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Are Lead Generation Services Worth It?

Sara Grillo - Financial Advisor Fishing For Leads

Ask any financial advisor and they’ll say the biggest challenge for their practice is getting a reliable stream of high quality, qualified leads in the door. This article provides an analysis of the major lead generation services as well as the pros and cons of outsourcing lead generation for financial advisors, RIA firms, CFPs, and wealth managers.

Are Financial Advisor Lead Generation Services Legit?

We’ve all heard the incredulous statement, “Nobody looks for a financial advisor on the Internet.” The biggest question that most financial advisors have about lead generation services is about their legitimacy. The logical assumption is that if finding qualified high net worth individuals with money to manage is so hard for a highly credentialed financial expert, how could it be possible for some third party firm?

The answer, most of the time, is lead capture through the Internet. Many lead generation services target individuals seeking financial advice through what is called pay per click advertisements. When somebody types in, for example, “financial advisor in Milwaukee, Wisconsin” or “how to get 401k advice in Tucson, Arizona”, ads come up which refer the person to a lead generation website where they can search for a financial advisor. Once the lead is gathered, usually it is qualified and verified before being passed on to the financial advisor subscribing to the lead generation service. But do verify that before you sign up for the service.

Do people really seek financial advice through the Internet?

The times they are a’changin. With the digital boom, this is a huge opportunity for financial advisors serving the Internet friendly Millennial generation. They trust the Internet so much that they’ll go so far as to work with a Roboadvisor, for goodness sake.

My experience working with a lead generation service, when I worked in financial planning, was that some leads were true while others were not. Check for the refund policy before you sign up for the service.

If you were looking to create these leads on your own, however, you’d need to put a repeatable process in place.  Check out the system in the video below for ideas.

The Caveats of Lead Generation Services

One important thing to keep in mind about a lead generation service is the highly competitive entry point.

Think about the online buyer’s mindset.

By the time somebody has launched a financial advisor search, and especially if they’re doing this through the Internet search engines, they are “in the market.” The competition level has increased dramatically and it’s likely they’re already talking to a few other advisors, both online and through their own personal network. Everyone has that one uncle who thinks he knows how to trade stocks!

Then, the lead generation service itself sends the prospect multiple financial advisor profiles, not just one. You’ve got competitors coming at you from all angles. The analogy I would make is it’s like applying for a job on Monster.com. Once the job opening is posted, word is out and you’re competing with every qualified candidate on the street.

Now, that’s not to presume that you can’t successfully close the lead. It means that you’re not the only player in the game at that point. You’ll probably have to work harder to earn the sale than if you had come up with the lead organically.

The other aspect to consider is population density. If you live in a rural area, you might end up having to travel far to meet these leads if the conversation progresses.

Are Lead Generation Services Worth the Cost?

Most of these services render a subscription fee and some have an additional charge per lead. While many advisors cringe at the cost, consider this point.

If you had to create your own lead capture functionality on your own website, it would cost way more than a few couple hundred dollars a month. Consider the cost of an SEO consultant starts at about $400 per month at minimum, and that’s not even taking into account the amount of time your marketing person would have to spend producing content to place onto your website, as well as the thousands for your Google Adwords budget. And SEO isn’t immediate, either. It takes a few months before you typically see results. We’re talking about thousands upon thousands of dollars here, folks. If a lead gen service is willing to do the work for you, you’re probably not overpaying.

Looking for a lower cost way to generate leads? My membership is $35 a month with a one time sign up fee. Check it out here.

Analysis of Financial Advisor Lead Generation Providers

Let me start off by saying that I am not officially endorsing any of these companies; this rudimentary analysis is meant to inform and educate only. If you are interested, you should do your own research and contact the company directly. In the analysis below, I identify what I perceive to be what makes each financial advisor lead generation company different from one to the next.

Paladin

Paladin provides not only lead generation services but also turnkey digital marketing services for companies without the marketing resources to set up a website, create a branding campaign, etc. They even offer compliance support. Paladin has been in business since 2003. I like that the company offers several different levels of lead gen service (Platinum, Gold, Silver) depending on what the advisor needs.

WiserAdvisor

WiserAdvisor has been in the business almost 20 years, and from what I can see this is the longest track record in the game. WiserAdvisor is strictly in the business of lead generation.

What strikes me about Wiser Advisor is that there seems to be much more third party commentary on this company than all their competitors. Perhaps this is a result of the company’s long track record. You can read what investors and even other financial advisors are saying in the 50+ reviews on TrustPilot and several other Internet sites.

GuideVine

Started a little over five years ago, GuideVine is the new baby on the block of financial advisor lead generation providers. While it maybe doesn’t have the longest track record, it does come with a few more bells and whistles than the other options. For example, advisors can make a video to introduce themselves to prospects and include it as part of their profile. GuideVine even has a team that will assist you with creating this video. The video feature is pretty significant, considering that seeing is believing and being able to experience the financial advisor on video is helpful to building trust.

Right Financial Advisor

Right Financial Advisor has a unique video chat feature that enables investors to connect with an advisor before meeting. It’s a great way to ease the pressure and make the investor feel more comfortable with the advisor.  From the LinkedIn company page it appears the company been in existence since 2013.

Outsourcing vs. Organic

Outsourcing lead generation is one way to get new faces in the door, and for some companies it is the only way to get new faces in the door. While these service have their value, it can also be very hit or miss. As mentioned in the caveats section, I wouldn’t underestimate the fact that once the lead gets to you, you’re not the only player in the game.

A far less competitive way to get new clients before they consult the search engines is through organic, inhouse marketing. The cold market gives most financial advisors the shivers. The way to warm it up? Branding.

While brand is something that most financial advisors put last, taking the time to create a truly unique message will allow you to tap into underserved markets and drive leads to the sales funnel. Most financial advisors, however, lack the time and resources to dedicate in order to achieve effective branding.

Sara’s Upshot

To address the need for financial advisor lead generation, I’ve created a way to provide this expertise to financial advisors.

Please consider joining my monthly membership here.  It is specified for financial advisors and will teach you how to get leads from social media such as LinkedIn and YouTube.

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The #1 Marketing Asset every Financial Advisor should Hold in the Portfolio

Sara Grillo - Social Media Video Marketing

There were three times in life when my career almost brought me to a nervous breakdown. The first was my last semester at NYU Stern when my professor threatened to fail my thesis if I didn’t change the topic at the last minute. The second was after Lehman crashed and I realized I was competing with literally thousands of qualified candidates to get back the position I had lost. The third was when I had my second child in two years and struggled to meet the grueling demands of the financial advisor quota I faced, and this led to me to skip maternity leave. Needless to say, at all three points I was ready to bite the head off a rattlesnake.

It’s no coincidence that both of these remarkable experiences were caused by the same heavy pressures that so many financial professionals face. Over the last 20 years I worked in a variety of industries but I can honestly say that finance is one of the most stressful occupations one could have. Why is that?

  • Unlike many other industries, most people in finance confront the reality on a daily basis that a market downturn they have no control over could cast them out onto the street.
  • When I was a FINRA-registered rep, I lived in constant fear of a lawsuit due to a compliance breach. It’s always lurking even for the most cautious.
  • Heavy regulation has precluded any real degree of product differentiation unless you are dealing in hedge funds, CTAs, or commodities. For most financial products there are very few core differences from one to the next, making it hard for the brokers and advisors who sell them to present a true competitive advantage.
  • Most financial advisors market their practices through word of mouth. In a bad market, all the good you’ve done is forgotten and nobody has anything nice to say about you. You’re literally as good as your last trade. Regulation also precludes advisors from publicizing any client testimonials. So this all makes it very hard to get street cred, especially if you’re starting out.

And on and on…

The good news it that with a little bit of creativity, which to be blunt is the last thing on any financial advisor’s mind given all the stress they’re under, you can refocus the lens through which the world sees you. It all starts with strong branding. I outline my formula for accomplish a good, solid business image in this piece about business branding. Themed messaging that is unique and goes deeper can intrigue the reader and cultivate a following, but it doesn’t come easily.

Financial advisors should also pay attention to where their online content is placed. Distribution through sites such as LinkedIn, Facebook, and many more is how you reach the targeted audience and ultimately earn back your marketing spend, which to be blunt is the treasure at the end of the rainbow for us all. Agree?

Many financial advisors are wary of social media such as blogging and online video because of the heavy compliance regulations that their firms uphold. This will never change and is something out of your control. You have to work with it, not allow it to make you avoid the digital world altogether. Don’t get me wrong; I’m not saying go 100% Facebook all the time. The best strategy is a hybrid approach that combines in person, digital, and phone prospecting. Why is this? Some prospects don’t like cold calls. Others don’t use LinkedIn. Others are people you’ll never meet at any networking events because their schedule doesn’t allow for it. Diversification, my financial advisor friends, is the only way to ensure that if one method becomes compromised it doesn’t mean an empty pipeline.

Sara’s Upshot

Like anything else, building your brand takes time and commitment.

Authenticity is what matters most in any financial advisor who wants to get new clients. Learn the no BS way to use social media to get new clients by joining my membership here.