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While there is no single “secret for success,” there are several concepts that can change the course of any financial advisor’s life, business, and happiness for the better.

What concepts am I talking about?

Well, in today’s show, I reveal 5 of the 10 most effective concepts I’ve harnessed in my own life as well as taught to other financial advisors that have dramatically enhanced their life and business.

Some of these concepts are related to marketing, and some aren’t. But every single one will show you the way to a better life and business.

Listen now.

Show highlights include:

  • How to calculate your odds of success for any new marketing campaign before you start (1:55)
  • Why “Even Or” thinking in marketing sabotages your campaigns before they ever see the light of day (3:14)
  • The counterintuitive reason that the more complex your marketing plan becomes, the more likely it is to fail (and why marketing plans that seem too simple work like gangbusters) (5:34)
  • The single most effective marketing “tool” financial advisors can buy (spoiler: it has nothing to do with financial advice or marketing) (9:14)
  • How taking a simple, online personality test can boost the effectiveness of every marketing campaign you launch until you retire (12:28)
  • Why copying and pasting successful financial advisors’ marketing strategies can leave you penniless and depressed (14:17)

Go to https://TheAdvisorCoach.com/Coaching and pick up your free 90 minute download called “5 Keys to Success for Financial Advisors” when you join The James Pollard Inner Circle.

Do you struggle with getting enough deep and REM sleep? In this article, you can learn about the 12 changes I made to radically improve my sleep: https://TheAdvisorCoach.com/sleep

Read Full Transcript

You're listening to “Financial Advisor Marketing”—the best show on the planet for financial advisors who want to get more clients, without all the stress. You're about to get the real scoop on everything from lead generation to closing the deal.

James is the founder of TheAdvisorCoach.com, where you can find an entire suite of products designed to help financial advisors grow their businesses more rapidly than ever before. Now, here is your host, James Pollard.

James: Financial advisors, what's going on? I am going to do something different this week. I know I say that a lot. I always say, “I'm going to do something different.” But that's because I tried to do different things all the time. If you know me, you know I'm always experimenting with new things. That's one of the best traits a marketer can have. It’s the ability to conduct experiments to see what works and what doesn't. That's called split-testing in marketing. [00:54.3]

If you've been a longtime listener of the Financial Advisor Marketing podcast—and thank you, by the way—then you know I'm not really a tactical guy. Sure, I will give tactics every now and then because it's part of the game of being a podcast host and someone who helps financial advisors, but the majority of my content is based around strategy, and that strategy requires independent thinking and an ability to see what is right for you in your unique situation.
This week's episode is going to be heavy on strategy, because I'm going to give you high-level concepts I think you should know. These concepts changed my life for the better and I'm sure they can do the same for you. I'm going to break this up into two parts, so this will be Part 1. I'm going to cover five concepts in this episode. Next week, I'm going to cover the remaining five. I don't want to waste any more time, so let's begin.
Number 1: think in terms of probabilities. One of the ways I’ve been able to consistently crank out profitable marketing campaigns, both for myself and for financial advisors, and one of the ways I’ve been able to amass what little wealth I have now is by thinking in terms of probabilities. [02:01.5]

Probabilistic thinking has allowed me to tilt the odds in my favor again and again, because I can calculate the odds of success before I even get started. It also helps me set proper expectations, because if I'm conducting a marketing campaign that has a 20%-probability of success and I really want it to work, then I can go in expecting to do it at least five times in order to get a success, at least five.
Most people don't even think this way. They don't think about the probability of something occurring and the number of repetitions or iterations and things that they need to do in order to have success in their life and their finances, and their business and their relationship. How many people do you need to date before you find the one? How many different exercise regimens do you need to try before you find one that you actually stick to? Same thing with dieting. These are all things that can be expressed as probabilities.
If you knew that your online ad had a 5%-chance of succeeding, how many times would you run it? How would it change things for you? Would you be willing to run that ad at least 20 times in order to have success? Would it be easier if you knew the probability in advance or at least thought about the probability? I think so. [03:14.3]

It's easy to think in terms of either/or. This sort of thinking typically emerges in children when they're about four years old. They watch cartoons and they think, “Who's the good guy? Who’s the bad guy?” but life is rarely so cut and dry. The real power comes from understanding the nuances and the shades of gray that exist between the black and white. That's where probabilistic thinking shines.
Many financial advisors come to me, seeking advice on marketing strategies, obviously. They often ask questions like, “Should I focus on SEO or social media? Should I prioritize email marketing or webinars?” The reality is that it's not about choosing one over the other. It's about understanding the probabilities of success with each approach, given the unique situation and allocating your resources accordingly. [03:57.2]

That's why it's so important to think independently. You have to think about what you have, what you want to do, what your goals are. How long do you think it'll take you to get there? What are some variables in your business? It is incredibly difficult for somebody to just come along and say, “Oh, SEO, for sure, because XYZ.” “Joe in Brooklyn, New York, is doing content marketing, so you have to do that.” It's just ridiculous.
Thinking in terms of probability encourages you to ask better questions. Instead of asking, “Will this marketing strategy work?” you start asking, “What's the likelihood this strategy will work given my target audience and/or resources and/or other variables in my life that I just discussed?” You could ask, “What are the odds that this tactic will yield better results compared to another?” You're thinking in terms of probability. It is not either/or. You're evaluating what you have.
One of the things that's unique about the way I approach financial advisor marketing is that I give financial advisors an unusual amount of freedom to think independently and to create marketing strategies that are customized for them and their situations. The reason for this is because I wouldn't be doing them a disservice if I told them to do one thing and not the other, because only they know their businesses, backgrounds and strengths. [05:06.4]

I cannot put something in stone and say, “This will work for you every single time.” I can say “This has an extraordinarily high probability of succeeding,” meaning, email marketing, for example, if you do email marketing my way and you follow what I teach about email marketing, you have an extremely high chance of succeeding and getting clients.
Thinking in terms of probability goes hand in hand with the next life changing marketing concept I think financial advisors should know, and that's Number 2: simplicity has a mathematical advantage. I want you to pay attention to this because it can rock your world. Did you know that each step in a plan that doesn't have a 100% probability of success reduces the probability of the overall plan? It’s true, and I’ll prove it to you. [05:53.4]

Let's assume we have a three-step plan. Step 1 has a 100% chance of success. Step 2 has a 50% chance of success, and Step 3 has a 100% chance of success. Step 1, 100%. Step 2, 50%. Step 3, 100% again. What is the probability of success for the entire plan? It's 50%. Even though Steps 1 and 3 are guaranteed to work, you can arrive at this conclusion by multiplying each step together. You can do 100% multiplied by 50% multiplied by 100%. That equals 50%.
Let's say we add a fourth step that has a 90% chance of success. If Steps 1–3 together have a 50% chance of succeeding, then multiply that by 90% and you get 45%, so each step that you add that doesn't have that 100% makes the overall plan weaker. So, when you have something with a whole bunch of different factors and things involved, you are hurting yourself. [06:54.0]
Have you ever heard the saying that a chain is only as strong as the weakest link? A marketing campaign is only as strong as its weakest step. Knowing this, you have two basic approaches. You can either make the steps as strong as possible or you can reduce the number of steps. If you want to maximize your chances of success, then I recommend doing both.

That also means if you want to get more clients, you need to avoid complex marketing systems with tons of bells and whistles, because each additional bell and whistle reduces the system's probability of success. Do you understand that? This is why simplicity is better than complexity. When I say things and financial advisors complain, “Oh, that's too simple. James, I wish you would give me the real stuff. This is too simple,” what I am doing is giving you the real stuff, because I understand math. This is not my opinion. This is not some fluffy theory. This is a mathematical fact. I operate based on principles that can be verified, proven, and so on. [07:53.0]

That's one reason why, since I’ve got email marketing on the brain, my email marketing system is so simple, because it contains three basic steps. Step 1, people opt in to your email list. Step 2, you send them emails. Step 3, they set appointments. That's it. That is the process. Every additional step added on top of that, if it doesn't have a 100% probability of success, will reduce the campaign's overall probability of success.

If you're amazing at getting people to opt into your email list, but you're terrible at actually emailing them, and you don't have a good call to action, then everything is just going to flounder. You have to keep it as simple as you can and make those steps as strong as possible. That's why I say, “Look, this is exactly what you want to say in your emails. This is how you want to write it. This is how your subject lines are supposed to look. This is what the call to action looks like,” because not only am I reducing the steps for financial advisors, but I'm helping them strengthen them as much as possible.
That's another reason why I am so gung-ho about having multiple marketing strategies because I don't try to make one strategy super-complex and lower its chances of success. What I like to do is have many different ways for people to become clients, but have each of those ways be extraordinarily simple, and as strong as you can make it. That's why I have such a high success rate. [09:13.1]

Number 3: focus on sleep. I used to talk a lot about sleep in this podcast and I received a ton of great feedback from financial advisors. Interestingly, a lot of people will tell you, “Oh, you need eight hours a night. Make sure you get your eight hours,” and while that's helpful, it doesn't necessarily tell the whole story.
What you really want to do is make sure you focus on REM sleep and deep sleep. If you don't have a tracker that can tell you how much of each you're getting, then you need to get one, because what can end up happening is you can sleep for eight hours per night and get pretty much no deep sleep and no REM sleep, and I can sleep five hours per night and get everything I need. I can actually wake up after five hours of sleep, feeling more refreshed and more ready to go then you even though you've slept eight hours. [10:01.5]

Don't neglect your sleep, man. Sleep is so essential for human beings that nature made sure we gave up a third of our lives for it. That's pretty wild when you think about it. Imagine a hunter-gatherer society, out there in the elements with predators all around them and just being unconscious for hours at a time. That's highly dangerous. But nature prioritized sleep over the potential of getting eaten to death by a tiger. I'm not going to spend too much time on this, because I have an article about this topic, which you can find over TheAdvisorCoach.com/sleep. It talks about a few of the ways I’ve been able to improve my sleep, and I think it can help you quite a bit. Once again, that is TheAdvisorCoach.com/sleep.

Hey, financial advisors. If you'd like even more help building your business, I invite you to subscribe to James' monthly paper-and-ink newsletter, “The James Pollard Inner Circle”. When you join today, you'll get more than $1,000 worth of bonuses, including exclusive interviews that aren't available anywhere else. Head on over to TheAdvisorCoach.com/coaching to learn more.

Number 4: lean into your strengths. I think I gave this example in a previous podcast episode, but I don't know for sure, so I'll give it here. My apologies if I’ve already talked about this. [11:16.0]

I want you to imagine that Michael Phelps and I lived together—so, we ate together. We trained together. We did everything together our entire lives—I still wouldn't come close to Michael Phelps’ swimming ability, because his body is made for swimming. He has a tall frame. He has a large wingspan. He has long hands. He has uniquely flexible ankles. He has a high lung capacity. He has natural strengths that I do not have.
No amount of training or dedication on my part can compensate for them, all else being equal. Like I said, we could live together, eat together, sleep together—not sleep together. That sounds wrong. But, hey, whatever—we can do everything together and I still wouldn't even come close. There's a quote that hard work beats talent when talent doesn't work hard, and that's true, but it's dangerous to assume that everyone else isn't working hard. [12:10.8]

I would much rather have every single advantage that I can possibly amass, and I can do that by working hard and leaning into my strength. Just like with the probability thing and keeping things simple, you want to make things as simple as possible and as strong as possible. I would work hard and lean into those strengths.
I frequently tell my Inner Circle members to take personality tests, because I want them to know themselves. I want them to know their strengths. For example, one of the personality tests I recommend is CliftonStrengths. It used to be called StrengthsFinder, and it gives you a list of your biggest strengths. I think there are 34 of them, so I guess the ones at the top would be your strengths and the ones at the bottom would be your biggest weaknesses. I'm not going to talk about the strengths part because I discussed that in a newsletter issue and I want to keep that private for people who have paid for it. However, I will talk about the weakness side. [13:00.0]

When I took that test, one of my biggest weaknesses was called Woo, like Ric Flair “The Nature Boy”, Woo. It apparently stands for “winning others over.” People with that talent are great at getting people to like them. If you couldn't tell already, I'm not very good at that, and it would be a mistake for me to try to compete with someone who is naturally good at the Woo strength. There are people out there that have that as their number-one strength. They're energized by talking to strangers. They want to learn names, ask questions, find common interests. That's just not me. I could try to fake it, but then I wouldn't be very happy. I'd be wasting my gifts if I tried to focus on that instead of what I am already good at.
I'll give you a business example. I gave you a personal example. I'm going to give you a business one now. One of my business strengths is writing. I had been writing emails for years. I’ve written more than 2,500 emails at this point, probably over 3,000. I'm going to have to go back and look so I can verify this. I've also been publishing my Inner Circle Newsletter for six years. [14:01.4]

Think about that. Every issue is roughly 20 pages long, give or take a few pages. Sometimes it's longer. Sometimes it's shorter. I've had issues go 26, 27 pages. Could you do that for six years? Maybe you could. Maybe you couldn't. But my point is your outcome would be heavily influenced by your strengths.
It's also why I highly recommend not copying what other financial advisors are doing. When I used to coach financial advisors one-on-one, one of my biggest pet peeves was when an advisor would say something like, “John Smith in Wichita, Kansas, is doing content marketing, so I think I need to do content marketing, too.” I just wanted to reach through that phone and just strangle that little neck whenever they would say this, ugh.
The great writer Charles Bukowski has this quote, “The worst thing for a writer is to know another writer, and worse than that, to know a number of other writers. Like flies on the same turd.” You don't want to be a financial advisor on the same turd as all the other financial advisors out there. You are unique, so you should lean into your strengths. [15:10.3]

Moving on, like I said, at the beginning of this episode, I'm going to break it up into two parts, so I'm only going to give you one more concept and then I'm going to end the episode. Here it is, Number 5: do not idolize anyone.
One of the cool parts of having the Inner Circle Newsletter is I get to have conversations with financial advisors that nobody else is having. I even had two podcast episodes a while back about what I’ve learned from 10,000 conversations with financial advisors. It has just been an incredible ride so far, and I'm only getting started. I'm getting started. I don't want to make it sound like I'm winding down. I'm not. These conversations have been incredible, and they're unique, because they're private.
Financial Advisors can say anything they want. They don't have to get up in front of a room of other people. They don't have to be public. They don't have to post it on social media. They don't have to fly to a conference where everyone can hear them talk about their problems. That means I get to hear the real stuff, the stuff they don't tell anyone else—and I will tell you right now, and I'm being dead serious, I want you to get this. All that glitters is not gold. [16:15.6]

I have had conversations with everyone from brand new advisors who have only made $15,000 in their first year to advisors with decades of experience who are making seven figures annually. Everyone has problems, all of them. I’ve come to realize we all have difficulties. Now, of course, some people will naively think to themselves, Yeah, I'd like to have that guy's problems, but I'm not so sure.
When you see the financial advisor who makes seven figures per year, what you don't see is his cholesterol from eating unhealthy food. It's just through the roof. You don't see his poor relationships with his children. You don't see the drug problems that his children have had, because he has enabled them in some way. [16:59.5]

With the other advisors who aren't making much money, you might think, Wow, I'm glad I'm not in that situation. I'm glad I'm making a bunch of money. But you don't see the advisor that doesn't make as much money as you, that advisor goes to the gym every other day. That advisor gets outside often. That advisor is enjoying life. So, don't be quick to judge. We all have our problems.
I think studying the Bible has helped me understand this a little bit better, because in the New Testament, Paul talks about having this thorn in his flesh. He says, “To keep me from becoming proud, I was given a thorn in my flesh,” and he said he begged God three different times to take it away. Now, you might think if anyone could do it, it's God, and Paul is such a great servant. He's doing awesome stuff. If anyone deserves to get his thorn in the flesh taken away, it's Paul. But that's not what God does. He says His power works best in weakness. [17:59.3]

That's a topic that's way too deep for a podcast episode, but I want you to think about this. If you ever look at someone and wish you could have that person's life, remember, thorn in the flesh. I've had people tell me, they wish they could have a life like mine, and truthfully, my life is pretty good. It's pretty sweet. I have a great business. I have awesome customers and clients. I have a ton of freedom and flexibility. I have an amazing wife. I get to spend a lot of time with my family. I get to do, within reason, everything I want to do.
But I also have health issues that I don't talk about a lot. I have a thorn in the flesh like Paul had, several, actually. Trust me when I say you probably don't want them. I've had my fair share of personal tragedy. Really bad things have happened to me. I don't talk about them because I don't want people to ever feel sorry for me or think I'm trying to throw a pity party, because, truthfully, I'm not. I'm telling you because if I broke down everything for the people who wish they could have my life, they would probably change their minds. Don't idolize people. [19:00.0]

There's an old saying that you shouldn't meet your heroes. There's the idea that meeting someone you deeply admire can lead to disappointment, because you see just how flawed and how human that person is. We tend to build up an idealized image of our heroes and our minds. We give them qualities and characteristics that may not fully align with their real personalities or behaviors. And people can present themselves however they want on social media, or through text or email. They can just say that they live a certain way or that they're doing certain things, and you see the photos from financial advisors on social media that they're doing great things and they're loving life. But in the emails to me, I see other things, because they open up to me. They know that it's private.
When we finally encounter our heroes in real life, they may not, almost certainly don't live up to these lofty expectations. They display flaws. You find out they make mistakes. You find out that they act in ways to contradict the image that you and everyone else has constructed of them. [20:06.0]

I'm telling you, and I want you to listen to me, I've seen many successful financial advisors, and successful entrepreneurs, in general, through the groups that I'm involved with and the programs that I help with. They all have problems, all of them. In the realm of Financial Advisor Marketing, the principle of not idolizing anyone holds immense significance.
It's common for financial advisors, especially those just starting out to look up to industry veterans, experts or influencers, and believe that these people have it all figured out. These advisors might think that by emulating their, quote-unquote, “heroes,” they too can achieve the same level of success, when the truth is you probably would not want to swap lives with them. So, be you. Be unapologetically you and live your life. [20:56.4]

Alright, that's enough for this week. Next week I'm going to continue with this theme and give you five more concepts I think all financial advisors should know. Thank you so much for listening. I truly appreciate you. If you want to help out the show, share it on social media. Tag a friend. Get the word out. It means a lot to me. And I will catch you next week.

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