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Advisor Marketing with Client Newsletters

The great thing about email these days is that it’s fast, easy and free. Yet take a look at your own in-box. Do you see lots of non-urgent messages you want to read when you get more time. Will you end up reading them? Or will you just delete them before you leave on your next vacation?

In this day of email overload, a printed client newsletter can help you stand out from your competitors and get noticed by your clients and prospects.

Watch this short video and learn the advantages of sending using a snail mail newsletter to stay in touch with your clients and prospects.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a_HoZ3_7aok

Advisor Marketing Success By Focusing On “You” Not “I”

Whenever I need to improve a sales letter, yellow page ad, magazine ad, or web page, I first zero in on something simple. Does the ad speak about the advisor or firm? Or does it speak about what’s in it for the client? What’s the ratio of  “I” or “mine” versus “You” or “yours”?

Let me ask you a question: Do you read this website to learn about me or learn how to grow your financial planning practice with better marketing?

My mom might read this site to learn something new about me. Maybe. The rest of you read this because you want more clients, you want more assets under management, and you want to reduce the hassles of running a financial planning practice so you can enjoy your life more?

Seems so simple but 99% of ads out there don’t get this.

I first learned this concept from Jay Abraham in 1989. He taught me everyone is tuned into the same radio station: WII-FM. Remember WII-FM in your marketing and you’ll find success.

What does WII-FM stand for? “What’s In It For Me?”

That’s what you care about when you read these articles or get my living trust seminar product or hire me to redesign your website.

Your clients, and especially your prospecs, don’t care about your problems. They really only care about their problems:

  • Their retirement income…”Will I have enough?”
  • Their financial goals…”When can I retire?”
  • Their children’s college  fund… “How can pay for college for all my kids?”
  • Their long-term-care risk… “What if my husband gets Alzheimers?”

Let me show you a political example of when this I/You concept is lost. It features President Obama. His campaign for president was a marketing tour-de-force. Master Clayton Makepeace called his budget proposal “The best sales copy ever on the worst product ever.” So he has staff who know their marketing. It seems that they took the day off a few days ago when the President gave this speech. Here is a 2 minute clip to make my point:

You need to avoid the “I/my” approach in your marketing or your prospects will avoid you.

Advisor Marketing: Taking Public Positions on Tax Increases

In this short video, Richard takes you into the “voting booth” and votes against 2 tax increases on the ballot in Oregon. What does this have to do with advisor marketing success?

Remember in most elections candidates and ballot measures win 51% to 49%. So whenever you take a public stand on a political matter you’ll likely to get half the voters mad. Your marketing mindset should tell you not to get your clients and prospective clients hopping mad with something you say!

Advisor Marketing with Ready Answers for Difficult Questions

I-don't-knowAs a financial advisor you’re used to asking your clients hard questions.

  • What’s your tolerance for risk?
  • Are you okay with short-term losses to make long-term gains?
  • Who gets your money when you die?

Sometimes clients have ready answers. Other times  a couple will look at each other and tell you, “We need to talk about this.” No problem, you don’t expect a ready answers for these tough questions.

But what about when your client or a prospective client asks YOU some tough questions? Are you ready with good answers?

In a recent issue, Fortune magazine named Apple CEO Steve Jobs, the “CEO of the Decade.” Steve Jobs is a master showman and watching his product intros is always a kick…even if you’re a hardcore Windows/Blackberry guy. This quote really jumped out at me:

A key Jobs business tool is his mastery of the message. He rehearses over and over every line he and others utter in public about Apple. ~ Fortune

For the curious, you can watch him in action below when he introduced the Macintosh (1984), iPod (2001) and iPhone (2007). He only had one chance to make a good first impression. So Steve practiced his lines over and over again and nailed the presentation.

Fortunately, you’ll likely be alone with your client in your office or conference room. A larger venue might be a living trust seminar with 25 or 30 people in the room. While a smaller stage than Steve Jobs commands, your ability to provide a sincere and convincing answer can win or lose the account.

What might you get asked? I dug around the Internet and found numerous lists of “questions to ask your financial advisor.” Here are some highlights:

5 Questions To Ask a Potential Financial Advisor

1. Tell Me About Your Ideal Client

Any good financial advisor will have an area of expertise. You want someone who has expertise working with someone like you. If you’re about to retire, and they tell you they work with young families, maybe this isn’t the person for you. Find a financial advisor whose ideal client sounds very similar to your situation in terms of age, stage of life, and asset level.

3. Ask A Potential Financial Advisor to Explain A Concept To You

What you are looking for here is, can you understand their explanation? If they speak over your head, or their answer makes no sense, then move on. You want to work with someone who can explain financial concepts to you in language you can understand.

Below are five concept oriented questions to consider asking:

  • What is passive vs. active investing?
  • How do you determine how much of my money should be in stocks vs. bonds?
  • What is a laddered bond portfolio?
  • How do you determine how much money I can safely withdraw each year without running out?
  • What do you think of annuities?

Seven Questions to Ask When Picking a Financial Adviser (The Wall Street Journal)

As investors look for guidance in these troubled markets, one question looms above all others:

Whom can you trust?

During boom times, it was easy to hire a financial adviser and put your money on autopilot. Now the market is in chaos and thousands of investors have been devastated by fraud, with Madoffed threatening to become an all-too-common verb.

Small wonder that many investors are getting reluctant to put their faith in experts. More than three-quarters of individuals with at least $1 million to invest intend to move money away from their financial advisers, and more than half intend to leave their advisers altogether, according to Prince & Associates Inc., a market-research firm.

The trouble is, many investors don’t have the time or expertise to make all of their own investment decisions. So, having a professional on your side is crucial. But how can you guarantee that your expert is reliable?

6. Can the adviser put it in writing?

Ask for a formal written outline of the services the adviser will be providing and what fees you will be paying. By setting concrete expectations, you can determine if an adviser is going to, say, “help you set goals and do budgeting or just make investment decisions,” says Ellen Turf, chief executive of the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors.

For instance, you can ask advisers to spell out what they think you are trying to achieve and what they think you should do to get there, including investment strategies, specific benchmarks and suggested financial products. If advisers can’t explain their plan in simple terms, another red flag should go up. Secret strategies like those touted by Mr. Madoff are no longer acceptable, Mr. Sonnenfeldt says.

Also ask advisers to spell out who else stands to gain from your relationship — such as affiliated broker-dealers and insurance agencies — as well as exactly how much the adviser, the adviser’s firm and all those other parties will earn from your business.

Finally, find out whether the advisers are going to take on fiduciary responsibility, in which they are legally bound to act in your best interest. If advisers don’t take this oath, they’re only required to sell you products that are deemed suitable for you — and those may not always be the best fit for your financial situation or objectives.

Eight Questions to Ask Your Financial Advisor

(1) Do you use a comprehensive approach to financial planning by directing our efforts around a written plan based upon my specific goals?
(2) How will you communicate, both initially and through time, what I am paying you, how I am paying you, and what I am receiving for it?
(3) Do you have any conflicts, limitations, or encumbrances that I need to be aware of, and will you communicate them in the future if any arise?
(4) What is your core philosophy regarding your work? What results would lead YOU to conclude that our work together is successful?
(5) Are you acting as a specialist or a generalist? In either case, who will be coordinating the specialists that will be needed over time to address my changing needs?
(6) How often do you meet with clients? What do those meetings look like, and what communication methods do you use between meetings?
(7) Will I be working directly with you, or through skilled assistants, and what procedures should I expect as far as phone calls made and received, mail sent and received, etc.?
(8) What issues, topics, or challenges should I NOT be concerned about, despite what I may hear through the media; what issues, topics, or challenges SHOULD I be concerned about, despite not hearing much about it; and, how will you help me do that?

How to Choose a Planner (CFP Board)

2 Q. What are your qualifications?
A. The term “financial planner” is used by many financial professionals. Ask the planner what qualifies him to offer financial planning advice and whether he is recognized as a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional or CFP® practitioner, a Certified Public Accountant-Personal Financial Specialist (CPA-PFS), or a Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC). Look for a planner who has proven experience in financial planning topics such as insurance, tax planning, investments, estate planning or retirement planning. Determine what steps the planner takes to stay current with changes and developments in the financial planning field. If the planner holds a financial planning designation or certification, check on his background with CFP Board or other relevant professional organizations. [Nice to see they included ChFC along with CFP.]

15 Questions to Ask a Financial Advisor [written by a CPA who is also a financial advisor]

3.   Can the advisor explain their investment philosophy in simple language?  A 10-year-old should be able to understand the logic of the investment philosophy.

5.    Ask the advisor, “why are you in the business?”  “Besides your alarm clock, what makes you get up in the morning?”

6.   Can evidence be presented to back up the advisor’s investment approach?

7.   Where is the advisors own money invested?

That last question might stump many advisors. Would you use a realtor to buy a house who has rented his whole life? Or buy stocks through a stockbroker who keeps all his money in money market funds? Would you keep your savings with a banker who keeps his savings under his mattress? Probably not.

So my advice to you is to click through a few of these articles and try to see things from your client’s perspective. You want to develop clear, convincing and sincere answers to these types of questions. Practice in front of a mirror. Ask your spouse to role play. Or use your webcam to record your answers and give them a critical view. You’ll be glad you did.

Now watch what careful preparation did for Steve Jobs. He made a great first impression. And followed through later on what he said. And prospered. Go and do likewise!

Why “The Lost Decade” is Good News for Financial Advisors

Do you normally see the glass as half empty or half full? I’ve always been a “half-full” kind of guy even when the glass is maybe 1/8 full. I just don’t see the 7/8 empty and just charge ahead undaunted!

It doesn’t take a Wall Street Analyst to see the past decade was a downer for most Americans. The joke about the 401k becoming a 201k is sad/funny just because it’s true for so many people. Of course, the joke should be modified a bit because with 2009 stock market bounce many people now have 301k’s!

Why is this an opportunity for independent financial advisors?

Because many folks tried a “do-it-yourself” approach to retirement planning and investments and came up short over the past 10 years. Their goal of retirement got pushed out so they know they need to do better and soon. Your task? Let them know independent,  objective and well-informed advice can help them reach their financial goals.

So read this article from The Daily Reckoning knowing that plenty of folks in your city need your help to reach their financial goals. Your job is to attract their attention, let them know what makes you different and how that can help them, and then get to work helping them.

The Lost Decade

By Ian Mathias

01/04/10 Baltimore, Maryland – Before we dive into 2010, let’s close the books on the last 10 years — that decade of reckoning. We noted before Christmas that, as we forecast long ago, the major stock indexes were a bust for the decade. But check this out… Were the last 10 years a wash for the whole economy?

The Lost Decade US

So what’s the term for 10 years of no growth in jobs, the slowest GDP growth in 70 years and a 4% fall in inflation-adjusted net worth? Dormancy? Depression? Whatever it is… ouch.

“Historically, downturns have been enormously creative times technologically,” notes Patrick Cox, our tech analyst. “Our current economic mess will be no exception. Economic pressures are forcing reassessments and hard, creative choices. The result will be an explosion of breakthrough technologies. Nobel laureate economist Gary Becker is just one of those studying business cycles who predicts that the recovery from our current mess will be unparalleled and spectacular…

“In the early 1400s, German goldsmith Johannes Gutenberg invented the movable-type printing press. This invention did far more than facilitate book production and increase the availability of knowledge. It started an information technology (IT) revolution that continues to accelerate even today.

“In Gutenberg’s era, his advances in lithography not only increased access to the world’s greatest thinkers. They also put practical business and technical knowledge in the hands of commoners. This seemingly insignificant invention smashed monopolies of thought and political power. The result was exponential growth in science, technology and democratic ideals. The Renaissance and the Enlightenment followed, on up to our present era.

“We’ve already seen a series of printed circuit lithography technologies revolutionize the electronics industry. Every electronic device you own — from your television to your mobile phone — contains a lithographically printed circuit board of one form or another. Like many of the transformational technologies of the last century, it was invented during the Great Depression. The timing was not a fluke.”

Advisor Marketing Goals for 2010

To get anywhere in life you need to know where you want to get to, you need a road map to show you the path to take and then you need to do the most important thing: Take the first step!

In this short video Richard encourages you to create a one page business plan using Jim Horan’s book, The One Page Business Plan. This is the best “first step” you can take for a successful 2010. You can read my review of this outstanding book here.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s3S_yv2KwWM

Happy New Year!

Advisor Marketing with Christmas Cards

In this short video, Richard Emmons explains how sending holiday cards to your clients and prospects can keep your existing clients happy and help you stand out from your competitors. You’ll also learn what to do if you’ve run out of time and it’s too late to send out Christmas cards.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dHOsGXyz0V0

Marketing Success with “Free” Products

Free-Chris-Anderson-300x300In this short video, I review Chris Anderson’s new book: “Free: The Future of a Radical Price.”

Author Chris Anderson makes the case that businesses can often raise profits by giving away quality content.

Financial advisors and other professionals can atract quality prospects by giving away valuable content to qualified prospects. This can be through free reports, community seminars, and articles.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HLCrNY_yl-w

Just remember that your TIME is limited and there are only so many hours in a day.

You can give away lots of free products, such as free reports, and use very little time each day. Free info on your website takes ZERO hours per day once it is set up. Dropping a free written reports takes only a few minutes to write out the address and apply a stamp.

However, when you give away your time, you should try to talk to lots of people at the same time. You can do this by hosting community seminars and speaking on radio shows.

Advisor Marketing Mindset and Ice Storms

icy-roadWe live in the mountains of Southern Oregon about 7 miles north of our town, Grants Pass. There are generally 5 or 10 days a year when we wished we had 4 wheel drive.

Friday night was one of them. Ice storms during the week had caused thousands of homes to be without power. We’d been among them.

I’d just returned from week long business trip and wanted to take the family out to a highly recommended movie: The Blind Side.

Despite some misgivings about the roads, we headed out and got there without a problem. The movie was a winner and definitely worth seeing now rather than waiting for it to hit the rental stores. All we had left was the drive home. Easier said than done.

My decisions and the icy roads combined to add over 12 hours to our ride home.

Let me tell you some of the marketing lessons from all of this.

When we were just 15 minutes from home, the back of our van started fishtailing and I had no traction.

The problem was “black ice” which is clear ice over black pavement. Hard to see. Very difficult to drive upon.

So I took the do-it-yourself approach and spent 30 minutes putting on snow chains. Problem solved? Not exactly.

You guys from Alaska, Maine, and Minnesota must be telling yourselves, “What was he thinking?”

Well, I was thinking it would help me reach my destination. Kind of like an investor doing his own retirement planning. He knows his goal, getting enough money to retire on, but choosing the wrong tool will doom his retirement.

In my case, choosing the wrong tool, snow chains, allowed me to go another 100 yards up the hill. Unfortunately, going down hill I had no way to steer the van and was fortunately to get to the side of the road without landing in the ditch.

Now it was time to call in the professionals. I called the roadside assistance company.

Sadly, all I could get was an automated message telling me that their agents were busy and that it would take at least 4 hours to get service to our area.

At the time we needed their help most, we couldn’t talk to a live human being. No, this wasn’t AAA, we’d switched a few years ago to a different company to save some money.

Marketing lesson #1: Cheaper isn’t always the deal it seems to be. Don’t be afraid to charge higher fees if you’re worth it.

Marketing lesson #2: Try to give your clients the ability to speak to a real human being. One of my advisor clients had a tradition of ALWAYS answering the telephone with a live person. No answering machines, no voice mail, no auto-attendant. When the office was closed (and at lunch time), their phone was answered by an answering service. The planner or someone on staff could be tracked down 24/7/365. Think about how this sets them apart.

At this point, we had 2 choices: walk six miles home over icy roads or 1 mile back to town and stay with friends.

Some of us saw this as an adventure and were clearly in shape enough to walk six miles in the dark at 12:30 at night. Others weren’t so sure.

This is when my “marketing mindset” kicked in.

I imagined the front page of our local paper. Worst case: “Family perishes trying to walk 6 miles through ice storm.” Better case: “Family suffers frostbite attempting nighttime 1/4 marathon over icy roads.”

Neither would reflect very good judgment on my part. My “marketing mindset” told me that going back to town was the way to go.

So we called our pastor at 12:30 and told his wife of our plight. We said we’d call back once we were in town because we didn’t want them to get stuck as well.

And at 1:30 a.m. we got picked up somewhat tired, cold and damp. Within minutes we got to their home for a few laughs and some hot tea.

The next day we were able to pick up our van and get home to our pets. I clocked the mileage and got a pleasant surprise:

The six of us actually walked 2.5 miles getting back to town…2.5 mph was a pretty good pace considering the conditions.

And we didn’t make the front page of the newspaper either. Trust me when I tell you of the necessity of developing a marketing mindset!