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Ep. #45 – How to Revolutionize Digital Marketing for Financial Advisors with Stephen Beach


Digital marketing for financial advisors can be an overwhelming and/or confusing topic for many.

Financial advisors are often challenged by what marketing strategy is right for them, how to communicate their value, and what outside resources might be right for them.

Can you relate?

While Bill Cates is the recognized expert and supreme advocate for growing through referrals and personal introductions, there are certain tactics and strategies in the world of digital marketing for financial advisors that shouldn’t be ignored.

This is a Case Study Episode of Top Advisor Podcast. 

In this unique episode, Referral Coach Bill Cates interviews Stephen Beach, Co-Founder of Craft Impact, about their work with Burney Wealth Management. They discuss Burney Wealth’s marketing struggles prior to working with Stephen, and how he and his firm helped them develop effective messaging, a results-generating website, and greater overall clarity in their marketing. All of this work has served as a turbo charger to the referral culture Bill had already helped Burney Wealth develop and implement.

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Bill and Stephen discuss:

  • Why a website can be a financial firm’s most important digital asset along with some specific, implementable strategies.
  • Why Burney Wealth decided to offer a sample financial plan template to visitors of their website and how this strategy has exceeded their expectations.
  • Craft Impact’s approach to messaging, including internal workshops using the StoryBrand framework and external interviews with clients.
  • The importance of messaging on a website, specifically the banner, and how it should be emotionally appealing to potential clients.
  • The definition of cognitive fluency and Stephen’s method of helping advisors explain their process in a visual manner.
  • The importance of providing relevant information, checklists, or other tools valuable enough that potential clients are willing to submit their contact information on the website in order to receive them. (Often called, “Lead Magnets.”)
  • …And more!


Connect With Stephen Beach:


Connect With Bill Cates:

  • Show Transcript

    Bill Cates : Welcome to the Top Advisor Podcast, brought to you by ProudMouth PodRocket Academy. I’m your host, Bill Cates, creator of the Cate’s Academy for Relationship Marketing. In each episode, I interview one of our industry’s top performers, getting them to pass on their secrets to success to you so that you can impact more lives and generate more income. Now onto the show.

    Welcome, welcome. Before we get going, I want to let you know about some free resources that I invite you to retrieve. After you’ve listened to today’s interview, you’ll find checklists guides, videos and other tools. Simply go to Now write this down unless you’re driving or on the treadmill, and it’s also in the show notes. While you’re there, make sure you sign up for our weekly tips. We’re always sharing best practices and we’ll notify you of our newest podcast interviews as they go live. And while these are free for you, I think you’ll find them quite valuable.

    Now, on with today’s show. I think you’re going to find the evolution of today’s show interesting and hopefully helpful. A few years ago, I had the honor to work with one of the oldest RIAs in the country, Bernie Wealth Management, headquartered in western Virginia. And this was a typical training and coaching relationship for me, where we put all their advisors to our Cate’s Academy for Relationship Marketing. We did an in-person session and I followed up with several virtual coaching sessions.

    And just a few months ago, one of their partners, Kyle McFarlane, reached out to me to let me know of a firm that they had used to freshen up their messaging, website and marketing processes. And in fact, here’s the exact email message that I received from Kyle, who had just attended one of my webinars. So it goes like this. He says “your virtual coaching session was fantastic as always.” Thank you, Kyle. ”It served as an excellent review of the topics we previously discussed during your visit to our office. I’m excited to introduce you to two individuals at Craft Impact, Stephen Beach and Faustin Weber. Craft Impact is our marketing and communication agency and has played a crucial role in our recent accomplishments. With their assistance, we’ve been able to generate more referrals and transform qualified leads into customers through innovative digital marketing techniques. Given the overlap in your businesses, I think you guys would find value in connecting.” So this was Kyle’s flattering and pretty compelling way of introducing me to today’s featured guest, Stephen Beach.

    It occurred to me that a great template for today’s show would be a case study of what Stephen and his firm Craft Impact did for Bernie Wealth Management. So let me therefore introduce you to Stephen Beach. Stephen is the co founder of Craft Impact, headquartered in Tampa /St. Pete area, Florida. Craft Impact works with financial advisory firms of about 2 million to 30 million in annual revenue to attract prospects to increase referrals and convert more qualified leads to you, the listener of today’s show. It doesn’t matter the size of your firm or how long you’ve been in business. Most, if not all, of the principles and strategies, and methods that we’ll be discussing today can be applied to your business. Stephen Beach, graduate of Notre Dame, husband and father of three young children. Welcome to Top Advisor podcast.


    Stephen Beach: Thanks so much, Bill. I appreciate it. Happy to be here. Last time I saw you, we were sharing some grits and bacon and eggs at a coffee shop down here in St. Pete. So it’s good to see you again.


    Bill: Yeah, it was a great little place. Unexpected, fun, breakfast. And first, I want to start with, I know you got your degree from Notre Dame. You got the shirt on with the logo on it. I’m guessing the degree was not in digital marketing. So tell us, how in the heck did you become such an expert in digital marketing for financial service firms?


    Stephen: Yeah, yeah, thanks. I’m trying to share the Notre Dame brand as much as I can. I just booked tickets to the Ohio State / Notre Dame game, so we’re excited about that. We’ll probably get beat by a couple of touchdowns, but we’ll have fun while we do it.

    I’ll share my quick story with you and the listeners just to give you some more context, and then we can dive into Kyle’s case study of Bernie Wealth management that she led into. But yeah, I graduated from Notre Dame, and I came out and started a volunteer position, then got into an advertising role in Chicago. I think I was making $27,000 living in Chicago, so I had five roommates. But anyhow, my dad started a company in 2010, and him and my mother put a good amount of money into it to start it up, and within six months, he was diagnosed with a brain tumor. So he said, if there’s any time to work for me, it would be now. We need some help with sales. So I jumped on and I said, sure, I’ll do sales, let’s do sales. What does that mean?

    So I just started cold calling trade shows, literally walking in on people’s offices, like, just knocking on their door and asking them if I could have ten minutes of their time. Kind of the old school way I discovered inbound marketing and digital marketing. I took over our company’s website and started to build content. I taught myself inbound marketing, and I learned a lot from HubSpot, which was a pretty simple marketing software tool back then, and started to generate my own leads. And so these people would fill out the contact us form or whatever form it was on the site, and I’d call them and they’d actually be wanting to talk to me. So that was very different compared to what I was used to.

    That kind of launched me into digital marketing. World in general. My dad passed away a couple of years after that, and I kept with the company, but eventually I went to his partner who still runs the firm, and I said, hey, I’d love to do this work for you on a freelance basis, if you’re open to that. We could come up with some kind of agreement, hourly rate, whatever you’d like. And we came up to a mutual agreement, and he was my first client. They’re still our client, so that was back in 2012. So they’re still a very happy client of ours. We’ve got a great relationship, but that’s kind of what launched me into the whole digital marketing space.


    Bill: Sorry about your dad, and it’s a great story, and I’m sure it was great for you to be able to work with him in that regard and help him grow his business, which is part of his legacy and now part of your legacy. So let’s dive into Bernie Management, who found who. Give us a quick genesis of how you guys started working together.


    Stephen: Sure. So Bernie Wealth. We connected with Lowell Pratt, president chairman of the Bernie Company. So Bernie Wealth is a part of that and connected on LinkedIn with Lowell. He mentioned they’ve been looking for some help with branding, messaging, digital marketing in general. So we started to have these kind of exploratory calls, we call them, and just that involves me asking questions and then being quiet and trying to learn what the challenges are and learn more about the business and see if we could be a good fit to help or not.

    So they had been burnt with their experiences in the past. I suppose you would say they were a little scarred by those. They were apprehensive about hiring another marketing agency, which is a common theme across this financial advisory space. I’ve definitely come to find out a lot of just poor experiences out there that people are really trying hard not to replicate. So we started talking with them about their messaging. I remember one of the conversations was, I said, if I asked ten people in your company, what do you guys do? What would everybody say? Would they be different answers? The consensus was it’d be about ten different answers. And so the first project was, let’s figure out really what our messaging should be, who our target clientele is, and how do we craft messaging that’s concise and that resonates with them. And let’s start there. So that was kind of what kicked us off with Bernie Wealth.


    Bill: So you started with the messaging. Makes sense. I always start with that when I’m coaching folks as well. What other challenges do you feel they had? Or did they express or sometimes opportunities that they felt they weren’t achieving? Talk to us about some of the early conversations.


    Stephen: Yeah, so I think Bernie Wealth realized that they had an opportunity to improve their marketing. Their client experience was already really good. Their retention rate is extremely high. They do great work with their clients. They start with an intensive financial planning process, and they have a lot of great services under their wealth management bucket, you could call it. They had struggled to kind of put a real marketing strategy in place and follow up on it, as simple as that sounds. They had struggled to find the right partner, either externally or internally, that could say, okay, we’re going to set a marketing strategy here that aligns with your business goals, and we’re going to execute on it. And then we’re going to look back and measure what just happened, and then we’re going to improve on it for the next round. They just struggle to find the right fit. Kyle shared with me. They realized they wanted to take digital marketing more seriously. They felt like they could expand their clientele. They felt like they could do more good work for more clients. Just needed to kind of figure out the right messaging, how to get the word out and that type of thing. But they also realized, hey, we’re good at financial advising, we’re good financial advisors, we’re not good marketers. It’s really hard to do both at the same time. So, like I said, they tried a couple of agencies in the past. One of the common problems I see in the space is agencies that try to break into the financial advisor space that just do not understand the business models. They don’t understand the clients, they don’t understand kind of the services provided. And granted, it can get fairly technical and there’s compliance involved and these type of things, it can get a little bit more advanced. So they felt like they were kind of having to slow down a lot to sort of train whoever it was that was trying to do their marketing work and just felt like they were wasting time. And then internally, they’d tried to hire internally before and struggle with that too, because again, they’re not marketers. So how are we going to manage a marketing role and build a marketing department? And ultimately just decided, okay, let’s focus on what we’re good at financial advising, and then we can outsource the marketing piece of this. So that was kind of our offering. Our end was we’ll be your outsourced CMO, and we have a built in team for executing the plans and let’s sit at the table with you and really try to be strategic and be a value add and try to align what we’re doing digital marketing wise to your overall company goals. And by the way, we know what an ETF is and we know how to run things through compliance and that type of thing. And we know that there’s sensitivities with what you can and can’t say. Just having that type of baseline understanding I think helped us a lot. So we could kind of skip ahead a few steps with them and get right into the strategy.


    Bill: I think you actually bring up an important concept or important thing for folks to think about. So, for instance, I’m giving a presentation to a group, an RA up north of Baltimore in Towson, Maryland, and they hired an internal marketing person who did come from Financial Services. So she has that experience and that knowledge. I’ve also seen firms that hire marketing folks who don’t have that prior knowledge. So I think if the principals, the partners are decent marketers, they can manage and direct that person to some degree if they don’t have that experience. But if they don’t, like you said, if you’re not a great marketer, how can you manage someone in that role if you don’t even know what’s possible, if you don’t know the basic principles? So I think that’s bringing it in house outsourcing, those are some of the important considerations. You have a blog on your website, a lot of good articles. One of them caught my attention. It’s entitled Effective Messaging how to Build Your Story and Find Your Inner Yoda. So most folks listening know that in Star Wars Yoda, the guide was, tell us about this concept. How did you apply it to.


    Stephen: So messaging? Okay, so I’ll say start we start with messaging on all of our engagements now with clients, I’ve tried to skip this step in the past, and it just comes back to bite us in the butt. So it’s like, okay, we’re doing messaging first, and that’s a non negotiable. So we start there. How we approach messaging. We kind of have two different initiatives that we run simultaneously with one another. So messaging, we do internal workshops, and we use this framework called Story Brand. So that’s kind of internally, and then simultaneously to that, we go externally and we interview our clients clients. So for Bernie wealth management’s case, we said, hey, if you guys are comfortable with it, submit us a list of five to ten of your ideal fit clients that you would love to replicate. If you could just duplicate these people and they’ve become more clients, like, what would they look like and who are they, and that type of thing. So Bernie went to those clients and said it would it be okay if you talk to these folks this is our new marketing partner, and just interview with them and so on. So there’s some prep work there. I think they ended up giving us like, 18 people. And so we interviewed all 18. Each interview is like 15 to 30 minutes, but some of them went longer just because we were kind of driving. And they’re friendly people. So anyhow, you do those two things in parallel, and they kind of feed off of each other. But the one is StoryBrand. I’ll talk a little bit about that. Story Brand is a very systemized structured set of two workshops and then a final presentation, take you through a seven step framework to really define your ideal buyer. They call it a character and then craft messaging around that. So the end goal would be out of the story brand project to come up with messaging that is clear, concise, and compelling. So again, if I ask ten people from your firm, what do you guys do at the end of this? We’re going to have a framework and a deliverable piece that everyone can refer to that. Then they can use all of your employees and your staff and your advisors can use this elevator pitches and whenever they meet somebody walking down the hallway at a conference room or whatever it is. So we start there. The seven steps are pretty basic, but it’s who’s your ideal persona, your character? What does the character want? Like emotionally, psychologically? What are they looking for? They meet a guide. This is where Yoda comes in. They meet a guide. So you’re positioning your firm as the guide who can help them with their problem. The guide introduces them to the services and then calls them to action, which would be set up a consultation or submit your information here. And then the guide shows them what success looks like and what failure looks like. And that’s kind of the overall framework. So we do that internally and we get everyone in the room, and that’s the leadership team and anybody else who’s interested to kind of answer our questions and go through those workshops. But then, like I said, on top of that, we interview the clients themselves, which is really that’s the secret bill. It’s like, that is where the golden nuggets come from. We talk with these clients and they share things with us that it’s shocking what they share with us sometimes, and it’s really fun. So we take those and we extract. We call it key themes and opportunities out of those interviews. So there’s so much information, there’s so many things you could possibly be saying or be baking into your messaging. So we need to distill that down so we distill it down into this presentation. Key themes and opportunities. In Bernie’s case, I think it was about ten themes. We keep hearing these same things from your clients. Like, they keep telling us they love the personal attention, like the personal support that they’re getting. They feel like when they work with Bernie, it’s not just about the assets under management. They feel like it’s about the relationship. And you guys are asking them about their kids and their marriages and the wedding that they just went to and things like that. It’s part of a relationship, things like that. We love the quarterly webinar that Bernie does. Love it. I attend everyone. If I don’t, I watch it on know two themes right there. So we go, okay, that’s continuing education, even for existing clients, and also the personal relationship. And what does that look like? So we kind of extract those. And then you’ve got all this information now, so we’ve got to figure out a way to pick what are we going to focus on in our messaging. So then we build an exclusivity and importance matrix, which sounds really fancy, but it’s pretty simple. Take those ten themes and rank them on a scale of one to five on importance. So how important is this to our firm? And then exclusivity, how unique are we in being able to deliver on this theme to these clients? If they say financial planning, we really like financial planning. Okay, that’s important. It’s not very exclusive. A lot of firms do financial planning to start off the relationship, and you’re not super unique in that space. So what else can we pull from? So we’re trying to kind of synthesize these two things, external and internal, and then bake them all into this big deliverable that we then hand over to Bernie and say, this is your messaging guide. It’s a framework that will define anything that we produce communications, sales materials, marketing materials, and also what your people can refer to. A lot of them just print it off and have it on their desk and kind of refer to these different sections of the messaging framework so that they have it when they’re talking to prospects, talking to clients, giving clients things to share with other folks, which is what you coach on a lot. And yeah, it’s been really valuable to start with that it kind of aligns everyone. And then we take about four to six weeks to deliver that, and then we move into all the other marketing tactics and things that follow.


    Bill: I want to comment on a couple of those things, but first of all, this is something that I encourage folks to do as well. Talk to your clients. Sometimes they will say things in ways that you wouldn’t think about. Right. So you’ll get verbiage, right? I had a client tell me one Michael Schmidt’s out of Mateo, California. He says, Bill, I tell folks that you make asking for referrals as natural as breathing. And I’m going, wow, that’s pretty cool. I wouldn’t think of saying that. And I don’t actually say it, I use it. But I always quote Michael Schmidt’s. So instead of bragging, I’m just quoting. I was coaching a couple of guys, and they started doing this with some clients, and one client says, oh, I call you guys the Dream makers. And they said, what do you mean about that? Well, you’ve told us there’s nothing worse than an unfunded dream. You know, I have some goals and dreams, and you make sure I’m setting money aside to do those and accomplish those things. And they go, yeah, that’s it. It’s like, to me, that’s a right fit client, someone who appreciates our value for all the reasons we want them to appreciate our value. So great thing. But you did say something that I’m not going to let pass. When you first started talking about this, you said they said some really I don’t know if they use the word weird or strange or crazy or amazing things. I mean, did you hear strange things, or was it just that they all kind of said the same thing in different ways?


    Stephen: No, you hear some strange things sometimes.


    Bill: Can you remember any?


    Stephen: I’m sitting there, you’d be talking to somebody on Zoom, and they’re somewhere in their retirement home in Montana in their boxer briefs, basically talking to me on Zoom, just as comfortable as ever. Like world buddies. And it can lead to some funny interactions, I guess. Some people are very free with what they share, especially to me. If I’m a neutral third party, I approach it like, hey, I’m here to listen. Here’s the questions. Love to get your unique insight into your working relationship with this company. I would love to hear more about why you chose them over the others, what made them such a great choice over the competitors that you were considering. I know you were considering others, right? So what was it? And yeah, some of the things they share. Yeah, I don’t know. I’m not sure how much I can share. I’ll share r1 quick, actually. Okay, this is probably fine. If not, then Kyle can tell us. But yeah, there was a financial advisor with Bernie Wealth who was described to me as being easy on the eyes. So this is the husband and the wife were on a call, and I was just asking them about their relationship with their personal financial advisor at Bernie. And the wife said something about, yeah, he’s not too hard on the eyes, or something like that. And the husband was like, yeah, can’t disagree. I’m like, okay, yeah, just little things like that. Other personal things, too, is just folks just sharing. Hey, I would invite them over for I’d host a wine and charcuterie night at my house. If they wanted to come to my house and I’ll invite 30 of my neighbors and friends, I would definitely do that. We heard that several times. That type of specific opportunity, like, I’m happy to host a cocktail hour or charcuterie night. I didn’t suggest these things. This is coming independently from multiple people. So that’s what I mean by key themes. It’s like, okay, these are things that keep coming up. These are opportunities that I think there’s some consensus here with where you could go with this. So, yeah, some of those kind of conversations, that’s great.


    Bill: I often coach advisors when they’re thinking about doing some social event marketing, which I’m a big fan of. Talk to your clients about different venues, about different types of things. Maybe they’ve been to a venue, they have access to a venue. And this has come up many times where the advisor is talking to the client about possibilities, and the client says, well, we love to entertain, we’d be happy to invite folks. You’re not asking for it, but it comes from them. And that can be a pretty cool event. You also mentioned something through the story brand process, which I also have gone through and I love this, the three C’s clear, concise and compelling. I just read a book on financial planning written by actually an old business partner of mine in a book publishing company that he and I owned together and he wrote a book on estate planning and all the decisions. But he’s very clever and very funny. And I read through the book, he wanted to know my opinion and I said, well, you’re very clever, you know that you’re quite have a way with words. But because of that cleverness, I’m not sure I got the actual point right. It was obscured a little bit by the cleverness. So we want to be creative, we want to be clever sometimes that’s what you do in marketing and trying to attract the eye and the interest, but not at the expense of clarity. Very important point there, right?


    Stephen: Yeah, I love that. I mean when somebody comes to your website, I tell people they have to understand immediately, within 2 seconds, what do you do and who do you do it for? But then the other key is how do you make it not about you so much, how do you turn it? And that’s the other thing with story brand is it does a really good job of making the character the hero of the story. They’re the hero. You’re not the hero, you’re the guide, but they are the hero of their own story. So you’re there to guide them. And that’s a really tough thing for people to kind of flip that on its head sometimes. But yeah, you’re definitely right. It’s got to be concise, it’s got to be compelling and it’s got to be clear.


    Bill: Well if you haven’t done the work of figuring out who you really do want to attract, who those personas, characters, avatars, whatever word you want to use, then you’re going to talk about what you do know, which is yourself. And so you end up making the website and all the copy about yourself when it really should be about them and they should see themselves in that copy. So this is a good segue to my next question, which I know I’ve heard you say that a firm’s website is their most important digital asset. Why do you say that? And maybe some best practices or some things that you did for Bernie around that.


    Stephen: Yeah, I think a firm’s website, I think it should be looked at as your house. So a lot of times what advisors do, not just advisors, folks from different industries do, is they’re trying to find a quick way, they’re trying to find a silver bullet, they’re trying to find something that gets them ROI as quick as possible. So paid ads could be an example of that. And I’ve talked to a lot of advisors who’ve gone through this, and they’re burnt and they’re really frustrated and it’s a huge waste of money, but they’ll spend 20 grand on paid ads. Paid ads are rented space. As soon as you stop paying the bill, the paid ads stop showing up. So the house is your website is your house in the sense that you own that. That is your marketing asset. The more you build on that, the more valuable that asset becomes. And so I really encourage people think of it that way. Start with your house. Start with messaging as the foundation. That’s the concrete slab. If you will. Start with messaging and then build on that. So that means build content into it. Build the right branding into it. Just continue to use it as an educational tool for your clients and your prospects and treat it as such. And then it’s okay if you want to supplement your house with some paid ads and money that goes to Google or Facebook or LinkedIn or what have you. That can be part of the strategy, too. And there’s definitely cates where that makes sense. But the paid ads or rented space, the website is your house. That’s kind of how I look at it.


    Bill: Owned real estate. Your email list. Owned real estate. LinkedIn rented real estate. Right. Could go away tomorrow if LinkedIn changes things. I want to remind everybody, you gave me an idea. I created a guide. I call it. It’s based on my book, Radical Relevance, and it’s about websites and how to build a radically relevant website. I am going to put a link to that in the Show Notes. So if you can access the show Notes now, get it. If you go to and look for this episode with Stephen, it’ll be in the Show Notes. Shoot me an email., bill, send me that guide you have around websites, and it’ll supplement what Stephen’s been talking about. So let’s focus on two aspects of Bernie’s website homepage. First, their messaging in their banner, which is probably the most important part of a website, right? It’s the most valuable real estate because that’s what people are going to see first. So I’m going to read this a little bit, then, Stephen, I ask you to comment. So their headline reads as follows. In very large text, it says, a good life doesn’t plan itself. That’s kind of a curiosity thing. Okay? Yeah. Especially if someone kind of knows and wants a plan that’s going to jive totally. Slightly smaller text. It says, Feel secure about your family’s future. Secure. That’s one of those very clear, emotionally benefit type words. That’s what people want to feel. One of the many things they want to feel. And then smaller still, a clear strategy to protect and build your wealth, which is what people want, right? We’re talking benefits now. To protect and build your wealth is essential. Be confident in your financial plan and at peace about the future. So I think this is good copy. It hits on some emotional buttons, secure, protect, build wealth. And it kind of hints at the possibility of making a mistake, of not having a plan, which the brain latches onto, the fear of missing out because the brain wants to feel safe at all times. So can you remember the process that produced this nice opening message?


    Stephen: Well, so all credit goes to Bernie. First off, I would say Lowell and his team, they were great in the workshops. I mean, they had all kinds of ideas. The thing is, Bernie already had kind of a good idea of what they wanted in the sense of the messaging and what they were trying to convey. It was just really hard for them to put it to finalize guess, you know, to figure out what to prioritize and to finalize it and get some more direction with it. So a good life doesn’t plan. Say, I’m going to give credit to Lowell there. I want to say that was like his baby from a while ago. But the whole idea was, I like what you hit on there with kind of the previewing, the negative almost. That’s a little bit of what story brand does too. That’s why we show them the guide, shows the hero of the story, shows them the plan, calls them to action, shows them what success looks like. In other words, hey, if you work with us, this is kind of what it looks like. Here’s the very simple three step process and here’s what it leads to. But then also shows them what happens if you don’t work with us and if you continue on the path that you’re on, where you’re not being helped by this financial advisor who’s going to solve these problems for you. It’s almost like the story Brand guide on our team. He’s a certified story brand guide. He’ll tell people. It’s kind of like when you’re baking a cake, you add a pinch of salt to it. You don’t want to overdo it because it’ll ruin the cake very quickly. But a little pinch of salt is helpful. So that’s why you build in the negative, but you’re also building in the other things that you mentioned, empathy. Hey, we get it. It’s tough. You’re a busy professional. You’re balancing all these different things. You’ve got this need, we get it. And then another thing would be authority. We’ve been around for this many years, and here’s the credibility that we have in Bernie Welt’s case. I mean, top ranking in Virginia, they’re the top RIA by CNBC, top ten nationally. That ranking just came out and they’re really proud of that. That’s a piece of authority that we then use across marketing deliverables. But yeah, that gets baked into the messaging framework too. So that’s all part of it. For sure.


    Bill: Yeah. It’s the same thing that advisors, I believe, should talk to their clients about, even in meetings, right? Yes. There’s a cost to moving forward, and there’s a cost to doing nothing. There’s a course to staying a cost to staying the course. That’s how you take what a client may see as aspirational. Yeah, someday I’ll get life insurance or whatever. Well, okay, let’s see what happens tomorrow if you didn’t have it, right? There’s a cost. So that’s kind of what you allude to. And you’re right. You don’t want to get overly negative around that, but a little hint at it, I think it’s important. So there are at least even two more big questions I have for you. One, they provide a sample financial plan that visitors can download. So I want to talk to you about that. I’ve not seen other firms do that on our website. And the second thing I want to talk about is a concept called cognitive fluency. It’s out of cognitive neuroscience. Yes, there is such a thing called cognitive fluency. You probably didn’t think about it in these words, but you’ve incorporated that into their website. So I want to talk about that. But first, let’s take a brief pause to listen to a word from our sponsor, pod Rocket Influence Academy, brought to you by ProudMouth. First, they make this podcast possible, and their core business is helping financial advisors like you listening accelerate their influence through marketing activities like podcasting.


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    Bill: We have a new tool that you just might want to check it out. It’s called rapid fire referrals. If you’re new to my work, this is a great, affordable entry point to some of my processes. And if you’ve been following me for some time, this is also a great tool to keep our processes and your exponential growth top of mind. One of our advisor clients named Rapid Fire Referrals. The habit maker. So, in a nutshell, once per week for 52 weeks, you receive a short, high content video lesson geared to provide actions that you can implement, hopefully right away to start multiplying your best clients and turning that incremental growth into exponential growth. In addition to the weekly lessons, you also get access to a bonus interview of me that provides you with a great overview context of my complete system from the very beginning, so all the lessons become that much more meaningful. And look, you may get sick of me after 52 lessons, that’s fine, but I can guarantee you won’t be sick of the results producing ideas provided in each video. So, as a listener of Top Advisor podcast, which you are at this moment, you also receive a $100 off on the regular investments of 297. So that’s $197 for all these lessons. The bonus interview. Just use the coupon code RFR 100. Do yourself a favor, head over to after we finish this conversation with Stephen Beach. That’s coupon code RFR 100. Now back to my featured guest, Steven Beach. As promised, we’re going to cover two more important topics. First of all, offering a sample financial plan for download on the website and a concept known as cognitive fluency. Let’s start with the latter. So in my book, Radical Relevance, I discuss a concept known as cognitive fluency, and it has to do with the importance of clarity of one’s messaging and of one’s processes. Essentially, if a prospect or a client understands your process, if they’re clear on the steps they will go through to become a client and work with you moving forward, they are more likely to trust you and continue with that process. The more clear they are on what’s next, they’re more likely to take that next step. This is why I place great emphasis on advisors communicating their process to prospects as clearly as possible, illustrating that process on their websites, which Bernie does, and talking about their process with brand new prospects all along the journey. So Bernie delineates their three step process right on their homepage. Some will do a five step process, some seven. I don’t recommend more than seven. So do you remember this conversation about this and the reasoning behind putting that process right on the home page rather than burying it deeper into the site?


    Stephen: Yes. Okay. Yes. So a few things I’ll pull from this in terms of principles that I think everyone could learn from. I love the cognitive fluency definition. 100% agree with StoryBrand. We try to limit it to three steps or less just to make it easy on people to kind of digest and consume. And then from there. Also, one other thing I was going to add is we develop what we call it a Client Success map. It’s a very simple one pager PDF that’s mostly visuals that shares with folks what your process is. And it’s already on the website, just in different forms, but it’s something that advisors can say, sorry, can send to prospects after that first initial exploratory call, if you will, the first Fit call, send me some information as a follow up. Okay, what do I send them? We call it a client success map. We turn that three step process into a visual. So it’s a nice piece that people can kind of grab onto and say, okay, I get it. It’s simple, but it’s compelling. Go ahead.


    Bill: I was just going to say client Success Map roadmap. Yeah. Here’s your process for moving forward. That helps the prospect just feel more comfortable and trusting about moving forward.


    Stephen: Exactly. And it puts them in the driver’s seat. I think that’s such a key theme that we’re trying to drive home is your firm doesn’t really matter. Your services don’t really matter. They come secondary to what matters the most would be the client and the client experience and what their needs are and what their challenges are and what they’re really asking for. So the best firms will extract that information and then align their services and their delivery to that. So put them first, put them as the driver, put them as the hero of the story, the main character, whatever you want to call it, and then create all of your material kind of following through that filter. So the client success map the roadmap. It allows people to see, okay, here’s where I’m at. I’m at phase zero. This is the path they’re going to guide me down. And it gives them a really clear I think what it does is sort of starts to disarm the prospect he talked about, like disarmament and how do you do that? There’s a couple of things that we’ve learned. One, the more people read on Bernie’s website and browse around articles and download the sample financial plan or attend a webinar, for example, or watch an on demand webinar, they’re more likely to convert. They’re sort of qualifying themselves. So it’s a principle of consumption drives conversion. The more they consume, the higher likelihood it is that they’re going to convert into a client. And then they’ll also kind of qualify themselves in or out, depending on not just their investable assets amount, but other factors too. You can kind of get a good feel for the advisors and whether or not they’re going to be a good fit to help you or not based on the content and what they’re putting out there. So I think those things are really important to just stay focused on as you think about kind of lead nurturing and what the experience is even before somebody signs up.


    Bill: Stephen, I have one more big question for you. I mentioned earlier, Bernie is offering the download of a sample financial plan. But before we get to that, if a listener is interested in learning more about you, how you work with advisory firms, how should they proceed? Go to your website, send you an email. How should they reach out to you?


    Stephen: Sure, yeah, find me on LinkedIn. Steven with a PH beach, just like it sounds. I’m in, you know, B-E-A-C-H. That should be simple to remember. Find me on LinkedIn and shoot me a love to love to talk with you and kind of hear what your challenges are as a firm and then share with you, not just for Bernie, but some of our other RIA clients what’s been working well and see if you can kind of extrapolate from that for your own firm. That. And the website is C-R-A-F-T impact. Impact.


    Bill: Great. Also in the show notes. All right, so, big question. I’ve visited thousands of financial advisor websites over the years, interviewing, coaching, just poking around. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a firm offer a sample financial plan on their website. I could see pros and cons to this, why did you guys do that? Was that your idea? Was that Bernie’s idea? How did that, you know, in a nutshell, is it working? Is it helping?


    Stephen: It’s working really well. I think they would definitely agree with me on that. The idea there is they want to show don’t tell. So let’s show the prospect, the value that they’re going to get instead of try to pitch them on it and try to convey it verbally. So you download a sample financial plan. We started to get a better understanding of how valuable this piece was during that messaging workshop and kind of the strategy discussions we had early on. And we go a little further with it. It’s like this thing is really comprehensive and really thorough, and there’s a lot of hours that go into this with multiple advisors, and it’s presented on a call, and this is all before somebody signs an engagement proposal. So what if we removed all the confidential information out of that? And that way we could convey, we could really show people what they’re getting and what the relationship looks like, and help kind of lead them down that path. Like just, again, let them make their own decision, let them be in control of the process, but also let’s give them something that’s super educational at the same time. So that was the thought there. Bernie’s never built a PowerPoint to walk people through and try to sell them on the final call. Their approach was, we want to show the level of financial planning that we go into and kind of show you what the next plan, the six to twelve month plan looks like. And it’s been awesome because now if you go to the website, most of the website is directing people to that. It’s the main lead magnet that’s on the website. And so, again, it helps people kind of qualify themselves. It gets them more and more familiar with Bernie, its people, but also its process kind of leads them further down the funnel. And it’s all, again, in the context of the client is the one who’s in charge here. They’re in the driver’s seat. So I think that was the idea. And the other thing I’ll add to that people could take with them is most websites, they have really one place where people can submit their information. So you go to a website, it’s a contact us form. It’s important to remember most of the, like 99.2 to 99.5% of people are not going to fill out that form. They’re going to leave your website, whether you know it or not. They’re just going to come and they’re going to leave, and you’ll have no idea that they’ve ever visited you. So let’s come up with something that is sort of an in between, like, how do we give them a piece of information that’s valuable enough that they’re going to actually submit their information to you? But it’s not so bottom of the funnel. It’s not like, hey, will you marry me? It’s more like, hey, let’s go on a date. Let’s test it out. That’s kind of the idea of the sample financial plan.


    Bill: Yeah, I love it. I think it’s a great idea. It creates what’s fairly intangible planning. It makes just a little bit more tangible. My featured guest on today’s show has been Stephen Beach. B-E-A-C-H-I like to say Steven at the beach. That’s how I remember. Co founder of Craft Impact. Steven, thank you for being a great guest with us today on Top Advisor podcast.


    Stephen: Bill, thanks for talking with me. I love it and hoping to get some more work together with you soon. It’s been awesome collaborating with you and I’m really impressed by what you deliver to clients. I just want to make a little plug for your services there because you’re just delivering value over and over and over again on a half hour call. It’s packed with information that’s very tactical and I think very valuable for advisors. So there’s the plug for Bill, but, yeah, thanks so much for having me on.


    Bill: We should also thank Kyle McFarlane with Bernie Wealth Management for their firm’s permission to feature them in the episode. To you, the listener of this podcast, I’d like to ask you a quick favor. If you like the episode, you like the podcast in general, please leave a five star review on the platform which you’re listening to the show. Not all platforms have a place for review, but if it does, please do that. It really helps us. I’ll be grateful. If you haven’t already, head over to, sign up for our weekly tips, access a ton of free guides, scripts, and don’t forget about and use the coupon code RFR 100 to save $100. This is Bill Cates reminding you that ideas do not make you more successful. Only acting on those ideas will bring you the success you desire. Thanks for stopping by.


    Bill: Thank you for listening to the Top Advisor podcast brought to you by Proud Mouse Pod Rocket Academy. I encourage you to visit my website, for links to my books, online courses, and to register for the Cate’s Academy.

About Our Guest

Stephen Beach co-founded a growth and communications agency for a few reasons, among them: to create a successful company that offers employment opportunities, to be a role model to his son, to grow from the challenges of creating a sustainable business, and to help other small and medium size businesses grow their revenue and teams through inbound marketing.

After graduating from the University of Notre Dame and working for a large pharmaceutical advertising agency, Stephen knew he wanted to create a new kind of marketing agency- one with fresh ideas, personalized support, and proven ROI without the big agency prices and overhead.

Stephen continues to be a Notre Dame college football fan despite attending the university during the underwhelming Charlie Weis era and the more recent years of disappointment. He loves golf, craft beer (of course) and traveling with his wife, and being a father to his children Auggie, Lola, and Oakley.

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About Your Host

Bill Cates, CSP, CPAE, works with established financial advisors to speed up their growth without increasing their marketing budget. Advisors tap into Bill’s proven process to multiply their best clients through introductions from advocates and Centers of Influence (such as CPAs and attorneys), communicate their value proposition more effectively, and create a reputation in a profitable target market. Bill helps advisors move from push prospecting to magnetic marketing – to attract more Right Fit Clients™.

Bill is the author of four best-selling books, Get More Referrals Now, Don’t Keep Me a Secret, Beyond Referrals, and Radical Relevance. Bill is a highly sought-after international speaker and coach, as well as the founder of The Cates Academy for Relationship Marketing™.


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