My guest today is Joseph (Joe) Anthony.
Joe is the President of Gregory FCA Communications, a full-service, strategically integrated public relations firm. Gregory FCA Communications has been active in the financial space since 2002. The firm offers “tech-enabled PR” including online, data-backed, and social media programs.
Joe is a recognized contributor to industry conferences and media. He has appeared on Fox News Channel, in the New York Times, and several other media outlets. Some of you may have seen Joe at industry events, speaking on topics that range from planning and executing a successful product launch to using public relations in order to position an RIA firm for M&A.
In this conversation, we dive into the impact and influence that PR and marketing can have on the success of a financial firm. Joe sees PR as a powerful tool for building trust. By using an intentional PR strategy, advisors can communicate their expertise, share thought leadership, and even enhance their client experience.
Don’t miss one of our favorite moments, when Joe and Patrick discuss the influencer market, and how roles like Chief Brand Evangelist and Brand Marketing Officer may become critical for your firm’s success in the future. Joe also shares practical steps to increase your level of authority by tapping into “earned media”, which can include a variety of media mentions that are not bought or owned by the firm. When clients and prospects see the editorial influence that you have built organically, your personal and professional credibility can get a significant boost.
As you think about this conversation, remember that PR can be the sizzle — but you still need the steak. In order to take advantage of Joe’s advice, you need an effective PR strategy. Who are you trying to attract — and what story do you plan to tell them? You will also need to invest time and money into generating great content, whether for your own website or for publishing elsewhere.
The tactics that Joe shares are powerful tools for growing your audience. And with some coaching and a diligent execution of these strategies, you will see a transformation in your practice.
Looking for more ideas about growing your practice? Join the Model FA Facebook Community, where you will find expert advice on how to launch, grow, scale, and transform your firm with an incredible client experience. Or, check out our Model FA Accelerator, a premier coaching and practice management program for entrepreneurial financial advisors.
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Joe Anthony (00:03):
Some folks are, they do a great job with social media, and others rely on going to local events, whatever it might be. And I think sometimes you need something to pull the group together. So many different applications and purposes in how it could be user benefited. But we find a lot of times, advisors come in with a narrow view of what its purpose should be. I would just invite the advisor to back up and say, "Hey, how can this really benefit you across the different channels of growth and development your business is looking at."
Patrick Brewer (00:33):
Welcome to The Model FA podcast. This is Patrick Brewer. I'm your host. Today's guest is Joe Anthony. Joe is the President of Gregory FCA, a PR media and marketing firm based out of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Joe has been seen in pretty much every single industry publication. He's been at the game for a while. I think over 15 years now, and has helped with some of the largest financial services firms find their footing, and make a name for themselves in the media. Joe, great to have you on.
Joe Anthony (00:59):
Hey Patrick, exciting to be part of the show.
Patrick Brewer (01:01):
Great, man. Well I've been looking forward to this conversation because you and I, we met, I want to say, what was it, two years ago, a year and a half ago at a conference. We were introduced through a mutual connection. You were introduced to me as someone who was leading the charge, as far as PR and media relations in the financial services industry. And then obviously we had some conversations. I still need to make sure we hire you so I can become the top financial services firm in the country. But today what I really want to talk about is what benefits does a solid PR, public relations, media, publicity strategy have for financial services firms? Really just take that in a number of different directions. In your words, when somebody is considering adding publicity or media to their marketing strategy, how should they be thinking about it? What are you seeing with some of these firms in the financial services industry? What should they be thinking about when they start to incorporate these things or not, into their practice?
Joe Anthony (02:03):
Sure, Patrick. Let's start with the fundamental presumption that financial services, particularly the financial advice game is fundamentally a trust business. When I'm picking a financial advisor, or even figuring out which fund I might allocate to, whatever it might be, there has to be some sense of credibility and trust behind that counterparty. I'm not going to just give anybody my money. So for a financial advisor, when they think about the role of PR in their overall presentation to the market, they have to think about what does it do to help a firm establish or elevate the sense of trust and credibility they have with people they want to work with.
Joe Anthony (02:35):
So frankly, if you're a one or two person shop, or you are a multi-office, national name brand, like an [Element 00:02:42] or United Capital and things like that, you have to think about your decisions around PR through that prism of: how is this going to help enhance my sense of trust with the people that I'm trying to do business with? And frankly, the bigger the organizations are, they also have to think about the trust issue through the prism of getting people to come work with them, come work for them. So I just say, start there.
Joe Anthony (03:01):
What you really want to be thinking about though, is the opportunities that advisors have to tell their story and shape how they're perceived. More and more, as you know, Patrick, the idea of the client experience and the idea of differentiating yourself is as much about separating yourself from what I would call the commoditized herd of plain vanilla offerings out there.
Joe Anthony (03:20):
And so telling a good story and establishing a narrative could be fundamentally important in terms of an advisor's opportunity not only to attract customers to the trust prism, but also to grow their business.
Patrick Brewer (03:31):
Yeah. When you say "tell their story," what I've seen is a lot of firms struggle with, do they tell the firm's story, do they tell an individual's story, does it start with just a deeper dive into what is the vision for the firm? And obviously the PR/media strategy needs to support the firm's vision, but what are you generally seeing? Are people branding themselves, are they branding the executive team, are they branding their business? What's the strategy that you think works best or do they all work in varying capacities?
Joe Anthony (04:05):
It obviously depends on the size of the company and who you have available to be front and center for the media, for example. Or even for blogging or video work, whatever you might be doing. Obviously, human resources is a big part of the equation. I will say though, you have to look at the storytelling through a couple different prisms. On one hand, you have the company news, what's happening? Did you open a new office, did you onboard a new advisor, do you have a new service offering that was able to be brought to bear by new technology? That's sort of the what's-happening at the business end, how we're growing and improving to better serve the clients.
Joe Anthony (04:33):
On the other side is the thought leadership. You have some clients that specialize in certain areas of the market. Maybe they work with entrepreneurs, or maybe they work with people in life transitions coming off a death or divorce and they specialize in those life issues. So the second part of their communications and PR strategy should be built around that thought leadership for those areas of specialization.
Joe Anthony (04:52):
So if I'm excellent at working with business owners, I really understand the exit planning needs they have, you want to be thinking about pursuing PR opportunities where you can showcase some of your understanding of that process. So again, one half of the equation really should be about the company, what's happening, and frankly through the idea of how it impacts their audience. And the other half of the dialogue and the media relations work you might conceive should be around building up that thought leadership based on companies and kinds of clients you're trying to serve.
Patrick Brewer (05:18):
When does it make sense for a firm to engage... to put together a fully formed PR, kind of media strategy? Do they wait until they're $5 million in gross revenue? Is it $1 million, is it $10 million? Does it vary? What are your thoughts on when you should start thinking about these things?
Joe Anthony (05:39):
I think if you visualize marketing and PR as the megaphone end of your marketing arm, letting people know you're in business and you want them to come work with you and you want to be known for certain things, maybe your PR strategy can't be terribly sophisticated at the outset, but you certainly want to be able to think about that as a table stakes piece of your business. Maybe manage it yourself or have an entry-level hire who might know a thing or two and might have some contacts. But do something to start that process in the early going. What I will say, what you can expect and the kinds of things that are just available based on resources, and I'm talking about time resources as much as I am dollar resources, Patrick, is that you're going to be able to build that out and say, if you believe that you need to be communicating with your audiences, maybe it does start with someone who's a little more attentive to Twitter and LinkedIn, in terms of sharing ideas. And maybe do some of your own content build yourself just to promote yourself.
Joe Anthony (06:42):
And maybe it's trying to tap your local news reporter on the shoulder and say, "Hey, I'm here if you need me to cover something related to the personal finance or investing." And I'm not saying, "Think small." But you do have to start somewhere. But one [inaudible 00:06:55] that makes sense, it comes back to fundamentally: Do you have a growth objective in mind? Any time you're engaging in marketing, it should be under the premises of trying to grow. Maybe that growth is because you want to recruit other advisors to your firm or you need to staff up. Or maybe that growth is a function of being positioned for M&A. Or frankly, maybe the growth is about finding something to prime that referral pump. Getting in front of referral targets as well as centers of influence that provide those referrals by positioning yourself as a thought leader on issues that [inaudible 00:07:25] matter those markets.
Joe Anthony (07:26):
I mean, for example, we work with someone here in the Philadelphia market that does a ton of work with restaurant owners. There's a very specific message and story on the kinds of things that matter to them, they understand those people consume information on different time cycles than the average nine-to-five worker, and so thinking about that target audience can really dictate how you go about the actual strategy whether it's media relations or if it's earned media being applied through social media channels.
Patrick Brewer (07:55):
Because some of the listeners might not be familiar, when you say earned media and media relations, would you mind just defining those a little bit more so that we can kind of contextualize it a little bit better in this conversation?
Joe Anthony (08:06):
Sure. Broadly speaking, there's two main forms of content you can deliver. One side is your own content, things that you generate yourself, blogs, your videos, your podcasts. On the other side of the equation it's earned. Which means you're borrowing someone else's shelf space to tell your story, whether that's being quoted in the New York Times, appearing on CNBC, being featured on the radio, perhaps being on the Model FA podcast, that's someone else's channel. You're out there, you're doing your thing, and you're relying on someone else's distribution to help tell your story.
Joe Anthony (08:39):
That's what are called the earned. It's a function of your credibility as a source, it's a function of relationships you're able to cultivate. At the end of the day, the earned channels allow you less control to tell your story because it's someone else's questions you're answering, someone else's form that's being distributed, whether it's CNBC or Fox Business, whether it's Bloomberg Radio. And so some of the control you give up generally is offset by the fact that in these earned channels, you get to reach other people's audiences. In a lot of cases, it confers a different level of credibility on the advisor if he or she is quoted or featured in those places.
Patrick Brewer (09:18):
Great, appreciate that. And then as far as working PR into a marketing strategy, I guess it's called a comprehensive marketing strategy, it sounds like PR is primarily used for credibility and authority. Reinforcing the advisors' expertise so that once somebody finds out who they are, they are able to build a level of intimacy with that advisor to a certain degree, whether that advisor's pushing out videos through social media or is just active in the community networking and things. Once they see that the advisor's on CNBC or see that the firm is quoted in Fox and things like that, it's basically that PR allows the person to feel more comfortable moving forward because there's a level of authority or credibility there. Am I saying that correctly?
Joe Anthony (10:03):
Yeah. And I think it's really important for people to understand that it's only one piece of the puzzle. As some people say, "Well, that's the sizzle, where's the steak?" And the steak really is fundamentally the other information people get, the client experience. They come to you and say, "I should hear more about this firm, I'll go visit their site, I'll check out their social media. Maybe I'll see if I can set up a meeting." But the whole idea of that is to introduce yourself to new audiences, get in front of people and get them to want to learn more. At the same time, great content, again content you generate or content that comes about because you're included in an article or featured in a publication, that could be used to prime the pump with referrals. I used that expression before, but it's really important.
Joe Anthony (10:46):
Keep in mind, even the best people that have directed you business over the last couple years or for the length of your firm, they still sometimes need a nudge or a reason to make you more referrals. And giving them something that's fresh and current, that it might actually speak to something that matters to other people they know, that's a great tool.
Patrick Brewer (11:02):
Yeah, and I think it's important for larger firms too. If you're a $2 billion, $3, $4 billion firm, outside of just inorganic growth through M&A, if you're starting to bring on salaried advisors or partnered advisors or things of that nature, and you have really good pieces that were written about your firm and the executive team or the public figures that are part of the firm, in the media, your advisors can use that as a source to transfer the firm's credibility onto the prospect discussion and you don't have to make every single advisor of the firm the foremost expert in whatever the topic is related to financial services or financial advice, but you have enough credible experts to where those pieces can be used during the sales conversation. Are you seeing firms do that well? Or do you think there needs to be more of that? Or do you think that that's not relevant? What are your thoughts there, Joe?
Joe Anthony (11:53):
I would say over the last five years, it's become more and more comfortable for the modern RIA to have a program that really is inclusive of multiple thought leaders. Even if those thought leaders don't touch on a broad range of topics and they stick to their specific niches or areas of expertise. The reason why I say that is that over the life of the last 15, 20 years, obviously great migration of people going from sort of every man for themselves environments, whether they were at UBS or Merrill Lynch or even in OSJ office in LPL, into more of a everyone working together in the same boat to grow a business. And everyone's assets are on the same ADV in these RIA firms and so there's a lot of incentivization within the conversation, as well as how they project themselves on their marketing to be seen as the same page.
Joe Anthony (12:39):
So doing something that can bring a level of cohesiveness to the marketing where multiple faces are included can be really powerful. And more and more, I would say particularly again in the last three to five years, we're seeing more larger firms, $500 million or more, embrace this approach where they have enough depth or they can really include a lot of folks and tell a holistic story of the deep bench they have. As opposed to showcasing their firm through the prism of one or two key executives.
Patrick Brewer (13:06):
What are your thoughts on influencer marketing? I'm a big believer that a financial services firm really just should be a pretty big marketing company at the end of the day, that supports... Obviously the offer and the service that we deliver is related to financial planning and advice and wealth management and those things, but there needs to be a lot of marketing under the hood, whether that's social media, PR media, that type of stuff.
Patrick Brewer (13:28):
But as far as influencer marketing goes, I think that over the next five years or so, we're going to start seeing and we maybe have seen this to a degree with Tony Robbins being recruited by Creative Planning to kind of be the face of the firm, as least for a time. I think he transitioned out of that role. I don't know all the details there. But what are your thoughts on influencer marketing and how we're going to see that play out in financial services base?
Patrick Brewer (13:48):
I mean, I have my opinions which I think that we're going to see a lot more of it, so that firms can get more attention and they can start having spokesmen and thought leaders. You've seen it with Dave Ramsey, obviously he's not affiliated with any particular financial planning firm, but what are your thoughts around that? Do you think we're going to see more influencers, less influencers, do you think there are going to be financial advisors or not financial advisors? What are your thoughts on that?
Joe Anthony (14:09):
So on the influencer front, I think they can come from any corner. Like you've seen other pockets of the economy and you have influencers, the Instagram moms that'll show the best outfits that dress your kids for Christmas cards. And sometimes the people you see there aren't even moms yet. These women are frankly just approaching this audience and they're dumbing up their profile. I'm not saying that's what we're going to see in the financial world, but I'm saying it can happen in lot of different ways. Like you mentioned Tony Robbins, that's an example of a risk you take on when you hitch your wagon to one particular influencer or celebrity. Where he had some personal downfalls and it led to Peter Mallouk and that company taking a step back from that association.
Joe Anthony (14:57):
The only kind of influencer, and it's best example, someone like Josh Brown. Where Josh Brown doesn't necessarily provide a direct endorsement or referrals to firms, but he presents an opportunity to get on his videocast and podcast and I think the segment is called, "Talk your book." Where people pay basically an advertorial fee to be part of the show and he gives them a chance to have a platform using his distribution. He's not providing again the recommendation or referral, but he's using his influential status to help people get in front of advisors in a different way. And then I think it jumps over to Dave Ramsey who's more about just talking about a certain kind of approach to personal finance and investing, advocating for certain things and then getting advisors to sign up to be referral partners. Which is a different model.
Joe Anthony (15:50):
Again, so you're seeing that those three examples are different manifestations of that idea. I don't think the industry has really nailed the perfect fit for how the influencer marketing could work or should work. But it's in development and we're going to see some things emerge. And maybe it comes down to a function of sort of repurposing the old custodial referral programs where you used to have a [TD 00:16:16] or Schwab buy a services team, they'd set certain firms up to be part of a referral program. Maybe it's formal as that where the influencers play a direct tie to referrals. Or maybe it's more like a consumer play where someone naturally becomes the go-to person for gadgets or consumer technology. And we see that all the time where it's Christmas gift season and our marketing for our technology clients here at Gregory FCA, some of these influencers are getting boxes of gadgets or gear that hopefully they're opening up and doing a quick video for Instagram or whatever it might be, in order to be able to give our clients that visibility in their own channel.
Joe Anthony (16:58):
So it works a few different ways. And I guess to round out my points, I don't think it's fully baked for [inaudible 00:17:03] financial services industry really benefit from it. But we do see at least three live examples of different ways to pursue the influencer marketing.
Patrick Brewer (17:12):
Just to kind of continue down this line a little bit more, just because I'm more curious than anything, but if you were talking to a $3 billion firm, and they're in the second generation or third generation of ownership, maybe the primary founder was more of the influencer personality that helped build the firm. Now you've got second or third generation leadership, those folks don't really have the desire to be the public figure, the influencer themselves, what options do they have? Do they hire in and bring somebody else in who could potentially be more of a full time influencer, chief communications officer type of role? Do they outsource it? Do they not worry about it? Do they tell the stories collectively from the advisors of the firm? How would you think about advising a firm in that position?
Joe Anthony (17:50):
Well, I think you're starting to see the evolution of roles like Chief Brand Evangelist. Or client education roles where people are coming in and serving literally with that title of Chief of Client Education or client experience roles. Talking around those things. I'd say the beginning of next year that you're going to start seeing brand ambassadors and Chief Marketing Officers really institutionalized at even the small to mid-sized RIAs. Not because it hasn't been thought of before, but it's now moving from, "Hey, nice to have" or "Interesting idea." To frankly table stakes.
Joe Anthony (18:26):
Having someone who's responsible fully for your marketing, that's not also the person who's fully responsible for day to day client relationship management, and also fully responsible for the operations of the business, is really important. And firms that really want to grow, that want to go beyond having a couple hundred million and a few staff to being able to maybe increase their footprint, have advisors in different cities, they have to think long and hard, "Who's going to be responsible for that role?" And if it is the founder or someone from the origination team of the business, great. That person more and more has to back burner the other things he or she might have otherwise prioritized if they're going to do the job right.
Patrick Brewer (19:02):
Joe Anthony (19:03):
And again, your marketing officer doesn't have to be your spokesperson in chief per se, but certainly there has to be direct linkage between the marketing game plan and those people you're using to tell the story.
Patrick Brewer (19:14):
For sure. I mean, if you have a Chief Marketing Officer, they might be in control of the broader strategy and how it gets distributed down to the Director of Marketing and everyone else, but you may have somebody else who is on the executive team but is collaborating with marketing but just not doing any of the projects. They're out in the media, they're getting interviewed, they're writing, whatever their skill set is I guess. We've been thinking about that for our firm, SurePath Wealth, because we've been, I talked to you about it, we've been kind of bringing in firms around the country and we've built an executive team. So we've got COO, Chief Platform Officer, CMO and I'm wearing a couple hats too. Just because we haven't kind of built out all the infrastructure yet.
Patrick Brewer (19:50):
But this is a conversation that we've been actively having. Who's going to be the person that is doing all of the things in the media? Whether that's being interviewed or getting on TV and doing all that stuff. And the interesting thing is it does require a lot of time. And it requires money too. It's got to be a really talented person, they've got to have a natural proclivity towards speaking and educating and doing all the stuff that's going to be necessary in order for it to be successful.
Patrick Brewer (20:17):
So I think maybe one thing that I would caution, I don't know if you agree with this, but I would caution larger firms considering the same thing, it's you want to make sure that you have the right person because, as you said earlier, if you get the wrong one and then you're just tied to one person like Tony Robbins and it doesn't work out, you could have a different PR situation that you're dealing with. Kind of negative publicity and you dig yourself into a hole a little bit. And then the other challenge is if you just try and work within the firm, and you select somebody who's an advisor and you say, "Hey, Steve's pretty good on video, maybe we just make Steve do it." And then six to 12 months in, you brand your firm around Steve and maybe he's really not that good and somebody else is like, "Well, let's hire in Will Smith to some spots." And then Will Smith's out there and he's promoting Northwestern Mutual and before you know it, you got Steve versus Will Smith and you obviously know the direction that the consumers are going to be drawn.
Patrick Brewer (21:03):
So do you see any, for these really large firms, let's say I was running a firm that was $10 billion in assets. And I hope to-
Joe Anthony (21:11):
Patrick Brewer (21:12):
Five to seven years. That's my goal. But let's say I'm running a firm with $10 billion in assets, I'm going after a big name to be an influencer for my firm. I'm going after... I don't know a name, nothing's coming to mind right now. Like a Will Smith. I'm not going to be able to afford him, but do you think it could eventually progress to that point where some of these larger firms, should they be thinking that big for raising up people in the media that could potentially tell their story? Or is that a little bit out of control and too expensive?
Joe Anthony (21:39):
So let's go back to the point I made in the beginning. Fundamentally, this kind of marketing's built around trust and credibility. Yeah, you can have Elizabeth Banks talk about mid cap investing and it's catchy and maybe even viral. People are going to say, "What is this actress doing talking about mid cap stocks for?" It's cool. It's different. It got people's attention. I don't think that if you're going to play that game of trust driven marketing that too many consumers won't see through the celebrity for hire in that role. Now the flip side is, there are going to be people who hadn't thought about careers in the financial services business until now because financial has become pop culture.
Joe Anthony (22:24):
Especially the last 20 years, given the market cratering we had in the early 2000s, again in 2008, 2009, people that were making education decisions for themselves in the aftermath of those periods where that was pop culture news, are now coming of age in an industry where frankly there is some sizzle and some relevance to being... I mean, think of the show Billions, that show would not have existed in pop culture at the strength it has in 1995. It's a huge deal today. And that says a lot about where people's mindsets are. A show like the Ozark show, same thing. It's become pop culture currency.
Joe Anthony (23:01):
And so because of that, you're going to have people come in to the financial business that think they can make a name for themselves as a spokesperson, as a thought leader and they're in the business to be the talking head, not to be the chief investment strategist or to be the client hand holder. And that's going to be something interesting. I don't know how that takes shape exactly, but you're going to see people like that. And frankly, there are a lot of financial institutions that have brought on people that are recognizable names to be their strategist to appear on TV. Look at Jeff Kleintop, he's moved around from PNC to LPL and now to Schwab, playing that role of public facing market strategist. He's not a role where he's sitting down breaking apart Patrick Brewer's $100 million allocation and figuring out how it should better be done. He's talking big picture as a thought leader, as a lightning rod, if you would, for conversation.
Joe Anthony (23:53):
Liz Ann Sonders plays that role for them as well, but it goes to show you the kind of resources big firms like Schwab can bring to that. But again, to take a bigger picture look, you asked the question, "Okay, can we have celebrity-like people?" Yeah, I think it comes about also its own manifestation. I think it comes about because of what I said a moment ago, that the industry is in a different place in the consciousness of the average American than it did 25 years ago.
Patrick Brewer (24:17):
Interesting point. Let's back up a bit. I want to jump into, not to say tactics, but for those that are listening, let's kind of break it out based on small, mid, large and just kind of give them a sense of where they could even get started. So we kind of covered the larger firms, it sounds like it's going to be a broader strategy, right? So you've got an influencer, a team of influencers, you're branding the firm and they're probably doing a combination of print, digital, television. Maybe just kind of, at a high level, how would you tend to organize a strategy as it relates to PR and media for a larger, billion dollar plus firm?
Patrick Brewer (24:53):
And I know that's kind of a loaded question because you're going to probably do a deep dive with the team and have to strategize, but at a high level, how are you thinking about that at your firm?
Joe Anthony (25:02):
Let's focus about the outcomes that are really being sought after. A firm that size should have a capability and capacity to have a well thought out, if not sophisticated, but a well thought out approach to how they want to handle their social media channels. And thinking about both in terms of the organic reach they have as well as [inaudible 00:25:20] implementing things that give them some acquired reach on those channels. Those organizations also should have some ongoing presence, whether in their regional and local media or the national media or just media in general. And contributing their thought leadership and ideas to the press, and again that could be print, it could be online, it could be radio, TV, but having a presence there. And the other part of it too is connecting this all back to their growth objectives and lead gen. I think when you have the resources of a multi-billion dollar RIA, you should be able to take some of these things and have it all work together in order to be able to tie directly back to those growth goals.
Joe Anthony (25:57):
Again if you're a smaller firm and your people are wearing multiple hats, some of the stuff might be a wish-list item when you have more time bandwidth. But as it stands today, I think, to wrap up your question, Patrick, they need to be thinking about the outcomes of having a well thought-out social media strategy paired with a thought leadership strategy with your own content, as well as relying on third-party opportunities like media relations. And then lastly, looking to see how that can dovetail into any lead generation and referral activities.
Patrick Brewer (26:27):
Love it. Yeah, I think you said something really important there, it's just leveraging the opportunities that you've had in publicity and media in other channels. So you think about it, let's say the firm was featured in CNBC, you could set up a Facebook pixel on your website and you could re-target, basically chase people around the Internet, if they hit your website, with that article. And you could say, "Look at our feature in CNBC, schedule a time to chat with the X, Y, Z wealth management advisor about your challenges." And that adds that layer of credibility and authority and also makes that article that much more valuable. Because if you get two to three, four thousand hits to your website a month and those two to three, four thousand people see that article on Facebook, maybe it's on Google, wherever you're re-targeting to, that just makes that piece that much more valuable. So it's not just released in the press and then it's gone and nobody sees it.
Patrick Brewer (27:23):
You can use that in your business development strategy, you can use it in your marketing strategy, you can use it internally, just to kind of teach the team about how you're positioning yourselves. So I think that's really important for the larger firms is to recognize that the investment in PR/Media isn't just, "Oh, we get an article out? Great." And it dissipates and the next day, there's a new article out, right? I think it's using that strategically to accomplish the firm's goals. Am I seeing that correctly?
Joe Anthony (27:49):
Yeah, you're on point there. And I'm glad you're hitting on that because it's where the rubber meets the road. If you are in business and you're doing any of these marketing activities, you want to see that they produce from a business growth standpoint. And when I look at that, you take media appearance you make. And let's just say it's about effectively managing 401K or 403b roll-overs. And then, "I chimed in on this article, I got three quotes, it was nice, there was so much more I'd want to say." That's a trigger to your advisor who's got the fully integrated approach to marketing to say, "You know what, maybe it's time for a podcast or a blog post on this topic so I can really round out my thinking on this." And share that. You build out other collateral content, again whether it's podcast, articles. And to complement that, you start building up a little bundle of content. Which together can also be packaged and used for lead gen tactics. You can drive...
Joe Anthony (28:41):
Let's say it's around retirement plans and you have a retirement plan practice. There's people you can target on LinkedIn by job title, the sort of people you should be marketing your retirement plan services to. So you can do the re-targeting, you can also do organic direct targeting, [inaudible 00:28:57] people may not have visited your site that you want and use that article example you used, Patrick. Hit them over the head with some of this thought leadership, so not just relying on your pitch book or your website but things that feel more current and topical to them.
Patrick Brewer (29:12):
And before we get into the mid and smaller sized firms as far as tactics and how it would differ from the larger firms, I want to ask you about something that I think you probably run into, I think most marketing companies deal with this challenge. Most advisors that I've talked to, they want to get a quick ROI on the money that they spend. Even the larger firms, like multi-billion dollar firms, they want to know how quickly do I get the money back if I spend it on X? Insert marketing strategy here.
Patrick Brewer (29:39):
What are your thoughts on, A, that mindset and, B, how you position the stuff that you guys help with that we've talked about on this podcast, in the light that that is the mindset of most of the firms in the industry?
Joe Anthony (29:51):
So return on investment is something that we don't shy away from, I think it's really important. Yes, in the world of marketing and there's a ton of gray area there, it's very difficult. A firm that's really committed from the jump to being able to measure their ROI, they need to look at how they're using their web analytics and other tools for monitoring and measuring already and what they're doing in their marketing. Before they engage a PR firm or hire someone to run PR internally, before they engage a blogging strategy or hire someone to do it, you have to think about, "How am I going to measure this? What tools do I use?" If as an organization, you fundamentally don't ever look at your website analytics, for example, you have to get real with yourself and say, "Okay, if I'm going to be able to track the impact of whatever investment, whether it's onboarding someone to run it internally or hiring an external firm, you have to think about how you're going to measure it." And again, there's lots of tools for that.
Joe Anthony (30:41):
The second part of it is what firms can do more and more of, and I'm starting to see it a little bit more overtly, is in client onboarding, people are asking, "How'd you hear about us?" Giving them digital questionnaire things on a iPad or on a computer or even on their smartphone, that gives them the choice to say, "Yeah, I heard about you because my friend mentioned you, but I would also check the box because I read an article that included you." Those little onboarding quizzes or surveys allows the advisor to say, "All right, this person came to us and four of the six things we're intentionally doing for marketing influenced their decision to take a meeting with us." Or maybe it's none of the above and you find out that it was a life event, their spouse got suddenly ill and they started rethinking their finances. Whatever it might be. But you take an onboarding exercise, all the different things you do, and you include something that points towards measuring how they got in the door and got to you, and that'll give firms the equipment they need to be able to measure ROI.
Joe Anthony (31:41):
For a typical firm, for a billion to three billion dollar RIA that hires us for a mix of content and publicity strategies, they might be investing over the course of the year $100,000. And they have to work backwards to say, "What kind of new business do I need to get from a fee standpoint to justify that?" And maybe that ends up being $12 to $15 million in new [AUM 00:32:08] as a correlation to the work we do. Then you can start having that discussion. So if you know what the amount of business growth you need, you know what the fees are, and then you have a model in place, allows you to survey for that, then you can have a justifiable approach to measuring ROI that can make sense for the size of the firm you are. At the one to three billion dollar level. It's a little different for smaller firms that don't necessarily have again as much time bandwidth to manage that.
Patrick Brewer (32:35):
Yeah. And cross platform attribution is tough too. Because somebody could see an article and then they can go to your website and they could read a blog and then they get on your email list, and then six months later, they buy. So they kind of forget. Even if you have a survey or you're tracking through Google analytics or another platform, I just found that even where we're at today with technology, the cross platform attribution is just not quite there to attribute every single dollar. So I agree with everything you're saying, I think they need to have those systems in place, they need to be looking at them, you need to be measuring the data, you need to be revisiting this at least quarterly. But I think it's also just an acknowledgment, in a certain sense, because I do a lot of marketing. And there is an invisible ROI to certain things. Especially video, sometimes high net worth people just don't engage with content. They read content, they'll watch videos, but they don't hit the like button, they don't comment, they're not going to share it with their friends. But they're consuming it.
Patrick Brewer (33:28):
So I think the key to understand that, yes, you can track and attribute value to certain strategies, but there's also going to be a level of invisible ROI. And I would say that there's probably more invisible ROI in publicity than anything because you're trying to build your status, you're trying to do certain things that you might not be able to directly track that back. Especially because if somebody sees an article on a different website, you're not going to have a lot of web analytics on the other person's site, right? So you're not going to be able to necessarily know who even saw it if they don't click back to your site.
Patrick Brewer (34:02):
What are your thoughts on marketing spend in general? So another trend that I've been seeing, if you look at the benchmarking surveys, most firms spend 3% on marketing, if that. What do you think is a better number? Or is that enough, is 3% enough and that's what we should be spending as an industry? Where do you think this needs to fall and what are your thoughts on the matter?
Joe Anthony (34:21):
So 3% of your top line?
Patrick Brewer (34:25):
Yeah, top line.
Joe Anthony (34:28):
That can be appropriate if you're talking about... Let's use the billion dollar firm example. And let's just say that not everybody in the consumer base pays in them the full 1%. So billion dollar firm, they're making $8 million in revenue.
Patrick Brewer (34:47):
Joe Anthony (34:48):
Patrick Brewer (34:49):
Joe Anthony (34:50):
$8 million in revenue, if you distill that down, 1% of that is $80,000, so 3% would be $240,000. I would tell you that that might be too much if they're going to be focused on deploying that capital only in the areas of earned and acquired reach on social media, publicity and content development. That might be too much of a spend. On the flip side, if you're a $100 million firm and you want to be able to engage sensibly on all those platforms, it's going to be a higher percentage. So I would say though, probably anywhere from 3% to 6% makes sense. At a certain size, you can't just spend without some other backstopping beyond that threshold, but I think it's pretty reasonable depending where you're at in your collection. And also the different growth channels.
Joe Anthony (35:35):
I've had firms come to me, say, "Hey, we're actively looking to recruit advisors, we want to be a player in [M&A 00:35:42], and oh, by the way, we want to give our existing advisors as much as support as we can in the organic side." Great. If you're going to do that, it's what you really want to do, you're probably closer to that 6% than the 3%. The flip side is, if someone says, "I have two advisors, we've got $150 million and we really want to focus on thought leadership marketing," 3% is probably a fair level. So it really depends on the situation. You have to look at it. But I think if you're spending less than 3%, you're probably hampering your growth prospects.
Patrick Brewer (36:09):
Yeah, love it. Thanks, Joe. Let's get into, to kind of close this out, I want to talk about the kind of mid-sized and then the smaller firms, where they should start with the various things that we've discussed on the podcast. So let's take a firm that's, let's call it $250 up to $1 billion in assets, how does their spend differ from the larger firms, $1 billion plus, that are maybe more interested in inorganic growth, M&A, just becoming larger organizations. How would you advise that mid-segment to spend their money?
Joe Anthony (36:39):
I think they're at a point in their development where they should have some discretionary funds to pay for what I call non-essentials. When I say non... Obviously everyone needs to make sure their tech stack is up and current, you want to make sure that if they're having client meetings, they're office is presentable and they could be reached, all those things, yes. Beyond that, that's where you have to make a choice. And if I'm in those shoes, I have to think about it from the standpoint of, "What has the highest upside to the marketing?" I can't necessarily go full bore on everything. And I'm thinking about it from the perspective of, "All right, I can do certain things in house, and I'm going to need outside help for other things." Or, "I'm really great at content and terrible at distribution, how do I figure out making sure that my materials get in the right hands?" So they have to isolate the areas where they need the most help and figure out how to apply their budget to those areas.
Joe Anthony (37:27):
I've seen this time and time again where... And you're seeing more and more of it, particularly in the under-40 advisor set, more folks are comfortable doing their own video, doing their own podcasting and they simply need the professional counsel or the guidance of how to turn that content generation machine into something that becomes a lead generation machine. Or a visibility enhancing machine. So I would say, depending on the contract of your company and what resource you have, it's either isolating, again like I said, separating out the task of generating content versus getting external distribution for it, or looking at it, choosing, and saying, "Okay, I can't do both videos and podcasting and media relations strategy." Choosing one of those and really diving deep and not just focusing on the content, but the distribution of it.
Patrick Brewer (38:16):
Yeah. And I think also figuring out also who you want to consume the content too and make sure that you're creating the right content on the right platforms for people that are actually on those platforms and interacting with it. What I've seen is a lot of advisors just start to wage into content. They're like, "All right, well, I guess I should do blog." Or, "I guess I should do videos," or "I guess I should put out a podcast." And before you know it, you're creating a lot of quote, unquote "good' content, but no one's actually consuming it. And I think another thing that I've been thinking a lot about recently is this idea of building influence and creating content and sharing perspective.
Patrick Brewer (38:46):
I think it's good in a lot of ways for a lot of niche markets, but I mean, if you think about podcasting, I would wager that most of the advisors that are starting a podcast and they're just doing kind of talking head and just sharing their perspective about different financial planning issues and things like that, they're not really going to attract their ideal client. I would wager that they're not getting a lot of clients from the podcast directly. Because I would assume that most of the people that are listening are going to be do-it-yourselfers. They're on there searching for these types of podcasts because they're looking to build something themselves. So they end up not even becoming what they wanted to be, which is a financial advisor. And they start to transition more into this influencer role that we talked about. And before you know it, they're selling products like Dave Ramsey and they've got Facebook groups, they've got backend continuity, monthly offers to build community. And they start to move away from other, quote, unquote, "desire" to build a financial planning or wealth management firm.
Patrick Brewer (39:39):
All that to say, I think content is great and it can provide you with a sustainable source of leads and help you build your business, but I think you need to be really intentional about it too. Because if you're not, then before you know it, you're a marketer. You're not even an advisor anymore, you're just a content producer and people are paying you for your audience and you're doing affiliate marketing. I've seen this happen with a lot of people in my generation, Gen Y, doing a lot of this stuff, this marketing stuff. And I've just seen them kind of transition out of the industry. Do you have any opinions on that? Do you agree with me? Disagree? What are your thoughts on that?
Joe Anthony (40:16):
Yeah, I think, first rule of marketing and communications is know your audience. You have to understand who you're going after and why you're going after... I think there is a trap that's out there. Some people fall in the trap of, they just want to be famous or well known or well liked. Sometimes certain pockets of social media can be an echo chamber of other financial advisors. And so if you're out there and you're promoting stuff, yeah, you get slaps on the back and "Atta boy"s from different people. Say, "Hey, great job." But if you're not selling to that community, that might be an affirmation that your ideas are good or people appreciate it, but the affirmation's a far jump from actually growing your business or reaching the people you want to serve.
Joe Anthony (40:53):
I think that's why it's so important when you think about whatever you do from a marketing standpoint. Again whether it's publicity, "Am I in publications that people who I want to work with might actually read or respect? Even if they don't see it organically, will they respect it when they come across it?" Secondly, [inaudible 00:41:11] in my budget to make sure that it's part of my effort to have acquired reach, kind of using digital ad spends to get in front of target audiences, "Do I have enough money in my budget to be able to get in front of that target audience of business owners? Or divorcees?" Whatever it might be. That's got to be a real question people ask when they come up with their marketing budget or marketing plans. And that audience specific marketing is so important.
Joe Anthony (41:36):
The other side is, there are some people out there that have come to the point where they say, "You know what, I'm getting 75% to 95% of my business still from referrals. But how those referrals are being validated are different and then frankly people are just hitting up Google as soon as they hear my name and seeing what pops up." And say, "Look at that, my LinkedIn profile pops up, my website pops up. What else can I have in the world of search that's going to validate my existence?" Then they come to the, "Oh, I better have some good content. Do I develop that content? Do I contribute to the press, whatever it might be?" And then they start seeing it not so much... Their audience as a specific target, Patrick, but they're seeing their audience as populating a search engine. So when their audience comes to the search engine, they're validated.
Patrick Brewer (42:22):
Yeah, the other thing that I'll mention too and I think you'll agree with me here is a lot of these publications can help support an [SEO 00:42:28] strategy. If you're getting a lot of links from really high domain authority websites, that you've done interviews on, that you've written content for, maybe done a guest column in Forbes or something like that, if they link back to your site, you're going to be looked at as more credible not only in the eyes of the people that you want to work with, but also in Google's eyes so you're going to rank better for search. So it has kind of two benefits. It's not just people are going to see you on the news and they're going to be impressed, it's you're actually getting that link in certain cases, and that can help you be found a lot easier through search engines.
Joe Anthony (43:02):
Yeah, I think that's really important. I think the other thing is to point out when you're talking about the firms at the $250 to $500 million size, very often they're at a point in time, if growth is coming, they need to attract and retain other advisors to help staff up those relationships. It's no longer going to be a one or two advisor game. They need to have more advisors, client-facing folks. And frankly, while in 1987, you could take your client to a awesome golf course and use that as a way to coax referrals out of them, whatever that might be, and that might have even have been true 1997 or 2007. But today those opportunities to get on people's calendars, to be able to have that quality time individually with clients is not happening to coax referrals. A lot of people aren't comfortable coming to the advice business soliciting new business directly. And so for those firms that are trying to recruit advisors and they want to give them a chance to be successful, they have to build out something that they can plug into from a marketing standpoint.
Joe Anthony (44:01):
So Patrick, if someone came to work for you, you'd hope that they would be plugged into the same video and podcasting resources that you deploy. If someone came to work for a firm like yours, they want to be able to participate in the same kind of thought leadership marketing you're doing, whether its with media relations or blog content. Those sorts of things, you create that platform that the advisors can plug into, and then all of a sudden, not only are you offering them a desk and a phone and the support of a power plan, but you're also giving them a way to market themselves. And those sorts of things matter more and more. Because frankly there's a lot of people that are coming in the industry that like the idea of helping people, providing financial advice, but aren't also built to be saleswomen or salesmen.
Patrick Brewer (44:38):
Yeah. I agree. I mean, I talk about this a lot and train on it in one of our coaching programs. But in our RIA, the first thing we do for our partner firms that merge in, is we create a strategic marketing plan. And every advisor's different. Some advisors, their natural frequency is they want to work with business owners or entrepreneurs. So if they're going to work with business owners and entrepreneurs, they need to participate in an interview-style podcast where they're going to invite a business owner or entrepreneur in. So our marketing team runs the LinkedIn sequencing to kind of get them connected with all these high level business owners in the area, and then they do a video, invite the person on the interview-style podcast, they have a great conversation.
Patrick Brewer (45:11):
Our marketing team produces that piece of content and gives it to the advisor so that they can provide a really valuable piece of content for that business owner whose primary concern is they want to grow their business. They don't care necessarily about insurance or financial planning right now, they want to grow their business, they've got other challenges. They've got human capital issues, they've got demands for their time, and they want to scale. And what we do is equip our advisors based on their specific personalities and their goals to work very effectively in a specialized market. And if somebody comes in and they're more of a practical thinker and they want to work with folks that are getting close to retirement, well, they're going to do educational workshops that we promote digitally, they're going to do referral marketing, they're going to do other forms of marketing that are going to be completely different than the ones that somebody who's focused on entrepreneurs or executives are going to do.
Patrick Brewer (45:59):
So I think that is going be the firm of the future. That's the firm that we're building and I think there's others that are pushing in that direction, is each advisor, you figure out what their skill set is and what their desire is and what they want to do. And I found that certain advisors, they would rather just work with clients one on one and they don't want to do business development activities. And there's advisors who want to do business development. And I think for firms that are more forward looking, they need to create the right incentive and accountability structures to help the people that want to do business development and also help the people that want to service the clients.
Patrick Brewer (46:33):
And I think part of the challenge that the industry's run into, and we can't talk about this [inaudible 00:46:39], I could talk to you all day, man. But part of the challenge I think the industry's running into is you've got all these firms that are kind of not creating these incentive and accountability structures and not really leading advisors in the right way, younger advisors. And then they're breaking off and they're starting their own firms. And before you know it, they don't have the money to market, they don't have the money to do business development. And maybe their natural proclivity isn't even for business development, they just have to do it now because they're out on their own.
Patrick Brewer (47:02):
So as an industry, I think we could do a better job of centralizing these resources, creating these kind of strategic marketing plans, not only for the advisor but at the firm level. But back that with solid business building principles around, "How do we allocate our capital and resources to the people so that they're compensated for the things they want to do, they derive energy from it and therefore they grow and the firm grows and the clients benefit?" So that's the problem that I'm trying to solve. I think, like I said, there's a lot of other people out there trying to solve that problem as well. But it's complicated because you've got different personalities, marketing is complex, it requires a lot of people, it requires a lot of money and time as you know very well. Sorry, you got me set off on that topic.
Joe Anthony (47:42):
Yeah. Well, Patrick, one of the things before we wrap up here, I want to get this point across to anyone who might listen to this. If you are a consumer of a financial advisor services, you're getting financial advice, there are some levers that really I think are, from the buyer's perspective, that matter that I think you can use to inform how you build out your marketing, how your marketing's experienced. In no particular order, but these are all relevant, in this day and age, the consciousness around cost is a real issue. The other thing is the amount of time it takes me to conduct my financial planning process. Not just the process of going through the paperwork and making sure I have my healthcare, power of attorney, and I've got my will, and I've got my asset allocation and all those various things. But also the time of onboarding and the time of connecting with your advisor to be able to set up those meetings.
Joe Anthony (48:33):
Time is a huge factor. I know for me it is and anyone I talk to. It's like, "Oh, I would do it but I have to take so much time to go from here to there. Three weeks from now, I could be dead already." And then you have the issue of accessibility and convenience. We've all heard a lot about this through the prism of why advisors need to have technology solutions where people can log in anywhere and why they should have a robo advisor offering so people can do stuff on their phone, whatever. We've heard about that, but the accessibility is a real issue.
Joe Anthony (49:01):
The other two things are the outcomes people experience in terms of what they're hoping to achieve. "I want to make sure I have enough money to retire. I want to make sure I get my college debt paid off." Whatever it is in the function of their outcomes. And of course, always peace of mind. And those are [inaudible 00:49:16] lever. But where does that come into the marketing and PR? It comes back to, if you focus on the fact that these are the things that matter in terms of the actual experience of the financial advice process and how it's mirrored in your marketing, you need to have things where it's easy for people to find out about who you are and what you do and what you specialize in. And that's why having a multi-channel approach, so you are using social media and you are engaging, using your website to provide some current content and you are doing videos and all that stuff. That's why it's so important.
Joe Anthony (49:43):
I think outcomes based, when you think about your thought leadership, you shouldn't talk about things from the standpoint of, "Hey, trust me, I have a CFA and a CFP and an MBA, you must trust me." It's got to be like, "Hey, we work with people in life transitions who have gone through death or divorce of a spouse, and this is what the outcomes people are hoping to achieve after they get through that transition." And you build content, thought leadership around the outcomes to really drive how you present the marketing.
Joe Anthony (50:10):
And then lastly, I'll just say if you are an advisor, you can't get over the fact that, "Yeah, there's [inaudible 00:50:15] impression, there's cost cutting everywhere, it's a race to zero." You can't get away from that. I wouldn't sell on price if I'm in there because you're [inaudible 00:50:25] sell on experience and service, but at the same time, knowing that that's sort of the specter in the room, you [inaudible 00:50:30] really have to think about how you're projecting yourself in your marketing and how relatable you are. Because frankly, if someone likes you and relates with you, and yeah, you have a specialization in business owners, "Yeah, I'm a business owner, this is great." That's going to be the difference between being able to get paid 1% versus them saying, "I'm going to do this for 60 basis points over here because I have no real relationship." So that relationship can overcome the cost.
Joe Anthony (50:54):
Anyway, so that's my three minute diatribe there, Patrick. That was my turn.
Patrick Brewer (50:58):
Nice. I appreciate it, brother. All right, well, Joe, I really enjoyed the discussion. We should definitely do this again, it's been too long, I want to obviously thank you for coming on the show. I appreciate your time, appreciate your perspective and we'll be sure to include some links to your website and everything that you're doing to help advisors. So thank you for all you're doing for the industry and I appreciate you coming on the show.
Joe Anthony (51:17):