November 21, 2006
How To

How a Financial-Services Firm Added a Podcast Program to Keep Clients Informed

SUMMARY: You know podcasting has become entrenched as a key tool when companies across the marketing realm start using it.

Discover how a firm in the financial-services industry added a social platform to build content internally (wikis) and educate clients externally (podcasts). Members are putting their work commutes to good use as they gobble up information on investment regulations and compliance.

Includes tactics other professional services firms can benefit from. Plus, five tips when creating content for a financially-oriented podcast.

The Web-based audience using Fidelity Investments’ corporate social media platform has been steadily growing since its introduction last year.

“We have pockets of communities who are exploring what the platform can do,” says Ross Ozer, VP Interactive & Marketing Communications for Fidelity’s Registered Investment Advisor Group. “It’s an evolving and promising situation.”

Two very different functions to the Fidelity platform are being used on an internal and external basis:

o Wikis make up the internal platform, which gives employees a dynamic place for relevant research and task-specific instructions.
o Podcasts, which are used exclusively by clients, are the lone feature in the external area of Fidelity’s platform.

Here are six strategies Ozer and his team used to implement the program:

Strategy #1. Supplement internal system with wikis

“We almost use the wiki environment like a white board,” Ozer says. “We may have virtual meetings where we go right to [the wiki]. We’ll say, ‘That’s where this is and here’s where that is.’ Additionally, some people are employing it as a knowledge base and some people are utilizing it to facilitate real-time conversation.”

The wikis have become especially popular among staffers using them to co-manage and develop projects. In fact, Ozer says they’re moving closer to the idea of using the open-source wiki format in place of html because it gives content creators more control. This way they’ll be able to go directly online and post their information without the help of a Webmaster.

Strategy #2. Build podcast platform around customer feedback

Client feedback last year helped point Ozer and his team in the direction of using podcasts. In particular, clients asked if the information they were receiving on paper and in virtual documents could be put onto audio discs, enabling them to absorb the instructional content during work commutes.

Because Ozer saw little reason to keep such audio productions offline, the podcast initiative got under way.

Strategy #3. Registration required

Ozer doesn’t leverage the free podcasts in marketing to prospects; instead, they employ the medium to inform registered investment adviser clients behind a firewall on the Fidelity Advisor Channel platform.

“We don’t see podcasts as a sales area but as part of our practice management offering. The podcasts and audio content do an excellent job of getting across the expert point of view.”

Strategy #4. Give users access choices

Since July 2005, clients of Fidelity Registered Investment Advisor Group have downloaded various types of educational presentations and listened to them in the office or burned them to CD for the ride home. The company plans to produce 24 podcasts annually, including three programs as a side feature in every quarterly report.

The most tech-savvy compliance officers have dropped the audio files into their iPods and MP3 players. Meanwhile, the Advisor Group also makes countless CDs and hands them out at conventions. Transcripts of the programs also can be downloaded and printed out.

“We have provided the way they wanted to receive the information and have given them choices on how to listen to it,” Ozer says. “Studies have shown that a lot of podcast users in this demographic are more prone to listen to downloads on the computer at work rather than download them into MP3 players. I think that’s been true with what we’ve seen with the medium as well.”

Email alerts notify clients of newly posted programs, which are made available at the platform for advisers as well as through Yahoo!, Google and iTunes via RSS feeds.

Strategy #5. Focus content on investment regulations and compliance

Fidelity produces a monthly 10- to 15-minute podcast that tackles the issues of investment regulations and compliance. Two recent programs were “The Role of a Chief Compliance Officer” and “Scope of Advisor-Broker Fiduciary Duty.”

“Feedback has been tremendous,” Ozer says. “The podcasts are a great education platform for compliance officers who need to stay up to date on a variety of issues. These programs have allowed them to both learn and share this type of information with their staffs.”

Strategy #6. Continue to develop content

Based on his experiences, Ozer says the dollar amount and time investment in setting up and maintaining a multifaceted corporate social media platform will fall more on the area of content development than on technology. Of course, the key is to keep employees and clients interested in what the forums have to say.

“You have to create and continually provide a flow of relevant, interesting information in order to stimulate a community. Because of that, I think you will likely spend more money on the community side than the technology side.”

Ozer offered five tips when creating a financial-services oriented podcast program:

1. Don’t underestimate the education that you’ll need to provide your audience in order to get them to understand the benefits of this medium. Some people don’t know what the term “podcast” means, so you need to speak and write in clear terms so they know the information in the audio file is relevant and engaging.
2. Make sure your content will pass a tough legal review. As an example, the repurposing of copyrighted content is currently top of mind with publishers and lawyers alike. Tread carefully.
3. If you’re interested in broadcasting to the entire B-to-C and/or B-to-B world, have someone who knows how to get into popular “pod-catching” online publishers like iTunes.
4. Have a staffer who can build an RSS feed or hire someone to make it happen.
5. Decide how to handle the creative production. If you don’t have an in-house studio, do you know where to find a quality recording facility? Are you willing to hire voice talent to make the production as professional as possible?

Note: Ross Ozer spoke at November’s AD:TECH in New York. For information, visit

Useful links related to this article

Creative samples from Fidelity Investments’ podcasting platform:

Special Report: MarketingSherpa’s Practical Podcasting Guide for Marketers:

Fidelity Investments:

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