Not too long ago I decided to conduct a little experiment. I sent an email out to a part of my email list that asked a pretty simple question:
“If you could go back and start your business again, what would you do differently?”
It took me a little time to sort through all of the replies (they’re still coming in, actually) but it’s pretty obvious that a few things keep coming up.
I’d like to share with you the most common answers, in no particular order, to my question.
“I wish I focused on online marketing more.”
Many financial advisors expressed that they feel like they completely missed the boat when it comes to online marketing. In particular, they said that they wished they made their website a top priority.
Frankly, I’m not surprised. A lot of financial advisors still have no idea what they’re doing online and they’re completely missing out with their website (or lack thereof). After all, your website is your hardest working employee. It works for you 24/7, it never sleeps, it never asks for anything and if you treat it right, it can send qualified prospects your way.
A few advisors explained that they are just now realizing the power of social media, with its unique ability to scale. The real power of social media (and email marketing) is the ability to reach thousands of people with a single click. Not only that, but you can keep give giving them content again and again.
“I wish I developed on a niche market.”
When you focus on a niche market, your efforts become more effective. Your marketing strategies get honed in and your conversion rates go up.
For example, if you started a marketing campaign talking to everyone you could, your numbers would be worse than if you had marketing materials specific to dentists and sent them only to dentists.
It makes sense when you read it out like that, but a lot of people are still stuck in their old ways, marketing to everyone with a pulse. This is sad, because when you do it this way, a larger percentage of your time and money is being wasted.
“I wish I built my practice like a doctor’s.”
A lot of advisors told me that they wished they invested in systems, processes, etc. from day one, but one particular advisor told me that he wished he built his practice like a doctor’s.
I had to respond to ask him what he meant by that, but his explanation made a lot of sense. When you go to the doctor, there are a lot of assistants and nurses who help you at the beginning. They get your information squared away, check your vitals and do a lot of the work before the doctor even gets there. Then, the doctor comes into the room, checks his or her clipboard, asks you a few questions, and makes some recommendations. After you’re done, you check out with the front desk and they update your information after you leave.
Now imagine if the doctor was personally involved in all of these steps? He or she wouldn’t be able to see nearly as many patients, which means he or she couldn’t help as many people in need. When you systematize your business (whether through technology or other people) you can see more prospects/clients and get more done.
That doesn’t mean you turn into a robot either – a lot of people highly revere their doctors, even though they may only spend 10% of their entire visit with him or her. It’s just a matter of getting more done and helping more people in less time.
“Take this and call me in the morning – doctor’s orders!”
“I wish I prospected more.”
This is another unsurprising response , and it was pretty popular.
In order to grow your business, you have prospect, and the best financial advisors never stop prospecting. They’re constantly building a pipeline of leads that they can qualify and move towards an initial meeting.
“I wish I invested in technology to help me grow faster.”
Technology exists for our benefit. It’s here to make our lives easier, so why not take advantage of it? Several financial advisors regretted that they hadn’t invested in technology sooner.
When I inquired a little more, types of technologies ranged from social media automation, content marketing systems, email marketing software, video conferencing software, online calendars, and CRMs.
I’ve found that an online calendar tends to be the most underrated and underused. Online calendars allow you to completely eliminate the email and phone tag that drives people nuts. It allows prospects to see when you’re available and choose a time that works for both of you. You can set up an online calendar like Acuity Scheduling to display on your website and even send reminders to both of you. You don’t realize how much of a timesaver this is until you get used to it.
“I wish I set account minimums sooner.”
My email list contains financial advisors with all experience levels – from just starting out to several decades in the business – and a recurring theme that kept coming up among the veteran advisors is that they wished they set account minimums sooner, usually at least $250,000.
They’ve found that as they grow, they don’t have as much time for their smaller clients, which leads to being overworked and/or delivering a poor client experience. They would’ve much rather slowly built towards a solid book of business with larger clients than taking on lots of smaller clients.
They told me that they wished they had sat down and really thought about what it costs to support a client, where they would discover that the lower-end clients have a harder time justifying their cost. Plus, there’s not as much benefit to the client – an account minimum allows the advisor to spend more time working with the client and build customized wealth management solutions.
“I wish I immediately hired a professional coach.”
Numerous advisors disclosed that they wished they wished they sought out the guidance of a professional coach from the very beginning. This is because a lot of times financial advisors will spend a lot of time and money doing something a certain way, only to find out it’s not as effective as it should be.
For example, I recently spoke with a financial advisor who spent a LOT of money redoing his website. I mean, whoever designed the website made off like a bandit. However, he found out that the new website didn’t convert as well as the old one. It was pretty, but it was harder to use and the information prospects look for wasn’t easily accessible.
Another example is that financial advisors tend to throw a lot of different stuff at the wall and see what sticks. They do this with their cold call script, their mail pieces, their online content, their referral process, their lead generation strategy, and more. It would make much more sense to hire a professional coach who can point you in the right direction from the start. It would save a lot of time and headache.
One particular advisor told me that he thought hiring a coach or consultant was too expensive, only to realize that it was the “cheapest” thing he could have possibly done because he would’ve made the money back several times over.
“I wish I had multiple marketing strategies instead of just a few.”
I feel like this type of wish is becoming more common. A lot of financial advisors have built their businesses on the backs of one or two marketing strategies, such as cold calling and direct mail, when they could’ve taken advantage of a lot more opportunity.
One of the biggest things that I teach financial advisors now is that they need to be focused on both outbound AND inbound marketing. Outbound marketing is stuff like cold calls, direct mail, referral marketing, strategic alliances, etc. Inbound marketing is stuff like your website, social media marketing, email marketing, content marketing, etc.
The reason this is so important is because while outbound marketing gets you paid today, inbound marketing gets you paid tomorrow. If you’re only using one or the other, you’re shooting yourself in the foot.
By focusing on just outbound marketing, you will never be able to separate your lead generation efforts from your time. You will always have to make more calls, ask for more referrals, send more mail, or whatever. On the flip side, focusing only on inbound marketing (which is common for younger advisors) typically results in not generating business fast enough. After all, inbound marketing is a machine that takes time to build. Financial advisors who come into the business and dream of getting clients right away by posting ads and status updates are sadly disappointed.
The key is to do both. When you do both, you can get clients today while building a system that will get clients for you tomorrow. A lot of financial advisors wished they realized this sooner.
“I wish I acted on hunches/trusted my gut.”
There were quite a few of these types of responses. People wished they trusted their gut when it told them not to trust certain people. They wished they listened when their gut told them to fire weak performers. And they wished they acted on various hunches that later turned out to be correct.
“I wish I had more fun along the way.”
The financial services industry can be tough, and sometimes it can feel like a total grind. It’s important to avoid burnout and enjoy yourself as you go along. A great way to do this is by having more client appreciation events. You can build your business around what you and your clients like to do.
Life is too short to not enjoy what you’re doing.
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