If you’ve ever used a fax machine professionally, you’ve likely been in the financial advising game for longer than a lot of your prospective clients have been alive. Things have changed quite a lot in the past couple of decades, too: with the advent of the internet, smartphone technology, and social media, people are communicating more frequently and in different ways than ever before.
This, of course, means that strategies for successfully tapping new client pools have changed quite a lot as well. If you’re feeling like an old dog struggling to learn the new tricks necessary to earn the metaphorical treat of untapped clients, Planswell has you covered.
We’re used to working with seasoned advisors, and can help even the most luddite of luddites transform a stagnant, outdated business into a thriving, modern operation.
Keep reading for a breakdown of some of the biggest pain points with ways you may have tried to generate new prospects and how Planswell can help you change a trickle into a flood.
Problems with prospecting like it’s 1989
As much as we all love Madonna and leg warmers, we’ve come a long way from the sales tactics of the ‘80s. Gone are the days of free dinner seminars being the most practical way to approach client acquisition. Now that technology and communication have both evolved beyond the beeper, there are a few problems with relying on sales tactics that were developed before we had a universe of knowledge and social connection blinking happily in our pockets.
Compared to modern client acquisition techniques, the “free steak dinner” method is wildly expensive. I spoke with Planswell resident expert Ermos Erotocritou about his experiences in setting up and running free dinner seminars as a way to acquire new clients.
Ermos told me that, after sending out 5,000 mailers and booking space and paying for food, he was spending about $5,000 on every seminar he hosted, each of which had about 15 to 20 attendees and led to around 10 booked meetings and 1 or 2 closed deals. That’s a grand total of $250 per prospect or $5,000 per new client.
However feasible your dinner seminar costs may seem to you, “it’s not just about the money,” Ermos told me. “It’s about the time these seminars eat up.” Ermos describes in excruciating detail everything that went into planning his lunch-and-learn seminars when he was first getting started, and, to be totally honest, merely reading it stressed me out.
Ermos had a staff that did his mailings for him, but even he admitted that if there were a better option, there’s no way he would have been hosting these seminars. If you’re an individual advisor working without help, how long are you spending sending out 5,000 mailers every quarter (not to mention booking space, preparing your presentation, and traveling to and from each session)? How much time could you reclaim if you didn’t have to do your prospecting yourself? What would happen to your income if you could instead focus on actually closing deals?
We’ll get back to that in just a minute.
Scope of reach
As impressive as your rolodex may be, it simply isn’t physically capable of holding all the prospects that are available to you if you think in 21st century terms. If you’re limiting your prospect search to people who would feasibly travel to meet you in person at a dinner seminar, you’re leaving quite a lot of potential clients on the table.
Let’s just take for example the sleepy, college town of Ithaca, NY. If you’re a financial advisor working out of Ithaca and you only seek clients who live in your immediate vicinity, you have a total population of around 19,000 households to work with (we’re going to go ahead and leave the college students out of our assessment here).
Thanks to the advent of teleconferencing technology, however, it’s no longer necessary to travel to a physical office to receive financial advice. This means there is a literal world of households available to you that you may not even be considering if you’re only sending postcards to folks in your area.
Our hypothetical Ithacan advisor could grow their potential household base to nearly 20 million just from expanding to cover all of New York State. And what’s stopping them from expanding beyond that, even? Nothing, really — they could just as easily hop on a Zoom call to advise someone in Tallahassee as Albany.
All of that being said, if you’re persistently working with advertising techniques that were designed by people who thought digital watches were a pretty neat idea, there’s no way you’re going to be able to maintain a pipeline of prospects that will sustain your business.
Adapting to the digital age
If learning how to plan and execute a digital marketing campaign seems like it would be incredibly time consuming and complicated, you’re not wrong. I spoke with Planswell’s Digital Marketing Manager, Cody Potapoff, and he walked me through all the pain points of attempting to maintain profitable online marketing campaigns all by yourself.
Digital marketing is complicated
If you thought sending postcards inviting folks to a free dinner seminar was annoying to organize, the scope of running a successful online advertising campaign is going to make your head spin. According to Cody, merely “running ads on Facebook and Google can be a full-time job in itself.” In fact, it is for Cody.
Not only do you have to constantly monitor each ad for number of views, conversion rates, cost per click, etc. to ensure the money you’re spending on advertising is actually earning you more business, there’s a veritable forest of regulations around marketing for financial services that you’ll need to navigate to avoid potentially costly fines down the road.
This is, of course, not even accounting for the process of actually designing ads, a skill that involves a scientific understanding that goes beyond even expert graphic design concepts.
Plus, if you really want to do digital marketing right, you’re going to have to expand beyond a single social media platform. “Marketing on Google and Facebook is only one piece of the puzzle,” Cody says. You’ll also need to use complicated “analytics and reporting to ensure your money is being spent well.”
Sure, there are tools designed to help you manage your own digital marketing campaigns, but they aren’t actually a solution to the problem. Successful digital marketing would be absolutely impossible without them, but you still need to have the knowledge of how to use and integrate various tools in such a way that they actually work for you, which is easier said than done in a lot of cases.
What’s more, the digital marketing landscape is constantly changing — new companies and strategies are being introduced on a near-daily basis. “It’s an incredibly competitive and volatile environment that demands constant learning to stay on top of the game,” Cody says. Just because you manage to create one successful advertising campaign, by no means does that guarantee you’ll be able to do it again, let alone consistently.
Essentially, if you’re going to run your own successful digital marketing campaign, you’re going to need to become an expert in a new field and spend a full-time-job’s-worth of time executing your campaigns and staying up-to-date on the current trends within your field so that you can continue to create successful ads.
Hiring a professional is expensive
Of course, you don’t need to do this work yourself. There are plenty of professional marketing agencies who would be more than happy to take your money and put together an ad campaign for you. According to Cody, however, they’re going to take quite a lot of your money.
He told me that agencies can cost “thousands of dollars each month in just retainers.” This cost doesn’t even include the money you’ll have to spend on creating and posting the ads themselves.
What’s more, these agencies’ work does not come with any sort of success guarantee. It’s entirely likely that the money you spend hiring a professional marketing agency may not pay for itself in new revenue.
Stick to what you do best (let us do the rest)
If, at this point, you’re feeling a bit hopeless about adapting your business to the modern era, I get it. The internet is a complicated, confusing, and expensive place to be. It’s also more competitive than a rainforest in terms of the sheer number of entities trying to access the same resources.
All hope, however, is not lost.
What if I told you that you didn’t even need to spend time mucking about with social media advertising in order to have a steady stream of qualified prospects delivered directly to you? What if, for less than the price of hosting a free dinner seminar, you could have nearly four times the prospects served up to your inbox on a metaphorical silver platter? What if you could skip prospecting all together, and focus entirely on closing deals?
That’s where Planswell comes in.
Dan, an advisor who partners with Planswell, was having trouble making the shift to a 21st century client-acquisition strategy.
“Unless you’re really technically proficient,” he admits, “trying to figure out how to get your name out there and how to extract leads and referrals ... is really hard.”
Knowing he needed some support in this department, Dan signed up with Planswell. After three months of working with our households, he made his first sale, which paid for six months of his subscription. When we spoke to him about how things were going, he had 23 hot leads in his pipeline and 31 more in the process of warming up.
Dan is just one of hundreds of financial advisors who have realized their talents and time are best suited to closing deals and serving clients, and it makes simple financial sense to subscribe to a service that serves prospective clients to them on a silver platter.