I’m aboard a Southwest Airlines flight as I write this, winging my way home from the Garrett Planning Network’s 11th annual retreat. This year, Sheryl Garrett and approximately 130 network members (record attendance) gathered in Denver for just under three days to share ideas and talk about what’s working in their businesses.

Allan Roth, who has dubbed himself “the dull investor," was the opening keynote speaker. An hourly-only planner, Roth hails from Colorado Springs. While he is not a member of the Garrett Planning Network, he embraces the no-commissions / hourly-advice mantra that founder Sheryl Garrett has championed since 1999.

Roth, who writes a personal finance column called “The Irrational Investor” for CBS MoneyWatch got the crowd cheering and clapping, laughing and thinking, as he kicked off the first full day of sessions.

“I’m truly honored to be here talking to ‘the good guys.’ Never underestimate the value of the advice you provide,” he said.

When asked why he hadn’t joined the Garrett Planning Network, Allan looked at his watch and joked, “I think we’re out of time now,” before answering more seriously that he hadn’t joined NAPFA either. “I guess I’m just too independent and too busy,” he said. Roth typically has a one-two month waiting list for new client appointments.

Talk about a great value proposition. Roth clearly stands out as different when he speaks to prospective clients. He’s a dull investor and can clearly explain why he thinks that’s a good idea for his clients, too. He is qualified to write the Irrational Investor column for MoneyWatch “because I’m human.” He works by the hour and accepts no commissions. He has a waiting list to get in with him. And he only works with people he likes.

I used my Flip Cam to record some of his comments and observations so, rather than my trying to recap them here, I invited you to visit http://www.marieswift.com/ to watch one or more of the five-minute clips. You can also see a summary of Allan’s comments via my Tweets by logging in to your Twitter account and searching for @marieswift or by searching for the hashtag #gpnretreat.


This was my fifth year facilitating the “Marketing Ideas, Rapid Fire” session for the Garrett Planning Network. Members take turns sharing their best marketing ideas in short sound bites. The two-hour session produced dozens of really good ideas. Here are a few that stand out in my mind as I munch of my honey roasted peanuts en route to my hometown, Kansas City.


“Shut up and listen,” offered Dave McPherson, CFP®, who told a brief story about a woman named Sally who had received a fairly large legal settlement and, not knowing what to do with it, had simply put the check in a kitchen drawer. She’d interviewed other planners who asked what she wanted to do with the money. But when she interviewed Dave, he asked her what she wanted to do with her life and how she wanted to make a difference. Then he just listened and said, “let’s create a plan to do just that.” “I try to think of Sally every day and bring that type of focus to all my meetings,” he said, getting a little misty.


Get to know your community and friends,” offered Tracy St. John, CRPS.  “I didn’t really think I was doing any marketing until someone pointed out that by my being involved in various charitable organizations that I was raising my visibility and doing something called ‘cause-marketing,’” she said. As a result of being active in her community, St. John has attracted clients and strategic partners who share similar values and interests. This is a hallmark of good marketing, in my opinion. Good marketing should attract people who will like and trust you, and that typically hinges on the psychographics more than the demographics. While St. John called this cause-marketing, I call this type purpose-driven prospecting. It’s a wonderfully enlivening way to find right-fit clients.


“Use social media to become more visible,” said Laura Scharr-Bykowsky, MBA, CFP®, who told the story of how she used a “full-court press” centered on Financial Literacy Month in April 2011 to build awareness in her community. “The Chamber of Commerce president became aware of what I was doing with my library presentations and women’s workshops. One thing led to another and I eventually got a call from a company that wanted to film me in my office talking about personal finance and how I used social media such as Twitter and Camtasia videos I produced at a very low cost on my own and posted on Facebook.”

The video clips and a news release to the local media created a connection with the local news station. Now she has a regular spot on the television station called Money Mondays. “People in the community come up to me in the super market or the airport and say, ‘hey, I know you -- you’re on TV.” You can’t beat that for credibility.


Do you have a marketing success story to share? Post it on http://www.marieswift.com/. I will be dubbing some of the submissions “best in class” and giving away with some special prizes in the weeks ahead.

Also, if you haven’t seen the latest video entries on http://www.fpatwitterlive.blogspot.com/, you might enjoy watching this 2-minute insight from Darryl Celkupa from Tamarac, Inc. who says planners must institutionalize their businesses to maximize value.

I’m now in San Francisco and headed to the Schwab Impact conference. If you see me walking by, stop me and say hi. I’d love to spend a few minutes hearing from you in person.



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