Welcome to The Elite Advisor Blueprint – The Podcast for World-Class Financial Advisors. I’m Brad Johnson, VP of Advisor Development at Advisors Excel, and it’s my goal to distill the best ideas and advice from top thought leaders and apply it to the world of independent financial advising.
In today’s conversation, I’m speaking with Ryan Levesque. Ryan is the CEO of The ASK Method® Company, and the #1 national best-selling author of Ask, which was named by Inc. as the #1 Marketing Book of the Year. His work has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Forbes, and Entrepreneur, and over 250,000 entrepreneurs subscribe to his email newsletter offering business advice.
Ryan also worked in financial services selling to ultra high net worth individuals, so he knows a lot about the challenges and circumstances unique to our industry. For those of you looking to improve your prospecting and niche down to build up your practice, this conversation is going to be hugely valuable!
Here are 3 of my big takeaways from this episode…
- #1: What exactly is The ASK Method® and how can it help your advisory practice sell at scale to thousands of people each and every month, directly from your own website. [23:35]
- #2: How to use Ryan’s “Deep Dive Survey” to uncover the exact language that will attract and convert the most profitable segment of your market. [34:01]
- #3: How Ryan’s new book Choose can help Financial Advisors determine if they’re serving the right niche and why you should be re-evaluating your market every few years. This book is also a great resource you can use to help any of your clients who are preparing to transition out of their career and into building a business of their own! [01:05:49]
- [04:17] What brought Ryan into the world of finance – and what he learned from his experiences selling to ultra high net worth clients at Goldman Sachs.
- [13:30] The wake up call that prompted Ryan to walk away from financial services right before the Great Recession and focus on building online businesses.
- [19:30] The breakthrough moment that showed Ryan how to build his first online business through reverse engineering – and the lessons he learned from its fast rise and fall.
- [28:42] Why so many financial services websites fail to bring in new business – and how you can use the Ask Method framework to improve your conversions.
- [34:23] How to assess the efficacy of a marketing campaign before you even launch.
- [50:47] How to use language that appeals to laypersons – and not industry insiders – to write better headlines and increase your conversions.
- [52:45] Why you don’t necessarily need to provide bespoke services for every single client in order to deliver returns and make them happy … and how the Ask Method can automate the entire process of warming qualified prospects up for the sale in a highly personal way.
- [01:02:19] What advisors can do with old school marketing tools like dinner events to refine processes and improve engagement.
SELECTED LINKS FROM THE EPISODE
- ASK Method
- ASK: The Counterintuitive Online Formula to Discover Exactly What Your Customers Want to Buy…Create a Mass of Raving Fans…and Take Any Business to the Next Level
- Choose: The Single Most Important Decision Before Starting Your Business
- Michael Hyatt (also check out Michael Hyatt on the podcast)
- Pete Vargas (also check out Pete Vargas on the podcast)
- Jayson Gaignard
- Jon Vroman (also check out Jon Vroman on the podcast)
REVIEW OF THE WEEK
This week’s review comes to us from user asb.punkin who said…
Thanks for the kind words! The reason I love doing this is because just like you, I love these conversations. It’s fun to get to talk with experts like Ryan Levesque. And I’m like a sponge, I’m trying to ask him questions that I’m curious about, and obviously they also apply to financial services. So, if you can be out there listening and learning right there beside me, that’s even better.
Take the 1st Step to Building Your Ideal Practice: Apply for “Virtual Discovery Session“
For those of you that have interest in diving deeper or figuring out how you may be able to have our team help you implement many of the ideas shared on the show, my day job happens to be consulting financial advisors from all over the US on how to grow their business and design a practice that serves them, versus them serving it. Yes it’s possible to grow your business and work less, this is a model we’ve replicated over and over in markets all over the country… So, if you’d like to apply to see if it makes sense for us to have a 1-on-1 conversation on how to overcome what may be getting in your way, you can do that at bradleyjohnson.com/apply. It takes about 5 minutes to fill out the application so we can understand what your business looks like, what challenges you may be facing and how myself and my team may be able to help. We then dive into a Discovery session where we ask a lot of questions based on your survey. We do a lot of listening, and take a lot of notes to build a rough draft of our proprietary Elite Advisor Blueprint – 90 Day Plan™. Taking the first step is as simple as applying at bradleyjohnson.com/apply 🙂
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Brad Johnson: Welcome to this episode of the Elite Advisor Blueprint. I have special guest, Ryan Levesque, here on the show. Welcome, Ryan.
Ryan Levesque: Brad, it’s awesome to be here, man.
Brad Johnson: Well, I’ve been counting down the days to this interview. I know with your schedule, we had to book it a ways out, but I can promise you, the audience will be very hungry for what we’re going to dive into today. And just for a little background, for those of you tuning in, Ryan and I first, we’ve kind of done this thing where we’ve randomly cross paths at random events. I know Michael Hyatt is a huge fan of yours. Obviously, I was connected with him in a mastermind group for a few years. That’s where I first ventured upon the Ask Method. And then from there, I think Pete Vargas introed us at Jayson Gaignard’s Mastermind Talks where it was just a brief conversation. I was like, “Wow, this stuff applies perfectly to financial services.” And then most recently, Jon Vroman’s Dads Retreat. So, I guess the stars have aligned. It’s finally time for the conversation. So, welcome to the show.
Ryan Levesque: Thanks for having me. It’s an honor to be here.
Brad Johnson: Cool. So, you’re a little bit unique in the fact that we’re going to get into exactly what the Ask Method is. We’re going to get into your most recent book, Choose. But what’s really interesting is you actually started out and have a background in financial services. So, I thought it might be helpful for the audience to understand kind of how you segued into financial services and then when you decided to go out and start your own thing.
Ryan Levesque: Yeah. So, it’s an interesting story. We all have an interesting story. For me, I studied neuroscience and Chinese in college and I realized about halfway through college that I didn’t want to go to medical school, which is what I thought I was going to do, and I want to do something else. I just didn’t know really what that was. And I had some friends who were a little bit older than me who had worked on Wall Street. And the idea of working on Wall Street just sort of seemed intriguing and one of the reasons for that is, I grew up blue collar households, neither my parents went to college. But when my grandparents passed away when I was a young boy, they left me with a $5,000 inheritance. And when I was about 12 years old, I invested that $5,000 into the stock market and translated that into about $85,000 by the time I was 18 years old, and that’s how I was able to pay for my college. So, I was always interested in the markets. I was always interested in investing. And so, I had an opportunity. I got a job offer from the investment bank, Goldman Sachs, to work on Wall Street in their investment management division.
And so, I did that and I was really part of their high net worth investment group. And we had a series of investment strategies that we were selling to high net worth and ultra-high net worth individuals. So, I did that for a few years.
Brad Johnson: What did you learn from your experience at Goldman Sachs? If there’s some psychology behind dealing with high net worth investors, which many of our audience obviously would love to go in that direction, were there any key takeaways from your time there that you realize Goldman Sachs did really well compared to the average kind of advisor out there?
Ryan Levesque: Yeah. You know, at the time that I worked there, I was part of a group called the portfolio advisory group. And basically, it was a bridge group between the sales guys who were out selling the clients, taking clients out to the Knicks games and things like that. And the quants who were sitting in front of a computer and were like ultra geeky. We were sort of the bridge between them. So, I was a bit of a hybrid. You know, I was able to talk to the sales guys and get with clients when needed. I was able to talk to the quants when we need to go deep into the strategy. It was just interesting to me to see basically that structure, how people really specialized and how Goldman really had different avatars of people quants were all like MIT math geeks. The sales guys were all former Olympians. We had a couple former Olympic medalists. So, they brought in these super high performing athletes to sort of drive sales. And they brought the smartest brains that they possibly could find for the quants.
And then for those of us who didn’t quite really fit in either direction, we weren’t quite like Olympic athletes and weren’t quite smart enough to be one of the quants, they stuck us in between as sort of the translator between those two groups of people. So, it was just that flow, that business model was really interesting to me. And at the time, it was all about Seeking Alpha when I was investing there that was the buzz. It was all about Seeking Alpha. It was all about risk adjusted return. That’s kind of what everything was focused on. And it was an incredible learning experience working with some incredibly smart people. And I look back even though it’s not the work that I’m doing now, today, I look back and learned a ton based on you know, from my time at Goldman.
Brad Johnson: Cool. Around what time period was that again?
Ryan Levesque: This is 2004, 2005. So, we’re going back about 15 years ago. So, this is before the financial crisis, financial crash of 2008. It’s sort of it was a post the 2000 dot-com bust. So, that sort of when I was in that space. I sold off my portfolio right at the height of the dotcom boom, so I was really I like to say that I was luckier than anything else. I guess…
Brad Johnson: This was going into college. This was paying for your college money?
Ryan Levesque: Exactly. Yeah. People say, $5,000 as a kid, like that’s amazing. Well, it was Amazing that I didn’t spend the $5,000 in like a dirt bike. But beyond that, like it was really difficult not to make money in the late 90s sort of bull run when I made all that money, but that was just kind o -f that’s sort of what got me really interested in the markets, led me to work on Wall Street. I worked on Wall Street.
Brad Johnson: One other quick question on Goldman. What was the minimum asset level to take advantage of that structure inside of Goldman?
Ryan Levesque: Yeah. It’s a good question. And we’re going back 15 years, and I’m not going to be able to give an answer that I think is going to be accurate. It was when I was in my 20s, it was an amount of money that I thought was I couldn’t believe how big it was. And I can’t remember if Goldman required at that time for this particular group, maybe not across the company, but the group that I was part of, a $10 million minimum commitment, and I think a total minimum of $50 million of personal assets in order to investable assets and in order to qualify for that program.
Brad Johnson: So, is it really a family office approach kind of the structure? Was it not quite to that level? Were they incorporating tax planning and estate planning all of those different services?
Ryan Levesque: Yeah. It was really about, again, risk adjusted return primarily through the capital markets and alternative structures. So, it was less about the tax planning piece of it. It was more about you know, how to get uncorrelated risk adjusted returns with whatever else they were doing in the market. And that’s what the quants were focused on. That was the sexy thing at that time. And it was all about that alpha. It was all about that risk adjusted return that they weren’t able to get elsewhere. And again, it was a relatively conservative approach for the type of money that people were putting into this particular strategy. Because most of these guys, most of these families, they’re just about asset preservation and getting, you know, they can get a consistent 8%, 9% return. That’s all they’re seeking, right? They’re seeking that with as little risk as possible. So, it wasn’t about venture strategies. It wasn’t about private equity. It was really just about asset preservation and making a little bit of decent return on the back of it.
Brad Johnson: Cool. Well, I don’t want to derail your story. I know I’m throwing random questions about Goldman Sachs in here.
Ryan Levesque: That’s right. You’re forcing to like sort of dig back and access these neural connections that have not been accessed in probably like close to 15 years now. But it’s great. It’s fun times.
Brad Johnson: So, let’s go to the transition, the job at AIG, and then your transition to China, because I know that’s kind of the kickoff point for your new trajectory. So, maybe hit on some of the experience in AIG, and then where you went from there.
Ryan Levesque: Yeah. So, I mentioned I studied neuroscience in Chinese in college. And the reason why I initially studied Chinese is I was very fascinated with traditional Chinese medicine. So, I was interested in acupuncture and herbal medicine and I really wanted to understand sort of the science and specifically the neuroscience behind how those medical techniques worked. But through that, I became really interested in China, in the China’s economy, in Chinese history and the Chinese language. So, I lived abroad for a year while I was in college and sort of fell in love with China. And after graduating, after working on Wall Street, I had this bug. I wanted to get back to China. And AIG, the financial services company offered me an opportunity to move to first Hong Kong and then Shanghai to basically run the sales office expansion across China. And for me, it was a dream opportunity. And in my mid-20s, they moved me to first Hong Kong then Shanghai.
And basically, I was working opening up offices in city after city after city where we’re selling all sorts of insurance products. So, I moved from sort of an investment background to more of an operations background, doing that. And at the time, my wife and I, whom I met in college, my college sweetheart, we sort of had to have a courthouse wedding, because when I got the call from AIG, they basically said, “Hey, are you still interested in coming to China?” I said, “Yeah.” They said, “Okay, we need you there in two weeks.” I said, “Great. I’d like to bring my fiancé,” and they said, “Well, here’s the thing with China, you need to be married in order for your spouse to come with you and be on your Visa. So, you guys got to get married.” So, we basically are like, “All right. Crap. What do we do?” So, we went back to Providence, which was where we went to school, found a judge, got married, and then hopped on a plane and moved to China. I mean, it was literally like…
Brad Johnson: That’s a testament to your wife, fiancé at the time being all in with you because no female wants like one of those type of weddings. I do know that.
Ryan Levesque: So, here’s the deal. I had to make a deal. So, my deal was that so I said, “Listen, if you move – if we can do China for five years, if you give me five years, and we go to China, I’ll go wherever you want to go for the rest of our lives together.” And here’s the thing, Brad, I married a Texan. And when you marry a Texan, you move to Texas, and that’s why I’ve been here in Austin, Texas for the last 10 years and probably will be here for the rest of my life. I felt like it was a fair deal. She felt it was a fair deal, but that’s kind of how we got to where we are. So, it was out there for not quite five years, but opening up sales offices and I’m on a plane every other week. My wife was in grad school in New York when I was working on Wall Street. And she decided to pursue a PhD at Hong Kong University. So, I’m based in Shanghai. She’s based in Hong Kong. We didn’t have kids yet. We’re seeing each other just on weekends, like, once or twice a month. We fly to see each other. It’s about a two-and-a-half hour flight plus customs. And so, we’re seeing each other every couple weeks.
And I just reached this point where I said, “What am I doing with my life?” Like, is this really what I want to do? I kind of saw my career trajectory and I saw where I was headed. And I said, “Is this really what I want to do with the rest of my life?” and then a friend of mine who had never had a job in his entire life came to visit. Now, the reason why this friend had never had a job in his entire life is because when he was in college, he started an online business, an e-commerce business. And that’s how he paid his way through college. So, he started this business, he graduated, he kept running the business. And the business allowed him the freedom to travel the world, work where and when he wanted. It allowed him to have this amazing lifestyle. And it just was sort of like this wakeup call where I said, “Okay. If he can do this, like he’s not any smarter than I am, I can definitely do this too.” That sort of led me down this path where I started learning about how to build an online business and how to make passive income and how to create an asset that generates recurring revenue for you in your life and in your business.
Ryan Levesque: And I started working on this nights and weekends, started putting this together, and then this is like 2008 now, 2007/2008, and Brad, one day, I wake up, I put my suit on, I go to the office, I open the door at my office, The Wall Street Journal Asia edition is sitting on my desk, and I look at it and my face just kind of went numb. The headline read AIG to file for bankruptcy. And this is right when Bear Stearns and Lehman and every company was going under and all of a sudden it was like, “Okay, we’re next.”
Brad Johnson: So, and the first two you heard about this is literally a newspaper in China?
Ryan Levesque: First thing we heard her and literally, that was, I mean, because we’re in China. We’re sort of where this, you know, I’m not at home office, right? There are rumblings that stuff was going on but that was the first that I heard that AIG was in real trouble. Like we knew that there was something kind of beneath the surface and that was when I found out that AIG was in potentially real trouble. And it was literally that day with all this bubbling in the background, this desire to start my own business where I called my wife up. I said, “Honey, go to wsj.com. Check out the headline.” The headline was some variation, AIG to file for bankruptcy. I said, “Honey, I think this is the sign I’ve been looking for. I’m going to do it.” And literally that day, I typed up a resignation letter, turned it into a president of China for AIG, who was my boss, and I said, “You’re not going to love what I’m about to give to you but I have to do this.” And the reason I gave him was not that I want to start an online business. The reason I gave my boss at the time was that my wife and I were, yeah, we’re living this by country marriage and I didn’t want to be a part, which was also true.
And so, I was just going to take some time to figure out what I was going to do next. And so, turning the resignation letter.
Brad Johnson: So, just for perspective, like if I go back to the stories from the book, Ask, had the Etsy business, the Etsy business was going at this point or that was still on the frontier?
Ryan Levesque: We were just figuring it out. Like, we were like, I was just like figuring stuff out. I didn’t have like a – I didn’t have income coming in to replace my very high six-figure salary and car and driver and housekeeper and apartment that was being paid for and cost of living adjustment and retirement plan and a pension. I didn’t have any of tha.t I gave it all up and I turned to my resignation letter, and literally two weeks later, I had donated everything that I owned to a charity except for what I could fit into two suitcases. I flew to Hong Kong, moved into student housing with my wife, who was again still pursuing her PhDs. We moved back into a 400-square-foot, one bedroom, tiny apartment in Hong Kong and I got to work. And as I tell the story in the book, I had some ideas on what I wanted to do, but I wasn’t. It’s not like I said, “All right, this is exactly what I want to do.” I knew I wanted to start my own business, but I didn’t know what exactly that was.
So, there’s so many dinner conversations that I had with my wife, where I’d say, “Hey, honey, how about this idea? Like, what about that?” And we’d find some reason why it wasn’t like a good idea. And finally, after weeks of conversations like this, my wife finally says, “What about this?” And she turned her computer to me. I remember we’re sitting at the table. She turned a computer to me, “Check out this website,” and she said, “It’s like eBay for handmade products. This website called Etsy.com.” Now, Etsy is huge. It’s a multibillion dollar company today, but at the time it was just a startup. It was still a startup. It’s still relatively small. Very few people knew about it. It was very niche, but my wife sort of in that in that space, and she said, “Take a look at this jewelry that’s selling like crazy. It’s Scrabble tile jewelry.” And you can see they use Scrabble tiles, origami paper, and they combine it in a way that makes these pendants and broaches and earrings and bracelets and all these things.
Ryan Levesque: She said, “I think we can manufacture the jewelry. We’re here in China. We have access to all the origami paper in the world. We can manufacture this jewelry. We can import it into the United States, and we can build this massive business.” And I remember thinking myself like this is absurd. This is the worst idea ever. And I said I don’t want to be chained to some factory in Southern China, in Shenzhen or Guangzhou that we’re going to be manufacturing this jewelry. It’s a terrible idea. No. Close the laptop. Done. A few weeks later, still going through this process of, “Well, yeah, where do I start? What are we doing?” She said, “Hey, take a look at this. Instead, I want to talk about the Scrabble tile thing again.” And I said, “Honey, I thought we close the book on that.” She said, “No, no, no. Take a look. This woman isn’t making the jewelry. She’s teaching people how to make the jewelry and check it out.” Now, the cool thing about Etsy is that on Etsy, like eBay, you can see a person’s sales history. So, you can see how many sales they made today, yesterday, the day before, the day before that. So, you can basically reverse engineer income.
And we saw that this woman who was teaching people how to make this jewelry was making over $10,000 a month in profit with one PDF e-book that she was selling. No inventory. No cost of goods sold. Just this one digital product. So, my wife buys the product, and she prints it out. And she said, this is garbage like this is terrible. It’s Microsoft Word document, spelling mistakes, it was homemade. She said, “I think I can learn how to make this jewelry and we can build a better guide.” So, that’s exactly what we did. We started, created a better guide. First month we made like $300 or $400 and $1,000, $2,000, $4,000, $6,000, $8,000 in profit. I’m thinking, “We’re going to be rich, like the trajectory that we’re on like, this is amazing. We’re going to be rich.” And literally, Brad, the next month I remember it was our sales went down to almost nothing. And it was at that moment that I realized that we’ve gone into a fad market.
Ryan Levesque: And I talked about this in my book, Choose, the importance of going into a market that has the potential for longevity, and it’s what we call an evergreen market. I went into a fad market and I learned that pretty painful when that market crashes. Scrabble tile jewelry, it was just a fad like Beanie Babies or fidget spinners like you don’t hear much about it now, today, over 10 years later, because there’s just a thing that lasted, I don’t know, six, seven months. And we caught it at the right time and then it just sort of disappeared off the face of the earth. So, at that point, we had a moment where we sort of said, “Crap.” My wife has like a $500 a month PhD stipend. I’m making no money at all. We’re living in the most expensive city in the world, Hong Kong. And we look at each other and we say, “What do we do next?” And that’s when my wife decided to she finished her PhD program. She got a job working for museums. Her background is in history and history of decorative arts so she’s a museum curator. So, she got a job as a museum curator at a museum here in Texas.
And once again, we sold and donated everything that we owned, except for two suitcases each, moved back to Texas and we basically started over like we started our lives over again, having burned through our savings, and started our business on a $40,000 a year, museum curator salary, and then have since now built our business to do over $10 million a year in income. So, that’s the short story. That’s kind of how things all started.
Brad Johnson: One thing I love about the book, Ask, is the letter you write your mom. I think it was around 2008. I have that bookmarked. And so, it’s really cool because you get really introspective and you start to look back and, “Hey, there were these moments in my life,” and we won’t go into them now because I really want to get to the Ask Method. But for those of you advisors, I can promise you after you listen to this conversation, you’re going to want to go snag a copy of the book, because what’s crazy is I’ve seen the same Ask Methodology. Michael Hyatt used it in a lot of his lead funnels online. Advisors Excel started to use this similar methodology, not Ryan’s endorse methodology. I think we can still up our game a bit, but it works. And it works in all types of different industries. So, I’m sure you want to dive in. So, with that, let’s go to the actual Ask Methodology. And you kind of went Etsy, online gardening, rocket memory, and it kind of worked in all of those. But high level, if you were explaining to a bunch of financial advisors out there, what is the Ask Methodology? Can you just share the framework?
Ryan Levesque: Yeah. So, when you’re an advisor and you’re meeting with a prospective client for the first time, if you’re like most advisors, you’re not going to suddenly say nice to meet you. Let me tell you where you should put your money. You’re going to begin by doing what? You’re going to begin by asking a series of questions like, “Tell me a little bit about yourself. Tell me a little bit about where you’re at right now. Tell me a little bit about what your financial goals are. Tell me a little bit about what sort of big financial events you have coming up in your life? Are you prepared for retirement? Are you preparing to sell your home or preparing for a move? Do you have college education that you’re paying for? You’re going to ask a series of questions to understand a person’s situation, before you diagnose what investment strategy you recommend to that particular client. Like it’s common sense. Well, the Ask Method is taking that process in a one-on-one environment and applying it online so you can do that at scale to literally thousands or millions of people every single month on your website.
And so, I started developing this methodology studying under one of my mentors, Dr. Glenn Livingston. He’s a marketing psychologist. He has a PhD in Psychology, and he’s a quant. So, he’s a quant and he started applying basically this survey-based methodology to not only understand your market at a deep emotional level, but then understand what questions to ask when someone lands on your website to diagnose their situation and prescribe the right solution to them. So, that’s sort of the Ask Method in a nutshell. It’s a specific combination of surveys and quizzes and assessments that you can apply and use on your website. It’s something that I’ve used to build businesses in 23 different markets. You mentioned a few of them. The first couple are kind of funny, as I was getting my feet underneath me, Scrabble tile jewelry, orchid care, in the gardening space, teaching people how to improve their memory, which was to make my parents happy to use my neuroscience background and show them that I actually use what I studied in school, to satellite television, to health and fitness, to golf instruction, to selling water filtration systems, and even in the financial services space.
Ryan Levesque: So, we were talking earlier, Brad, about a few relevant examples. Probably the best known example that I can share in the financial services space is I work with a company, I partnered with a company called Swift Capital, which is a company that provides funding for small business owners. So, business funding for entrepreneurs and small business owners. Together, we designed a product called Loan Builder, and you can actually see it today its LoanBuilder.com. And basically, it’s a way to ask a series of questions to understand what type of business funding vehicle is right for you as an entrepreneur, as a business owner. We built this product. We had over about 20,000 small business owners go through the product, go through this assessment and get matched with business funding. I mean, that led to LoanBuilder being acquired by PayPal for over $286 million. That’s something that I participated in. So, that’s an example of the process being used in a financial service’s context.
Again, I’ve done it in the golf space. We do this with a partner with a company called Revolution Golf basically asking a series of questions when someone lands on your website to diagnose what might be going on in your golf swing. So, imagine going to a website, landing on a page with a little video and the videos from a golf pro. And the pro says, “Hey, my name is Ryan and I’ve been working with golfers for the last 30 years. And what I found is that every golfer from the rank beginner to the season tour pro has a series of mistakes they make in their swing. We call these mistakes swing killers. And I can actually diagnose what your number one swing killer is right from the comfort of your own home by simply asking you a questions about your golf swing, and you can do it right now for free. Click the button below. Answer these questions and I’ll see you on the other side.” Now, when you’re asking questions like this to understand a person’s situation, you can imagine it’s so much more effective to then sell to that person than just landing on a website and someone trying to pitch to you the next driver, the next piece of golf equipment, the next golf vacation, the next golf tip or instruction.
Ryan Levesque: When you actually take time to understand a person’s situation and ask the right questions, you can much more effectively diagnose and prescribe their situation. And so, that example there Revolution Golf was $100 million dollar acquisition by NBC. So, NBC Golf bought Revolution Golf on the back of this assessment. So, those are just a few examples of doing this in different markets to kind of put some context around it. And I think maybe what makes the most sense is that we talked a little bit about how an advisor can use this same sort of strategy on their own website, in their own marketing, to outperform their competition, really differentiate themselves from the competitors in their market.
Brad Johnson: Yeah. Let’s go there. And the standard financial advisor website, which I don’t think you’ll find surprising is a lot going on, a lot of services. You click the menu of services. There’s like 15 things on there. And then I guess if there would typically be one call to action, that’s kind of the standard call to action in our industry. It would be the book and appointment the top right-hand corner button. So, let’s maybe talk about, and I know you work with a local guy there in Austin that you’ve had some success with. So, maybe he’s our case study but if you were going to redesign a financial advisor’s website with the end goal of most of our market working with retirees and pre-retirees that are, they’re kind of going through that psychology of do I have enough? Is this million dollar nest egg enough? I don’t know, I don’t really have a plan in place to understand that. What might be some frameworks that you use out of the Ask Method?
Ryan Levesque: Yes. That’s a great question. So, let’s take a step back and take a look at some of the challenges with the sort of a standard financial advisor website that you just described. Now, one of the reasons why using the approach I just mentioned, let’s take the golf example. Click the button below, answer a few questions, and I’ll be able to diagnose what your number one swing killer is in under 60 seconds. Question number one. Are you a man or woman? See, when you ask and begin with a simple non-threatening what I call grease the wheels question like that, what ends up happening is you build up action taking momentum. And the reason for that is I’m going to use my neuroscience background here for a moment. The reason for that is you’re using the power what’s known as micro commitments. Whenever you ask anyone to do anything, in your marketing, in your business, anything at all, you ask them to take a series of steps like book a call, what ends up happening is the brain in the limbic system fires off in your amygdala the fight or flight response. If I say, “Hey, Brad, you want to join me for dinner?”
Immediately your brain is firing this fight or flight response. You’re deciding, am I going to confront or am I going to flee from this situation? Now, but there’s a hack. There’s a way to actually hack that response. When you ask someone to say, “Hey, book a call,” most people are going to flee from that situation because it’s too big of an ask, it’s too big of a step. The secret to hacking that fight or flight response in a person’s brain is to shrink the size of the step you’re asking them to take to be so small, it’s literally impossible for them to fail. It’s sort of the frog in the boiling water analogy. So, how do you boil a frog? You just turn it up slowly one degree at a time, the frog doesn’t even know that the water is getting hotter. If you drop a frog in boiling water, they’ll jump right out knowing that it’s too hot. So, the key, the secret, the first secret is to use and tap into this power of micro commitments. So, when someone lands on your website, instead of asking them to book a call, which is like asking someone to marry them, like on the first date, it’s too much too soon. You get to begin with, “HEY, nice, nice to meet you. Where you’re from?” A simple non-threatening question.
Ryan Levesque: So, in the golf market, it makes sense. Are you a man or a woman? Because men and women tend to hit the ball at different distances. In a business context, it might be, “Is this a startup? Or is this an existing business?” So, typically, it’s a binary, simple, easy to answer question that you begin with. So, instead of inviting someone when they land on your website to book a call, you might begin with a video of yourself where they get to know who you are, and you might say something like this, “Hi, my name is Brad and I’ve been working with families for the last 25 years to help them better plan for their retirement.” And what I found is that there are questions people constantly ask. They want to know, “Do I have enough? Do I have enough saved up? Where should I be putting my money? I don’t want to lose my money. What should I be doing?” the questions that come up at this time of our life that are unique. And the reality is, as far as where you should go from here, there’s no one size fits all answer. And this is what I do all day every day is I sit down with families to help them plan for this next part of their life.
And I ask a series of questions to help them understand what is the best next step for them. In fact, I can help you understand, I can help you determine what your best next step is right here right now today. All you need to do is simply click the button below this video. I’ll ask you a series of questions. And with that information, I’ll be able to recommend what the best next step is for you, based on where you are right here, right now. Click the button below and I’ll see you on the other side. So, just see how that approach is so easy and it’s so consultative. It’s not pushing anything at all. And from there, it opens the door for us to begin asking the types of questions that you would want to ask in order to lead people to eventually book that call with you. When you ask someone to marry them, again, there’s a series of steps. Hi, nice to meet you. Shake hands. Hey, would you like to go on a date sometime. You on a date, you go after that first kiss. After the first kiss, you get on one knee and you propose but there’s a series of steps that you need to follow.
Ryan Levesque: What we’re doing here is we’re doing this in an automated way that decouples this process from your personal time. So, you’re not limited to the number of people that you can communicate with on a daily basis. You can have 5, 10, 15, 100, 1,000 people go through this same process on your website every single day.
Brad Johnson: Cool. I love that. Hey, not too bad impromptu on that either. I think we could actually take that from the transcript and use it.
Ryan Levesque: That could be the script. I’m sure we can do better than that but that’s the basic premise.
Brad Johnson: Yeah. Okay. So, let’s go into because in the book, I believe there’s four different types of survey strategies. Should we go there to help an advisor understand what methodology should I use of this kind of survey funnel strategy?
Ryan Levesque: Yeah. Let’s do this. I’ll give you a few examples of the types of service. I mentioned that there’s a series of surveys. And I’ll talk about a few different types. So, you want to look at it like this. Whenever you do any sort of marketing activity in your business, you always want to ask a series of questions before you engage in that activity. And after you engage in that activity, and the reason for that is by asking questions upfront, it informs what sort of language you want to put in that marketing campaign. And by asking a specific set of questions after, it creates a feedback loop so you can see why is it that people didn’t buy? Why did people not sign up? Why did people not decide to work with me? And what do I need to do differently next time in that marketing campaign, in that marketing activity to get those people to say yes?
So, it’s this very elegant approach where you’re asking before and you’re asking after. Now, the way you ask before is there’s something that we call a deep dive survey.
Now, a deep dive survey asks a very specific set of questions, and I’ll share the latest evolution. This is actually beyond what’s in the book. This book, I’ll be re releasing a new version of this book within the next 12 months with a lot of a number of updates. This book was is very relevant today and at the same time, I’ve personally learned a lot in working with about 100,000 businesses in the last five years. Just that testing ground has given us so much data to work with. So, there are some evolutions coming. So, your audience is going to get a little bit of a sneak peek into some of what’s coming in, in version 2.0. So, in a deep dive survey, there are three big questions that you want to ask. Question number one, when it comes to X, what’s your single biggest challenge? Now, X is the thing that you help people with in your business. So, if you’re a financial advisor, it might be when it comes to planning for your retirement, what’s your single biggest challenge? Now, the reason why we ask that question is because as alluring as it may be, to think, “Well, can we just ask people what they want and give it to them?” people don’t know what they want.
Ryan Levesque: And if you’ve heard Henry Ford, the quote attributed to Henry Ford, “Pete, if I would have asked people what they wanted, they would have told me faster horses,” or the quote that’s attributed to Steve Jobs, “People don’t know what they want until you show it to them.” The reason why quotes like that ring true is because they are true. We don’t know what it is that we want. When you ask someone to say, “What do you want? What do you want for dinner tomorrow?” you’re asking them to access a part of their brain where they’re actually speculating on that possibility. So, Brad, if I asked you like, “You know, if you could wave a magic wand, what do you want in a dream car? What is like the dream car for you?” You’re speculating. You’re thinking, “Well, I might like this. I might want that.” But if I asked you a different type of question, if I say, “All right, Brad, I want you think about the car that you drive right now.” And let’s actually do this. So, think about the car, the vehicle that you drive right now. What is one thing about the car you drive right now that’s a little bit annoying, that sort of bugs you, that’s kind of something that if you could change it you would have changed it? What’s like one thing that that comes to mind?
Ryan Levesque: Well in mind it’s if I drive to the middle of nowhere Kansas, I can’t find a car charger. But I drive a Tesla and I kind of wished I created that own problem for myself. But yeah that would be…
Ryan Levesque: Yeah. But, see, how your mind was able to jump right to that? So, like for me for my wife’s car, I drove a Tesla. I gave the test with my wife, but my wife used to drive a Range Rover and the problem with the Range Rover is that the GPS, it was a 2016, the GPS they’ve I think they’ve since updated was you have to click like seven menus deep just to get to like the GPS and I thought it’s $150,000 vehicle and they can’t even get a GPS right? I couldn’t believe it. We just used our phone for GPS. On the Tesla, you have the 17 inch tablet, you’re spoiled. So, it was easy for me to answer that. But the point is this, while we’re not good at guessing what it is that we want, we’re very good as human beings to know what it is that we don’t want. When you ask someone what their biggest challenge is, you know the thing, the pain that they’re trying to avoid. People are very aware of that pain. They’re very aware when they have a pain in their body, a pain in their life. It’s something that gets a lot of attention and focus. So, they’re very good at saying, “This is my biggest challenge.” So, that’s the first thing.
Now, the second thing that you want to ask is how much time have you spent trying to solve that problem? The third question that you want to ask is how much money have you invested to solve that problem? And here’s the reason why this trifecta of questions is where the goal is. When you ask, what’s your biggest challenge, how much time, how much money, it allows you to isolate the segment of the market to give you long, detailed, passionate answers to that first question could tell you that they spent a lot of time trying to solve it and they’ve invested a lot of money trying to fix it. That is the perfect storm. When you find someone who has a big problem, that they spend a lot of time and a lot of money trying to fix, that person is most likely to be a prospective, high value lead for you and your business.
Ryan Levesque: So, real quick there because I want to dive in, because I’m processing this. It makes complete sense. When I look at the average what I would call prospect that comes into the million, $2 million prospect that is kind of the dream client for our space, oftentimes, that first question, I think if I was saying, here’s the standard answer, their single biggest challenge is all these anxieties because they don’t have a plan. They’ve kind of gone from this accumulation phase where I was working and everything was done for me. Money just auto fed into the 401(k). Healthcare was covered because I had a job. Now I’m like, now I’m taking the leap almost like you did to start your own business. They’re taking the leap. Now, that all of that’s on them, I’ve got this million, $2 million nest egg. What should I do? I don’t know. I’m overwhelmed. So, I think that challenge question will hit home with a lot of them. You’ll get straight to pain points.
But as far as time and money invested, if you just think through that demographic, how do you think that that type of demographic? Because I think time some of them haven’t spent any time, some of them have maybe bounced around to a couple of advisors. And then as far as money invested, they probably haven’t in their mind invested anything, unless they’re going out buying books or listening to podcasts. They probably just invested the actual money to like grow the nest egg from their viewpoint. So, what might be some ways that you see that playing out in financial services?
Ryan Levesque: Yeah. So, what you’re looking for is that combination of people who have either spent a lot of time and/or have spent a lot of money around this trying to solve this problem. And I’ll explain what I mean by that. If you get someone who says, let’s give two examples, right? So, you get someone who answers these questions, and their answers are as follows. My biggest challenge is I don’t even know where to begin. How much time have you tried to solve this problem? I don’t know. I’m just trying to solve it right now for the first time. How much money have you invested? No money at all. How likely is it if you have a solution that that person is going to convert? Chances are they’re going to continue shopping around, trying to do more research, trying to figure things out, versus the person who says, “So, here’s the deal. My challenge is this, exactly what you just said. I’ve got retirement coming up in the next two years away and I am petrified. I have no idea what to do with my money. I’ve been reading blogs. I’ve been spending all this time reading books and honestly, my head is spinning right now. I have no clue what to do. And I just need someone who can tell me, ‘Honestly, you know, Janet, or Bill or Bob, like, this is what you need to do next.’”
Next question, how much time? I don’t know, 100 hours, 200 hours. I mean, if you count the time that I lay awake at night thinking about this, I don’t know, 1,000 ours. Who knows? How much money? Honestly, not a whole lot of money because I’m frozen. I don’t know what to do next. When you ask those three questions, who do you think is more likely to convert from a prospect to a client? The first person who’s barely invested or the second person who’s what we call hyper invested in solving the problem. The key is you want to understand who is the hyper invested segment of your market and then build all your marketing around that avatar. So, there’s just in this fictitious example, some language that came through in that hyper invested person, right? Honestly, I’m petrified. That’s a great headline.
Ryan Levesque: Does the prospect of retiring and the next two years leave you petrified? Are you spending hundreds of hours with your head on the pillow wondering what happens next? Do you have enough? Where do you go from here? If so, I’d love to get on the phone with you and have a conversation to help you navigate these next few steps to see how we can just take – then that’s the key. We take the language that the hyper invested segment of our market has spoon fed to us in this survey, and we just turn the tables and bring it right back to them. What is happening when you do that, through the surveys, what ends up happening when you do that…
Brad Johnson: So, you survey … copy for your emails and…
Ryan Levesque: That’s a secret. Here’s the thing that I tell all my clients, your message, your copy should come from your market, not from your mind. So, if you’re listening to this or watching this right now, and if you’ve ever sat down to write an email, write a blog post, write a direct mail piece, right something that goes on your website, and you sat there trying to figure out what you’re going to say, you’re doing it the wrong way. What you do is you go to your market, understand what they say, and then you just take that language and you spoon feed it back to them. Because here’s the thing. When you do that, the reaction that you’ll get is as follows. “Oh my gosh, it’s like, you read a page out of my diary.” It’s like, “Have you been spying on my dinner conversation? Like, that’s literally what we just talked about last night? Oh, my gosh, it’s like, you know, the next question I’m going to ask before you’ve even thought to ask it.” And when you create that reaction, the only question people will have is, “All right. So, what do I do about it? Where do I go from here?”
When you demonstrate what I call empathy and understanding of a person’s situation at a deep emotional level, you understand the emotions that they’re going through, the only question they’re going to ask is, so what do I do about it? And this is how you compete against the Edward Jones’s of the world. This is how you compete against the plain vanilla generic messaging that comes through that’s standard across against the big boys. You come in, you understand in your local market your demographic, the target market, your niche that you serve, what is the unique language that the hyper invested segment of your market uses, and then echo that back in your own messaging, so that they come to you and they say, “Gosh, it feels like you understand me. Everyone else, they’re just talking. It’s just noise. But you for some reason, I believe that what you have just is right for me.”
Ryan Levesque: So, that is the one of the first secrets in using this process is tapping into the language of that hyper invested segment of your market and only them. That’s the key. The mistake that people make it’s what I call the myth of the FAQ. The mistake that people make is they treat all answers equally. They do a survey and then they say, “Okay, great. This is the most commonly asked thing. This is the most frequently asked question. So, this is easy. I’m going to do a blog post on this, or I’m going to put this on my website, or I’m going to write an article or whatever.” No, no, no. You want to ignore 80% of the market and focus on that top 20% because that’s where all the money’s at. In fact, when you asked some of the insights when I worked for Goldman, here’s one of the things that I always took away with me. It says, when a sales guy would get on the phone with a high net worth individual and they’re selling a potential investment strategy, they’re having a conversation, and at the very end of the call, they would ask one question every single time and the question was this, have you ever invested in a strategy like this before? Have you ever bought a strategy like this before, whatever it is that they were selling?”
And if the prospect said no, they ended the conversation right then and there. They didn’t even follow up. Here’s the reason why. They knew that past behavior is the best indicator of future behavior. So, if you’re trying to get someone to invest in real estate, who’s more likely to invest, the guy who’s never bought any real estate before or the guy that has a million dollars in real estate, it’s obvious, right? So, we ask these questions to really focus our attention on the best and most likely to convert segment of the market and then build our entire marketing to serve and speak to that specific demographic.
Brad Johnson: Alright. So, too much good stuff to talk about and not enough time as I expected. So, let’s kind of follow that path then. So, if I’m a financial advisor out there, and I’m like, “Wow, Ryan just convinced me I need to scrap my current website and build a new one,” let’s say you start with the video, we help a lot of our advisors produce their own video. And then we’ve got a clickable button that says, “Hey, take the next step here,” and let’s say systematically, you’re building out this, I think you called it a deep dive survey, right? So, at what point is it just those three questions and then from there, based on those responses, here’s our upper 20% that are most likely to buy, but then take step 2? Or what’s the framework of from the survey to actually ideally for an advisor, it would be an appointment in their office most times?
Ryan Levesque: Right. So, the survey that we just went through, the deep dive survey, again, I mentioned before you do anything, and after you do anything, if you want to do a survey. So, what we just went through is what we call a deep dive survey and that’s sort of a – think about that as your research that you’re doing before you build the assessment or quiz that you’re talking about on your website. So, we’ve taken this goal that we’ve gotten from the deep dive survey. We say, “Gosh, I know exactly what the market wants. That’s what I’m going to say in my video. That’s what I’m going to put on my website.” Now we’re going to use that information.
Brad Johnson: For most of our offices that would be emailing their current client list, or where they gathering that information from?
Ryan Levesque: It can be emailing your current client list. It can be through conversations that you have with prospective clients. So, for example, if you’re meeting with prospects right now, this deep dive survey doesn’t necessarily need to be a link that they click on and fill up these answers. You can simply have a conversation with people and either record that conversation or take really good notes and ask. So, what’s the biggest challenge that you’re running into right now? How much time do you think you’ve invested to try to solve that? How much money you’ve put into solving that? You can ask the questions one-on-one. It’s what I call a lean, deep dive survey. It’s lean, deep dive survey means you don’t need to have thousands of people going through this, the minimum number that I recommend people have is at least 10 of these lean deep dive survey conversations or a minimum of 250 online survey responses. The reason why you only need 10 of these lean conversation is because you’re set up to go so much deeper with those conversations, right?
If it’s a clickable survey, and you want to ask a follow-up question, you can’t. But if you’re having a conversation with someone, you can say, “Oh, interesting. Tell me more about that.” So, you mentioned so tell me more about your husband situation, tell me more about so your wife is still working. Tell me more about that.” You can go deeper into the problems that people have to better understand their situation. So, let’s say the process looks like this. Let’s say someone with someone’s all in this area. I want to do this, I want to go through this. What I’d recommend is as follows. Get those 10 lean, deep dive survey conversations done as quickly as possible, as little time as possible. So, the appointments that you have, conversations that you’re having with prospective clients, use that opportunity to record this information. And for most advisors, if you’ve been doing this for a long time, you have a sense of what these things are. But the key is, you don’t want to sanitize the language. You don’t want to put the language through your own filter as an expert and then spit it back in the way, “Oh, I think what you’re trying to say is this.”
Ryan Levesque: I’ll give you an example. In the orchid business, we have a business with the number one best-selling orchid book in the world. We sold hundreds of thousands of copies of this book. It’s called Orchids Made Easy and I knew nothing about the orchid market when I went to it. So, I wasn’t an expert. I’m not a horticulturalist. The only experience I had with orchids is I bought my wife a bunch of orchids and they all die and that’s kind of like our experience. But in that market and I have a bunch of in my other room, not in here, the stem on like a falen Ops orchid, if you have orchids or if your spouse has orchids, leaves stem, when it dies, it dries out and you clip it back and then a new shoot, a new growth will emerge. Well, to the average layperson, they don’t call it a shoot a stem. What they say is my orchid is like a dried up stick. Now, no horticulturalists will ever use that language. No orchid expert will ever use that language because it’s not appropriate. It’s not like real, it’s not the scientific term for that part of the plant.
But in our copy, we sure as heck say, “Does your orchid look like a dried up stick?” We’re using that language that the market has given us right in the memory market. I have a background in neuroscience. I know about myelin and … and I know about neural connections and pathways. I know about all that because I studied that in school. But the language my market gives me when it comes to improving their memory are things like, “I’m the poster child for poor memory.” That headline writes itself. That came straight out of a survey. I’m the poster child for poor memory. Another one, I’m a chronic name forgetter. He imagined a Facebook ad or a LinkedIn ad that said, Are you a chronic name forgetter? Click here to find out more.” Are you the poster child for poor memory, click here to find out more. So, you want to make sure that in this process, Brad, you’re not sanitizing the language and putting your own spin on it. You want to take the language in its raw, unmodified form, and put that back into your marketing.
Ryan Levesque: So, we’ve done these top 10 conversations, we recorded them, we pulled the market, we pulled the language, we said, “Okay, I think I know what I’m going to put in my video. Based on what everybody’s telling me, this is what the hyper invested segment is saying. I’m going to put this in my video. Put this in the video and then in the video, we get them to click a button and after they click on that button, we’re going to ask them a series of questions to understand what bucket they fall into, which is the next big piece of the Ask Method. The Ask Method is a way to personalize your marketing and your messaging by identifying what are the biggest buckets of people among these hyper responses. So, just like when you’re advising someone with an investment strategy, you’re not going to give people everyone the same approach. But ideally, you have different tracks, right? For some of us, we might have a bespoke every client has their own bespoke a strategy. But it’s a lot easier if you can say, oh, based on where you’re at right now, I’m going to put you in this track.”
This is what funds and fund managers do, right? They have high growth. They have a value fund. They have a blended fund. They have a small cap, a micro cap. They have these tracks to put people in based on their situation. “Oh, you’re looking for this type of exposure? Well, let’s put you in this track.” They’re not putting together a custom basket of securities for every client that comes in. No. People are going into these different tracks. So, similarly, when you ask people a series of questions, you can identify which bucket they fall into so you can speak to them on the outcome page even more specifically. So, just imagine this in your mind. Someone goes to your website, they watch this video. The video has them hanging on your every word, because you’re speaking the language of their mind. They’re saying, “Oh, my gosh, this guy understands me. Of course, I’m going to click on this button.” They click on the button. You ask them a series of questions, “Tell me, are you retired? Are you approaching retirement? Tell me,” you know, a series of questions to understand their situation.
Ryan Levesque: After they answer those questions, one question at a time, using the power of micro commitments so, question number one, are you retired? Are you unretired? Question number two, are you man or woman? Whatever questions are appropriate for your business. At the end of it all, you say, “Great. Based on everything that you’ve told me, here’s what I recommend.” And you give them a short piece of content, another video that speaks to their situation, but call to action on that video is to book a call. So, it goes like this. The whole flow is like this. “Hey, this is Brad here and I’ve been working with clients for the last 25 years. And what I found is that there are a series of challenges they run to over and over and over again, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. And I can help you identify what your next step is simply by clicking the button below, answering a few simple questions, and I’ll see you on the other side.” Click the button below. Question number one. Are you retired? Are you planning for retirement? Question number two, whatever the questions might be.
At the end of all that, “Great. Based on what you’ve told me, based on your situation, based on your goals, the best next step that I’d recommend for you is to look at setting up an irrevocable trust and here’s the reason why,” Or, “It would be to look at taking your current 401(k) plan that’s about to expire and rolling it over into an IRA. And here’s the reason why.” So, you give them that next step, what I call the band aid solution. Now, this is going to get you to this place where blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. But here’s the thing. Honestly, I don’t know your exact situation. I asked a few questions but if you’re interested, I’d love to sit down with you. And talk about your situation in more detail. Because moving your 401(k) plan over into an IRA is just one piece of the puzzle. It’s an important piece, but it’s just the first piece of the puzzle. And you and I, we can sit down we can look at based on what you’re looking to achieve, what your plan is from here. And the way to do that is to just simply click the button below, book a call with me, and we can sit down together and have this conversation. Go ahead and do this right now. I look forward to meeting you in person.
Ryan Levesque: So, see, we’ve done there? Website, video, button below it, click the button, answer a few questions, they get a outcome video. And at this point, the key differences instead of asking for that marriage proposal on the first button, we’re warming people up. We’re warming people up. We’re building a relationship. We’re asking questions to diagnose and prescribe. We’re not starting with, “Hey, I know exactly what you should do.” We’re warming people up. We’re building this action taking momentum to culminate in the point where they actually book a call with you and then you’re in your element.
Brad Johnson: Alright. For time’s sake, one final question here, and then I want to go to something else that I think would be super helpful for advisors. And maybe this is Michael Hyatt’s I know he’s used your Ask Method on some of the assessments he’s done because I know there’s also an aspect of it of the human curiosity of seeing how I stack up versus these other group of people that are like me, are you incorporating that into some of these surveys online as well? Hey, one, call it like four different types that we’ve identified before. We’ll find out which type you are. And I think you’ve even used that on your own website, if I remember correctly.
Ryan Levesque: Absolutely. Yeah. So, we’ll talk about three of the surveys and quizzes today. So, the first is the deep dive survey. That’s your market research. At the end, for anybody who does not sign up to work with you, we run what we call a feedback loop survey. The feedback loop survey is to ask people, “Hey, you decided not to book an appointment. And that’s totally fine. I’m just curious, what was the reason why? Was it something I said, something I didn’t say, something missing? What was the reason why you decided not to book an appointment? That helps you identify the gaps, helps you identify what are you doing that’s maybe turning people off or were you missing something that you can fix and adjust? So, those are sort of the two surveys that bookend this process. In the middle of it is what we call a micro commitment quiz. So, you’re asking these questions, one question at a time to lead people down this path. There are three types of quizzes that work incredibly well. The first one is what we call a type of quiz. Now a type quiz is putting people into different buckets based on their unique type.
So, I have a quiz. You can actually check it out if you want to see an example of this, that we’ve had a few hundred thousand people go through and it’s the quiz, what type of business should you start? Take the quiz to find out now. When it comes to starting your business, there’s no one size fits all answer. But if you tell me a little bit about your situation, your background, your experience, your profession that you’re in, your goals, your lifestyle goals, I can help recommend the right type of business for you to start. Click the button below. Answer a few simple questions and I’ll see you on the other side.” That’s type. That’s a type-based quiz. Second one is what we call a killer quiz. The killer quiz all focuses on mistakes that people make. So, it might be retirement killers. Golf swing killers is the example I shared a moment before, right? So, from the rank beginner to the season tour pro, there are 10 big mistakes that every golfer tends to make in their swing and I can identify what your number one swing killer is in under 60 seconds. The reason why the killer angle works really well is people are fascinated to know what are they doing wrong. Retirement killers, if you’re within five years of retirement, there are 10 big retirement killers that people tend to make.
Ryan Levesque: These are mistakes that can actually set you back for life if you don’t take time to fix them. But by answering a few simple questions, I can help you identify what the single biggest retirement killer you might be making is right here right now absolutely free. Click the button below, answer a few simple questions, and I’ll see you on the other side. That’s the killer angle. The third one is a score angle. That’s the one that you’re talking about, you referred to a moment ago. So, score is an incredibly powerful framework, because people want to know, how do they stack up against their peers? And how do they stack up against how they should be doing at this stage of your life? What’s your retirement readiness score? How ready are you really for retirement? If you take a moment to answer a few simple questions, we’ll give you your retirement readiness score and how to take that score from where you are now to get to that next level so that you’re truly ready for your retirement. So, that’s a score based approach.
So, there are three approaches type killer score for that quiz, that assessment that people click on when they land on your website and that really makes this process work together. Deep dive survey before to understand our audience. Quiz to take people through to identify what bucket they fall into so we can give them a customized prescription instead of treating people all the same. And then a feedback loop survey on the back of it after people either buy from you or don’t buy from you to find out why didn’t they buy and the ones who did buy, what was it that you said or did that put them over the edge so you can double down and do more of that thing. And that is, in a nutshell, at a 30,000 foot level, the Ask Method in action.
Brad Johnson: That’s impressive, man. That was done concisely and custom-tailored to our industry. So, I appreciate it. It’s like you’ve done this a time or two before. So, as we wrap here, we’ve got a few minutes. I’m just going to ask you another follow up question. I’ve got some philosophical questions here but there’s one other that I think can be really helpful, because as you go into the pivot survey as well as the do you hate me survey, I think if you look at our industry, many of them and we talked about the guy that you’re working with locally there in Austin, that’s kind of old school marketing versus new school marketing, a lot of our industry has grown their entire practice on dinner events. Would you call the country club?
Ryan Levesque: Country club marketing. Yeah. Of course.
Brad Johnson: Country club marketing. Yes. So, it’s kind of that old school networking, the dinner events, and not that those don’t still work today but many of them have databases where they’ve mailed thousands of people in their local market over their career and say, I don’t know, maybe 5% ended up buying from them. So, 95% is just sitting there in a database, maybe they’re getting a drip email once a week. That’s about it. Do the do you hate me survey or the pivot survey apply to being able to go back and mind that database of prospects that they haven’t engaged with yet?
Ryan Levesque: Yeah, absolutely. So, the do you hate me survey, it’s a tongue in cheek way that we describe the feedback loop survey. So, the feedback loop survey, why didn’t you buy? Why didn’t you sign up? Why did you decide to either do nothing or work with somebody else? I’m just curious. Was it something I said? Something I didn’t say? The do you hate me survey is sort of got its name because you can use that phrase, “Was it something I said, something I didn’t say? Do you hate me? Like do you hate my guts?” You’re doing it in obviously a playful way. You don’t have to use that language but it absolutely has a place. The do you hate me survey or the feedback loop survey is a survey you want to run anytime you run a marketing campaign and people don’t buy from you. You want to understand why they didn’t buy, what did you miss? Did they go to a competitor? Were you too expensive? Were they turned off by your bad breath? Like what was it that you did or said that led them in a different direction so you can fix that thing. So, you can brush your teeth, change your prices or do whatever you need to do. So, the next time that you run a marketing campaign, people are going to say, “You know what, I’m in.”
Brad Johnson: Cool. And then to the pivot survey, with the pivot survey, could you use that to go into, “Hey, do you want to see how you stack up? You haven’t engaged with us yet,” and put that into something like a micro commitment?
Ryan Levesque: Yeah, for sure. You know, like, if you’re not doing any of this right now is if you have a database of people, there’s a huge opportunity after you build this micro commitment quiz to take people through that same process. So, let’s say you have 1,000 people on your list right now, and you have 50 clients, right? We have 950 people in your database that have not bought from you. Well, that’s a huge opportunity to take those 950 people through this your retirement score, your retirement readiness score, retirement killers was to bring them through where they look at your business through fresh eyes, and they say, “Gosh, I’m actually making some of these mistakes.” See, when you ask the right questions, what ends up happening is not only do you better understand the person’s situation, but you can actually create desire and demand by creating a gap in their mind between where they are right now and where they want to be, a gap that might not exist right now.
If I take you through a retirement killer score and I know, Brad, you’re not planning on retiring anytime soon, but if you were and I took you through this killer quiz, that could be something that you bring home and have a conversation with your wife at the dinner table and say, “Honey, I took this assessment online and you know how we’re doing this thing over here. I think that’s actually a mistake, or the retirement readiness idea, right? You know, I don’t know that we’re as ready as we need to be for retirement. I think we need to do something about it. There’s a guy that does this thing locally, I think I might actually set up a time to talk to him because I think he knows what he’s doing. So, it’s another way to engage that audience of non-buyers, non-customers and bring them into your world.
Brad Johnson: All right. And I want to respect your time. We’re right at the finish line here. The one thing that we talked before the interview about that we didn’t quite get to but I want to at least plant the seed with our audience because you were kind enough to not only send me a box of your latest book, Choose, but also to autograph them. So, what we focus most of this conversation on Ask because most of our audience has established businesses and that’s really the framework, drive the lead funnel off of the website but we did kind of brainstorm and thought through some cool ways that some of the methodology from Choose might be used. And I know a lot of our retirees or a lot of our advisors are working with retirees or figuring out when can that individual retire, which leads to kind of Chapter 2 or Act 2 in a lot of their lives which many retirees are not the old school retirees of today, rocking on the front porch in a rocking chair. They’re actually out, like building businesses. Do you mind just closing? You had a really cool story. I think Debbie, the gardener?
Ryan Levesque: Yeah. Absolutely.
Brad Johnson: I think that can be a cool way to maybe apply some of this books methodology for some advisors out there. Hey, hand them this book to a retiree that’s kind of what’s the next chapter.
Ryan Levesque: Yeah, absolutely. So, my first book, Ask, is all about the process that we spend time talking about today, how to understand your market at a deep emotional level, how to ask the right questions to better sell, and better serve that market. What I realized when I wrote this book is one of the biggest questions I got from people was how do I choose the right market in the first place? So, as a financial advisor, you’ve probably been taught to choose your niche, who’s your niche, right? You’re not a financial advisor for everybody. There’s a specific niche that you want to focus on serving. And much like Ask is a very systematic approach. It’s very data driven. It’s simplicity on the far side of complexity. Because I’ve gone into 23 different markets, I have a similar methodology for choosing markets in the first place. And I mentioned, it’s the single most important decision you need to make before you start your business. It’s also something that I recommend every established business owner go through the process of taking a second look at your market every two to three years. And the reason for that is markets change just like the stock market changes, markets of customers change, right?
The boomer generation is getting older. Millennials are getting older. Things change. People change. Ten years ago, people did things in a different way. So, you want to constantly reevaluate the market you’re in and ask yourself, “Am I in the absolute right niche or maybe doing to pivot?” So, this book takes you through that process. But the point that you brought up, Brad, is that there are a lot of people that come into our world who had successful careers. They were, you know, doctors, lawyers. They were in a profession and they reach retirement age, and they’re trying to figure out what do I do next. And I have an increasing number of people who are interested in starting and building online businesses. The idea of making a few thousand dollars a month, tens of thousands of dollars a month, being able to work from home, spend time with the grandkids, not have a commute, make that extra money, and put that either towards their retirement or give it to their kids and grandkids is very attractive. And so, as I’m sharing a story with Brad before we got on of a woman whose name is Debbie.
Ryan Levesque: And Debbie is a retired nurse practitioner. So, she was a nurse for a number of years, a nurse practitioner. She retired and she asked herself, “What do I do next?” And she has a love of gardening like gardening is her thing. They call her Debbie, the garden gal like that’s her nickname among her friends. And she wanted a way to transform that passion and that interest into a way to make extra income. So, she’s since built an online business where she teaches people how to garden in small spaces. So, she has programs and products and she makes thousands of dollars a month in her business teaching people how to garden in small spaces. It’s not what she went to school for. It’s not what she spent the last 45 years of her life doing. But now that she’s retired, it’s a way for her to make extra money. It’s a way to stay engaged. It’s a fun challenge. And I’m seeing an increasing number of people who reach retirement age who were looking like you said for that second act, where do they go from here, and this book, Choose, is what I recommend everybody go through first.
It walks you through the very first steps that you need to go through to choose the right market, the single most important decision before you start your business. And read Choose and then once you’re finished with Choose, read Ask and then you’ve got what you need to get your business off the ground.
Brad Johnson: Cool. Well, Ryan, thanks so much for the time, man. I know our paths are going to cross here in the near future. It wouldn’t surprise me if it’s something in relation to Advisors Excel and what we do over here. So, look forward to the next time our paths cross and thanks for sharing some time here with us today.
Ryan Levesque: Likewise, Brad. It’s been an absolute pleasure and an honor. Thanks so much for having me here and look forward to connecting soon.
Brad Johnson: All right. Until next time.
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