Kirk Lowe and Matthew Halloran are the founders of Top Advisor Marketing, which provides businesses with creative solutions for branding, financial podcasting, and social media outreach. Their innovative approach and focus on digital communication has helped some of the biggest names in the financial world better relate to their clients.
In today’s episode of Stay Paid, Luke sits down with Lowe and Halloran to discuss how targeting clients through digital means can be one of the most effective tools in your arsenal, and how you can start implementing them into your marketing strategy.
- Starting your own podcast can dramatically increase the credibility of your brand and online presence
- Find what you’re passionate about, and use that passion to fuel the content you present to your audience
- Follow through with the strategies you implement, and give them time to see success
About Lowe and Halloran
For 17 years, Kirk Lowe has been helping financial professionals better their marketing through his own experimentation, and has been an open book about his successes and failures in the business. He’s worked with a host of different advisors over the years, including independent advisors, RIAs, B/Ds, and more, to figure out the unique pain points of each.
Halloran began his journey over 20 years ago, working as a life and business coach with an approach focused on effective branding and social media. Recently, he’s expanded his repertoire to podcasting, and has a deep understanding of the struggles of marketing for people like financial advisors, who are not always marketing-minded. He also published his first book, The Social Media Handbook for Financial Advisors.
Together, Lowe and Halloran started their own podcast of the same name, Top Advisor Marketing, to help financial professionals on their journey to becoming a stronger online presence in their industry.
Q: Give us your story of how you got started.
Lowe- I’ve been doing podcasting on financial marketing for 18 years now. I was briefly in the business, but quickly realized my marketing degree was what I wanted to pursue, and I’ve been doing my own consulting for that long. It’s been a wonderful ride, and to survive it 18 years is a good thing. Sometimes we don’t give ourselves credit for some of the simple wins. Along the way, I’ve learned that sharing my expertise has been my greatest asset for moving my business forward—not just from a standpoint of putting myself out there, but from learning what I want to communicate and how I deliver services and strategies. My focus is based on what I do best, which is branding. I think another gift is that I’m very practical and like being helpful, so that’s easy to share on the podcast. When Matt and I met, we figured out that he had a background in radio and that I love to be helpful, so we started podcasting. We had another podcast called Mod Marketing, as in modern marketing, before we decided to shift to Top Advisor Marketing. Now, I think we’re at 120 episodes, or something like that. I’m more of an expert guest now. I used to do all of them at the start, with Matt, but now we have a lot of guests on and that’s really helped us grow the podcast along with our thought leadership. That was a huge moment in my career. We have a lot of fun and we’re constantly building momentum.
Halloran- I started doing radio when I was 13. My high school had a radio station. I was Mad Man Matt Halloran back then; I did a heavy metal show and a gospel show. While I was in college, after I got out of the Navy, I ended up getting my master’s degree in therapy. I am not a financial advisor, nor have I ever been. I came at it from a standpoint of therapeutic communication and how to effectively influence people. Through that process I got to know Kirk. I have always wanted to have mentors, and that’s been one of my keys to success. I saw Kirk and I said, “This guy’s got something.” It was the immediacy of knowing that he shared everything, and once I implemented that into my career, everything changed. My relationship with Kirk has not only brought me to a different level, both professionally and personally, but also has allowed me to do way better work. I’m one of the rare people who is a total nerd about podcasts. I am always listening, always studying, testing out new equipment, testing new interview skills—I’m more excited about podcasting than just about anybody, and it really comes across that way.
Q: Why should financial professionals think about doing a podcast? Why is this something that is relevant to them?
L- I’ll give you the top five reasons. The first one is to establish instant and deep credibility. If you really know your stuff and you have a niche audience, your content will resonate even more with that audience. Number two is achieving top of mind awareness without constantly interrupting your audience. With podcasts, it’s really permission marketing. It’s an easy way to get in front of your audience—they’ve welcomed you into their home, their living room, their kitchen, their car, their earbuds—wherever they’re listening to you. The third one is the ability to enhance your focus on what you do best and how you create value. Podcasting and sharing your wisdom makes you smarter. It makes you consider how you want to articulate your strategy. You not only get better at whatever it is you’re delivering, you actually get smarter and fine-tune your message. It’s an incredible process.
We did a podcast early on called “270 Days to a Better Practice,” or something like that, and we created a big infographic for it. I felt like it was a really epic podcast for us and a lot of work went into it. We had a lot of response for it. It went to 2,000 downloads early on, and we hadn’t had anything like that before. We hadn’t broken 200. We did a little bit more testing and realized we needed to create some kind of coaching program, so we did that. We learned from that and it was a really interesting process to go through to see what messages would work. If you ask an advisor when they’re doing a seminar, for instance, “What are the emotional buttons for your audience? Why did people come and sign up for a program?” it’s really market testing, too.
Inspiring more referrals is the fourth one. How inspired do you think your clients and prospects and centers of influence are with your current marketing? They probably aren’t very inspired. You probably have an average website and an average value proposition. You may or may not have a blog, most likely not. So how inspired are they? If you have a podcast, you jack their inspiration up. Why would you want to deny people that by not having it in your business? Number five, it’s a great opportunity to showcase your expertise in a really personal way and that’s a great way to differentiate yourself. How can you share your expertise, show some personality, and get people interested and allow them to experience you? The only time you can do that is if you’re doing seminars, and everybody knows that’s a sales platform, or if they’re in a meeting with you and that’s an even more high-pressure sales event. With a podcast, it’s on their terms and on their time, in their own world, and it’s about listening in on a conversation.
Q: How does someone get started with a podcast? What do they need?
H- Surprisingly enough, Apple earbuds are the easiest way to start a podcast. They have this insanely wonderful microphone and you can basically just record on a voice recorder. We use a program called Audacity, which is a free download. It allows you to edit things. But then you can go crazy. It can be as simple as using some earbuds, or you can get a Yeti microphone, which is a USB microphone. Every microphone is going to have a different sound and you do need to test different things. You can get pretty darn nerdy. Every piece of equipment you need is in a free White Paper that we have on http://topadvisormarketing.com/how-to-start-your-own-podcast/ and that’s on how to start your own financial podcast. It doesn’t matter what you do—insurance, real estate—it’s all the same stuff, and you can get into it for as little as $50, for a pretty standard USB mic, or you can spend thousands of dollars, which you don’t need to do.
Q: What keeps people from starting a podcast? What’s the main thing you see that holds people back?
H- I just think it’s fear. A lot of people will tell me they have no idea what they’re going to talk about. Fear is the big thing. Nowadays, those of you who aren’t doing a podcast or who aren’t active on social media, you have to understand that communication has fundamentally changed. You have to communicate with clients and prospects in the medium they use when they are there. I’ll be brutally honest: most social media posts don’t have staying power, but something that has the same level of staying power as your publications is a podcast. They’re evergreen. You don’t have to put out timely information, but timeless information. It’s the Netflix effect—it’s binge-watching. We’ve done about 120 podcasts. I know that if somebody comes in at podcast 90, they will probably go back to podcast 1 and binge-listen. If you’re a real estate agent, for example, do you want to only talk about the listings you have right now? I would say no. You want to talk about all the things leading up to the listing, during the sale, staging—that’s where people are going to dial in.
The other thing that’s important for creating timeless stuff is you need to tell stories and you need to be interesting. If you are not an excitable, interesting, energetic person, don’t do a podcast. Do something else. You just have to bring so much energy to a podcast because all you have is your voice.
Q: If you’re super analytical and dry, could you give that caveat of, “This is a teaching podcast, not necessarily a personality podcast”?
L- I’m the perfect example for this. I am fairly dry. I’ve been doing this for a while now so I’m better than I used to be, but if you listen to my first podcast Matt propped me up for the first couple minutes until I get going. The more passion I start to draw the more excitable I get. But I have Matt, and one of the neat things about what we do is we have guests to take that pressure away.
H- There is a podcast for everybody on everything. Your podcast has to come from your heart. People will know that you’re passionate. You don’t have to be an extrovert, you just have to be passionate to be successful. Having a cohost and having two voices is the most successful way to engage an audience because it’s kind of like they are a fly on the wall and eavesdropping in. Insurance advisors are a great example. I don’t want you to talk to me about life insurance. Talk to me about life. You are a life insurance agent—talk about the benefits of life.
Q: You talked about implementation of your podcast, and letting it work. Can you talk about what you mean by implementation?
L- One of the things that happens with advisors is that they start something and don’t follow through. I’m beating up on advisors because that’s who we work with, but it happens to everybody. It’s hard to understand that momentum and consistency and authenticity helps you keep going, and the results will happen. A lot of people get 95 percent of the way there and quit. But if you’re doing the right things and they make a lot of sense, you have to do it. There are little things you can do to make it better. You can share posts on social media—and make sure you’re sharing them the right way. You can make sure you send emails from time to time to let people know you have a podcast. Make sure you have emails for all the people you know. I can’t believe how many people I talk to that don’t have email addresses for all of their prospects. Everyone you know needs to be on your list and invited to your social media channels.
Another one is networking. We had a recent podcast starter who went to a meeting and introduced the podcast, and someone who wanted to work with him for years but never reached out listened to the podcast and finally said they wanted to work with him, and they started a relationship. The story isn’t that you should expect a lead the first day. The story is that you should be out there implementing your stuff everywhere. You should be talking about your podcast. Don’t start and stop. Let it work. One of the best things to implement is inviting guests regularly. So, if you do podcasts twice a month, make one of those with a guest. They’re going to share it with their audience, and now you have hundreds more people seeing your stuff.
Q: Is there a routine you’ve done over the years, whether daily or weekly, that has driven success for you?
L- To be honest, my routine is I don’t have a routine. I’m not a routine person, except, every day when I wake up, I feel good about that day. I try not to let things get me down. You’re going to have good and bad in business. But, I guess, I wake up thinking that day will be a good day and that good things are going to happen. I don’t have to cheer myself up—I’m just like that. I also always try and find ways to be creative as much as I can, whether it’s ways to grow the business or helping people build their brands.
H- It probably won’t surprise you, but one of the reasons Kirk and I work so well together is because I am the exact opposite. I’m a very routine based person. One of the things I do is meditate every single day, anywhere from 30 minutes to 40 minutes in the morning, after I get my kids up for school. It’s my time to collect myself. It’s very important to me and allows me to prepare for the day. For me, meditation isn’t all about being quiet, it’s about having the right mindset. For instance, Tuesdays are my management day, so I’m managing my team today. I know when I go into Tuesdays that’s what my day will look like. I have very specific podcasting days. And, last but not least, if you don’t know where you want to go you’re never going to get there. Every year I update my ideal day. I make it one page long, and it’s exactly the way I want my life to be from the time I wake up in the morning to the time I go to sleep at night. Everything from tastes, smells, touches—I try to do my best to put myself in that situation because as I go through the day, little things pop up that reinforce that I’m living this ideal life.
Q: Knowing what you know now, what would you go back and tell your younger selves?
L- I would say share more, and share more often. Don’t just teach people what you think, teach them about lessons you’ve learned, too.
H- First off, I would have invested in Yahoo! and Google, maybe Apple, as well. I’ve got two things: number one—Luke, when you were on the podcast, I remember someone asking, “Why do you have him on the podcast, he’s your competition?” And we are in the marketing space, but you can’t handle every single advisor who needs your services, and I can’t either. We live in a world of abundance and that makes a huge difference. The other thing I wish I would have found out a lot sooner is that it’s not about me. I would slap myself as a young person—from the age of 12 to maybe last year—I thought everything was about me. I owned my own company, and my company was about me. Then Kirk and I got together and we merged. I had this feeling of relief that we were building something much greater than ourselves and that the spotlight doesn’t have to be on me, it doesn’t have to be on Kirk, it can be on our team. I was so tired of being the only boat on the water.
Following this podcast, our goal is to provide you with as many actionable items as possible.
This episode includes:
- Spend 30 minutes mapping out what your podcast would look like if you started one.
- Seek out Top Advisor Marketing’s services to help you in your business by visiting their website and checking out their podcast.
As always, take action on these tips!