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There’s no shortage of marketing “experts” who are confident they know what they’re talking about.

But the trouble is, many only really know enough to be dangerous. They might know what worked for them, or worked for a few, but not know why it worked. Or if it could work in your case.

Not to mention some people succeed despite (not because of) their marketing. Look to them as a model of success, and you can sail into troubled waters without realizing it.

Today I’m tackling the worst of the worst of this conventional marketing wisdom. Listen to find out if you’ve swallowed any of these poison principles, and how to change course before they cost you time, money, and prospects.

Listen now!

Show highlights include:

  • The Omnipresence Fallacy: Why being on every platform is a waste of time. How to know exactly which ones to be on so you gain your best prospects without squandering your day on social networks. (5:54)
  • How the “more traffic equals more clients” marketing philosophy actually loses you money, (even if your cost-per-click is low). (16:31)
  • The Cold Calling Debate: Cold calling is often dismissed as a “scale fail,” but you don’t have to abandon it completely. Here’s how to leverage its benefits, and when to stay away. (8:23)
  • The Steve Urkel discovery that lets mediocre closers outperform the world-class salesmen who treat every interaction as a sales decision. (18:41)
  • Why you can’t “build it and they will come.” And what even the best website needs to draw prospects who actually want to work with you. (11:30)
  • How survivorship bias skews how you perceive your marketing role models and blinds you to their flaws. You could be walking blind into a marketing disaster! (11:06)

Want to make your emails more persuasive, profitable, and fun to write? Join my 7-Day Email Marketing Challenge here: https://www.theadvisorcoach.com/challenge

Want to become an expert at niche marketing and put growing your business on “easy mode?” Then join my niche marketing program here: https://www.theadvisorcoach.com/niche.html

Need help getting more clients as a financial advisor? I created a free, 53-minute video outlining the steps to my “CLIENT Method,” which helps financial advisors land more clients. Watch the video before I take it down here: https://www.theadvisorcoach.com/theclientmethod.html

If you’re looking for a way to set more appointments with qualified prospects, sign up for James’ brand new webinar about how financial advisors can get more clients with email marketing.

Go to https://TheAdvisorCoach.com/webinar to register today.

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.

Want to transform your website into a client-getting machine? Go to https://www.theadvisorcoach.com/website to get The Client-Getting Website Guide.

Want a masterclass training in running effective Facebook Ads? Head to https://TheAdvisorCoach.com/ads-training.

Discover how to get even better at marketing yourself with these resources:





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: Hey, what's going on? This episode has a good title, doesn't it? I'm calling it “Dumb Marketing Advice.” That sounds good, but fails financial advisors. I hope people listen to this episode. It turns out I’ve had episode titles that I didn't think would do very well, like “How Financial Advisors Can Become Organized,” and it turns out that thousands and thousands of people wanted to listen to that episode, and I was like, What in the world? I have all these cool-sounding titles and you guys want to listen to organization episodes? But, hey, whatever, I digress. This episode will be very straightforward, because I plan on discussing exactly that. [01:06.0]

There's so much stuff out there that seems like okay advice on the surface, but if you dig even a little bit, you realize it's terrible. It's like doing a kitchen remodel in a dilapidated house. Yeah, the kitchen might be okay, but the rest of the house sucks and you'd never want to live there anyway.

Have you ever heard the phrase “knows just enough to be dangerous”? That's a lot of people out there. And I have love for people in the financial advice industry. There are amazing people. I'm thrilled to know them. They are great. Still, I can't help but notice a lot of the bad advice being spread around from people who know just enough to be dangerous.

I'll give you an example outside of financial-advisor marketing to help you understand a little bit better. Someone who has watched a few YouTube tutorials on electrical wiring might think he can do his own home repairs. He knows just enough to get started, but he doesn't have a comprehensive understanding of electrical systems, building codes or safety procedures. [02:04.1]

His lack of full knowledge can lead to dangerous mistakes, like starting electrical fires or getting shot. These could be fatal mistakes, by the way. This is not just like, Owie, this hurts. No, this could be death. Bad stuff, right? There are lots of people out there who know a little bit about marketing and that's it. There's another saying that in the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king and there are a lot of one-eyed kings out there. You have to be careful.

There are also people who have worked on their own electrical wiring in their own homes and have done really well, meaning, they may know their electrical system inside and out, but that doesn't necessarily mean that they should work on your home because your setup might be different. Your power needs might be different. Just because people did well in their homes does not mean they can do well in your home. You may have problems they've never encountered before. They could throw off their entire game and, again, lead to fatal mistakes. They know just enough to be dangerous. [03:07.6]

Now, let's think about a professional electrician who has worked on thousands of homes. That person has seen all sorts of layouts, all sorts of electrical problems and all sorts of scenarios. That is the person who is qualified to help you. I don't want to toot my own horn too much, but this is my show, so I'll say what I want. I'm obviously drawing a parallel here, between the electrician, the professional electrician, and me, because this is literally what I do in marketing.

I didn't just grow one business and say, “Oh, I'm qualified now because I grew this one business and now I know what to do,” aka I successfully did the work in my house and now I'm qualified to do the electrical work in your house. No, no, no, I've worked with thousands of metaphorical houses and I’ve seen a wide range of challenges and solutions. [03:54.8]

Remember, my Inner Circle members get direct email access to me for their questions. We exchange messages back and forth. We have private conversations about stuff in their businesses that they may not discuss publicly anywhere else, meaning, they're not going to discuss it in LinkedIn comment and they're darn sure not going to discuss it in a group meeting in front of other people, so I'm getting the raw, real information that can actually help financial advisors and I’ve had thousands of these conversations over the years.

I've been publishing the newsletter for six years now and I’ve helped advisors every single day during that time period, on Christmas, on my birthday, on holidays, anniversaries. I've been there, I’ve helped advisors and I’ve helped multiple advisors with the same problems. I'm not just helping one business with content marketing, for instance. I'm helping hundreds. And I get real-time feedback from the work I do, meaning, if I suggest something in a newsletter and a couple hundred advisors actually take my advice, a percentage of them will contact me with results and questions and things like that. Now multiply that over years. [04:59.7]

I am so grateful for this because it has turned me into the metaphorical electrician who has worked on all these houses. Do you have a two-story instead of a ranch home? Cool, I’ve got hundreds of those. Do you have the breaker box in your basement or the garage? Doesn't matter, I've done hundreds of those, too. Do you need an electric-vehicle charger in your garage? No sweat. Do you need new wiring in all of your rooms, a ceiling fan, a light, a different chandelier? I've been there, I've done that, and I’ve gotten the tee-shirt.

Be very careful where you get your advice because you may be getting your advice from the person who has only worked on his or her own house, or only watched the metaphorical YouTube videos. If the one-eyed man can be king, then I’ve got both eyes open. I've got my third eye open. I've got eyes in the back of my head. Heck, I’ve got eyes all over me, like a biblically-accurate angel. I'm covered with eyes.

Now, let's get into this dumb marketing advice that sounds good. First piece of dumb marketing advice that sounds good is that you need to be on every social media platform. Now, granted, this advice isn't really that popular. It's probably the least popular out of all the ones we're going to discuss on this podcast episode today, but I have heard it in a few places. [06:11.2]

Now, typically, these people will use words like “branding” and “omnipresence.” Look, I think you're in business to help people. I hope that's a fair assumption and I hope you would agree with me. The way to help people is to get them to become clients. The way to get people to become clients is going where they are, getting in front of them.

If you have clients that are on TikTok or potential clients on TikTok, then for the love of all that is good and holy, get your butt on TikTok, I know I make fun of it sometimes, but, seriously, I'm being real with you, if they are on there, then you need to be on there as well. If they're on LinkedIn, get on LinkedIn. If they're on Twitter, get on Twitter. I don't care about the tactics. Where you are going as the tactic. I care about strategies and the strategy is going where your potential clients are. It makes no sense to be on a platform if your potential clients are not there. [07:05.0]

I’ll take it a step further because of the 80-20 rule, because there are some platforms that may have some of your clients, but they aren't as good. In the Advisor Coach, that's Twitter. I'm not that active on Twitter because I run ads on all the major platforms, so Google, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and even though Twitter ads are still profitable for me, they are the least profitable of all the ads that I run.

Now, objectively speaking, the audience quality for me is lower. This is not a subjective thing. I can look at metrics and I can verify this. Someone who spends all day on Twitter is likely to be a lower-value client or customer for me. That doesn't make these people bad. It doesn't mean anything, except that they're just not going to engage in my world as much as people from other platforms, so I don't spend as much time on there. [07:55.0]

Notice how I didn't assume that. I didn't just wake up and think, Oh, I don't think my audiences on Twitter. No, I tracked my metrics and I made a decision based on data. I got feedback. Back to the good electrician example. I didn't just slap some wires up and say, “Hmm, that looks good.” No, no, no, I tested everything. I use voltage meters. I tested different appliances and more. I made an informed decision, and you should, too.

The second piece of dumb marketing advice that sounds good but actually fails financial advisors is that cold calling is dead, and I will admit, I'm not the biggest fan of cold calling because I don't think or I know cold calls don't scale well and they also take your time. I like marketing strategies that are either separate from your time or take very little time and that can scale.

For instance, I can send an email to 50 people with the same effort that it takes to send an email to 5,000 people. The actual activity of sending the email takes no more effort. That is scale. That's leverage. That is a marketing asset that will continue to work for me no matter what I am doing. [09:02.6]

Cold calling isn't like that. Every time you make a cold call, it takes your time. You can't ever have a day where you personally had 1,000 cold-call conversations with people. It is not possible. But you can have 1,000 people see your social-media post, your direct-mail piece, your online ad or your email easily. It happens all the time. All the time.

However, that doesn't mean cold calling is dead. There are still tons of financial advisors out there who are doing well with cold calls, although I will admit that the most effective calls aren't necessarily cold. They're either warm or lukewarm, because I personally advocate calling people. I like having conversations, getting on the phone or even if it's not necessarily a phone call. It could still be a Zoom call where you set something up and you're talking to a webcam, but you're doing this with people that you've interacted with in some way, meaning, you've sent them something in the mail or they've given you a phone number after signing up for a webinar, or something like that. [10:01.5]

I almost never advocate calling someone truly cold, but I'm not naive. I know people do it and do it very well. I'm not someone who's just going to sit here and say, “Oh, well, cold calling is dead, because I think so and I have nothing to back up that claim. It's just I think it, therefore it must be true.”

Now, number three, if you build it, they will come, and I’ve seen this a lot, and even though people may not use those exact words, the message is still behind what they're saying. They're saying things like “Just get out there. Post tons of comments. Post content,” and the idea is that, eventually, you will grow because you're doing all this work. No, that's not reality, or at least it's not predictable, repeatable reality. [10:44.0]

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 problem with a lot of bad marketing advice, especially this, is that it ignores survivorship bias, because there are almost always people who have succeeded in spite of the bad advice and they’ve become role models for people who don't know any better. They see one success story out of 1,000 and they try to replicate it while ignoring all of the other 999 who failed. This myth gets perpetuated a lot with social media and websites.

The “if you build it, they will come” mentality is a myth that lures people into a false sense of security when they venture into digital marketing. They believe all they need to do is create a website or a blog, for example, and just sit back as the traffic rolls in. In the vast digital landscape where thousands of new websites are launched every single day, even the most well designed and content-rich website can disappear into the ether without proper promotion. [12:00.0]

You see, your website or blog is like a needle in the proverbial haystack of the internet. You need to guide your potential clients to it, and you do that with multiple marketing strategies. You do that with social and email and direct mail, and all of the things that I talk about in the other podcast episodes and in the newsletter and in my emails, and the entire Planet Pollard.

Number four, automate everything you can. This is tough for me to talk about because I'm a big fan of automation and sometimes people will mistakenly attribute this advice to me, because I do automate a lot. However, I don't believe you should automate everything you possibly can. The mantra of “automate everything” has become increasingly popular in our fast-paced, tech-driven world, and it's true that automation can streamline processes. It can reduce manual labor and it can save you a bunch of time, or I reckon that without automation, a lot of you wouldn't even have the lifestyle businesses that you have, if that is your cup of tea. [12:57.1]

In certain areas of your business, automation is an absolute game changer. Again, I love it. Routine tasks, like appointment-scheduling, invoicing, and even certain aspects of social-media management, can be automated to great effect and it frees up a lot of time. It's awesome. However, when it comes to building and nurturing relationships with clients, automation can sometimes fall short, and by nurturing, I don't mean nurturing like you're providing value over 10,000 emails or giving tons and tons of information. That is not what I mean. I think nurturing in email specifically is dumb. I'm talking about keeping in touch and actually having a real relationship. In fact, I probably shouldn't have even said nurturing because it sounds kind of manipulative. You're basically just building a relationship, period.

Automation falls short, though. Relationships are built on genuine, personalized interactions, which automation can't fully replicate, and here's why. First, you lose the personal touch. A relationship between a financial advisor and a client is a deeply personal one. It's built on trust and mutual respect, and understanding of the client's unique needs, goals and concerns. An automated email or a message, no matter how well written it is, even if it's awesome, even if it really, really works, it still cannot fully capture the human touch, the empathetic tone or the personalized approach that a real person can. Again, I love email, but I admit its drawbacks here. [14:16.2]

There's also the potential for miscommunication. Automated responses, automated social-media things, they can sometimes miss the mark, either by not fully addressing a client's concerns or a potential client's concerns, or by misunderstanding the nuances of what they want to know, and this can lead to frustration on both people's parts and it can weaken your relationship.

Again, it's all about the relationship, and, obviously, it's impersonal, because automated messages, even though they can be tailored to include a client's name or a lead’s name, or some basic information, they're still inherently impersonal. People know when they're receiving something that's automated and when they're receiving something personal, and the latter is far more impactful in making people feel valued and heard. [15:01.5]

So, what is the solution? I recommend balancing automation with personalization. You can use automation for routine administrative tasks, but don't forget to add personal touches when it comes to client communication, potential client communication, and relationship-building. Building relationships, that's super important. Send personalized emails, addressing specific concerns. Pick up the phone for a check-in call. Follow up with people in person or with webinars, or something like an actual live webinar where you can talk with them and answer questions. Even a handwritten note or a thank you note, it's awesome and it works really well.

Remember, as a financial advisor, you're not just managing your client’s money and you're not just making financial plans. You're not managing those. You're managing relationships. You're managing lives. Being genuine and attentive can differentiate you in a field where trust and personal connection are absolutely crucial. Automation is a powerful tool. Again, don't get me wrong, I love automation. But it should never replace the unique value that personal interaction brings to your client relationships. [16:01.3]

Moving on, I’ve said a lot about automation. The next piece of dumb marketing advice that financial advisors believe that can harm them is that more traffic equals more clients. The June Inner Circle Newsletter issue was all about list-building and it was one of the most positively-received issues I’ve ever done. It was 28 pages long instead of the usual 20 or so pages, because I had so much to say about list-building, but, still, I wasn't able to dispel this myth as much as I wanted to.

I've seen advisors with smaller lists do much better than advisors with larger lists, because the smaller lists were more qualified. The core issue with the “more traffic equals more clients” mantra is that it values quantity over quality. It's based on the assumption that every single visitor to your website is a potential client, which is often not the case, or that every single visitor to your social, every single visitor to your email list is equal, and it's just not true. Not all traffic is created equal. [17:01.7]

You might be able to attract thousands of visitors to your site, email, social, but if they're not your target audience, if they're not individuals who need and can afford your advice, then those numbers are essentially meaningless. I don't have time to explain this in detail, but this is also why focusing solely on vanity metrics in your ads, like cost per click or CPM, isn't the smartest thing to do, because you might pay half the cost per click, but get traffic from an audience that's only one-tenth as qualified, and that's a bad business decision. On the other hand, you could pay triple for a click from an audience that is five times more qualified and that is an amazing business decision. You should do that all day, every day, assuming it is profitable for you.

Instead of focusing on sheer numbers, the focus should be on attracting targeted traffic. That is, individuals who are actively looking for financial advice who fit your client profile, imagine that, who have a real potential to become clients. Imagine that, too. These might be fewer in number, but they're far more valuable because they have a much higher potential to convert into actual clients, and that's the important part. [18:14.5]

One of the underlying reasons why financial advisors are afraid to niche down is because they unconsciously believe this advice. They believe that more traffic equals more clients, and they believe that if they choose a niche, then they are limiting their potential traffic, and even though they are limiting it, they're going to get much higher-quality traffic, which leads to a better business and a happier financial advisor, and dare I say, happier clients as well.

The final piece of advice I have here is that you should always be closing. This phrase popularized in sales-training programs implies that every interaction with a potential client should be geared toward making a sale, and I use that term loosely. You're obviously selling financial advice. It's not necessarily that you're pushing a specific product. I don't really believe in that model. I believe in actually helping people and doing what is right for them over your own needs, partly because you’ve just got to be a good person to do that and I believe in being a good person. [19:11.8]

While closing a deal is the ultimate goal, meaning, closing a deal means helping people, this approach of focusing on closing, it overlooks the nuances of the sales process, especially in the financial-advice world. Closing is like the child star of sales. It's the child that gets all the attention and all the press on a TV show, but the show wouldn't exist without the supporting cast. You need a supporting cast, because the child star can't be a star by himself or herself.

I tell advisors to focus more on opening instead of closing. Why? Because you could be the best closer in the world, but if nobody is in front of you, then it doesn't matter. I’ve found that a mediocre closer with a full pipeline can beat the pants off a great closer with an anemic pipeline. [20:00.0]

Of course, closing is important. It is absolutely important. I'm not telling you to write it off entirely. You shouldn't have a supporting cast with no star, if it's a child star or not. I guess I should just say star. But without a star. I'm thinking of Family Matters with Urkel and Full House, and all these old ’90s and ’80s shows that had child stars.

Now, what would you rather have? Would you rather have 100 prospects with a 20% closing rate or 20 prospects with a 40% closing rate? And I’ll take A, the first one, A which is 100 prospects with a 20% closing rate, all day, every day. If you would take the second one, more power to you. But if your first thought is “I don't want to deal with a whole bunch more prospects,” I want you to realize that you probably wouldn't.

If you did marketing the way I teach with scalable assets that separate you from your time, you wouldn't be spending your one-on-one time in front of more people anyway. Your marketing assets would do the qualifying for you and only the most qualified people would end up on your calendar, so just something to think about. [21:04.1]

And there you have it, some of the most common yet misguided pieces of marketing advice that financial advisors receive. These might sound good in theory, but in practice, they can lead you down a path that is far from successful.

Remember, marketing is not a one-size-fits-all endeavor. What works for one advisor might not work for another. It's all about understanding your business, your scenario, your target clients, and the most effective ways to communicate with them. Just because someone successfully installed the electric, the electrical wiring and everything in his or her house, does not mean he or she is qualified to work on your house. You want someone who has worked on hundreds of homes.

I want to thank you for listening to this episode. I appreciate you, I really do. Be sure to join me next week for another awesome episode that will help you grow even more. I will catch you next week. [21:55.2]

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