Imagine William Ackman, CEO of Pershing Square Capital Management, talking about opening up a lemonade stand.
Never mind -- you don’t have to imagine.
Ackman, whose firm has more than $15 billion in assets under management, talks for almost half an hour about opening up a lemonade stand in a video sponsored by The Floating University and posted on YouTube four years ago.
In his video, entitled “Everything You Need to Know About Finance and Investing in Under an Hour,” Ackman uses the lemonade stand example to underscore the risk and reward differences between equity and debt. But the video accomplishes more than just finance pedagogy: It captured people’s attention – it’s received more than 1 million views to date -- raised his profile online, and possibly planted a seed in future clients’ heads.
No one needs to stress YouTube’s potential payoff to Jim Olsen, a principal for Edward Jones in marketing and communications. Olsen, who oversees the teams that handle all the brokerage houses external communications, has been active on YouTube since 2009. Edward Jones, which presently has some 160 videos on its channel, uses Youtube.com because it is the second-most-used search engine, trailing only Google.
“When people are looking for content, many times they go to YouTube,” Olsen says.
Edward Jones’ channel features instructional videos, and it also invests in video advertising -- those segments that pop on the screen and play before a video begins. Edward Jones achieves significant consumer engagement with those video ads, so given their pricing, they remain an attractive tool in the marketing team’s wheelhouse, Olsen says. The prices for those ads are based on keywords chosen, Olsen says. The keywords most likely to attract potential clients for investment advisor are not the cheapest ones, he says. But overall the pricing for YouTube advertising has not increased any more quickly than other mediums, he says. And as a medium, YouTube videos give Edward Jones advisors and management a powerful way to communicate the firm’s long-term approach with clients, Olsen says.
Olsen’s warning to advisors ready to jump on the YouTube bandwagon: Don’t skimp on quality. Edward Jones has a state-of-the-art production facility, which he says is critical to the videos’ success. “The costs of producing the videos ranges from $2,000 up to tens of thousands depending on the type of video created,” Olsen says. As for how they determine an ad’s effectiveness, “We measure success by views and engagement but not by cost per engagement," Olsen says.
Cutting corners and producing a video without professional support can backfire for financial advisors, he says: “Sometimes they have missed.”
Miriam Rozen writes about the financial advisory industry and is a staff reporter for Texas Lawyer.
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