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What Justin Bieber can teach you about your practice

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Why would you not start having some fun, rolling your sleeves up a bit, entertaining your ideal prospects (with some class of course), and start winning people over by being real and someone who they can relate to? 

Do you know the difference between Justin Bieber and you? It’s fairly simple really. Justin Bieber made millions from simple YouTube videos and you didn’t. 

If you aren’t familiar with the name Justin Bieber, then I can only assume that you are reading this in hard-copy form after someone printed it and mailed it to you, because you have never been “online” before. And if this describes you, then I would recommend throwing this away now, as the information that I am about to share will not apply. Go back to your typewriter and keep hoping that this technology train is somehow going to slow down before you become extinct. 

On the other hand, if you know that “Bieber Fever” was the result of a young teenager who was raised by his mother in Canada before he was “found” on YouTube and became a household name, then I have an exciting secret to share with you that could drastically enhance your business

But before I reveal the marketing secret, I want to share a little more about Justin so you can see just how powerful a simple YouTube video was for this young kid. Prior to 2007 (only six years ago), no one but his friends and family in Canada knew who he was. He was just like any other average 12-year-old kid here in America. He had parents who weren’t married and had no connections or real money. Actually, he was living in low-income housing. And then all of a sudden in 2008, he was discovered by a talent manager who came across Bieber’s videos on YouTube. And then everything started falling in place for the soon-to-be teen idol. 

And just a few years after being discovered, Bieber won Artist of the Year at the 2010 and 2012 American Music Awards, was nominated for two awards at the 53rd Grammys, and has a loyal following of over 45 million Twitter followers who call themselves “Beliebers.” 

And oh, by the way, he was named the third most powerful celebrity in the world by Forbes in 2012. Not too shabby. 

Did I mention that he was born in 1994? Yes, that makes him 19 years old as I write this. And all of this fame, fortune and power started from a homemade video on YouTube.

So let’s get off Bieber for a moment and talk about how this actually impacts you as a financial advisor. I will begin by telling you a brief (and true) story where I decided to speak up at a large conference in Atlanta just a couple of weeks ago. 

The conference had a couple hundred entrepreneurs from all over the country, and even a few who came in from other countries. I won’t bore you with all of the fine details of the two-day conference, but I will share with you a simple comment I made in front of the audience that turned me into the most popular and sought after guy in the room. 

So there I was, microphone in hand, with a couple hundred eyes all looking at me waiting to see what I was going to say. The question at hand was how to help a small business owner (who was on the hot seat in front of everyone) get the good word out to ideal clients about his exciting new product. A few people had recommended the obvious such as targeted direct mail, advertising in industry magazines, and a few other very common marketing tactics. But after hearing this small business owner’s detailed rebuttals, we came to find out that he had tried all of those with limited success for this unique product. 

So with all eyes on me, I made the following recommendation. I recommended that he and his company film and distribute an outrageous video. And not just any video; I was talking about a video that people would never forget. Better yet, a video that people would laugh so hard about that they would forward it on to others. Do you recall the video that went viral (while also generating millions of revenue so far) called the Dollar Shave Club? It was an over the top, outrageously random and funny video about a new company offering a $1 membership for razors each and every month. It was so outrageous that many thought it was a joke. But hundreds of thousands immediately paid the $1 per month. You can see the video here

Now before you get deflated because you think your practice, your broker-dealer, your boss or your profession is too classy to do a funny video, you really need to think again. 

Have you ever seen Jeff Rose, a registered rep, do his funny dance, show his outtakes or pick his ear with cheap Q-tips in his videos? Have you ever seen Stan the Annuity Man live or on a video talking about his Stanifesto? I urge you to check them out. These guys are the real deal, they know how to relate to real people, they make more money than 99 percent of their financial advisor peers, and they have a ton of fun doing it. Heck, if I were a consumer looking for a financial expert I would pick one of those two guys over almost any advisor out there — just because I can relate to them. 

To further clarify this, do you recall the survey a few years back that asked consumers all over the country if they could pick anyone to manage their money, who would it be? 

The number one vote (by far) went to Oprah Winfrey. As a financial advisor, this should flat-out tick you off. Oprah doesn’t know the first thing about managing money. Ironically, she uses financial advisors to manage her own finances. Yet the majority of Americans can associate her with well-managed money and put enough trust in her that they would let her take over their finances… instead of you.

And for those of you who still say you can’t do YouTube videos because you are a financial planner or are with a strict broker-dealer, then you need to wake up and smell the coffee. The rules that have been put in place for those of you with broker-dealers are centered around giving financial advice or product recommendations. There is no rule from any broker-dealer from FINRA, from the SEC or any other regulatory body that says you can’t be real and have fun at your profession. 

My team created a video with an entire parody of the popular Hair Club for Men. We called it the Hair Club for Financial Planners and poked fun at how working with us gives stressed-out financial advisors so much relief that their hair will grow back. I knew it was a success when I received the following three emails. 

The first email was from a stuffy compliance officer saying, “This video was one of the most unprofessional videos that I have ever seen.” That was followed by, “You guys are freaking hilarious. How we do business with you?” The third email read, “Job well done by bringing some humor to a very dry and boring industry. Keep up the videos and let me know if there is a chance I can participate in one.” 

Did you ever think that any consumer on YouTube really cares about what your definition of an annuity is or your thoughts on the stock market? Of course not. When will we learn that people want two main things when it comes to the marketing messages that they are bombarded with on a daily basis? People want to be entertained, and they want to relate and find a bond with the product, service or person they are being sold on. 

Don’t believe me? What are always the two most talked about Super Bowl commercials every single year? The one that makes people laugh the most (usually an outrageously funny commercial) and one that people can relate to (usually one with a message, picture or brand that takes the consumer back to something in their past like a fond memory). 

Take a moment to reflect on this and let it sink in. And then think about the last video, commercial or YouTube skit that you saw, one you can’t seem to get out of your head. I am willing to bet $1 that it was either funny or it touched you emotionally. I am willing to bet you $2 that it was not a bland educational video about a financial advisor (unless it was so bad that it made you laugh).

Let me ask you an important question: Who makes more money — educators or entertainers? 

Entertainers always win. And entertainers who educate (like Oprah, Suze Orman, Dave Ramsey, Jim Cramer, etc.) make a killing and create very loyal followers. Say what you want about some of the aforementioned celebrities, but they are most likely having more fun than you, while making more money. And frankly, they could care less what you think of them. 

Why would you not start having some fun, rolling your sleeves up a bit, entertaining your ideal prospects (with some class of course), and start winning people over by being real and someone who they can relate to? I can assure you that you will be happier, and more money will come your way if you try it versus some cookie cutter, boring video where you read directly from the teleprompter. If that is what you believe works, then why not just do a video where you tell people you are boring and have nothing in common with them? 

I urge you to give it a shot, start realizing that your business is not different than Justin Bieber’s business, and that you all make money by creating loyal fans (a tribe) who will follow you through anything because they have a bond and an emotional attachment. 

However, all of this comes with one warning. You will tick off some people. In fact, you will probably lose a client or two in the process. But guess what, these clients are people that only liked the person you were pretending to be. They are people you do not want as clients. Your ideal client is someone you share a common bond with, not someone who wants to leave you the second you let your hair down and act like a real person. 

Make a pact with yourself not to be boring any longer. Your clients will thank you, your future prospects will thank you, and your company will thank you.