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: This week's podcast episode is inspired by an Inner Circle member who sent me an email, asking if I could talk about creating a simple business plan, preferably a one-page business plan that's similar to one-page financial plans, and I thought that was a wonderful idea, so I'm going to do it.
If you haven't subscribed to the newsletter, go ahead, go to TheAdvisorCoach.com/coaching. Let me get it out of the way. Go ahead and sign up for that. Every month that passes without you being subscribed is another pile of opportunity costs added to the mountain you already have. [01:05.0]
With business planning in mind, I think it is a mistake to complicate your business plan. I've read a lot of biographies and I've watched a lot of founder interviews, and it seems to me that when the topic of business planning comes up, it's common for people to say that they scribbled their idea on a napkin or they outlined their plan very briefly and then went to market.
I think that's important to note for two reasons. First, your business plan shouldn't be complicated, and, two, you should focus on execution. Yes, I mean, you should actually do stuff. The greatest plan in the world doesn't mean diddly-squat unless you do something with it, but you should have some sort of plan. I don't want you to wing it. I don't want you to fly by the seat of your pants. Even if it's scribbling something out on a napkin, 1, 2, 3, and you're done at least have something written. [01:58.3]
One of my favorite quotes is that failing to plan is planning to fail. You already know this if you're creating financial plans for clients, but what about creating a business plan for your business? According to a survey conducted for FA Insights, By Design, only 17% of financial advisors have developed strategic plans for their businesses. Think about this. It means that 83% of financial advisors are out there making plans for their clients without having plans for their businesses. Oh, the irony.
But have no fear, James is here, and I am going to help you in this episode, although I want to restate this so it's clear—this is going to be a one-page business plan. As such, it's going to be very simple. It's going to require that I take a broad overview of the topics. If you're someone who is going to whine and complain about how you're not getting the nitty-gritty details, then please stop listening now. Do us all a favor, just stop this because it's only going to make you mad and I don't want to call the wambulance for your crying. Got it? Good. [03:06.8]
Now I want you to imagine, get a picture in your mind. One sheet of paper, we're going to divide it into several sections and the first section is going to be your perfect vision for the future. If everything went right in your business, what would it look like? How much would you work? How many clients would you have? How much money would you make? How would you feel about your business? Let your mind wander. Don't put any limits onto your thinking. If you want something, write it down.
There are lots of goals that seem outlandish, but end up getting accomplished. Do you think billionaires set goals to have a multi-billion dollar net worth? Yeah, probably. Do you think Olympians write out goals like, Hey, I kinda sorta want to win an Olympic gold medal? Yeah, that's probably a goal that they've written down somewhere and people likely laughed at them and told them that they weren't being realistic. Just let go and accept whatever it is you want. [04:02.3]
Your outlandish goal is going to be laughable to someone else you saying, Oh, I want a $5 million net worth, is laughable to someone out there and that person could laugh and be like, Hey, why not a $50 million net worth? And then the person with 100 million is like, Oh my God, only 50 million. Just let it go. Whatever your mind comes up with, whatever your heart desires, just accept that. It is you. Only you can make this decision. Not me, not somebody else, not your parents, not your children. It doesn't matter. It's you. What do you want? What does your heart desire?
If you want to make $200,000 per year and work five hours per week, go ahead and write that down. Nobody's judging you. If you want to make $1.5 million per year and work 20 hours per week with people in a specific niche while maintaining two office locations, because you like going from, I don't know, Nashville, Tennessee, to Clearwater, Florida, write that down. Remember, this is your perfect vision. This is everything you want from your business. If a wizard appeared and offered to give you whatever you wanted from your business, this would be it. [05:05.3]
I don't have the time to discuss all the intricacies of this, but the reason I want you to write this down, it must be written down, is because our minds are cybernetic mechanisms that seek out our written goals. Just like a heat-seeking or technically an infrared-seeking missile will home onto jet engine exhaust, your brain will home onto your goals. It will slowly but surely get you where you want to go. It might not get you all the way there, but it will get you on the right path and I would rather get halfway to a massive goal, something that I really want than all the way to a small one, something I didn't want or don't want.
Next, the next section of your business plan. I want you to write everything you can think of that makes you different from the other financial advisors in the marketplace. Having a niche is a great way to differentiate yourself. You can write about your background, your expertise, your experience, your investment philosophy, your hobbies, your locations, your technology, and so on. None of these things by themselves might make you different. [06:09.3]
For example, lots of financial advisors have the same certifications. Lots of financial advisors serve the same niche. There are a lot of financial advisors who specialize in working with medical professionals or corporate executives or teachers, lots of them, lots of them, but the sum total of everything you have should separate you from everyone else.
Still, that's only part of the battle, because not only do I want you to communicate the things that make you different, I want you to think about one or two sentences you could say to someone that will immediately set you apart from everyone else in the marketplace.
I'll give you an example from my business. My Inner Circle newsletter is different because it's the only tangible physical newsletter written with financial advisors in mind that uses real data, proven marketing strategies and inspiration from tens of thousands of financial advisors who interact with the Advisor Coach. It's also delivered at a ridiculously low price of $99 per month, which is less than plain tickets for a conference, less than coaching or consulting, and less than a daily cup of coffee. [07:11.3]
The secret to having a unique value proposition, it's actually hidden in the name. It must be unique and it must have value. You having 73 certifications may be valuable, but it's not unique. You playing the accordion while doing back flips might be unique, but it's not valuable. The combination of these two things is the magic elixir that will add rocket fuel to your business.
That is the next part. The part after that is I want you to choose a target market and list where you can find that target market. I'm not going to talk about having a niche. I'm not going to talk about choosing a target market. I've done that many times in other podcast episodes and I even have a video training called “Deep Dive Into Niche Marketing”, which outlines my entire process for choosing and marketing to a niche. I think the URL for that is TheAdvisorCoach.com/niche. [08:07.8]
If that's incorrect, please don't email me. Spare me those emails. You can just Google James Pollard or the Advisor Coach deep dive into niche marketing. But I do think it is TheAdvisorCoach.com/niche.
I will say that when you choose a niche, you must have an idea of how you're going to reach that niche. I've discovered that there are really no good or bad niches. I've had financial advisors tell me they're targeting what seems to me to be obscure niches, but they know how to get in front of them, so more power to them. They're great niches for those financial advisors.
On the other hand, a niche like corporate executives, which I can get in front of all day every day, might be difficult for someone who has no idea where to find them. I don't care how passionate you are about a niche. If you're not able to place yourself in front of a steady stream of them on a regular basis, it will not work, I guarantee it. [08:59.4]
If you could pick a niche, even if you're semi-passionate about it, if you make an incredible effort to get in front of these people and you consistently get in front of these people, and you accomplish your objective in that arena, you will make more money because you have access to them. You can't make money from people if you can't get in front of them, if you don't have access to them.
One of the examples I gave in the Inner Circle newsletter was about firefighters. I gave an example of a financial advisor renting a list of more than 30,000 fire stations. If she can work virtually and she has a response rate of even one half of 1%, she can get 150 meetings with fire stations. Not firefighters. I'm talking about fire stations, which have multiple firefighters.
In the business plan, you should now have three sections. You should have your vision of a perfect business, your unique value proposition, and how you're going to find your niche market. Each of these sections should be a few sentences maximum. The longest will probably be your vision for the future if you flesh it out, depending on how much you want to add. [10:06.8]
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.
The next part of your one-page business plan is going to be the marketing section where we're going to do it a little differently than just listing out the marketing strategies. We're going to divide the paper into two sections, one on the left and one on the right. On the left side, you're going to write outbound marketing strategies, and on the right side, you're going to write inbound marketing strategies. [10:55.8]
There are lots of marketing “secrets”, and I'm using “secrets” as finger quotes here, and sometimes I think talking about stuff as a secret is kind of gimmicky, but this is definitely a secret that's hidden in plain sight.
When you think about the evolution of growing a business, you realize that you must have an ecosystem of outbound and inbound marketing strategies. It can be no other way.
And I'm not going to talk about specific tactics because I have more than 170 podcast episodes at this point. If you want to learn about content marketing, go back and look through the episodes with content marketing in the title. If you want to learn about webinars, look for the one with “webinar” in the title. I have podcast episodes about this stuff.
But I want you to understand that if you start a business right now, you have no inbound marketing channels, by default. You're not just going to spring something into existing with an inbound marketing strategy or an inbound marketing channel.
Let's say you do nothing but inbound. Do you have the cash to survive until those strategies pay off? You might not get a single appointment for several months while you're building your inbound marketing assets. You might build things like webinars, blog posts, social media profiles and more, but those don't get you clients right away. [12:07.5]
What gets you clients right away? Outbound marketing. This is where you go out into the marketplace and you offer something to people in exchange for money. That's one way to market in a capitalistic society. If I have a bunch of flowers, I can literally, right now, go out to a major stoplight and offer my flowers to each car that passes me. I'm there. “Hey, bouquet flowers, $5, $5, $5, $5. Make me holler.” That's outbound marketing because I am getting out there and I am offering things to people. I'm not relying on a website or anything like that, on social media, inbound marketing, whatever, to get people to buy my flowers, give me that $5 to make me holler.
Outbound is stuff like making phone calls, knocking on doors, sending mailers, networking, stuff like that. You're going out into the world and you're making your presence known. If people are interested in hiring you, they can talk to you right then and there. They don't have to fill out a form. They don't have to clickety-click, click, click online. [13:05.6]
The trap I see financial advisors falling into is that they view marketing as either/or. They will do either inbound or outbound marketing, and they will get good at cold calls and they'll stick with those or they'll be terrified of reaching out to people so they'll hide behind a computer screen. That's no way to live and it's no way to grow a business.
Even people who do outbound right away, they get addicted to the power that comes from being able to pick up a phone, get in touch with somebody, have that person set an appointment and then get a client from that appointment. It's addicting. I understand if you're good at it, right? It sucks if you're not good at it, but if you're good at it, it's addicting, and they get stuck on the hamster reel because they're like, Why would I spend my time building a blog when I could just pick up the phone? It's like eventually your blog is going to work harder than you ever will with your cold calls, and it will work for you 24/7 and it will bring leads in if you do it correctly. [14:00.0]
The same thing is true with email marketing. You could be out on a golf course somewhere. An email autoresponder will continue to work for you. People need to get out of this mindset of “Why would I stop my revenue-generating activities in order to build this inbound stuff?” It's because, a year from now, the inbound stuff is going to generate more revenue than you would be able to with your outbound strategy.
And guess what? Here's the cool part. You can have your email autoresponder work while you're making call calls. You can have your blog work for you while you're sending direct mail. You want to do both. You want to get clients today while building the machine that will get you clients tomorrow. If financial advisors understood this, I mean really understood it at a deep level, there would be no need for coaching. The coaching industry would not exist.
One of the reasons I don't even offer a coaching program anymore outside of the fact that I got completely burned out—I don't think it's a good deliverable for financial advisors. It's not a good business model for the coach—one of the reasons I don't even offer that anymore is because I have other resources, like my newsletter, and those resources go deep into this concept. [15:03.7]
You literally do not need a coaching program. For what? To tell you how to run webinars? Huh? What? To show you how to get better at cold calling? Okay, then what? Those are surface-level things. Remember, if you listen to the “How to Think Better” series, I did a four-part series of how to think better. Scroll back in the episode list and you'll see it. One of the things that I talked about in that series was the law of the minimum.
The law of the minimum states that the yield of a crop will always be dictated by the essential nutrient that is available at the lowest level. It doesn't matter how abundant all the other nutrients are. Being deficient in one nutrient will always limit the crops growth. The same thing happens in business. You could be great at one thing, but you can and you will still be limited by the areas in which you are deficient. Let me say it again. You could be great at one thing, cold calling, direct mail, I don't care, right? But you will still be limited by the areas in which you are deficient. [16:04.0]
If you do not have an outbound marketing program, a system process, whatever, and you're dependent on inbound marketing, eventually stuff is going to break and you are going to be screwed, or you're going to run out of cash, if you're just starting out, or you're going to really struggle and that's going to lead you to make bad decisions because you're burning your cash and you're going to get scared, and you're human and you're irrational. Okay? Or you're going to … You get the picture? Stuff is not good, okay?
You want to obey the law of the minimum. This is the big breakthrough. This is the thing that more people need to understand. Online advertising, it's a really good example of using both. My ads are outbound in the sense that I am interrupting people's online experiences, but they're inbound once people get involved in my role. People come to me. They might see my ad five or six times and they're like, Huh? Who's this James Pollard guy, google me and then get involved, then become a part of Planet Pollard. I can reach 1,000 people in a day using an ad with a small budget. Out of those 1,000 people, a few will raise their hands and say they're interested in learning more. [17:06.8]
Another good example is sending a direct mail letter and including information about a webinar or inviting people to a seminar, your outbound mechanism is getting people to turn themselves into inbound leads for you. You could call people and invite them. You could connect with people on social media, I don't care. I want you to get the philosophy behind this. Your business plan needs to have both outbound and inbound marketing strategy, so that is the section with marketing. You're going to have that tee table. The left side is going to have outbound. The right side is going to have inbound.
Finally, for the last part of your one-page business plan, I want you to list a few things that you are going to start doing today. Not tomorrow, not next week, not next month. Today. Before your head hits the pillow tonight, that will make you a better human being. [17:56.0]
This is another, quote-unquote, “secret” that's hidden in plain sight. People want to believe that there’s some magic button they can push or some company they can hire to turn them into successful business owners. The truth is that your business is a reflection of you. If your business isn't organized, it's because you are not organized. If your business is moving slowly, it's because you are moving slowly. If your business is stagnant, it's because you are stagnant.
The reverse is also true. If your business is fast-paced and exciting, it's because you are a fast-paced and exciting person. I had a teacher who used to say that only boring people get bored and I think there's a lot of truth to that and if your business is a reflection of you, which it is, then the way to make your business better is to make yourself better. What books are you reading? What are you feeding your mind? Are you exercising or are you sitting on the couch every night? You can control your environment for better or for worse. [18:58.0]
I'll give you an example of both in my own life. In 2021, I had some of the best food I've ever eaten. I ate like a king pretty much all year. I had Nashville hot chicken, Chicago deep dish, the New York pizza, New Haven pizza, all the great, great, great food. I had these wonderful salads that were from California. I had the hogfish from Florida when that was in season. I ate and ate and ate, but I got fat, and I wasn’t the heaviest I've ever been, but I was probably the fattest because I used to have a lot more muscle and that was a lesson to me that my body responds to my choices. I have no problem sharing about this. I'm an open book. I got fat. I did. I really got fat.
So, I changed my diet in late-December 2021. I've lost more than 20 pounds so far. I'm not going too fast. I'm not depriving myself either. I had a wonderful Prantl’s almond torte cake for my birthday. If you've never had one, get one from Goldbelly or somewhere. It's Prantl’s, P-R-A-N-T-L and it's in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. It is “the” best cake in America. It is absolutely delicious. It will rock your world. You won't want to have any other cake once you've had that. I still went hard on that cake. You put that in front of me, I'm putting it in my belly, but I knew that I had to make it up over time. [20:14.8]
Now, in the same way that gaining weight told me that my choices had a negative impact, losing weight taught me and is still teaching me that my choices can have a positive impact, and if I can see the change in my body, then changing a business is a piece of cake, no pun intended. Think about how you can upgrade your human equipment. That's incredibly important. That's the thing that lots of people don't want to hear. They want to hear like, Okay, okay, should I use Instagram or should I use TikTok?
Um … are you getting better sleep? What does your diet look like? Are you organized? What are you reading? What are you feeding your mind?
They're like, No, no, no, just tell me, Instagram or TikTok? Huh? Should I be on TikTok?
Seriously, I cannot stress this enough, upgrade your human equipment. [21:00.8]
To recap, you should have the following on your one-page business plan, your perfect vision for the future, your unique value proposition, your target market, and where to find it, the T-shaped section with inbound and outbound marketing and a few things you can do to become a better human being.
Those are the basic building blocks you can use to build the businesses you want. Don't dismiss this episode because it seems too simple. I want you to do the work, outline your one-page business plan, and let the principles influence the way you think—and with that said, I'll catch you next week.
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