Lately, I’ve been having a lot of conversations with financial advisors looking for the best ways to grow their firms, and I’ve been encountering one question more than just about any other: “How can I spend the least amount of money to maximize results – and get appointments on the calendar?

There are lots of things that independent financial advisors can do to generate leads. There’s public events, like seminars and workshops, as well as full-blown advertising campaigns, including TV and radio, for some of the larger firms out there.

But if your current strategy is struggling to land new clients or increase your amount of new assets, it’s time to take a step back and ask yourself: are you looking at math, or are you making your marketing decisions based on what you’re thinking and feeling?

Today, we’re going to talk about what so many advisory firms do wrong. I’m also going to explain a super simple approach to make it easier than ever for you to determine how to spend in order to land clients, grow your revenue, and crush your goals for 2018.


  • [1:33] Why financial services marketing is like playing a slot machine that doesn’t lose.
  • [4:56] Why you’re making a huge mistake if you aren’t examining the numbers behind your marketing.
  • [5:55] Introducing my marketing ROI tracker – and how you can easily track your spends and performance.
  • [7:03] Why “Let’s just generate 5 more referrals this week” as a strategy isn’t good enough – and what you need to be thinking about to actually get results.
  • [7:44] The reason I would always choose pulling the ‘events slot machine’ over having an empty calendar.
  • [9:44] The biggest mistake that financial advisors make when trying to double their ROI – and how you can avoid it.
  • [10:48] The single most important number that one of our most successful offices pays attention to.
  • [11:14] The difference between lead measures and lag measures – and how to make your tracking as accurate as possible.
  • [13:34] How you can craft a meaningful, quantifiable strategy to grow from 5 million in new assets to 10 million.



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Welcome to this episode of the Elite Advisor Blueprint Podcast with your host, Brad Johnson. Brad’s the VP of Advisor Development and Advisors Excel, the largest independent insurance brokerage company in the US. He’s also a regular contributor to Investment News, the Wall Street Journal, and other industry publications.




[00:00:23] Brad: Hey, all. Welcome to another episode of the Elite Advisor Blueprint. This is Brad Johnson with Advisors Excel. Yes, so the last one, Process versus Product, a little bit of a test, a little rant that I went on that’s resonated with a lot of you out there. I’ve gotten a ton of feedback on how your business is not set up to basically sell your product if you were to guest star on Shark Tank. So, if you happen to miss that episode, go back. That might be the first place to start. But I want to continue the conversation here and really title this episode, Math versus Emotions. And with it being towards the front end of the year, January flew by but I’m having a lot of conversations with our client’s financial advisors out there who want to grow their business so I’m sure that’s common with many of you listening in or watching in. So, I thought I would drop this episode fairly early on in the year because I think there’s a lot of value you all can get by processing the proper way to market your business and grow your business from over a decade of looking at some of the top performing financial services offices out there.


So, I thought I’d open with a story. And so, let’s start here so play along with me and let’s just imagine that you hop a flight and you’re with some good friends. Maybe it’s a bachelor party, maybe it’s a bachelorette party but you’re flying out to Las Vegas and maybe a few cocktails are consumed on the flight but basically the wager is made and the wager is you each commit to pulling $100 bill out of your wallet or purse and the very first slot machine that you see in the very first casino you walk in Las Vegas you’re going to put the full $100 in. You’re going to pull the handle or push the button these days and you are going to bet it all on one roll and the thought process is, this $100 is mine to lose. We’ll see what happens. So, there you are, you walk into that very first casino and you sit down.


[00:02:23] Brad: Your friends are behind you. You shove the $100 bill in. You pull the handle and sirens started going off. You hit the jackpot. Right there very first pull in Las Vegas, your $100, you just hit a $300 jackpot. So, going back, the commitment was that first $100 bill you were going to bet it all, right? That $100 bill is still with you. So, your friends rigging you on, they’re behind you like pull it again. Second pull, $500. Now you’re looking at your friends, you’re high-fiving. Everybody’s hugging in. What an epic beginning to a Las Vegas trip. And so, your friends they’re like, “Hey, your $100 bill is still there.” Third pull, $400. At this point, what are you starting to think? Like if this is a true story, you’re sitting on that stool in Las Vegas, first three pulls, $300, $500, $400.


I’ve asked people this question like, “I think the slot machine is broken.” I’m like, “What would you do if that was the case?” If that slot machine was broken what would you do? They’re like, “I keep pulling the handle until they turn it off, until they shut it down, until they kicked me off.” So, literally you’re there, $400, $300, $500, $400, $200, $400, $300, literally, win after win after win. Looking over your shoulder looking for that security guard that’s going to tackle you.


Here’s the punchline to the story. Folks, this is financial services. These are true ROIs on hosting public events, seminars, workshops. And what’s incredible about this story is our industry oftentimes is sitting in front of a slot machine, one that in my experience on the low end there’s a two to three to one return. On the high end, some of our very best offices I’ve seen north of 7:1 returns so every $100 into that slot machine, $700 out.


[00:04:23] Brad: So, that very same slot machine I’ve had individual advisors call me up and say, “Brad, these seminars just aren’t what they used to be. I remember when I could send out a mailer and I could fill five events of one mailer. Now, I can only fill two.” And so, I wanted to open this conversation and really just focus on the concept of math versus emotions or math over emotions. Why is that? Our top-performing offices, one of my favorite statements in this business is numbers never lie. The problem is with the absence of numbers, it’s just the thoughts in our head so if the last event was half as good as the event prior to that, our events are much worse. They’re going downhill. But if I went from a 10:1 return down to a 7:1 return, down to a 5:1 return, am I going to stop playing that slot machine? The answer is no.


So, as we transition to this and by the way, as we share this conversation, I’ve literally had the conversation with one of our offices I’ll never forget. He called me up and he said, “Brad, I’m about to ready to quit seminars.” I said, “Really? Well, let’s talk about it.” We did the math. And it was the same conversation I just shared where they were half as good as what they used to be. We did the math. Every $1 spent, this individual made over $7. But if we wouldn’t have done the math, they wouldn’t have known. It was all the emotional game. So, by the way, I’m going to share a tool with you all that I think can serve you here. We have a marketing ROI tracker. So, essentially if you look at all your marketing funnels, they’re simply like that slot machine I just described, right? So, you might have one slot machine over here. This one on the right it’s public events, it’s seminars, and the beauty of this slot machine over here is that I know fairly consistently it’s going to return to 3 to 5 to 1, let’s say those are your numbers, and the beauty of depending on the market you’re in, you might be able to pull that handle once or twice every month so nice, consistent.


[00:06:26] Brad: If you have an absence of appointments on your calendar, then you can put more $100 bills into that slot machine and really start to turn up the volume or really scale that marketing funnel up. Well, the next slot machine standing right next to that one, it might be the referral slot machine, the more business from existing client slot machine. And typically, I see ROIs north of 10:1 there because it might just be hosting around the golf or hosting a client event. And typically, those are some of the highest ROIs in our industry. The problem is if I have an empty calendar next week or the following week where I’ve got five empty appointment slots, how easy is it to say, “Let’s just generate five more referrals this week?” Now, I’m not saying there aren’t systems out there that can help and there are definitely some of our offices that have incredible client experiences and really systematized calendar of client events to drive more and more of those referrals but it’s much harder.


So, that might be a slot machine. You can only pull that handle once every quarter. But it’s the highest ROI slot machine. So, I’m going to pull that handle as frequently as I can but then I’m going to default back over to the public events slot machine because I can turn up the volume and I can impact that one which is much better than having an empty calendar. And then there might be a third slot machine. This third slot machine many of our top offices utilize and that might be something like radio or TV for a handful of our offices. And typically, what I see radio and TV, much more expensive. However, they might have a 2:1 or a 3:1 ROI but the beauty of radio is you can pull that handle more frequently because you might be able to syndicate yourself in your local market so you’re not on one station. You’re on two, three, four. One of our biggest offices in New Orleans has really mastered that and has a more highly rated radio show than Hannity and Beck.


[00:08:21] Brad: So, that’s what’s incredible in this industry is the right marketing funnels you can have a lot of success with but the beauty of what works for him is he can now be in five places all at once. So, he can be playing five slot machines all at once. They might all be getting a 3:1 ROI but he doesn’t have to be there to play them because he can syndicate himself as far as radio is concerned. So, the beauty of math over emotions is it’s just a mathematical equation and what it is, is you take your marketing budget for the year and then you simply say, “How can I spend the least amount of money to maximize results, appointments on the calendar?” And then you’re simply looking, if you look at the spreadsheet that I’m making available to all of you just go out to the show notes to download it, But if you go out there, now, you just have a row of slot machines and it’s like, okay, well every time I put a dollar in this one, it turns into $5. Every time I put a dollar into this one it turns into $10. Every time I put the dollar into this one, it turns into $3.


But then you can start to systematically decide where does it make the most sense to allocate my dollars. So, here’s looping thing this background the reason I wanted to have this conversation at the front end of the year is let’s say you brought in 5 million of new assets last year and let’s say your goal for 2018 is I want to double that and take that to 10 million. Here’s one of the biggest mistakes I see in our industry and I see it over and over again. I see it in a lot of businesses. That is a lag measure. So, it’s kind of like stepping on a scale and that New Year’s resolution where you want to drop 10 pounds. Well, what do you do? If that simply your solution to dropping 10 pounds is every morning I step on the scale and I see where I’m at, you’re tracking a lag measure. So, it’s the aftermath of the activities you took before that.


[00:10:18] Brad: So, I step on, I’m down a pound a day. “Okay. Well, I hope I do more of what I did today.” I step on. I’m 2 pounds up. “Uh oh, what did I do?” In business, that’s what setting a goal is if your goal is I want to go from 5 million of new assets captured to 10 million of new assets or I want to go from 500,000 of revenue to a million of revenue. What are the activities that cause that to happen? One of our top offices, an office they captured north of 200 million of new assets last year. He cares about one thing. His team tracks one thing on a weekly basis, brand new appointments on the calendar so new prospects, first appointments on the calendar. That’s it. Because they know if they track that and they hit that number, everything else will follow. So, to use that analogy that I just shared with you of dropping 10 pounds, that’s a lag measure, what would a lead measure be? A lead measure would be, there are two things that impact that, calories consumed and calories burned.


So, my two lead measures I might track is, “Did I get at least 30 minutes of physical activity in today or some sort of a workout and did I consume less than 2,000 calories of food?” So, you might go ahead and hire a personal trainer and you might get a calorie tracker like or MyFitnessPal or something like that. And now I know, okay, I’m hitting those two metrics and the results will follow. So, those are lead measures. So, the key here that I want to share with you is what we want to look at when looking at setting goals for the year is not to set goals with lag measures. We want to set them with lead measures. So, a better goal for this year if your goal was to go from 5 million of new assets captured to 10 million of assets captured with this spreadsheet that I’m sharing with you will help you do all of the math so math over emotions. I’m going to drive that into the ground on this conversation. So, now what we would do is we would say, “Okay, 5 million. Let’s look at what happened in 2017.”


[00:12:18] Brad: So, let’s just to make math incredibly simple, let’s say 5 million of new business was five clients. So, five clients, each one was worth $1 million so ideal practice here. So, I would look back and I would say, “Okay, how many first appointments did I have to see to generate five clients?” So, let’s say your closing percentage was 20%, one out of five, so every five new appointments you had on the calendar, you closed one of them which led to five new clients for the year which led to each of them being worth $1 million on average which led to 5 million of new assets captured for 2017. So, here’s what my goal is going to be for 2018. All things being equal, we just need to double the activity, the slot machines that we talked about, to double the appointments on the calendar.


So, my new goal, it took me 25 appointments because I closed one out of five to generate five new clients to generate 5 million of assets for the year, my new goal for 2018 is 50 new appointments because I’m going to close one out of five of those which is going to generate 10 new clients as long as I’m fishing from the same pool where those are each worth still $1 million apiece, I just went from 5 million of new assets to 10 million of new assets. So, my goal for the year rather than saying I want to go from 5 to 10 would be I want to average let’s say you take two weeks of vacation so 52 work weeks in the year so you’re now working 50 weeks, your new goal is one new prospect appointment, first appointment on the calendar per week. That’s a lead measure.


And I know all things else being equal if I do that one thing, I will double my business this year. So, that is the beauty of when you really oversimplify you look at math versus emotions you don’t have to get caught in the minutia of all of these things swirling this whirlwind in financial services of client calls and follow-ups, all of that. If you dedicate yourself just to accomplishing that one thing, you’re going to hit your goals.


Okay. I think I’m going to end the conversation that way.


[00:14:31] Brad: So, to recap, how do you double your business in 2018 if that’s your goal? Math over emotions. So, number one, you can’t do the math if you aren’t tracking the numbers. So, make sure you hop out Right at the top, we’ll give you a free download, a tool many of our offices use, high-level, very simple to track each of their marketing funnels all the way from prospects coming from each event to first appointments to closing all the way through revenue so you can very quickly identify what is your ROI, your return on investment for each of those marketing funnels where you can systematically make a mathematical decision of where to allocate marketing dollars to where you can then transition to if I want to double my practice for 2018 simply let’s double the amount of prospects that it takes to generate those clients to generate that revenue. So, makes it very simple to walk through that math with the end goal being that you all crush your goals for 2018.


So, thanks for listening in. Hopefully this was super valuable. Until next time, take care.





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