Join us on our financial advisor success podcast with Marie Swift, President and CEO of Impact Communications, a marketing communications and PR firm for financial advisors. Marie helps advisors shoot videos, record podcasts, and improve their digital presence. In this episode, she’ll reveal:
- The biggest new marketing opportunities for advisors
- How advisors can stand out with podcasts and videos
- The steps to clarify your ideal niche
- The easiest way to record high-quality videos for your website
- How to communicate your specialty without alienating people
- How to stand out from other financial advisors
Marie’s Website: https://www.impactcommunications.org/
Marie’s Blog: https://www.impactcommunications.org/blog
The Advisor Thought Leader Summit: https://www.advisorthoughtleadersummit.com/
Listen here now, or download and subscribe on iTunes to listen on your commute!
You can listen to the first two episodes of our financial advisor success podcast here:
New episodes will be published weekly with various guests, including top advisors, tech consultants, and marketing machines who are excited to tell you how to use proven marketing strategies to grow a thriving practice.
Listen here now, or download and subscribe on iTunes to listen during your commute!
For today’s episode, we have a very special guest, Marie Swift, of Impact Communications and I’m really excited to welcome Marie. She’s the president and CEO of Impact Communications. They are a full service PR and Marketing Communication firm that works solely with financial advisors. Marie and I have known each other way back since when I with F&B Suite. We worked with clients together. We’ve kept in touch over the years. She’s just a great resource for advisors in our industry who are looking to communicate what makes them different. She also addresses large audiences, speaks at broker dealer conferences and she has created the Advisor Thought Leadership Summit. I’ll let Marie go into the details about that. But I just wanted to welcome her to the program.
Thank you Claire.
Great. Marie, we’re really going to be talking about how advisors can stand out from the crowd and how you can figure out what they do best, what makes them different and communicate that to clients and to would-be clients so that they’re memorable because as you know, there’s so many financial advisors out there who don’t always differentiate themselves. We’re going to dive deep into that topic today. Before we get started, why don’t you tell us a little bit about your personal life and what you’re most excited about personally this year.
Thank you for the opportunity to share because I am really excited. This weekend I’m going to be leaving for a trip overseas. I’m going to be going to New Zealand for the first time in my life. My daughter happens to be studying abroad for a semester. So my husband and I figured it would be the perfect opportunity to go and be with her. See Wellington, New Zealand, which is where she’s studying. Then she convinced us that we ought to take a side trip over to Australia and see the Great Barrier Reef while we still can see it.
That is so cool. I can’t imagine. That’s going to be an amazing trip. Congratulations on that. Let’s talk a little bit about marketing for financial advisors, where are you seeing the biggest opportunities for advisors in their marketing?
I’m so glad you asked because there are so many opportunities and it really all hinges on digital communications and the ability to create a message that resonates and to get it out in their real time. Or with very minimal drag on what you have to do to make it presentable. In the form of an audio. Sometimes referred to as a podcast or a video which can even be done with your iPhone now. There are so many great tools and typically the mobile devices are pretty much able to handle many of these digital communication tasks that advisors have so that reduces the barrier. It reduces the prize and I think it really gives advisors more of a platform to be out there, to be seen as authentic human beings who are professionals but they also have some personal interests. We all know that we work with people we like and trust.
That typically people will make their decisions with their hearts and then they will justify it with their brains. I think the biggest opportunity is to connect heart and mind through digital communications, it’s just the reality that we live in. You can do so much to show your character culture, your purpose, through your iPhone or your Android zone or even like a webcam video. Or like we’re today using some digital technology to record this audio. This podcast.
Absolutely. I totally agree. I couldn’t agree more. I think from a marketing perspective if you can just do a few videos or a few podcasts, it really helps set the tone for your marketing. It helps people get to know you. Then they feel like they know you in the future. So when they read your blog posts in the future they have a face to put with that…to put behind the words. It’s not like you have to do it every single time with your marketing. But just getting a few videos out there, I think really goes a long way.
Absolutely. And one of the things you mentioned earlier in our intro, the intro that you read or prepared, I’m not sure. It sounded so good. I’m not sure if you read it or said it but thank you for mentioning the advisor thought leader summit because this has been a dream of mine for many years. Is to bring groups of advisors together and really get them comfortable in front of a camera. So many advisors are shy about being on camera. They’re a little worried, like what am I going to look like. Am I going to forget what to say. But in today’s world the reality is we need to get over that. We need to be able to be camera ready, to do videos, to do them ourselves. To be in a position when a peer or maybe another thought leader at say, The Morningstar Conference, which I was just at.
We were grabbing people out of the hallways and saying, “Come do an audio. Come do a video.” Advisors really need to get trained in how to be grounded in who they are and that they have something to say and people want to hear what that is. They want to see who they are. So the advisor thought leader summit is my way of reducing the price of getting that kind of media training, the camera skills training and just being ready for those opportunities because they’re more and more abundant.
Absolutely. And I think it’s so great that you’re doing that because I get questions every single day from advisors who really need help creating video so our firm will do the legwork of writing your video scripts and getting those approved by compliance. We can edit your video but we can’t actually shoot your video. Advisors have a choice of hiring somebody locally and that could be $5,000 or $10,000 to have a team come to their office and shoot video. Or they could go to an event like yours and record many, many videos all in one day. So it’s just a fantastic value and to have that coaching. That support there is a great way to get a better outcome for them.
When an advisor comes to you and a lot of times I get advisors who come to me and we help advisors communicate what makes them different with their specialty. All the advisors that work with us, work with us because they want to really embrace their specialty through their marketing. But sometimes we get advisors who come to us and don’t have a specialty yet. They’re not sure who to focus on or who their ideal prospect is. Walk us through how you help advisors choose who to serve.
The way you articulate your value proposition, which is really around your character, your culture, your purpose. Is so important. Because people need to feel that passion, that authenticity come through. What we do is we have a message mapping process and typically we do that in a room with the advisor or the key stakeholders of a firm. Where we can just be listening and stirring things up with them. Maybe sparking a new way to communicate who they are that will help them stand out as different. What we don’t want to see is advisors who are just kind of borrowing some language from another website or appear that they think sounds good for that other firm. But then people start to sound the same. I think the best thing to do if you want to stand out is to take a little bit of a chance to have a little bit of a voice where you don’t just seem homogenized like all the other financial professionals.
It’s really sometimes what you say, but it’s also how you say it. So practicing and articulating what you want to say, internalizing it but then having just this bubble up of enthusiasm. People really want to feel that, so what we do in our process is around message mapping and just good old fashioned dialogue and practice.
That’s great. So many advisors need help with that. I think it’s important to know. I tell advisors all the time they need to specialize. It’s hard for them to choose a specialty. Maybe part of your specialty could just be your personality. We work with advisors who do faith-based financial planning and they talk about their faith in their article and that is their specialization. I have one advisor who actually gave one of his kidneys to his uncle so he’s very passionate about organ transplants, and he works with doctors and nurses who do transplants. So that could be your specialty. I have another advisor that is basically a person who loves adventure so he has offices in Alaska and in Denver. He talks about his backpacking adventures so other people who love adventurers tend to work with him. Your specialty doesn’t necessarily need to be that you work with employees of certain company or doctors or dentists.
It could just be a flair that you have when it comes to the way that you communicate and tell your story, so I think that’s great advice. One of the things that keeps advisors from choosing a specialty is I think that they have this fear that they’re going to alienate somebody. Of course if you have a big bulk of business. You have clients from different walks of life, and they’re not going to be all of the same demographic or age or have the same financial planning concerns. So how do advisors go about communicating what makes them different without alienating people who don’t fit within that profile?
Again I go back to how you say what you want to say. You can say just about anything if you’re respectful and you have a courteous way about communicating that. On a website it might be a little bit different because most likely people aren’t going to reading the content on your website or on your social media profiles. But I don’t think it’s bad to say over the years we’ve developed a specialty in, like you were telling me earlier, intel executives. Some of your clients are working with intel executives and employees on pension package changes. And their benefits packages. I don’t think it hurts to say we have become specialists or we have intentionally chosen to focus on this specific demographic or psychographic or pool of people. Because if you’re marketing to everybody you’re really just marketing to nobody. People don’t really see themselves fitting in. I love the example that you gave though just a minute ago about some of the people are adventure-based and they’re drawn to the advisor who has that similar life passion.
I was going to mention that I heard about an advisor I actually got to meet this advisor. He’s really into hip hop and he has three young kids. So he’s not afraid to say I specialize in working with people who have my same kind of life interests at about the same life stage and I guess he would fall in the millennial bucket if we wanted to look at that demographic. But he’s a rather hip, young guy and I don’t think he’s worried about alienating anybody by being authentic. He’s not a suit and tie, buttoned up kind of guy in a high rise building. He’s just a really professional, competent, likable financial advisor. Again, how do you communicate without alienating. I think you just have to be respectful and say, “This is who I am. This is who we serve. If you know anybody would be a good fit for this equation, send them our way. And if you’re looking for a financial advisor and we’re not the right fit for you, we’ll let you know who we think would be a good fit for you instead. And maybe refer those folks to a network that you might belong to.
Maybe it’s the XY planning network or Jarrett planning network. The Alliance of Comprehensive Planners, [Snafa 00:11:57], FPA, and so forth
Right, I think that is key advice. You don’t want to take on all clients that come to you. I think that’s one cool thing about Marie and I is that we have this referral relationship because when I come across a client that needs her help, I will refer to her and she’ll do the same because you want to know what you do best and who you serve best. That every client can have an A plus experience. Referring out to people who don’t fit your target demographic and aren’t your ideal prospect, there’s no shame in that. One other thing I’d like to mention about communicating your specialty without alienating people, is one tip I give advisors is to embrace a broad specialty and very narrow specialty.
What I mean by that is it could be executives at Bristol-Myers Squibb Corporation and families looking to retire on time. Almost anybody fits into one of those two groups. Another example could be LGBT people and also busy professionals. Most people fit into one of those two groups so you’re not necessarily going to be alienating anyone, by saying here’s the specialty we serve and we also help these people. One of my clients works with busy professionals and tennis players and if you don’t play tennis you’re not going to be alienated by that but maybe you do know somebody who plays tennis and you’re going to refer because he also has that passion. You don’t want to hide your specialty from people because they may know somebody who would love to work with someone just like you and that’s the person that you really want to meet. So it’s just interesting to make that distinction and do your marketing from that specific and broader specialty.
I love that advice, Claire. That’s beautifully said.
Thank you. One of the next questions I want to ask Marie, is that so many advisors are the same and to the general public, it’s hard for them to understand what makes us different. How is an independent advisor different from somebody with a wire house or somebody who is a fiduciary, or somebody who sells annuities or somebody who does comprehensive planning. How do we really cut through the noise out there because to the end consumer, a lot of financial advisors are all the same.
So I think it goes back to being a little different. Dare to be different. Have a point of view, have a little bit of personality. Now you probably don’t want to stray into the too colorful arena because that might be a little bit more than you want to reveal about yourself or that people care to know initially. But being a little different is a good thing. Whether it’s the colors that you use, the slogans, the words that you use. The way you stage your videos or do your podcast and just articulate the value proposition. People are looking for real human beings to work with them because they’re a real human being, so you can’t be anybody other than who you really are. You can’t hide that. People can see who you are when they meet you and as they get to know you.
Don’t try to play it too safe. Be out there, be visible. Take a chance. If you’re not comfortable with video, start doing a little video. Test the waters. You might do better than you think you would’ve done. If you are a better speaker than a writer, you want to play to that strength. You want to speak, maybe do a podcast or seminars. But if you’re a better writer, you might play to that strength and do a little bit more writing but grow your speaking ability over time. To stand out I think you just have to be different and to be out there more. To be more public.
Right, I love that. I love that advice of just getting out there more. One secret I will tell advisors listening, is that most advisors are not doing any marketing. They just do not consistently market their firms. If you can commit to yourself to do your marketing every week or every month, and do it for months and years, you will stand out from everybody in a crowd because most advisors are doing nothing. It’s really easy if you just commit to yourself that you’re going to write a blog post every month or do a video every other week. Or whatever it is. Commit to yourself, hold yourself to at least a year or two and I guarantee your business will grow as a result.
Now Marie, tell us a little bit about what are the biggest mistakes that you’re seeing advisors making with your marketing?
So in addition to playing it too safe and blending in, I would say another mistake is being inattentive to how you are portraying yourself and your firm online. You need to pay attention to your online presence. I run into so many advisory firms where they don’t even have Google News alerts set up to see who’s talking about them online or if something is coming around on maybe the News wire or in an article. Having Google News alerts set up so you know what people are saying. Paying attention to your social media to build relationships but also just to monitor your online presence and then doing an annual audit. Is everything still okay? Are the links broken? Is the imagery right? Is the site loading properly and quickly? Because if you just go on automatic pilot and think well I did that three years ago, chances are something has slid. It could be the articulation of your value proposition. Or it could be that the technology is not supporting what you’d like to present to the world.
I would say that one of the biggest mistakes is just going on auto pilot and not paying attention.
Absolutely. I agree. You really need to be updating your website and your social profiles. At least once a year. Take a look at them. I recently hired a professional proofreader who went through every single word on my website, corrected every single error. Corrected any broken links. This was a task that if I had put it on my to do list I probably would’ve procrastinated for months or forever. She got it done in less than a week and it cost me around $350. It’s just about taking the time to get things done once a year. Make sure everything is up to date, everything is buttoned up and polished. You’ll feel that much more confident in your marketing and your online presence. To round out today’s episode, could you just walk us through if you could tell advisors one thing to do to really get started with their public relations and their marketing communications. What would it be?
My number one piece of advice is to do more. Do the next thing. You know what it is. Do that next thing. You’re probably doing something. Maybe do that consistently and then add something more. Do one thing really well and then add something more. Do the next thing and get out of your comfort zone because you have a purpose, you have a story. You have a reason for being a financial advisor. You just need to get out of your own way about whatever it is…”I’m afraid of how I’m going to look” or “I don’t have the time.” There’s no excuses anymore. The cost barrier is low. The learning curve is low. And they’re people to support you in getting the message right and getting your personification and the way you present yourself right. Do that next thing.
That’s great advice. One of the things where Marie and her team really excel is in helping advisors who are maybe five years away from getting started selling their firm. And we’re going to talk about that on another episode of this show. We’re going to have Ron Carson on and he’s going to talk about how advisors can prepare to sell their firm. Marie’s group can actually come in, five years out and start helping you from a branding and a marketing and PR perspective. To really clean up your firm and maximize the value and get it so that it’s ready to sell and it’s an impressive asset instead of a liability for you. I think that’s a cool service that you guys offer. I want to thank you for being a part of our show today. We really appreciate all of your insights and I hope the advisors listening got a lot of value. How can they learn more about you and your firm?
Just Google us, I’m everywhere online, Marie Swift, or go to our website, www.impactcommunications.org. I also have a blog under my name, it’s www.marieswift.com.
That’s great. Thanks so much for being a part of our show and we’ll talk to you soon.
If you’d like any resources from today’s episode or from other episodes, go to indigomarketingagency.com/remember. It’s hard to forget that address. Indigomarketingagency.com/remember.
Claire Akin runs Indigo Marketing Agency, a full-service marketing firm serving financial advisors. It’s her mission to help independent financial advisors help more people through their incredibly important work. Claire is a former Investment Advisor Representative who holds her MBA in Marketing from the Rady School of Management at UC San Diego as well as a BA in Economics from UC Davis.