Chances are if you've been in the financial industry for longer than a week, you're familiar with Emerald
Publications. The company's advisor offering is as standard on the seminar circuit as the chicken and vegetable dinners. But the San Diego-based organization is more than a one trick pony, offering training and education,
Web sites and e-newsletter services. Greg Woodbury, Emerald's vice president and national account manger, spoke with Boomer Market Advisor about AutoMark, the company's e-mail marketing system, and what it can do for advisors and their clients.
Boomer Market Advisor: Being that you're so strong in the seminar space, we weren't familiar with your other offerings. AutoMark is of particular interest. What was the product's genesis?
Greg Woodbury: Emerald started out in 1986 as a seminar-marketing provider, and that was really everything. But there is a finite group, maybe 15 to 20 percent of the business, that wants to do seminar marketing and is really qualified to do it. I would go to conferences and meet with advisors and ask them about their marketing program.
The answer was usually the same -- referrals. There was no rhyme or reason to it. They didn't have a formal, structured marketing plan in place. This was just after 9/11, and a lot of them said they didn't want to touch clients because they have nothing to report but bad news. But we found that those who took the time to reach out and touch clients in those difficult times actually increased their business. So AutoMark was developed to help them do that.
BMA: What are some of its features?
GW: It tracks the client lists that are sent on an automated basis. It's regular in nature and contains news and educational pieces that are pre-approved by compliance. The tracking feature allows the advisor to see who received the newsletter, at what time and whether or not it was opened. You can include a picture and logo to make it more personalized. Also, the pieces are stored so if you have a client meeting about estate planning you can go back and find an estate-planning piece and send it off to the client as a follow-up. Flash presentations, retirement calculators and eseminars can also be included.
BMA: Who develops the content?
GW: We have an internal staff in our creative department that produce the pieces.
BMA: How cost efficient is it?
GW: It's very cost efficient. There is an initial $299 one-time, set-up fee and then an ongoing $75 fee each month.