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Sowing the Seeds of Significance

How do you want to be remembered? We would like to think that for most advisers, the true meaning of leaving a successful legacy is about changing the lives of your clients for the better.

If you think about it in these terms, imagine the passion that you could infuse into your practice each day. Knowing you are making a difference in people’s lives in a very important way is definitely something we should all aspire to.

As any good gardener knows, you must take meticulous care when planting and nurturing seedlings and harvest when the time is most appropriate. Planting the seeds of significance and sowing them when the time is right in a business setting is no different.

Plant Your Garden

Prospecting with the mindset that you want to truly help others is the first step. You need to be confident and honest with your intentions. There are more people that need your help then those who do not. All you have to do is help them understand how your solutions and expertise could change their lives.

Be sure to know your target market’s common challenges, know what the solutions are for them and know how to ask the right types of questions so that they come to the conclusion that you will bring value to them. When they understand that you are not trying to sell to them but instead are offering real world and relevant advice, what will result is hopefully a long-term relationship.

Nurture Your Garden

Once you have a client base, you must nurture them with your knowledge, expertise and integrity. Your business is truly like a garden. If you choose to neglect it, it will not bear any fruit; the roots of your client relationships will wither, and your clients will simply find another adviser.  However, if you are sincere with your communications and dialogue about wanting to make a positive impact in their lives, they will sense your genuine interest and continue to grow with you.

Harvest Your Garden

Although you may never be privy to the full extent of how your advice and solutions impact your clients’ lives (or maybe the lives of their children or grandchildren), you will know that you have played an integral role in sowing the seeds of significant financial security for your clients and maybe even future generations.

Taking the time to plant, nurture and harvest your business takes dedication, commitment and an unfailing motivation to continually repeat the process. Those in our profession who do just that will find themselves with a bountiful garden.

If you are ready to learn how to bring additional value to your clients, simply schedule a complimentary 30 minute coaching session with Dan Finley at Advisor Solutions by emailing Melissa Denham, Advisor Solutions’ director of client servicing.

Dan FinleyDaniel C. Finley

Advisor Solutions
St. Paul, Minn.

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2 Easy Steps to Effective Drip Marketing

How do you maintain a presence with clients outside of face-to-face meetings? Perhaps you send a holiday card to all of your clients once a year, or your firm emails clients and prospects with a monthly update. No matter how you communicate, chances are your strategies could be improved—especially when you consider that a top reason clients leave advisers is due to a failure to communicate on a timely basis.

How can you boost your communication strategies without investing too much time? With just minutes of set up, you can create year-round campaigns that send targeted resources to every client and prospect in your book.

What Is Drip Marketing?

Drip marketing means sending valuable content to clients and prospects on a regular basis to maintain your presence, strengthen relationships and prove your expertise. Strategically “dripping” messages to your contacts implies tailoring the resources you share to pertain to recipients’ behaviors and statuses. Just like receiving a good article from a friend, receiving relevant content from you will help clients remember you as a consistent source of valuable information, both in and out of planning meetings. Similarly, imagine a prospect who isn’t ready to commit but continues to receive relevant resources from you each month. How likely are they to reconsider in six months—especially if their current adviser does not provide the same thing?

Step 1: Choose Your Groups

To be most effective, you want to send resources that speak specifically to individual issues or targeted pain points—not just generic information. Segmenting your clients and prospects into distribution lists based on like qualities makes this easy to do. Try grouping your clients by investment style, life stage, age or any other relevant factor, and don’t hesitate to include a contact on more than one list. Going forward, whenever you gain a new client or prospect, immediately add them to the appropriate distribution lists. By personalizing your messages a bit further, you can see great results in client retention and prospect engagement.

Step 2: Deliver Valuable, Personalized Content

Your objective is to consistently deliver resources that personally resonate with recipients. Ideally, you should be sending at least one document per month to keep your name top of mind. These monthly activities could range from sending a timely email to sharing a relevant article to delivering an educational piece. Once you have distribution lists created, it’s easy to choose content relevant to an entire group to simplify your work and share with ease.

Use the Right Tools

Most advisers agree that drip marketing is a great idea, but lack the necessary resources (time, good collateral and the right tools) to execute it. A software solution can set up drip marketing campaigns for all of your prospects and clients in minutes. Attendees of FPA’s Annual Conference—FPA BE Seattle, visit us in the exhibit hall at booth 705 to learn more.

Market Analyst
Advicent Solutions
Milwaukee, Wis.

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Are You Spending, or Investing for the Future?

What is the first thing you did today for your business? Did you have coffee with a prospective client or draft the quarterly market letter? Was it interviewing a potential new employee or reviewing a client’s financial plan? How is the rest of your day shaping up? Will you be moving the business forward toward your vision, or simply making sure your business lives to see another day?

As a financial professional, you know that an investment in the future has the potential to pay far greater dividends than spending for immediate gratification. Are your business activities investing for the future or spending?

Investing in your business requires that you have a vision of what you want that business to be. It is identical to the process of creating financial plans or developing investment portfolios for clients. You must discover what your client desires for the future—providing for retirement, education expenses, starting a business or eventual wealth transfer. Specifying an outcome for the future determines the steps needed today, tomorrow and so on. A client invests for the future outcome.

A client without a plan or vision for the future is much more inclined to spend rather than invest. Isn’t it more fun to have the immediate gratification of a new house, car, clothes or a vacation, than to think “I’ll save this for the future”? If there is no compelling vision for the future, the choice often defaults to spend.

Without a vision, you spend time on activities that may not create value for the future. Regular networking at your local chamber of commerce may be a frequent marketing activity for you. Yet, if your ideal client—the person most likely to benefit from your vision—is not represented at the meeting, you’ve spent rather than invested time. Without a vision for your firm and who it serves, it is unlikely you truly know who your ideal client is and where to find them. You are spending for the gratification of being able to check “marketing” off your to-do list.

Financial advisers with a vision know what activities will move them in a direction that prepares for the future. Serving on a non-profit board for a cause they care about puts them in front of other professionals with similar values. Relationships deepen, referrals are made and an expanded meaningful network is created.

Invest the time to develop your vision. Invest your team with the vision, and together you will discover myriad ways to grow that investment, enjoying a multitude of returns along the way.

Barbara StewartBarbara Stewart, CFP®
Coach to financial advisers
Owner and founder
Accelus Partners
Houston, Texas


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21 Questions Your Website Needs to Answer (Fast!)

As an adviser, your website is one of the most essential marketing tools and is likely the only member of your team working 24/7 to represent your brand. Determining its focus and direction should be the cornerstone of your firm’s online marketing strategy. You can bet that your target market is looking for you online. Make sure they find you, as well as find answers to all of their questions about your firm.

So, what do people do on the Internet? The majority of web users are seeking information. To give your website a chance, focus on its visitors’ intentions. What information are they looking for, and how can you help them find it? Focus on making your website easily navigable and chock-full of answers.

Most advisers feel they need a website to validate their firm and provide legitimacy to the organization—and that’s true! But when visitors arrive to your company’s site, they’ll want to know more than whether or not you exist. In fact, they’ll want to know a lot more. Many of these questions are answered within the subconscious. (Is this company good or bad? Trustworthy? Credible?) And many of these questions are answered rather quickly. In 2012, a research team from Carlton University discovered that people make a decision about the appeal of a website in only 50 milliseconds—that’s 50/1,000 of one second!

The bottom line is, you have very little time to win over web visitors. Here is a list of 21 questions that web visitors want answered when they arrive to your website. Make sure answers to these questions can be found easily and quickly. A good rule of thumb is to have answers to the following questions answered within three clicks of entering your site.

  1. Am I in the right place?
  2. Is this company real?
  3. Is it credible?
  4. Is this website up-to-date?
  5. Is it trustworthy? Why should I trust the people who work here?
  6. Is this a professional company?
  7. Is this company stable?
  8. Does this site make me feel welcome?
  9. Is the navigation easy to find and use?
  10. Can I find the information I’m looking for?
  11. Is this company affiliated with other financial institutions?
  12. Does this company have a physical location? Where is it?
  13. How many people work here? Is the team large enough to fulfill my needs?
  14. What is the company culture like?
  15. How is this firm different than the last firm I looked into?
  16. What is it like to work with your company?
  17. How do other people feel about this company?
  18. Why should I spend money here?
  19. How can you help me?
  20. I’m not ready to make a decision, but I want to stay in touch. Can I subscribe to a blog or newsletter?
  21. What should I do next?


Maggie Crowley 1Maggie Crowley
Marketing Coordinator
Advisor Websites
Vancouver, British Columbia


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Tips for Building a Referral Strategy

It’s no secret—more client referrals mean better business. In fact, a 2010 report by The Oechsli Institute found that 54 percent of affluent clients surveyed had made their selection of financial adviser as the result of a personal introduction. However, many clients find being asked outright for referrals to be off-putting or overly aggressive. With an increasing emphasis being placed on garnering client referrals and gaining client trust, how do you generate one without jeopardizing the other?

Beyond Advising—Breaking the Social Barrier

Sure, you know your clients well on paper. But what about on the golf course? Hosting client events are important because in order to trust you, your clients need to feel that they know you on a personal level. Consider hosting a small, strictly social event that allows clients to mingle with advisers in an informal setting. Clients surveyed by The Oechsli Institute stated that they would be most likely to attend this type of event and that they felt the most comfortable bringing guests to this type of an event—and guests mean more opportunities for face-to-face referrals.

Establishing a social repertoire with clients can also allow you to feel more comfortable asking for direct referrals without coming off as pushy. More than 40 percent of elite advisers (defined by The Oechsli Institute as those making $1 million or more per year) held four or more of these small social events over the past 12 months. Coincidence? Definitely not.

Expand Your Strategic Approach

In addition to hosting social events, elite advisers employ other client-generating strategies that are also worth imitating:

Referral alliances: Develop working relationships with others in the financial field to open up your referral flow. Look for professionals who don’t compete with you, who appreciate your expertise and who are open to a two-way referral alliance relationship. You may be surprised at how many referrals a solid professional presence can provide you.

Niche marketing: Focusing on just one or a few types of clients can seem limiting, but often the most successful advisers actually have fewer clients. How? These advisers have learned to focus on client specialization. Narrower markets offer more opportunity for recognition and referrals, so client acquisition through word-of-mouth becomes exponentially easier. With fewer clients, you can spend more time building client relationships, which eventually leads to greater client loyalty and a greater chance that clients will introduce you to other prospects.

Strategic networking: Get involved in organizations within the community that attract high net worth clients, such as country clubs or fundraising events, and commit to spending some out-of-office time in these places. By prospecting clients in these types of environments, you are more likely to attract the type of clients you want and gain both respect and trust within these communities.

Above All, Don’t Be Passive

Many financial advisers assume that if they remain in business for long enough, doing what they have always done, they will become successful over time. Although it’s nice to believe that doing well and meeting client expectations is enough to succeed, this approach is simply not effective. Many advisers with the highest earnings actually have less experience than other, lower-earning advisers. But how could they have built a stronger reputation in a shorter amount of time? After looking at the strategies these advisers use, it’s clear that they have learned where to focus their energy to be successful rather than taking a passive approach. Start socializing, find your focus, work at networking within your community and see improvement in your client relationships and client referrals.

Brian WalshBrian Walsh, CFP®, CLU®, CASL®
Manager, Partner Relations

Advicent Solutions
Milwaukee, Wis.

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White Papers: A Great Source for Content Marketing

To stand out and engage audiences in today’s super-crowded marketing landscape, strong content marketing is imperative. A viable source for content marketing is the often-overlooked white paper.

A well thought-out and well-written white paper that addresses a current issue of great importance to your clients and prospects will position you as a trusted expert source, contribute to build trust, credibility and thought leader status. It will also raise brand awareness and, if properly marketed, act as potential catalyst for journalists in search of expert opinions. Ultimately, it will contribute to drive traffic to your website, encourage phone and email inquiries, as well as enable you to collect valuable demographics from would-be readers.

Readers will be genuinely engaged only if the perspective you provide in a white paper is relevant to them and clearly defines what it can do for them, how it will help them effectively address their problems, lessen their pains and the key goals it will help them attain.

Here are a few tips on how to make your next white paper successful:

Have a Unique Topic

You are the expert in your field and no one knows your market niche as well as you do. Consequently, do your homework and identify a relevant topic that has not been the topic of a recent white paper. Just as it is for your business, a unique selling proposition (topic) will help attract attention. In your research, stay clear of white label products, poorly researched topics and statistics, as well as data from questionable or unknown sources.

Map It Out

Before you begin writing, draw out a structure for your white paper, outlining the different paragraphs and ensuring that content will follow a logical progression. Find the most appropriate third-party statistics, studies, articles and exhibits, and verify whether or not you need permission to reference them in your document. If you need to address issues that command the use of specific technical terms, resort to footnotes and/or a glossary to provide appropriate explanations. A glossary will also give your white paper a more professional look.

Use an Appropriate Tone

Do not assume that your audience possesses an in-depth knowledge of the topic and is familiar with the industry jargon. Craft concise sentences and short paragraphs in a crisp, clear language to make your white paper easy to read. Implement a writing style that reflects your personality. Do not get too casual, but seek to write with the same tone you’d use when explaining the topic to a prospect during a face-to-face conversation. 

Promote It

Begin by making sure that your white paper displays the logo and full name of your firm, as well as the office contacts on the front cover and possibly last page. Leverage social media platforms and email to announce its publication and availability for download. Your email and social media announcements should feature links to a customized page that provides no distractions and makes interested parties feel comfortable to relinquish their email and contact information in exchange for your valuable document. The content of your white paper can also help you create your own editorial calendar. You can expand on concepts, data, statistics and research findings and use them as topics for a series of videos, blogs, advisories and short articles you can periodically disseminate via social media. This will help spark conversations, gain followers and increase the odds of getting some media attention.

Be Prepared

When publishing anything, be it an article, op-ed or white paper, be prepared to accept the possibility that someone out there will not share your same point of view and openly disagree with you. If you have done good research and backed up your claims with sound facts and figures, this is the time when you will resort to them to stand your ground. Do not engage in hand-to-hand combat, rather use the opportunity of the verbal challenge as a viable PR opportunity to further articulate, refine and reiterate your views and opinions.

As always, questions and comments are welcome.

Claudio PannunzioClaudio Pannunzio
i-Impact Group Inc.
Greenwich, Conn.

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How to Make Conference Attendance Pay Off

FPA’s annual conference—BE Seattle 2014 is next month. Sure, it’s packed with more than 20 hours of continuing education credits for CFP certificants, but if you go only to fill up your renewal requirements, you will be missing out on achieving essential marketing objectives.

Before you hop on your flight or drive over to the convention center, consider this list of questions about you and your practice:

  • What do you want to create?
  • Where are you stuck?
  • What have you avoided?
  • Where do you need help?
  • Who can help you?
  • Who do you want to meet?
  • What is next in your marketing plan?
  • What skills do you want to improve?

With these answers in mind you can set a high bar for what you want to accomplish at this conference. How can you strategically engage in the conference so you can walk away with tangible next steps for your marketing?

Set 3 Objectives

I challenge you to set three objectives for the conference, with at least one related to your marketing. “I just want to be around my peers,” or “I want to hear what’s new” doesn’t cut it. I want you to clearly state what you will feel fulfilled about when you leave with this “in hand.”


  • “I will identify three other planners who target my specific niche and set up a meetings to discuss ways we can partner.”
  • “I will meet with two journalists to understand their beat and ways I could support them.”
  • “I will meet with the two CRM providers I have narrowed down for consideration and get the information I need to make a decision by X date.”
  • “I will state with confidence my specific target audience at least 25 times during the conference.” (Saying “nearly retired” doesn’t count. Get more specific!)

Maybe you’ve identified some specific personal development skills on which you want to work. If you are generally introverted, for instance, then focus on improving your ability to interact in larger group situations. Challenge yourself with a measurable objective, “I will meet 10 new advisers I don’t know during the cocktail hour(s) and engage at least long enough to know whom I would refer to them.”

Bring It Up a Notch

It is easy to escape to a conference, sit in your hotel room and feel good that you are learning, but that strategy won’t help you with your marketing. You must take your participation up a few notches. How else can you engage in this conference to maximize your return?

When you are attending a conference (especially on your own dime), you start to see that the ROI needs to be more than just a few more hours of CE.  You are in charge of your experience—decide what you want from the event and make it happen.

Now, a question for you: What is the most creative way you have leveraged a meeting of your peers or a conference environment to improve your marketing? Give that some thought and reply here.

See you in Seattle! I’m at table T20, just beyond the demo area in the exhibit hall. Stop by and introduce yourself!

Kristin Harad 2014Kristin Harad, CFP®
Marketing trainer for advisers
San Francisco

Editor’s Note: Meet Kristin in person at FPA’s annual conference—BE Seattle 2014! Stop by the FPA Booth during the opening reception in the exhibit hall between 6 and 7 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 20 for a meet and greet with Kristin and fellow Practice Management Blogger Maggie Crowley. 


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