In this blog/podcast I interview Josh Scandlen, a financial planner and successful YouTuber who has been able to achieve what most financial advisors only dream of: having fun and enjoying himself while finding low cost leads for his financial advisor practice. In this blog and associated podcast (scroll to the end to hear the podcast interview) you will learn the story of how Josh started his YouTube channel, how long it took to get his first lead, and how certain videos of his continue to get hits and generate leads without him having to do any additional work (hence driving down the cost of each additional financial advisor lead).
Please scroll to the end of this blog and listen to the podcast! Make sure to subscribe so you can be sure not to miss future shows I will make on this topic!
How Josh got started with online lead generation
Josh Scandlen is a prolific online content producer. He currently has a blog, podcast, YouTube channel with over 30k subscribers, and provides online courses. He has written four books and has one on the way at the time of this writing. Most of his marketing is done over the internet. When I asked Josh what his motivation was for starting to market himself online, he said that it was part of a bigger decision he made to go his own path. He saw most other financial advisors were going after high net worth individuals. He felt it was a crowded market with little product differentiation from one financial advisor to the next.
Josh quit his job and decided to strike out on his own instead of working for another financial planning firm. He just felt he wanted to do it his own way. He decided to go full throttle and that there was no turning back. He said, “It’s this or bust.”
The way that Josh had marketed himself in the path was similar to how many financial advisors do – door to door. Josh was planning to do “drop ins” with one of his books where he would get people to sign up for his seminar by stopping by local businesses and giving them a book. However, his attitude changed once he was inspired by seeing the success of other financial advisors on YouTube such as Jazz Wealth Management.
Creating an engaging financial advisor brand online
Josh began making YouTube videos in which he read aloud chapters from his books, presenting novel concepts that people weren’t already talking about. He made the conscious decision to be different from other financial advisors on YouTube by not producing boilerplate content but instead being relatable and entertaining. And by being his cool, fun loving self!
He saw there was a dearth of different financial advisor content on YouTube. It was all boring content, the same old ho hum stuff, with the financial advisor wearing a suit and tie, with clichéd stock photos in the background of a retired couple sipping champagne on the beach. He made the decision to do it differently. For example, all the financial advisors were saying you shouldn’t borrow from your 401k – a concept he disagrees with.
Josh enjoys going out there with his opinions, many contrary to what the industry says, and this has only enriched his content and set him apart. According to Josh, you’ve got to have an opinion. You can’t just be plain vanilla. This was a critical reason why Josh was able to create an engaging financial advisor brand online.
At first he heard crickets
Josh calls it “building the muscle.” The views didn’t start coming in the thousands right away. He did one video a day for 90 days.
According to Josh:
Nobody watched. I didn’t get any subscribers for about the first month. At then I got a comment on a video I did on divorcee Social Security planning. I’ll never forget the first comment I ever got. I was like, “Holy Crap. Somebody actually commented on my video.”
This is a really important point for financial advisors to understand about online lead generation. Listen to the podcast below to hear the full conversation in detail. Josh said that nobody paid attention to him for the first month he was on YouTube. But he kept doing it consistently and eventually got a comment.
Josh had been very adamant about SEO optimization for his videos. He thinks is the reason he was able to gain visibility online. He was very conscious about making sure that his titles were terms that contained keywords that people were typing into Google. Financial advisors should remember that YouTube is owned by Google. Much like Google is a search engine, YouTube works the same way.
You don’t have to get too fancy. You don’t have to make it perfect. Just get something out there! People love you being real.
Josh gets his first financial advisor lead from the internet
Josh continued to show his very fun loving personality in his YouTube content – and the audience continued to build. After months and months, one day he started getting a lot of comments on a video he made about Social Security for divorcees. He did another video and he got 100 views in six hours. By that point he had been doing YouTube for three months. For him that was viral.
In August of 2018 he had 1,000 subscribers. It took him six months. But he had been doing at least one video a day every single day. Josh did a seminar and told the audience to follow his YouTube channel. He saw a spike and saw traffic increase.
And then this happened.
He had a video on the subject of Taxes and Retirement Planning. He made sure to SEO optimize the video, putting these keywords in the title. He made a 500 word blog and put it into the summary field below the YouTube video. He also put the keyword phrase on the thumbnail. He got over 200k views on that video. According to Josh, it was crazy.
It made position two on page one of YouTube for this topic. And from there the channel started to take off.
By August of 2018, when his channel his 1k subscribers, he was starting to get leads. People were reaching out to him saying they were desperate for his help. He had been holding off from taking these clients to have time to focus on his YouTube channel – but decided to give it a chance.
To quote Josh, “I can’t believe how much money I have made since I started taking clients in April of 2019. It’s insane. I mean, it’s insane.”
What should a financial advisor lead cost?
I want to pause for a minute and address a question all of you reading this blog probably have.
By now you likely are wondering what a financial advisor leads should cost. Ideally financial advisors should aim for the cost of a lead to be as low as possible with a maximum average threshold of $2,000 which includes explicit and implicit costs.
Now, there are several factors to take into account. When a financial advisor first goes about setting up a lead generation system such as a blog, podcast, or seminar series, the costs will probably be much higher than the average of $2,000 I mentioned. As the cost of a lead takes into account both the hard cash spent and also the soft costs such as staff’s time spent closing down the lead, financial advisors should also consider the profitability of each new client relationship that comes from this system.
For example, if the cost of a lead is on the higher end because you are targeting hard to reach prospects with bocu bucks, then this may be acceptable. If the client has a $50MM net worth and stays for 20 years then the profitability is off the charts despite the higher cost of the initial financial advisor lead.
What factors should financial advisors consider when evaluating the cost of a lead?
· Average duration of each client relationship
· Lifetime value of a client
· Profitability of client relationship
· Time required to close the lead
· Resource costs both hard and soft required to close the lead
· Ability to scale the practice serving these types of clients
Now, back to the story!
How online content can drive down the cost of a lead for financial advisors
It took Josh a year of producing content every single day to him to get to where his YouTube channel creates leads for him. It was probably $100,000 opportunity cost if you took the value of his time invested in making these videos. He took a $100,000 distribution from his IRA to pay himself for his time.
There is some kind of a compounding effect from Josh’s highly successful videos, many of which have over 100k views and are still attracting traffic to this day. These videos were the byproduct of his $100,000 investment of time – but now that he has created these assets, there is no further action required. He doesn’t have to do anything else and the video still drives leads.
Much like a bond that pays interest or a stock that pays dividends without the owner having to investment additional capital, Josh is reaping the benefits of “compound interest” on the marketing assets he has created. In a scenario like this, successful online content helps financial advisors to reduce the cost of a lead.
Moreover, the cost of a lead for this financial advisor is further reduced by the fact that he is popular in the search engines. He has established authority for his brand, his website, and his YouTube channel on Google. Now that Google knows him (and loves him), he doesn’t have to do as much to keep the leads coming in the door.
There have been other benefits for Josh. Because Josh’s channel is monetized, he makes money off the YouTube advertisements that air during his videos. This also has offset the cost of his initial investment. Josh also sells more books, webinar he charges for, and he offers online courses to his subscribers that he is paid for.
Benefits of having a successful financial advisor online brand
Josh enjoys being a YouTuber. He makes three to four videos a day. Josh says that you have to enjoy it. Because if you don’t, you’ll stop and if you stop then you’ll always stop too early. If you don’t like it, then find something else you do like, and do that instead.
This is important for financial advisors to understand if they want to create an online brand – you have to love what you are talking about because they audience can judge your authenticity. If you aren’t comfortable or passionate about being on the internet this way, it’s going to be impossible for financial advisors to create an online brand that the audience loves.
Where is Josh today?
The ability to source low cost leads from the internet hasn’t just led to more clients for this financial advisor – it has also allowed Josh to branch out and reach his audience in other ways. Since Josh has raised prices for his financial plans, he has had to turn away leads in cases where the cost is too high. Instead he offers them an online course teaching about social security, tax planning, and retirement. Followers also buy his books.
But even if they chose to do none of the above, Josh would be happy with them just being out there listening to him. What makes Josh particularly valuable to his audience is the freedom they have. They don’t have to buy anything from him to be positively influenced by him. By simply following him they benefit from all his wisdom, and if they ever get to the point where they feel they need more – then they know where to find him!
This is the beauty of having a successful financial advisor online brand – that you can meet people where they are. In some ways it is so simple. Josh gets to be who he is, and they get to be who they are, too. You don’t have to force clients into some model or make them try to fit into what you offer. The ability for a financial advisor’s online brand to serve people in novel ways that are well-suited to them is a graceful thing. It’s this grace that people see and love about Josh, and love and is so novel in the industry. It would be great to see more financial advisors be able to create online brands for themselves and help people like this.
So there you have it – the true story of how having fun drives down the cost of a financial lead for Josh Scandlen, the financial planner.
The full podcast of this episode was great and I really hope you get the chance to listen. Please listen to the podcast below, and subscribe here so you can be sure not to miss the future shows about financial advisor branding and lead generation.
Resources mentioned in this show
Josh’s YouTube channel
Music is Much Higher by Causmic