Jonathan Musgrave is the founder of Wired Advisor, a digital marketing agency specializing in generating affluent client leads to financial advisors.
He’s been in the financial services marketing world for over 11 years and is passionate about taking this largely offline market into the digital marketing space. Jonathan recently ditched the commission and recruiting field marketing organization model to become a fee for service marketing agency, and has rapidly become the go-to agency for the top financial advisors looking to market online. Wired Advisor is adept at building up content-based, automation funnels. But the majority of their work is filling local, educational events for advisors with Facebook advertising. Jonathan is also the creator of Anademy: The Anatomy of the Perfect Facebook Ad, a training program teaching his proven strategies for marketing on Facebook.
Paul Kortman: Fill in the missing details from that intro and tell us something about your personal life.
Jonathan Musgrave: I love golfing, backpacking, grilling outside, just spending time with family, and doing things outdoors. If it’s in the sun, I probably love doing.
Paul Kortman: That doesn’t involve snow sports at all?
Jonathan Musgrave: I do a fair amount of snowboarding in the wintertime for sure.
Paul Kortman: What is your agency’s current top line revenue?
Jonathan Musgrave: We’re doing about $60,000 a month, so $700,000 top line for the year.
Paul Kortman: What’s the typical price to work with you (Median or Average)?
Jonathan Musgrave: The average here is probably $3,000 a month. I’ve got people way above and way below that, but that’s right in the middle.
Paul Kortman: Describe your staff/team, how many do you have? What are their specialties?
Jonathan Musgrave: To this point, I’ve been doing everything by myself. About a month ago, I hired a part-time person that’s doing about twenty hours a week on page building, that’s about $25 an hour. I also have a design firm on retainer, they’re probably $2,000 a month. Other than that it’s mostly just me. We’re looking to hire a team of 4 to 6 people here in the next thirty days.
Paul Kortman: So you’re not using any contractors?
Jonathan Musgrave: No. To this point, everything’s just been me. We started out in March of this year and it’s been largely on my shoulders and just getting to that point where we realize we’re not going to be able to grow without a team and really looking to scale up progressively.
Paul Kortman: What’s the average salary you plan to pay those you’re about to hire?
Jonathan Musgrave: We’ve got them penciled in around $65,000. Denver is a really competitive job market right now and my philosophy on this is a little bit different than some people. I prefer to find people with really good character who have an aptitude to learn and really train them the skills they need to be digital marketers as opposed to finding highly experienced people. I think that’s because, to a large degree, all of us are self-taught, even though I’m been marketing for eleven years I’ve only been doing digital for about four years, so have this perspective that if I can learn how to do this, I can teach other people how to do this too. So I’m not necessarily going after that really experienced person, just trying to build a team of people who can grow with us.
Paul Kortman: Are you going to operate on billable time for your employees? What model are you going to use for that?
Jonathan Musgrave: We’re going to do a really competitive benefits package right out of the gate, three weeks paid vacation, healthcare, 401k and everything. You look at these companies that put an emphasis on employee benefits, and my wife works at a fantastic company at Remax, and people just don’t’ leave. They love their jobs & they love the environment, so I think trying to build a team culture here that reflects those attributes that we want to make available to our employees is really important to us.
Paul Kortman: I was going more for how they have to track their time and working on clients’ projects x amount of hours a week, etc. Do you have that broken out?
Jonathan Musgrave: Currently we do that with timesheets for our contractors that we work with because we pay them hourly. But our salaried employees will be onsite, in our office and we won’t make them timesheets.
Paul Kortman: Do you have an idea of what kind of markup you’re doing?
Jonathan Musgrave: Our cost to our clients is mainly a retainer based on what we’re going to do for them. Here are the deliverables, we’re going to give you these three main campaign assets and execute everything for you and of course, we understand on our end how much time it’s going to take to execute. But we’re not time tracking like an attorney would, like we spent three hours on a phone call, we did this or this. Internally, our goal is to keep above 50% margin but I think when you’re in aggressive growth mode like this, there’s just a certain level of expectation. We’re going to have to live in this for a couple of months before we really understand how it’s going to work.
Paul Kortman: How many clients does Wired Advisor currently have?
Jonathan Musgrave: We have about ten of what I call private clients. Those are the guys who pay a retainer and we do whatever those people want us to do for them. We also have really scalable systems built out so our people can engage us for a single campaign rather than having some sort of long term engagement. So our revenues split 50-50 between those two, right now. The thing is that the scalable platforms are so much easier to execute. We spend less time to execute them. But any given month, we’re probably working with about forty different clients, but about twenty of those clients are the same every single month working with us day-in and day-out.
Paul Kortman: So the vertical or industry you’re working is strictly financial advisors?
Jonathan Musgrave: Financial professionals are kind of a broad spectrum of people, and I think it’s as confusing to people in marketing as it is to clients sometimes. I would say the majority of our financial advisor clients have got a dual income source; about half of their revenue is going to come from commission-based products and that could be insurance, mutual funds, and then the other half is coming from assets under management. We have recently started getting a little bit outside of financial services, we do some work with dentists, primarily marketing Invisalign services and we’ll do some one-off stuff for charities and that sort of thing as well. But probably 95% of our revenue right now is coming from financial advisors.
Paul Kortman: What services do you offer for your clients?
Jonathan Musgrave: We’re really heavy on advertising. Probably 80% of my day is spent inside of Facebook, building campaigns, writing copies, executing new campaigns, moderating existing campaigns, just keeping everything running smoothly. The number one way that financial advisors have been marketing for the last fifteen years is doing live local workshops. Some of them do it at dinner, some of them do it in colleges and libraries, but what we’re able to do with digital advertising is replace a really expensive line item for them, which is direct mail, and these guys are spending $7,000 to $10,000 per month on direct mail, and we can reduce that cost substantially. Our average cost per campaign is under $2,000 dollars. The majority of services that we’re doing is promoting events for them. We also build out custom automation funnels for people and we really believe that video is the way to communicate content to our clients online, so we’ve got a pretty robust system that we’re looking to roll out for people who are looking to automate more of their marketing process. But by far, the vast majority is the event promotion.
Paul Kortman: Even on the event promotion you use video for that, correct?
Jonathan Musgrave: We do, here and there, if clients have good video. I don’t want to broad brush the industry, but the majority of financial advisors don’t have really good, high-quality video that we can use, and because we’re virtual and we don’t go on site and shoot video, it’s hard for us to create those assets for them. So the majority of the stuff that we do with event promotion is all with static image Facebook posts and traditional landing pages.
Paul Kortman: Knowing that there’s a lot of regulation in the financial services industry, how do you deal with that when writing Facebook ad copy?
Jonathan Musgrave: Ultimately, the compliance is not on our shoulders, the compliance burden lies on the advisor. Depending on what sort of licensing they have, pretty much everyone is insurance licensed, and the majority of the clients either work with a broker-dealer or with a registered investment advisor that takes the compliance moderating on their shoulders. So our clients are responsible to get everything approved through their registered investment advisor or broker-dealer. In terms of how we make that happen, we leverage the experience that we’ve had in this market for eleven years. I’ve never worked outside of financial service marketing, so I have a really good understanding of what’s going to be proof of compliance and what won’t. We sort a lot of the stuff we talk about. Anytime you make some sort of claim, you have to qualify it. And you can never refer to a client’s testimonial on behalf of your advisor-client. If you have a good framework of how compliance works, it’s not that difficult of a process, but I could see if somebody who was used to doing digital advertising in another field came into finance, it would just be overwhelming for them. So our kind of unfair advantage is, we get a turnaround on compliance within 24 to 48 hours, but really we send things clean through the first time and avoid a lot of those challenges.
Paul Kortman: Nice. Because I see Facebook ads as moving so quickly that you want to get those approvals, but you have to wait that time to actually use them.
Jonathan Musgrave: Yeah, we can’t push play on a campaign until we get the green light from the client. But really what that forces us to do, and this is something that is against my nature, I’m not really a scheduled and organized person, so on the agency’s side, now that I am having to really accommodate people in the process that they have to live by, it’s really forced us to make really rigid timelines for campaign production and stick to those religiously. Aside from getting campaigns launched on time, it’s just been a huge upgrade in quality of life, being able to have a schedule and live by it. There’s a guy named Jocko who is a retired Navy SEAL, and he wrote an awesome book in which he ultimately says that discipline equals freedom. And for entrepreneurs, we sometimes look at ourselves and think being able to do whatever I want equals freedom, but in reality, when we build structures around ourselves, we end up eliminating the decision-making process that sometimes is challenging to us, and we know exactly what to do and when to do it. I’ve tried to adopt that mentality in the last several months with my agency, and specifically with compliance and production schedules, it’s made a huge difference.
Paul Kortman: Describe your agency’s ideal client.
Jonathan Musgrave: My ideal client is going to have to sell a mixture of commission and fee-based products. It’s hard to liquidate an expensive advertising campaign if you don’t have some sort of commission sale on the front-end, and so the majority of y advisors do sell some commission-based products, and that really gives them a budget to pay us for advertising. We also tend to work with the top-of-the-top advisors, our average advisors are probably doing $10 million in new business per year. That’s not their net, that’s ultimately the new assets they’re gathering in any twelve-month period. But what that really does for us as an agency is number one, these guys have money, we’re not having to sell hard for them, and number two, typically people with money are some of the easiest people to work with. If our campaign were to fall flat, which hopefully it doesn’t, and it very frequently does, but if you’re depending on that to pay your bills the next month, there’s a huge stress and strain on your business because of that. People who have a very repeatable and sustainable business process already, they’ve got the money to weather the highs and lows of the business that is a part of marketing. Really, people who have some sort of frontend product sale, it’s going to liquidate their advertising cost and also are probably doing half a million plus in revenue to their office per year. That’s the sweet spot where we can serve the best people.
Paul Kortman: Describe your agency’s worst client.
Jonathan Musgrave: The worst clients are the ones who want to micromanage the entire process. When you spend literally seven figures on Facebook, you start to learn what works and what doesn’t work. And the advisors that are the most challenging to work with are the ones who think that they’re as good marketers as you are. And even if they’ve never used online tools or Facebook advertising before, they think they know what’s going to work. So when we send out proofs and ad copy and landing pages and everything’s ready to go and we need their thumbs-up, that’s a huge challenge to us. Because ultimately, we’re here to make money, but what we really care about, the way we’re going to build a sustainable business is if we deliver results for the client. Sometimes, the worst clients are the ones who get in their own way and cannibalize their own success by trying to change everything, and we do want to customize things and make them exactly that advisor, but at the same time, we have a series of best practices that we’ve proven to work over and over again, so it becomes a nightmare when people want to change that and get outside of what is working. People who are coachable are not only the ones who get the best results but are the best to work with.
Paul Kortman: What’s the worst part of your job? Why?
Jonathan Musgrave: I love marketing. I love clicking buttons. I love the technical side of it. I love the copyrighting and the creative side of it. So there’s not a whole lot about what I actually do that I don’t like. The things that I don’t like are the things that take me away from the marketing aspect. Trying to get billing figured out, a client that’s late on payments, chasing people to get their checks or credit cards paid, busy work like tracking timesheets for some of our vendors, some of that offline communication stuff. But I really love the marketing aspect and then all of the parts you need to run a business, technology, phones, printers, those are the things that bog me down and I hate doing them.
Paul Kortman: How do you find good staff?
Jonathan Musgrave: I’ve done a couple of things in line with the other question you asked, what things I hate doing. One of the things I hate is posting jobs, writing job descriptions, doing interviews. I love people and I love helping people and it’s hard for me to do an interview with anybody that I like, even if they’re not qualified, and say you’re probably not a good fit. So I’ve chosen to outsource all of that. I’ve got an HR firm that’s doing all of the job advertising, helping me write good descriptions, they’re talking to everybody before they even get my name, and then only the people who meet the initial qualifications and go through a phone interview are going to get a real interview with me. So that’s been my approach: Find people who are good at doing that and let them do it. It’s going to cost a little bit of money but the quality people we get out of it will be better and I won’t have to deal with all of that frustration.
Paul Kortman: What kinds of things have you put as requirements for your staff?
Jonathan Musgrave: I think that so much of what we do is advertisers, so there aren’t too many hard skills that we have to have. Of course, if you’re building websites, we don’t do entire website production, you need people with hard skills that can do development and code. What we do is we sue a lot of SAS products and integration, things that can be easily learned. So the requirements are good computer skills and a lot of the younger generation are super adept at figuring out how things work and you don’t have to explain things to them. Even with the vendors that we’re working with right now and our freelance staff, we found that after about seven days these guys are doing work that’s actually helping us. And of course that learning curve is going to continue for twelve months but I think that our return on investment with employees and marketing can be so much more active if you find people who are just adaptable and quick to learn. We want people who have experience with comparable tools and we may use Unbounce to build our pages but if somebody has experience with Instapage or Leadpages or Clickfunnels, we know these people understand the basics of how to build a page and we can train them on a different platform. And of course, we’re also hiring a project manager. That’s one of those things where we are going after experience, we want somebody who can handle a high volume of work and has really good quality assurance and who is a process-driven person. So that might be a little bit outside the box, where we’re looking for someone who can teach us a little bit about project management.
Paul Kortman: How do you plan on staffing a project?
Jonathan Musgrave: The project manager will be involved in every project, we’ll have three ‘taskrabbits’ that are really taking the campaign from order to completion. They won’t be client facing at all, they’ll be strictly internal, and then that person will be wholly responsible for a single project. We won’t have multiple people aside from the one taskrabbit and one project manager involved in multiple different sets of different people’s process. So we really want one guy to be able to focus and take that end to end, and then have the project manager come in as the quarterback and keep everybody on schedule.
Paul Kortman: Will you offer continued training to your staff? What will that look like?
Jonathan Musgrave: The biggest thing we’re looking to do is become a certified partner with Digital Marketer. I think they’re probably the leader out there in continued education and they’ve got their labs program and their HQ program. So we’re going to plug into that and make sure everybody is doing that training and using it to its full extent. I know other agency owners who have had great success with that process and I think that’s step one. I want to be really connected with Digital Marketer in that respect and then the biggest thing I’ve done for myself that has leveled up my skillset is going to events. I think that as we grow, that’s something that our key team members will be more involved in.
Paul Kortman: How do you find good clients?
Jonathan Musgrave: I think two things: It’s silly if you run Facebook ads for your business and you’re asking somebody how to get clients. If you’re advertising for them on Facebook, then wouldn’t you advertise for yourself on Facebook? To me, that’s an oxymoron, and I think that if only to prove you can do what you say you’re going to do, that has to be the starting point. Maybe this is a little bit hypocritical of me, but the majority of my clients come from referrals. Having been in business for so long, I’ve made really good relationships through distribution partners and 100% of our business to this point has been referral based. I think that’s one of the benefits of tackling this specific niche, and that is, when you become known as the ‘the agency’ in your specific field, you eliminate a lot of the competition. You can own that market. You really don’t have to market so hard when you can closely identify who your target client is. That would be an admonition that I would give to people looking to scale: if you can really serve a specific market, you won’t have to work that hard to find clients because you’ve gotten so integrated into this niche that people will come to you. Then when you do have to sell, and there’s always a moment of sale involved, even with a referral, but when you’re coming from a position of authority and experience in that specific market, there’s really no competition between you and another agency that’s more of a generalist.
Paul Kortman: What makes Wired Advisor different from your competitors?
Jonathan Musgrave: Really, financial services is an offline marketing world. So the competitors that we typically talk about are people who do the exact same thing like us for the exact same clients. In our market, it’s really not like that yet, and it’s going to get to that point. But really our competitors, for the most part, are people who are sending out direct mail for their lead generation efforts, and we have such a compelling advantage over offline marketing, that it’s very simple to prove value o people and show them why we’re a better solution. When I learned digital advertising in the financial services world, there was nobody out there to copy, there was nobody doing it. So everything we learned, we learned from the ground up. Now there are other people doing digital advertising for the same sort of clients, but we’re so far ahead of them because we got this experience, we’ve got this background inside the business. The differentiator we have is that we’re not offline and we can show you maybe for the first time how to advertise online and attract clients through digital advertising.
Paul Kortman: Why should I use Wired Advisor over a smaller agency?
Jonathan Musgrave: I think there are two things to think about: One, are you talking to an agency that’s doing this in financial services? If the answer is no, then there’s no question that you won’t work with us. I have a lot of people reach out and ask, how this works. It’s a tough nut to crack, and we’re trying to sell something that’s unsexy to people who are oversaturated with advertising and aren’t very motivated to make a decision today. It’s a tough market and you have to understand what your client is experiencing. Honestly, if you have a guy who’s a really successful Facebook advertiser and he sells info products or does e-commerce or any number of different things, and then you take that same person and put him into financial services, I think more often than not that guy’s not going to have a lot of success. Really, the reason people should work with us is because we’ve got a track record and 95% of our business is repeat customers. So I think that’s the bottom line, there’s no end to the amount of money someone will spend with you if they’re confident that you’ll deliver results. That’s what we talk about in the sales process, here are the results for other people in your exact same situation, and that makes it easy to sell. We don’t have a lot of competition to start with and when we do, our track record is the thing that really closes the deal.
Paul Kortman: Do you offer a service, price or package that no one else is offering?
Jonathan Musgrave: We do, and I think that this is one of the things that has really gotten us off to a hot start. The few people out there who are doing digital advertising for financial advisors are only running what I call white-label campaigns, and because financial advisors, for the most part, are not very tech-adept, they don’t have existing Facebook ad accounts and landing page building tools, they don’t have an infrastructure for digital advertising. It makes it really hard to onboard these clients because we have to create everything from the ground up. So what some of the agencies are doing, they’re white-labeling everything and picking some generic brand and then they’re doing all the advertising for all the clients from this one generic brand. So we’ve done initially, we really want to focus on custom services to high-value clients. We’re going to go through a headache with you, we’re going to go onboard, we’re going to build all these tools for you. It’s going to be expensive software proposal, it’s going to be a lengthy build schedule, but all the advertising we do for you is going to be customized. That’s been a huge difference because, in addition to the results we’re getting from people directly through our campaigns, we’re also building top awareness with these guys in their communities because we’re advertising on behalf of their Facebook page all the time. That’s one of those things that makes us unique, and people who have done work with generic agencies come to us and say they don’t want that anymore. They want to build the collateral that’s going to make them successful in the long run, and what that has done for those clients is it’s given us really valuable custom audiences that we can target and if their campaigns run, month one versus month two, it’s not even a comparison. Month two just gets better and better. That customized service we provide is something that almost nobody’s doing in our business that has been a big differentiator for us.
Paul Kortman: And the Elevator pitch, you have 30 seconds, you’ve identified me as an ideal client, now convince me… and go!
Jonathan Musgrave: The majority of our advisors are used to doing offline marketing with direct mail. So one of the biggest competitive advantages we have is price. You’re going to end up spending less than 50% with Wired Advisor and you’re going to get better results with us. Another thing that digital advertising does that you can not achieve with offline marketing, is that you can tell exactly how people are responding to your advertising. It’s like being able to tell who opens the mail versus who throws it away, and then being able to retarget those people who are interested but didn’t take action. So lower cost, better results and the long term benefits of being able to do this over and over to a more refined audience.
Paul Kortman: What do you personally do for fun?
Jonathan Musgrave: I do a lot of things outdoors. I love golfing and I love cycling in the summertime. In wintertime, I do snowboarding and I just started doing some backcountry snowboarding. A little bit of flyfishing, and a lot of eating. I love barbecuing.
Paul Kortman: So you haven’t done the heli-drop backcountry stuff?
Jonathan Musgrave: No. That’s a big revenue goal where we might splurge on that. But one of these days I’d love to go. Here in Colorado, there’s a mountain called Monarch where they take you up to some of those helicopter-accessible areas, so you’re not paying helicopter prices but you get some of that terrain. So we’ll do that one of these days.
Paul Kortman: As you build out your staff or agency, what sort of fun are you planning for them?
Jonathan Musgrave: One of the things is we’ve earmarked all of our credit card rewards for spending on employee entertainment. You kind of have this added benefit, we spent a bunch of money on credit cards, so we’re just going to pour all of that money back into our employees. We’ll do our big holiday type stuff. But really what I want to do is get people with their work companions outside of the office environment. I think even if you’ve known someone for months, you learn so much more about them hanging out at the arcade for an hour than sitting next to them in another cubicle for a couple weeks. So just getting out of the office and doing stuff together.
Paul Kortman: How does your agency incorporate fun into client relationships?
Jonathan Musgrave: I’m a gift-giver, I love sending people stuff. It’s kind of a lost art, I don’t know when the last time somebody sent you something was, but I think that’s something that is an easy win for us as an agency: to send people nice things. I’ve done everything from sending out local beer and whiskey, gift cards, that kind of thing. I think anytime you have the opportunity you have the opportunity to exceed expectations and do something nice for somebody, the return on investment could be multiple times that. It’s hard to have a lot of fun in a virtual relationship, but just showing people you care about them on a human level, I think gifts are a really easy way to do that.
Paul Kortman: Tell us a story about the most fun you’ve had working for a client or doing your job.
Jonathan Musgrave: I would say that the most fun thing for me, maybe not for clients, is doing something new. So when somebody comes up to me with a crazy idea, those things are awesome because I’d rather do three things that are new that don’t work than one thing a hundred times that works every time. Anytime somebody has these crazy ideas that we can push the boundaries of what we know how to do, that’s really fun to me. I have one client who has a different format for his classes, and he has two nights of classes and the clients have to attend both classes, 3 hours each, 6 hours total, and anytime you’re asking for that level of time commitment from a potential client before they’ve done any business with you or know who you are, that’s a tall order. These guys were really involved with doing this sort of marketing offline and they wanted to bring that online and automate it. So we went through a lot of growing pains trying to figure out how to make those campaigns work. You kind of have some initial success, then you try to do the same thing again and it doesn’t work. But over time, just finding out, here are the things that are going to make this campaign work, and then four months later, this thing is just clipping along. That’s my most fun thing; getting on a weekly strategy call, talking about what’s working and what’s not working, finding out where the water is leaking from the pipe and then putting the right patch on it to fix it. The problem-solving and discovery process is my favorite thing.
Paul Kortman: You sound like a great nerd.
Jonathan Musgrave: Well it was specifically fun with clients. I do have the opportunity to get with clients every once and awhile. I flew out to meet a client a few months ago, I spent some time with him, I met his staff and that sort of stuff is great too. I think trying to take virtual relationships in-person here and there is a good thing to do.
Paul Kortman: What are your goals for your agency? 6 months, 1 year, 5 years, 10 years?
Jonathan Musgrave: Next year, our goal is to do $1.5 million in total revenue and that’s a tall order for a business that’s as new as ours, but we’ve had huge growth this first year, and we’re looking to really build on that next year. Adding the team members that we’re doing right now, I think we have to do that in order to make everything work. At the end of this year, we want to clear half a million, and that’s starting in March of this year so that’s made a complete year, but next year we want to triple that. That’s about as far out as we’re looking right now. I think it’s hard to know what’s going to happen because everything changes so rapidly, not just in financial services but in marketing as a whole. It’s hard being a new business and being in such a high growth industry to project more than twelve months at a time. Those are our short-term goals.
Paul Kortman: What have you done to set up your agency before it started out in March?
Jonathan Musgrave: Really it started out cold-turkey in March. No brand, no LLC, no website. I’ve been able to meet some great people and get some great advice along the way on how to set things up. Everything that we’ve done in terms of setup started in the second quarter of this year.
Paul Kortman: Would you count the networking and all the stuff you’ve done to know people in this industry prior to that? Did you have any idea you were going to start an agency in the financial services sector?
Jonathan Musgrave: No, I didn’t. I have a lot of friends who are in this space, so the second they found out something had happened, there was kind of a frenzy of people coming to find out what was going on. But really this was a decision I made rapidly. I decided, here’s a lot of opportunity for me and I think that I can achieve this best in a new business. I just decided if I’m going to do this, I’m going to do it right now. I’m a little bit of an impulsive person, I’m not averse to risk, so that was pretty much my decision-making process: I think I can do this, let’s go for it.
Paul Kortman: What does your new client pipeline look like?
Jonathan Musgrave: Most of our current campaigns event campaigns that are finite in length, it’s not going to go on and on. We’ll have a different set of projects a month from now. We’re probably doing forty campaigns a month right now, and I think that will grow to be a hundred before the end of the year.
Paul Kortman: What does your funnel, like taking somebody from an interest to an actual client, what does look that?
Jonathan Musgrave: That’s something that needs work. That’s becoming a thorn in my side right now. We have to do a lot of education in the onboarding process because a lot of our clients aren’t familiar with using digital advertising. So even setting up a Facebook page and putting credit cards on file, and pixels and privacy policies, there’s a ton of steps we have to go through before we can do a single campaign. Really the majority of that right now is being done through consulting. We have done a good job of building resources from people. I have a page on my site called ‘best practices,’ and I tell everyone before we have our first consultation call you need to read through this whole page. It will probably take you twenty minutes to read the whole thing, but I think educating people in the onboarding process is something we need to grow it, but it’s something that we’re starting to take steps in the right direction. That is for sure one of the things that’s slowing us down, having to go through a manual process, sometimes hours at a time with people to get the onboarding stuff figured out.
Paul Kortman: How do you go about convincing them?
Jonathan Musgrave: We run a few ads, like boosting posts to page followers and a little bit of content stuff, but we’ve run into some challenges with branding. In fact, we’re having to rebrand right now because we got into a trademark spiff with somebody. A lot of the assets we would typically use for funnels or emails, we had built them and now we’re pulling them down and rebuilding them with new brands. You know what it’s like starting a new business and all the growing pains you got through. That’s one of the things we’ve struggled with, but the majority of our business comes from referral partners, and those sales calls typically the last thirty to forty minutes and I would say our close rate is 75% of the people we talk to end up doing business with us, and about 90% of our business is repeat customers. That’s one of the great things about the way our system works, that a single marketing campaign isn’t going to be everything somebody needs for the entire year for marketing. It’s going to have to be a residual, ongoing effort together. So once you get somebody in through the door, the value of that client is so much bigger than the first month or second month. It’s being able to build this dependable business cycle with the same clients over and over again. That’s probably something I could learn from you on, how to onboard clients and automate some of that initial work.
Paul Kortman: That’s my fun, when it comes to automating those sorts of processes. How long does it take for a potential client to become a client?
Jonathan Musgrave: We have three guys who signed up last week to become customers, and we have events scheduled in September and October for them. We’re already building them, we won’t actually execute marketing for about three weeks for them, but the turnaround time for our campaigns isn’t that long. Somebody picks a date for a presentation, we need four weeks before that when we receive the order, process it, to actually advertise it. Our turnaround time is pretty quick. The sales process is also not that long because these guys are familiar with doing the same sort of campaigns we’re doing, they’re just used to doing with different tools. The onboarding process takes however long it takes, but from whenever it takes to get an order, we’re ready to push play on that campaign in about ten days.
Paul Kortman: You had hinted you had some branding issues, copyright or trade infringement sort of stuff. Is Wired Advisor the new brand or the one that needs to change.
Jonathan Musgrave: That’s the one that needs to change, unfortunately. We have a name, it’s going to be called Cirque Digital Media.
Paul Kortman: Tell us some shame, or gossip in your local market?
Jonathan Musgrave: The biggest thing that’s happening in our industry right now is that the Obama administration put in a lot of legwork to get a rule passed that is just starting to become effective right now called the Department of Labor fiduciary standard. Ultimately what it’s doing is it’s saying that if you deal with people’s retirement accounts, anything that’s qualified that has future tax implications on it like IRA or 401k, you have to be a fiduciary in order to touch that person’s money. A fiduciary is bound legally to always do what it’s in his client’s best interest. The attack in our industry has been, how can you possibly do what’s in your client’s best interest if product one has and 8% for your commission and product 2 has a 1% one-way fee? So it started to make this huge ripple in the business of how should we charge for our services as advisors and are we doing what’s in our client’s best interests. And even if we are, how do we document and prove that? Everybody loves to hate on it because it’s not actually going to solve any problems, it’s creating enormous amounts of paperwork and legal liability for people, but in the ends, at least for us as marketers, it’s just a giant compliance nightmare that has just caused a bunch of problems. I guess the gossip around that is, if this isn’t really solving problems, who is behind this, why is it becoming such a big deal, and who’s the winner here as a result of the legislation. That’s a little bit of a political discussion, but that’s what we’re talking about.
Paul Kortman: What are the biggest challenges to working with your agency?
Jonathan Musgrave: I think one is just trying to get used to the digital environment. If you’re used to running your business offline and then there’s this new idea where you try to do the same stuff online, there’s just so much you don’t know about it. That’s a big challenge, just the education process. I’m paying you a lot to do this, so what are you actually doing? I think the other thing is just an attribute of a growing company, and that is our time is scarce. I took my phone number off my website and I don’t have a way for people to call me. I’ve got some feedback from people who don’t like that. It’s just something that we had to do early on in order to deliver value to the clients who were paying us already without having to spend so much time on the phone with people who aren’t clients. We have ways for our clients to get in touch with us, but that’s one of the biggest pain points, if you call my phone right now, nine times out of ten it will go to voicemail. We have a process where we tell people how to get in touch with us, but one of the biggest challenges is how to communicate. We try to use technology as much as possible; we’re wired into Skype and Slack and our project management system, we can communicate all the different tools, even text messaging, but phone is a last resort for us. That’s a challenge to people who are used to picking up the phone and always having a live person to talk to.
Paul Kortman: What are the biggest professional mistakes you have personally made?
Jonathan Musgrave: The biggest thing, the one that has really impacted our revenue the most, is not going to a scalable model quicker. I talked about the benefits of doing custom campaigns, that’s a huge benefit to the advisor. But in terms of what’s bringing in money, the scalable systems we built in a matter of sixty days outpace our private client revenue very rapidly. If I could do things over again, I would pour all my initial effort into scalable systems, and a lot less time and effort into the custom work. I think as we grow people have become familiar with us being the customs guys who will build anything for you. So that’s a challenge that we’re having to deal with now. It’s creating a lot of value for our advisors but at the same time, the stuff that’s paying the bills and making the most money are the scalable systems that are easy to implement. So if I could do it over, I would have poured a lot more of my initial effort into that.
Paul Kortman: What are the biggest mistakes your agency has been involved in?
Jonathan Musgrave: You have hiccups with campaigns, you send notification emails to the wrong people or you send a client the wrong email, those sorts of things happen all the time. But as the director, if I’m the quarterback on this team, and I say we didn’t win last week, how did I mess up? I messed up by not hiring people sooner. I think on day one I should have had a team of at least two people supporting me. I think more growth would have massively been impacted by that. I told you I’m not a risk-averse person, but at the same time I’m a little bit conservative when it comes to opening my wallet. I think that hiring a team sooner would have been a very smart thing to do, but I wasn’t willing to do that initially.
Paul Kortman: What service do clients buy from you that doesn’t help their bottom line?
Jonathan Musgrave: It’s two things for us. One is the organic engagement campaigns that we run for clients for Facebook. That’s a news service offer that we have recently added by request, and I think it’s somewhat of a vanity metric for people to say, hey, I’ve got 2,000 people to follow my page! And in all reality, when you go track what you’re getting from that, most people would be challenged to find anything from it. That’s not the case with big brands that are expected to have a big organic media presence. But for a local financial services advisor, do they really care that you post articles three times a week or that you give them recipes of Facebook? The bottom line is most people don’t. The second thing is the traditional website. The majority of valuable conversions that we’re getting online are happening from direct clicks on ads to specifically dedicated landing pages. That doesn’t change the fact that people want really cool looking websites and they are willing to spend a lot of money on it. I almost feel bad because the way that I’ve combated that is I’m only building websites for people who are going to do a $10,000 or $15,000 project. I don’t like doing it and I don’t think there’s a huge ROI on that, at least the way we use them and in our industry. I think you’d be hard-pressed to try to find ROI on really expensive websites. Those are the two things that people buy from us but don’t bring in nearly as much as the more inexpensive things that have an intrinsic value attached to them.