Speaking Logicly Podcast

How has advisor marketing changed in 2020? Feat Johnny Sandquist

By December 28, 2020January 8th, 2021No Comments
In this episode, I sit down with Johnny Sandquist, founder and owner of Three Crowns Copywriting and Marketing, to discuss how the advisor industry has changed how they think about marketing due to the pandemic.

Transcript

Speaker 1:
Speaking Logicly is brought to you by ETF Logic, the leading provider of analytics and portfolio analysis tools for financial advisers. No information within this should be considered trading or investment advice.

Scott McKenna:
Hey guys. And welcome back to another episode of Speaking Logicly, today I’m joined by my friend, Johnny Sandquist, who’s the co-founder and CEO of Three Crowns Marketing. Johnny, how are you today?

Johnny Sandquist:
Doing great, Scott. How are you doing, man?

Scott McKenna:
Pretty good.

Johnny Sandquist:
Year’s almost over.

Scott McKenna:
Yeah. Yeah. It’s been a crazy year. I think the last time I saw you in person was what, T3 and like-

Johnny Sandquist:
I think T3.

Scott McKenna:
Yeah.

Johnny Sandquist:
February?

Scott McKenna:
Yeah.

Johnny Sandquist:
Right? San Diego?

Scott McKenna:
It’s been a long time.

Johnny Sandquist:
It feels like five years ago, like I’ve lived in an entire decade since February.

Scott McKenna:
Yeah. It has been pretty crazy. So Johnny, for people that don’t know too much about you or Three Crowns, I want you to just tell us a little bit about what you do.

Johnny Sandquist:
Yeah, absolutely. So Three Crowns Copywriting and Marketing is, as you might be able to tell from the name, a content marketing agency for financial advisers and Fintech. So really we just work with companies in wealth management to help them create a communications and messaging strategy that makes sense for the type of people that they want to work with and we help them create and distribute content that helps them further that connection.

Scott McKenna:
Excellent. So obviously we were going to a lot of conferences. We saw each other at T3. That’s strategy, especially for us has switched from in-person meetings with clients, and it’s not just us as Fintechs, right? It’s advisers too. They’ve switched a lot more digitally. So curious, your viewpoint, what’s been the biggest change in going into this new digital world in terms of marketing?

Johnny Sandquist:
Yeah. It’s always an interesting question because there’s so many varying degrees of how much advisers have adopted digital marketing already. Obviously it’s my whole life, digital marketing is everything I do, but you’ve got some advisers who have these very fully automated workflows and their client experience is a very digital experience, very much grounded through online interactions, and then you’ve got the other side of the coin with advisers who maybe have a website but don’t even have a contact form set up on it, as you click on that contact page and it’s like, hey, here’s my number, give us a call. So even though they’ve got a digital presence, it’s still very much an old school approach to interactions.

Johnny Sandquist:
And I think the one big shift I’ve seen, which has been happening for a while, but just seems like it exploded this year, is just people’s awareness of the role that their website plays in that digital sales, digital marketing process, the website is more important than ever because that’s really the main way people are searching for you, finding you, reviewing you because those other processes are fully digital now. So it has to play a lot more active role in presenting who you are and supporting the conversations that you’re now probably having over Zoom. And so with that does come a greater awareness of things like search engine marketing, I talk to advisers weekly and they want to know, how do I show up on search and what kind of things do I need to say on my site? How can people find me?

Johnny Sandquist:
So I just think that that trend has escalated 10X this year, which is doing great thing to see. And on that note, for something important to help with your search and your website is just the need to set up basic things like Google My Business, Google Analytics, Google Search Console but Google My Business really helps to drive that more local search was just super important for advisers to show up in those little map feel. So when somebody Googles financial advisor, you can try to get into that primo spot. So this is a greater awareness of that and putting more focus and really transitioning harder into enhancing that part of their digital presence is something I’ve seen that has really exploded.

Scott McKenna:
Yeah, that’s awesome. I remember back in my days at Asset TV as calling adviser, viewers and looking at their websites, it amazed me how many of them looked like they were built when the internet first came out, right? So it’s great to-

Johnny Sandquist:
Half of them were.

Scott McKenna:
[inaudible 00:06:34] people are moving forward and they’re moving into the 2000s and hopefully 2020 with their websites, because it is so important, right?

Johnny Sandquist:
Super important man. Yeah.

Scott McKenna:
[crosstalk 00:06:44] for their business, right? Yeah and the other thing, I’m glad you touched on it because my next question was going to be about how has it changed for advisers in terms of prospecting? And obviously it’s very different to engage with someone locally. And a lot of those social circles that I think a lot of advisers probably were using for referrals and things like that, that’s kind of diminished, right? And so if you are getting referral, it’s going to be like, maybe someone, one of your buddies who you have a phone call with and then you go and Google their name, right? And so I can only imagine that when you’re Googling, you’ve got to make sure that you have the right SEO terms, right? So that your name populates first and your location, right? As well for people who might just be like, hey, adviser near one 105, two hour or whatever, right?

Johnny Sandquist:
Yeah. And that goes across all spectrums of investors. It’s not just the millennial who is Googling advisers, people who are in retirement like my parents’ age or people who have a hundred thousand to invest, or people who are ultra-high-net-worth, we’re all just used to Googling things now, if you’re doing what I’m doing like building some built-in bookshelves in your office and you’re needing to figure out how to build things, you go to Google and you search and you find some woodworker guy on YouTube who does videos about building built-ins. And it’s the same for every single industry. It’s just our life today.

Scott McKenna:
Yeah, definitely. So another thing that’s changed obviously is, and this is a hot topic that we like to talk about on Twitter as well, industry conferences. So a lot of industry conference organizers have switched to fully virtual events. I know we have similar viewpoints, right? Not as fun, number one, as in-person events but-

Johnny Sandquist:
It has fun, no.

Scott McKenna:
… curious, your take on are they even effective compared to the in-person events?

Johnny Sandquist:
And my perspective of digital conferences has just totally done a 180 since the start of the year. I was jacked about some of these, I was super excited about them and then I think we’ve done a lot of the same virtual events. Some of the experiences weren’t that great, whereas others were pretty good. But I think the main thing with virtual events is, to me, it’s a matter of the size of the event. And this isn’t all unlike how I think in-person events need, it’s not all that unlike how I think in-person events are going to have to adapt and evolve when they do come back, whether that’s 2021 or 2022, whatever it is. I think that large-scale events like the conferences that we’ve done are not good for virtual. I fully arrived that it’s not a long-term play for most companies and for most attendees, because the reason why you do in-person events is to get those deep interpersonal connections.

Johnny Sandquist:
Let’s be honest, you can go there and get CE Credit and do that type of thing but the reason you’re going is for the time with the people, at least that’s what many, many people feel is true. So virtual events, where they’re effective, is when they’re a little bit more small-scale. We’ve seen this for a long time with webinars, advisers have used webinars as a growth tactic. A lot of B2B companies, ETF Logic included, you guys do webinars and it’s a great way to reach people and get them to connect with you on a one to many kind of basis that’s more personal than you sending an email or doing whatever because they get to see you, they get to interact with you. And I think the key is to just have some different types of events and have it be smaller scale based.

Johnny Sandquist:
So if it’s a client event, you’re not having the client events together right now, you’re not renting a movie theater for your clients, you’re not having them for really nice dinner, things like that. But you can have a trivia or game of that, you can do special workshops, an interactive webcast with a chef to lead some cooking, a photographer, do a virtual wine tasting where you send wine bottles to all the clients so that you can all do this together online. Those are a little bit more imaginative ways to use them to really connect with people. I knew one advisor this year, they were breaking away and going independent and so as part of their education to their clients, they hosted a independence-themed, around July 4th.

Johnny Sandquist:
And it was kind of a July 4th party type of thing for clients. And so those are all more niche. And then of course you can still do the webinars that are more educational and focused, right? So it’s all about focus in your messaging. Don’t talk about preparing for retirement, this big topic, talk about like, hey, how do you know when to take social security now or defer it to later, or three things you need to have in your estate plan, make your content consumable and smaller, something you can do in 20 or 30 minutes instead of an hour or two webcasts. And that’s when I think virtual events can be super effective. So large-scale, get rid of them, focus on community, focus on still using them for connection with smaller groups of people.

Scott McKenna:
I think that advice that you said before, really focusing too, I think that that applies to all content that advisers create, right? The most effective content that advisers can create is really around specific questions that they’re getting, right? And that’s kind of how I think about my marketing too, a lot of the times like, okay what are advisers asking me and my sales team about the Logicly platform, right? And then, okay, let’s do an event on that, right? So that we had advisers saying, Oh, how the ETFs or what ETF should I be in during the election cycle and posts. So that was our latest webinar, right? So we were like, all right, let’s talk about those themes. And let’s see which ETFs are going to be the best ones to capitalize on those different themes. And we went out and did it, right? So I feel like an adviser almost have an endless, really slew of questions that they can do that, right? And I think even if-

Johnny Sandquist:
Absolutely.

Scott McKenna:
… even if you don’t really know, if you haven’t created a lot of content, there’s also a lot of resources, especially if you’re with a larger network. And this is something that I’ve talked to one of my cousins who’s in insurance and he came to me and he was like, I love the videos that you put out. He’s like, but I just have no idea where to start. He’s with one of the big agencies, so I say, well, I see you sharing these posts from the agency, right? And they basically tell you what to do, right? And he was like, yeah, well, yeah. They give us the compliance approved stuff and we post it. I said, well just turn that into a video and you’re going to see so much more engagement off of that. So it’s like, there’s so much opportunity to create content and it’s just about getting out there and starting to do it, right? That’s kind of the difficult thing.

Johnny Sandquist:
Yeah, no, you’re absolutely right. And this is a phrase that I say to people all the time, which is that conversations are your content, and that applies in different ways. If you’re on social, it means have more conversations on what you’re posting, a promotional about yourself. And it also means when you’re having conversations with people, what you’re talking about, is the idea for any marketing content that you create, because it’s not just going to be one person who has a question it’s going to be way more people. And so use that as an educational opportunity to just talk about how you approach and think through different situations. And going back to what you said about just start, success in marketing and business, it doesn’t come from making a big, giant strategy about what you want to do six months from now, yeah, you need to set that vision, but really success comes from doing the work that’s right in front of you the right way, doing consistently and continuing to do that over time. It’s those small steps, just do what’s in front of you and keep doing that.

Scott McKenna:
Yeah. I want to jump back to what we were talking about with webinars and virtual events. My personal opinion is if there’s no networking aspect to a virtual event, then it’s really just a webinar marathon, right? And running webinars, I run a couple of CE ones and that helps keep people, if I know we have an hour long worth of content, almost of CE at the end, that kind of keeps people a little bit more involved, but then also, just when I run the 30-minutes one, I stopped every two, three minutes and I asked questions like, are you guys following along? What’s your opinion on this? Because it’s, especially with everybody working from home, your kids might be yelling over here, your dog has to go out, someone’s cooking and you’re right in the kitchen. There’s so many distractions. It’s hard to keep people’s attention for 30 minutes. So I feel like when you’re asking for people’s attention for an entire day virtually, or even two, three days, that’s just way too much unless [inaudible 00:17:22].

Johnny Sandquist:
It’s too much.

Scott McKenna:
Yeah.

Johnny Sandquist:
Yeah. And every day, especially now that more of us are working from home, we’ve got our big screen, we’ve got a medium screen, we’ve got a little screen and we’re just spending every day, going between these different sizes of screens, right? Or checking your little screen while you’re watching your big screen or whatever. When the election news was on, working on your medium screen, look over to the big screen, sometimes you got the TV, go ahead. So it doesn’t give you a new experience, right? Just watching eight hours of webinars. You’re still just sitting in your chair in front of your computer, which is what you’re doing every other day of the week. Except that now you’re being asked to be supremely focused for all those hours. And yeah, it’s not a method that works. The community is the biggest part and I’ll be interested to see, I’m sure there’s a ton of things happening right now, people trying to figure out that community aspect during webinars like that. But I don’t feel like anybody’s unlocked it yet.

Scott McKenna:
Yeah, definitely. So being conscious of time, besides the comeback of in-person events, right? What are some other trends or themes that you hope to see in the advisor marketing space in 2021?

Johnny Sandquist:
So the number one thing that I’m most interested to see is what happens with the proposed updates to the advertising rules, right? There’s been some changes recommended to Rule 206, I think, of the Investment Advisers Act of 1940, which [crosstalk 00:19:26] makes me laugh a little bit, always makes me laugh a little when I see the Investors Act of 1940 because [crosstalk 00:19:31] I’m like, wow, we just keep trying to update it and modernize it, but totally different world now. So, glad to see that there are some changes being made, one of which would be to let advisers use client testimonials. So that’ll be transformative if that all goes through, some people are pretty skeptical of that. I think it’s an awesome change. I think it would be great. I would love to have that additional flexibility to tell more specific stories, which I think is where messaging always shines, is when you can get really specific.

Johnny Sandquist:
So that’s the big thing. What happens there? Other trends, I’ve been on this train for a long time but I’m going to keep saying it because it gets better every year, but more video. I think advisers are supremely positioned to use video well on social, I think in 2021 every single advisory firms should have a YouTube channel, if you’re concerned about search, be putting content on YouTube because Google wants to keep people inside their ecosystem. So that is a trend I want to see continue to develop and I think it’s going to be interesting to see as people go back into the office, how a hybrid approach develops. People had to go fully digital after being almost all kind of in-person physical contact based before, so what’s that hybrid look like because I do think it’s going to be a hybrid.

Johnny Sandquist:
I don’t think a full hundred percent digital solution is going to be the right approach for every business, RA Intel just did a story, 65% of advisers, I think, expect to work from home one day a week in the future, but that still means they’ll still be in the office the majority of the time. And so I think marketing and sales approaches are going to have that same kind of hybrid duality to them. And I think that’s important for advisory firms, it’s professional services, so it’s a relationship businesses. And so if you think what’s that based on, well relationships are built on trust, trust is built on experiences and so you’re still going to have to be connected with people and whether that means doing it in person or doing it through video calls, whatever that looks like, I think there’s going to be an interesting balance that develops.

Johnny Sandquist:
And I think people are really going to need to figure out a set workflow for how they transition that client experience and how that’s going to look different because expectations are going to be different as well. So you’ve got to play into that. Well, it’s all about what does my client want? How do I give it to them? At the end of it that’s what you have to figure out.

Scott McKenna:
Yeah. I agree with those trends and on the video, especially I used to sell video and when I was at the conferences back in the day, like when I was at our ORION’s conference and just trying to pull advisers in to just get their perspective and talk a little bit about the event and stuff like that, it was always very difficult to get them on and they always use the compliance excuse too. So it’s like, my compliance department will never let me do that, right? And-

Johnny Sandquist:
CC0s are not that scary.

Scott McKenna:
Yeah.

Johnny Sandquist:
I’ve met a lot of them, they’re good people.

Scott McKenna:
I mean, it’s not fun dealing with them, right? But at the end of the day, as long as you’re not talking about, like, I got a 20% returns this year, in the times that I’ve had to run those types of videos through compliance, I can’t even count probably on one hand, how many times he came back and said we can’t say this, right?

Johnny Sandquist:
Same for me, yeah.

Scott McKenna:
Yeah.

Johnny Sandquist:
I think advisers already have a good understanding, if they’re running their business the right way, of not outlandish things to say. So. Yeah. I think getting out of that fearful operating approach, the most important mindset change to make work from opportunity, not fear.

Scott McKenna:
Yeah, totally. Yeah and I think it’ll be interesting too, when we’re going back. I think initially my bet is that we’re going to see a big pushback of people going back to the office just because they missed the social. I know, at least for me, I’m definitely going to go back, at least a couple of days a week, but yeah. I don’t know. I think maybe you’ll see that trickle back a little bit is people getting to a normal routine again, but yeah, it’ll be interesting. I think, my hope is that we’re going to see the Roaring Twenties again, right? After the last bit, a hundred years ago, the twenties were pretty crazy. Everybody going out a lot, doing stuff. So I mean, that’s my hope, because I’ve definitely been socially deprived this year, but…

Johnny Sandquist:
Yeah. Well, I mean, I think you’re right. I think the pendulum is going to swing a bit just because everybody’s going to feel socially deprived, right?

Scott McKenna:
Yeah.

Johnny Sandquist:
But I think there’s a lot of good arguments for still having a robust in-person experience. And that’s not going to go away. Like I said, professionals or services industry that’s built on trust and experiential contact with people. It’s always going to have an important place, but it should be supported by and augmented by really good digital support structure just to lift all that up.

Scott McKenna:
Definitely. Well, yeah. I think that covered all the topics that I wanted to talk to you about today, so for anyone who wants to get in touch with Johnny, Johnny you want to give them your details?

Johnny Sandquist:
Yes. If you want to get in touch, if you just want to chill through digital channels, Twitter is the place to be. That’s where I spend my time, @JohnEhlert is my handle. The website for Three Crowns is threecrownsmarketing.com. So check us out there as well.

Scott McKenna:
Awesome. Well Johnny, thanks for joining us today. Good luck on finishing those cabinets and hope to see you in person soon.

Johnny Sandquist:
Thank you.

Scott McKenna:
We’ll see, right? When’s the first one-

Johnny Sandquist:
Hopefully soon.

Scott McKenna:
… what’s on your radar for the first in-person? I thought it was inside ETFs, but they told me that it’s not scheduled for May 3rd, it’s potentially going to be in September. So I don’t know, is it never?

Johnny Sandquist:
I was just looking at conferences to look at what 2021 looked like and I was seeing September. That was the first dates for all the ones I was checking out. So-

Scott McKenna:
That’s sad but-

Johnny Sandquist:
We’ll see, man. Yeah. Hopefully sooner than that, hopefully these vaccines are going to be as good as their tests have been and you can get things back to normal or whatever normal is going to be.

Scott McKenna:
Yeah. All right. Well, thanks so much, Johnny, for coming on. Again, if you guys want to get in touch with him on Twitter, I fully endorse following him. Great content. If you’re an advisor around marketing, but then also just chilling, getting some social out of thin tweet.

Johnny Sandquist:
Yeah. Let’s get some spicy food takes.

Scott McKenna:
Yeah, that’s right.

Johnny Sandquist:
For all your hot takes out there. Let’s talk about football and food. Be good.

Scott McKenna:
Awesome.

Johnny Sandquist:
Yeah. Scott, thanks for having me. Appreciate it.

Scott McKenna:
Yeah, no problem man. Thank you guys for listening. Look forward to putting out some more episodes. I think we might have one or two left for this year, closing out season one and then we’ll come out with season two back in 2021. So thanks again guys.

Scott McKenna

Scott McKenna

Scott McKenna leads marketing for Logicly, the leading investment research and portfolio analytics tools for financial advisors

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