With Thanksgiving right around the corner, now is the perfect time to thank your clients for their business and loyalty. Without them, you would not experience business growth or success.

Forget about 62 or 65. More and more Americans are embracing the new reality of retiring at 70 — or later. Even workers who plan to retire at 65 aren’t so sure of themselves. Those surveyed admit that, while they’d like to retire at 65, they think there’s a 50% chance they’ll wind up working until 70.

It’s almost October. That means raking and cooler weather. In business, you are most likely planning on how to boost revenue for the 4th quarter, maximize your 2016 marketing budget, and set yourself up for a successful 2017. It’s a busy time for us.

Over the past 8 years, I’ve had the privilege of helping advisors figure out how to get the best results in the final three months of the year. Here are my top 6 favorite marketing initiatives which have helped our clients finish the year strong:

Most of your clients have other experts who influence their lives. Your clients are  also the clients of CPAs, Attorneys, Doctors, etc. All of those experts also have other clients who are not your clients… yet. Wouldn’t it be great if their other clients could become your clients too?

Like with anyone one you are trying to build a relationship with, the first step is always to reach out to them. Ask your clients if there is a CPA or an Estate Planning Attorney in the area who they trust. If a lot of your clients give you the same couple of names, then those are the people you contact first.

Before reaching out to anyone, take a moment to google those names. What you see when you do a little research can help you reduce your list to just one or two names. Once you have figured out which professional(s) seems to align with your business ideals the most, ask those clients who suggested that person if you could use their name when calling him or her. Most of the time your clients will say “yes.”

When you contact this professional be business casual in your tone. Mention that you have heard good things about them and their business from you clients. Your initial conversation is the perfect time to plant the seed that you are looking for a partnership. Start by making the suggestion that you have some business you might like to send their way, but you would like to meet with them first. Ask if they’re available for dinner or lunch, your treat.

If they agree to meet with you, which they will, pick a nice place. It does not have to be a Michelin Star rated restaurant. You want the feel of the meeting and the restaurant to be relaxed, but still know that the wait staff will be there when you need them and they will be courteous. Don’t let the stress of bad service be a factor in your meeting, your reaction may not set you in the best light.

If your first meeting has gone well and you have now established that this is a professional you would like to work with, and they will not be competitor or try to take advantage of you, then you can move forward to grow the relationship. If you have a nice office, you could have your second meeting there. You can give them a quick tour, if you feel comfortable. This should go without saying, but just don’t leave them alone where they could have access to any confidential material. Even if you don’t believe they would do anything with it, they will notice and question your better judgement. You want them to know from the beginning that your clients’ privacy is important to you, just as much as their clients’ privacy is important to them.

The second meeting is when you need to talk more brass tacks. Make sure that this professional understands that this is a partnership, not a one way feeding trough. You are not interested in giving them all the business without getting anything in return. Be respectful, but also stand your ground. You are not a push over or someone to be taken advantage of.

The next step is to feel the situation out. If you have a client or two that is in need of the kind of services this professional offers, refer that client to him or her. If your client goes to see them and are happy, or unhappy, with this professional’s services they will let you know. They will either thank you greatly or they will ask you “Why did you ever refer us to someone like that?” That client’s interaction will tell you how the partnership is going to work out. If your first couple of referrals report well, then you can grow this partnership. If those first few referrals report back negatively, you should cut ties quickly and cleanly, and find another professional to work with.

If you’ve established that this is a professional who not only you like, but your clients also like, then it’s time to expand your relationship. Host an event together: perhaps a picnic event for both of your clients to attend. This is a great opportunity for you to introduce your clients to this professional and he or she to introduce you to his or her clients. Keep the event fun and casual. You don’t need to give a business speech; this is not a seminar.

As your trust grows with each other over time, you can expand these events to become even more fruitful. For example: group referral events, seminars, marketing flyers, letters, etc. Once you’ve established a strong partnership, your referral and prospect well will be endlessly growing.

Go Green

Quote of the Month: “ Try to leave the earth a better place than when you arrived.” – Sidney Sheldon

Going green, or becoming more environmentally friendly, in your office doesn’t have to mean making extreme changes. Even small changes can have a great impact. Here are few ideas that can help your office go green and save you more money in the long run too.

One of the first steps you can take is to switch all of the office lights to LEDs. They may cost a little more up front, but they last forever and reduce your use of electricity. This means you’ll save money from not having to buy lights every year and your electricity bill will be reduced significantly as well.

Another small step, is keeping live plants in the office. It doesn’t have to be many, but a few plants can help offset VOCs and CO2 emissions. They can also help brighten up your office area and give it more of a homey feel. If your office has a kitchen, having a few herbs such as basil and rosemary can help to reduce any food odors, while also serving as a living spice rack for your lunch.

One way your office can also help the community to go green is to hold an electronics recycling day event. Invite people from your community to drop off their broken electronics and then have the county come and pick them up from your office. You many have to pay a small fee for this, but since you can also use this as a marketing and referral event, it’s worth it. You don’t have to limit this event to electronics, it could also be clothes or books.

Another way your office can be more environmentally friendly, is by asking your clients if you could send more correspondence via email. This could be newsletters, event information, changes in the market, etc. Most of your clients will say yes. Some clients are still “old fashion” and will request that they still receive paper versions of everything. The number of people who will still want paper will be few though. By taking this step you will reduce your office’s paper consumption a considerable amount.

Here is a sample of an email you can send to clients requesting that you would like to go more green:

Dear «firstname»,

We’re going GREEN!

Like many Americans, we’re concerned about conserving our natural resources and doing our part to lessen our “carbon footprint”. To that end, we’ve decided to “go green” in our offices and do what we can to reduce paperwork in favor of electronic communication.

Can you help us?

We’d like to send you statements, confirmations, reviews and more via email to reduce our paper usage. Not only is this good for the environment, it will allow us to communicate with you more quickly and (we hope) be more convenient for you.

If receiving these types of correspondence via the internet is okay with you, could you please share your email address(es) below, sign, and return back to us in the self-addressed stamped envelope we have included? As always, I am happy to answer any questions you may have. Please feel free to call me at «representativephone», or simply send an e-mail to «representativeemail».

Thank you, in advance! Sincerely,


YES! I’d like to help conserve our natural resources. Please send me future correspondence via the email address(es) below …




Please print your full name:

Quote of the Month:  “Don’t lower your expectations to meet your performance. Raise your level of performance to meet your expectations” – Ralph Marston

In our office we use a checklist to help us prepare for each client review. The checklist is made up of 35 separate items which allow us to ensure that we are accurately and thoroughly preparing the reports we run for each of our clients. We believe in providing the most up-to-date and detailed information to our clients. This plays a part in differentiating ourselves from other advisors our clients may be working with, or have worked with in the past. The checklist walks anyone who may be preparing for a client meeting through the specific details that must be added and changed prior to a review. The added benefit of this checklist is that it helps to identify potential sales opportunities for the advisor.

Prior to each client meeting, we update the client’s Asset Summary, Income Plan, & Beneficiary Page, as well as organizing the physical client file to remove any out-of-date material. The proper preparation and presentation of these information pages provides an occasion to identify additional sales opportunities.

While preparing the Asset Summary, the checklist guides us through the areas of the summary that need to be updated. During this process we reformat the sheet to make sure it has the current date, client age, fonts and disclosures. We contact each carrier to update the current account values, RMD amounts, and income values. If a particular account has a stock position or values which are indexed, we add a percentage next to that value to indicate exposure of those investments to market movements. This is a great opportunity to assess a client’s pain with regard to potential losses from a particular account or investment. Are they now interested in moving the money to an account with you? We also check the ownership of each account to make sure it matches with our records. If the client has life insurance, we add all known details including the rating, premium, policy date, cash value, and company who the policy is with. There are always potential opportunities with life insurance since costs and needs change over time. For this reason, we always have a series of insurance quotes available during an annual review. The more detail you have on the Asset Summary provides for better opportunities to ask the client about old retirement accounts, maturing CD’s, and other outside investments that the client may be willing to move.

Marketing Tip of the Month:

Call us at 1-888-556-1379 to get a copy mid-year financial planning checklist as a starting point to implement this system in your practice today! We recommend using it to mail a letter to all the clients you have not seen in a while, inviting them to come in for an annual review.

Quote of the Month:  “The first objective of any lead development conversation is to deepen your knowledge of the prospect.” – Mike Steranka

The Sales Pipeline consists of clients and prospects in the process of buying something.

The pipeline can be broken down into four phases:

Lead Generation: These are the actions taken to create a lead for the first time.

Example: Asking for referrals, seminars, cold calling, etc.

salesprocessLead Development: The actions taken to push a prospect or existing client to a first appointment in a sales process.

Example: Follow up phone calls, follow up letters (these can be found in our the First Income Advisor member portal below).

Lead Generation differs from Lead Development primarily in the messages which contain a great deal of information about the firm, the team and the company. However once someone has received that information, it would be pointless, if not senseless, to send it again.

Sales Process: Once the first appointment is set, the lead is managed with sales processing. This covers second, third, and subsequent appointments as well as rescheduling. The end result of this phase is “Sale to Client” or “Sale to Prospect.”

Red Carpet: New sales are managed with the Red Carpet follow-up system.

Example: The letters found in the First Income member portal below.

When you get the “yes” from that new client, you will begin a process to welcome them to your investment family. This process is designed to show your personal appreciation for the opportunity to work with them, introduce your new client to your team, direct them to your service assistant for service questions, build rapport and promote the idea that you accept referrals—all right from the get go.

Marketing Tip of the Month:

Take the time to map out your pipeline 6 months in advance. It’s important to know where leads are coming from and when you will be expecting them to come in so you and your staff are prepared.

“The man who stops advertising to save money is like the man who stops the clock to save time”

If you are not posting to your Facebook page, tweeting, or marketing your services on your own website, you are losing potential business opportunities. Nowadays, most advisors/brokers are using social media to enhance their business.