Join Mike Woods and Solange Jacobs Randolph, FMG Suite’s Senior Director of Marketing, as they discuss how advisors can create a successful marketing calendar. Learn how to consistently deliver value to your clients – without overwhelming them.

Tune in for answers to important questions like:

  • How can you get started with a marketing calendar?
  • Can you send too many client communications?
  • Should you try social media advertising?


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Mike Woods: Hi everyone. Welcome to the Market and Motion Podcast for Financial Advisors. Today I'm excited to be joined by Solange Jacobs Randolph who is our senior director of marketing here for the FMG family of companies.

Solange: Hi Mike. Thank you so much for having me.

Mike: Today, today we've got Solange, in the podcast, on the podcast and we're going to talk about what to consider when creating a marketing calendar. Open a browser, grab a notepad and take some notes because we're going to be passing along a lot of information on a lot of different tips. This is the type of podcast where sometimes we have a podcast where we talk to people that are at a very high level that are going to be looking at economic forecast at market forecast. Then we have industry leaders that are going to tell you what direction the industry is going in.

Today is a good old fashioned roll up your sleeves podcast. We are going to talk about the ins and outs of what makes a calendar work and how best to use it. Solange, let's set the stage for everyone. You're senior director of marketing for the FMG Suite family of companies. Give everybody your elevator pitch about your duties.

Solange: Let's see. I've been a marketer in mostly technology and software companies for the last two decades now. Currently at FMG Suite. I manage a small team of very productive B2B marketers. We are responsible for driving interest in FMG Suite products and solutions. We're measured by our ability to attract new leads and deliver them to our sales team. Primarily we focus on inbound marketing, we attract our customers by creating a lot of valuable content this podcast, eBooks and other materials. Hopefully, when financial advisors realize that they have a need for industry-leading marketing solutions, we will be top of mind.

Mike: Got it. Speaking of top of mind, one of the things we do with the marketing calendars, we produced one at FMG Suite. We produce a marketing calendar. I think our 2021 is almost ready.

Solange: Absolutely. I think starting in the new year, new customers will receive that and a box directly from our team here at FMG Suite.

Mike: Nice. Nice. We are big believers in calendars here at FMG Suite. Today we're going to be talking about why financial advisors should use some marketing calendars to schedule their campaigns with clients and prospects. Solange, in your experience, what percentage of financial advisors use a calendar to track their activity and why can a calendar be so powerful? Kind of a two-part question.

Solange: I use a calendar in every part of my life on a daily basis, on an hour by hourly basis. It's quite difficult for me to understand why more people don't abide by calendar. Nothing happens in my life without a calendar to be honest. I'm afraid that at least in my experience with financial advisors, I'm guessing apparently a fraction of advisers are using calendars to think strategically about their marketing. Then maybe 10% of those who are thinking strategically about marketing are actually implementing a calendar to guide their day to day tactics.

Mike: Got it.

Solange: I would love to be proven wrong, certainly but if you have a marketing calendar, please let us know in the comments. If you're a listener, or if you're in an office with an advisor who does use a calendar, please let us know by leaving a review for this podcast.

Mike: I think most financial advisors have a daily calendar of their activities when they're meeting with clients and prospects. It's more what we're talking about is more of a strategic calendar about marketing efforts that are taking place over a month, over a quarter, over a year. Putting that together and you actually giving some thought to that at the beginning of the year, the milestones somebody would want to cover during the year.

Solange: Absolutely. I mean your day to day calendar might change at the drop of a dime, right? Someone gets ill and suddenly they can make that appointment, but I want everyone to think about the marketing calendar is that 10,000-foot view. Something that guides not only your activities but the activities of your team as well throughout the quarter or as Mike said as you just said throughout the year. It allows you to put certain markers and at the beginning of the year if you're going to host a quarterly event that you call your client appreciation event, put that on the calendar and you also know that so many things need to happen to make an event successful.

You need to promote that, right? You need a series of emails. You might want to do an actual postcard that gets delivered in the mail to your top clients who you really want to feel special and make sure that they're there. Plotting all of that out for people like me, again, who don't do anything without a calendar, telling me to do it is of supreme importance and also keeps everybody on the same page. It means that it's not only in your head, even if you are the most organized person ever, you need to socialize that information by way of a calendar. Keep multiple people marching towards the same goal.

Mike: We're talking the right language to financial advisors because if they want to put out a blog post if they want to say something about say next month they want to talk about end of the year activities, they've got a factor in a compliance review, they've got to factor in any type of other review, any type of writing process that would go on editing. There's the marketing on the strategic level, and then there's the actual tactical execution of each piece.

Solange: Absolutely. As a marketer, I lead my team in the development of some material. Let's say we're producing an e-book and we need to put the deadline when we want to start promoting that e-book as a date on the calendar. There's so many things that need to happen on time before we can get to that. I don't think that's too dissimilar from the life of a financial advisor. You also have the same constraints. You need to draft the blog, you need to get someone to review it. Reviews are always important. Before you take that out and get that reviewed by your compliance department let's say, I don't know, something changes and you realize that there's some new fresh new market insight you want to add to that blog.

Maybe you need another round. Maybe you're going to have to allow for that flexibility and the timeline that you allow. Then getting the thing published. Images are really important on the internet. Maybe you want to work with a designer or you want to go poking on Google images yourself to find some great images to support your message. All of these things need to happen. Get it over to our geo web guy. If you're not posting these things on the fly by yourself before you can publish. Calendars, keep everybody on track and are essential for marketers like myself and financial advisors. Thank you all.

Mike: All right, so let's do a quick Q&A. I'm just going to throw some quick questions out to you. Should I put my presentation events on a calendar.

Solange: Every time? Yes.

Mike: Should I put a physical events on the calendar?

Solange: Absolutely.

Mike: Should I put newsletter dates on my calendar?

Solange: These are really important because there's so much work that needs to happen in the run-up to getting a newsletter out the door.

Mike: Now, how about birthdays? Should I put a client's birthdays on my calendar?

Solange: Definitely. Clients love personal communication and being able to send a birthday greeting card at the right time is a no brainer. It doesn't have to be a difficult thing because you can schedule it in advance.

Mike: Sure. I'm a social advisor. I'm posting quite a bit. Should I put that on the calendar too?

Solange: Social is an interesting one. I think social, you want to have an editorial calendar to guide the frequency of your posts and perhaps topically the types of things that you're going to talk about.

Because social can be so on the fly depending on what poster you are and what content you're putting out there. It's always good to know that I typically post on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 11:00 AM. On Tuesdays and posting an article that I know my audience that would be interested in. This is typically a reshare from one of these top five publications that I keep my eye on.

You may also, if you're using some of our social tools, there's a lot of great automation campaigns, so in that case you would know what's coming and those can certainly be calendared. Definitely know when you have to post something and have an idea in advance about what you're going to post. Because the worst thing is to have it be 11:00 AM on Tuesday and you're staring at the blank screen with the cursor blinking at you and you don't have an idea for what to put out there.

Mike: Absolutely. Along the worst things is when you post something and somebody calls your office and says, "Hey Solange, I saw that post," and you don't know about it. You haven't read it. It makes just a little uncomfortable.

Solange: In order to being authentic is so important to having a great social media presence. That means you should certainly know what is being posted and have a perspective on.

Mike: That's one of the tips we definitely give our subscribers with the video of the month that goes out. We tell people to watch it, watch it. You want to know what's going on with it, you want to be able to speak to it. They're typically only a minute or two. It's not a huge investment of time. If someone comes along and says, "Hey, that was a great video of the month you did this month about the 16 wall street cliches in two minutes. I really like cliche number seven," and you have no idea what they're talking about.

Solange: No blank stares. Please.

Mike: No, blank stares allowed is right.

Solange: Also knowing what content is posting is really important because like you said, it doesn't take much to add your perspective. You are a knowledgeable person. You've bring something of value to this industry so bring that to your client. This is why they work with you because yes, you can share this great piece of content, but you also have something extra to add to it. That takes what a sentence when you were preparing to post that, why not.

Mike: Right. You can say, "Gosh, there's the 17th cliche that I really liked and they didn't put it in this time." Good stuff. I wanted to talk a little bit about more of the FMG packages. If you're an FMG subscriber and you have an attract package, we have four scheduled items coming out each month. You have a video of the month, you have the market report, we have the pre-retiree campaign, and we have the referral campaign. Everything for furrow comes out every other month. If you have the attract package and you've uploaded your list of people from FMG, you're going to be getting three to four pieces of content each month coming out. Here's the $64,000 question. How much is too much when it comes to hitting a person's inbox? How should advisors be viewing that?

Solange: I don't think there's one answer to rule them all in this context. I would say that it depends highly on the quality and the relevance of your communication. Some brands that I follow on social media post five times a day. For some brands that would be way too much because I don't want to hear from them five times a day. I cannot think of any valuable information that they could possibly deliver to me five times a day. There are other brands like the New York times, which I turn to multiple times a day to make sure that I know what's going on in the world. Yes, certainly they are welcome to hit me across multiple channels, multiple times a day because the world is a rapidly changing place.

In those cases, it's never annoying or intrusive because it's timely, it's topical, it's relevant, it's helpful. It is something that I am seeking out because I choose to be a highly engaged, worldly, knowledgeable person about current events. Not everyone can get away with that. Right? Like, I don't know that I want to read five articles about retirement on a daily basis, but I would like little tidbits, like the world of financial advice is so broad. I think if you're delivering the right content at the right time and it's true and it's bite-size and adjustable, perhaps you can get away with posting that much.

I guess the point I want to leave you with is be helpful. Don't be obtrusive, don't be annoying if your posting ever gets-- if you ever get accused of posting too much like that, you want to listen to that feedback. Also, I think I would aim instead not to have volume necessarily. I would aim for quality, consistent content. I would hope that you can establish irregular enough cadence that your followers come to expect a helpful tidbit of advice or a really insightful article that we shared or video of the month piece that they've come to rely on just to make sure that they're top of that they are on top of the markets. That's really helpful.

Mike: Got you.

Solange: Train your audience in that regard.

Mike: You touched on something interesting there because I think about people that I know that I help with their financial decisions. A lot of the reasons they come to me is because they just don't really care and they don't care on a day to day basis and they don't. Whether the stock market went up or down, it doesn't really affect them one way or the other. Really the advisor should be considering who their clients are and the prospects. They can always segment the lists with an FMG system, if they want us, if they have 10 or 12 people who are just really news junkies that want to get stuff all the time, but if they have other people, maybe they want to just tone it down to where it's two or three things a month just so they can have a presence with them.

Solange: Absolutely. It's so easy to get that feedback. It's so easy to engage with your audience and understand what kind of a client they are, what a recipient of your emails or reader of your social media posts they are. You can survey them. It's very easy to ask. You can do polls on social media nowadays. You can set it. It's a great way to engage people to simply ask them that question. Like, if you asked me what I want to hear from you, you best believe I have an opinion about that and I'm happy to share it. Guess what? You made me feel special and important because you asked my opinion.

Mike: It's an important relationship. You have my money, I want to-- you and I should be on the same page when it comes to me communicating with you.

Solange: Keep in mind what you know, I would say that consumers in this day and age are bombarded by so many messages, advertising messages, thousands and thousands of them from so many different places. It is important to try not to overwhelm. Knowing what your audience wants and then also understanding the context in which you are delivering the information to them. Your broker-dealer might also have a monthly newsletter or something that your clients get because they have a transactional relationship with you. I understand what they're getting from not only you but the universe that you represent and try not to overwhelm any of your recipients.

Mike: Sure. Now, one of the exercises we go through here at FMG Suite about our-- I would say every six months to a year, and now we're starting to do it with marketing pro and platinum and the other firms that we've acquired as we come along as a subscriber and we'll subscribe to our own service because we want to see what that subscriber gets. A lot of people have opinions, a lot of people have what they believe the person gets, but if we put somebody through that process, we see that they get the welcome email, we see that the followup email.

We see what-- and we have subscribers that have different statuses that hated, they have the have a standout package versus an attract package. What do they get? Are they comparable or the same? We have competing departments. Some departments will send stuff to new customers, some won't. It's critical to understand what the person is getting. Which leads me to my next question, which is the-- as a financial advisor, should I be doing that with my home office? Should I understand what my home office is sending to my client as well as what I am sending?

Solange: This is advice that I would give to anyone in any business that absolutely you should be fully aware of what your, what the customer experience is, what is the experience of working with you. In as much as you can, as often as you can and as many ways as you can, audit that because you are responsible for that, right? You are ultimately responsible for all of the information that your customer gets because they have a relationship with you.

That means they're also getting additional information from home office. Yes, you should know about that. It's easy enough to do, right? Like we can very easily subscribe to all the things you can easily put yourself in the position of a customer pretty easily and get that full customer experience. You want to deliver value, you want to do that consistently with each communication. If it feels like too much to you, guess what? It probably feels like too much to your client too.

Mike: That’s what I was just going to ask because if the home office is sending something out every other day and you're sending stuff out every other day. You might say, "Gosh, I need a break. I need a break from Solange. I need a break from Mike."

Solange: You'll see those in your unsubscribe rates. If you have an email address and people get the option to unsubscribe, I am a ruthless unsubscriber if your communications no longer interest me and no longer serves me with valuable insights or I just decided it's time for me to clean out my inbox and give someone else a chance and I ruthlessly unsubscribe. Also, you touched on it briefly. Segmenting your lists and understanding what people want is really important. With email, that's pretty easy to do, right? You can, if you can also notice when people stop engaging with your lists, that's a critical piece of information.

When they stop rejuvenating, when you're, when you open rates go down, when your click-through rates go down, those are all very important signs that should tell you something about the health of your email list. That's often a good opportunity for you to think about re-engagement campaigns, right? Some people may not want to hear from you three times a week. Maybe you want to offer them the option to go to a once a month schedule, right? Like I would rather you send me one good piece of information and I open it and click through it and take the action that you want me to take, then have maybe as a client, unengaged.

Mike: Right. I think as you're-- if you have successful clients and they go to a time management class or they're interested in time management skills. The number one or number two thing is going to unsubscribe aggressively manage your inbox so you're only getting the things that are important to you. I think that you touched on something that's very important there. People are going to hear that message a lot.

Solange: Yes. I think some people absolutely value their time more than others. You have the opportunity, engage your audience. Ask them what they want from you and give them what they want,

Mike: Okay. Here it's, this is another good roll up your sleeves question. What's the best way to get started with the marketing calendar? Should I go to staples and buy one that fits on the wall that everybody can write on with a magic marker or should I get an electronic calendar. How should I consider it? How should I think about it?

Solange: I personally would not go to staples and buy any paper calendars because like I said, calendars are living things and that you should expect them to change. I also believe and we live in a digital economy and digital spans devices. Digital is so handy because it can give you reminders about things that are coming up in the way that your paper calendar on the wall simply can't unless you're standing in front of it, looking at the thing that's highlighted and circled in red. Yes, I would definitely go digital and I would make sure that you're using a calendar that's already integrated with everything else that you do.

If you're using G Suite like we do at our organization, the Google Calendar works for us. If you are an Outlook user that works for you, I would make sure that you have access to the said calendar, and not only you do but your entire team has access to the same calendar and everyone has the appropriate permissions for them to change things or reschedule things or add things to the calendar. Make sure that it's integrated so you can access it across your devices. If you're at home or at work and that you can very easily set reminders and share appropriate next steps with people who need to receive them.

Mike: I think that's important that people have access to it. With the G-Suite, as you mentioned, those are permissions within the calendar that you can say, who can read it, and who can actually edit it. I think if you don't have a calendar, if you want to get going with one-touch base with your compliance office and see what type of tools they have available. You're not asking an outside the line question to have a calendar for your office.

Calendars typically are linked to an email address, your compliance department may want to know if somebody responds, where does that email go. Those are all good questions that you should feel comfortable answering with your compliance department and getting answers from. Don't set up a calendar, don't really be half baked with the calendar, be committed to the calendar. I think what Solange you're saying is very true, "Don't go to staples." Oh my goodness.

Solange: Does Staples still exist?

Mike: I think Staples still exist but most of them are much smaller and they probably only sell digital calendars at the Staples..

[laughs]

I can tell you if you have a paper calendar as soon as you write it down, you're going to cross it out.

Solange: It's out of date.

Mike: It's out of date as so you write it down. Good advice on the calendars, there. Solange while we have you, let's add a few bonus questions here at the end. Are you ready?

Solange: Ready.

Mike: Just a couple of bonus questions for our marketing manager. Should I pull customers? You touched on that briefly. How do I do that? What should I be asking them?

Solange: I think it's always a good idea to get people's topics of interest.

Mike: Got you.

Solange: I think there's also some intelligence that you can add. If people are at a certain age in life, they may have certain concerns like retirement. If you know a little bit about your clients and you know, the age of their children, at some point they're going to be thinking about college. If they're millennials, maybe I don't know, millennials don't buy homes anymore, they just rent. I don't know, maybe you talk to them about home buying, I don't know. Why not ask?

You have tools at your disposal, you can do that on social media, you can do that via free tools like SurveyMonkey. Again, I think any opportunity to engage your clients or your audience by asking them a question about what they want is a great opportunity to make them feel important and like you care. My follow-up would be once you ask, you better follow up and you give them the things that they want, and that's you better do better.

Mike: Let's take one more question before we end the podcast today, this is something that we're working on internally, but I'm sure many financial advisors have questions about should I pay for advertising on Facebook? Can I? How should I? What are the constraints? What should I consider all that net intelligence that's really hard to pull from an article specifically for our industry?

Solange: This is certainly the topic of a whole another podcast. Let me preface by saying that. Paying for advertising is part of a larger promotion strategy that in today's age, you probably will have to invest a little bit of money in. There are a lot of factors that are dependent on this decision, though. The first thing I would say is first, make sure you understand where your clients are, it may not be a Facebook play for you, I don't know, maybe you can get more people by doing some strategic sponsored posts on LinkedIn instead. Maybe you have a better shot by investing some money in attending a community event and having a presence there.

Maybe sponsoring the little league is a better way for you to get your name out in your community if you're looking to serve families and local people within your community. I think that there's a place for paid strategies within a larger marketing strategy, certainly, but I think as a small business, you should always be frugal about where you just place your money. I think at FMG Suite, we're certainly sensitive to the fact that we are serving small businesses. We are not going to encourage you to go out and slap thousands of dollars on some flashy marketing campaign. I guess why you probably don't need a billboard in Times Square ever.

[laughter]

Mike: Sure.

Solange: It's just not for you.

Mike: It's just not for you. I think with Facebook and some of the other social media, there's always been that for financial advisors. There's always been that FOMO, the fear of missing out, but what you're saying is, is that there's a limited budget and don't feel that you need to spend that budget in one way without having a real good feel of the best way to allocate it.

Solange: The beauty of social media is that you can spend small amounts across different platforms and use it as a testing ground. I would certainly encourage you to do that. If you decide you want to invest in paid advertising figure out how much money you are willing to play with to learn, to learn where your audience is, to see which buy forms convert more. Also, be really clear about what your goals are. Some advertising, the intent of that paid spot is to get people to your website, or sometimes you want people to download your ebook or download your app or fill out the form and ask you for financial advice.

Be that as it may, it's always very important to understand and set those goals very clearly in advance of any paid campaign. When you're across the creatives for that ad campaign, make sure that your call to action speaks very directly to the goal that you set. If you want people to visit your website say, "Visit now." If you want people to register for an event say, "Register no." Don't say, "Learn more." That's a little vague. What do I do with that? I want to learn sure, but what do you actually want me to do? Make people do that thing. Then, I would say, "Measure ruthlessly, measure again, optimize and optimize again."

If you find some success on Facebook, then I would probably slowly start to starve the other campaigns over the course of time and funnel more into Facebook advertising.

Facebook does offer a really great segmenting, micro segmenting capability so finding the audience that you want you can get down to a city block almost for some fantastic capability. There's a ton of opportunity. You can do some small advertising campaigns without spending major sums. I would certainly start there and make every opportunity a chance to get your feet wet and to learn how to do it better the next time.

Mike: Now with Facebook, you can put in a set dollar about that you want to experiment with. You can say I want to put $100 and I want to try it this way. It may be gone overnight. It may be gone in two weeks, you might check up on it in two weeks, and you may have only spent 50 cents. I think the moral of the story is if you want to do it, you really have to get in the game to understand it.

Solange: Yes, and set parameters for yourself and do small campaigns and use every opportunity to learn like I said.

Mike: Yes, awesome. Perfect Solange. Thank you so much.

Solange: It's been a pleasure mike.