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Episode 3: Mastering a marketing plan

Jun 16, 2014 @ 12:00 am

Runtime: 10:39

Marketing guru April Rudin sits down with makeover recipient Ken Podell to lay out the specifics of a comprehensive marketing plan that will get Ken's practice more visibility.

The Renovation Room

Industry experts and executives offer strategies, tips and ideas on how practices can improve their business.

Frank Maselli

Frank Maselli

Founder of The Financial Lifeguard Academy and The Maselli Group

Turning a practice around with the help of an outside marketing consultant can be miraculous, but risks running afoul of what I call the "The BBQ Syndrome." You throw gasoline on some coals, toss in a match and the result is an explosion of light and flame. But it's the steady heat after the flame dies down that does the real cooking.

It seems that Ken is in great hands with April. Her comprehensive internet marketing and branding strategy should produce some impressive exposure. Does Ken have the necessary attitude and ability to incorporate and sustain these changes? Will he be willing to invest the time and money to have April's firm handle his marketing/branding process going forward?

There's nothing wrong with using an outside partner or coach to keep you focused on growth and in front of new people. Many of us make our living from this valuable service. The days of the lone fighter pilot adviser are over. It's rare to find anyone who can manage money, nurture clients, handle compliance and run marketing all on their own. The key is finding a partner who knows the modern profession and takes the time to understand your deepest and most powerful strengths. Those are the critical elements to building a brand identity and generating new business.

April is obviously passionate and skilled, and she's taking most of the heavy lifting upon herself at this point. I have no doubt that she will do wonders for Ken and it will be fun to witness his rebirth.

Ray Sclafani

Ray Sclafani

Founder and CEO of ClientWise LLC

Ken has a lot to accomplish before he develops his web presence. His business has grown over 25 years. Ken is in a position to leverage this experience and create a more targeted approach moving forward, then spend time developing his digital marketing strategy.

I would recommend that in addition to narrowing his current focus based on age, and specification of pre-retirement planning for small businesses and professionals, Ken start by talking with his current clients to gain their perspective on his approach. These conversations will reveal more about the impact Ken provides as an adviser. How do his clients describe his work and where is he most effective in his services? From there he can determine how to improve or hone in on his ideal client and niche market.

The decision to jump immediately into creating a comprehensive marketing program prior to determining these things could be premature, since something like a social media presence might not be the highest priority based on Ken’s target market. Targeted coaching conversations with his clients could reveal much needed information to guide his marketing strategy.

Ken also needs to prove himself as an equal if not greater partner in the marketing process, since he and his team will be the ones driving it once April has provided her guidance. His investment in this process will provide an authenticity to his digital footprint and voice, which will be evident to clients and potential clients even over the internet.

Kelly LaPalio

Kelly LaPalio

Vice President of National Accounts, FocusPoint Solutions

Ken is a perfect example of an adviser who is so used to his situation that he hasn’t needed to explore beyond what has basically always been provided for him. At this point he probably doesn’t realize that — depending on where he wants to take his business — there are so many other options available to him that may work better for him than what he’s accustomed to.

To consider making these (necessary) changes must feel very overwhelming to Ken, especially since he hasn’t needed to make an effort to keep up with ever-evolving areas such as technology in the past. He has also probably always associated his own personal identity and brand as an adviser with the insurance firm he’s been affiliated with for so many years. Once he is really able to step outside his comfort zone, I’m confident Ken will discover that there are lots of resources he has access to — well above and beyond the other reps in his office.

As a first step in the process of transitioning to an updated business model, he could opt to hire a temp to get through the tedious (but finite) tasks of getting all client forms and documents scanned into an adequate online storage system, plus transferring all client information into an appropriate CRM tool. Then, if he wanted to avoid hiring additional staff beyond say one key person, Ken could likely outsource virtually every non-client-facing aspect of his business.

He has already chosen to outsource his new marketing, branding, and website design to a competent partner. Beyond that, there are many firms to whom he could choose to delegate other activities, such as compliance support, back office assistance (reporting, trading, billing, etc.), portfolio management/investment research, etc. This would free up his time to do what he appears to enjoy most, which is working with and focusing on his clients.


Video Transcript

[MUSIC] Last time on Practice Makeover, we put together a plan to help Ken Podel/gl improve his practice. Now, April Rudin and I are gonna sit down with him and talk about some of the ideas she has to help him build a better business. [MUSIC] I've given so much thought to Ken's problems here. And I'm excited to present him with a marketing plan. But I'm also curious to see what Ken's reaction is gonna be to this, because it's, the bottom line is, it's up to him to execute it. I'm ready and I'm apprehensive to learn more about the marketing plan. I'm ready because I know after 28 years, I really need to do some real marketing, and to start focusing in on my target and going after them. I'm apprehensive because I know this is gonna mean, compliance stuff. And I know it's also gonna mean me understanding stuff that right now I don't. Ken, I wannna introduce you to April Rudin. She's a member of our team and a marketing expert who works exclusively with financial services companies. April has some great ideas on how we can help you improve your business. April? Ken, great to meet you. Just like most of your prospects, the first thing I did was Google you. And I had no idea you were a neuro-psychologist as well as an advisor. I am not a neuro-psychologist, but I know that there is a Kenneth Podell that is crowding my name out everywhere, on Google. He's not crowding your name out. You're allowing him to crowd your name out. By having no web presence, you're allowing your name to be hijacked by Dr. Kenneth Podell. So first thing we're gonna do is fix that. April, talk a little bit about, you know, what Ken needs to do to kind of find his optimal client here. So the first thing Ken needs to do to find his optimal client is to find out what his own value props are. Okay. That's one thing that advisors don't do. They may choose a target, and decide that they're gonna go after doctors or lawyers when they're, they don't have anything, actually, particularly to, to offer to them. So, for example, your business has grown over 28 years, but it's grown like top seed. You haven't had a plan. That's very true. Nope. The planners have no plan. [LAUGH] Now, Kent, you were saying that you, when I said well, what is your optimal client? You had kind of a broad,broad stroke here. So talk, tell us what do you think your optimal client is? The area that I work in is pre-retirement planning. So, part of it is by age. They're are generally 45, and they're usually, or a wide majority are professionals. Okay. Or small businesses. That's a lot of people. It's still a lot of people. That's way too many people. You need to really narrow yourself in target clients by more specific criteria, and that's what I'm gonna help you do. That's what you need collateral for. That's what you need outbound marketing, you need media relations, you need a social media program, you need just an overall comprehensive marketing program in order to target your valued props, those things that you offer, to attract the target client, that you'll best be able to serve. You know that, that can be a little overwhelming. That's a lot of pieces here, right? It's a lot of pieces, but I, but I, I have to tell you that my, gut, my gut feeling is fear of compliance. Okay. In other words we work in a very, very difficult environment for financial services professionals. You probably work with them. How do you deal with the compliance constraints of how you work with social media? How you work with the media? I only work exclusively with financial services. So compliance for me is pretty simple. Offline compliance equals online compliance. So taking anyone's social media policy, compliance manual, compliance guidelines is very easy for me. We create a marketing plan that avoids and stays from compliance, and I'll help you execute that. That's great. You're in a bit of a different conundrum than an independent advisor, because I imagine there's some, compliance hoops you have to jump through here at Mass Mutual. I don't know, that, even an independent advisory office doesn't have a compliance department and media guidelines. Yeah. I think we're all, I don't know anybody who, other, I guess registered investment advisors can take on that liability themselves and. They can't? No they [UNKNOWN] FCC regulations. We're in a regulated industry, so it really applies to everyone. What I find is most advisors use compliant as an excuse. So if we eliminate that excuse. Let's eliminate that excuse and build a new foundation here. What are the building blocks on this foundation? Let's talk about those. Number one, if I asked you Ken what do you do? What do I do? Too long of a pause. Okay. There you go. What do I do? Okay, too long of a, no, we paused too long. You need to have, first of all an elevator pitch. There's an elevator pitch that you need to have, which is being able to explain, here's what I do. If you can't have that roll off the top of your tongue, you're nowhere. So, what I usually say to my clients is, you need to drink my Kool-Aid, from start to finish. I'm gonna have you speaking, talking, writing, and publishing, all kinds of content that will end up, drawing inbound leads, and clients for you. I love that idea, but I also wanna, want us to focus on my client base as well. In other words, it's not only about bringing in new business. Right. Nobody, everybody wants new business. But I really want to also use what you're describing as a way to tie my existing clients that are devoted to me now, me to them, them to me. So because, a lot of those people have become dear and very, very close friends, and I am absolutely embedded, and I wanna continue to be embedded, in their lives. When I say new clients, I just mean new business. That's your low hanging fruit. Most advisors don't sell into their client base, and that's what you need to do, is sell into your client base. You have insurance products, you have investment products. You need to go straight into your existing client base, have collateral, have materials and messaging that allows you to communicate and sell into your existing client base. I'm sure you haven't even gone to some of your advisor, advisory clients and spoken to them about insurance and vice versa, because you have no materials and you have no plan. Now, thinking next step, once you have the messaging in place, let's assume that that's something we've accomplished. The next pieces though, are important too. There's no website, like you've said before, there's no branding. What do you think about, how are you going to handle that, April? You need a name. You have no name. You have no name, you have no identity. I have a name, but a doctor [CROSSTALK] You've allowed a [CROSSTALK] neuropsychologist to steal your brand and steal your name. That's right. The doctor's using my name. Well, we're not going to be litigious here, but here's what we are going to do. We're gonna, we're gonna push him down in SEO, and we're gonna push you up in SEO. We're gonna come up with a name, a website, a brand for you, some value prompts. Push that out on a website, in collateral, in a newsletter, in all kinds of materials that help get you known front and center. Not only to your existing clients, new clients, new centers of influence, and new referral networks. Okay April, how much time, once it's all done, how much time am I gonna be spending on that? That's one of my apprehensions. Am I gonna find myself from being somebody who, wants to sit and work with clients, am I going to be sitting there with mouse all day long dealing with my either, social media, all, all of these. So time is money. Messaging issues. You have resources, right? Time and money. Right. Right? For 28 years, you've used zero. If you gave yourself, even a minor budget of $10,000 a year let's say. Right. We would now be talking about a budget of $280,000 that you should be spending in marketing. Okay. So if you wanna subtract that back, that's what you need to do. So you need to play catchup. You need to ramp up and hit the ground running. So you need to stop everything else you're doing, take care of your brand, create this foundation. And then you'll be able to go out, come to market with a new brand launch. And new materials and new things that you can say to clients. But I know, hold on, I know that the cost factor is huge. The cost of building a website is not cheap. Being a digital editor, I know that. I mean, how do we get over that hurdle, April? Guess what I have for you, Ken? What do you have for me? So, through my, my digital marketing partner, Hudson Fusion, I've been able to have them donate to you, a brand new website! That's amazing. That's gonna be something. That is amazing. April, thank you! Yeah, now that should at least help alleviate some of the cost concerns here. Obviously, with April handling all of the messaging and with all of the costs taken care of, this should really be something you should accomplish. What do you think? I think it's phenomenal. The only concern I have is that, on website and collateral materials et cetera., I'm not a model. Do you think that matters? I don't know what you're not a model means, but I'm not a model either. I'm not a model either. So we're not in do it yourself. You're a savant in financial services and advisory. Right. I'm a savant- In working with clients. I'm a savant in working with clients and marketing. So what you need to do is let go and give that to me to do. I'm the one that will make you the star and make you look good. Deal. Ken, do you feel comfortable? Do you think we can start to accomplish this? I absolutely think we can accomplish this. I'm a little awestruck by all the things in here and also the whole website thing is phenomenal. But, this is definitely a sea change from what I've been doing. Absolutely. And it's very exciting, and it's scary. Yeah, well we got some definite things to build upon, and I'm excited to get started. Before I sat down with April, I was both, apprehensive and excited. And I'm still apprehensive and excited. I'm apprehensive because I have no idea what this whole thing is gonna cost and what I just committed myself to, to do. And I'm also excited because I do think that this is helping me go into the 21st century, even though that was a whole bunch of years ago and moving my practice in the direction it needs to move in. I feel encouraged by Ken. He seems enthusiastic, but we'll see whether he's ready to spend the money, spend the time, and give the effort that is needed to really create something that's sustainable over time. April's plan has a lot of moving pieces. A new website, new messaging. It's gonna take some time, but I think April and Ken can get it done. Next time, I'm excited to see what Matt Halleran has in store for Ken. [MUSIC]


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