Key Element of Growth: Asking Why


As we move to a new year, it’s important to think about how our business has changed. Consider your business. Think about the successes, and the areas that need improvement. But more than that, think about why you succeeded in some areas but not in others.

A lot of people want to grow their business. And if you’re interested in transforming your business to a High Performing Practice, you’re one of them. You no doubt have countless consultants and vendors lined up and ready to take your money to help you grow. These are people who claim to have new ideas, technology and data to help accelerate your revenue, make you more profitable and gain more clients.

But the answer to growth is not how. It’s why, and beyond.

Why is a powerful question, and one that we should be asking ourselves this time of year. As we review our successes and learning from 2019, we also need to be asking why they occurred. Too often we focus on what made us money or how we grew the business, but we fail to ask why we were able to achieve that growth.

Asking why can help us focus on the key elements of growth in 2020.

The other 50% comes from using that what you know, and what you’ve tracked to understand why — and then to understand your clients and your business. Think about a particularly successful post on your website — one that drove more traffic than the others. And now think about why. What was the subject? Which clients were looking? How did the viewers get to the post? Analyzing these aspects can help you understand why that content was successful and know more about what appeals to your audience. And how to offer them what they need to build a stronger relationship.

Unfortunately, even if we make it this far, and understand the need to ask why, this is about as far as we go.  To find the why, though, requires more effort. If we are truly interested in growing our business and remaining relevant we need to identify the empowering questions that lead to thought, plans, execution and those specific actions that move us toward our own why – the why that will help us meet our goals.  And that’s the challenge. Looking inward and soul searching is painful and emotional (especially for a numbers guy like me). But it’s not impossible.

Over the past few weeks, we’ve talked about gaining more exposure through marketing. How it’s difficult to commit the time, energy and effort needed to do all the right things. And how important it is to create content that adds value for your clients.

Here are a few examples of empowering questions that can help identify your why:

  • How can my revenues grow by 15%?
  • What will I need to do to increase my profits by 20% over the next 12 months?
  • Who needs my expertise the most?
  • What do my clients need me to do to make the experience exceptional?
  • Where do I invest my dollars to create more revenue without expending cash flow too much?

To grow, you don’t need a new database, email subscription service or a website that doesn’t attract quality prospects. Really, all you need is you … just you. You have everything you need to reach the level of success you have imagined for yourself. And that success all circles around you. You just need to find your why to unleash it.



Transformational Tactic

Don’t be afraid to ask empowering questions that move you toward your why.

retirement high performing practice why

How to Use Automation to Build Relationships



It’s one of the main things that separates a High Performing Practice. Yes, it’s really that simple.

But, you should focus on where you put that effort. Ultimately it should be on practices that create unique, personal connections with your clients. Marketing can either be the way you make that happen, or for some, the very reason you’re spinning your wheels.

Over the past few weeks, we’ve talked about gaining more exposure through marketing. How it’s difficult to commit the time, energy and effort needed to do all the right things. And how important it is to create content that adds value for your clients.

But we’ve also provided solutions to make it easier to hit your marketing goals. Today, I want to offer you another solution: automation.

By adding automation to your marketing plan, you can spend your time building relationships and really getting to know your audience instead of sending emails and chasing leads.

You’ve created content that is valuable to your clients. They are willing to exchange their email address for it. Now, what are you going to do with their information? How do you proactively follow up with customized content for each individual client? In other words, how do you automate?

The good news is, compared to writing an effective email and creating content that matters, automation can be the easy part. There are several different vendors out there that can create automated emails for each different type of client. I’ve broken it down into three easy steps:

  1. Create valuable content that requires an email address to download
  2. Use a vendor to build an automated nurture campaign
  3. Chose topics that can be easily translated into different forms

Let’s look at an example. You created a downloadable pdf about asset management and you want it to be the first step in a compelling five- to six-step automated email campaign. To get the pdf, clients offer their email address, which can automatically be entered into a proactive email nurturing campaign. Once it’s turned on by your vendor, you are using automation to talk to your target audience!

Many vendors can do this easily, and for a low cost. You decide when to turn on the campaign whenever the time is right.  Maybe you want to wait a few months and use the campaign to remind people that you’re still here and that you still offer that item that interested them in the first place.

Think about ways to automate your campaigns — and, to some extent, your content. Using video, for example, can allow you to create multiple pieces of content from one source. Inexpensive translation software can turn video into a written blog.  It’s an easy way to accumulate content for your website. Try it with a few different subjects, and then track which ones are the most popular. Requiring an email address to download makes this easy to track — and, of course, adds them to your nurture campaign. Automatically.

One word of caution: Automation isn’t a golden ticket. It’s a tool. You’ll still need to create good content that attracts clients and offers value. The key here is to value your time. Look for a partner who can help with tasks that don’t demand your individual attention, so you can spend more time focused on your clients.



Transformational Tactic

Automate as much as you can.

Giving Back from the Heart


We all have causes we’re passionate about. From church groups to local community arts programs, to research for the cure of a disease that has affected a loved one, and all kinds of things in between. The choice of which charity to align with is personal. It comes from the heart.

Personally, I’m passionate about basketball. I was a student manager for our boys’ basketball team during both high school and college. I was fortunate to work with one of my heroes, Bobby Knight, at Indiana University and was proud to be part of the team that won the national championship my senior year. Because I love basketball and am at a place where I can help my community, the proceeds from my most recent book, Free Throws for Financial Professionals (featuring 10 principles I learned from Bobby) go to help students at my high school. Each year, one student manager is awarded a partial scholarship to help cover tuition and books. It’s something that I care deeply about, and something I am proud to support.

Find out which causes are near and dear to your clients. It will help create deeper relationships with your target clients. And the time might come when you’re asked to donate to their favorite cause. Before that happens, it’s wise to have a process in place to handle those requests.

Creating a process requires just a few simple steps.

  1. Define your charities. I’ve found that it’s essential to determine the types of charities that matter. Generally, you can determine two or three categories of charities that you care about. For example, you could have children’s needs as one cause. A heart association might be another. Or maybe you’re interested specifically in helping your community. Take a minute to think about what causes you want to dedicate your time and money to.

  2. Only donate to charities that fit and matter to you. Of course, you never want to risk alienating a potential client. But it’s just not possible to say yes to everyone who asks for a donation. When a client or vendor asks you to donate to a charity, let them know what types of causes you are currently supporting. If their charity doesn’t fit one of your categories, politely decline. Instead, talk about other ways you might be able to assist with their community.

  3. Before deciding, find out more. If a client supports a charity you’ve never heard of, or don’t know much about, find out more. Where does the money go? What is the charity’s mission statement? Who does it benefit? You might be surprised by what you learn.

So, when a client asks you to donate, the answer is a resounding “maybe.” It all depends on how your philanthropic tendencies line up with theirs. And, as you build your business to a High Performing Practice, you’ll be able to support more of the causes you love. Just remember to give from the heart.  


Transformational Tactic

Stay true to the causes you love and give accordingly.

retirement high performing practice charity

Creating Content That Connects


Everyone wants to stand out.

To stand out, you need to carefully consider what you want to say.

We’ve discussed strategies to take advantage of free marketing, and how important it is to get your brand amplified through radio and newspaper articles. But even more important is carefully considering the value your content is delivering to your audience. If your message is the same as everyone else’s, how can you stand out?

It is challenging to come up with content regularly — and especially high-quality content. It takes time, effort and energy to commit to consistently writing a blog or creating something unique enough to catch the attention of a television station or a newspaper.

It can be tempting to subscribe to an online newsletter for content — it’s reliable and simple. It’s also the same content that every other financial advisor is using. You don’t want to be just another of the endless financial planners who appear in a Google search. 

If you want to commit to creating high-performing content, it’s a tall order. The key is to start somewhere. Here are two strategies to help you get there.

  1. What does my target market want to hear?
    Here’s your challenge: Don’t think about investments or insurance. Instead, think about what your target market really wants to hear. And why do they want to hear it from you? What unique perspective do you bring?

    Is it something focused around retirement? Great. That’s clearly going to help your business.

    But maybe your local community is going through a recession. In that case, maybe you talk instead about controlling debt. Or how to sell a home at a higher price. If your target market is business owners, maybe your message is concentrated on corporate America.

    The point is to think about what your audience wants to hear, not just about what you want to tell them. Your sweet spot for content will come when you connect your passion with subjects your audience wants to hear about.

  2. Is the content worthy?

Today, especially in a prospecting call to action, you need to make sure that that content is worthy enough to give up the new currency of digital marketing – personal data.

In other words, is your content worth exchanging their email for? Are they willing to give up contact information to secure the information you are offering? If not, you lose access to your market. You have no way to contact them, add them to a nurturing campaign, or let them know about changes to your website.

It’s critical to hit your target market with meaningful, value-added information, even if it’s not necessarily about financial planning. Whether or not you ask for an email address to read your content, ask yourself before you start: Is this meaningful enough that my audience would share their email address?

Hitting both of those every time should bring greater success with your content.

I heard a great line at a conference last summer: Content does not need to be cringe-worthy, but it has to be binge-worthy.

For example, if your target market is younger, think of what they are exposed to every day. Topics like:

  • Five steps to becoming a millionaire by age 30
  • Five ways to illuminate student loan debt
  • Five ways to purchase a new home

These types of stories are meaningful. Even though they may not apply to your practice, they add value and draw attention. Meet your audience where they are.



Transformational Tactic

Don’t just create content as a touchpoint. Keep your target market in mind and develop meaningful content that improves your relationship with your audience.

retirement high performing practice content