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The Fulfillment Formula: Increase Return on Effort and Reap Full Benefits of Independence

If you ask independent financial advisers what the most rewarding part of being on their own is, most would answer:

(1) freedom of being an entrepreneur without a boss or a set schedule, where you can do what matters most to you when you choose;

(2) empowerment from creating your own destiny, leading your life, achieving success on your terms; and

(3) deep satisfaction that comes from developing meaningful connection with clients while directly and positively impacting lives.

These three benefits blend together to render a certain level of fulfillment. Whether that fulfillment is slight or maximized depends on how realized each one is in your professional (and daily) life. Essentially your fulfillment becomes a function of your return on your effort.

I don’t like to trivialize the concept of fulfillment as it is one of my driving core values; however, I know that if I keep the notion of fulfillment amorphous you will not make the progress you desire to mold your practice into what you know it can be. Too many advisers linger in a state of mediocre fulfillment, wondering why they aren’t getting more satisfaction from their work or unsure what to do next to leap from their current plateau.

To help you find clarity I have broken down the concept into what I call The Fulfillment Formula.

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Copyright 2016 Broderick Street Partners, LLC. All rights reserved.

The Numerator: Revenue
To increase your return, you can increase your revenue. It may seem obvious why we care about revenue, but for advisers who do not operate with intention to increase revenue, I want to remind you of this: you run a business. You need to make money to continue to have a profitable sustainable business over the long term. Otherwise, you have a hobby, a side gig or a charitable endeavor, and this formula does not apply.

At the very least your revenue needs to cover business expenses and the necessary personal expenses that your income funds. Revenue over that baseline threshold serves luxury personal expenses, savings and retirement, donations, gifts, child or parent support and wherever you choose to direct your cash.

Keeping effort constant, as you increase your revenue, you can achieve a higher return on effort and, thus, greater fulfillment.

The Denominator: Effort
We usually think about effort as the time, energy or money going into your business.

As an entrepreneur, you know it is much more than those resources—it’s also the heart, soul, sweat, blood and tears, too.

With only 24 hours in a day, multiple hats to wear as an entrepreneur, and the pressures of life outside the office, your personal effort can only take you so far before you start to exhaust your resources. You need to shift your support system to your team and technology to gain leverage and lower the effort you exert.

Even if revenue stays the same, as you decrease your effort you increase your return on effort and fulfillment level.

Amplify Your Fulfillment
As you can see, the relationship between revenue and effort renders either positive or negative fulfillment:

  • If your revenue is greater than your effort, you have positive return on effort and therefore a positive level of fulfillment. You may be satisfied with your current position, or you may desire to leap from this plateau to new levels of achievement in your business.
  • If your revenue is less the sum of your effort that you invest, then you will be in a negative state of fulfillment, perhaps questioning why you are continuing on this path or wondering how long it will last.

In either position, your can change your status quo when you increase the dollars coming into your business and/or decrease the effort that you exert in the business.

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Copyright 2016 Broderick Street Partners, LLC. All rights reserved.

As you grow the numerator or reduce the denominator, you will improve the return on your effort and experience an upward movement of your fulfillment.

Over time, as you build out client attraction and relationship marketing systems and find support for your operations to maximize return from The Fulfillment Formula, you will be able to amplify your fulfillment and reap the full benefits of independence.

Kristin Harad 2014Kristin C. Harad, CFP®
Marketing Trainer/Coach
KristinHarad.com
San Francisco, Calif. 


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Become an Authority: Establishing Your Financial Planning Career

Did you know that in the last year there were 308,937 financial planners practicing in the United States? That much competition makes it hard to stand out amongst the crowd. The industry is getting hit with a flood of advisers, including robo-advisers, so the competition isn’t going anywhere. Set up your business for long-term success, so you can continue to dominate and stand out from the crowd.

To make yourself known in the financial planning world, it’s essential to follow these all-too-important tips, ranging from managing client relationships to your marketing strategy.

1.) Gain Clients’ Trust
One of the most important aspects of your business should naturally be the clients, but there are several ways to improve the quality of your relationship with those valuable customers.

While you can be a financial planner to any potential client base, it’s important to find a target niche. Whether the niche is dentists, entrepreneurs, doctors—you name it—developing a niche and dominating it makes you become the expert in the field. Fine tuning your client base allows you to provide solutions for a specific group of people and customize plans to their needs.

When a client comes to you for financial planning advice, they already have a mission and their own goals. You need to make it your objective to find out what these expectations are and exceed them. Your planning advice needs to be correlated in line with theirs and if you fail to make the connection between their goals, the client will walk away from your services for good.

Building trust within your client base is one of the most crucial aspects to running your business. As a financial planner, you need to act in the best interest of your clients 100 percent of the time because you are dealing with a customer’s private material. Putting yourself in your client’s shoes will no doubt help you make better decisions for them, but it will also make the client appreciate your personalized approach.

2.) Have Patience
Patience is a virtue, but not everyone has it, especially when you’re thrown into the hectic life of a financial planner. When you’re meeting with a client, though, it’s best to put your restlessness oh hold and make your clients feel like they have all the time in the world. Then you can truly listen to what they’re saying so you can get all of the pieces to the puzzle while giving the best financial advice possible.

Utilizing customer relationship management tools could be helpful. Programs such as Salesforce, Pipedrive and Marketing 360, among many others, help you remember important details about each and every one of your clients. By simply remembering a birthday or a major life event, a client will feel like you are truly listening to them and they will feel more at ease when you’re meeting to talk about personal details. Keeping up with the latest software developments for your profession will not only help you offer great service, but will also allow you to track your ROI for each client and help you easily distinguish between effective and ineffective marketing campaigns.

3.) Educate Yourself, Put Yourself Out There 
Obviously, existing clients will always be the heartbeat of your business, but reeling in new clients is essential to keep that pulse pumping. To attract new clients you need to validate your professional expertise, meaning you should be constantly putting out fresh content through speaking at events, writing articles or blogs and sharing other industry experts’ content through social media.

David Molnar, a managing director at HighTower San Diego financial services firm, stated in an August 9, 2016 Investopedia story, “The more often you are seen at various events and networking functions, the more you will be viewed as an expert by others.”

One of the best ways to put yourself out there and stand out from the competition is to become the authority in your field. By definition, Authority Marketing™ is a strategic process of systematically positioning a person or organization as the leader and expert in their industry, community or marketplace to command outsize influence over all competitors. Essentially, it drives new leads, expands your profit and creates fame for yourself and your business.

This process is built on seven pillars that you need to succeed: branding and omnipresence, content marketing, public relations and media, lead generation, referral marketing and speaking. Educating yourself on each of these can open the door for a whole new prosperous world for your business.

Standing out from the competition involves developing a trusting relationship with clients, being patient, and implementing Authority Marketing strategies. Following these essential tips will not only develop yourself as a professional but will also launch your business’ profile to stand out from the competition.

For more information on how you can stand out from the competition, request your complimentary copy of Adam Witty’s new book Lead The Field. To request your no-cost copy, click here.

emily-fisherEmily Fisher
Marketing Copywriter
Advantage Media
Charleston, S.C.


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Persuading through Themes

Effective advertising centers on repetition. Only after a certain level of exposure will the target audience gain familiarity with the message and visuals. And, only with familiarity will persuasive messages motivate the audience to purchase. This core tenet is nothing more than how humans naturally learn.

The typical advisory firm is a small business with a limited budget for marketing outreach. The good news is the resource for persuasion today—marketing through digital means—is readily available and low cost (if not free of hard-dollar costs).

Thematic Repetition
There are many resources available to guide advisers in establishing an effective digital and social media presence; that’s not the focus here. This post emphasizes persuasion through using strategic marketing themes merchandised through various digital outlets.

A theme can be reflected in content on an adviser’s home page, detailed in a blog, merchandised in an email blast or newsletter, summarized via Twitter, captured visually in a Facebook feed and tailored in an email message. To an adviser’s relationships, the theme—and the benefits it delivers—is internalized through exposure to these different communication channels.

The WIIFM Reality
WIIFM—an acronym for “what’s in it for me”—in many ways determines the willingness for a message recipient to be moved persuasively.

While we like to think that simply imparting our wisdom and advice should be enough, the market wants the benefits clearly presented and immediate. It’s essential to understand that WIIFM isn’t just the benefits at the final sale, but at every desired interaction.

Another WIIFM marketing aspect is the trust building from successfully delivering a string of benefits, even small ones within the larger theme itself. The more a recipient experiences valuable interactions, the more likely he or she will be to engage in intensive communication indicative of meetings deeper in the sales process.

Themes Linked to Business Strategies
Think of a theme as a story. The story tells a reader what the problem is, who is involved and the outcome. The same story can be told with gripping character details in a lengthy book, as a picture book or a simple two-sentence synopsis.

A marketing theme supports a strategic service. A lot of marketing money is wasted because an adviser’s service solution, and its associated benefits, don’t explicitly demonstrate how a market’s needs are satisfied.

A Thematic Delivery Hierarchy
A properly executed theme produces persuasive content in different forms and scope. At the top level in the hierarchy, the theme is explained in its fullest form while at the bottom the theme is tailored to particular client/prospect circumstances.

Marketing Content Hierarchy“Explain” Level: In many ways, this level is the most formative since the theme is fully presented and detailed. From here, each other level can be traced.

  • Delivery Method: White papers and presentations
  • Marketing Role: During the writing process, the theme shows itself as a prototype. As ideas are described and linked, any logic, persuasion or process weaknesses are exposed before the theme becomes operationally active. Once finalized, the document—attractively presented and written persuasively—becomes a guidebook illustrating the theme’s full benefit inventory to the client/prospect audience.

“Segment” Level: A marketing theme is actually comprised of key segments (i.e. features or functions) and each has associated benefits. Think of a segment as a subplot or episode in a larger story.

  • Delivery Method: Blogs, e-newsletters and website content
  • Marketing Role: Presenting focused segments one by one results in a content calendar. A segment has its own benefits, and these are spotlighted (and especially meaningful for those clients/prospects needing one set of benefits more than others).

“Point” Level: This level emphasizes specific WIIFM benefits.

  • Delivery Method: Email blasts, Facebook feeds and website visuals/photographs
  • Marketing Role: A single, key benefit is presented to motivate recipients to learn more (through the two higher levels).

“Fit” Level: This engagement level answers a client/prospect’s questions through the theme itself. Some people call this “staying on message,” but it’s more accurate to view it as retelling the theme directly through the client/prospect’s circumstances.

  • Delivery Method: Email replies, phone calls, face-to-face meetings and Facebook posts.

Persuasion Culminates in Conversion
Today, people have many defenses to persuasion. People want to take in information on their own time and under their control. Yet, persuasion happens every day when a mind is opened because a message hits a need and a solution’s benefits are there to fulfill it. A strategic marketing theme persuades through delivered benefits.

Kirk Loury

Kirk Loury
President
Wealth Planning Consulting Inc.
Princeton Junction, New Jersey


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Don’t Have a Bad Online Presence

If you don’t have a website or LinkedIn profile—or you have them but they’re not very strong—then you’re doing the equivalent of inviting prospects and clients to a meeting in a messy office space.

Consumers are hesitant to make even minor purchases (shoes, household appliances, etc.) from companies with a bad online presence because they view those companies skeptically and can’t build initial trust. How do you think this same scenario plays out with someone looking to entrust someone with their life savings?

There are many various studies you can find regarding an investor’s purchase journey and the importance of having a strong website and LinkedIn profile. A strong online presence allows potential clients the opportunity to: (A) get to know you a bit before contacting you; (B) build a level of trust regarding your expertise; and (C) provide them a mechanism for contacting you. But you don’t need to read those studies—common sense should tell you that if you’re going to trust someone with something as important as financial planning, you want to know the financial planner is legitimate. Not existing online or having a weak online presence sends the prospect a signal that you might not be legitimate. Would you trust a professional service provider if you couldn’t find any information about them online?

Taking simple steps like ensuring your web content is up-to-date and reflects your value proposition can help people decide to take the next step in their journey toward finding a financial planner. 

Jeremy Jackson

 

Jeremy Jackson
Owner/founder
SKY Marketing Consultants
Kirkwood, MO

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Financial Planning Association members can get 50 percent of SKY Marketing Consultants‘ digital audit services (a discount of up to $300). For more information visit MyFPA

Look for the Journal of Financial Planning’s July issue for more marketing tips for financial planners. 


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Paid, Owned and Earned Media—a Must for Your Marketing Strategy 

 

During a recent seminar I conducted for a group of financial advisers titled, “Leveraging Marketing Content to Build Credibility, Gain Visibility and Grow Your Business,” my audience posed several questions about content types such as paid, owned and earned media.

In our digital age, marketing content is king. Consumers no longer rely exclusively on print and broadcast media to get their information about products and services. Access to a plethora of online content from expert sources enables them to make educated decisions for their purchases. This has significantly altered the traditional, straightforward path to sales and created a compelling need for service and product providers to generate valuable content. The latter plays a crucial role in establishing an ongoing social media dialogue with consumers to establish credibility from the inception of the sales process, generate brand recognition and shorten the sales cycle.

In the seminar, while a handful of advisers had a vague idea of paid, owned and earned media, many desired to hear definitions of each and how each relates to content generation and, most important, how to make it part of an overall marketing strategy.

Here are broad definitions: generally speaking, paid media is useful to generate brand recognition and collect client demographics. Owned media helps build brand experience and earned media helps foster conversation about a brand. For those of you not familiar with this media triad, here is a brief overview of them:

Paid media: Any paid activity aimed at disseminating your messages and attracting visibility to your brand. Better known as advertising, it involves print and broadcast media, as well as any type of paid social media, such as promoted Facebook posts, sponsored LinkedIn ads and pay-per-click.

Paid media contributes very little to building credibility. However, it is very useful for creating brand awareness and gathering valuable audience demographics. It is a viable means of mass communication, especially when used in combination with owned or earned media and it must feature call-to-actions based on customer benefits.

Let me explain: to generate new business leads, an adviser can use paid media to promote her appearance on a radio or TV interview. She can add to her paid media a call-to-action to direct prospects to her website to download a digital “freemium,” such as a white paper or a podcast—her owned media—and capture prospects’ contact information and other key information.

Owned media: The channels created, owned and controlled by your business. These include your website, social media accounts, mobile site, blog, email list and any content you give away with the intent to generate leads.

Owned media enables advisers to be in complete control of what free content to distribute, when and how. Owned media’s popularity is rising fast, as consumers increasingly rely on online information to make their buying and investment decisions.

A recent inPowered/Nielsen study confirmed that when considering the purchase of a product or service, consumers currently seek out and rely on content generated by trusted expert sources five times more than they did five years ago. Often, the boundaries between earned and owned media are not as clear as they can appear. For example, an adviser’s blog post (owned media) when republished by a media outlet or an influential industry blog(s) will be considered earned media.

Earned media: What your followers, fans and clients say about you and your expertise. It attracts the attention of your key audiences, and if they like your brand and message(s), they become your brand evangelists and influencers by voluntarily sharing your content, insights, tips and brand with prospects and additional potential brand advocates in the social media world and by word-of-mouth.

Retweets, shares, likes and mentions, which are not paid for, are earned media. It is the hardest type of media to secure, yet it’s the most trustworthy and instrumental to the success and growth of your business. The direct effect of earned media—retweets and/or mentions of your name, an interview or quote in a leading print or broadcast media outlet—is immediate and strong credibility. Press, radio and TV especially provide an adviser with the most powerful third-party endorsement by positioning her or him as an authority and a trusted expert source.

As consumers increasingly depend on online content to gather valuable information, advisers must implement tactics that drive traffic to their websites and increase visibility for their brands, expertise and services. This can be achieved by developing holistic online marketing strategies that astutely combine paid, owned and earned media models to tell a consistent story that engages and motivates their audiences.

Claudio PannunzioClaudio O. Pannunzio
President and Founder
i-Impact Group
Greenwich, Conn.


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FPA Retreat 2016 Attendees Rave, Can’t Wait for Next Year

_MG_5050 -h WEBDespite it being one of the last sessions of FPA Retreat 2016, the session presented by Daniel Crosby, Ph.D., President at Nocturne Capital and author of The Laws of Wealth: Psychology and the secret to investing successwas packed.

His dynamic presentation on how to help clients follow your best advice had attendees listening and laughing.

“Any presenter will tell you that (s)he feeds off of the energy of the crowd,” Crosby said. “No group is as informed and engaged as the folks at FPA Retreat.”

That’s the thing about FPA Retreat—its intimate setting is an ideal environment to share ideas, experience interactive learning and re-energize planners. This year’s conference—which was focused on storytelling for business—was well-received by planners who attended.

“We shared our stories with each other and reached a deeper level of understanding and friendship with our colleagues,” said Clare Stenstrom, CFP®, CFT™, with Luesink Stenstrom Financial. “It helped us get to know the new attendees and bring them into the Retreat family.”

Another session that was a hit was the session on story-based marketing by Shelley A. Lee, founder and creative director of Ashworth-Lee Communications. Yusef Abugideiri, CFP®, financial planner at Yeske Buie, said Lee captured the importance of storytelling for business.

“The exercises she had the audience do … challenged us to think about what the most important parts of the story are and how to engage with clients such that we learn the most important parts of their story,” Abugideiri said.

IMG_0347Stenstrom said the session by Jeff Belkora, Ph.D., author of DEAL! Discovery, Engagement, and Leverage for Professionals, and its interactive session were helpful.

“Belkora was fantastic and he stayed for the remainder of Retreat enriching our discussions,” Stenstrom said.

“Those who attend Retreat will find themselves richly rewarded by an inclusive community that is eager to share its collective knowledge,” Crosby, who was also an attendee, said. “The focus on self-development at FPA Retreat is unparalleled. All conferences seek to educate the participants, but Retreat goes one step further and aims to change participant behavior from the inside out.”

Stenstrom added, “Can’t wait for next year.”

Did you miss FPA Retreat this year, or just want to register for 2017 early? Join us next year at Château Élan in North Atlanta, Georgia April 24-27, 2017. Use the code PARET17 for $100 off if you register before May 31, 2016.

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Ana Trujillo
Associate Editor
Journal of Financial Planning
Denver, Colo.


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Successful Branding: The 6 Questions to Ask Yourself

Today’s changing environment—which embraces technology, data and value—couldn’t be more exciting.

That’s what TD Ameritrade Institutional’s Managing Director Kate Healy said to a room full of FPA Retreat 2016 attendees at the Wigwam Resort.

Planners are able to communicate to prospective and current clients their qualifications and certifications, but now is the time to learn to communicate your value through branding.

“It’s great that you have the credentials, now you need to make the connection,” Healy said.

Currently, financial services ranks below the chemical industry when it comes to trust in the industry. That’s not great considering current clients say what they value most is having an adviser they can trust.

“We have to change that narrative,” Healy said. “You need to be able to tell the story of what you offer.”

Branding is what creates clients’ emotional connections to you. It shows who you are and it matters in differentiating yourself from the competition, establishing credibility and making clients comfortable.

To start your branding process, you need to ask yourself six questions, Healy said. Those questions are:

  1. Who are you? Find an independent third party to poll your clients about who you are and how you add value to their lives.
  2. Who do you serve? Figure out who you currently serve.
  3. What do you do? Showcase your unique value proposition.
  4. How do you do it? This doesn’t mean the six-step financial planning process—everyone does that—but this is the specific twist you add to that process. Maybe examine using different words you could communicate to current and prospective clients.
  5. Why do you do it that way? So you’re a fiduciary, but why? Tell the story behind why you do things the way that you do them. Why did you become a financial planner? Infuse your story with that human element.
  6. Why are you the best choice? The reason clients pick you most likely isn’t your education or fee structure, it’s most likely the connection they felt with you on a personal level.

The important thing is when current or prospective clients see or hear your story—as told through your company branding—it makes them feel something. They’ll remember you and most likely choose you because of that emotion.

“Emotion is the yellow highlighter in your brain,” Healy said.

Did you miss Retreat this year, or just want to register for 2017 early? Join us next year at Château Élan in North Atlanta, Georgia April 24-27, 2017. Use this code (PARET17) for $100 off if you register before May 31, 2016.

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Ana Trujillo
Associate Editor
Journal of Financial Planning
Denver, Colo.