Podcast: Special Appearance [Essential Financial Advisor Marketing]

Phil Weiss on Essential Financial Advisor Marketing Podcast
I was recently interviewed on the Essential Financial Advisor Marketing podcast by Jim Eckel, President of financialadvisors.com, and Ken Tucker, Marketing Solutions Architect.
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I was recently interviewed on the Essential Financial Advisor Marketing podcast by Jim Eckel, President of financialadvisors.com, and Ken Tucker, Marketing Solutions Architect. During the podcast, we discussed my background and the types of clients I work with. We also discussed methods to improve outreach and visibility as a financial advisor, and about writing and distributing good, useful content.

You can listen to the podcast here.

An edited transcript follows:

Intro

Welcome to the Essential Financial Advisor Marketing Podcast. In this podcast, you’ll get discussions and interviews 100% dedicated to helping financial advisors with their marketing challenges as well as sharing what’s working well in their practice. The Essential Financial Advisor Marketing podcast is produced by financialadvisors.com, the premier directory for financial advisors across the US. Your hosts and panelists include Jim Eckel, President of financialadvisors.com and Ken Tucker, Marketing Solutions Architect. So, thank you for checking us out and please let us know how we can better help you grow your advisory practice.

Jim

Welcome to the Essential Financial Advisor Marketing podcast, brought to you by financialadvisors.com. The consumer-friendly advisor-driven comprehensive marketing platform for the financial service industry. Today, we’d like to welcome Phil Weiss, CEO of Apprise Wealth Management. Welcome, Phil.

Phil

Thanks, Jim. Happy to be here.

Jim

Phil, I wanted to start out with asking you the question: First of all, how long have you been an advisor? And in what part of the country are you practicing your advisory services?

Phil

I formed my firm in July of 2017, but I didn’t really get started managing the business for about a year because I was doing some other things. It was a transition for me to get to here. I am located in Phoenix, but not the one in Arizona. There’s another one that most people don’t know about in Maryland, which is about 20 miles north of Baltimore.

Jim

All right. Can you tell us a little bit about your advisory practice, Phil? What your specializations are? Who do you serve? And where are your clients typically based?

Phil

In the niche that I’m developing, I work with a lot of women. They could be single, they could be divorced, they could be married, or in many cases, they’re the ones that kind of lead the process for a married couple. Sometimes that’s just because they are really driving it, and sometimes it also could be that the husband is worried about what’s going to happen when he’s gone because what you often find is that the husband takes care of the finances because that’s kind of like the societal norm. It’s changing. When you talk to younger couples, it’s not always that way, but for more mature couples, that’s often the case. The husband has been saving, so the wife says, “So we’ve been saving, what are we going to do? What does this mean? What’s going to happen when we retire?” He can’t answer those questions. So that’s when they go out and find somebody like me, who can help them put together a financial plan.

I’m a fee-only advisor. I do financial plans and I do investment management in addition to what I said from a niche perspective. I started my career as a CPA, so I do focus on taxes. I try not to do tax returns. Every once in a while, somebody asks me to do one and I’ll give in, but to me, taxes and investing are joined at the hip, so there are lots of ways you can take taxes into consideration. When you’re managing your assets, that can really matter because it can leave you either with a dollar more to spend today or to save for tomorrow. It’s a very holistic approach. I really try to get to know the people that I’m working with and know and understand what matters to my clients. It’s nice if your clients, become more your friends and less just people that you’re doing, some things for.

Ken

Where are your clients typically based?

Phil

Because of how I get my clients, about half my clients are in Maryland and the other half are all over the place. I have clients in 15 states plus Washington, DC. My farthest clients are located in California, Arizona, and Seattle, Washington. But they’re more concentrated like I said: half of them are in Maryland. I have a number of clients in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Virginia.

Ken

How did you get those clients that are not real close to you?

Phil

A lot of those clients came to me. I work with Zoe Financial, which is a solicitor, and they have made those introductions. That’s where a lot of those came from.

Ken

Awesome. I’m just curious to hear from you, what do you see as your, biggest marketing challenges?

Phil

For me, I guess a couple of things. I blog regularly, which if you look at your site, you can see that because I’m always posting them there. I’ve done webinars and I’ve done “Ask Me Anything” type things. I know I produce good content, but it’s how do I get more people to see it? That’s a big thing to me. Zoe’s been a good partner, but I’d like to have it so that I’m not as dependent upon them, so most of my efforts are directed towards reducing my reliance on them a little bit.

Ken

That’s great, and one of the things we love is doing podcasts because podcasts are really great pieces of content that can get a lot more exposure. It’s a multi-purpose piece of content. It’s audio, it’s video. You take it, transcribe it, turn it into words. Google loves to search words to help people find what they’re looking for, so it’s really a multi-purpose piece of content. I’m really glad to hear you’re doing webinars and things like that because again, that’s setting you up to be a marketing powerhouse from a content perspective. So, then the next thing is, how are you trying to get that content in front of the right people? Have you been working on that at all?

Phil

I have. I’ll tell you too, going back to content. I also like to send out videos. I was an analyst for a while, and I used to do CNBC and Blomberg and other stuff like that. I’m comfortable in that kind of environment, so I like to send out videos. When I get introduced to a prospect, they get a video from me so that they can see who I am. I have a distribution list. I send a blog out every week and when I send out my blog, everybody on my distribution list gets a copy. I also put out things on social media. I primarily use Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, and I put my content out those ways as well. Those are the primary things that I’m doing at this point. I’m trying to figure out what else I can do just to get it out there.

Ken

I find that it works really well when you create a 12-month social media campaign. For every blog post that you do or every new piece of content that you publish, it’s a great way to drive traffic back to that blog post, because social media is kind of like a river. It’s just flowing right in front of you. When you look at the newsfeed it’s constantly changing, and Facebook is becoming a challenge. Are you putting it on your personal profile or are you doing it through a business page?

Phil

I do have a business page, but most of the time when I put out my social media content, it goes to my personal page because I’m using Buffer to help me distribute things, and Buffer only connects to the personal page, but I try and put some of the other content on my business page as well.

Ken

Yeah. That’s all great. I’m glad to hear that. I would encourage you to take a look. There are some really cool automated tools that we use, for example, that will allow you to build a social media campaign, to keep driving traffic throughout the year, back to that blog post. That actually has a really strong cumulative effect, in getting more eyeballs on to those posts.

Phil

Thanks, I do re-circulate some of them, but probably not often enough. The other I’m working on is not totally finished. I’ve only done a soft launch at this point, but to try to improve my exposure and everything else, I’m in the process of redoing my website. The new website is up, but I haven’t changed all the verbiage yet.

Jim

Phil, one question, we’ve talked a lot about inbound marketing. What about outbound marketing? Do you find that being part of an association, has been beneficial to you in the past? What type of outbound marketing have you done?

Phil

I think it’s probably more inbound than outbound, and the problem that I honestly run into with some of the sites, and one of the things that I like about your site is that if I’m a member of XYPN, I’m a member of NAPFA. I’m not a CFP. I don’t think that it really adds a lot of value to what I offer to add that designation. I’ve thought about doing it, and I might – I have signed up to take the test for the PFS, which is the CPA equivalent of the CFP – but they [XYPN and NAPFA] won’t list me on their sites because I’m not a CFP. That to me is frustrating. There are so many people out there without credentials. I know that my credentials are good, but it’s hard to do that, so I’m trying to do other things, but that bothers me. As I said, that’s one of the reasons it was nice finding you guys, when you guys don’t require that.

Jim

I’m glad you bring that up, Phil, because our model includes not only investment advisors, but also tax professionals. Like you said before, prior to the show, there’s such a symbiotic relationship between an investment advisor and a tax professional because one begets the other, and we figured that would be great for our model as to only concentrate on those two because they tend to work together. Lots of times they don’t get each other’s business and self-worth, but when it comes to people like yourself who are CPAs and are very knowledgeable of taxes and also investments, but you don’t have that credential CFP that’s where our site can come in very handy. Thanks for bringing that up because that’s our marketplace basically.

Ken

Yeah. Do you get many referrals? You mentioned a couple of things. Is that a critical element of your marketing strategy?

Phil

It absolutely is. As a matter of fact, earlier today I met with a prospect, who was a referral. They agreed to become a client, so that is a part of it. You asked about outbound marketing and I did forget. One of the things that I did to be a little bit different as part of my referral effort was in January, I believe it was, I reached out to all my clients, and I sent them a letter. An old-fashioned letter. It wasn’t an email. I wrote a letter. I addressed the envelopes. I put them in the mailbox, what we used to do. I did try that, and I got a little bit of response from that. Some of my efforts on referrals have helped, so that’s definitely something that is important to me.

Ken

Actually, direct mail can work pretty well. Partly because people are getting a lot less mail than they used to unless you’re running up against political mail and stuff like that. You have to be cognizant of that obviously, and in some cases, people actually find direct mail feels like it’s more personalized and it’s also even kind of a novelty sometimes, so direct mail is still a really important channel to do, even if it’s to a cold list. It sounds like you sent it to people who already know you and that’s always going to be better converting than when you send direct mail to people who don’t know you, but still, it can be a powerful channel. The tricky thing is how do you measure the direct mail for you since you were sending it to people who you already knew? I mean, there was kind of a natural way for you to measure that but driving people to someplace online is usually a really good way to be able to measure that. That’s interesting. I’m glad to hear you’re still doing some old school stuff because we live in a digital world and sometimes especially with what we’ve just gone through in the last 18 months anything you can do to personalize something, whether it’s the video that you’re including in your email or even that direct mail has a different touch and a different feel to it than something that’s just a straight-up social media post.

Phil

And I will tell you I think video is really important. Not everybody that I send videos to gives me feedback, but I’ve never gotten bad feedback on any of my videos. I’ve had people say I really liked the video. It’s really nice. It’s just a different kind of touch. Actually, after I did the snail mail, I also did a referral video that I sent out to people, too.

Ken

Nice. Yeah. Video, it’s the next best thing to being able to meet somebody face to face because they hear the intonation of your voice, they see your facial expressions. We communicate so much non-verbally that video can help convey that versus an email or even a written piece of correspondence doesn’t really convey any of that, so video is huge.

Phil

I agree.

Ken

Are you doing anything to actively request reviews from your clients at this point?

Phil

I have not done that yet. There are two reasons. One, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to, but the other thing is that all the states are not in line with how they look at it. When I reached out to the compliance people at XY, because that’s who I rely on for most of my compliance help, I was in the process of applying for registration in Virginia. Maryland and New Jersey are the other two places I’m currently registered in and Maryland and New Jersey kind of follow the federal rules. Virginia doesn’t yet. Because of that, I didn’t want to go and try to do something like that and then run afoul of rules in the state that I’m applying to be registered in. Even though that process is done, I still kind of kept it on the back burner until that’s sorted out better.

Ken

In terms of local search, getting Google reviews is huge. As soon as you can take advantage of that, as soon as you’re confident with that, you know, it’s really going to be one of the most important strategies because Google reviews are the kind of thing that’s going to help you show up on Google maps. Google maps are triggered when somebody does a search for, financial advisor or CPA plus a city, and obviously there’s a small geographic area that your Google Maps result is going to show up in typically three to five miles is kind of the sweet spot. For those people who are within three to five miles, showing up on Google maps is one of the most important properties online that you can be found on.

Phil

Well, that’s good to know. Once I’m comfortable that Virginia is okay with it. It’s interesting because I’ve talked to other advisors about this topic and definitely get a very mixed reaction in terms of how people have been approaching it. There’s still a lot of unknowns about it.

Ken

Yeah. Well, it’s so new. It just changed at the beginning of the summer basically. I know there’s still a lot of sorting out that needs to be done. Putting together a system and a strategy to go ask for reviews is huge because online reviews carry as much weight as a recommendation from a friend or a family member. Do you allow comments on your social media?

Phil

Yes, I do.

Ken

Yeah. Because that’s now allowed as well and again, to increase the reach of anything you’re doing on social media you’ve got to have that engagement, and you want people to comment or like, or share the content that you’re posting on social because that’s what really gets it in front of a lot more people. It also helps it to show up more prominently for those people who are engaging with any content that you’re posting.

Phil

I think of all the sites where I post, I get the most comments on LinkedIn. One of the things that I do is that if I get a comment, I try to respond to it.

Ken

Yeah, and you’ll want to do that with reviews as well because Google looks at online reviews and it wants to see that you’re paying attention to feedback that people are leaving about your business. One of the ways that it does that is it wants to see that you’re responding to each and every review that comes in, including even ones that maybe are not as stellar as you might want. Everybody has a bad day, and it’s not unreasonable occasionally for somebody to have a less than five-star review. It actually can be very persuasive when people see that you respond and acknowledge that somebody wasn’t as happy as maybe they could have been but take the conversation offline. Don’t get into that discussion, back and forth in comments, back and forth to a review. If it’s positive, you don’t have anything to worry about, obviously. If it’s somebody who was expressing frustration, you still want to reply and just say, we’re sorry, you didn’t have a great experience. We want to try and make it right. Please contact me at such and such. People see that you responded that you care, and they follow up, and they trust you because they see that you care and you’re trying to make things right. A negative review in some cases can actually turn into a positive.

Phil

That’s interesting to know, and I will tell you that when I figure this all out. I know on Zoe, which I mentioned before, people review me, and I know what my reviews are because I see them. But I just haven’t given permission. Zoe asked me, do you want them to be public? And I said yes, but not yet.

Jim

I wanted to ask you, Phil, about your blogs. Phil has been a consistent blogger on financialadvisors.com. There’s a question that has come up with other advisors that are on our site with regards to what should be, Ken’s got a word for it’s called conical-

Ken

Canonical URL.

Jim

-canonical URL. When I have a conversation with the advisor, I tell them what’s best is to actually put the original content up on financialadvisors.com because we’ve got a much broader width of reach and so forth. Then you have gotten yourself and it’s more beneficial that way, as opposed to first putting it on your site and copying it onto our site. I’m going to let Ken the expert talk about that a little bit. Why is that true, Ken?

Ken

This idea of canonical URL is really just what Google attributes to the original posting URL for that piece of content. A lot of people talk about duplicate content when it comes to search engine optimization and all that kind of stuff. Basically, what happens is if you post a blog that you post on one site and you literally copy it and paste it and don’t change it at all and publish it on another website Google is going to ignore that second one. If it’s been crawled on the first site that you published it to.

Once Google crawls it and assigns the canonical URL to the original publisher of that piece of content, it’s going to ignore it everywhere else, and so, you want some content, obviously, uniquely published to your website. You want some content uniquely published to financialadvisors.com, for example, because that’s also a great way to build a quality inbound link from a domain and a highly topically relevant website.

Linking back to your website is what carries a lot of SEO value, so you want to do a mix of both. That’s not to say you can’t copy and paste the content, but if you’re looking at it from an SEO perspective, it’s important to strategically think about what am I trying to accomplish in terms of search rankings with this piece of content? Is it something that I should publish directly on my website first and then share it on my financial advisers.com profile for other public consumption because people are going to go to financialadvisors.com and read content and consume content and never even be searching for your website, for example? So, it’s still important to get that content on there, but in other cases, you want to leverage the power of financialadvisors.com as a high-quality inbound link to your website that sends a signal to Google that says, “Hey, this website felt that this piece of content was important enough to point back to your website.” That’s telling Google that’s a trusted source.

So, from an SEO perspective, I know there’s a lot of confusion out there. A lot of people think everything’s got to be published on my website first. That’s not always the case. One of the hardest things to do from a search engine optimization perspective is to get quality inbound links from websites that Google trusts and sees as an authority, especially a relevant authority topically.

Phil

That’s relevant because I know I am posting everything on my website first.

Ken

Strategically there’s real value in looking at publishing original content on the financialadvisers.com website first, for example, if you’re a member of a chamber. Chamber’s usually have high authority within a local region, so sometimes you write a blog post specifically to put on the chamber website, if you’re a member of a chamber or an association or wherever, because one, they have a different audience than you do, so you’re going to get different eyeballs on it, but two, you’re building a quality link back to your website. Hopefully, you’re referring your blog posts back to other content on your website. That’s naturally building a quality link that way. So, there definitely is a lot of strategy behind where you publish content and what you’re trying to rank for.

Phil

All of that’s very helpful, thank you.

Ken

Yeah, cool.

Jim

I invited myself as the founder of financialadvisors.com and did not ask Phil for a plug, so we’d like to ask you, Phil, what you mentioned a little bit before, what makes our site different than being on the XY other platforms require CFP and so forth, but that’s what attracted you to financialadvisors.com. If you could just tell us a little bit of information about what you like about the platform, what avails you to do? Because what we’re trying to do is differentiate our platform, our directory from other directories. Because as far as I know, we’re the only directory that allows the individual advisors to actually upload blogs, content, videos, podcasts. All the rest of them are somewhat static. You can change a few things, but nobody out there except us allows advisors, independent advisors to help market themselves with regards to an actively managed profile like financial advisors.com, so I just want to let you say a few kind words about us.

Phil

Sure. If I go back to what I talked about earlier, one of the things that I’m trying to do is find ways to get my content out in other mediums. I liked the fact that it’s another place where I can put my content, and I liked the fact that I can go there, and I can see which articles are popular. Because that matters right? I know that one of my most popular ones had to do with social security.

Ken

Yes.

Phil

That interests me. I can get data on my blog when I send it out, but it’s a little bit of a different type of data. A lot of people are going to open it because they opened my blog all the time, but this is a place where those people aren’t, and I can go and see what is attracting interest. Then when I’m thinking about future topics, it can also help me think about what I might write about, or what I might want to do a webinar about because these are things that people are interested in. I know social security is a popular topic. I did something on inherited IRAs that was also highly viewed. Because every week you guys send me an email, and it tells me last week I got, I know I got one yesterday, it said I have like 30 to 40 views of what I published on your site. That’s not just from the last week, it’s all of them. It doesn’t sound like a lot, but it adds up and you go and look at the real numbers it matters. Then I can also see how many visits to my profile there were, and where people are located. So, it’s nice to have a place where I can put something, and I can see is it resonating with readers or are people looking at it at all. And like I said, it helps me figure out what topics might be of interest. I think all those are really good things. XY will publish my blogs too, but it’s different. They won’t let you find me, they’ll let you see my blog. You guys let people find me there. They can go and look at my profile and find my profile and I can post my blogs and I can get information on who finds them interesting.

Jim

That’s all true and correct, Phil. Thanks for bringing that up because that’s what we’ve got to get out to the independent financial advisors is how distinctly different we are and how beneficial we are to them. I think you’ve gone a long way in helping us do that, Phil, so I appreciate that.

Phil

Glad I could do that, and I appreciate the opportunity.

Jim

Yeah, and I’m glad to hear that you’re actively creating content because content, is what drives so much of online presence. Whether it’s the voice of your strategy and the way you solve problems for your clients, or it’s the engine that gives you the opportunity to create additional opportunities for search engines to find your content. Whether it’s on one side or another it’s hugely important. So, kudos to you. That’s awesome.

Phil

Thank you, and I agree. I know you need to be a lot of places.

Ken

Yeah, and it’s actually easier to create content than so many people realize. If you’re not comfortable writing, one of the things that I recommend is, every phone has an audio recorder. Just speak into your phone. Talk about your thoughts. Every time you finish a client meeting, you don’t want to reveal private, sensitive information, but you talk about how you solved the problem and record that, and then you can get that transcribed and that’s maybe 60, 80% of a blog post.

Phil

It is. And another thing that I found was easy, so for a while, I was doing this every week and now, I switched. Every other week – the ones I put on financialadvisors.com – are original content, are long-form content on a topic. But, when I just was getting into the mode of, I want to blog every week, I took an idea, which was to share curated content. And so, I, like probably almost every other advisor, read a lot. I pick my five favorite reads of the week, and I share them in a blog post. Stories one, three, and five are about personal finance. Two and four aren’t. They could be anything else that I found interesting. It could be self-help. It could be something about self-improvement. It could be something about sports or improving your physical or mental well-being, whatever I found interesting, and I share those. Based upon the data that I get; I have a really nice open rate for that. Then I expand a little on each story. And now, I put a little bit of something personal upfront, and then I might put a little bit about what’s going on in the market. But I could do that in an hour or two. I can get close to a thousand words – here are the five links and here’s three or four sentences about why each story is relevant.

Ken

That’s absolutely right. That’s one of the best strategies and it’s one of the easiest ways to get started. The whole idea of content curation is so important. What’s interesting is people attribute the expertise to you. Even though you didn’t write the article because you’re smart enough to recognize that it’s quality content that’s worth sharing with your audience. They still attribute a tremendous amount, maybe not as much, but they still attribute a lot of that expertise to you because you bothered to find it and share it.

Phil

I’m going to share a little story. This is one of my favorite stories about what you’re talking about. So, I have a friend that I had put on my list. One day he called me, and he said, “I want to thank you.” I said, “Why what’s up?” He told me he was going through chemo, and he was getting my blog every week. He said, “I get your blog every week and that’s what I read to keep my mind occupied, and thank you so much because it’s really helping me.” And then, he has a son that’s the same age as one of my sons. They graduated from high school, and I was at graduation, and I saw his wife and she said, Tom, her husband, loves your blog. She says, “We all get it. The ones that he really likes he sends it to all of us and then he’ll go, did you read it yet? Did you read it yet?” He’s now in remission and he actually became a client that I do work for.

Jim

That’s great news.

Phil

That shows that some people can really appreciate this stuff.

Ken

Oh yeah, absolutely. If you’re solving problems for someone or even helping them to understand a problem that concept is called value in advance. It’s fundamental to building a relationship. Sharing information and helping people either frame a problem or helping them understand how to solve a problem. And if you do that, they’re going to reciprocate somehow some way, and that’s just huge. I think it’s part of being a good citizen.

Jim

Yeah. Well, especially in light of someone’s going through chemo that transcends financial planning that goes back into human planning, basically.

Ken

Yeah, absolutely.

Jim

So, what do you think Ken do we have enough?

Ken

I think we do Phil. This is great. I love talking about this stuff. I work on this stuff all the time and it’s always interesting for me to hear what people have already picked up and learned. If you read a lot, you can learn a lot about all of this kind of stuff. Sometimes it’s harder to apply. I’m glad to hear that it sounds like you’re doing a really good job. So again, kudos to you. I think that’s really important. Hopefully, our watchers and our listeners will pick up some valuable insights from you as well.

Phil

Thank you. I appreciate the thoughts that you shared as well. There are some good ideas for me to try and take advantage of.

Ken

Yeah, absolutely. I’d love to talk to you more about them if you’re ever interested. There are some cool tools that are available. I spend a lot of time playing around with that stuff.

Phil

I would appreciate the opportunity.

Ken

All right. Cool.

Jim

All right, well thank you, gentlemen. Thank you, Ken. And of course, thank you, Phil, for being our guest on the Essential Financial Advisor Marketing podcast. We appreciate your time and effort and good luck to you out there. Once again, thank you, gentlemen, for making this a great podcast. Everyone have a good rest of your week.

Outro

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