “educating the educators” in financial services and becoming an “education business that’s media led”. evoTV was one of the first movers into online TV, and while the early days were tough, there have been rewards for being a first mover and persevering.

“I think it was early, it was probably too early as far as the roll out of broadband. We learned a lot in those early days, which put us head of the curve,” Stoykov says.

“I guess TV became a good vehicle, because we started making better and better quality stuff.”

Stoykov is the first to admit that not everything she tackled has been successful. There were plenty of people in the early days saying what the business was doing wouldn't work.

Social and digital media can be great business tools for members of the industry providing a homogenous service – like financial planning and perhaps even funds management. They can help make your business stand out from the crowd.

Financial planner Aaron Dunn is managing director of The SMSF Academy and runs the blog www.thedunnthing.com. He is also, coincidently “The Futurist” in evoTV’s No More Practice, which may partly be due to his reputation as a first mover in the social media space in the financial planning industry.

He co-presented with principal and founder of The Social Advisor, Baz Gardner, on using social media as a business tool at the self-managed superannuation fund professionals association of Australia (SPAA) conference recently.

“The ability to engage with like-minded individuals is important but too often we stop at that level.” Aaron Dunn, MD, The SMSF Academy

Gardner’s business, The Social Advisor, helps financial planners use resources like digital and social media to become better businesses.

During their presentation to delegates at SPAA, they stressed that the web, as a serious business tool, was something financial service professionals could not afford to ignore.

“The ability to engage with like-minded individuals is important but too often we stop at that level,” Dunn said.

A social media strategy needs to be more than a Facebook page and a Twitter account; you need to actively share the essence of yourself or your business online. Your personality needs to come through, according to Dunn.

“The journey, in my view, is that we need to further nurture these relationships,” he said.

If you don’t share a part of yourself, how is somebody going to be able to differentiate you from the rest of the businesses providing similar services?

Professional services firm Deloitte, one of the big four, has an entire business unit dedicated to researching social media and other new technologies.

“Who wants to speak to financial planners? Younger people don’t like you and weird edgy people don’t like you.” Pete Williams, Centre for the Edge™

It describes its Centre for the Edge™ like this: “[It] helps senior executives make sense of, and profit from, emerging opportunities on the edge of business and technology. It conducts original research and develops substantive points of view for new corporate growth.”

Pete Williams is chief edge officer of the centre in Australia, and gave SPAA delegates the following blunt message on the importance of engaging via new technology.

“Who wants to speak to financial planners? Younger people don’t like you and weird edgy people don’t like you,” he said.

Therefore if financial planners, and arguably any other financial services companies, want to connect with an unengaged audience, they have to use the tools that audience uses to communicate.

“Apply a social edge to everything you do,” Williams said.

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