Strategy 7 :
Become The Expert The Wealthy Want
Strategy 7 Contents
1. Why you Should be a Thought Leader
2. From Hidden Talent to Talented Expert
3. Thought Leadership Content Curation vs. Content Creating
4. Distribute Flash Report
5. Send VFO Inner Circle Special Reports
6. Conduct Invitation- Only Presentations
7. Create Your Own Content
8. Enhance Your Website
9. Maximize Your Linkedin
Up to this point in The Elite Wealth Manager, you have implemented specific business development strategies for attracting affluent clients and serving them extremely well. These strategies by themselves will take you far, but there is one more strategy that will support and enhance all the others, making them even more consistently effective. When you become a thought leader—the expert the wealthy want—you reinforce all your other business development efforts and have the potential to further accelerate your success.
In Strategy 7, we will show you how to effectively position yourself as that expert. But first, here is our two-part definition of what a true thought leader is. The first part is about how others perceive a thought leader:
A thought leader is a wealth manager who is recognized by affluent clients, prospective clients, centers of influence and competitors as a leading financial authority. As a result, he or she is their go-to expert.
Part two is about the commercial component of thought leadership:
A thought leader is a wealth manager who significantly profits from being recognized as the go-to expert.
We make no apologies for our profit-oriented definition of thought leadership. Again and again, we have seen effective thought leadership result in new and wealthier clients and more assets under management, as well as the opportunity to provide additional financial products and services—leaving little doubt about the true value in being a thought leader.
In this strategy, we are very selective in our recommendations and encourage you to focus sharply on these specific approaches. While there are many other activities that we do not discuss that could help build your credibility, from creating brochures to conducting public workshops to appearing on radio or TV, we will focus here only on the activities that have been proven to be very effective in inducing prospective clients to seek a second opinion from you.
We’ll begin by setting out the rationale behind the effectiveness of thought leadership. We’ll then turn to the specific actions that will make you a thought leader in your community, including using the high-quality thought leadership you receive as a member of CEG Advantage.
Presentation PowerPoint for Elite Wealth Planning — A customizable PowerPoint to support the Elite Wealth Planning presentation.
Presentation Demonstration — John Bowen demonstrates how to make your presentation of Elite Wealth Planning extremely effective.
Supporting tools for the Elite Wealth Planning Presentation — Includes sample calendar announcement, invitation letter, registration phone script, registration confirmation letter, registration confirmation phone script and response sheet template.
Compliance Documentation for Elite Wealth Planning — Compliance documentation with FINRA review letter for the Elite Wealth Planning book.
LinkedIn Summary Sample — A sample of a LinkedIn profile summary that guides you in completing your own summary.
1. Why You Should Be a Thought Leader
There’s no question that becoming the expert the affluent seek out to help them make better-informed financial decisions will enhance your success—probably dramatically so. If you have any doubt about whether the effort required to become a thought leader will pay the dividends you are looking for, consider these questions.
Would you benefit from being able to access—on a preferential basis—significantly more wealthy and motivated clients?
Are the financial services and products you provide relatively easily interchangeable with those of your competitors?
Do you face significant competition for wealthy clients?
Are your affluent clients and prospective clients cost-conscious, if not fee-sensitive?
Would it serve your bottom line to have deeper, more trusting relationships with your current wealthy clients?
If you answer yes to these questions, then you will very likely benefit greatly from becoming a thought leader. In our experience, it’s very rare that a financial advisor does not gain a substantial competitive advantage from becoming a thought leader. Done well, establishing yourself as a thought leader will set you up for the significant success that most financial advisors aspire to, yet few achieve.
To fully understand why this is so, let’s look at the role thought leadership plays in the three most important areas of business development:
Maximizing current client relationships
Attracting affluent prospective clients
Garnering referrals from centers of influence
Maximizing Current Client Relationships
Your existing clients are great sources of continued and, ideally, additional business. A large part of retaining affluent clients is meeting—and preferably exceeding—their expectations with respect to the financial services and products you deliver. However, even when you do an exceptional job, wealthy clients can still question whether you are the best possible advisor for them.
Being a thought leader is like a warm down blanket on a bitterly cold night: It is a very useful extra layer of protection. It positions you as the leading authority and reinforces and strengthens your relationships with these clients. Not only will this help you retain these clients over the long term, but it also can result in new business in two distinct ways:
Additional assets to manage. When clients see you as the leading authority in your area, they will be more inclined to provide you with additional assets to manage. The benefit in gaining these additional assets goes beyond the additional income derived from these assets. The new assets provide added opportunities to serve these clients well. This experience in turn enhances client trust and loyalty, paving the way for you to receive yet more assets to manage in the future.
Introductions to qualified prospective clients. It is much easier for clients to refer a friend, colleague or family member to you when they are completely confident in your abilities—a confidence that will be inspired by your position as a thought leader. Your perceived expertise will reduce the potential risk, in the client’s eyes, of providing a referral that may not work out.
Attracting Affluent Prospective Clients
The wealthy—and all prospects, for that matter—almost universally prefer working with thought leaders. There are four factors that are typically important when affluent prospective clients decide on wealth managers.
The complexity of financial services and products. The more complicated and involved the offerings, the more often wealthy prospective clients will be inclined to turn to recognized experts.
The intangibility of financial services and products. The harder it is to directly evaluate and compare offerings, the more appealing thought leaders become. Affluent prospective clients cannot “see and touch” the financial services and products you provide, which means they will rely more heavily on established authorities—thought leaders.
The level of embedded risks to the wealthy prospective client. The more potential risk there is in choosing the wrong financial advisor, the more effort affluent prospective clients put into finding what they believe would be the best wealth manager for them. The wealthy consistently see thought leaders as the ones most suited to provide them with effective solutions.
The difficulty of the learning curve with respect to the financial services and products. The less wealthy prospective clients can study the mechanics and dynamics of financial services and products they are considering, the more they prefer to work with the foremost authorities in the field. These foremost authorities, in any field, are the thought leaders.
There is no question that affluent individuals take professional brands into account when selecting their wealth managers. By becoming a thought leader, you will dramatically improve your ability to source new high-net-worth prospects and convert them into clients.
Garnering Referrals From Centers of Influence
Clients are generally not able to accurately evaluate the knowledge and capabilities of financial advisors. This means that they frequently rely on the opinions of their professional advisors, such as attorneys and accountants, to choose their financial advisors. And to whom do these centers of influence prefer to introduce their affluent clients? Thought leaders.
Making introductions to wealth managers can be a high-risk endeavor for centers of influence. Simply put, if the referral does not work out well, the credibility and judgment of the center of influence comes into question. As professional services are all about credibility and judgment, the center of influence can come out a very big loser.
But making an introduction to a thought leader dramatically mitigates that risk. When you are a thought leader, it’s much easier for centers of influence to refer their wealthy clients to you. Your standing as a thought leader validates your expertise, enabling them to confidently recommend you to their clients.
2. From Hidden Talent to Talented Expert
Many financial advisors equate their potential business success almost solely with their mastery of financial services and products. They believe that their understanding of markets and skill at managing assets will inevitably bring them higher levels of success.
These financial advisors are often badly mistaken. Technical capabilities, as important as they are, do not automatically translate into business success. So don’t make the mistake of believing that simply being an expert will make you successful, or even make you a thought leader. You must also deliberately act to be seen as an expert and to profit from that recognition.
Exhibit 7.1 shows the logic behind the power of thought leadership. It divides expertise and thought leadership into two levels—high and low. This produces four quadrants inhabited by four types of financial advisors.
A high level of expertise coupled with a strong professional brand makes you a Talented Expert. You are as adept as any of your competitors, and the “right people”—wealthy clients, prospective clients and centers of influence—know who you are and what you are capable of doing extremely well.
Clearly, this is the quadrant you want to be in. You can do a sensational job for the wealthy, and your talents and abilities are recognized, significantly increasing your ability to cultivate the affluent.
What happens if you truly have a high level of expertise but lack a meaningful professional brand? You are not well recognized for your knowledge and capabilities. If this is the case, you are a Hidden Talent.
Most financial advisors, as well as other types of professional advisors, are Hidden Talents. Provided the opportunity, they can and would do a great job for affluent clients. They just are not getting many of these opportunities. Being an unknown expert—a Hidden Talent—might provide a satisfactory living, but it does relatively little if your goal is to build a very successful wealth management practice serving the wealthy. Becoming a thought leader will convert you from being a Hidden Talent to a Talented Expert.
Moving to the bottom left quadrant of our matrix, we call financial advisors who have neither expertise nor a professional brand Incompetents. These financial professionals can usually scrounge out a living or slightly better, but it’s unlikely they will accomplish very much. Their ability to source new business is dreadfully limited.
The scariest quadrant houses the Incompetent Experts. These are financial advisors with a very solid and attractive professional brand in the right circles: wealthy clients, prospective clients and centers of influence.
The fact that they are not very capable is not a deterrent, in the short term, to their ability to generate a lot of new business and the economic success that comes with it. However, over the long term, their lack of real expertise becomes apparent. Consequently, over the long term, they are very likely to implode or, at best, fade away.
3. Thought Leadership Content: Curating vs. Creating
When you consistently provide high-value thought leadership content over time, your audiences will come to regard you as an expert—something that will translate into a considerably more successful practice. But it means you will need ways to access a great deal of high-quality thought leadership content.
What do we mean by high quality? This is content tailor-made for the wealthy to address their very specific financial, business, family, charitable, business-building and lifestyle concerns. In contrast to the old-fashioned client newsletters that focus on personal finance topics, high-quality thought leadership content is unique and relatively rare.
There are two primary ways for you to get the high-value thought leadership content you need: You can curate it or you can create it. (Of course, you can also do both.)
When you curate content, you provide your audiences with high-value thought leadership content you did not create yourself. Instead, you gather and sharing ideas, concepts, strategies and product information that are meaningful, interesting and useful to particular audiences. This is an extraordinarily effective and inexpensive way to provide high-value thought leadership content, and typically will get you the same business development results as creating original thought leadership content yourself.
When you create content, you build new ideas, concepts or solutions for specific audiences. To do so, you might draw on your expertise in a particular type of investing, for instance, or you might rely on your observations and experiences.
Neither approach is inherently better, and each has advantages and disadvantages. What will work best for you might not work well for another financial advisor. Once you fully understand both options, you will be in a position to decide which approach is best for you and your practice. Exhibit 7.2 compares the most important characteristics of each approach.
When you create thought leadership content that resoundingly connects with your audience, inspires action and is unique in meaningful ways, you gain a significant competitive advantage. Compared with curating, creating thought leadership content has the potential to give you the biggest successes—but there is also a potential for the biggest failures.
When you curate high-quality content, the downside risk is minimal and the upside potential is often just as impressive as when you create content. When you skillfully curate and deliver high-quality thought leadership content, you can gain the competitive advantage associated with content that is unique—especially to the people you are providing it to.
Generally speaking, you do not need to create high-quality thought leadership content in order to gain a competitive advantage. You just need to be the one delivering it directly clients and/or prospective clients or providing it to your centers of influence for them to deliver their clients and/or prospective clients.
Nature of content
When you create high-quality content, it has the potential to be deeply unique. To create outstanding thought leadership content often requires the skills and knowledge of experts outside the legal and financial spheres, such as empiricists, digital media specialists and branding experts.
When it comes to curating high-quality thought leadership content, the material is by definition artfully repurposed. Someone else created it. You therefore can judge its value by evaluating the material against its ability to resonate with your audiences. No other types of experts are required.
Also important is the material’s perceived uniqueness. Curating high-quality thought leadership content could result in a tremendous impact if you share it with wealthy individuals or centers of influence who are not very familiar with the information and insights the content presents.
Cost of Content
Creating high-quality thought leadership content can get expensive—very expensive. If you choose to conduct primary research, think in terms of six figures to start, with the potential for the numbers to go into the stratosphere. Million-dollar costs are common. Researching the wealthy, for example, gets exceedingly expensive very quickly. Meanwhile, researching professionals such as financial advisors, attorneys and accountants is usually considerably less expensive, but certainly not inexpensive by most standards.
Curating thought leadership content, in contrast, is relatively economical. Repurposing content or using an ongoing system for curating high-quality thought leadership content is comparatively cost-effective for a great majority of financial advisors. The cost gap between curating and creating high-quality thought leadership content is one of the biggest differentiators between the two approaches.
Time to Use
When you curate high-quality thought leadership content, your time to use is essentially immediate: You have access to material that you can use instantly. Because you are using already-developed high-quality thought leadership content, you can be very responsive and flexible. As new client and centers of influence opportunities and possibilities arise, you can expeditiously position yourself as an expert on issues that are important to them.
Creating high-quality thought leadership content, on the other hand, could be laborious and time-consuming. You might have an idea to provide thought leadership content that fits certain client needs, but it might very well take you months to produce something appropriate. Most of the time, there is a long cycle from the decision to develop high-quality thought leadership content to having usable materials in hand.
Amount of Content
Curating high-quality thought leadership content is a simple and very effective way to have as much diverse material as necessary. As we mentioned, you need a great deal of material to become a thought leader and to help centers of influence become thought leaders. And because you will get the best results from ongoing campaigns—as opposed to one-off events—you need that great deal of material on a very consistent basis.
For the most part, creating a continuous flow of high-quality thought leadership content requires extensive resources and time. It’s a major undertaking to produce a considerable amount of high-quality thought leadership content on a regular basis.
The Best Approach
All in all, creating high-quality thought leadership content is the more complicated of the two approaches. It also is more expensive, requires specialized skills outside the field of wealth management, takes longer to put in place and is less conducive to having a steady supply of new material. The major advantage of creating your own high-quality thought leadership content is that if you do it really well, it can be truly unique—thereby substantially differentiating you and your financial advisory practice from all competitors.
Curating high-quality thought leadership content is a much faster, less expensive, lower-risk approach. Because the material you use is not inherently unique, you can often, through skillful distribution and follow-up, achieve the same impact you would by creating thought leadership content.
For the vast majority of financial advisors, the most viable method to become a thought leader and to help centers of influence become thought leaders is to curate high-quality thought leadership content. It is almost always a more efficient and cost-effective approach and ensures that the materials are always right on target.
This is the whole rationale behind CEG Advantage. This turnkey business development platform makes it easy for you to access a steady stream of high-quality thought leadership content to your clients, prospective clients and centers of influence. Because you are taking part in The Elite Wealth Manager, you have membership to CEG Advantage and all its content and tools. We encourage you to leverage them fully to establish yourself as a thought leader before you consider creating content on your own.
Of course, to become a thought leader, you need more than high-value content. You must also share it effectively with your desired audiences and spheres of authority. We’ll cover that topic in the following sections of this strategy.
4. Distribute Flash Report
As a participant in The Elite Wealth Manager, you receive complimentary membership in CEG Advantage for a full year beginning with your first session of The Elite Wealth Manager.
CEG Advantage is a turnkey business development program designed to make you a thought leader—and thus the go-to advisor—in your community. It provides you with high-quality content designed for affluent individuals that you can distribute quickly and easily to establish yourself as an expert.
A key piece of content is the Flash Report, a monthly, two-page article on topics of broad interest to affluent individuals and families such as health care, estate planning, family security and power entertaining. When you distribute the Flash Report to your top clients, prospective clients and professional advisors in your community, you launch a multiplier effect that will put you—and keep you—on the radar screens of these key people. It will also be a key element of the economic glue you will use as you build strategic partnerships with centers of influence—something we will discuss much more in Strategy 8.
The Flash Report is available each month as a PDF that you may print or email as is, customize with our online Tools or, if you prefer to work with a graphic designer to create the report with your own branding, you may download a Word version and graphic design files. Also included is a suggested cover letter to send along with the report, as well as a letter for your compliance officer that authorizes your use and modification of the report along with backup information for any primary research in the report.
To download the Flash Report and all supporting files, as well as to access detailed help guides for distributing the report effectively, please visit the CEG Advantage web portal.
5. Send VFO Inner Circle Special Reports
The VFO Inner Circle Special Report is a monthly publication of the VFO Inner Circle, a global financial concierge group. As a participant in The Elite Wealth Manager (and member of CEG Advantage), you have the ability to customize and share individual reports from each issue with your clients and prospective clients. You also may share the reports with your centers of influence, who in turn may customize and distribute them to their own clients and prospective clients.
Sharing select VFO Inner Circle Special Reports with the right individuals each month will be an important part of your thought leadership efforts. When you send affluent clients, prospective clients and other professional advisors reports of specific interest to them, along with a personal email or letter from you, you will build your positioning as an expert while creating opportunities for conversations that can lead to new business.
Remember that marketing is all about starting conversations. Each conversation you have—whether with a current client, a prospective client or a professional advisor—puts you in a better position to help them make smart decisions and grow your business. Your goal in sending each report is to schedule a phone or office appointment to explore the appropriateness of the approach described in the report for their situation and to determine any next steps.
In addition, the reports will serve as valuable economic glue for your strategic partnerships when you enable your centers of influence to share the reports customize and share the reports themselves.
To access the reports, along with customization tools, suggested email copy, a letter for your compliance officer for each report, and tools to share the reports with your strategic partners, please visit CEG Advantage web portal.
6. Conduct Invitation-Only Presentations
Presentations to select audiences of clients and qualified prospective clients will do double-duty by both building your credibility as an expert in your niche and by bringing people into your discovery process.
Of course, you want to make the most of these presentations by drawing in the right attendees and having the event run smoothly. We recommend specific activities to undertake before and during each presentation to ensure you achieve your goal for each event.
As a participant in The Elite Wealth Manager, you have access to one of CEG Worldwide’s client-facing presentations, Elite Wealth Planning, along with the companion book of the same name. In the Tools section of this strategy, you will find the PowerPoint presentation as well as all the supporting materials discussed below, including sample announcements, invitation letter and response sheet template.
Choose the Right Time and Place
Make sure that the date and location for your presentation is suitable for your target audience. Check your calendar to make sure that there are no potential conflicts of any kind, such as holidays, major national events or local events directed to your niche.
Generally, if you are scheduling presentations on weekdays, the best days are Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Saturday is the best day on the weekend to deliver your presentation. Evening presentations are best when scheduled to start at 6:00 or 6:30, to allow attendees time to eat before arriving at the presentation. Half-day presentations on Saturday are very effective, particularly when working with a strategic alliance partner such as a CPA or an attorney. These are typically scheduled between 9:00 a.m. and noon.
The location should be convenient for your niche community and consistent with the image that you wish to create. Make sure there is adequate parking. While there has been great debate on whether you should use an upscale hotel or an educational facility (such as a library or university classroom), either will work. What is important is that it is suitable for your audience and presents you in the best light possible.
Drive Attendance Effectively
You want the right people at each presentation. You are not looking for warm bodies to fill the seats; you want qualified prospective clients who will consider exploring working with you.
For this reason, never attempt a shotgun marketing approach by placing an ad in your local newspaper and then conducting your presentation for whoever happens to show up. This approach is almost completely ineffective for drawing in qualified prospective clients. Instead, leverage the following avenues for drawing in exactly the right attendees.
Conduct Joint Presentations with Strategic Partners.
The optimal method for attracting highly qualified prospects is to conduct your presentations jointly with one or more strategic partners. Not only will you receive access to the partners’ clients who attend, you will greatly enhance your credibility with each strategic partner as they see you making a highly compelling and professional presentation.
If you do not yet have strategic partnerships in place, use one or more of the following actions.
Get an Endorsement From Within Your Niche.
Have your presentations endorsed by an individual or organization from within your niche, or by another professional who works in your niche. For example, you could make your presentations in corporate settings with the endorsement of the director of human resources. Or you might make a presentation with an outsource placement group, working with the manager of that office.
Invite Your Clients.
Invite satisfied clients to your presentations—and invite them to bring their friends and associates. This will both reinforce your client relationships and generate a steady stream of introductions from your clients.
Use Public Relations in Your Niche.
Often, meeting with editors of your niche market’s publications and walking them through your presentation can lead to articles that will create positive publicity. Typically, at a minimum, these publications will announce the program itself for free. (See the Tools section for a sample calendar announcement)
Send Invitations Directly to Prospective Clients.
There are many different types of invitations, but the most common are brochures and letters. When you already have a relationship with potential attendees (or with their employer or association), sending a brochure is overkill, not to mention costly. In contrast, a letter invitation works quite effectively. (See the sample invitation in the Tools section.) We recommend that you send these invitations about six weeks prior to the event.
Implement an Effective Registration Process.
It’s important for your team to handle incoming telephone registrations in an extremely professional manner. Every prospective client contact is influential in determining whether the individual will eventually work with you. Also, never forget that your firm is judged by the quality of the questions you ask.
Ensure a smooth process by providing a registration interview guide to team members who will be taking these calls. Then confirm the registration by letter. (Both a registration script and sample confirmation letter are available for download from the Tools section.)
Two days before the event have a team member call everyone who has registered to confirm their attendance. This will significantly reduce the no-shows for your presentation.
As you take these steps to drive attendance, keep in mind that more is not better. Limit your audiences to no more than 35 people. You want to create an intimate, comfortable atmosphere that suggests exclusivity, and that is just not possible when you have more than 35 attendees. A smaller group will also mean more opportunity for you to address individual questions from the audience, as well as to make personal contact with attendees after the presentation.
Customize the Elite Wealth Planning PowerPoint Presentation and Book
You may customize the PowerPoint presentation (available for download from the Tools section) to match your firm’s branding, as well as to make any other modifications to satisfy your compliance department’s requirements.
In addition, prepare the Elite Wealth Planning book for distribution at your events. While many financial advisors feel the need to distribute multiple pieces of marketing material at presentations, it is much more effective to hand out only one high-quality book. As a member of CEG Advantage, you may customize the back cover of Elite Wealth Planning with your name and contact information, photo and disclosure statement. To customize and order the book, visit the CEG Advantage portal and select My Orders in the top navigation.
Build in Your Second-Opinion Offer
It’s through this offer that you will accomplish the goal of your presentation: to draw qualified prospects into your wealth management process. Make your offer like this:
Describe your wealth management process. Use the wealth management formula (WM = IC + AP + RM) to show how you help clients address their most critical concerns and simplify their financial lives.
Make the second-opinion offer. This should be a “no-brainer”—something that attendees will not have a reason to turn down. Make the offer simply and succinctly.
Make it easy to take advantage of your offer. Hand out a response sheet that allows attendees to indicate their interest in receiving a second opinion. (A sample response sheet is included in the Tools section of this strategy.) Say that you will have a member of your team reach out to schedule your Discovery Meeting.
Create a sense of urgency. To prompt faster responses, you might say that you must limit this free service to the first 10 people who sign up (or whatever number is appropriate for your number of attendees). Alternately, you can limit the offer to only those who sign up for the offer that day.
Remember Key Administrative Tasks
Signage. If you are using a large venue (such as a hotel), strategically place a professionally produced sign to help attendees find you, as well as to make non-attenders aware of what they are missing.
Lighting. Lighting should be bright enough for everyone to take notes and to read your visuals.
Audiovisual. Use PowerPoint, a computer projector and a wireless lavaliere microphone, if needed, to communicate effectively. Test your equipment in advance.
Flip chart. You will use a flip chart to describe the wealth management process.
Seating. Classroom seating—whereby there is a table in front of every participant—should be used for all but the largest gatherings.
Food. Provide only appropriate refreshments. You are there to do business, not serve a meal.
Follow up Effectively
Your follow-up to your presentations will determine whether you attract prospective clients into your wealth management process. We have seen too many financial advisors put significant effort into creating and conducting great events, only to botch the opportunity by not following up effectively. Do not squander your work—or fail in your promise to assist your prospective clients.
On the next business day following each presentation, follow up with attendees according to what they indicated on their response sheets.
Attendees who requested a second opinion: Have one of your team members contact these individuals to schedule a Discovery Meeting with you. Follow this immediately with a Discovery Meeting confirmation letter, as you learned in Strategy 5.
Attendees who indicated that they might be interested in a second opinion: Have a team member contact these individuals to schedule a brief telephone meeting with you so that you can address questions and discuss whether it makes sense for them to receive a second opinion from you. From this conversation, it should quickly become clear whether they are suited to your service.
Attendees who indicated that they were not interested in a second opinion: Do not contact these individuals.
7. Create Your Own Content
Becoming a published author will take your visibility in your niche to a new level and even more emphatically establish as the expert the wealthy want to work with. However, do not undertake creating your own content lightly. We recommend that you create your own content only after you have established a routine of sharing your CEG Advantage thought leadership content with clients, prospective clients and centers of influence on a very consistent basis. As we discussed earlier in this chapter, curating content is a faster, less expensive and less risky route than creating content yourself.
If you are committed to creating your own content, we suggest that you begin with a book, which, once complete, can be easily repurposed into a series of articles. Until fairly recently, writing a book was an expensive, time-consuming undertaking with no assurance that the book would actually be published. But the rules of the distribution game have changed. Because you can now publish your own printed books, ebooks and audio books, you no longer have to depend on a publisher. You now control the media and your message. But you must be thoughtful in how you take advantage of this shift.
Writing a successful book typically takes significant writing effort—effort for which you may not have time or inclination. Unless you genuinely enjoy writing, are good at it and have time for writing that will not take away from high-value business-building activities, we recommend that you consider engaging a writing and publishing service.
These services can typically help you at every stage, from validating the concept for your book to editing your manuscript (if you have written one) or ghostwriting your manuscript (if it is not yet written) to proofreading to graphic design to the actual printing, distribution and marketing. Depending on the level of assistance you are looking for, these services can be relatively inexpensive or require a substantial investment.
Structuring Your Content
Regardless of whether you choose to engage a writing service or to forge ahead on your own, you will need to originate your book’s primary concept and create a structure for presenting it. The following steps will take you to the point where you, or a ghostwriter you hire, can begin writing.
Step 1. Choose a Compelling Topic.
Your topic should grab the attention of your clients and potential clients. In nearly every case, this will be help addressing or solving one or more of their financial concerns so that they are better-positioned to achieve their most important goals. Nearly everyone is interested in solving their challenges and achieving their goals, so a topic that helps your clients and prospective clients do this will resonate with them.
As we have seen in The Elite Wealth Manager, these are the top five areas of financial concern to the affluent:
Preserving wealth through effective investment management
Enhancing wealth by mitigating taxes
Taking care of heirs by effectively transferring wealth
Protecting wealth from being unjustly taken
Maximizing the impact of charitable giving
Don’t choose your topic in a vacuum. Your interviews with niche influencers yielded valuable information about the key concerns of members of your niche—use it. You can also brainstorm ideas with partners, team members and others who are familiar with the particular concerns of those in your niche.
Step 2. Gather and Review Information on Your Topic.
Assuming that you have worked in your niche for some time, you will already be familiar with strategies for solving the financial concerns you have chosen to address. Nevertheless, we recommend that you review applicable information before you structure your book.
Sources of this information can include primary research such as notes from your influencer interviews, input from your professional network, and your personal observations and experience. You should also conduct secondary research using the internet, books and articles. This information does not have to be organized at this point; just have it on hand and give it a quick review.
Step 3. Capture and Begin to Organize Your Thoughts.
We highly recommend that you use mind mapping at this stage. It will start your thoughts flowing, help you identify all the material you want to include and guide you toward a logical order for your material. Begin by writing your topic in the center of your paper (or computer screen, if you are using a mind mapping program).
Then capture ideas as they come to you, in no particular order and without judgment. Connect related ideas to one another. Do not stop until all your ideas are noted somewhere on the mind map. Go fast—ideally, spend no more than 10 minutes on your mind map.
Step 4. Develop Your Outline.
The categories for the items you want to cover in your book will flow out of your mind map. They can be sequential (such as steps to be taken in a particular order) or non-sequential (such as five things you must know). Place all of your ideas into the appropriate categories, and then place the categories in an order that will make sense to the reader. This is your basic outline for the book.
Once you have created this structure for your content, do a quick check-in. Ask yourself these questions:
Are there any holes in my knowledge? Consult appropriate references to close any gap.
What is superfluous? Strike anything that does not add to the value of the book.
What is unclear? Avoid jargon or technical language.
Does the flow make sense? If not, this is your opportunity to move things around.
8. Enhance Your Website
A well-designed website is a must have for financial advisors. Most prospective clients and potential strategic partners will Google you prior to meeting with you, and virtually all will do so before committing to working with you. If your website does not quickly and thoroughly communicate your credibility and expertise in serving your niche, you will miss out on significant opportunities.
Your move to comprehensive wealth management is the ideal time to take a fresh look at your website to ensure that it is effectively conveying your message. You may find that it just needs some simple updates to the copy or you may decide that a complete overhaul is in order. Even if you work within a financial institution that places limits on the design and content of your website, there are no doubt small refinements that could be made to enhance its effectiveness.
Time for a change?
To evaluate your existing website, ask yourself the following questions. Ask team members and other trusted colleagues to review the site and ask the same questions. Taken together, the answers will clearly tell you whether it’s time for an update.
Does it quickly convey our value promise? You only have a few seconds for a member of your niche community to view your website and know that you might be able to help them address their challenges. Your value promise statement should be prominently displayed on the home page of your site.
Does it provide a clear call to action? You want website visitors who are qualified for your service to do more than just learn more about you and your firm—you want them to schedule a Discovery Meeting. Therefore, make your second-opinion offer clear and prominent. Describe exactly who the service is for, what the process will be and how they will benefit. (You may wish to use language from the second-opinion flyer provided in Strategy 5.) Then provide an easy way for them to schedule a meeting with you, either by phoning your firm or requesting a call from you via a web form.
Does it help us start conversations? Most visitors are unlikely to schedule a Discovery Meeting with you on their very first visit to your website. But you should be able to capture their contact information in order to initiate conversations that may lead to them taking part in your second-opinion service. This can be as simple as providing a form to sign up to receive your monthly Flash Reports.
Does it describe our wealth management process? One of the ways in which you stand most clearly apart from your competitors is your wealth management process. Clearly but briefly describe each meeting in the process. You may also decide to include a short overview of the wealth management formula. Consider adapting the two-page graphic overview of the wealth management process and formula available in Strategy 5 for this purpose.
Does it evoke emotion? Your website will give visitors plenty of logical reasons to consider working with you, but remember that most will make such a decision based on emotion and then use logic to justify their decision. Supply that emotion with your personal story. Ideally, you will have a video in which you share your personal story. Less ideal, but still sufficient, is a written version of your story accompanied by one or more photographs.
Does it provide full background on our team? After viewing your home page, many people will go to your “About” page. It should include bios of you, your partners and all team members. Your bio should include your email address and a link to your LinkedIn profile. Include professional photographs of every team member—prospective clients want to see who they may be working with.
Does it make it easy to reach us? Provide as much information as possible to help current and prospective clients contact you, including phone numbers, hours of operation (including time zone), email addresses and your business address. Include a Google map of your office location. Include at least two ways for people to contact you from each page, such as the top navigation bar and the page footer.
Is it visually appealing? It should have a clean, modern design. In particular, do not clutter the home page with unnecessary copy; opt instead for images and spare copy that support your value promise.
Is it easy to navigate? Less is nearly always better in website navigation. You should be able to place all your content into just several easily-understood categories that are prominently listed in a header or sidebar. Do not make website visitors have to guess at where to find information.
Is it mobile-friendly? Be sure that it displays properly and is fully functional not just in the major web browsers, but in tablets and phones.
Can people find the website easily? You need your site to show up very high in Google rankings, if not at the very top. There are a range of search engine optimization techniques that can be employed by a website professional to ensure high rankings.
If your answers show that enhancements to your website are in order, you will likely need to engage a website professional if your firm does not offer this capacity in-house. If you need to locate a website professional, the best source will be references from colleagues or peers who have worked with designers in your local area. If you are not able to obtain references locally, the Resources section provides references to website designers who work on a virtual basis.
As you enhance your website, keep in mind that it is considered marketing material. Involve your compliance professionals as needed.
9. Maximize Your Linkedin
Social media provides abundant opportunities to establish relationships with prospective clients. For financial advisors, LinkedIn is often the best social media channel—provided you use it effectively—for these reasons:
High search rankings. Anyone who considers working with you, as a client or strategic partner, will Google you. When your LinkedIn profile is complete and optimized, it will appear at or near the top of Google searches. LinkedIn lets you easily be found.
Effective positioning. A well-crafted LinkedIn profile will paint a detailed picture of the skills, knowledge and approach that make you highly qualified to serve your market niche.
Network connections. LinkedIn makes it easy to connect with prospective clients and influencers in your niche—connections that, when nurtured, can become real relationships.
Create and Optimize Your LinkedIn Profile
The websites that Google ranks at the top of its results for any given search term are the ones that it considers to be the most relevant and useful. A fully completed profile that is rich in descriptive keywords will greatly improve its ranking in Google searches. At the same time, it will help establish you as an authority in your niche.
The following steps will help you create the optimal profile. Bear in mind that your LinkedIn profile is considered marketing material. Involve your compliance professionals as needed as you create your profile.
Add a photograph. Use a professional headshot.
Create a compelling professional headline. This is the first line people will see after your name. Do not just state that you are a financial advisor or wealth manager. Weave in the value promise you developed in Strategy 4 to say exactly what you do and who you do it for.
Optimize your contact information. Include your complete professional contact information. Do not simply list the URL of your website; customize your website listing by naming it “My Company Website” or something similar. This will make it more likely for people to click on your website link.
Add your experience. List your current position and up to two previous positions, assuming that they support your value promise. Be sure to take advantage of the “Descriptions” section to add a brief description of the types of clients you serve, your wealth management process and the types of financial challenges you solve.
Add your education. Again, use the “Descriptions” section to add color about who you are. You might mention sports you played during college, volunteer activities and specific areas of study.
Complete the summary section. This section provides the best opportunity to build credibility and begin to create trust with connections. In the Tools section of this strategy, you will find a detailed sample of an impactful summary. Download the sample and use its guidelines as you create your own summary.
Complete additional sections of your profile if relevant to your niche. There are a number of additional profile sections that you may choose to complete if they will add to your credibility and support your value promise. In particular, if you have published articles or books as a financial advisor, include descriptions of those in the publications section. Other sections offer the opportunity to highlight your involvement in your niche community, including the organizations, supported organizations and interests sections.
Consider hiding the skills and expertise endorsements. Since testimonials are not allowed in our industry, you may choose to turn this off. Discuss with your compliance professionals whether they consider these endorsements to be testimonials.
Edit your public profile URL to include your name. You are assigned a LinkedIn URL when you create a LinkedIn account, but you have the option to customize it. We recommend that you incorporate your name to your URL. For example, the LinkedIn URL for Jill Advisor could be www.linkedin.com/in/jilladvisor.v
Make your entire LinkedIn profile public. You want to make your profile available to everyone, regardless of whether they are LinkedIn members.
Expand Your LinkedIn Network
With your profile fully optimized, you will be ready to dramatically expand your network of LinkedIn contacts to reach ideal prospective clients as well as influencers in your niche.
We recommend these actions to grow and nurture your network:
Import contacts from your email account. LinkedIn enables you to import your address book from Outlook, Gmail and other email services. You can then browse and organize the contacts who are already on LinkedIn and invite them to connect with you. Consider including only professional contacts and not family members.
Add former colleagues and classmates. You want to grow your network as large as possible, but it still should be made up of people who are meaningful to you. There is typically a lot of potential to add connections from among your former colleagues and classmates.
Explore the networks of immediate network members. Look at their networks to find additional people you already know but have not yet connected with.
Join groups relevant to your niche community. Joining groups can dramatically expand your network while enabling you to current on important issues and people in your niche community.
Follow your network updates and client interactions. Keep tabs on the activity in your network. Pay particular attention when someone has taken a new job or assumed a new role—these can be a good time to reach out. A simple note of congratulations to a prospective client can lead to a deeper conversation.
Review and update your privacy settings. You will have your own personal preferences on how much you want to share, but we encourage you to be as open as possible with your LinkedIn information.
Enable your shared connections to be viewed only by people who share the same connections as you. This will prevent competitors from poaching the contact list you have worked so hard to build.
Promote your LinkedIn profile. Include your profile URL (or a badge linking to you profile) in your email signature and your website. Also include the URL on your business card.