Marketing & Client Acquisition
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CE credit: 1 hr., CFP and CIMA
60 MIN WEBINAR
Boosting Your Brand In A New World
Moderated by Will McKenna and featuring Paul Cieslik
Will McKenna: Hello and welcome to Capital Group's webinar and podcast series. I'm your host, Will McKenna, and I want to thank everybody for joining us on the call today. Great to have all of you with us. You know, this pandemic has changed the way all of us are working, and that's especially true for financial professionals like you. No doubt, you are doing more virtual client meetings and digital networking, digital prospecting than you probably ever thought you would, and so we believe this is a great time to recharge your brand presence and send a really clear message to the investors that you want to work with. And that's why I'm so excited about today's topic, which is building your brand in today's world. And I'm delighted to have Paul Cieslik joining me today.
Paul is Capital Group’s senior vice president of practice management. You know, Paul started his career as an advisor before joining Capital Group. And he works with literally thousands of advisors every year, and many of you probably know Paul providing coaching and consulting to help people just like you build your business and serve your clients. Paul and his team have developed a three-step program to help you reframe and refocus your brand in a meaningful way for today's world. So our goal over the next hour is to give you something that's really valuable, really helpful, so that you can start using it in your practice on Monday morning. So, Paul, my good friend, welcome to the program, great to have you with us.
Paul Cieslik: Glad to join you Will. And thanks a ton for having me.
WM: All right guys, before we get started, I want to cover a couple of housekeeping details. We asked you to download and print out a workbook that you got from us in an email. If you didn't get that, that's OK, because you can also download it from the additional resources that you should see on your webinar screen. Now, this workbook is designed to follow today's event, and for you to use it to take notes as we go. So please grab that. Also, CE credit is available for those of you with CFP and CIMA designations. To get that credit, you're going to need to stay until the end of the call, when you will need to complete a short quiz at the end. And that quiz is also available in the additional resources section. You'll also find the slides from today's event there.
Go ahead and open those links so you have access to them. And please give us 10 days to process that credit. You're also going to see a Q&A window on that part of the screen, and we just love getting your questions and comments throughout the event. So, keep them coming, and we'll try to answer them along the way. If you do have any technical problems, let us know in that same window. So, with all that, let's go ahead and jump in and get started. Paul, I'm going to jump right in with the- the big question at hand, which is, you know, with everything going on in the world right now, why is an advisor’s brand so important?
PC: Yeah, thanks again Will, and you're right. There is a lot going on. It's a great time to talk brand because we face increased competitive pressures and a changing work environment. Your brand is important, because it's yours and it's yours alone. It's an opportunity for you to distinguish yourself from the pack. So, the question is, recognizing this new environment, how do you position yourself for success in a digital and virtual world? You have shared with us that you still face some of the challenges we hear most from financial professionals.
You want to grow your business with existing clients, acquire new clients of quality, and have more time and energy to dedicate to providing great service. And then it would also be nice to find balance working from home and your personal responsibilities. When you find yourself in this place, it may be time for a soft reset of your brand. This means a renewed focus on how your brand connects to the needs of the customer. Even small changes in mindset, a slight shift in perspective, can revitalize your brand's position in the minds of your clients. Today, I'm going to help you discover some of those changes in perspective and build a plan to renew your brand with the customer in mind.
WM: So, Paul, that's a great intro, and I know you wanted folks to take a look at a Subaru ad before this event. So, tell us what it is, what's going on in this ad and- and why it caught your eye. What was it about it that you wanted to talk about?
PC: The brand Will, built on love, literally. I chose this ad because it achieves something that so many of today's brands want: emotional resonance. It touches on something deeper than finding a reliable car. It's about a feeling that you get, an experience that comes with owning this particular brand of car. So, let's take a step back and look at Subaru, a brand that's been around for more than 50 years, but it's only found real success and profitability in the U.S. during the past decade. Ten years ago, Subarus were generally under the radar. People who owned them loved them. They had some of the highest owner satisfaction ratings, but that wasn't enough to drive growth. Subaru discovered a strong affinity with a target customer, young city-dwellers, couples who were just starting to have a little bit of money.
And they ask themselves, what does this customer want? Is it safety features, good mileage, durability? By the way, all of which Subaru offers. No, what they really want is adventure. According to Subaru's chief marketing officer, these are people looking for an experience in emotion, a passion. He says, "We try to go beyond demographics and find people who are like-minded, who have the same interests, needs, or passions, to really find commonalities." What are our clients' motivations? Think about that. Have they ever sent you a card thanking you for the alpha that we provided? Have they ever called and suggested that they needed a mid-cap value allocation? Or are they instead searching for an advisor who knows their goals and has the competencies to help them achieve what truly matters to them?
Subaru focused, Will, on what it had in common with the audience, what it had to offer. It literally built its marketing campaigns around adventure for the city-dweller. Since the shift, Subaru has experienced nine years of consecutive year-over-year growth, and it didn't happen by accident. The company found a way to connect the customer to the brand, and that created a stronger brand loyalty, resulting of what we all want: a growing customer base. So, the question still remains, how are we connecting with clients and prospects?
WM: Oh, I love that example. It's- it's such a good example of appealing to people's emotions. And also I think being really specific about who you're trying to connect with and attract to your brand. So, you know, in your experience, Paul, have you seen this same kind of focus on brand helping advisors?
PC: We have, and I, and I appreciate the question, Will, and we'll- we'll touch on some of that in a few minutes. But we do see, we see advisors who take the time to skillfully define and demonstrate a differentiated brand are able to build the kind of loyalty that withstands market forces and defies competition. When we can deliver on our competencies, aligned with client needs and motivations, we built a deep level of trust. Today's most successful brands have made a name for themselves by focusing on the customer's needs, fitting into their lives and eliciting emotion.
Think about Amazon. We use prime extensively as a family, and we truly value the speed of delivery. Yet research confirms that compared to other retailers, they're often more expensive. Utilizing a dynamic pricing technology, Amazon doesn't win with being the cheapest. So why are they so successful? Their value equation, which includes price and selection and for me, availability, proves that understanding what motivates the customer is a winning strategy. We may be in a different industry than a retailer, but the same premise holds true. Know what motivates clients, and align your value proposition and delivery to their needs. If you want to build a motive resonance, you deliver emotion, connect with what clients care most about.
WM: Let’s take a poll. How would you rate your brand today? And the four choices are: A, it's solid; B, it's strong, but could be better; C, it needs help; or D, it's new to me. So, go ahead and answer that if you would, we'll give you a second. I would play the jeopardy theme here, but we don't have the rights to do that.
Alright, so Paul, I'm seeing the results. About 45% say it's strong, but could be better. And about 44% say it needs help. A good spread there, kind of in the middle, and interesting to see where our audience stands today. And maybe that's why they're here to get some of that help. Might also be interesting to run the same kind of poll with your clients, those of you in the audience, to see what they would say about your brand. But Paul, you know, my guess is most people just don't know really where to start to enhance their brand. So is there an easy way for advisors to do that?
PC: Yeah, and I, and I don't think by the way, Will, those results are surprising. And I don't, I don't think that's necessarily a bad thing. What we're trying to do right today is identify that gap, right? And it may seem daunting to your point. Is there an easy way to do that? And that's precisely what I'm here to share. It starts with three highly effective steps. First, define. Define what you do and the value you bring in simple and straightforward terms. Next, differentiate yourself and your business by focusing on what you do best and what distinguishes your practice. Third, demonstrate. Demonstrate your brand value consistently at every consumer touch point. These three steps will lead to more quality referrals, greater customer loyalty and the right growth for your practice.
So, let's start with the first step: define. This is more than just a laundry list of services. You need to think about three key questions about your business. First, why do I do what I do? What are my qualifications, and whom do I serve?
Now I'm not picking on anyone, but we've all seen this, right? The typical way we might describe ourselves in the industry. We work, or I work, with high net worth individuals, small-business owners, to grow, protect, distribute wealth in a holistic way. What does that tell me about you? Now, this may make sense to us, but do you think it means as much to a client? Does this address their needs in a clear way? And, most importantly, does it touch on what drives or what motivates them? Does it touch on their emotions?
It's easy to become used to describing the things you do in a way that's technical, using jargon. That's how we get caught in a sea of sameness — saying almost the same thing, making it difficult for a client to distinguish our key differentiators. And that's what 63% of investors said in the survey. And you know what, they might be right. I work with top-performing FAs who are truly unique but have often fallen short of articulating their core strength. Pershing recently polled a thousand investors who reviewed nearly a hundred websites, and they found that advisors rely on similar or the same phrases.
WM: Boy, does that make sense to me, and I know I've been guilty in my own work of- of using kind of our industry jargon, Paul, and, you know. Help us figure out though, how do you know how to trans-, how to transition to this content that will resonate emotionally with clients?
PC: Well, I could try to take a crack, Will, but somebody else has done it better. So why not give them credit. If you've not heard of the gentlemen, Simon Sinek, he authored a book by the same name of his TED talk, and that title is “Start With Why.” It's actually the third most popular TED talk of all time. And there's a reason. He effectively and accurately ties success to beginning with a purpose in mind. In other words, people's emotions drive decision-making. And that happens when they understand the why. Your personal motivations tell your story. How long has it been since you thought about what those are, why you wanted to go into this business, why you do what you do.
So, here's an example. This is a San Diego-based firm that works primarily with what it calls accumulators. The company tells a story by setting up a problem, explaining the company solution and showing what success looks like:
“We work with young professionals, new parents, business owners who desire more leisure time.” This identifies their target audience and the problem that it has.
“We strive to turn your weekdays into weekends.” This is what the advisor does. I don't think I saw anything in there whereabout, you know, asset allocation, and it's talking to the person.
And then lastly, “In our minds, financial freedom is just that, and it can be achieved at any age.” That's what success looks like.
WM: Oh, that's a great one. I love that phrase, "Turn your weekdays into weekends." I think I'm going to steal that. Everybody in the audience, will you please take out your workbook? Because this is where we're going to start to get really interactive, and Paul's going to help us walk through and fill this thing in. If you turn to page three, this is where we're going to start with this why concept that Paul is talking about. So, Paul, go ahead and take it away on page three.
PC: Yeah, thanks Will. And, you know, I think this is where the rubber meets the road, right? We don't want to focus on just the why for you today, but we want to have you take your why and actually find an opportunity in your practice to implement it. So, here's what I'd like you to do, is write down your motivations, your why. Why should someone work with you? Why is your offering unique? Let me say that again. Why should someone work with you? And why is your offering unique? Your why has to begin with a belief that you are unique. You are unique. You have to believe that.
Next, think about what you do. What is your specialization or niche? What services do you provide? Are they a core or are they a specialized service?
WM: Yeah, that's great. And one of the things I love in kind of the-the fine print over why do I do what I do is this idea of maybe it's a story about an individual you've helped that captures the essence of your value. And-and it's so often that a story can bring that across.
You know, right now, we're in the middle of the page and I see Paul, we've got some acronyms. You know, we like to use acronyms. It makes things a little more memorable. But, what do C, D and E stand for? Can you walk us through that?
PC: Well, let me first thank you for a compliment on acronyms, but I'm not sure it was. But let me go back to that story comment and then fast-forward to these-these letters that you see on the screen. When Will mentioned a story, he ... And he does land on something that's as accurate is, most FAs would say, "I don't want to talk about myself." Most advisors, "I don't want to tell people how good I am." And I can understand that. When you integrate, right, your competencies into a story about an individual or a family that you've helped, you're effectively taking the light off of you a little bit, which seems to be most comfortable for you. So Will, again, to repeat that idea, when we're asking you to articulate your why, your what, and we'll walk through your who, think about how you would weave these into a story that connects to a person that, or a family that, you've helped.
Let's get back to the acronym. Here's what I'd like you to do. List your competencies; that's what C stands for. It's a broad term by-by design. It's a broad term to capture anything: a prior career, a prior experience. List your competencies. The D. The D can represent designations or degrees, and then list your experience, but please consider a filter of perspective as you list your experience. In other words, think about the years, think about your experience, but think about more than that. What have you learned? What perspective have you gained throughout your experience? This is what you and your team bring to the table. What do you do? What do you have that a client needs to achieve his or her goals? Think about how you would align these skills that you just listed to their needs and to their goals.
For example, Will, thank you for sharing your most important goal: mitigating taxes during your peak earning years. My CFP designation, and the insights gained, are an advantage for you, as I can apply learned strategies and techniques that can reduce your tax liabilities. In other words, where we're going, Will, with listing these competencies, these designations of your experience, is finding a way to tie them to things that clients care and want most.
PC: They need to understand the connectivity. So yes, it's your advice is your ability, right? It's your ability, Will, to share your perspective, gauge your experience and training and have investors act on your counsel. The point of this exercise is to help you focus. It's to help you focus on what you're particularly good at and to think of that as a key differentiator. Here's an example: “We provide financial advice for the cumulation phase of your life.”
" You've probably noticed that most advisory firms are focused on much older people. And you're right. We're different." You remember that comment earlier, Will, about a belief system?
PC: You have to believe that you're different. And you know where it begins? By telling people that you are. This group that you see here has defined their competencies and what makes them different. And that's helping them to speak and connect with a certain type of investor.
It's important to recognize and be OK with the fact that we can't be everything to everybody. The CFA Institute published a study recently called The Value of Premium Wealth Management. They found that private investors looked to qualifications as a signifier of a premium-grade advisor. It also found that younger investors will assign more value, which I found interesting, to set designations in the coming years.
So, think about that. As you build your team, you consider succession planning, you pursue designations. And more importantly, ensure that you're communicating their significance and their relevance to client-prioritized goals. When you think about your competencies, and I know Will, you do a great job at this. You want to connect them to your professional bio. You want to acknowledge them in your About Us page on your website. And you, you know, you-you don't want to forget LinkedIn. (Laughs). I mean, those are kind of table stakes. I mean, I guess a question I would ask, Will, and I'd be curious of your response, is would it surprise you to know that I've not met a few, but a lot of folks who are so dedicated to their craft? They have a CFA designation, they have a CFP designation, yet they don't share it. Does that surprise you?
WM: I can imagine people are humble and they-they might feel like that's boastful, or, you know, the-they might not have found a way to organically work it into the conversations in the way that you're talking about here, Paul.
PC: You nailed it. Organic and what I call stylistically comfortable. We don't have to go out with a flag, right? And assume everybody knows what these letters mean. These designations are important because it-it is actually a sign that you are committed. You've separated yourself; you deserve the credit. Mr. Jones, this might be a call, Will, that if somebody were calling you as an advisor and you had stepped out, this might be a phone call or a response to a client who might be looking for you. Will's out of the office. He's out for continuing education for a certified financial planning designation, ensuring that he remains current with planning topics and techniques.
What we're talking about, Will, is finding every touch point in a way, back to your point of organic, that feels right to you but reinforces your dedication and your commitment. You know, even before coronavirus became part of our lives, investors were likely searching your name. They were Googling your firm before they met you. If you were to do a search today of your name, of your firm, what would you find? How is your story being told digitally, and are there ways you can guide that narrative?
WM: Yeah, that's perfect. And that's where, you know, being smart about search on Google becomes so important. And-and I'm imagining, Paul, that figuring out who ... If you're an advisor, who is your ideal type of client, must be key to this. But I-I know I've seen you speaking in front of groups of advisors who, you know, raise their hands when they say they haven't-haven't quite done that yet. So, talk about that.
PC: Yeah, it's a tough one, Will. And, you know, we usually have a, an advisor or two approach, you know, and say, "I'm looking for growth," or, "Looking to acquire." And typically, my first reaction is, "Well, who's your ideal client?" It's a tough question, and most will actually respond with something directionally that sounds like, "My ideal client has a certain level of investible assets, is able to pay for, and ultimately follow, the advice that I render." And that's fair. I mean, that's a fair reaction and reply. But does that really get at who is ideal for your practice and your skillset? In other words, I think it really starts by defining who it is you serve now. Could you describe them as a group? Is there an affinity that they share a common trait?
In some of my consulting engagements, you know, I share strategies for thinking beyond client demographics, which tell us something about someone, and may suggest that psychographics, understanding someone's motivation, is the key to aligning your messaging and your marketing. There's a difference, and the difference is knowing something about somebody and understanding them. Let's think back to Subaru. They understand their target market. By the way, so do premium brands like Nike, Starbucks, Apple. But the hard part is to bring it all together — is to be able to articulate or reinforce the value. Please, please focus. The value of you.
For instance, the firm in Pittsburgh that's up on the screen that we're referencing has a specific focus, and it should be pretty obvious. It's doctors. You know that because they speak right to them on their landing page. "You're a doctor forever, but that doesn't mean or should mean you have to work that long." They're speaking to their lifestyle desire, their higher motivation.
WM: Yeah, that's such a good example and-and really well written. I mean, as a marketing guy, I'm envious of how well they're doing that here in this example. Let me get folks focused on them now. We're on the bottom of page three to describe your current clientele. So, Paul, take it, take it away.
PC: Yeah. Thanks. For now, I mean, where we are in the stage of the game today is we're talking about the clients you currently serve. You know, we throw out this idea and this word of ideal, which feels future state, but we kind of have to start from where we are and kind of, again, close that gap, if you will. Once you define where you are now, you can take steps to define your ideal client. Do they share, again, common needs? Are they motivated by the same things? Is your client trying to outperform the market, or are they simply looking to responsibly distribute their wealth? Are they looking for a moderate risk allocation, or are they looking to spend their hard-earned savings to enjoy retirement traveling with their significant other across the country in an RV? Let me give you an example.
So, here's how one advisor describes her clientele: "I serve clients who are engaged in the process of wealth management, focused on a balanced and healthy lifestyle, desire to responsibly distribute their assets, and also having unique challenge, a tax challenge as a result of their senior-level positions in Fortune 500 companies."
WM: Yeah, that's a good one.
PC: It's not bad, right?
WM: I wanted to go back, Paul, to step two around differentiate. I'm seeing some great questions come in. One of them is, people are asking for a little clarification (laughs) around the C, D and E. So, can you just give a quick overview to remind folks of what those stand for? And then I have a second question for you.
PC: Of course. So again, just as an outline, if you will, to capture, you know, what it is, "That you bring to the table." Think about this as an outline. Broadly speaking, what are your competencies? And again, we use that broadly by design so you can tell us, you can tell the client, you can tell the prospects what you perceive are your competencies. They don't need to be little. If you're a great listener, and we'll get to this in a few minutes, if you're an empathetic person, you might kind of say that's a competency. I've been told that I'm great listener, Will. It doesn't have to be just industry focused.
The second, D, which stands for designations and degrees. I met with an advisor who went to West Point. Gigantic, beautiful diploma behind his head. Played football, and in chatting with him, never once brought up that kind of a history. Now, I was kind of waiting for him just to tell me a little bit about him, himself personally. I would thank him for his service, which I did anyway. But is that a missed opportunity? I mean, he had a unique background, not only attending West Point, but serving our country. And I wondered, because it never came up organically in the conversation, whether he was sharing that with clients. The same would be true for CFP and CFA designations and the like. It's great if you've earned them, but find connectivity.
And then the E stands for, Will, experience. And a hair beyond or a step beyond experience, not just a number, not just a year, not just decades, is what perspective did you gain through the experience? You know, I've been doing this now for nearly three decades. My experience, what I've learned, similar to perspective, is that clients need me most when it feels unnatural or uncomfortable. They need me to tell them to hang on. They need me to call them to buy low. That's what they're looking for, not the years, but how those years translate into perspective.
PC: So, I hope that helps a little bit.
WM: That's great. And I see one more great question here. I'll just give a quick response to it. And then, let's move into differentiate. And thank you for these questions, folks.
One of these that I found thoughtful: Is saying that I serve anyone that is serious about financial independence too broad? For me, it feels right. And I think absolutely not. We're not saying you have to be niche-y, down into just serving doctors, that there are many ways to serve a broader audience as well. So, hopefully that helps.
And Paul, let's shift over to differentiate, step two. And by the way, on the workbook, we're, we're on page four now. Thank you.
PC: That's awesome, and Will, thanks for keeping us on track here. And when a client's deciding on an advisor to work with, they want to see their story told, and they want to feel that they're getting their personal needs met in ways they can't just from any advisor.
You know, we all know who Ernst & Young is, and they shared recently in a Closing the Gap — a wealth management survey — that clients first engage us because of brand. They are literally saying that people engage you because of what you represent and what you bring to the table. Right? And they stay with you in the same survey because of trust. So differentiating yourself, ensuring that your value is prominent and clear, it's the key, Will. It's the key and what separates you, again, from the rest.
WM: And I would think getting, getting, you know, closing the gap between what you might be saying and telling your story and what your clients are hearing about your story might be an important part of this. So, Paul, how do you know what message your clients and prospects are, are looking for? Can you, can you take us through that?
PC: Yeah. Well, I have some good news. (laughs) The good news is, if this is overwhelming, and we are throwing a lot at you, you don't need to come up with all this on your own. And most great brands don't.
They do something. They ask. They ask clients what they value about them, and that's the key. It's the key for companies to understand the perception of the consumer of the company's value. And by the way, it may not be what you think. In other words, when we go to market, when we ask clients — and we're going to suggest in just a minute you do this, so you see it on the screen — it's no coincidence, right, that when I step off a Jet Blue flight, more often that I like to admit, I'm asked all the time how the flight was.
Now, you have to ask yourself, "Do they really want to know every single time I step off how it was? Or are they telling me that it must have been good, because I keep flying them?" Interesting way to think about that.
When I engage a client, I'm doing two things. I'm reinforcing my brand, and I'm also, and we hope this is insightful, I want to know what they think. So, for new clients, Will, we'd recommend asking them, "What made you decide to work with an advisor? Why did you choose to work with me?"
If you just let that question hang there for a minute — why would you choose to work with me? — it's not only like Jet Blue, nice to hear a positive response, for any of us on the phone. I mean, the last time I checked, you rarely get phone calls thanking you for what you do. It's the phone calls when things aren't going so well, right, that come through.
But back to the Ernst & Young report. You'll know, based on that question, how they perceive your brand as to why they engaged you. Long-term, loyal clients, ask them why they stay. Right? What is it about working with me as to why you stuck with me for now nearly two decades?
Let me just share with you a little bit of insight here. They're likely to share with you the fact that you care about them, that you listen, that you are, as we say in Boston, wicked smart.
They know that you know what you're doing, so let them tell you that. It's a good reminder, but it also serves to reinforce the importance of you utilizing these insights and reinforcing your brand value. Let them know what others have said.
Quote, "I'm proud of what others say about me, Will. And the fact is, they tell me I'm a great listener." And I've got to tell you, that's, that's important. If you want to be heard, I'm a great listener, so tell me, what is it with you and your family you're trying to achieve?
And here comes the tough one: the former clients. We'll never know why they leave if we don't ask. We can't assume. So why did you leave? What additional services could I have provided?
Now, this is going to seem awkward. It's daunting, and I, I can appreciate that. But we want to interview clients who have left. You want to know, just like a human resources team at any company, Will. They want to get a read on the employment experience. Why not do the same thing with clients?
And I'm not naïve in that suggestion. That's the hardest one. But please, make sure you do that.
WM: Well, what I like, if you guys are following along page four of the workbook, Paul and his team have really done this (laughs) a lot with advisors and so have kind of given you a cheat sheet here and honed this language in a way that works really quite well. And we'll return to this as kind of embedded in our 21-day checklist later.
So, let me get back to you, Paul, in terms of the questions to ask: Where do you take it from here?
PC: Yeah. And let me share an example of an advisor, Will. She knows her ideal client, right? She extends her brand at every instance. Her clients are looking for financial stability. They're yearning to find balance in their personal and professional lives, and they desire an authentic partner who promotes an overall wellness strategy. Now, how do I know that? I know that, because that's how she's marketing herself, because those are the kind of clients she wants to work with. That's her ideal client.
This advisor practices yoga, and she's found a way to infuse that passion with her business. She demonstrates a brand promise in everything she does, from the name of the firm, the website graphics, to blog posts. I mean, she connects yoga poses to financial lessons, Will.
Now, don't be fooled. Just because I can talk about yoga doesn't mean I'm an expert. If I were on (laughs) if I were on video, and Will would vouch, you would see my lack of physique, and you would know that the double-dog-down pose is something I couldn't even attempt. All right?
WM: I don't know, Paul. You sell yourself a little short. (laughs)
PC: You're being nice, Will.
WM: We all have room to grow. And I'm seeing some great comments come in and, and people in the, in the chat are, are acknowledging it can be difficult. On that former client question, sometimes people don't want to tell you or don't want to share, and I, I think that's right. I mean, I think, you know, you're just going to have to make it a practice and know that you won't always get that feedback.
OK gang. We're shifting now to talk about our third step, and if you follow along onto page five, our third step is demonstrate — about how you can demonstrate your brand message. We've seen some great examples throughout from Paul and how people are doing that digitally. But I know, Paul, you and the team also think a lot about the advisor's environment. Of course, before, that was their physical office space, but now it's their virtual space. And we've got, I think, some really interesting value we, we can add, so why don't you take it away and tell us about that?
PC: Yeah. I hope so and, you know, the world has changed a little bit, hasn't it? You know, do you s- do your surroundings communicate who you are? Does it evoke a feeling?
You know, one FA I was working with spoke (laughs) with regards to his conference room in the following way. He said, "Paul, when you ask about my environment, and I think about where I host client meetings, my conference room is, quote, sterile, lifeless, and maybe even intimidating.
I was a little taken back. Loved his honesty. He was a Northeasterner, from New Jersey. So I really appreciated his directness, and I made a few suggestions. And let me tell you how they came out.
They've since swapped out a large conference table to a round table, added by four comfortable, conversational chairs. They've put in some plants. They've lightened the paint to create a warm space. Not tough.
But when they actually were introspective, Will, about their environment, I didn't really have a lot to lend to them. They kind of figured it out on their own, that this environment is not the environment I would want to walk into if I were a client. So let me ask a few leading questions and give you, to your point, a few suggestions. Are you engaging the senses? When somebody walks in your office, when they do, what station is the TV turned to? Is it still CNBC? Or is it the Travel Channel?
Consider a diffuser. If that doesn't sound familiar, then essential oils may not, either, but a welcoming scent would be inviting. Now, speaking of inviting, I hope, but let me ask: Do any of us still have those old Wall Street pictures of the beagle chasing the fox? And if you do, I would suggest-... that that décor doesn't connect. Are you displaying pictures of your team, your travel adventures, your family? I know one advisory team, Will, that decorates the office with college pennants. You know, I think growing up, I, you know, as a Boston guy, I had the Red Sox pennant, the Bruins pennant, the Patriot. I had 'em all, right? They're talking about college pennants. She wants people, when they walk into her office, to know how her advice connects to what people are looking to do. That's what it means to bring your brand to life. Right? In your environment.
These days, to your point, we find ourselves in an interesting situation where home is your new office. So now, when you conduct business meetings, it can be a mix of your personal life, including pets, including some family, maybe unwelcomed, but (laughs) making cameo appearances and so on.
So now, think about what studies have said. They've concluded that clients, by the way, enjoy that experience, when they experience what I call the real you. They're okay, if you don't know this, by the way, with interruption. They're okay with seeing and hearing from your family. And that's been validated.
Now, that's not always easy to hear. I mentioned Amazon Prime. You didn't hear it, but the doorbell rang during this call. I don't even need to look at my Ring doorbell. I know it was Amazon. That's almost a daily occurrence here.
Let me shift a little bit, Will, and kind of share with you what somebody on my team, and her name is Wesson Casey, what I would refer to as an expert in the field, of creating a strong digital experience would make, with regards to me, (laughs) a few adjustments and suggestions to my surroundings.
So if my camera were on, she would say, "Oh, Paul. Move your desk so people can see your photos of your family, your travels, your dedications, your passions."
I could tell you what she would say, minimally. "Please, get a light. Place it above your camera, centered on you, and ensure that your overhead light is on. No light coming from the sides, Paul. Rule 101 about Webexes and engaging via the camera." A few more suggestions from Wesson. Look as professional as you would in a physical setting. That includes from the waist down. The goal is to be one wardrobe tier above your audience. Brighter or muted colors are best. Black and white can wash you out. And patterns are a no-no. She would say they're distracting, and she's right. Act naturally. Eye contact is crucial. Smile and pay attention as you would in a face-to-face meeting. And please remember, look at the camera, not at the participant. The challenge, Will, is ensuring deep client engagement in this virtual reality, and that's not easy.
I hope a few of those suggestions resonate with you today.
WM: Oh, man. There's so much value there. I'm sitting here scribbling a bunch of notes. Paul, I've got a lot of work to do in my environment. Those are great pieces of advice, and I think we have, in our additional resources, good information for you guys to take advantage of that. And on page five of the workbook, you know, you've got a place to put down those ideas. I’m still chuckling about making sure you're dressed professionally from the waist down. I like that idea though of, you know, you should be one, kind of, sartorial tier above your client or above whomever you're talking with. Ver- very helpful stuff. Paul, this has been dynamite, and I see a lot of good comments from the audience. I would encourage you and those of you in the audience to let us know what you thought. What worked for you? What could we do better? So with that, Paul, why don't you summarize and help us bring this home?
PC: That's awesome. And- and Will, I'd be remiss in not thanking you. So thank you for your facilitation and your moderation today, and I'm grateful for the opportunity. As we said at the start of the workshop, it's never been more critical for advisors to be able to clearly demonstrate the values we provide to clients. Ensure you are articulating your, how you validate your brand with clients by asking them what they like about you. Activate your brand both physically and digitally with all touch points. We know that loyalty is a result of feeling engaged, which by the way leads to referrals. Today was literally all about engaging clients. By engaging more deeply with clients, you're investing in those human connections, and that investment is what truly will set you apart and put you on a path for the right kind of growth for your practice.
We hope the work you've done today, your workbook, will help turbocharge your brand. And if you're interested in doing more of this work with us, the advisor practice management team here at Capital Group is a great resource to help professionals like you optimize and grow their practice. Tom Warren, Chris Geis, Karen Lutz round out our team, and I know I speak on their behalf when I share my appreciation for your time today. We have additional resources to build from the foundational insights we shared with you today. If you'd like to dig deeper, please reach out to our group through your wholesaler. Additionally, if you would value an accountability partner to ensure your 21-day plan, which we’ll soon describe, is implemented, and that's again where the rubber meets the road is that implementation, please let us know. Thank you. And I want to thank you in a slightly different way than maybe you've been thanked before. And I want to thank you for what you do, who you are, and the lives that you change.
On behalf of Capital Group, home to the American Funds, I humbly, respectfully just want to thank you for your time today.
WM: That was great Paul. Here’s a couple of the questions coming through, and folks were really responding to what you were talking about, Paul, in terms of the virtual office. "Wow, that last part of the virtual office and what to have within camera view is amazing."
Here's a specific question. "That was great advice. I need to do some work on my digital space."
Here's one from Mike asking, "I'm finding my laptop camera does not do a good job making my Zoom virtual backgrounds display properly. Do you have any recommendations for external cameras that do a better job?" You know, Mike, I'm not an expert, but I've been using Logitech.
WM: Logitech seems to have cornered the market on this stuff. They make a range of these things. So I would check out Logitech. They have some great stuff. Right, Paul? Is that what you use?
PC: I totally agree and, Mike, you know the mic itself. The microphone and the video quality to your point, Will, I- I think they stand, they stand alone, but I would definitely start there.
WM: Yeah, very good. Very easy to use. Before you get into using, you know, digital SLR cameras and something more elaborate. The idea about lighting, really what you want to do with overhead or front-facing versus a side light. Side light can cause a- a lot of shadows, and so you want to make sure, and you can, you can test this as you, as you move things around in your, in your office. A lot of folks are asking about — will there be a replay? — and indeed, absolutely there will be a replay. And absolutely you can get slides from this presentation, oh, here. (Laughs) Here people are saying Logitech cameras are out of stock around the world, around the world. I bet. There's probably a run on them. Let me do this, thank you for all those comments. A lot of you seem to have really enjoyed this and gotten a lot out of this. So, we're delighted that this was helpful for you.
Let's go back to that 21-day action plan. We think this is the (maybe) the superpower from this presentation, because I think a lot of webinars would have ended Paul, with your summary. And yet, what you and I know, and you more than I do, is if you present people with a bunch of interesting and helpful ideas but without an action plan for them to implement on, you really haven't done them the service that- that you need to. And so what we want to do is give you this 21-day action plan, and I really cannot stress enough how important this is and how helpful we think this can be for your ability to take action on all the ideas you heard today. So, here's what we're asking you to do. Print this out if you haven't done it already. Keep it on your desk so that, today's Thursday. On Monday morning, you can start working through this program, and the idea is that within three short weeks you can have it done. And as Paul mentioned, there are many people at Capital Group that you can reach out to, your team at Capital. Try to, and- and through them connect with Paul and his team to help be your accountability partners as you work through that 21-day action plan.
So please take advantage of that. We think it'll do you a world of good. And let me read a couple more comments. No need to read this out loud. I'm going to read it aloud anyway. "This is one of the best advisor help presentations. Please have Paul again as a follow-up." Thank you very much. OK, great. Let me come back through for any other questions that folks have. Please go ahead and send those in. How would I get CE credit for CFP? Remember, we have a link to a quiz in the additional resources section. You need to grab that quiz and complete it. The slides from this presentation are also available there and should be very helpful to you all.
Folks, that is all the time we have today. I want to thank Paul. Paul, that was a great discussion, really tons of value, I think, and tons of really useful content for our audience along with that 21-day checklist and the workbook. We hope you in the audience found this as helpful as I know I did. Don't forget to take advantage of all those additional resources attached to this event. Thank you all again and enjoy the rest of your day.
Whether you are looking to attract more clients online, gain meaningful referrals or deepen engagement with your existing book of business, re-energizing your brand can be a transformative step.
Join Paul Cieslik, practice management consultant at Capital Group, as he shares his three-step program, Turbocharge your brand, designed to help financial advisors put the “you” into your brand while connecting with what matters most to clients and demonstrating it at every touchpoint.
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Who will benefit:
Watch on demand to find ways to boost your brand while earning valuable CE credit.
Paul Cieslik is a senior vice president, advisory practice management consultant and national speaker at Capital Group, home of American Funds. He has 30 years of investment industry experience and has been with Capital Group for 21 years. He holds a bachelor’s degree in business and economics from St. Anselm College. Paul is based in Boston.
*CFP credit is available only for U.S.-based webinar registrants.
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