Search This Blog

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Prospecting: The Advisor's Definition of Insanity

I titled this blog post, Prospecting: The Advisor's Definition of Insanity because it holds true for both successful and struggling producers:

For successful advisors: If they always do, what they always did, they always get what they always got – a perpetual flow of prospects to see every single month of the year.

For struggling advisors: If they always do, what they always did, they always get what they always got – feeling frustrated, empty appointment calendars and constant pressure to close the few prospects they do see.

I’ve been in the financial services industry for almost 25 years and if there’s one thing that continues to amaze me it’s how so many financial advisors struggle with (and it goes by many names): lead generation, prospecting, marketing, etc.

Every year, financial professionals are surveyed and every year prospecting tops the list of biggest challenges or concerns. And every year I sit back in my chair, scratch my head and say out loud – “Why?”

There are several lead generation programs, like seminar marketing and direct mail, which have been working for decades. They are proven and effective ways to present your value proposition and services to a specific, targeted group of prospects. If done correctly and consistently (and I’ve seen the proof of this for the last 13 years), direct marketing is the best way to generate a constant flow of prospects – every month!

Now, I know times have changed and rapid growth of the internet and social media have added a new layer to the “marketing mix.” While having an active presence on social media and an optimized web page are now critical parts of a successful financial practice, they do have one major weakness when compared to direct mail: there are no financial “filters” on the world-wide-web. Yes, prospects can read an email you send them. They can search (and hopefully) find you when they do a Google search for a financial advisor. They can even “like” or “follow you on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. But I have yet to see if these platforms filter by financial group, if they have money to invest or buy a life insurance or annuity product. That means when you do get an internet-generated lead. You, or a staff member specially trained to manage these types of leads, will have to pre-qualify each prospect.

With direct mail, you can target your message and offer to a specific demographic profile: age, household income, zip code, IPA (income producing asset) and dozens of other “selects.” Does this profile guarantee that this prospect will buy from you? Nope. Do you know a lot more about them, demographically, than an internet-generated lead. Absolutely! (Note: Having an active social media and web presence is still critical with direct mail because most of the prospects will “Google you” before they respond – so don’t abandon social media and your website all together!)

So, back to the core question: Why do so many financial advisors struggle with generating leads? There are several ancillary reasons, but in my experience the primary reason is – generating leads costs MONEY!

Marketing is an investment – not an expense! If you ask a fellow advisor who has been consistently successful and has a growing practice, they will all have one thing in common when it comes to marketing and lead generation: they invest money every month to make sure they have a consistent flow of prospects. They might have different models, but they understand there’s a direct correlation between their firm’s success and consistently funding their marketing and lead generation plan.

The new year is quickly approaching. This is a great opportunity to infuse a new mindset about marketing, prospecting and lead generation. Ask yourself this final question: A year from today, which definition of insanity would YOU want applied to your firm – then make it happen.

Bob Wilgus is the Director of Corporate Communications and Social Community Manager for RME360. You can reach him at:

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

There's GOLD in those mailboxes!

Social Media, blogs, emails and banner ads are considerably less trusted

You’d have to be living under a rock to not notice how rapidly social media has grown. Over the past several years, many financial advisors thought that by diverting their marketing dollars to creating a social media strategy – including company pages on Facebook, blogging, eblasting, and banner ads – in the hopes of saving money while garnering motivated prospects. Unfortunately for them that bet didn't pay off. Why? Because there are certain subjects and issues that consumers don’t want to talk about on the internet. 

In fact, according to Epsilon’s 2012 Annual Channel Preference Study, consumers (your prospects) made it very clear that their preferred channel to receive financial planning information is direct mail. 

Specifically, the survey found, “Marketers can take advantage of consumers’ resurgence and interest in receiving postal mail to help differentiate their offers and grab consumer attention to increase sales. In a digitally-focused world, a majority of consumers still prefer postal mail for a large portion of their multi-channel diet when it comes to receiving information.”

When they asked why they preferred mail over email or online sources, consumers were very clear!

The bottom line? This survey validates what we have been sharing with our clients and prospects for more than 18 years: When it comes to offering your financial planning services, they prefer direct mail because they feel like they are being communicated with specifically and intelligently. 

When consumers (your prospects) speak – LISTEN! 

Bob Wilgus is the Director of Corporate Communications and Social Community Manager for RME360. You can reach him at:

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Hope Floats. Fear Sinks!

Have you ever considered using a "hope-based" sales technique instead of using fear?

There's no doubt that showing a grieving spouse next to a casket is an effective way to motivate a prospect or client to buy life insurance; or, showing a 70-year-old woman working at a grocery store to make the case for having a solid retirement income plan.

But, consider the impact of using FEAR to justify your financial solutions. Do you really want the relationship you have with a client to be based on - and mentally linked to - fear?

I would argue that for every fear-based scenario there's a hope-based image or scenario that will work just as effectively. Think about it. When you’re meeting with a new prospect, instead of scaring them with statistics about how inflation can turn their retirement dreams into a nightmare, place in their mind images of being with their grandkids for their soccer games, dance recitals and holidays.

Hope springs eternal in the human breast;
Man never is, but always to be blessed:
The soul, uneasy and confined from home,
Rests and expatiates in a life to come.
 Alexander Pope, An Essay on Man

Ultimately, isn't the goal of every well-drafted financial and retirement plan to give your clients peace-of-mind?

Hope-based marketing - give it a try!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Leverage the power of testimonials – written, recorded and live at your seminars!

Whether looking for a new dentist, contractor, plumber or even a pet sitter, millions of consumers visit Better Business Bureau and Angie’s List and other consumer advocate-oriented websites to read comments and reviews before making important purchasing decisions. Even more consumers will ask their friends and neighbors for referrals – all because they value advice from trusted sources and want avoid making the wrong decision and wasting time and money.

Knowing that, consider joining many of the best marketers in the country by personally inviting some of your best clients to provide a testimonial letter, attend your seminars or record a video testimonial. Tell them to be honest about their experience of working with you. Encourage them you to tell their story in their own words – not scripted.

A personal testimonial can do more to help you generate new prospects, set more appointments and gain more clients than almost any other non-marketing technique. Why? Because consumers are more likely to believe a fellow consumer when it comes to making such an important decision – like choosing a financial advisor.

It’s leveraging the reality that word-of-mouth by a client carries more credibility in the eyes and mind of a potential client than all the awards and designations this wonderful business can bestow on us.

And if that isn’t enough, you can also use this as an opportunity to share new concepts and solutions with these clients. Solutions that might not have been available when you last met with them. Call it cross-selling. Call it cementing an already-strong client-advisor relationship. Just do it!

NOTE: Based on your licences,  there may be restrictions and guidelines on using testimonials. Please refer to your compliance department to make sure you're following the rules! 

Bob Wilgus is the Director of Corporate Communications and Social Community Manager for RME360. You can reach him at:

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Successful Advisors and Successful Farmers have a lot in common.

I grew up in a small rural town in Massachusetts. There were many small and medium sized farms in the area and my first job was working at a tobacco farm. I was reflecting on my October 30th post calling for November to be "Pay It Forward Financial Planning Month” and I was searching for another way to make the case to help at least one prospect who didn’t meet the “ideal client profile.”

Then it hit me! Letting a field go fallow!

Leaving a field to lie fallow simply means leaving a field to be unseeded and unspoiled for a season or more. Farmers let fields lie fallow because it is one of the best ways to allow the land to replenish its nutrients and regain its fertility without resorting to the application of fertilizers. It also helps prevent erosion as the roots of the plants left to grow on the land help to hold the soil in place against the ravages of wind and rain.

How does this apply to working with prospects who might not have the “minimum” amount of money to justify you working with them? Well, all I have to do is take definition above and swap out some key words.

Paying it forward simply means empowering a prospect to grow their savings independently and support and educate him/her during this maturity. Advisors who help prospects that don’t have large amounts of investable assets is one of the best ways to allow the prospect to establish basic saving, investing and planning skills, replenish its their financial and retirement assets and regain their confidence without resorting to making the prospect have to make significant  – and often premature financial sacrifices. It also helps prevent losing this client to other advisors (once the amount of assets have grown to a level where they are now a target of competing financial advisors) all while helping protect the clients financial position against the uncertainty of the market and economy.

Makes sense, doesn’t it?

I hope you’ll consider making November "Pay It Forward Financial Planning Month.”

Friday, November 1, 2013

Unleash the Power of Common Courtesy in your Prospecting

In the never-ending task of lead-generation and prospecting, many sales people are forgetting an underused concept—common courtesy.

In a survey conducted by PCPL (Daytona, FL based market research company, only 50% of financial advisors had “any” form of sales lead and follow up program and only 1% are sending ANY form of communication to a lead past the initial request for information.

When you look from the client’s perspective, the evidence continues to mount – lack of respect and common courtesy is a serious problem.

This, along with other striking facts were uncovered in a survey, Aggravating Circumstances, funded by The Pew Charitable Trusts, Public Agenda takes a detailed look at what Americans are thinking about courtesy, manners, rudeness and respect.

According to the survey, not only do eight in 10 Americans in the study say a lack of respect and courtesy is a serious problem, but six in 10 say things have become worse in recent years.

With the buying public’s awareness and sensitivity about respect and common courtesy, today’s salespeople need to set themselves apart from that perception by moving away from high-pressure messages and towards simple courtesy-based message.

Just saying “thank you” or a quick note or post card to a prospect can be the difference between a dead lead and an appointment.

In fact, according to the Pew Survey, just under 50 percent of those responding said that people only say “Please and Thank you” some of the time!

What does this all boil down to? OPPORTUNITY.

It’s time to re-think the way you communicate with your prospects and clients. Yes, it’s business. Yes, it’s helping people make informed financial decisions, but clearly the buying public is telling us that common courtesy is lacking when it comes to how they are being talked to. This simple gesture can make a difference!

Thursday, October 31, 2013


Happy Halloween from everyone at RME! 

If you're out and about tonight, watch out for the little ghouls and gobblins Trick or Treating!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013


I'm declaring November as "Pay It Forward Financial Planning Month." 

Select one prospect who doesn't meet your ideal client profile (ie: investable assets, 401(k), etc.) and help them plan for their retirement. If every financial advisor did this, nearly 300,000 individuals and family would have their first financial planning experience this year alone! That's called making a difference.

The "pay it forward" concept was popularized with the book Pay It Forward by Catherine Ryan Hyde, which was later made into a movie with the same title. Simply put, it's doing something for someone without expecting something in return - a random act of kindness.

Every time I talk with financial advisors looking to plan a lead generation campaign, they say something like, "I'm only looking for prospects who have (insert a large dollar amount here) who are ready to make a financial decision in the next 30-60 days." I get it, we all have to make a living. But imagine the impact on the public's perception of the financial planning profession if, just once a year, every financial planner helped ONE prospect - without regard to compensation!

We ARE a noble profession! This is one way to prove it!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

First Impressions: A Prospect's Perception is YOUR Reality

Direct mail continues to be the preferred method of receiving information by Baby Boomer and Senior prospects. The way you look in the mailbox will say a lot about you, your firm and the services you provide. That is the very first impression that you make with your targeted audience. What do you want them to think or perceive? I see financial professionals with expensive business clothes, nice cars, nice homes, nice offices, nice presentation materials and yet, their direct marketing looks CHEAP!

It’s ironic to me that the same financial advisor who only wants to meet with affluent prospects ($100k+ in liquid assets) thinks that saving a few cents by sending out flimsy flyers or cheap postcards will attract this type of client. There’s a direct correlation between the investment you make in your direct marketing materials and ROI.

Remember, you’re marketing solutions – not products. That means the first impression you give in your direct marketing needs to immediately start generating a feeling of TRUST and CREDIBILITY.

Top performers in the financial services industry understand how important their image – their brand – is when they are asking prospects to take time out of their busy schedule to discuss the most intimate details of their finances.

So, before you send out your next marketing piece, take a critical look at it and ask yourself, “Is THIS the first impression I want to give to a potential client?” 

Friday, October 25, 2013


Tax season is quickly approaching. For most of your clients and prospects, that means dealing with the headache of collecting and organizing documents, crunching numbers and facing the often painful reality of seeing what they've paid – or will have to pay Uncle Sam. 

Tax time takes on a different meaning to thieves. Helping your clients and prospects by showing them ways protect their identity during tax time will help cement your relationship and role as a trusted advisor!

Most of the documents needed for taxes are very revealing.  They contain client’s name, address, credit account information and most importantly, their Social Security number (SSN). For the identity thief, it means that there is a treasure chest of information to be targeted in the next two months. This provides you, as a trusted advisor, with a reason to meet with your clients and prospects to share the following ID Theft prevention checklist – ways help prevent their personal identifying information out of the hands of would-be thieves.

Feel free to use the copy below when meeting with a client or prospect

  1. Document disposal:  Once you have gathered the receipts, paperwork and the various forms you need to calculate your taxes, make sure that any papers you no longer need go through a good, cross-cut shredder. Papers with credit card account numbers, Social Security numbers (health benefit payment forms), loan papers, etc., all have information that a thief can convert into a new credit account in your name. This tip also applies to all the papers you decide to dispose of from previous years. Just because a receipt is 7-years old does not mean it cannot be used to your detriment. 
  1. Computer Security: Many of us do our taxes or prepare our information for tax accountants on our computers. If your computer links to the Internet it must have firewall software to protect it from invasion. 
  1. Mail Theft Prevention Tip: Since these tax forms have a lot of information on them, the best advice is to take the forms directly to the post office, dropping them in a box INSIDE the post office. It is best to not drop them in an outside box after last pick-up of the day since that gives a thief more opportunity to steal the mail. Do not leave them in the outgoing box at work, drop them at the corner blue box or leave them in an unlocked box for pickup.  
  1. Social Security Number on the Check: Should I or shouldn't I? Since your check goes through so many hands, it is best not to print your entire SSN on the face of the check. The last 4 numbers should suffice if you decide to put any part of the number at all. 

  1. Tax Preparers: Be selective about who works on your taxes. Check out companies with the Better Business Bureau, especially if they are new or seasonal offices. The first thing you should do is look around. Do you see other people’s papers sitting around? Ask questions of the managers. How will your information be stored? What type of computer security do they use? Has the person who will be working on your taxes gone through a thorough background screening? 
If you feel uncomfortable or believe this is not a company that understands security issues, take your business elsewhere.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Diving into the DEEP END of the Blogisphere pool!

Greetings fellow prospectors!

This being my first post in my new blog I wanted to share with you my vision for what I will be sharing with you.

I've been a marketing professional in the financial services industry for nearly 25 years (you can read my full bio by clicking the WHAT ABOUT BOB link on the right for more information about my experiences in the business). Prior to joining RME in 2001, I worked in the home offices of large and small insurance/investment companies and some of the most successful financial advisors in the country. And, throughout this time there's been one very constant need - across the board: THE NEED FOR NEW PROSPECTS!

So, I'm going to make this commitment to from the outset: I'm going to use this forum to share thoughts, insights, ideas, facts, trends and solutions that can help you generate more prospects.

Oh, one more thing. I welcome your comments and feedback on my posts. I don't want to be a "voice crying in the wilderness." I'm looking to you to help make this blog interactive - alive!

So, c'mon in! The water's fine!