A Fee Based Financial Planners Best Investment | FEE013 – Transcript

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So today what I want to talk about is a fee-based financial planner’s best investment. So what is the best investment you’ve ever made? I mean let’s just talk about some of the different investments I know. You know, was it a good stock? Was it a good private equity deal? Did you invest in Google when it IPO’d. For me, I was really never that lucky. In fact, I tried investing in a good stock, good hot stock, and it didn’t work out. I tried investing in a hot start-up deal, and that didn’t work out. I didn’t really know what Google was at the time when it went through its IPO so I didn’t take advantage of that. And for me the best investment I’ve ever made was in myself and my business. Hands down, that’s where I got the highest return imaginable.

So what I’ve come to understand about real wealth is this: real wealth is created by business owners, investing in their business to create value for others. Wealth is preserved through the diversified investment portfolio of high quality financial instruments managed with a fundamental discipline. So no hedge funds for me, I lost a lot there also. But basically you’ve got to understand that wealth is created, true, true, massive wealth is created from business owners. And it’s preserved through a lot of the strategies we use through our financial planning. But we have to recognise we’re business owners too and that’s where the true wealth is created.

So if your wealth is created from you and your business, then what are the particular investments you can make in yourself, in your business, that will yield the highest return? Well, let’s just take a look at what the options are, first of all, and then we’ll sort of rank them a little bit. So the first-, really there’s only two. There’s-, you can invest in yourself or you can invest in your business.

Now if you invest in yourself, really what you’re doing is you’re advancing your education, you’re basically taking advantage of learning about new strategies and tactics and tools, and you’re really making yourself a better you. So, you know, it could be tax strategies for business owners; it could be insurance strategies for some higher end estate planning or charitable gifting programmes or some living benefit strategies; it could be through financial planning in general and looking at new methodologies. I know a while back I came across the Razor financial planning software, and you can always get a link to that in the-, in our toolbox on the website.

But I’m always, when I’m at a conference or something like that, I’m always taking a look at the different solutions that are being promoted. And that’s usually where they get promoted to us, is they’ll bring their wares and all the financial planning software companies will show up and they’ll say oh, this is the best, this is the best. And honestly, I can honestly tell you I’ve analyzed everything that is available in the Canadian marketplace. So it takes a lot to take me off of my tried and true programme. Well, that’s exactly what happened when I saw the Razor; it actually completely took me back and I thought wow, I gotta look into this. And so I did and it was one of the best decisions we ever made.

Now what that did for me and the way it was an investment is that is saves me hundreds of hours a year. And clients love the simplicity of the outputs. So I got a double benefit there; I leveraged and magnified my return. I spent some time learning how to use it, because it was a different methodology that I had to get comfortable with. And it’s something that, you know, you can’t take it lightly because this is one of the core solutions or core tools that you use in your business. Now as a result of that we did; we are receiving huge benefits from reduced time in putting together plans, increased benefit or increased value clients are getting from seeing the results, and better understanding of the results. I mean for every client that we presented it to and went through their first iteration of their recalibrated plan with it, every single one of them said to me, “Wow, this explains things so much better than before. I have a much better understanding about where I’m at.” So that was huge for us. So definitely take advantage of some new methodologies within the financial planning realm.

Another thing would be investment strategies. You can educate yourself on other latest and greatest investment strategies, just to see how it fits into your practice. Right now ETFs are becoming very, very popular, and when that happens, two things happen to me. Number one, I want to find out everything I can about it because I know clients are going to start asking about it. But number two, it concerns me. Anything that seems too good to be true usually is. And so I’m very, very leery about that. And I’ve come across some articles that talk about ETFs and some of the buyer beware ways that they’re being set up. So it’s educating yourself on how to choose the right ones.

And not everyone is good just because they’ve been listed, but you have to recognise how it’s being set up and how the actual ownership structure is being set up and what the manager or manufacturer of the ETF, what they’re able to do with the funds that they’re receiving. Are they just maintaining it within the investment? Or are they doing what’s called asset sweating and actually taking some of those assets, putting it into other investments, generating returns on those other investments, but those returns don’t come back to the ETFs. So they’re kinda leveraging off of the assets as well. So I’m not saying it’s a good thing or a bad thing, I’m just saying it’s something you need to be aware of so you can better assess whether or not it’s an investment strategy that’s right for you.

I also spend a lot of time on researching new referral partners. We’re doing that right now for a variety of reasons, but we’re spending a great deal of time saying what really are the best solutions in the marketplace for our clientele right now? And you see, I’ve been in this business for almost 20 years, and when we first started it was just right at the point when mutual funds were becoming very, very popular. And at that point, I mean when I first started most of the people that I met with had more money than I did. So it was a solution that made sense and it just allowed for a lot of economies of scale. But then as our practice has grown and as we’ve brought on more and more clients and our clients are becoming more and more higher net worth and they’re-, you know, because the financial planning does actually work and at the end of the day they are seeing their wealth increase, what’s happening is now we also look at things and say okay, now is this still the best solution? And you’ve heard me say it before, but if your paperboy qualifies to invest in the same investment solution you’re investing in and you’ve amassed a certain degree of wealth, you’re probably in the wrong place. So we’re constantly looking for better solutions that are going to hopefully bring down costs, increase control, make for more tax efficient investing with that. So that’s where we’re spending a lot of time right now. And we’re actually finding some fantastic-, we’ve got some private portfolio managers, we’ve got some solutions for really, really high quality ETF solutions from some really, really smart people that have been in the game for a while and they really know what they’re talking about.

We’ve also got some fantastic-, I mean probably some of the best in the country, high net worth investment counselling solutions that have just a huge toolbox to draw from. And so we think we’ve really got it covered with our practice, and I strongly recommend that if you’re going down the fee-based financial planning route you’re going to run into the same challenges, and those challenges are simply that the investments that your clients start with are probably not going to be the greatest investments that they’re going to be finishing with. And so you’re going to want to start to allowing them and showing them how to take a step up to the next investment solution that’s available. And they’ll thank you for it, because they really feel then that you’re on their side. And this is what we want to do, we want to continually add value to our client relationships, and this is one of the ways that we do that.

Now that’s investing in yourself. So you’re basically making yourself a person of value, a greater person of value to your clientele. Now how can you invest in your business? And this is where I think you’re going to get some tremendous gains, some tremendous return on investment. Well, basically the options are marketing, unique processes, unique methods, technology, staff, and sales. So let’s go through each one of these and get a much clearer picture about what this is.

So when it comes to marketing, you really need, as a fee-based financial planner, you really need to embrace what’s called direct response marketing or inbound marketing. This is something that is incredibly powerful. So whatever you call it, it’s smart marketing. Now becoming a student of this type of marketing is critical to your ongoing success as a fee-based financial planner. If you can’t track your marketing it’s not worth doing. So what do I mean by tracking? Well, let’s talk about this. Generating leads is really what’s important. But it’s more than that. And we’ve talked about this on some previous episodes; that it’s more than just generating leads. Because just because you’ve generated a lead doesn’t mean you’ve actually got a sale.

So generating leads, then nurturing the leads, and then communicating with those leads – that’s what’s important. And so you want to be able to track each step along the way. So here’s how you do it. Number one, you need to establish your target market. This we keep coming back to time and time again. You need to focus on who is the niche that you want to work on. And I’ve talked about it before, in that you don’t have to niche your practice, you just have to niche your campaign, and say okay, for this campaign I’m going to target, you know, whatever the niche happens to be. So establish that niche. Develop content targeted toward your target market. So examples of these could be putting together an information piece on the four reasons why most retirees have the wrong investment solutions and don’t even know it. Or why financial planning for business owners is different than financial planning for employees. Or nine key mistakes all retirees make when preparing for retirement.

So you look at the title of this – and now this is a sort of a direct response title, an eye-catching title, that if you’re interested, if you’re, for example, a business owner and you’re kind of intrigued about or you’re interested about proper financial planning for business owners, but you’re a little dismayed about what you’re finding, and then you come across somebody who’s promoting a report that says why financial planning for business owners is different than financial planning for employees, you may say to yourself I’d like to know why. What’s this all about? So you’re going to be more attracted to it because you’re a business owner. But if you’re a retiree, that’s not going to mean anything to you.

So you can see how you can start to really, really… in the idea of if there’s a huge crowd and you just want to know who are the people in that crowd that are interested in what you have to offer, then ask the right question. And you can ask the right question through a properly targeted report, or content piece or whatever you want to do. I mean you could put a podcast episode together on the topic, you could put a special report together, you could put a white paper together, you could put a blog post together, you name it. Just as long as there’s content that people then would have to, in exchange for the content, provide you with some information on who they are, then that’s what you want to do.

So that’s the content you can develop. And I mean literally I just created those titles just for this show. I mean I don’t have the report for those, but I just thought okay, what would three of the niches be and how would I… or in this case it’s two different niches, but how would I market towards those niches. So what I do is I tend to create the report title first and then I just go and I answer the questions. So I may start off with nine key mistakes all retirees make when preparing for retirement, and I’ll ask myself well, what are some of the key mistakes that I’m seeing my retiree clients making when they come to me, and what are the mistakes I’m having to fix. And maybe at the end of the day I end up with six. Okay, then I just change the title of the report to six key mistakes. So, you know, really focus on that, and that’s sort of an easy way of starting the process and then just working through the content that way.

So then, now you need to establish all of the methods for promoting your content. Now this is where the inbound or the direct response comes from. So the options really are – and, you know, this is just a limited list – but you can do Twitter, Facebook pages, Google business pa-, sorry, Google+ business pages, LinkedIn posting to groups, business WordPress blog, Google Adwords, targeted flyers that you just simply do a mail drop around a neighbourhood, direct response advertising in local publications. Literally the titles of the report that we just talked about in a previous one, if I put an ad in a local newspaper, and simply the add said-, all it said was nine key mistakes all retirees make when preparing for retirement, and then put maybe free report available, www.ninekeyretireemistakes.com, and then just put it in there, and then I had… Really what that does is people would look at that and go huh, that’s interesting. And so guess what they’re going to do? If they’re really interested they’re going to go to their computer, they’re going to type in the website address, and they’re going to get to your information.

So there’s a lot of options there. There’s using ad words. Again, that could be a perfect title for an ad words campaign, or you name it. I mean there’s just so many ways you can get that information out there. And the more good content that you feed out there – and we’ve talked about how to develop a Twitter following and how to develop a Facebook fooling and Google+ and whatnot. And it does take some time and commitment, but really all it does is take… one of the topics we’ll get to in a few moments, it just takes putting together a unique method on how to do this on a weekly basis and then you just simply hire that out or you hand it off to one of your support staff. So that’s the different ways that you need to be able to get the content out, and those are some of the avenues for doing so.

So each content posting, what it does is, when you send out a Twitter post and you say the nine key mistakes all retirees make when preparing for retirement, and then you have a link, and usually there’s a link shortener in there – if you don’t know what that is then you’ll probably figure it out soon enough. But all it is is that if you have a really long URL that you’re pointing somebody to, because Twitter has a limited number of characters you can use, there’s a whole variety of software there that will do this. And Twitter, I think, even does it automatically. It’ll just shorten the link and have-, give you like a five or ten character link, instead of the 40 or 50 character URL that you’ve got and it basically links to that information.

So each content posting sends the lead to a landing page. And what that landing page is, the landing page, if you don’t know what a landing pages is, a landing page is simply a page that you get to that gives you two choices, and that’s it. If you have any more than two choices on the landing page then you’ve basically got too much. You either are going to allow them to subscribe to the content by completing a basic form – so like your name and email address – and then the content will instantly be provided to them via email or on a thank you page after they have hits submit. Or the other option on the landing page is to simply leave. There are no other options. So it squeezes them.

You may have heard the term landing page in exchange for the term squeeze page. Basically all it is, it’s the same thing that’s saying you come to this page because you were interested in the information. If you want the information then simply fill out this form and we’ll give you the information in exchange for your name and your email address. Now the more pieces of information you request from somebody, the less your response rate will be. So for example, if you’re saying I want your name, your email address, your home address, your phone n umber, whether you’re married, that’s just simply, you know that’s a little intrusive for the type of information that they’re maybe initially asking for.

So what I like to do – and this is just a little trick that I do – is in our system we just simply ask for their name and email address. And in some cases we’ll just simply ask for their email address at first. All I want to do is I want to get that email address; it’s probably the most important information because that’s how I can communicate with them. So what we’ve done then is we’ll get that content… we’ve taken that content and we’re now giving it to them in exchange for one little piece of information. Then the next time they get an information piece from us – so if we send out a follow-up email where we’re promoting some more information – with the next piece of information, guess what? It asks for a little bit more. And so what happens is we’re slowly building the database with their information. So the first one might be just their first name or first-, maybe it’s just their email address. The second one could be first name, last name, and their email address. And then after that maybe then we ask for their city.

And so what it’s doing is because you’re building a relationship with them then you’re almost entitled to ask for a little bit more information from them. And the way that we’ve set our system up is that when they get to the new form, it actually pre-populates the form with the information we already know about them. So they’re not having to retype all the information. All they’re doing is once we have their email address and they get to a form, the email address gets put on their form. And so if we’re asking for another piece of information, well to them it’s only-, all they’re doing is they’re having to add one more piece of information. So it could be the city and town-, or city that they’re in and the province or state or whatever. So it’s just another way of slowly building that database and building more and more information about the leads that you’re going to be then nurturing.

So then each landing page has the form capture on it. And as you capture your leads, now you need to nurture them. So the first step is you always want to give them exactly what they asked for as quickly as possible. So most systems like the ones that we’ve got in our toolbox under the email auto-responders, all those systems will set it up so as soon as people do their opt in and they [inaudible 0:20:21] one that we’ve got that we use all the time, what it’s doing is it will take the information and then it instantly sends that person an email saying okay, just before we give you the information we need you to prove you are who you say you are. Because we don’t want false information. We don’t want to be sending out information to people who really haven’t asked for it. So what we’re going to do is we just need you to click on this link, it’s an email that’s sent to your inbox, click on this link and it’ll instantly direct you to the content. So what do they do? They leave your landing page, which they’ve just submitted the form on, they go to their inbox, there’s the email sitting there waiting for them, because it’s instantaneous, and they click on the link and boom, then it takes them to their content.

So it means that now the data you have on your database is much more accurate. Now I like the double opt in simply because it now prohibits people from going in and putting in a junk email address just to get your content. I don’t want to deal with people like that, and so this is just another way of filtering it out.

Then what you do is you set them up on an auto-responder series. So it’s basically a lead nurturing campaign. And so maybe the next day you send out another piece of information that’s, you know, you ask yourself the question – if you’ve asked for this information, what would your next question be? If you’re asking for the nine secrets retirees need or nine mistakes retirees are making just as they’re transitioning through to retirement, then you want to ask yourself the question – what’s the next piece of information? Once they’ve received that and they’ve gone through it, what else are they asking? Maybe there’s some information in there about how they haven’t really retained-, how to work with a proper-, with the right financial planner. Maybe they’re saying okay, maybe you have an accountant, maybe you have an investment person, but you haven’t really hired a financial planner to do the proper financial planning for you. So one thing you could do is you say well then maybe I’ll send them a piece of information or I’ll send them an offer for more content on how to choose a financial planner or where to find a good financial planner in their area. And so for that you can just send them to your local financial planners-, like for us in Canada we have the Financial Planning Standards Council of Canada, and on their website they have a find a planner section, so we just send them-, we can send them to that page and they can find a planner.

Now you’d think at first, well why would I send them to some place where it’s going to take them away from me? Well, in actual fact what you’re doing is you’re saying look, I know I can’t work with everybody and I know I’m not going to work with everybody, so I’m going to give you all the tools you need. But guess what? You’ve already started a relationship with them and you’re building a relationship them. So if you’re doing that and they truly do want to work with a financial planner, they’re going to throw your name in a hat and they’re going to contact you.

Because one of the things you’re going to have at the end of each email is a call to action. And that call to action is simply you saying hey, if you are interested now in having a conversation with a financial planner, we can make available to you a free, no-obligation introductory interview where we’ve got two things going on here. The first would be for you to interview us and find out if what we’re doing and what the services we provide are what’s right for you. And for us it’s a chance for us to get to know what it is you’re looking for so we can determine if what we offer is right for you as well.

Either way one of us is going to say we’re either both going to say yes, we’re both going to say no, or one of us is going to say yes and one of us is going to say no. Either way, at the end of the meeting we’ll have walked away with a lot more value because we’ll know exactly whether or not it’s right. So it’s a really-, you know, it’s a nice way of putting a non-threatening, sort of a no-risk way of saying hey, if you’re really interested now and you’re really, really hot to trot and want to move on this, then let’s get together and have a conversation. But, you know, they don’t have to, because if they’re still just looking for information and doing their research, well then they can just overlook that. But you want to make sure that those lead nurturing emails do have those calls to action.

You can then send out broadcast targeted emails. So every so often you’ll come across a great piece of information that you want to send out to your list. Simply put together an email and broadcast it out to them. Again, with another call to action. But what you’re doing is you’re basically showing that you’re a person of value. And every time they get an email from you it’s going to have a lot of great content. And so they’re going to start to open it. And if they get to the point where they just say, you know, what, I’m really not interested in this, then they can unsubscribe. Make it really, really easy for people to unsubscribe. Because that’s going to keep your list nice and current, and it’s going to keep your list a high value list.

Each email, as I said, has to have a call to action with an offer. Now lead nurturing is critical. Because it’s been shown that the majority of people who respond to your direct response ads are actually shopping for information, not your services. They’ll usually buy your services within 18 months of them requesting your content, but they’re not looking to buy your services right then and there. Generally, again, when it comes to financial planning, I’ll just speak on that topic, generally what’s happening is people-, there’s some sort of a life event that’s making them say, you know what, maybe we should start looking into working with some sort of a financial person. But they have no idea where to go, so they start asking friends, they start asking family, they start asking other colleagues and professionals. Now they’re doing their research. And Google’s been one of those great tools for doing that research. But what Google doesn’t provide them with is it doesn’t provide them with the wisdom on how to take all the huge quantities of information that they have available to them and filter it down to make sense of it. So that’s where you come in. So if you don’t nurture those leads – and really, nurturing just simply means helping them along the way, always trying to anticipate what’s the next question they’re going to be asking, and answering that question so they can-, I mean I’ve had people email me back and say wow, you know, I got your last email, that was great, and then I had this other question. And then sure enough, the next day an email came, it answered the question. So when I get stuff like that I know I’m on the mark, on the right track with that. And so that just helps move those people down the line. And as you’re moving them down the line you’re simply going to be asking for a little bit more information from them so that you can start to market to them in a variety of ways. Once you’ve got their complete address, then you can start sending them maybe a targeted postcard or a targeted letter or something like that. So you can touch them at different angles, and it’s all of a sudden-, put yourself in their shoes. If you’re sitting there and you’re getting emails from me, and then you suddenly get a postcard from me that has another report of great cont-, with some great information in it. And then you get a personalised, handwritten envelope with a personalised stamp on it that says hey, came across this, thought you might-, all of a sudden you’ve got a relationship with me, and you’ve never even met me. So when it comes time for you to say, you know what, now’s the time we need to call somebody, guess what? They’re going to go-, you’re going to call the person you’ve got the relationship with. Because it’s less threatening. And that’s the key to it, is lead nurturing is just simply a way of making it very, very low key, really reduce risks to zero as often as you can, for the people who are looking for your information and your services. And you’ll find that that’s just going to simply have more people coming back to you and saying hey, I’d like to get together for an initial meeting.

So become a person of value to your target market. You want to be giving away as much of your information as possible. And this goes-, it kinda puts the whole concept of marketing on its ear. Because in the past, marketing, all this outbound marketing, was all about sending out information and trying to convince people to come and buy your products. And it just was-, I don’t know, it was very expensive, it made the marketing firms very, very wealthy, but it didn’t really get the huge results that I like to see from my marketing efforts. But now what you can do – and it seems to be a shift in the whole marketing – is now you’re saying look, I’m going to give away my information. Because you know what? We all know that the information that’s on the internet today, you can get anything on the internet right now.

So giving away the information makes you look a little different in your marketing, because now you’re saying hey look, I’m going to tell you exactly what I do and what to do and all this sort of stuff. But the one thing you’re going to hold back is the how to do it. So you simply send out your information, you say here are the nine mistakes that retirees are making or here are the things that business owners can do differently with their financial planning. But obviously it’s very difficult to go into how to do it, because that really goes into the financial planning. But now what you’re doing is you’re making everybody aware of everything they need to be aware of. And so when it comes time to say look, I need to get these things fixed, they’re going to contact you back. So give away your best information for free, and that simply builds confidence and credibility with your target market.

Make your offers as risk free as possible. So as I said before, a free, no-obligation initial meeting. We don’t want you to bring your investment statements to this meeting. Promote that. I’ve talked about that before. Make sure that they’re aware, that listen, I want to get to know you first because I don’t want to just work with anybody. I’m different than most of the financial planners you’re going to come into contact with. Pretty much every other financial planner is going to be wanting to work with anybody that comes through their door, and they’re basically saying-, you know, I’m not going to say this is a blanket statement, but I would say the majority of the planners out there will basically-, if you can fog a mirror you qualify to work with that planner. Well, I need you to become different. I need you to say no, I’m not just going to work with anybody, because I can’t just work with anybody. There are specific people I can work with and that-, those are very specific people. And the people that I can work with, it’s a limited… a, it’s a limited number, and it’s for limited needs.

So you want to make sure that they’re aware that you’re concerned about who they are. So the initial meeting is not about finding out if they want to work; it’s finding out if there’s a match, if there’s a reason to get together for a second meeting. You want to say we’re more concerned with getting to know you and what you’re looking for to determine if we are the right firm for you, and to give you a chance to determine if what we offer is what you’re looking for. And if either of us decides that it’s really not what we’re looking for, then we’re grown up enough, you know, we’re all big boys and girls here, we’ll let each other know at the end of the meeting. And that’s what I want you to do. So I’ve had some situations in the past week or so where I’ve got some referrals and they’ve just come out of the blue and suddenly, boom, I get an email from somebody saying hey, I got your name from so-and-so and I’d like to get together with you. But can you give me a call first.

Now at first I always like it when I can say look, just book a meeting and let’s get together. Because then I can get them right into our process. And the process has really been fine-tuned so that I know I’ll be able to give them value along the process and really determine if it is right to move forward to the next step. But when they say hey, let’s talk, first of all, what do you think their questions are going to be? They’re going to come to you and they’re going to say well, what do you charge and what are your returns and what investments do you use? You know, they’re going to ask those traditional typical questions.

And so what I do is I simply-, because of the process we’ve set up, and the financial planning is the core, is I say whoa, whoa, wait a minute. We have no idea what the right investment is for you, so we can’t really go there. But let’s do this. Why don’t we get together for an initial meeting? Don’t bring anything with you unless you have any specific questions. All I want to do is get together for an initial meeting first. Because naturally at that meeting you’re going to have some questions for me, and obviously I’m going to have some questions for you. And then typically at the end of the meeting we’re going to know, each of us, individually, whether or not it makes sense to book a second meeting.

Because I’ll know whether or not the services we offer are really the services that are right for you. And you’ll have a better understanding about what the services are that we do offer, and you’ll have a better understanding about whether or not those are right for you. If we agree, both of us agree, that those services are in line with what you’re looking for, then let’s book a meeting after that to look at the details. But until then, let’s just establish first of all if we even want to continue a relationship. Let’s take this one step at a time. And I tell you, everybody says, you know, what, that makes sense. And it completely gets rid of the what investments do you use, what’s your rate of return, what insurance companies do you use, you know, all the stuff that really is just questions they’re asking because they don’t know the right questions to ask.

So using that methodology simply works well. Making a risk free offer where you say come on in and then let’s establish at that meeting whether or not it makes sense to go to a next meeting. All of a sudden now the rules of engagement are on the table and everybody knows what they need to do.

Now, you need to track your ratios for each campaign that you do. So this is important, because remember I said earlier that if you can’t track it it’s not worth doing. Because otherwise you’re just sort of throwing money out the window and hoping something is going to stick. Well, you want to track how many landing page views, for example, did each medium that you used generate. So for example, you can say for Twitter, for the last month how many landing page views did we get from Twitter? And then how many of those Twitter links generated landing page views that completed the form to request the information.

So there’s one metric, which is how many people looked at the landing page, and then there’s another metric which says okay, of the people that looked at the landing page, how many people actually requested the information? Then, of those people that requested the information, how many of these people who requested the information did you meet with? How many of them contacted you? How many of these people who you met with then became clients? Now, what was the total cost of that campaign? What was the total revenue of the campaign? And was it profitable? Because you can go through a whole song and dance and at the end of the day if it’s not profitable then it’s really not worth doing. So if it was profitable then you want to simply take those profits – and this is the greatest way of leveraging and really magnifying your business – take those profits and reinvest them back into the campaign again. Now, after that you don’t-, the next point is very, very important. Don’t forget to split test. So if you have a landing page, for example, well you can have two landing pages, a landing page A and a landing page B, for the same campaign.

Now there’s software that you can use that will simply set it up so that your landing pages get basically flip-flopped every time a lead comes in. So you can then say okay, I’m going to send out the same Twitter campaign, and ever time, every-, the first and every odd number person that comes in is going to get landing page A, and every even number person that comes in is going to get landing page B. Now what that does is you may have 100 people that take a look at the landing page. 50 of them saw landing page A and 50 saw landing page B. Now you take a look at those results and say okay, of those 50, how many actually filled out the form? Well, if landing page B, if you had ten people fill out the form, but landing page A you only had five, well guess what? You’re getting more results from landing page B. So what I do is then you delete landing page A, tweak landing page B, make one change on it to try and beat landing page B, and then replace it as landing page A.

So what that means is that now you’re constantly trying to better your results. So now you know okay, now I’ve got a consistent, for every 50 people that show up on the form, ten people are going to do that. Now I’m going to try and beat that, so maybe the next time, the next 50 or 100 people that come in, 50 of them go to landing page B and they-, you know, you get your usual ten leads. But then on landing page A, because you tweaked it, maybe you get 12. Okay, great. Now you’ve got a better result there. So take landing page B, delete it, and try and beat landing page A, and just keep on going back and forth. And do that with each stage along the way. So then you can do that with the form that you’re using. Maybe one landing page has-, you’re just asking for their email, the next landing page says you’re just asking for the name, address and email. So there’s a difference there. And that will obviously give you a different ratio on your conversion rates.

So keep on doing that, and really you just-, all you’re doing is you’re constantly tweaking. And so it does take some time, but you know that for every dollar you spend you can track it right through to completion. And as soon as you get a new sale out of it, take a portion of those dollars and reinvest back in your campaigns. And that’s how you really, really begin to build your marketing. And the other great thing is that all of this marketing, you can automate it so that it happens while you sleep. And that is definitely worth doing.

So that’s one of the investments you can make in your business, is on the marketing front. And that’s something I definitely think you want to spend a lot of time on, because that’s just going to allow you to generate more and more leads on an automated basis. You see, we’re not financial planners who have these big marketing departments and we’re not like a mutual fund or an investment company that has a designated marketing department. It’s generally just us. So how do we do things on a very, very efficient way so that we can get the results that we need? This is how you do it.

Now, the next step is investing in your unique process. Now what is a unique process? Really your unique process is why people are coming to you. How do you do what you do? What you do is unique; it’s different than most people. From a financial planning perspective, it is just… you know, I can’t tell you, and you’ve probably experienced it yourself, as soon as you star embracing financial planning into your business model, people will say things like wow, this is-, I wish I’d met you before, because this isn’t what I got from my previous adviser and it’s kinda what I was looking for. As soon as you start getting that you know you’re on the right track.

So what do you do and how do you do it? This is what your unique process is all about. What’s the name of your process?” How many steps does your process have? What happens in each step of the process? Is the process complete? So once you’ve taken a look at your unique process, and once you’ve said okay, how do I do what I do? Here’s what you then want to do. Just map out on a piece of paper all the steps that you go through with a client. So for example – I’ve gone through this in previous episodes as well – and really our process is simply we get together for an initial meeting, we determine if it makes sense to take a look at the details, we get together for a second meeting, take a look at all the details, we present the fee, present all of what we’re going to do, get together for the plan presentation part one. At part one we take a look at the financial plan and the components of the plan are the retirement plan, the education plan and the investment plan, at the first meeting. We answer all the questions and go through all of that to make sure that it’s all in line, and then we implement the investment solutions along the way.

Then the next meeting we get together for the plan presentation part two, where we take a look at all the insurance. And so we look at the living benefits, life insurance, we look at estate planning, we look at any tax planning strategies. And if they’re business owners then we incorporate all of the tax planning and the investment planning and we bring it all together. So now we’ve touched everything on a complete plan. And then once we’ve done that we’ve now got a complete plan. If it requires another meeting we get together for another meeting as the final plan presentation meeting where we just bring it all together and say okay, here’s your final recalibrated, readjusted, modified plan. And you can see progress, because now they can say okay, well a month ago we started here, it was all a dog’s breakfast; now we’ve got everything nice and organised. And so they can see progress there.

That’s our process, and so that’s sort of a high level view of our process. But each step has different things that happen at each stage of that process. So what we’ve done is we just simply have turned that process and we’ve put a graphic around it so people can see exactly the stages that they’re going through and what’s happening at each stage. And now they’re starting to identify that yeah, okay, this is different, because now I have a better understanding about what it is we’re going to be doing together in this relationship.

Now that’s the unique process. Once you’ve got the unique process in place and you have a better understanding about what it is that you do and you can articulate that in the form of a graphic or even just a step-by-step checklist, step one, step two, step three, now you need to focus on your unique methods. Unique methods are really the cornerstone to leveraging your business. And here’s what it does. And what a unique method is, a unique method is where you script, record, and create checklists. Anything that goes along with how to do what you do for everything that you do in your business.

So, you know, you can think of it this way. If you’re a pilot, what’s the first thing you do when you get to your plane before you even take off? Well, you do a walk-around and you have your checklist that you go through to make sure you don’t miss anything. Now you talk with any pilot and I’ll tell you that pilot knows the checklist like the back of their hand. However, do they ever walk around the plane without their clipboard, without the checklist in hand? Never. It’s just something that they follow. And they follow it because they know that the ramifications of missing one step on that checklist could be dire. And so they just make sure that okay, you know, what, our process is we do a walk-around, we do our pre-flight inspection, we go through the checklist, and that’s it. And then when they get in the plane they do their pre-flight inspection, they do all the mechanical checks. It’s just something that they do, and they never have to worry about it, they can rely on it.

Start out by outlining what you do in each step of the unique process. So if you look at your unique process and you say okay, in step one we get together and have an initial meeting. Okay, well what happens at that meeting? Create a checklist and scripts –

[Ringing sound, break in audio]

– everybody sorry about that, I actually… a call came in that I had to take so… Yeah, so anyways, it’s been… through the wonderful world of time shifting we’re now back at it.

Now where were we? We were basically talking about unique methods and a unique method is where you script, record, create checklists and all that sort of thing. And we went through the whole idea of a unique method being a checklist. The example was a pilot that walks around the plane and does all his checks beforehand.

Now when you create your unique methods for things that you do that aren’t part of your unique process, this goes beyond just the unique process. And so unique methods, it’s not just about the unique process, it’s about taking things and really scripting out your whole entire business. And there’s a lot of reasons for this. And this is one of the biggest returns you’ll get from doing this. Basically what you’re doing is, for the unique process all the unique methods are really to support the client experience that they go through. But then outside of that, clients will have other things. They may need an address change done, they may need to process a beneficiary change on their accounts, they may need to process a death claim, how to print a client’s statement, all that sort of stuff. Well, those are internal procedures.

Now what we’ve done is, I’ve actually-, I used to do everything through checklists and doing manuals and stuff, and I’ve just simply gone and said I’m just going to create online screen capture videos for how to do everything. And that way, when somebody wants to do a beneficiary change, they just go to our database on our Salesforce system, they type in beneficiary change or… yeah, they just type in the word beneficiary and it comes up. And because I’ve titled the actual video, screen capture video, with the word beneficiary in it, the system finds it. So Salesforce is great because it’s got like a Google type search in it and it looks for anything that you’ve got there. Well, it will then find the how to – and we’ve also got a folder in Salesforce for all of our unique methods – the how to and then simply they just click on it and it starts a video playing that shows them exactly how to do it and they walk through it step by step.

How powerful is that? When you bring on a new employee that you need to get up to speed quickly, and you’re busy and you don’t have time to do training, and suddenly they come in and say look, this beneficiary change needs to get done. You simply say go type in beneficiary change and follow the video. They follow the video and it works. We do so many of these, so basically you just take the time to do the process once, record the steps that you do online, and then let the person follow it. And I tell you, you can even ask my assistant, how great it is to be able to transfer that information through unique methods. And it just simply frees you up because now you never have to remind somebody on how to do it. You just say look, if you can’t remember how to do it go to the unique method and figure that one out.

Now the other thing, other area you want to invest in is technology. I’m a real, real believer in investing heavily in technology. Now with technology the things you’re going to need right off the bat: a good CRM – so for us we use Salesforce – a great imaging system – well, it doesn’t have to be that great, it just has to be an imaging system. So what we do is we’ve got scanners on everybody’s desk, and every time a document comes into the office it just gets simply scanned and attached to the client record in the system. And that really comes in handy when you’re as remote as I am. You know right now I’m North of Montreal in Quebec, and I was able to deal with an issue where I needed to look into a client’s tax return and take a look at their notice of assessment, and I was able to call that information up, call up the image. It’s just being able to do that makes it so much more freeing that you don’t have to worry about the actual paper file. Now we do keep everything organised in the paper file, but that’s just basically as an archiving place. So imaging system is paramount for each machine.

Social media management – so this is another technology, so if you, again, go to our toolbox, you’ll see some of the options that are there. Things like HootSuite and whatnot that allows you to manage all of your social media. And again, we will then, when we get to the staffing, we’ll teach you how to hire that information out. Cloud-based solutions, again, I can’t speak about this enough. If you want to get rid of technology headaches completely, then just simply move to the cloud, move to Google, move to Salesforce, move to Dropbox, go ahead and-, and if you haven’t set up a Dropbox account go into our toolbox section and click on that link. What that’s going to do is it’s going to set up a free account for you, but it also gives you an extra gigabyte of free storage space by simply setting up through our affiliate link, and then it provides us with a gigabyte of extra storage as well. So that way you’ll be able to get-, build that storage up. And then as soon as you set that up then send out your-, everybody who sets up a Dropbox account gets their own affiliate link, send it out to your friends and family and say hey guys, set up this account, and then you’ll start getting more free space as well. And it’s amazing how much easier it is when you’ve got a Dropbox account to synchronize all of your data amongst all of your machines. If you’ve got an iPhone, an iPad, a notebook, a desktop, whatever, an assistant, it just allows you to sync information very, very simply.

So technology again, mobile, hardware, I highly recommend No Panic Computing, definitely give them a call. The guys there are fantastic. If you’re on the PC side of things and you want rock solid inscription and protection and a managed solution, with high end HP machines, I can’t speak high-, they’re just amazing. I went through an episode where I told you about the time when our system crashed and my wife Cathy, her system crashed, and it just stopped working, and they got it back up and running in a day. It was awesome. I had a situation where I got hit with a bad virus on a Sunday afternoon; they basically logged in and an hour later it was fixed. So we’ve had those situations come up and, you know, if you’re working in business these days it just happens. So definitely No Panic Computing is the way to go. And again, just mention to them that you found out about No Panic through our podcast. They’re aware of us; if you actually go to their website you’ll see on their testimonial section there’s a whole link there to our podcast because we are a big supporter of that. So just make sure you mention to them that you found out about No Panic through the fee-based financial planning mastery podcast, mention my name, and they’ll make sure that you get set up properly.

On the Mac side, I use a MacBook Air for all my travel and I’m doing actually this podcast right now on my MacBook Air. The iPhone, the iPad… One of the things for I-Pad I’m using now a lot, which is really kinda making my remote meetings that much better, are I use a programme called Air Display. And if you just go to the App Store and just look for Air Display, what it does is it allows you to wirelessly, anything that’s on your computer, you can actually show on your I-Pad. So when I go to a meeting with a client, instead of them having to crowd around my small little MacBook Air, I give them an I-Pad and say okay here, I’ll just show it there, and I present to them via the I-Pad. So it’s just like a presentation screen that they get to keep with them right there, and it just makes for a much more efficient meeting. And it really looks-, it’s kinda cool too. They recognise that you’re sort of on the leading edge of technology by doing that.

So that’s the technology side. There’s obviously a lot more that goes into that, but from a return on investment that’s probably where you’re going to get your biggest return on investment.

Now, staffing. The most important first hire you can do is your customer service. They simply will handle all of your meeting prep, your incoming calls, the imaging of all the incoming documents, booking appointments – and this one is important, this is key. As soon as I hired someone else to book my appointments, a funny thing happened. That funny thing was I actually had appointments booked. Left to my own devices I never booked as efficiently as my assistant does. Now what that means is simply that if I’m booking a lot of-, if I’ve got, say, 100 appointments to book, well that’s a lot of-, I’m looking at it, oh my gosh, that’s going to be a lot of work for me. And you probably stop out or you tap out at a certain point and say look, I’m not going to book that many, I’ll wait until I get through these and I’ll book some more. Well, when you hire somebody else to do that, they just simply go through, you give them the parameters that they can book your appointments for, you give them how many you want each day, you give them the days that you want to have the appointments, how long they’re going to be, all this sort of stuff. And then they go ahead and they book it. And what it does is it now gives the-, it helps your assistant build a bit of a relationship with your clients as well, which is nice because then as incoming calls come in your assistant is able to help with those. And it just means that the appointments get booked. So I never have to worry about it. Two times a year we go through a full recalibration of our client plans, we set up the appointments, and Jill just basically goes and sets them up and books them all and I don’t have to worry about it. And I just show up to the meetings. So it’s very, very efficient. And that’s a huge leverage, a huge return on investment there, because again, when you can find somebody else to do it-, you know, it’s expensive for me to be the one on the phone making the phone call. Because guess what, if you’re making the phone call, people are probably going to start asking you questions. And when they ask you questions, now it’s probably you should probably just be dealing with at the appointment anyway. So it makes for a much more efficient experience.

Then you want to focus on outsourcing. So once you’ve got your key internal person you want to focus on outsourcing. Now for the outsourcing, what I’m doing for outsourcing right now is I’m doing all of our outsourcing is for our web design work, and I’ve got some virtual assistants that we use as well. Anything you want done can be done through one of the following: Elance or oDesk. So if you need a certain task done, a task-oriented thing, you can then basically hire a consultant through Elance or oDesk.

Now virtual assistance, that’s a little different; that’s where you actually hire full or part-time people to work for you, but they work for you remotely, strictly remotely. Now we have two people working for us remotely, and they’re actually located in the Philippines. And these guys are awesome. I can’t tell you how great it is to have them there. One handles all of my video and audio editing, so when I finish an episode like this or a video or something like that, I just simply throw the information into our Dropbox account and it shows up on his end, because I’ve shared that folder with him. It works very well, and when he’s done with it he sends it back to me and we’ve just sort of got a unique method on how to put together a podcast episode or how to put together a video or something like that. The other handles anything to do with our website, so all of the web development, all of the web tweaks and updates and you name it, that’s where he handles that.

The best site I have ever found, if you’re really, really interested in hiring a virtual assistant, is a site called Virtual Staff Finder. Chris Ducker is the owner of that company. I’ve become an affiliate for this service, so if you’re wanting to hire your first virtual assistant, and you do so through my affiliate link, I’ll provide you with a free consultation where I will tell you everything you need to know about how to work with your VA. I’ll explain to you how to manage your VA effortlessly, how to keep them loyal – there’s one thing you need to do every year that is critical to keeping them loyal – and basically be your resource to everything you need to know about hiring your first virtual assistant. Use my affiliate link and I’ll be your resource to help you make the most of your first virtual assistant. Bottom line is that I can’t live without my Vas. They’re a huge reason why I’m able to get so much done. And by using Chris Ducker’s service it’s a major first step in the right direction. Now my two VAs live in the Philippines, and they speak perfect English, they’re highly educated, they are from a web design standpoint, I mean, man, my guy, he’s amazing. The other guy with the video and audio editing and he handles all of our social media as well. It’s just, you know, it’s a very, very powerful experience. And these guys are good, so don’t rule that out.

And it’s… you know, there is definitely an efficiency from a costing standpoint where everybody wins. But really what you’re doing when you’re hiring Virtual Staff Finder, you’re basically hiring kinda like a head hunter. And what they do is they go through a screening process to determine what it is you’re looking for, what he skills are you need, what the tasks are you want this person to do, and then they go and they find you three candidates that you can interview. And you simply interview them via Skype. I interviewed mine, I went through all the different candidates, interviewed them, and then ended up choosing one. And then you just move forward with it. We do all of our payments, we pay them-, our payroll is done through PayPal. And it just works.
So there’s a lot you need to know about that, though, if you are going to look at that route. It’s a very, very cost-effective way of bringing on support for some of the backend services that you’re running. But I highly recommend it. So if you want to speak further about that, just send me an email or something like that and I can answer any questions that you have there. But if you are serious about that and you do basically sign up for the Virtual Staff Finder’s search through our affiliate link, then I’ll make myself available to you to make sure you get the most out of your virtual assistant there. So definitely take advantage of that. Honestly, it’s… I can’t speak highly enough about setting up an experience with a virtual assistant.

And now finally, we want to talk about sales. The sales process is important, because once you’ve got to the point where you’ve got people in the door, you want to spend some time on really, really mapping out your sales process. And this is going to give you a huge return on investment as well. Because it simply means you’ve got a track to run on; you’re not making it up as you go. So what you do is you want to script your sales process. And I’ve kinda gone through that a little bit in previous episodes so you can go back and play those. You want to go through the entire process. This is key, because if you don’t script your process, you’ll skip the fee presentation. And I’ve talked about this before; it becomes-, it’s very, very difficult sometimes when you’re first presenting the fact that you’re charging a fee to clients. You get a lot of anxiety. The clients don’t, but you tend to get a lot of anxiety. And if you skip the fee presentation, you’ll lose your credibility because the whole process we’ve put together is all in an effort to promote the fact that we are charging a fee. So they’re kind of expecting it.

Now I received an email from a listener of this podcast who followed my scripting to the letter, and he said this, he said “Last month I met with a new client and followed your advice with regards to two introductory meetings. And very nervously, on the second meeting, I asked for my fee. To my relief and amazement, he opened his check book and asked who he should make the check to. I couldn’t believe it was that easy. I was shaking.” These are his comments. [Gerard], I appreciate you sending those comments to me, because they really, really show how it is a system that works. It is a system that I’ve spent a lot of time putting together, it’s not guess work, it’s in the trenches trial and error that has brought me to this. I can’t tell you that it’s the best solution, but I can tell you that it’s the best solution that I’ve found. And I challenge anyone to find a better solution for a fee-based financial planner. So definitely take advantage of that.

I’m getting emails from others saying, hey, I’ve been trying this and I’m really kinda nervous and how do I do this. I’m just saying go out there, listen to my episode that talks about the two introductory meetings and go through the scripting in there. Go through that and basically sell your first fee. Really, really go through it and present your first fee. And you will be amazed at how easily people say, you know, what, that was easy. What you’ll find – and I guarantee this – that when you’re done you’re going to say to yourself huh, that was easy, and I probably didn’t charge enough.

So if that’s the case we can work on that in future episodes, but definitely take advantage of that. The sales process scripted out, make sure that you follow the script, because it will work for you in making sure that you get the fee presentation made. And then once you’ve established that relationship with the client, they’re going to continue. Because remember, if they don’t pay, they don’t pay attention. And that’s important. That’s a quote by… oh, who is it that said that? Joe Polish. So Joe, I heard him say one day, he says, “People don’t pay they don’t pay attention”. And I can tell you that that is so true. As soon as people started paying us for our fee-based-, our financial planning services, suddenly they started paying attention, and they started doing what we were recommending they do. So it does work. So definitely take advantage of that.

So those are all of the major things that will give you the biggest return on your investment when you focus on those aspects of your business. So get out there, find the ones that you’re probably-, you know, I don’t know if you want to start with the weakest one or of you want to start with the one that you’re almost finished with, but use this as a bit of a template for what to work on next. Start working on it, go out there and build yourself a better business.

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Copyright © Scott E. Plaskett 2012 All Rights Reserved. No part of this document may be reproduced without Scott E. Plaskett’s written permission.

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