The independent marketing program reviews are designed to provide an overview and general review of a financial marketing program that is available in the marketplace. Over the course of a year, I bet I receive 50+ inquiries from financial advisors asking me my thoughts about certain programs available. Your inbox is littered with these offers every single day. My goal is to help you evaluate it objectively, and share any real-life experiences that I may know of related to the particular program. If you have a program you’d like reviewed, shoot me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Financial Advisor Marketing Program being reviewed: GuideVine (www.guidevine.com).
General Overview: An online-based directory of financial advisors. Think of it as a digital version of yellow pages for financial advisor searches only, or a matchmaker service for consumers and financial advisors.
Biggest competitors: WiserAdviser, BrightScope AdviceMatch, Paladin Research and Registry. The Financial Planning Association (FPA) and CFP Board have similar tools for their members.
How it works: Advisors pay to be featured on the site. At the time of review, here was how the pricing worked:
- Up-front setup fee.
- Silver – $400 – profile creation, civil/criminal/regulatory due diligence, advisor provides videos.
- Gold – $800 – profile, background check, 1-hour script coaching, 3 videos produced
- Platinum – $1,200 – profile, background check, 1-hour script coaching, 5 videos produced
- Lead generation plans
- Basic: $0/mo., $25/per-ask communication, $250 per connection communication (scheduling a meeting)
- Premium – $1,800 annually – flat fee – no limits on lead amounts.
What I learned about the company: They have been around since 2013 and formally launched in 2014 in New York. They have opened it up nationally now, but there’s no doubt certain areas will be better than others. The positioning is all about the client finding the right fit. One of the cofounders used to be a VP at Morgan Stanley and focused on navigating marketing technology.
The stated goal is to enhance an advisor’s digital footprint. Evidently the screens they use for whether an advisor can participate are as follows:
$10 mill AUM
No termination events
No multiple disclosures
CCO reviews all advisors applying to the service
Must be an IAR
Must have 5 years of experience in financial services
They specifically stated to not expect a high volume of leads. Their goal is 3-5 quality engagements per year.
My gut reaction:
I love the concept, especially the fact that it is more than just a name directory. The videos are a nice touch. If I were you, I’d likely create videos on my own. That’s not to say that the quality of their video service is bad, but I think you could make them more impactful with a little more of an investment.
PROS: Pretty inexpensive and can be structured (if desired) to only pay for success. Will likely help SEO and digital discoverability and referrals to your site.
CONS: The low price will likely prohibit the service from ever being able to drive any sort of major traffic. The company would need to be bringing in a much higher cash flow in order to spend the advertising dollars needed to get a respectable amount of traffic.
Real-Life Advisor Stories:
I work with three advisor clients that have used this service.
Some feedback about the process:
“The initial questions and phone interview were great. They provided me a script, which I edited for flow and clarity to how I speak. The videographer was on time and easy to work with.
On the video, I was reading a script off a laptop set up near the camera. We were trying to get it to look like I was looking direct at the camera but couldn’t quite get it all the way there. In retrospect, I should have had the camera at an angle as if I was talking to an interviewer off-screen. I think that would have looked more natural.”
“The initial onboarding process seemed to be thorough and well thought out. The scripts they provided after the phone interviews, however, left much to be desired and we had to rework them more than we anticipated prior to filming.
The videographer was professional and the finished products were very nice. We incorporated them into our website as well.
Turnaround time on the videos was fast. We filmed on 7/07/17 and received our animated logo the very next day and the finished videos shortly after. We submitted the videos for compliance, everything was approved, and our GuideVine profile went live on 7/14/17.
It has been over 4 months, and we have not received a single phone call or request for a meeting.”
Some feedback about actual leads/activity:
“I have received one email status update with limited activity. I am not sure how well they market the service or if people just don’t click all the way through.
I will probably not renew the service as I have received 0 appointments so far.”
Their process has been very easy to use and they provide excellent service. The most important reason I use them is to help improve my name search on SEO. I don’t see it as a lead source as much as a support to the other marketing activities we do including social media, radio ads, radio show and our website. Each month I get 20-40 views of my page. Usually 7-10 viewers watch my video interviews. No direct leads/consults thus far.
My Final Grade: C+
My final thoughts: As I mentioned, I actually like the concept and think the general structure and approach they are taking is professional. Some of these types of lead services can feel a little bit like bait and switch. Unless they get a big infusion of cash, I have concerns about their ability to deliver any sort of true lead volume because the cost to advertise this sort of service is really significant.
Would I do it? Possibly. If you already have high-quality videos produced, you could do the Silver package, get the profile, and choose to just do the basic (pay for performance) service and the whole thing would be relatively inexpensive. It’s another credible website that would have your messaging out there and can only improve your search rankings. For this reason alone, it is worth considering. If you can look at it from the perspective of “any leads are just gravy,” I think it is worth considering. Just don’t count on it to be a major activity generator for your practice. The world of financial services digital marketing is filled with questionable characters. My initial gut reaction about this place and the folks I spoke with did not raise cause for concern. They seemed really genuine and were pretty open about expectations. I truly hope these guys can make it work, as there is much about their approach that I like.
All the best,