An interview with Lone Beacon Co-Founder, John Capuano
While we might not have realized it at the start of the pandemic, our worlds have fundamentally changed. The way we live will never be the same again, even after COVID is declared to no longer be a serious threat. The shifts that have occurred since March will forever impact the way we communicate in our personal and professional lives, the way we shop, consume entertainment, and our need for constant and reliable information. These changes will continue to manifest at least through the end of 2021. We recognize these trends and understand that the people who successfully emerge from times of upheaval are those who also recognize them and respond. Here are the top 5 lessons we learned in 2020 about responding to major changes.
- 1. The Necessity to Find an Alternative to Live Workshops and In-Person Meetings
The biggest obstacle we all face is not being able to get together in person – with our loved ones, co-workers, and clients. A year ago it was nearly unheard of for baby boomers to be on “Zoom”…while today they understand it from a technical standpoint and accept it as a common way to engage with friends and family.
For advisors, the pandemic meant losing the ability to build close relationships with clients and potential clients through traditional dinner seminars and in-office meetings. For advisors who primarily or solely relied on this marketing method, the carpet was totally pulled out from under them, and there’s no reason to think it will go back to normal. This has caused 3 major things:
- It has forced firms to seek out alternatives to workshops as a primary marketing tool or face a decline in business.
- It has rewarded entrepreneurs who found other ways to meet new prospects and nurture existing ones virtually.
- It has exposed marketing companies who only played in the workshop vertical to become nearly irrelevant.
In response, we adapted by creating webinar content and platforms. While we might not have expected the average Baby Boomer to easily use Zoom before March of 2020, now we know we can expect this: “Social isolation has forced a generation of people to embrace and be comfortable with this technology. They understand the level of intimacy they can have over Zoom because it’s what they use to talk to their kids and grandkids,” says Lone Beacon Co-Founder, John Capuano. “So, their recent experiences can also change the level of intimacy they can find with a financial advisor over Zoom. It’s just the way we communicate now.”
- 2. The Importance of First-Party Data
The absence of dinner workshops nearly eliminated the use of “paid-for” data via database mailers. Access to data is more important, and more complicated, than ever. But to complicate things further, restrictive privacy laws concerning personal data causes a mail house’s data to not be nearly as valid as it once was. This means it’s crucial to get the word out and aggregate first-party data. We can do this through Facebook advertising and email marketing. Once prospects opt in, you can continue to market to them through email – and enjoy a much higher conversion rate for a fraction of the cost of mailers. Ultimately this kind of organically built database is far more valuable than purchased third-party data.
- 3. The Importance of Being the “Go-To” Source to Keep People Informed
“In trying times, people look to authority figures for comfort and solutions – it’s like how a small child clings to their parent’s pant leg during a thunderstorm,” says John Capuano. “That’s why advisors have to offer solutions to their clients and prospects that can make sense of the tumult.” We invest in white labeling for our clients so they’re always front and center in their audience’s minds, providing answers and solutions to big problems. We offer everything from a comprehensive book series to whitepapers on perennial topics like Social Security, and timely topics like the presidential election. We also created the “Money News To Use” platform that features the best articles on a new topic every month with a message from the advisor as another way to present them as experts on a variety of retirement topics.
- 4. The Necessity of Operating in the Digital World
“Early on in the pandemic, we were flooded by people who wanted to do business with us. They needed a digital band-aid,” says John. “We’re all in the digital game – it’s like saying we’re in the telephone business because we talk on the telephone.” We understand that clients and staff are always on their phones, often with multiple screens in front of them. It’s impossible to avoid reaching people digitally and still grow. But embracing the digital isn’t a quick fix – just dipping a toe in isn’t effective because the digital space is omnipresent and tricky to get involved with. All digital elements, such as email, social media, and website are connected and have to be coordinated.
“Ultimately there are two kinds of people in the industry: Those who understand how our world has changed and embrace it by changing their practices, and those who ignore the reality of the competitive landscape,” says John.
- 5. The Necessity to Be Nimble When Running Your Business…Now and Forever
Creating intimacy and connection in a socially distanced world starts with how you run your business, from the inside out. It’s not just about marketing practices, it’s about the systems advisors apply to their staff, whether it’s changing the staff or training them differently. It’s also in how meetings are run and building a company culture at a distance. Innovation or changing marketing practices require everyone being onboard and their willingness to install and maintain new systems, such as an email marketing system or new CRM.
In the end, we want our advisors to thrive, not just survive. While that might seem like a lofty goal during the pandemic, we understand that necessity is the mother of invention, and invention can lead to even better outcomes than previously imagined. Reach out to learn more about how we can apply these 5 lessons to your business in the age of COVID and beyond.