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The Data Possible Podcast

Communication Strategies That Help You Stand Out

Guests: Clay Thompson, President of On-Demand Wholesaling

Summary: In this episode of The Data Possible Podcast, Clay Thompson, President of On-Demand Wholesaling, talks about the importance of a targeting strategy for wholesalers, the effectiveness of short videos, and how to keep content concise without shortchanging the message.

In this episode, you will learn:

  • Tips wholesalers can use to be successful
  • How wholesalers can stand out to advisors
  • The difference between an engaging video and an ineffective one
  • How to target your video messaging to the right audience
  • Why execution is a strategy
  • What channels are receptive to video content and how having the right data makes a difference

Resources: Discovery Data | On-Demand Wholesaling

The Data Possible Podcast is produced by our partner, Advisorpedia.

Podcast Transcription:

Doug: Hello, and welcome to The Data Possible Podcast, presented by Discovery Data. This is your host, Doug Heikkinen. Today, we welcome Clay Thompson, who is the president of On-Demand Wholesaling, to the podcast. Welcome, Clay.

Clay: Thank you, Doug. Thanks for having me.

Doug: You've been in the financial service industry for over 35 years. What led you to start On-Demand Wholesaling? And what makes your style of marketing unique?

Clay: That's a great question. The experience that I bring to the table. And I'm embarrassed to say, that it's actually now creeping up on 40 years in the business, has all really been distribution, wholesaling, advisor centric. And it's no secret that advisors are more and more difficult to get in to see for wholesalers and it's been a dilemma, really, for a number of years, well before the pandemic, that advisors simply don't want to see wholesalers. And yet, when you survey them, they will tell you that the most trusted voice of a firm is that of the wholesaler. So, it's sort of a both sides of the mouth argument that advisors will use. And it struck me, in talking to the people that I know in this business in my own experience, that great wholesalers have this ability to walk into an office, they have a presence, they very rarely have a lot of literature with them, they tend to tell the story, and they tend to not regurgitate performance facts. Instead, they give you a real overview and a story that you can tell to your retail clients. So that's really the key to it. So, I was looking for a way to help wholesalers do that and to try to figure out okay, given technology today, and given where the marketplace is going, what could I do, that would end up being helpful for wholesalers, who in turn can be helpful to advisors. And frankly, at the end of the day, it's all about helping the retail client achieve their goals. And I came across whiteboard animation, as an extremely effective way to tell the story. I know I've always been enamored with them, when I get them myself, I tend to find myself more engaged, I tend to find myself more attentive to the story, and I tend to retain more of the information there. So, I created a company that, what we do is, we have as clients, asset managers and insurance companies and any number of other financial services entities, we build two-minute whiteboard animated voiceover videos. They tell the story, they're not training, they're not meant to be lengthy, they're not meant to be all inclusive. Again, back to that experience of what makes great wholesalers, they don't come in and require two hours to tell you the story. They recognize that they get two minutes. And it has to be memorable. And it has to be something that an advisor can retain. We happen to have found that the whiteboard along with the voiceover, the fact of the matter is that we as human beings are both visual and sound oriented. Think about survival in the forest millions of years ago, you had to be able to see the danger and or hear it or tuned into that kind of medium. The whiteboard animation with voiceovers are just a great way to help asset management firms and insurance companies tell their story.

Doug: In your experience, are these some of the tricks wholesalers can use to be successful? And what are some of the other tricks that you know?

Clay: Yeah, I don't know that the tricks is really the way that we want to think about it. But I do think that there are certainly steps that you can take. And I think, again, you need to be ready at all times to have a quick story. You'll hear that throughout my comments today that brevity, and I don't mean shortchanging, I mean being spot on and thorough, but brief. That's a very difficult task to accomplish, but that is something that a great wholesaler needs to have because at the end of the day, an advisor will look at them and say, whether it's on a Zoom meeting or whether it's in person, okay, you got 30 seconds, why should I buy your fund? Why should I work with your annuity? Why should I work with your ETF? And you better have something that hits them right between the eyes. I think the other thing that I would tell wholesalers today, and this is sort of new, is you have to allow the advisor to lead the journey. It used to be, I would prepare my presentation, we would set up have a meeting with an advisor and we go see them, and it was our pitch to them. And what's changed with the way that the internet works and the way that we all consume data and information today, I'm in charge of my own journey, I'll determine whether I want to click here to learn more, I'll determine whether I want to download your white paper or not. And I think the great wholesalers of today are going to understand that and they're going to play to it. So instead of leading with, here's everything, I have to say, they're going to be very, very attentive to that advisor in the way that they want to consume information, and really allow them to lead their own journey of discovery about the asset management firm or the insurance company that they work for. So, I don't know that that's a trick, but I do think it is a very important shift in the dynamic of how advisors and asset management firms work. It used to be the other way around. Now, the adviser is very, very much in charge of the entire journey.

Doug: So let me ask it a different way. When you say wholesaler, immediately, you think of the lunches, the golf games that you're spending time together. And those days are gone because nobody's got that kind of time.

Clay: Correct.

Doug: So as a wholesaler, how can I stand out in front of an advisor? And I think you answered part of that. But is there a follow up to that answer?

Clay: Yeah, I think it's being a guide, without appearing to be a guide, if you will. You have all the resources; we have all of the ways of helping advisors on their journey and it's having full command of how to do all of those things. Where on the website, should I look? Where can I go find additional research? How can I access more information to allow me as an advisor to educate myself? So yeah, you're absolutely right, that there are still some level of lunches, and I'm sure some golf is still being played. Though that game has really changed into again, being that guide, without appearing to be the guide.

Doug: Back to what you do. What makes the difference between a good, engaging video versus a bad video? And why are whiteboard videos, specifically, so effective?

Clay: Yeah, I think, I actually had a prospect yesterday send me some whiteboard videos that they had done a number of years ago, and they wanted my critique on it, which is always dangerous when you're prospecting and they want your critique, you better say it the right way. To me, it comes to one word, and its authenticity. I see so many talking head videos where someone is doing their quarterly update, they're clearly reading from a script, they're in a very neutral office with a, you know, sort of benign background and so forth. There's nothing at all authentic about that experience. The whiteboard videos that we do, we write the scripts, we do all of the work, we create them, we do the visuals, we do the voiceover. It's a full turnkey package. And it's a fairly interesting thing for me to write scripts, and then have my clients come back correcting my grammar in a script. They fail to see that what a script is, is the way that people talk to one another, it's not a document. And I see so many of the videos that I think are ineffective, it's a document that's being read, versus a conversation that is being had between two people. So, we tend to be, a phrase that we throw around here a lot is informal authenticity. And there are ways of being informal, you speak perhaps not grammatically correct, pauses, and clearing of throats and whatnot are natural, that's how things actually work. A great video, you're going to feel that authenticity, a bad video, you're going to feel like someone just read a PDF to you. Which would you rather have? I know what I'd rather have. And again, the video that this client sent me, it wasn't authentic. It was heavily scripted, you can tell that someone who is not comfortable, winging it, frankly, in front of a client, which is what it takes, had written it and polished it. I don't like things with too much polish. I think that I'm looking for a real experience. I'm looking for an authentic experience. And that's the difference.

Doug: Why is messaging so important in videos and how can it be targeted to the right audience?

Clay: Yeah, I think, to me when I think of messaging, I think of, you need to take the message and the story of your firm. And you need to put it into phrasing and terms that an advisor can turn around and use with someone else. And to do that, you have to very carefully think about how you phrase things, and how you word things. And to know, what the advisor is all about. To know their background, to know a little bit more about them, is really very helpful in crafting that message. So, to me, the message also comes down to look, they're going to remember at most three things. And what I try to do when we build videos is to make it pass the so what test. So, you do the video and at the end of it and you watch it. Is there a so what? If I watch it, and there's no so what, then it's not going to be very effective. There's no messaging there. And it needs to have three things that when they go home, their significant other asks them how their day went, I want them to go, you know, I got this video today. And boom, boom, boom, they remember three things, they're not going to remember any more than that. The constant fight I have with my clients is to leave things out of these videos, they tend to want to cram in too many messages. They want to say too many things. It's two minutes, we're in a short attention span world, hit a message that's very clear, hit it very, very hard, very concisely, as I said earlier, be brief, but don't shortchange and move on to the next topic. So that messaging is really important that you craft that the right way, in a way that they can turn around and remember and use with a retail client.

Doug: How is execution a strategy?

Clay: Yeah, that's one of my favorite sayings. I think sometimes I get clients and I see other providers out there that become really enamored with the process here. And to me, look, what we're doing, frankly, at the end of the day, is fairly simple. And it's critical that you execute. So, when you say you're going to deliver a two minute video, and we write all of the emails that introduce these. So, it would be: Hey, Doug, I was thinking about you, here's a great video, it's going to take you two minutes. It explains x. It needs to take two minutes. And you need to deliver on exactly what you said you were going to do. And I think sometimes we can overthink positioning and all of the other things that go with this. And at the end of the day, can I create a two-minute video that gets your attention and tells you my story, and you're going to remember three things? That's execution. I believe that's a differentiator. It's something that we work very, very diligently on here. I've seen great wholesalers do the same thing. I will get that answer back to you in an hour, you better do it in an hour. And it's important that advisors begin to see you as someone who executes on what they say they're going to do.

Doug: You sure remember one of these things when it's done well, and you view it, you just don't forget it. There was one years ago, that was about brokers and fiduciaries. It was just fantastic.

Clay: Brilliant. Yeah, I actually watched that one yesterday, Doug, and that goes to that authenticity. It's actually about a butcher and a fiduciary. And it's very casually written, it’s not super polished, the camera kind of comes in and out. You can see the guy's arm and the part of his shoulder from time to time. But it's enormously effective, because it's authentic, and it's telling a memorable story. That video came out in 2014. And you and I both remember it.

Doug: Yeah, brokers or butchers and fiduciaries or dieticians or something like that.

Clay: That's correct. That's correct. That's right.

Doug: In addition to producing videos, you also work with clients to distribute it. What channels do you feel are most receptive to video content? And how does having the right data make a difference?

Clay: Yeah, you know, we get that question a lot. And, you know, I guess I'm constantly surprised at how effective email still is. I know a lot of people, you know, think that everything gets caught up in spam, or in filters and none of it gets through. And certainly, that is true to a certain extent. But we've had great success with email. We certainly get hung up in spam from time to time, and we get, you know, a very small number of unsubscribes and so forth that go with the territory of email, but I still find a fair amount of success in getting advisors to open an email and then to click through and watch a video. So, we don't shy away from that. That's our primary way of distributing the video that we have. We also, though, take that video and post it on client’s websites. And we're beginning to have more and more success with LinkedIn postings. And again, the same principles apply, it needs to be very short, it needs to be very memorable, you need to use the correct file, when you post that on LinkedIn. And you need to write a very short, very creative sort of introductory piece so that viewers know what it is that they're going to watch. Having said all of that, one of the things that I think makes our email effective is the fact that we use really clean scrubbed data and we really pay attention to bounce rates. I've had clients say,” Hey, I have the data on my own, I'll just give you the data, you load it up in the system and you send it out for us.” I'm very reluctant to do that because more often than not, that data has not been cleaned, it has not been scrubbed, it was a list they bought two years ago. And I can tell, what I do is I send a very small sample out 100 and if I get a bounce rate above, you know, 3 or 4%, I immediately shut it down. Because that means that they're just bad emails, and you're going to end up with trouble. And we partner with Discovery Data, they've been terrific. And again, I like the idea that the data is clean and scrubbed. And we can pay very, very close attention to whether we're getting through, whether we're getting bounced, and that really has an impact on your effectiveness. I guess at the end of the day, I would tell people do not shy away from email, it still works. It is very viable. And it just takes the expertise and some smarts about how to do it. But find yourself the right partner and you can definitely use email.

Doug: Video is becoming way more popular. Bad video is becoming way more prevalent. And these are not that.

Clay: Well, thank you. And I agree with that. I think that the statistics that I've seen are 80 to 85% of all internet traffic is now video. I always tell clients and just think of yourself and you go on to Amazon and you're looking for outdoor grills. Do you want to read something about the grill? Or would you rather see a quick you know, 30-second YouTube video? I always go for the video. I think most people do. So, I don't think that we're doing anything here that is, you know, fantastically unique. This is the way data is consumed these days. This is how people want to interact. The trick is to make them short and memorable and brief without shortchanging the content.

Doug: Clay, thank you for joining us. It's been quite a pleasure.

Clay: Thank you, appreciate the time

Doug: For everyone at Discovery Data and The Data Possible Podcast team, we thank you for joining us.