Last week, while attending the NAPFA 2012 Conference in Chicago, I sat in on a presentation on automating your marketing process by Kristin Harad, CFP®.

After an accomplished career in financial services marketing, Kristin founded VitaVie Financial Planning, a fee-only financial planning firm focused on the needs of expectant parents and growing families in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Prior to founding VitaVie Financial Planning, Kristin excelled in strategic marketing positions with The Chase Manhattan Bank and Charles Schwab & Co., Inc. In addition, she was an advertising agency executive with Grey Direct and Carlson Marketing Group, where she managed multi-million dollar marketing initiatives for Chase and Visa.

Kristin has leveraged her marketing experience and expertise to grow her practice rapidly without making a single cold call or holding even one brown bag lunch. As a practice that is just three years old with very limited (but highly targeted) marketing expenditures, VitaVie receives inbound inquiries from prospective new clients on a daily basis. The firm recently added its third financial planner to handle its rapidly increasing client load.

So I figured I could learn a few things from Kristin given that she has never embraced the tedious and traditional marketing methods most independent financial professionals rely on to build their client base.


Kristin’s presentation, Relationship Marketing in the New World: Where Conversation & Automation Meet, was well attended. The advisors in the audience were pretty excited to learn that they could create a conversation and build relationships with prospects through frequent interaction using automation services (sometimes called auto-responders) such as and  

Auto-responders allow you to build relationships with prospects by sending them a sequence of automatically delivered follow up emails. No manual sending is needed; the auto-responder software delivers your emails automatically. You can even personalize emails with subscribers’ names and other information.

Yep, that’s right. Subscribers.

Think of the people who visit your website, which should be the hub for all your online activity, as potential subscribers to something – your newsletter, a series of educational videos, weekly financial tips, etc.  The goal is not to get them to call for a get acquainted meeting or to buy something from you but rather to engage them and build trust through a series of professional touches.


You will need an online subscription / request form like this one: (after filling out the form, the visitor is allowed to download a free special report – theoretically, the advisory firm will follow up personally with the person who downloaded the special report and try to strike up a conversation) or this one (after filling out the form, the visitor is sent a series of video emails via an auto-response system such as MailChimp – this ensures that a series of touches takes place and gives the prospect a chance to see the advisor as if he or she is talking directly to them but there is no pressure to engage for services). 

I am in the process of testing a video email auto-response system called TalkFusion, which looks cool so far and seems very promising.

In her presentation at the NAPFA conference, Kristin took us through the "Six Steps to Ensure (Easy) Follow-up Every Time." 


“The goal is to create an effective program that engages your lead, builds rapport, and converts prospects to lifelong clients,” she explained. “You only have so much time in the day so it’s important to leverage technology to systematize this critical follow-up and still keep your personal touch.”

Kristin explained that using automation services to enhance relationship marketing is both an art and a science. Not everyone has a natural feel for how to do it right. “You need to get the visitor to raise their hand and essentially say, ‘yes, you can start a conversation with me.’”

People are not always ready to establish a relationship with you when they visit your site. Plus people are more cautious and make decisions more slowly these days. You need to ease them in.

“Let them get to know you in a non-threatening way,” Kristin said. “You must capture their information when they visit your site and then keep the opportunity keep warm. Otherwise, they will end up in sales purgatory and you’ll end up in excuses.”

Bottom line: Once people arrive at your website – weather that is through a lead from NAPFA’s or FPA’s site, an article you were quoted in or had published online, or via a lead generation service or online directory -- the goal is to get them to do something other than just browse and learn about your firm.


Next week I’ll provide an overview of Kristin Harad’s Six-Step Process for keeping in touch with prospects using an automated system. For now, you might want to read Mike Byrne’s recap of Kristin’s NAPFA presentation, Using the Net to Catch Prospective Clients, and I will see you all again right here on the Marketing Maven next week.

Look for me at the following events:

-- Loring Ward’s annual advisors’ conference, Monterrey, California, June 6-7, 2012 (I will be speaking on Marketing That Works for Financial Advisors Today)

-- Securities America’s annual advisor’s conference, Denver, Colorado, June 9-12 (my team will be doing onsite media relations)

-- InvestaCorp’s annual advisors’ conference, Naples, Florida, July 9-11, 2012 (I will be speaking on Marketing That Works for Advisors Today)

-- Garrett Planning Network’s annual members-only retreat, Denver, Colorado, August 5-8, 2012 (I will be leading a two-hour Rapid Fire Marketing Ideas session)

-- Veres/T3’s Business and Wealth Management Forum, Denver, Colorado, September 13-14, 2012 (I will be doing onsite PR for the conference and serving as the team leader for the social media lab) – use SWIFTVIP to save $100 off your tuition

-- FPA’s national conference, San Antonio, Texas, September 29 – October 2, 2012 (my team and I will be providing PR support for institutional clients and advisory firms onsite)

If you have ideas for the Marketing Maven blog here on, please post a comment below or visit my Best Practices in the Financial Services Industry blog to access additional information and post suggestions there.