Why Do Marketing?

Why Do Marketing?

MarketingI’ve long been a proponent that marketing is the single best determinant of financial services success.
Sales. Profit. Client Satisfaction. Referrals. Happiness. Confidence. All of these things start with marketing. Often the best marketers make the financial advisors. Why? Because their ability to apply more marketing at the right time in the right manner under controlled tracking makes them efficient in hyper-busy seasons and in slower times; smoothing out peaks and valleys. I have long stated that if Seth Godin, Scott McKain, Marc Benioff or any decorated marketing mind picked up financial advising earlier in their career they’d be dominant.

Furthermore, I have always believed that the best developer for new advisors, those mildly successful, grizzled veterans and Top of the Table MDRT qualifiers is marketing. When strategies are taught properly, implemented well and tracked –  often the skills developed are unparalleled by other methods of development. This is why we focus so much on the marketing at Advisors Excel and have since the beginning. You want to acquire more clients? Do marketing. You want to be more profitable? Do marketing. You want to be the most confident, certain, empowering financial advisor you can be? Do marketing. And do it often.

However, some marketing techniques have recently been promoted as an “everything for everyone” solution in a box. With that comes adverse effects to everyone in the profession. Instead of marketing being looked at with the importance and personalization it deserves, it’s in fact working against you and in many cases, becoming a business drain. (I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard, “_____ just doesn’t work for in my area.” When in fact, I know it works because we consult someone 30-40 miles away who’s wildly successful doing exactly _____.) But if marketing is performed well, with time and personal attention given, it separates the successful from the unsuccessful and those who are just in the game from the legendary. Done poorly, it puts you on a side of the equation you can’t afford.

People have asked me why Advisors Excel would put on 2 ½ day events that focus so much on marketing. The answer is simple…because people don’t have time for 3 ½ day events. The Journey, World Series of Sales, Ultimate Advisor Practice and Game Changer trainings are designed for the exact purposes I described above: to make sure that attendees are performing marketing seamlessly from every angle and that the advisors responsible for success are getting the desired results from their work.  Advisors like Mike Reese, Bill Smith, Chad Slagle and Chris Hobart, Joel Johnson and Rob Russell attend nearly every marketing event they can with Advisors Excel and experience record years as a result. We focus 2 ½ days on marketing because most people need every minute they can get.

For many of you the 2013 marketing calendar is already set and the year’s momentum is already leading towards final 2013 results. Whether you know it or not, 2014 prep work has begun. That means it’s time to set your focus on maximal marketing from today forward. It is a known fact that nobody can be a successful advisor without first being a good marketer. The results every year on our leaderboard speak for themselves. That means now is the time to hone your marketing skills, techniques and tracking and begin getting ready for 2014. You CANNOT achieve all your goals in this profession without first being a good marketer. Good enough to compete on our leaderboard and nationally. The ability to compete on that level comes from technical proficiency and a basic understanding of what is happening every time you put together a marketing strategy. If you want to go higher in assets gathered, profitability and overall certainty and confidence next year… try working on the biggest developer for your success; marketing.

We’re offering a couple events at our place and at different areas the rest of 2013. If you’re serious about getting good at marketing and thus at this business, check one of them out. Our staff is phenomenal and comes with more experience at developing successful advisors than any IMO in history. The bottom line is this: marketing develops overall sales, client satisfaction and success for everyone. To ignore technical faults or to never press for a proper understanding of how to market successfully is to leave untapped potential on the table. Whether it is your desire to become the nation’s #1 asset gatherer or just be a better advisor; the planning, execution and tracking of marketing are the premier tools to that end. Take the time to learn them.

Improve Seminar Results

Money BulbNot every elite financial advisor conducts public seminars/workshops within their practice. But my educated guess (looking at advisors with our firm that write $10 million or more annually in FIAs) is that 70% do. The majority of producers use direct mail-driven, dinner-provided public workshops and work hard to differentiate themselves from competitors.

Today I’d like to highlight the success of one of the best financial advisors in the country and his seminar results! I had an opportunity to visit with Matt from Kentucky over the phone today and below are a few mind-blowing stats he shared.
Bottom line as you read this is – if you think public workshops don’t work, think again! In 2009 Matt was at a crossroads in his marketing. He either needed to abandon seminars completely, because the model he was using produced steadily declining results, to the point of being not profitable. Or he needed to tear apart every piece of the process and design it again from the ground up. He chose the second option and his results are astounding…

  • In the past 5 years Matt has seen over 12,000 seminar attendees.
  • In 2011 he spoke at 89 events and averaged a 1.89% mail response for the year! The end result was $14 million of new premium attributed to seminars.
  • In 2012 he spoke at 39 events (less than half), cancelled three scheduled mailers due to overflow and averaged a 1.79% mail response for the year.  That end result was $15 million of new premium attributed to seminars.
  • 2118 qualified leads were produced from his 2012 seminars.
  • Over 50% of Matt’s business comes from baby boomers. That allowed Matt to gather over $29 million in premium last year, due in part to additional business boomer clients bring him throughout their relationship together (opposed to senior clients that typically don’t come into additional funds).
  • He previously did workshops rotated at 13 different restaurants. Now he only uses two premier steakhouses. This caused his cost per meal to go up, but cost per lead to dramatically reduce and average “client value” to increase.
  • His high appointment ratio from seminars provides Matt a minimum of 60 future appointments at all times on his calendar. (He told me he gets “nervous” if it falls below that). Due to appointment volume, he needs to be very efficient in meetings and last year closed 75% of clients at the first appointment, 15% at second appointment and 10% appointments three or more.
  • Nearly $130 million came through his doors for an appointment in 2012!
  • Of that, Matt gathered $29 million in assets, disqualified $20 million for various reasons and the remaining $80 million is now on his “pendling tickler” drip file. Think that’ll produce future results?

Three’s a lot more to Matt’s seminars and the rest of his business. His TV commercials and 30 minute weekly television show on ABC are watched by over 10,000 people. He has the art and science of producing of direct response leads from television exacted. His appointment process and deliverables are incredible. Matt gets prospects to a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ very quickly and with respect. I could go on and on…

I hope these results, if nothing else, give you hope that seminar results can improve! If it works for Matt, it can work for you. Let’s visit soon if you want to dig deeper on anything above.
Advise with Passion,

Who is Guggenheim?

Guggenheim Fortune CoverIf you don’t know the name Guggenheim (other than maybe the Frank Lloyd Wright Museum in NYC), that’s about to change.
The next edition of Fortune magazine is ready to hit newsstands March 18th with the cover reading:

“The Mysterious $170 Billion Financial Empire…That’s Gone Hollywood…Guggenheim Partners”

I guess purchasing the LA Dodgers and Dick Clark Productions turns some heads!

Having received an advanced copy of the cover article (CLICK HERE to read it), I’m excited to say the least! It’s no secret that my firm has indirectly partnered with Guggenheim through one of their owned insurance entities Security Benefit LifeAdvisors Excel and Innovation Design Group created a couple proprietary and exclusive index annuities that have taken the industry by storm, finishing 2012 as the #1 and #2 selling products in the country! There are a number of factors that made those products a success, a couple different ingredients in the recipe. But the brainpower, yield-producing ability and financial acumen of Guggenheim are a big part!

In the Fortune article, I couple key points I took were:

  • Its secretiveness is partly strategic and partly a reflection of the reserved, stolid personality of Guggenheim’s CEO, Mark Walter. He has focused on managing the rapidly expanding firm, while its more frenetic president, Todd Boehly, has been driving the glitzy new deals. “They want to be the dark horse in the shadows,” says a former employee.
  • One of Guggenheim’s earliest clients was Sammons Enterprises, a Dallas conglomerate that controls several insurers. Today Sammons owns 35% of Guggenheim, whose employees own just under 50%, including stakes of under 10% each for Walter and Boehly. The Guggenheim family retains a small percentage.
    (Quick side note…Sammons Enterprises is behind Midland and North American Life).
  • The core fixed-income accounts run by CIO Scott Minerd — a former competitive bodybuilder in the superheavyweight division — returned 7.3% annually from 1999 through 2012. That stellar performance attracted a flood of assets, especially from insurers. If you tally up the money Guggenheim manages for insurers (including some the firm has now bought), it totals $75 billion today.
  • Guggenheim had enjoyed huge success managing assets for insurers. Eventually Walter and Boehly found themselves with a new opportunity: to buy some underpriced insurers. That also offered a bonus — they could gain even more investing capital. They’d be able to tap the “float,” the billions insurers hold in between receiving premiums and paying out claims. Warren Buffett has become fabulously rich doing this.
  • In 2009, Guggenheim bought Wellmark Community Insurance. A year later it and other investors spent $400 million for control of Security Benefit, and $470 million to buy life insurer EquiTrust in 2011. Last year a Canadian insurer sold its U.S. annuities business to Guggenheim for $800 million. The firm also acquired two companies, Claymore and Rydex, that sell exchange-traded funds.
  • Meanwhile, the firm is still on the hunt for deals. It wants to add insurance assets and bolster its live events business.

If you’re positioning Security Benefit Life, Equitrust Life, North American Life or Midland annuities with clients – this article is a must read! The magazine will become nearly mandatory to keep close-by for quick credibility reference during appointments.

In addition to the Fortune magazine article, Guggenheim President Todd Boehly was recently interviewed on Bloomberg. It provides amazing insight into how Guggenheim thinks and what direction they’re headed. Do the future of your annuity production a favor and watch this:


After seeing the passion, vision and direction of Guggenheim, draw your own conclusions. But I specifically took note when Mr. Boehly spoke about:

  •  3 legs to the Guggenheim stool – Investments, Securities & Insurance Services. Guggenheim is different because they’re focused on 10 year instead of 90 day cycles. Shareholders aren’t asking “what have you done for me lately” allowing them to take advantages of value-priced assets, primed for long-term appreciation.
  • Around 4-minutes he speaks specifically to Security Benefit Life.
  • At 7:30 Mr. Boehly states “(As population increases) finding income over time is becoming harder and harder because yields are being driven out of assets.” What sets them apart is they are long-term capital investors.
  • Premium content & human capital brands will become more valuable in the future.
  • Buying businesses is a great place to earn return, especially in a 2% treasury environment.
  • Just before 14 minutes, Mr. Boehly speaks to one of the hallmarks of Guggenheim’s success being the ability to quickly respond to opportunities. Looking at how the firm was built, it was a federation of business that recently came together as one. And at the end of the day, you’re no better than the talent you attract and surround yourself with.
  • Innovation is critical to what they do.

If you’ve made it this far, read the article and watched the video I’m sure you feel empowered! Go out and do something with it at the client acquisition level!
As always, I’m here to dig deeper on a personal level if it makes sense. Don’t hesitate to reach out my way.

Advise with Passion.

Index Annuities vs. Variable Annuities

ComparisonAbout once a month an advisor asks me for “something that compares index annuities to variable annuities”.

Up to this point, I didn’t have much for direct comparison. I’ve archived a lot on both topics, but it wasn’t complete. But that changes today – because I’ve just been given a great 12 page white paper from Genworth about FIAs vs. VAs!
In the executive summary Genworth states:

Variable annuities have long been a common tool for financial professionals whose clients seek tax-deferred growth and guaranteed retirement income, with the opportunity to outperform inflation. Yet high market volatility and low interest rates continue to challenge accumulation and income objectives. That’s why some financial professionals are looking to fixed index annuities to protect portfolio value and create guaranteed income.

Nice huh? A couple key points…

Page 6 gives a great graphic you can use in appointments, seminars and a lot of other places on the “Potential Risk-Return Spectrum”. Don’t overlook this one!!!


Page 7 gives a side-by-side comparison of FIAs and VAs, showing a balanced picture. You see the words “protect”, “lock in” and “guarantees” on the FIA side with words like “upside”, “volatility” and “exposure” on the VA side.



Lastly, page 8 provides ideas around index annuities fitting into an overall plan. Client one uses index annuities to guarantee income. Client two uses index annuities to increase growth potential.

We need better information on this topic floating around our industry…
If you’re looking for a well-balanced pieces on annuities, I’ve found a great one here & I’m would love to share the full report. Just comment below and I’ll get it right out.

Advise with Passion.

Top Seminar Restaurants

Eating-Money-Food-SavingFinancial workshops…seminars…classes…group consultations…whatever you call them.

To be successful, a number of factors are vital. Mess just one element up and it can ruin the ten you got right!
For example:

  • You mail a first class invitation
  • The presentation (PowerPoint or not) is updated, topical and powerful
  • Any PR is leveraged to the highest degree
  • Your procedures to prompt appointments are refined and
  • The appointment book next week has been cleared to prepare for new appointments
  • But…….you’re hosting the event at the wrong restaurant

Regardless of how hard you worked and prepared you might be, make one mistake of this magnitude and it’ll cost you $5000+; and valuable weeks of time!

What’s the solution?!?
The number one (by volume) seminar direct mail house in the nation just provided me access to a list of the top-response-driven restaurants of 2012, by state!  (And no, it’s not Ruth’s Chris at the top regardless). If you’re conducting seminars in 2013, maximize their results!

Comment below if you’d benefit from seeing restaurants in your state. I can assemble the appropriate list – showing restaurant, city, state and mailer reservation response rate from 2012.

Advise with Passion.

Facebook Advertising for Financial Advisors

facebook-adRecently I heard about another successful Advisors Excel producer who had an incredible month of production. When a colleague of mine asked “What’d they do to have a month like that?” I expected to hear a number of the same things. Seminar tweaks, successful existing client event, radio campaign success, etc. While all of that is exciting news and a lot of the material I share with you here; this time it was different…

Don B. was the advisor and he practices out of Kentucky. One thing Don knew is a lot of people in his area (at a few select employers) were getting laid off. He’d already acquired a couple clients from dinner seminars who needed to make 401k rollover decisions. But obvious questions were rolling around his head, like “How do I capitalize on this? How do I find more people who need help right now?”.

After a lot of strategic thinking and reaching out to a few local firms, Don had it – Facebook advertising!

It was perfect for this situation and he’d found a firm to establish the program for him! Facebook advertising was new to Don, but not too difficult. He knew if he could figure out successful seminar marketing (and foot that bill in the process) he could make this work. Working with the local firm (if you’re looking into this, do a Google search on “Facebook advertising _____”, filling in the blank with your city or state) Don laid out his parameters. By using the information people supply on themselves via their Facebook profiles, they crafted a campaign with specific age ranges & employers! Isn’t that tricky. Using Facebook he could accurately target the exact people who worked for the company laying workers off!

Then he designed the ad through Advisors Excel Creative Services and it went live. A couple other items to know are:

  • It costs a nominal amount to place the initial ad thru Facebook. I want to say $250 up front or something similar.
  • Every time someone clicked on the ad it costs $5.
  • They were able to establish a maximum budget towards clicks; which they set at $1000 per month.
  • To see more about Facebook advertising, CLICK THIS LINK.

Here is an email Don sent to me/us with more feedback:

Here is the actual ad we ran.  As far as the impressions go, this means this ad appeared on someone’s Facebook page over 700,000 times.

Someone might have had it appear on their Facebook page 100 times (because that is how many times they came back to their page over the course of 2 weeks) and another person might have had this appear on their page just a few times.  The 700,000+ just means the total amount of times that someone has had this ad on their page.

It doesn’t necessarily mean that 700,000+ “different” folks have seen this, but we do know that the ad has been clicked on 177 times (which should mean that 177 different folks have actually opened up the ad to check it out). It’s an encouraging number of clicks for this short period of time running. But there is no way of telling “who” actually clicked on the ad.  That would be a little too much “invasion of privacy” on someone.

Through this medium Don’s been able to target market better than mailers, newspaper ads, etc. and he’s experiencing results. They’ve steadily been receiving web inquiries and calls from people requesting 401k rollover advice. It’s obviously not perfect though. Plenty of people who weren’t laid off at that company still see the ad and can click on it, costing money. Also, it’s much tougher for Don to reach the masses and be able to really touch everyone who’s affected. But that considered, they’re happy with results so far.

In the future, Don’s plan is to use Facebook advertising as a “seminar filler”. The plan is to demographically target Facebook users based on age range and employment/retirement status. Then open a $500-1000 budget (per seminar mailer) to fill more seats at the event. No one’s sure if it’ll work, but they’ve had enough success with this first campaign that it’s worth the money and effort to test. Plus everyone knows the fastest growing segment of Facebook users are retirees and the internet is where much of our marketing is trending. So whether it’s this exact plan long-term or not, they’ll be ahead of the curve and should only improve in the future.

I hope Don’s progressive ideas push you to evolve in 2013. Whether it’s implementing this idea or another, I’m here to fast-track that success.

Advise with Passion.

The American Who Quit Money

ManWhoQuitMoneyThis week I had an advisor share with me his new seminar closing and I was fascinated. I’m here to share it with you; but before I do want to preface something. I realize everyone likes to close their presentations in a different fashion. So this might fit your style and it might not. But one thing’s for sure; it’s unique.

During a typical hour-long financial class, the first 50 minutes of material are fairly standard. It’s a solid presentation and does the job well. But this is to focus on the final 10 minutes, where he transitions to the close by playing a short 4 minute video. This is the time (in his words) to “flip the switch” and show the crowd how he’s different than any other (again his words) “money person” out there.

Before I cover the script he uses, here’s the video:

The American Who Quit Money To Live In A Cave from David Eckenrode on Vimeo.

It gets you thinking, doesn’t it? Obviously the financial advisor isn’t going to suggest clients live in caves and eat from dumpsters. But he believes this video quickly has the crowd asking themselves questions like,

“How important is money to my happiness?” 

“What do I really need money for?”

“What’s truly important to me?”

Then the final close comes. In those last minutes he boldly states that retirement isn’t about achieving the optimal rate of return. It isn’t about how to get 10% or 20% on your money and it isn’t about continuously trying to find the hottest sector of the economy to invest in. It’s also not about policies that politicians in Washington DC or banks executives in the local town decide to do. All of those things are important – but rates of return and macroeconomic decisions beyond our control shouldn’t define retirement.

What is retirement about? At ____his firm____, they know retirement is about the genuine quality of life. The really important things like travelling with family, gardening in solace, smiles over dinner with friends and knowing you have money there everyday to enjoy it. Worry free retirement is about enjoying what you’ve worked so hard and saved so much to achieve, without needing to read Wall Street Journal or watch CNBC MarketWatch every day. At ____his firm____, they’re definitely not going to tell you to “quit money” like Daniel Suelo in the video. But they’re committed to putting a plan in place for you that matches your priorities.
If you want to chase double-digit returns at the expense of quality time with your grandkids to do it, we’re not a good fit. But if you’re willing to put your  vision, goals and dreams into a financial plan, and work with ___him___ to produce a proven and worry-free way to achieve it, let’s talk.

I enjoyed the viewpoint and thought it provided a unique and heart-felt perspective. If you decide to use it, I’d love your feedback.

Advise with Passion.