Embracing a Niche As a Financial Advisor
We know that embracing a specialty is the most critical decision you can make in your marketing. But where should you start developing a niche as a financial advisor? In this episode, we’ll visit with a top-performing specialist advisor, Landon Loveall of KB Financial Advisors. We will review how he built his firm from the ground up by embracing a niche, including:
- How he chose his specialty
- How he uses niche marketing to reach his ideal clients
- His strategy to avoid alienating people who don’t fit his niche
- Proven successful specialty marketing tricks
- The one thing you can do today to start embracing a specialty today
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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.
Claire Akin (CA): Thank you so much for joining us today. Today we have Landon Loveall with KB Financial Advisors. They are a wealth management firm out of San Francisco that exclusively is serving tech employees. They’re doing everything that I really am passionate about recommending for financial advisors. They’ve embraced this niche wholeheartedly. They have this clear specialization, and they have all kinds of amazing content on their site for young professionals and tech executives. They really focus around stock options, and have articles such as “How to Buy a Home With Stock Options,” “Three Things to Be Aware of Once Your Company Goes Public,” and “How Incentive Stock Options and the Alternative Minimum Tax Work.”
They are laser-focused on their niche, they’re doing amazing things from a marketing perspective, and they’ve had great success. Thank you, Landon, for being part of our podcast. I want to welcome you to the show.
Landon Loveall (LL): Absolutely. It’s great to be here.
CA: Great. Walk us through a little bit about your marketing, what you guys are doing, and how you think that it’s making you different.
LL: The main way that we market our business and market our services is through the internet, and primarily through writing two blog posts a month. We’re getting ready to move up to three blog posts a month, and that is the main thing that we do and that we’ve been doing now for about three or four years, to drive that marketing engine.
CA: Great. How do most of your new clients come to you? Where do they find you, and how do they make contact with you?
LL: I would say that about 75% of the new contacts that we get are coming to us through the website. On the website, we use ScheduleOnce as a scheduling tool, and someone who reads one of our blog posts likes what they read and thinks that we can help them can just schedule a call. They don’t have to call us, they don’t have to send us an email. All they have to do is look at a calendar and pick a time that works for them. That’s the way the majority of new contacts come in. When we look at our web traffic, about 90% of that web traffic is from organic searches. If you think about that, most people who end up contacting us are out there on Google, they’re typing in search terms, they’re finding our blog post, and then they’re scheduling a call with us. That’s how the majority of our new business arrives.
CA: It’s funny, the way you and I came into contact was that you had scheduled a call with me to talk about what we might be able to help you with from a marketing perspective, and you ended up not becoming a client just because you’re already doing so many of the things that we do for advisors. Our most popular package, Indigo Marketing, is two custom blog posts a month that we send out on their website. We share them by email, we share them across social media, and we really try to position them as a specialist, and you guys are already doing that and having so much success with it, so I think that’s really cool. You also do one of the main things that we recommend for our advisors, is having a “schedule a call” button front and center on your home page so when you go to the home page, people really don’t have to think too much.
There’s one thing for them to do, schedule a phone call to start the conversation. We want to make it easy 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for people to schedule a phone call when they’re motivated to do so, when they have a need. I think that’s great that you guys are implementing all of these strategies that are really working. Tell me a little bit about your marketing journey and when you started embracing this specialty, and whether or not that was difficult for you, because a lot of the advisors that I work with have a hard time embracing a specialty. They’re worried that they’re going to alienate people that don’t fall into that specialty, and they’re worried about narrowing their focus because maybe it will narrow the amount of potential new clients.
LL: Marketing is something that I love and that I’ve always been interested in, but it’s something that you’re also constantly learning. You’re learning just in general what works, what doesn’t, and then more specifically, what works for you. Even going back to nine or 10 years ago, I was reading Guerrilla Marketing, Duct Tape Marketing, reading “Copyblogger,” and through that became really interested in a lot of this stuff that we’re now doing. It took a while for me and the firm to get to the point where we could do this, and there definitely was some of that concern. For us it was a really natural fit, because what we did is, we didn’t just randomly pick a group or a type of person and say, “This is who we want to work with.”
We started with where we were, who the people were who already seem to be finding us, and then started to refine and get more focus from there. I can remember Jackie, my partner, and I having that conversation, “If we’re going to focus this much, what happens if somebody contacts us who doesn’t have stock options?” Eventually, what we came to realize is, so what? There are enough people out there who do that it doesn’t matter, and focusing on one group and having more people from that one group reach out is a lot better than not focusing on anyone and having fewer people reach out. Regardless of what marketing you’re doing, what’s really important is kind of the middle result, I guess we could say.
Not even talking about new clients and working with new people. I’m talking about the conversation that happens, that your marketing leads to, that’s in between someone finding you and someone starting to work with you, and the more of those conversations you have, the better you can get about what you offer and how you structure it and how you market it. The only way those conversations happen and a lot of those conversations happen is by you getting more focused with your marketing. We had some of those same concerns, but this is something that has really worked for us, and it’s been just a lot of fun kind of developing everything that we do with the website and everything that we’re doing with content marketing.
CA: Tell us a little bit more about what do you think is the most important thing that you’ve done to crack the code for your marketing. What’s the biggest decision you’ve made or the biggest impact that you’ve made on your marketing?
LL: I think you can just boil it down to one word, and that one word is focus. Jackie and I, I mentioned those conversations earlier when we first decided to focus on tech employees and then from there we said, “Okay, well, we’re going to start writing on a blog.” At first, when we first started writing, it was just, we kind of wrote about whatever we wanted to write about with a general focus on the things that our clients were concerned about, but our business coach actually told us that that’s not good enough, that you need to be even more focused, and she told us, “You’re only going to write about stock options.”
Her point was that there’s so much information out there that unless you’re very specific at first, you’re just shouting in a crowd, whereas if you get really specific, the crowd gets a lot smaller. We just continued to refine, continued to focus, and also thought a lot about, what can we write about that is going to be really hard for someone else out there to match? That’s what we’re doing now, and when we started doing that, that’s when we really started to gain traction. Every month, you’d just watch the web traffic go up and the number of new contacts kind of go up with it.
CA: I totally agree. Embracing a specialty and when you think you have a specialty, you push yourself a little bit further to dive even deeper. For Indigo Marketing Agency, we serve independent financial advisors. That’s already a pretty narrow niche. Then we take it a step further and say independent financial advisors who have a true specialty, and those are the people that work with us and need our help by creating custom content, like you guys are doing yourselves. I think that’s awesome.
Tell me a little bit about what you’re looking to do next or what you’re excited about on the marketing landscape.
LL: In terms of what we’re looking to do next, it’s probably going to be more of what we are already doing. I do two posts a month. Starting next month, we’re going to be adding a third post per month, and Jackie will be doing that. Eventually, as we grow the firm, my hope is to be less involved in day-to-day client work and more able to focus on the marketing side. Over the years, I expect that we will continue to add to the number of posts that we’re posting per month and then eventually start to move into other ways of promoting that material and other material. An example I would give you is, yesterday I spoke in an event, and the other thing that I’ve learned when it comes to content is if you’re generating ideas that are in the form of some sort of content, you can’t let that go to waste. That has to be used in some way for your marketing.
Yesterday I spoke at this event. I had to put together this presentation. We ended up hiring someone to come record the presentation, and then we’re going to have the entire recording. We’re also going to take that recording and break it down into smaller clips. That one event will turn into multiple different blog posts and multiple different ways that we can promote that work that went into preparing for that one event. In the future, we’re going to be doing more of what we’re already doing and then branching out into new and different ways of building on the platform that we’ve put together.
CA: You could even use that event recording as a webinar that you could have on your website, and so you could go a lot of different directions. I believe that one of the next frontiers for advisors is webinars and using different social media platforms to advertise webinars and get them in front of their ideal target market. I think that’s cool that you guys are thinking of ways to capture this content that you’re creating and reuse it so that you can get as much exposure as possible, because the hard work really is coming up with the unique ideas and unique content and then getting as much exposure as possible. With that, why don’t you walk us through a little bit about some of the systems that you’re using and some of the technologies that you’re using for your marketing.
LL: Our website is based on WordPress, and we’ve been really happy with what we’ve been able to do there. We use Mailchimp to manage our emails, and it’s okay. I would expect in the future we may look at a different tool there. Along with Mailchimp, we’re using OptinMonster, which is, if you go to our website, there’s going to be this little pop-up encouraging you to sign up for our mailing list in exchange for a white paper. Then ScheduleOnce, that I mentioned earlier, is on the website so that you can schedule a call directly from the website. Those are the main ones that we’re using, especially when we talk about that content marketing that we’re doing.
CA: That’s great, and it sounds like you’re also using Google Analytics to view the traffic to your site because you mentioned that you have visibility to how much traffic is coming to your site and where it’s coming from, so you must be using Google Analytics for that?
LL: We are. That’s kind of another interesting story about how we came to where we are. A little background piece of how we got here, about three or four years ago, we all of a sudden started getting a bunch of new contacts, and at first we really didn’t know what was happening. It didn’t take us long to figure it out, though. What was happening is some of Jackie’s clients had just, on their own, posted reviews of the firm on Yelp. It was only two or three reviews, but at the time no one else was on Yelp, and Yelp was doing a lot of local SEO work here in San Francisco. If you typed in “financial advisor” and you were in San Francisco, one of the first results would be Yelp, top 10 financial advisors near you. We were number two or number three.
That was great, and we got a bunch of new business from that. The problem with that, like most forms of social media, was that it’s not yours. It’s theirs. That belongs to Yelp and they control it. Just like anything that you do on Facebook or anywhere else, they control it. It’s not yours, whereas your website is yours. That’s something else about our website, in terms of how I think about it. I think about it like real estate that we control. The great thing about it is every time we post a blog post, we control a little more real estate. We recognized when we started getting all this traffic from Yelp, that’s probably not gonna last, and it didn’t, because a lot of other advisors kind of moved into that space and those new contacts and that traffic to our website from Yelp started to go down.
That was another thing that prompted us to say, “We need to do something that we control where we’re every month kind of building upon what we’ve already done.” It took us about a year, but after about a year, you really started to see the traction. You started to see the traffic. Every month, I have a recurring task where I go in Google Analytics and I just compare this month or the last 30 days to the 30 days prior to that, and then the last 30 days to the same 30-day period a year ago. For the last year and a half, every month when I do that, the month-over-month increase is a double-digit percentage and the year-over-year increase is 2- or 300% over what it was the same period a year ago. Once you get this ball rolling, if you stick with it, the consistency is what’s key; if you stick with it, every month, you’re building a little bit more and adding a little bit more to what you’ve already done, and it really works.
CA: Absolutely. It took my site three years to start showing up from the keyword search of “marketing for financial advisors,” because there’s a lot of big websites out there competing for those terms. I write a new blog post every single week, and three years later I come to the top of the list when you Google for that, especially if you Google for “search engine optimization” or “webinars for advisors,” my content is at the top, because I’m diving so deep on these subjects and that’s exactly what SEO is today. It’s being the go-to expert on a specific subject to give people quality, valuable information that helps them solve their problem.
CA: To close out, I’d just like to ask you a couple of questions that I like to ask all the advisors who are on the podcast. A lot of times, I talk on the phone with advisors and I ask them, “What one urgent problem are you solving for a specific group of people?” Most of the advisors I talk to can’t answer that question. They haven’t thought about their business and they don’t know the answer to that question. I’m willing to bet that you probably have thought of that and you can answer that, so I just want to ask you, what one urgent problem do you solve for a specific group of people?
LL: We work with tech professionals who have stock options, and the problem that we solve for them is helping them figure out this unique combination that they have. Stock options are not that different from a lot of financial topics. You’ve got your different types and you’ve got general information for each of those different types. Each person that we work with has a unique combination of those different types of stock options. That’s what we do, help them understand what they have, especially help them understand what the tax implications are.
Then the way I think about the impact of the work that we’re doing for them is, if we were to compare what they’re going to get from their stock options to a case where they didn’t have the stock options and they’re just saving year by year by year, if we’re doing our job and things work out well for them, they’re going to be able to make 10 years’ worth of progress and one of that. That’s our goal. That’s the problem that we’re trying to help them solve, is to make sure that they can capture everything that those stock options can do for them.
CA: Great. Then my final question for you is, if you were to meet an advisor who maybe hasn’t worked on their marketing yet, maybe doesn’t have a marketing strategy, or maybe somebody who’s new to the business who is just getting started on their journey, what is the one marketing recommendation you would give other advisers who want to be successful?
LL: I think the first thing is you need to pick an approach. You need to know yourself, you need to know your business, you need to know who you want to work with, and then you need to pick an approach that’s going to work really well for you. One of the most important parts of that is picking an approach that you can stick with. If you want to write blog posts, that’s great, but if you’re not going to stick to it and be on a regular schedule, it won’t work. Whatever you choose to do, you have to be able to stick with it, because that’s what really matters.
The other thing that I would say is, don’t be a cheapskate. Recognize what you’re good at and hire someone else who is good at the things that you’re not good at. And don’t cut corners, because for a while, I was working with someone who was supposedly doing all these things for me, and I’m writing and nothing is happening, and nothing was happening because I was working with someone who did not know what they were doing in terms of SEO and websites and whatnot.
I’m literally in a dark room shouting alone, and no one is reading what I’m putting out there. Decide what you’re good at and then hire out the rest, and when you hire out, make sure you’re working with someone who knows what they’re doing.
CA: That’s great. That’s fantastic advice. I want to thank you so much for being a part of our show. If you want to check out Landon’s website, go to kbfinancialadvisors.com. Landon, thank you for being a guest, and keep in touch.
LL: All right, thanks, Claire.
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We help top advisors with a true specialty to create custom marketing plans. Our most popular services include our Independent Websites for Independent Advisors, our Search Engine Optimization service, and our Monthly Marketing Package, but we can also help answer your questions and work with you on project-based marketing campaigns.
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.