February 24, 2009

Advisor Oversights: What Impression Does Your Washroom Create?

How we do anything is how we do everything.
--- T Harv Eker

Want to shake hands with an icicle? In the winter, my hands get cold even with gloves. So when visiting an advisor, I first stop in their washroom to warm up my hands with hot water. That's when shock sets in. 

Some washrooms aren't presentable. This creates a very bad impression, especially for clients. 

Worst Practices
I've seen and smelled the following (in no particular order):
  • toilet bowl plungers and cleaners
  • lousy paper towel (as absorbent as cheap writing paper)
  • no paper towel (or electric hand dryer), which is a real treat
  • no soap (how sanitary)
  • ancient faucets
  • leaking faucets
  • damaged sinks
  • poor layouts
  • poor lighting
  • corroded mirrors
  • cracks in the walls
  • locked doors (generally for security reasons)
  • odours
And clients are expected to invest thousands or hundreds of thousands of dollars?

We judge what we see. Since you're selling the intangible --- financial products --- impressions carry weight.

Best of Class
Where attention goes, energy flows and results show.
--- T Harv Eker
Big firms in prestigious buildings generally have great washrooms. Not everyone can install granite and hands-free faucets. Nor is that required. 

We take our surroundings for granted. Inattention spreads. Stained carpets. Scratched reception desk. Poor air circulation. Lost clients. 

Maybe business would be better if washrooms were better.


February 19, 2009

Three Internet Marketing Lessons from Paul Tobey That Work Offline

You can get everything in life you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want. --- Zig Ziglar

To help you boost your revenue, I attend various free seminars to
  • see if you would benefit from them
  • detect ways to make your own seminars better
I went to Internet Marketing Intensive in Oakville, a four hour primer by Paul Tobey. The goal? To get registrants for a three-day course. Fortunately, Paul presented useful ideas and spent mere minutes promoting his course. Much better than the drawn-out, pressured sales pitches at the Real Estate and Wealth Expo. Naturally, you left feeling there's more to learn and that he could teach you.

Since few advisors have a web presence, I'll skip the intriguing tips on Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to share ideas you can use offline.

The Three Lessons
  1. The money's in the list
  2. Proof convinces
  3. Strangers critique well
The Value Of A List
Virtually every attendee came via an email list. I was through the Streetsmart Marketer, which Paul recently bought from Michael Hepworth, who now works on alternative fuels. Using email lists means that no money was spent on advertising. Yet the room was filled close to capacity.

To create a list, you need to offer visitors something they value. To keep subscribers (what Seth Godin might call a tribe), you need to send useful information on a regular basis without sales pitches. That's been my goal with blogging: sharing the best of what I know for free. You can easily achieve similar results.

Proof Convinces
Never make your claim bigger than your proof --- Paul Tobey
In many free seminars, we're told to trust the presenter based on what the presenter tells us. Hardly objective. Paul proved that he can create webpages that make the first page of Google search results. Examples (at the time of writing)
  • business networking techniques: #6 on google.com and #3 on google.ca
  • top Internet website ranking: #3 on google.com and #2 on google.ca
That convinced me to register. To my pleasant surprise --- and without conscious effort --- I'm #1 already with "marketing actuary" on google.com (out of 1,190,000 results), yahoo.com, dogpile.com and even cuil.com.

In financial services, proof proves elusive. Clients take longer to be convinced and fewer get convinced. High rankings in search engine results does boost your credibility.

Since people buy according to their own schedules, we need ways to stay in contact until they're ready.

Strangers Critique Well
As an exercise, we had five minutes to create headlines that would intrigue a reader who knows nothing about your product. Here are mine
  1. Revealing Tax Saving Strategies Approved By The Taxman
  2. How Do The Unique Tax Advantages Of Insurance Help You?
  3. Improved Tax Strategies For The Wealthy
  4. What Five Insured Strategies Do The Wealthy Use?
  5. Why Accountants Approve 10/8 Leveraging Strategies
My partner, from the exotic world of cold-pressed chocolate, preferred #4, followed by #1. He found #5 had too much jargon and the others weren't very interesting. How refreshing to get different perspectives.

While I can't gauge the value of the 3-day seminar, the primer delivered more content than expected. Even ideas that work offline.


February 10, 2009

The "Tangled Web of Weirdness": Squawking About Life Insurance

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. --- Martin Luther King, Jr.

"Squawk" is difficult to spell. Life insurance is difficult to evaluate, Advisors are difficult to trust. The spelling is my challenge. The other points are yours. You've heard those beliefs expressed before. Some skepticism lingers even among clients --- and their acquaintances.

The Thoughtful Fox
Let's look at Squawkfox, a thoughtful blogger who focuses on frugal living and is credible enough to get quoted in the Globe & Mail and other publications.
The Globe & Mail articles each cost $4.95 plus tax. That's for 30 days. Hardly frugal. You can get free online access to many newspapers and magazines through your public library, though.
You can gauge the quality of her writing for yourself.

How To Buy Life Insurance Without Getting Screwed
That's the title of the post by Fox. It's catchy and shows up in Google searches --- easy for your clients and prospects to find. The article is based on weeks of hands-on research and well worth reading. You can probably predict the conclusions.

Be sure to read the visitor comments. You'll see a range of opinions.

What You Can Do
Almost always, the creative, dedicated minority has made the world better.
--- Martin Luther King, Jr.
Life insurance --- term or permanent --- can provide many benefits, including peace of mind.

When you see an opportunity to help others understand, why not speak out? Since people search for information online, you can help them see other perspectives. Silence fails to convince. Silence leaves a vacuum that other voices fill.


February 4, 2009

Google Alerts: Track What Matters To You

Analytical software enables you to shift human resources from rote data collection to value-added customer service and support where the human touch makes a profound difference. --- Bill Gates

How can be find the gems in the clutter than surrounds us?

Define what you want to track and use Google Alerts, a remarkable overlooked tool. Google will then scour the online world and send you links as they happen, daily or weekly. You can quickly scan the results to decide what to keep. I use PersonalBrain to turn this data into information and then wisdom (see my review). I'm building up a nice database for quick, future reference.

I'm tracking these keywords at present:
  • Canada Revenue Agency
  • life expectancy
  • life insurance Canada
  • trust
Life Expectancy
Here are some of the interesting, timely articles about life expectancy:
Since we're living longer and longer, we need to save more, save sooner and squeeze more out of our savings. We need to look after ourselves better so we can enjoy the extra years in good health.

There's plenty that you can do with the results. Do you send interesting, relevant articles to clients, prospects or centres of influence? You've now got more sources --- some obscure. Do you want to keep track of your competitors? Setup an alert. Do you want to see if you or your company make the news (which can be good or bad)? Setup an alert.

Try It
Education is not the piling on of learning, information, data, facts, skills, or abilities - that's training or instruction - but is rather making visible what is hidden as a seed. --- Thomas More
Go to www.google.com/alerts and give it a try. There's lots you can do. If you don't want comprehensive searches, you can even limit monitoring to news articles, the web, blog posts or video.