Leon LaBrecque has a knack for appearing on camera.

He estimates that that he has made more than 120 online videos about financial planning from his office in Troy, Michigan, where he is chief executive of LJPR Financial Advisors.

Most of his videos are less than two minutes long and easy to watch.

“There’s nothing sales-y about them. I’m not talking about technical market stuff,” LaBrecque says. “I can’t do that in two minutes,” he says. “ I’m good, but I’m not that good.”

Instead, LaBrecque makes short, catchy points about how he serves clients, often using unexpected metaphors.

“My pieces about the sinking of the Bismarck and monkey money managers are both very popular,” he says. “I try to be humorous, maybe a little cheeky.”

Despite the humor, his videos have serious underpinnings.

“Part of our specific purpose is to build as much audience as possible, so we have a whole series of things based on financial literacy,” LaBrecque says. “We also use video to communicate our ideas about the market.”

LaBrecque also creates videos about benefits for new hires at automaker Ford, and he hires the same camera operator for his firm’s video projects. That person also edits the videos, adding music and graphics.

All in all, the pair can create a short video in a couple of hours for between $300 and $400, LaBrecque says.

Longer pieces, such as his 7-1/2-minute 2017 economic outlook, might cost $2,000, plus the time he spends writing scripts and appearing on camera.

The cost is well worth it, LaBrecque says.

“We’ve definitely gotten business from our videos,” he says. “We notice a surge of new clients when we get a lot of views and also a lot of referrals from existing clients.”

Other advisors have used their own cameras or iPhones to make videos for free.

Thomas Balcom, founder of 1650 Wealth Management in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea, Florida, says that to make a video he used the video camera he already owned, did a little editing and then uploaded the video himself.

“It took four hours of my time, but didn’t cost anything beyond that,” he says.

Does video belong on your website? The answer might well be yes, as long as you can hold an audience, the firm’s compliance department doesn’t mind, and you are willing to update old videos and create new ones.

You don’t need to be a professional actor or renowned beauty to succeed in front of the camera. But, LaBrecque says, “You need some personality. Make it fun. Be an entertainer.”

A case of the jitters doesn’t have to disqualify you. Even advisors who are stiff at first may find that they relax and get more entertaining as they practice.

That was true for Chad Chubb, founder of Philadelphia-based WealthKeel, who made video for his website in a public art gallery.

“Having people stop and talk to me made me nervous,” he says, adding that being on camera also made him uneasy.

As he and the videographer did multiple takes, though, Chubb found himself getting more relaxed.

Scripts should be short and to the point, avoiding technical complexities. Balcom says he looks for topics he can talk about in less than five minutes.

“Communicate your value proposition, and talk about ways that you aren’t the usual,” he says.

“How do you get paid? How are you going to invest a client’s money? How do you invest your money? Answer those questions,” Balcom says.

Videos can also give potential clients a sense of your style and personality, which helps them decide if they would like to work with you. That can save everybody time.

“We get a lot of new business through our website, but people may also be ruling themselves out. That saves everyone a bad commitment,” Chubb says.

“No one ever says, ‘I want to work with you because of your video,’ but it gives people a higher comfort level, because it gives them a sense of the planner,” Chubb says. “This is a very personal relationship.”

Like all other client communications, videos need to pass muster with compliance. LaBrecque has his compliance officer and his assistant sit in on filming to let him know if he crosses the line into saying anything noncompliant or potentially offensive.

“It’s their job to make sure I don’t say anything stupid,” he says. “Don’t say ‘guarantee,’ don’t say ‘absolutely.’ Say ‘can’t and ‘may.’ If you’re audited, the SEC will look at your videos.”

Chubb went a different route by typing up a script and running it past his firm’s compliance department ahead of time.

“We didn’t want to film this beautiful video and then have compliance say, ‘You can’t use half of those words,’” he says.

If your videos are good, people will want to see more.

“You need to plan on updating the content over time. You’ll figure out what resonates with people, and of course you should do more of that,” Balcom says.

Add material that’s topical,” he says. “Use the news to introduce new topics.”

New videos can also help attract the right clients as the practice evolves.

“Now we have a niche and want to fine-tune our message to young professionals, as opposed to a more general audience,” Chubb says.

For LaBrecque, there aren’t many wrong reasons to make a video.

“Exposure is good for you,” he says. “If you get in people’s faces without making a pest of yourself, that’s fine.”

Ingrid Case, a Financial Planning contributing writer in Minneapolis, is a former senior editor for Bloomberg’s Markets Magazine.

This story is part of a 30-30 series on savvy ideas on modernizing your practice. This story was originally published on Sept. 14

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