Quick. Answer this question: What was the best marketing investment - over the past six months - according to a top financial advisor with independent broker/dealer Investacorp? Was it:
-- Adding Video and Social Media
-- Employer Sponsored Seminars
-- Being Quoted in Publications
-- Being a Regular Guest on a Radio Show
-- Small Client Gatherings and Social Events
-- Asking Clients for Referrals
INQUIRING MINDS WANT TO KNOW
While social media and adding digital communications such as video is all the rage right now, if you guessed #1, you'd be wrong. And while asking your clients for referrals might seem like the lowest cost and fastest way to grow your business, this particular advisor would say his experience has been something other than that.
Employer-sponsored workplace seminars have long been a staple for this advisory firm, and so have small client gatherings and business social events - but neither #2 or # 5 are the right answer according to C J Klaas, a Gen X advisor who is the heir apparent at Klaas Financial, Inc., a 35-year-old independent financial advisory firm with offices in Wisconsin and Illinois.
That leaves #3, being quoted in publications, and #4, being a regular guest on a talk radio show - both of which are PR-related activities. Surprisingly, C J told me that #4 - being a regular guest on a talk radio show - had been the best use of their marketing dollars over the past six months. Why? Well, bragging rights, for one. Credibility as an expert, for another. Repeated local visibility, for a third. Share of voice, for a fourth reason. And ability to easily leverage the digital clips, for a fifth reason as to why being a regular guest on a talk radio show has been deemed the best use of the marketing budget at Klaas Financial this year. Klaas has become a local/vocal name in his community.
IS RADIO NOW PASSE?
We know that "share of mind marketing" works. Building share of mind means that your name and your solutions come to mind FIRST whenever a particular product, service or solution is needed by a particular type of person or community of interest. You don't want people to "draw a blank" when a need arises (or, worse, think of a competing firm). Becoming popular and recognized as immediately relevant to potential clients is the aim. It's the first step to getting them to engage for services and/or purchase what you offer. But in the age of online multimedia and self-published digital content, is radio still a valid means to building share of mind?
I might have chalked this one firm's experience as a fluke, but I heard it again - regular radio appearances as the best use of marketing dollars this year - when I spoke with Ken Stone, CEO and founder of Cincinnati-based Stone Financial Retirement Planning. Ken was the second of three top-advisors I spoke with in preparation for my presentations at the Investacorp annual conference in July.
The third firm, Atlanta-based oXYGen Financial run by co-founders Kile Lewis and Ted Jenkin, also said that regular radio show appearances were a part of their top three marketing tactics. Then, during my presentation on public relations and credibility marketing, other advisors at the Investacorp conference went on and on about how their stints as a radio show host and/or regular guest on talk radio shows had helped them build their business - not just in the past but with measurable results this year.
Anyone who knows me or who has read this column for a while knows that I'm a big proponent for PR. Being seen as an expert in print, online and via the airwaves can pay big dividends over time.
But radio as a primary credibility tool? In the age of podcasts and self-produced video?
Frankly, I was beginning to feel that radio might be losing its audience - and maybe even a little bit of its cache. Not so, according to the entrepreneurs the conference.
Come to think about it, radio actually played a part in my family's decision to hire a particular CFP in Kansas City. We knew this advisor through other business interactions, so there was a level of trust and affinity there. We'd attended, as guests and prospective clients, one of his upscale client appreciation events. But it took my husband's listening to this advisor every Saturday morning on the local talk radio station before he/we felt comfortable enough transferring our life savings to his care. At one point in our conversations, I remember Randy saying that his radio show was one of the best marketing investments he'd ever made when he was in his business-building years.
Big names such as Ric Edleman, a regular on the Barron's Top Advisors list, continues to host his weekly talk radio show, "The Truth About Money," and Scott Hanson and Pat McClain, two CFPs who together have built a firm with over $1 billion in AUM while catering to the middle market, told me a couple years ago that hosting their "Money Matters" radio show was by far the best marketing investment they'd ever made.
TIPS FOR STARTING YOUR OWN RADIO SHOW
If you're thinking you might like to give radio a try, here are some tips to get you started:
Start an idea file. What are you telling your clients? How can you tie in to current events? Hinge to something that's in the news or looming on the horizon. For instance, on Ric Edelman's site you'll see topics such as: "Shocking information about Facebook and your mutual funds" and "Do you or your parents own muni bonds? Warren Buffett does something you need to know about." Edelman man also encourages people to sign up for his seminar if they are "worried about the presidential election, tax increases or recession risks."
Study what other advisors are doing. Jim Lange, a IRA-rollover specialist in the Pittsburg area, offers on his "Lange Money Hour" show the "best information available from the country's leading IRA experts including Ed Slott, Bob Keebler, Natalie Choate, Barry Picker & Jane Bryant Quinn." Hanson and McClain, who each week "educate listeners on a variety of financial topics," say they "have been co-hosting their radio show for more than ten years and their humor makes financial planning -- and even tax law -- interesting!"
Be a regular on someone else's show for a while - maybe even indefinitely. Remember C J Klaas told me that being a regular guest on a talk radio show had been the best use of their marketing dollars over the past six months. Start out as a guest and hone your gift for gab there. Could be your contributing to an allied professional's show will provide all the clout and visibility you need. See how Klaas Financial positions the firm's participation as regular "Money in Motion" guests on "Outside the Box."
Make a demo CD or mp3 of your proposed show. How's your voice, have you heard yourself on the radio before? What is the main thrust of your show going to be? What makes you think you're qualified to give financial advice? How can you make the show, week after week (or whatever the frequency will be), lively, informative and compelling? What will you do to prevent dead air?
Call the stations that you'd like to appear on and ask them if they have any weekend slots for sale. Send them a copy of your show demo; they'll be concerned that you can carry the show, providing lively dialog and solid ideas on a recurring basis. If you don't want to be seen as selling a product, you'll be asked to find some sponsors; be ready for that - think about the strategic partners or even current and prospective clients who might be happy to swing some advertising dollars toward recurring ad spots that will be associated with a quality show - yours.
Capture and leverage the radio show clips. Post the mp3 files with a little extra commentary on your website, blog, Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook pages. Send links to the archived shows in your e-newsletter content. Mention that you're the host (or regular guest) of xyz show on your business cards, brochure, bio, etc. Ask the radio station to post a bio and headshot of you on their site (and link to your site from theirs). As Kile Lewis of oXYGen Financial told me: "Just put good content out there. People will find it." Here's how oXYGen harnesses their radio show appearances and other content in blog fashion.
READERS, PLEASE WEIGH IN
I'd be curious to hear from readers of this column: What has been your best marketing investment over the past 1-2 years? How have you become a local/vocal name? Post your comments at the bottom of this article and I'll respond using the discussion board feature here.
In future installments, we'll talk about more about PR, which you'll remember from prior articles is one of the three primary business-building funnels for advisors. I'll also circle back around to Generating Referrals from Current Clients and Centers of Influence, the third funnel for business growth (in the meantime, I encourage you to also read "The Referral Doctor" column written by Steve Wershing.
Also, look for me at the following conferences this fall:
Sept 13-15, 2012: Business and Wealth Management Forum (BWMF) in Denver (save $100 with code ImpactVIP - details here:
Sept 22, 2012: Texas Tech University, Social Media Class, in Lubbock
Sept 29-Oct 2, 2012: FPA Experience in San Antonio
Oct 9-11, 2012: Loring Ward Advanced Symposium in Chicago
Oct 10-11, 2012: Securities America's Assistant University in Omaha
Oct 15-17, 2012: Tiburon CEO Summit in San Francisco
If you are going to the Business & Wealth Management Forum in Denver, my team and I will be manning the Interactive Media Lab. We'll be shooting live video interviews (only 12 slots remain so sign up now) and teaching 7 interactive social media sessions. Details: http://t.co/75qK3J42