1. Let’s start by learning a bit more about Mission: Advice. The name is intriguing and we know that you are a war veteran, so we’d love to hear more about your background and your decision to launch Mission: Advice.
The idea is that the niche market is:
- Federal Government Employees
- Military Families
This is where the name comes from. Basically, we are saying our mission is advice. So, to shorten it, we just do Mission: Advice. Having the word mission in the name gives it a military feel, so our clients can understand it better.
The military has a six-step planning process, whether they are delivery plans or if it is crisis planning. We take these planning steps and detail and then apply them to personal financial planning. By using the military planning process, we get more granularity and detail plans. It allows us to do better courses as action. We treat the client as if they are a commanding officer in military campaigns.
2. If you could pick one (just one!) feature of your new website that you admire the most what would it be and why?
We like the idea that with the different plug-ins you can do multiple action items. For example, the customer can go watch a video or schedule an appointment. This allows them to take action on different features that they want to know more about.
We have different types of media available, so if they want to watch a video on how something works or they want to schedule an appointment. It takes them a bit further than just filling out a contact form, they can schedule the appointment right there. If they want to know more, then sometimes people can just relax and watch a short tutorial if they like.
3. What would you say was the simplest part of redesigning your site and conversely, what did you find to be the most challenging?
The simplest part is that we went ahead and let Twenty Over Ten do the full custom package, which made it very easy. Also, it’s nice when you can go in and edit parts of the site yourself, too.
The biggest challenge is that there is a lot of information that you want to put out there, and so you are trying to limit the pages. You have so much information that you want to convey on your page. Twenty Over Ten was very helpful with that. We figured it was better to have too much content, then we could always scale it back rather than add on.
4. We love to see that you’re integrating a variety of tech tools on your website to help generate leads for your business like our one-click integration with Calendly, Riskalyze, eMoney and more. How did you go about choosing your firm’s tech stack and what tools have you found to be most beneficial so far?
Calendly is definitely beneficial because it allows customers or clients that might be looking at our site after business hours, and they just want to make an appointment. So, giving them the option to schedule appointments on their own using the Calendly tool is very helpful. We definitely went that route to make it easier for the customer, but it’s also easier for us, so we want to give them a way to take action immediately.
With the other tools, we tried to build the practice more around the planning aspects than investment management. So, most firms, they say they will do the planning, but they really do investment management, and they can take a cut with their fees. That’s the business model of it all. So, ours is more designed around building plans for the people and less around investment management.
The eMoney tool is for the planning but then there is an investment component, which is what Riskalyze is about too. We have a separate insurance agency called Insurance Outfitters.® which we started on March 3 in 1989. When we talk about investments, we talk about it from a risk management perspective, so that why Riskalyze is so helpful.
Many times, the risk only looks at the beginning of the relationship, and then after that, it’s more focused on returns and whether the clients meet their goals. When we look at the risk, we are looking at the conversations that we have in the beginning and then all follow-up conversations are centered around the risk of the portfolio. We used risks and mitigating risks as a way to achieve client investment goals.
Likewise, because of this, our fees that we charge for the investment management are normally around half of what our competitors are. So, we believe that on average investment advisors are overpriced, because they will come in and do the initial risk tolerance, and the more you pay your advisor, the less there is for you. We feel like we are able to do more for the client for less.
We used to refer clients to investment advisors at our other company, and even though they only made a small return, they had paid their investment advisor $40,000 over three years for basically nothing. We said that we are going to start doing investment advising ourselves. We approach it from the risk point of view, and it fits perfectly into how we are with our military planning processes.
5. Social media is key to running a strong overall marketing strategy so we love to see that you’re embracing this by having a presence on the big three – Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. Recently, we’ve loved your focus on sharing beautiful landscape photos from around your state in West Virginia. Taking this approach really helps localize and embed your firm into the local community. Could you tell us more about your social media strategy and future plans?
Our social media strategy is similar to everyone else:
- Keep people informed
- Have a presence
- Try to put out topical items
We also try to focus on where we gained followers, and many have come from posting images of the area around us. Just engaging with them helps to increase our followers, then, we intermix it with typical items of the day, maybe its a bear market or preparing for taxes if its tax season, so we just try to mix them up.
Our thinking is that it separates us because everyone is doing the same thing. Everyone is talking about tax season, so we try to mix it up with some local images and just remember that “a picture is worth a thousand words,” so that is where the landscape comes into play.
Moving forward, we want to start doing videos. Our own personal videos, not just a copy of someone else’s video, not just a link to someone YouTube, so we’re actually going to start doing our first couple and then take it from there. We want to get good at it where we can just do it on the fly and get it out there right away.
6. It can be about marketing or running a business as a whole, but what has been the best advice that you received that you have been able to apply to your firm and help things to run more smoothly?
I was once told you can build a job for yourself, or you can build a company.
You can build a nice little job, but if you’re not there, it’s not going to run efficiently, as it centers around YOU.
Or you can build a company- a true business with processes, systems, and workflows. A firm where if you’re not there, everything still runs smoothly.
The whole is greater than the sum of the parts.
That would be the best advice I’ve gotten.
Along those lines, we focus everything around system, processes and workflows, so if I’m not there everyone still knows what they need to do, and the ship still runs smoothly and the client still has a great experience
Twenty Over Ten took the stress out of it, and made it easy, stress-free and enjoyable to get the website up and running. You all had lots of good advice along the way and good suggestions, so it made something that seemed a little bit scary, easy, fun and enjoyable.
-Tom Maiden, MBA CFP®, Mission: Advice
7. What is the most important thing that you would share with other financial advisors who are looking to redesign their website?
I would say to keep it simple and focus on a niche to separate yourself from all the competition. You look at a website out there and everybody says basically the same thing: to help protect your financial future…so how do you separate yourself from that?
Also, this is from a West Virginian, so keep it localized. Local is a judgment call, so it would be for 200 miles or 50 miles, so get to know these people around you.
8. We’re all about working hard, but finding that work-life balance is so important. What are some of your favorite things to do when you aren’t at the office?
We like sailing, and we are only an hour and a half from Annapolis, MD, so we like to go out there. I’m in the navy reserve, so we can check out boats from the Naval Academy, and also when I have to do my military duty each year, normally it’s somewhere that has sailboats that you can rent, so we’ll bring the family and all go sailing. Also, that’s the reason for the nautical wheel on our website.
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