In a rapidly changing business environment, it is important to hit the “pause” button regularly and have a deep think. Accelerating change requires a commitment to ongoing reassessment of your activities because mindsets, resources and strategies are evolving faster than the industry can keep up. You need to take time to continuously rethink and develop new perspectives on what works, why and how you apply them to move your business forward.
To that end, we reached out to Institute members Kirk Lowe and Matt Halloran of Proudmouth – a done-for-you podcasting and influence accelerator company that has a great tagline of “liberating financial experts from the torment of sales.” Based on a great discussion they had on their Top Advisor podcast “Our 7 Biggest Marketing Lessons From 2021 for Financial Advisors,” we wanted to dig more into their insightful observations and how they turned their lessons learned from a very hectic year into marketing approaches that scales advisors’ credibility and attracts ideal clients.
Hortz: What was happening with your business in 2021 that caused you to take stock on your activities?
Lowe: In 2021, we rebranded from Top Advisor Marketing to ProudMouth, surpassed 300 episodes of the Top Advisor Marketing podcast, expanded to over 100 industry podcasts that we run for industry experts, and built a learning platform called PodRocket Academy. While these are all great milestones for our company, the most valuable milestone is the creation of our RocketBooster Influence Assessment. We have known for years that most advisors do not have a marketing plan. What is worse is how few know what good marketing is. And it’s not the advisors’ fault. They have been misled by so many marketing “experts.” Our assessment will help advisors, and other professionals, score their marketing game plan, identify gaps in thinking and tactics, and show them how to fill the gaps with links to courses, resources and experts all located inside of our online academy. We have systematized creating a robust marketing plan with the why, how and who. We think it is going to be a game changer for advisors and the companies they work with.
Halloran: We have been busy. And we learned a lot about marketing last year, but we had to sit down to regularly review and discuss together, to pull out lessons and develop new strategies and actions from all this whir of activity. We cannot really change how advisors market if we cannot help them where they’re at, and why. If they do not have the mindset to be successful for the next 5-10 years, we need to fix that.
Listening is everything, so we asked ourselves, “what do advisors need to change their trajectory and sustain that?” We are going to keep asking that question, but we have taken a huge leap in answering it for advisors. Our next big challenge here is to start benchmarking the industry and how good a job everyone is doing at marketing, company to company, and advisor to advisor. Another way we can help do this is by making it easy for advisors to track their RocketBooster Influence score as they implement their tactics. We have gamified marketing but not at the cost of marketing excellence. We are super proud of this.
Hortz: What process do you both follow to arrive at your learnings and develop them into strategies for advisors?
Lowe: We follow a Kaizen mantra of continuous growth and gradual improvement. We also take a Lean Startup approach by testing and improving before we launch new tactics, courses, and services. A year ago, we hired an analytics expert which has helped us take a deeper look at what is happening with our clients’ success; why some are killing it and where others can use more help. This played a substantial impact in us building the influence assessment. We are investing cash flow back into helping our clients achieve more success, more quickly and more sustainably.
Halloran: We first practice before we preach. We have built our business on the exact same marketing principles and tactics that we teach and do for advisors. We also learn from the five years of collaborating with advisors, and the many fintech, wealthtech, media, and RIAs we serve. I would say most recently our Mastermind groups have produced some great ideas, several of which have been implemented in our teachings and service protocols.
Hortz: What were some of the biggest lessons you both determined about advisor marketing and engagement efforts?
Lowe: Mindset is probably the number one lesson. If your worldview of marketing is not right, your marketing will fail. It may fail slowly but eventually it will fail and when you realize it, you will be years behind. The people who invest in relationships with their ideal audiences focus on their credibility, and then scale that. They are building marketing equity with their audience. We used to call that “rapport building” so you could “sell” someone. Now we call it “Influence” so you can “turn a skeptic into a fan” over time. We call this the “Influence Continuum,” moving people from skeptic to fan over time.
In the past, advisors have learned to do this with interruption marketing, event marketing or cookie-cutter marketing campaigns. These things do not move people from skeptics to fans, hence their marketing is not moving their business forward. This type of marketing has no soul. Great marketing has a soul – you, what you know, who you serve and what you care about. Filling the pipeline is important, but not if your marketing has no soul, and does not attract the right people for the right reasons.
Halloran: Time is a big lesson. Powerful marketing takes time and advisors need to trust the process. This is why many do not do well at building sustainable marketing. They are always focused on short-term results, not long-term momentum. The thought-leaders many of us recognize took 10+ years to build their authority. Most advisors I have met and talked to want success in 90-180 days. It is absurd to think about achieving anything worthwhile in this timeframe. As a relatable story, imagine networking to build relationships with centers of influence then expecting them to refer you to their best clients within 90 or even 180 days? The other absurdity is thinking your canned email newsletter and cookie cutter social media posts will build relationships with them while you wait. They will not. Find the right process, implement, and let time and consistency work its magic.
Hortz: Any other big lessons to share?
Lowe: Having a budget and committing resources to sustainable growth is key. Eventually your cost per benefit will be lower when you invest in long-term momentum. Advisors need to invest 7-15% of revenue to marketing. The savviest marketing is usually consistently well-funded. A word of caution, the best marketers also approach every decision with frugality, and a mix of mid-term outcomes. The key challenge or risk here is not to get caught up in short-term metrics and lose sight of long-term opportunities, yet it is always a good idea to act like you are ready for wins right out of the gate. Give your audience the chance to say yes as often as makes sense. Give so much that they do not mind the ask and make the ask about them.
Halloran: Marketing synergies are key to getting the most from everything you do and having a more omnipresent appeal. We learned this years ago from watching celebrity influencers like Gary Vaynerchuk. Gary V as he is affectionately known, records a single piece of content then cuts it into several, to many pieces of content. Gary’s team then writes social copy to provide context and make varied points on the same or similar content over and over. Gary V, as with most influencers, look like content factories but they are not necessarily working harder than you chasing 90-day lead generation campaigns. They have a content discipline then hand off that content for multiplication and targeted distribution. It’s a content factory that runs with great efficiency, and over time, great effectiveness.
Hortz: Any smaller yet important lessons to share as well?
Halloran: One of the biggest challenges for advisors is self buy-in with their thought-leadership. Being a thought-leader is not about being smarter than everyone or being ON every minute. I encourage advisors to get out of their own head into their heart and soul. Take pride and be braggadocious. If you do not believe in yourself, your expertise and experience, no one else will. Be yourself, bring valuable insights from your mind and others, be authentic, and have some fun.
Lowe: Word of mouth has taken a back seat to digital marketing because it is hard to measure the ROI of word of mouth marketing but we all know it has not gone away and will continue to drive targeted growth. Market to your internal audience as much as anyone. Your biggest wins will be the people in your existing network who will now have better opportunities to introduce you, brag about you and engage in what they hopefully already knew about you – how much you know and care.
Hortz: What is the best marketing advice or recommendations that you can offer advisors right now?
Halloran: Creating content can be difficult or easy. Find the easier path, start a podcast with the right team around you. Build some momentum with podcasting then consider how to supplement with video. Video is much harder to pull off so get your confidence and discipline with podcasting first. Content marketing is marketing. There is no way around it so figure it out. Listen to the leaders. We invite you to start by listening to the Top Advisor Marketing Podcast and then visit PodRocketAcademy.com.
Lowe: Content marketing has so many more wins than lead generation. Embrace igniting relationships with centers of influence, learning how to be a better communicator, being yourself, adding value to your niche, leveraging your time, and scaling your credibility to name just a few.
The Institute for Innovation Development is an educational and business development catalyst for growth-oriented financial advisors and financial services firms determined to lead their businesses in an operating environment of accelerating business and cultural change. We position our members with the necessary ongoing innovation resources and best practices to drive and facilitate their next-generation growth, differentiation, and unique community engagement strategies. The institute was launched with the support and foresight of our founding sponsors – Ultimus Fund Solutions, NASDAQ, FLX Networks, Pershing, Fidelity, Voya Financial, Advisorpedia, and Charter Financial Publishing (publisher of Financial Advisor and Private Wealth magazines).
The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.