Pride and Promotion: How Whole Growth Partners Helped Stella Oak Reach LGBTQ Clients

Pride and Promotion: How Whole Growth Partners Helped Stella Oak Reach LGBTQ Clients

Pride and Promotion: How Whole Growth Partners Helped Stella Oak Reach LGBTQ Clients

The two Principals of Stella Oak Financial & Insurance Services — Brandon Matloff, CLTC® and Suneel Garg, MBA, CLU® — have always been attracted to bold ideas.

“If everybody else goes to the right, Brandon and I ask: ‘What’s on the left?’” says Garg.

Stella Oak is a boutique financial services firm backed by the extensive resources of the Northwestern Mutual Wealth Management Company. They offer personal wealth solutions as diverse and discerning as the clients they serve. Many of those clients are part of the LGBTQ community.

For the team at Stella Oak, financial planning is about more than a portfolio of investments. The most effective financial plans center around achieving a life purpose, like retirement, education, or starting a family. In conversations with clients, they often heard about the unique challenges  — and tremendous expense — associated with LGBTQ family formation, including in vitro fertilization (IVF) and adoption.

Matloff and Garg wanted to do something to help these families. They saw an opportunity to focus part of their business on helping LGBTQ individuals, couples, and families. But they needed a marketing firm to guide their outreach.

Matloff turned to Laura Landergott, the founding partner and Curator of Impact of Whole Growth Partners (WGP), to lead the strategic direction of their efforts. Her marketing expertise and outside-the-box ideas immediately impressed Matloff and Garg.

“Laura and her firm figured out what works for us and then crafted something that works in this space,” says Garg. “She met us where we were and pushed the accelerator.”

First, Landergott set up one-on-one interviews with Stella Oak’s LGBTQ clients to talk about what mattered most to them. She took notes on their concerns, fears, and long-term dreams — things that don’t often come up in professional conversations. These interviews informed the marketing strategy and tactics WGP created. But they also helped the Stella Oak team approach their LGBTQ clients with more empathy and understanding.

After developing a marketing plan, WGP jumped right into the implementation phase — allowing Matloff and Garg to spend more time on client-centered work. WGP created website content focused on the LGBTQ community, a sophisticated digital firm profile, and community advertising, as well as memberships and engagement with local LGBTQ organizations.

Landergott also suggested that Stella Oak create a podcast focused on all things LGBTQ. The podcast, which will launch in fall, sent waves of excitement through the firm.

The idea that resonated most with Matloff and Garg was founding a nonprofit organization. With Landergott’s assistance, they are launching The Giving Collective of the South Bay to create exponential change within LA’s LGTBQ community. Comprised of numerous donors, the Collective aggregates contributions to create larger financial impact. Every year, the organization will focus on a topic important to the LGBTQ community and offer grants to further the work of organizations in the community. The first year, The Giving Collective of the South Bay will focus on family formation.

Matloff is passionate about reinvesting in the community. “We’re trying to do something bigger than ourselves,” he says. “The marketing strategy developed for us by Whole Growth Partners will not only bring about significant growth for our business, but also make an enduring impact on the LA area.”

This philanthropic vision has generated a lot of social equity for Stella Oak. Matloff says The Giving Collective of the South Bay is already leading to better referrals. Stella Oak’s diverse team took to the idea with gusto, and nearly all the candidates in their recent hiring phase mentioned their interest in the nonprofit.

“It’s been a really nice added benefit that we didn’t really expect,” says Matloff. “We definitely feel it in the culture of the firm that we’re building.”

Landergott is proud of what she has accomplished for Stella Oak so far. The results are yet another example, among many in her client portfolio, that marketing can do real good in the world, while also meeting strategic goals.

“I look for ways to connect business outcomes with what clients are most passionate about,” Landergott says. “That’s the true measure of a good marketing strategy.”

Our Two-Year Anniversary: A Look Back at the Beginning

Our Two-Year Anniversary: A Look Back at the Beginning

Our Two-Year Anniversary: A Look Back at the Beginning

In honor of our two-year anniversary, here’s a look back at WGP’s history through the eyes of partners Laura Landergott and Darcy Ripple.

In the spring of 2019, Laura Landergott took off on a “Thelma and Louise”-style road trip with her sister-in-law — in search of great barbecue, great beer, and great music. Fortunately, their ramble ended not with a plunge off a clifftop, but with an idea for a business.

A New Beginning

Not long before the trip, Landergott left her position at Northwestern Mutual, where she had spent 11 years delivering marketing solutions for financial advisors. Wanting some time to reflect, Landergott turned off her phone and hit the road, intent on clearing her head. When she checked messages two weeks later, she was inundated with inquiries from former advisor clients, colleagues, and associates, many of whom asked some version of the same question: When are you going to start your own business?

“It was mind-blowing,” says Landergott. “It affirmed what I already knew; there was an absolute need in the financial services industry for experienced, concierge marketing support.

Within a month, Landergott had Whole Growth Partners up and running. The first two clients came onboard before she even opened the doors.

A Clear Vision

Landergott wasn’t new to the world of entrepreneurship: she built a white glove housecleaning firm as a college student and had a graphic design business in her early 20s. For this next venture, she knew she didn’t want to go it alone. She named the company with a partner in mind, even though she wasn’t sure who it would be.

That summer, Darcy Ripple came to Milwaukee for a work trip, and the two got together for a beer. Landergott and Ripple had worked together for many years at Northwestern Mutual, growing to like and respect each other deeply. As Landergott explained her new company — one she hoped could create enough revenue to provide philanthropic grants to women returning to school or starting a business — she saw Ripple was moved.

All of a sudden it hit me,” Landergott thought to herself.This is my future business partner!

Although she hadn’t set out to pitch Ripple on the idea, it happened organically.

Ripple soon left the corporate world to join Landergott as a principal at Whole Growth Partners. With decades of experience in the field, both women know that financial advisors are first and foremost CEOs, not marketers. In the field, it’s not uncommon to see a string of random marketing tactics unconnected to a larger strategy. To address this challenge, Whole Growth Partners provides a growing portfolio of customized marketing solutions for financial professionals to drive growth in their practices.

“In the early days, we spent countless hours pinpointing exactly what was needed in the marketplace and refining how we could best serve our clients according to those needs,” says Ripple. “We began with a vision. Now, we’ve evolved into fulfilling and expanding that vision.”

A Growing Company

The company’s growth has been exponential over the past two years as they’ve positioned themselves as the marketing firm of choice for those in the financial services industry.

In June 2020, the two principals hired their first employee, Dana Jankins, Program Director. Landergott says the decision was a “major step for our very young firm” one that the two owners arrived at with the help of their own financial advisor. Together they made revenue projections, evaluated expense ratios, and became students of running a financially profitable business. The experience affirmed what the women already knew: that thriving businesses are better off hiring sooner rather than later.

In May 2021, WGP hired another employee, Jessica Jacobsen, Marketing Operations. As the team continues to grow, they envision retaining their boutique service and expanding their capacity with 10-15 talented people working virtually across the country.

An Empowered Evolution

The women of Whole Growth Partners recently set the company’s core values, which include fun, creativity, empowerment, and entrepreneurship. That focus on fun ends up bringing powerful positive energy to clients.

“Every single day, we get to positively influence people and practices across the country, while staying true to the values that make our team and business uniquely impactful in this industry,” says Ripple.

During the many years Landergott and Ripple worked in financial services, they were often the only women in leadership roles. That experience sparked their desire to empower exceptional women in the industry. That mission has become a core value of Whole Growth Partners, too.

“We’re smart, hardworking women, and we know how to get the job done,” says Landergott.

A Woman’s Worth: How Financial Advisors Can Better Serve Their Female Clients

A Woman’s Worth: How Financial Advisors Can Better Serve Their Female Clients

A Woman’s Worth: How Financial Advisors Can Better Serve Their Female Clients

Within a decade, women in the U.S. will control $30 billion in assets. Here’s how financial advisors can meet their needs.

Nowadays, according to Bloomberg, American women control more than $10 trillion in household financial assets. That amount will likely triple in the next decade, making it more important than ever for financial advisors to appeal to women from all walks of life.

Unfortunately, many women say they don’t receive the best service from their advisors. According to a recent survey by New York Life Investments, 40% of women feel financial professionals treat women clients differently. And 28% say that financial advisors push women out of the conversation.

However, male financial advisors can work with women just as effectively, as long as they strive to be more inclusive. If they don’t, the result could be millions in lost business.

Women Are an Asset to Advisors

Of course, everyone would agree that women have the right to voice their opinions in financial discussions — and to make decisions with or without their partners. What’s less understood is that financial advisors benefit from empowering women, too. Here are a few reasons why.

Women outlive men.
  • The average life expectancy for American women is 81, compared to 76 for men.
  • 70% of women change financial advisors within one year of their partner dying, according to McKinsey & Company.
Women increasingly hold the purse strings.
  • In the past five years, there’s been a 30% increase in the number of women who make household financial decisions, according to McKinsey & Company.
  • 75% of women under age 45 control their own finances, compared to 50% of those over age 55, according to Merrill Lynch.
Women show loyalty to their financial advisors.

According to a “Seeing the Unseen,” a four-part study by Merrill Lynch:

  • 70% of women are likely to recommend their financial advisor to friends or family.
  • 40% of women say they would follow their financial advisor to a different firm, compared to just 35% of men.
  • On the flip side, 35% of women will switch advisors due to a bad experience, compared to 30% of men.

How to Empower Women During Financial Discussions

If you’re like most financial advisors, you may need to do more to meet the needs of your female clients. Here are a few strategies to bring women into the conversation.

Extend the invitation.

Make sure to invite every adult in the household to your next meeting, even if you’ve only worked with one of them in the past.

Don’t make assumptions.

The Merrill Lynch study mentioned above found that, in a 30-minute meeting with heterosexual couples, financial advisors made an average of 10 miscues. These included:

  • Assuming the man was the decision-maker
  • Assuming the woman wanted direction
  • Assuming that the couple’s finances were merged
  • Assuming that the woman was more risk-averse
  • Assuming that the woman was less knowledgeable about investing
Tweak your language.

Experiment with your phrasing and see how your clients respond.

  • Cut down on financial jargon that can alienate women, and really, any of your clients.
  • Use language inclusive of both partners.
  • Use more positive words.
Even out your eye contact.

That same study by Merrill Lynch used eye-tracking technology in client meetings. The result: Financial advisors focused 60% of their time on the male client.

Prioritize relationship-building.

Get to know your female clients on a personal level. Determine their financial goals, their preferred methods of communication, their role within the household, and how they spend their free time. Instead of assuming couples agree on everything, ask each partner to share their individual opinions.

Act as a confidence boost.

The “confidence gap” — a term that describes women’s tendency to underestimate their expertise and knowledge — applies to the financial field, too. In fact, a 2017 Fidelity report found that only 9% of women believe they make better investing decisions than men, despite the fact that they actually get higher returns, on average.

  • Ask for your female clients’ opinions and ideas.
  • Compliment her good ideas — without being condescending.
  • Don’t take “I don’t know” or “I don’t care” as the final answer. Ask follow-up questions to dig deeper.
  • When a woman shows a desire to improve her financial literacy, offer both her and her partner educational opportunities.

In truth, working with female clients doesn’t take a lot of fancy footwork. Just follow the Golden Rule: Treat them as you would want to be treated. In other words, show them respect, honor their opinions, and encourage their involvement every step of the way. 

Whole Growth Partners and Your Business

Do you want to target your marketing to attract more female clients? Whole Growth Partners can help! Schedule a consultation today.

Financial Literacy Month: Five Ways to Fill Your Funnel

Financial Literacy Month: Five Ways to Fill Your Funnel

Financial Literacy Month: Five Ways to Fill Your Funnel

April 2021 is Financial Literacy Month. According to a recent FINRA study, 53% of adults are financially anxious. As if that weren’t enough, a staggering 78% of adults were living paycheck to paycheck before the pandemic. One can imagine what those numbers look like now.

If you’re in financial services, April is your time to shine! Not only is this your opportunity to help educate on and promote financial literacy, but also to engage prospects, clients, and their communities. If you’ve been looking for natural ways to engage clients and add value in a time of widespread Zoom fatigue and less-than-stellar virtual events, this is about as on-the-mark as you can get. We’re here to make it easy on you.

Check out these five ways to fill your funnel during Financial Literacy Month!


1.  Raise Awareness on Social

This one is easy-peasy and requires minimal effort. Here are three ideas for a Financial Literacy Month social series:

  • Quote Series: highlight individuals on your team sharing thoughts on what it means to create financial literacy.
  • Literacy Numbers Series: Bring awareness to the widespread lack of financial literacy by sharing insightful stats. Cite your source! Hint: there are two at the beginning of this blog post.
  • Parents & Kids Series: Post 1-2 ideas per week for parents to talk to their kids about finances. This handy guide provides ideas for all age groups! Better yet, offer to facilitate these discussions with clients’ families or adult children – especially if you’re in the multi-generational planning space.


2.  Promote the Designations On Your Team

 You’ve worked hard for your designations and in many cases, they can be key differentiators for you and your firm. However, to the vast majority of your clients, they’re alphabet soup. Use April as an opportunity to not only promote your team’s education, but to educate clients on why your designations matter to them.

Promote certifications in a social media series; explain what they are, what they mean (in jargon-free terms) and why that matters to your clients. Check out this Forbes article for inspiration! Not into social media? Promote on your website or through a celebratory email to clients, using Financial Literacy Month as an excuse to educate and engage!

Prospecting Language Tip #1: “When selecting a financial advisor, make sure they have the best credentials to serve your needs. If you’re unsure, let’s talk.”

Prospecting Language Tip #2: “Because our team is expanding their professional knowledge and capacity, we as a firm now have additional capacity to help more [target market] [achieve objective / solve a problem] and are accepting new clients.”

3.  Start a Conversation on Finances

This can be done in several different ways – the important thing is that you have the conversation.  Incorporate the conversation starters below into your LinkedIn prospecting language and/or pose them as questions through LinkedIn and Facebook posts, tagging specific clients to weigh in. Ask each client to tag someone else as well!

  • What financial advice would you tell your 20-year-old self?
  • What are you currently saving for? What are your kids saving for?
  • What do you feel are the biggest financial concerns facing [young adults / women / small business owners] today?

Prospecting Pro Tip: Use these topics to build content for a short webinar – or a more casual coffee circle – and ask contributors to join you and share their story. Ask them to invite others from their social circles. This doesn’t have to be overly-complicated – there’s huge value in simply facilitating these conversations!

4.  Make Finances Fun for Clients’ Kids

Here’s three ways to give meaningful gifts to your clients’ kids during Financial Literacy Month:

Prospecting Pro Tip: When they reach out to thank you (and they will), say this: “We’ve gotten such amazing feedback from clients and their kids…who else would appreciate [insert gift]? We’ll send them one as well.”

5.  Host an SAT (Summer Adulting Time) Prep Session

Host an “SAT” (aka Summer Adulting Time) prep session for parents and their graduating seniors. Whether you have clients getting ready to send their kids off to college or preparing their recent college graduate for their first “adult” job, you can provide education and add value.

Session topics could include: understanding your pay stub, setting up different bank accounts, monthly budgeting, financial goal setting, renting vs. buying, understanding your 401k and benefits package, and investment vehicles for 20-somethings. Trust us, the parents will thank you. While they’re feeling gratuitous, ask them to refer you to anyone else in their circle who would like a session.

Prospecting Pro Tip:  Collaborate with an A+/A client to host the webinar and fill the “seats.” As a thank you to the host, make a charitable donation in their name to a school of their choice. Use matching gifts.


Whole Growth Partners and Your Business

Are you confident you’re investing the right marketing strategies? Enlist the help of a strong marketing partner who focuses on the growth of your whole business. We’re here to help.

How to Celebrate Women’s History Month as a Financial Services Firm

How to Celebrate Women's History Month as a Financial Services Firm

How to Celebrate Women's History Month as a Financial Services Firm

By: Laura Landergott, Principal, Whole Growth Partners

Women’s History Month in March 2021 is a great time to honor women within your practice, client base and communities by celebrating their histories and highlighting their accomplishments.

How can you celebrate Women’s History Month as a financial services firm? Even without a pandemic, prospecting can be the most challenging aspect of the business. And it seems every financial services company out there is taking the initiative to recruit, prospect, and do business with more women – with good reason. In 2019, women owned 11.6 million firms, accounting for 1.7 trillion in sales, according to the National Association of Women Business owners. Additionally, one in five firms valued at over $1 million were women-owned.

So, don’t miss opportunities presented by Women’s History Month for reaching out. Below are six ideas that make it fun and easy to open doors, make introductions, and get referrals.

Select Social Quotables.

Throughout American history, women have provided empowering words to motivate and inspire us. Sharing the best of those quotes is a great way to keep the momentum going and connect with others.

Invite employees, business associates and clients to share favorite quotes from famous women. Post them on social media to build an ethos of empowerment.

Pay attention to who is viewing the quotes and encourage others to provide quotes of their own. Raising the level of engagement offers a sure way to cultivate a sense of community with little effort.

Practice Passionate Philanthropy.

Few things are more rewarding than coming together with others to volunteer for a good cause. Why not invite other women, clients, business associates and friends to join you?  You can consider organizations within your local sphere, but if you need help identifying a cause that serves women, visit

Women’s History month is a good time to formally announce your commitment to begin volunteering. You can decide your level of involvement throughout the year, whether that includes periodic volunteer efforts with an existing service organization or establishing your own not-for-profit.

Tell Her-story not His-tory.

We’ve all heard numerous accounts of daring male war veterans, but what about the nurse who served on the frontlines of battle and ended up founding a local nursing school? Or what about the woman who took over her family’s failing trucking business and turned it into a multi-million-dollar operation?

Take some time to identify clients and associates willing to share accounts of their efforts to build their businesses. You can also select someone special from your own team.

Spotlighting “her story” on social media, or even in local news media, can help you advance your affiliation with female community leaders and influencers.

Create A Coffee Circle.

Making connections to expand your business base used to be as easy as inviting someone for a cup of coffee. Even in a pandemic, you can still reach out with a coffee gift card, a handwritten note and a phone call.

The first step is to identify women you would like to get to know. Then explain why you are reaching out and what you admire about them and their work. After making contact and exchanging ideas, continue building your coffee circle. Ask each coffee contact who they know who might consider joining your circle.

Pack a Powerhouse Panel.

Think of three business mavens willing to share their knowledge, how they got started and how they managed to build their enterprises. Ask them to share their insights and their stories. Host a virtual powerhouse panel.

Setting this up involves effort and planning, but the results will be worthwhile.

You can approach influencers and community leaders or tap organizations that will lead to new contacts and new points of view.

This needn’t be a one-time event. You can create a series of powerhouse panels or individual presentations. Once you’ve made contacts for one event, continue to expand your reach. Ask who else might be interested in participating.

Network with a Wine, Women & Wealth Workshop.

Before COVID-19, it was easy to set up a Wine, Women & Wealth workshop. You’d invite a few female clients to your home, have them each bring a friend or two, open a bottle of wine, and chat about finances. Now, it’s still easy – it just might take place virtually.

We’re willing to bet you have women clients who want to take charge of their personal finances and wealth-building. They, in turn, probably also have friends who want to do the same. Inviting them into an open, friendly, jargon-free conversation about finances in a relaxing home environment (in-person, socially distanced, or virtual) is a great way to gain a couple of new intros and clients. Come up with a few facilitation questions and let the conversation flow freely.

And, just like the pre-pandemic gatherings of yore, you can encourage good will and intimacy by arranging for the delivery of a bottle of quality wine to the home of each participant. If not wine, try other beverages known to encourage conviviality such as special teas and gourmet coffees.

Whole Growth Partners and Your Business

Are you confident you’re investing the right marketing strategies? Enlist the help of a strong marketing partner who focuses on the growth of your whole business. We’re here to help.

10 Ways to Pandemic-Proof Your Client Engagement

10 Ways to Pandemic-Proof Your Client Engagement in 2021

10 Ways to Pandemic-Proof Your Client Engagement in 2021

By: Dana Jankins, Whole Growth Partners Marketing Manager

Here we are in 2021, and…not much has changed since 2020 ended. Alas, our tumultuous public health, political, and day-to-day life situations rage on. As financial services professionals, it has therefore become vitally important to adapt creatively to our virtual and online realities and engage with our clients in more genuine, meaningful ways. And don’t just take our word for it. According to recent insights from Harvard Business Review, emotionally connected, meaningfully engaged clients are more than twice as valuable as clients who are highly satisfied with service alone. And, that sentiment appears here to stay. So, how can we ensure we are “pandemic-proofing” our client engagement and emerging from this whole mess well-positioned as ever? Here are 10 ways to get you started.

1.) Check in More.

Many of your clients likely have the perception that you aren’t communicating frequently enough or adding value through communication. Don’t wait until the $#*% hits the fan, pick up the phone and check in. Ask how they’re doing, if there’s anything on their minds, anything you can help with, etc. Think of it this way: if you want to be their go-to advisor, you need to be there to advise and lend support even when it isn’t expected.

2.) Ask Clients How They’d Like to Communicate with You.

It seems simple, but you’d be surprised how easily you could engage more clients if you adapt to their communication style. Ask your client and their spouse when, how, and how often they’d like to hear from you. For example, Client A wants to hear from you often, but he prefers email because he’s on his laptop more than his phone. Therefore, if you’ve been texting Client A, you’re not going to reach him. He may even get annoyed with you. Pay attention to or ask about client communication preferences, then observe them.

3.) Bring in Your Team.

Your team should be involved in client engagement whenever possible. Here’s a list of easy engagement team members could be initiating or helping with:

  • Just-in-time texts & phone calls
  • Monthly check-ins
  • Personalized gifting
  • Quarterly financial reviews
  • Social & educational events
  • Monthly or quarterly firm newsletters
  • Top Client Insights interviews
  • Social media content & engagement
  • Automated email newsletters
  • Annual & mid-year reviews

4.) Facilitate Lower-Stakes Client Events.

Many of us have webinar fatigue (or just plain fatigue), but also social withdrawals. There can be unique pressures associated with online socializing, as well. Manage it all with lower-stakes client events. After you call clients to ask what’s on their minds, bring a few together who have similar concerns or interests. Keep the group small, send some nice coffee or a bottle of wine ahead of time, and invite each client to bring a spouse or friend.

5.)  Use (and Share) Your Resources.

Companies providing outside resources and expertise applicable to far-reaching effects of the pandemic crisis have had better client engagement than those who stuck with their usual service content, according to management consulting giant, McKinsey & Company. Do you know or partner with any lawyers, CPAs, realtors, estate planners, healthcare providers, wellness experts, business consultants, etc.? Compile a list of your recommended professionals to give to clients. They’ll appreciate the resources and you’ll strengthen multiple relationships.

6.) Bring Clients into a Monthly Coffee or Book Club Meeting.

Many of us are aching for some stimulating conversation but have grown rhetoric-weary. Bring together some intellectual clients for a monthly coffee or book club. Send a pound of a local brew ahead of time and begin each meeting with a new, thought-provoking topic. Or, dive into your book. Keep the rest open-ended and see where the conversation goes.

7.) Hold Client Insights & Feedback Interviews.

Client feedback is one of the easiest, most accessible engagement strategies there is. Hold, or have a team member hold, 15-20 minute interviews with a selection of diverse clients and ask where you can improve – there’s always room. If you want to kick it up a notch, run a focus group with the same aim, but get more in-depth when asking for feedback. You’d be surprised at what you hear and how helpful the feedback will be.

8.) Lead or Facilitate an Interactive Educational Event Within or Outside of Your Expertise.

Lead, or ask a client, friend, or colleague to lead a virtual Q&A session on an area of their expertise. This can be a financial or related topic, but could also be on anything from time management to mental healthcare to geopolitics. Again, use your resources!

9.) Personalize Thank You Notes, Invitations, and Gifts.

Hand-write thank you notes and personalize your invitations. Don’t put your logo on anything you give as a gift to a client. Instead, appeal to your very best clients’ hobbies, business, or children when gifting. Put a hiking-enthusiast client’s business logo on a Patagonia jacket. Curate a gardening-themed gift for a client’s green-thumbed spouse. Or give a client’s kids some fun school supplies to get them through the at-home school day.

10.) Engage Philanthropically.

This is an extremely difficult time for many. Give back to your community by engaging with a philanthropy supported by a group of your clients. Ask them to join you in matching donations around the holidays, stuffing backpacks for kids, or giving to a local food bank. Ask them to think of someone in their circle who would like to help too so you can expand your reach and make introductions. If you need more convincing: research shows that a brand or company’s charitable actions influence over 70% of U.S. consumers’ purchasing decisions. Meaning, people want to work with companies that do good, and become more loyal and valuable clients for those companies, too. 

Whole Growth Partners and Your Business

Are you confident you’re investing the right marketing strategies? Enlist the help of a strong marketing partner who focuses on the growth of your whole business. We’re here to help.

8 LinkedIn Prospecting Messages that Open Doors

8 LinkedIn Prospecting Messages that Open Doors

8 LinkedIn Prospecting Messages that Open Doors

By: Dana Jankins, Whole Growth Partners Marketing Manager

“Hi! My name is Jane and I work for John Doe, a financial advisor in your area. We create customized financial plans to suit your lifestyle and think you could benefit from our services! Would you be willing to sit down for a 15 minute meeting with John?” *Delete*

How many of these types of LinkedIn messages do you get a day? How many of them do you actually respond to, or even keep around? If you’re like me, almost zero. While this messaging strategy may have been effective in the (increasingly distant) past, LinkedIn networking has evolved in the last couple years, as have its users. And according to Forbes (and many others), 2021 will be the year of pivoting to more empathetic, highly personalized marketing. This is not to say that sending LinkedIn messages en masse to prospects and QS’s won’t yield any results. But, if not done strategically, you’ll burn through time, opportunities, and risk closing the door on irritated prospects before it even opens, by failing to connect with them as people. So, how can you improve your LinkedIn prospecting game?

We recommend using a relationship-building approach instead of gunning for the immediate sell (or meeting). It takes a little extra time and research up front, but will benefit you in the long run. Here are several strategic conversation-starters to open doors with prospects – and keep them open – on LinkedIn.

1.) Use a Common Connection:

“Hi, Mary! I saw we’re both connected to [name]. I used to work with him/her at [company] – he’s/she’s amazing! How do you know them?”

2.) Refer to Their Recently Posted Content:

“Hey, Tom. I wanted to reach out because I read your post/share on [topic] and found it so compelling. Your take on [specific point] jumped out at me and I’d love to hear more about what you think. What is your take on [related topic/point]?”

3.) Tap into Your Shared Alma Mater:

“Hey, fellow Hawkeye! It’s always great to connect with another University of Iowa alumni. I attended back in [year] and had some great times! What was your favorite spot on campus?”

4.) Reference a Shared Affiliation:

“Amy, I noticed we’re both affiliated with [charity, religious organization, community organization/chapter, etc.]. So cool to find others involved with [shared affiliation]. What inspired you to join/get involved?”

5.)  Explore Mutual Sports Fanaticism:

“Hey Jeff! I saw you and I are both BIG fans of [sports team]. I had no idea. Did you catch the game last Sunday? Did you see [highlight]? What an insane play, right?”

6.) Reference Your/a Friend’s Common Location:

“Hi Robert! I have a great friend in [location], how long have you lived there? I loved going to [landmark] when I was last there. What’s your favorite part of living there?”

7.) Indicate Shared Professional Interest:

“Michelle, I think [their work/specialization] is so cool! I’ve always had an interest in that – I even took some classes back in college. What has your career path been like? Would you be willing to connect so I can pick your brain?”

8.) Reference an Event You Both Attended:

“Hi Sonia! I saw you attended [event], I was there too! It was great meeting you there/We must have missed each other. Would love to compare experiences. I found it a little challenging to have deeper conversations with so many people in a virtual setting. What did you think?”

There are so many other creative ways to start LinkedIn conversations that make people (prospects) actually want to talk to you. These 8 conversation starters give you a place to start. You can always work in the sell later, but establishing connections centered around your shared human experiences will almost always get more responses than mass, impersonal sales pitches.

Whole Growth Partners and Your Business

Are you confident you’re investing the right marketing strategies? Enlist the help of a strong marketing partner who focuses on the growth of your whole business. We’re here to help.

These 7 Questions Make Sure Your Marketing Hits the Mark

These 7 Questions Make Sure Your Marketing Hits the Mark

These 7 Questions Make Sure Your Marketing Hits the Mark

By: Laura Landergott, Whole Growth Partners Principal & Founder

So, 2020 happened. And every business owner wants to know what 2021 will look like. That’s a difficult prediction, but we do know this: now is the BEST time to invest in marketing so as the economy recovers, your business is favorably positioned for competitive growth.

That begs the question: are you investing in the right marketing strategies for your business?

We’ve got the checklist to help you evaluate marketing initiatives offering the greatest benefit to your immediate and long-term business goals. No, this won’t involve late night pro/con list-making or giant marketing meetings to think-tank your way through each objective. Simply asking these 7 questions before you invest could save you valuable time and money in 2021.

1.)  Does it help accomplish our objectives? Is it connected to our strategy?

Don’t fall for the flashy marketing opportunity – and I’m talking to green and seasoned business owners alike. If the opportunity doesn’t feed into forward momentum that will ultimately accomplish 1 or more of your busines goals, then drop it.

It’s easy to be wooed by the next cool marketing opportunity, even if it doesn’t exactly make sense for your business goals. Or, to fall into the trap of doing what you’ve always done “because you’ve always done it.” Your business objectives may vary. There’s no one-size-fits-all marketing campaign, but viable marketing strategies should immediately present benefits to your business, period.

2.)  Does it reach our target market in both quality and quantity?

You’ve got a clear sense of what your business is about, now it’s time to look at the market. Two questions should come to mind:

    • Who is an “ideal client” for my practice?
    • How do I effectively and affordably reach them?

A marketing tactic may reach thousands of people…but if they’re not the “right” kind of prospects, what’s the point? Plus, it could have an adverse effect on your business and significantly lower your marketing ROI. A marketing tactic that reaches a handful of the “right” kind of prospects could be a better investment, just be aware of the marketing cost for that reach. Look for marketing opportunities that balance both quality and quantity and get you in front of your ideal audience without exhausting your marketing budget.

3.)  Does it provide multiple marketing touch points?

Investing in marketing strategies that reinforce multiple goals can have a powerful effect on your practice and cut down on resources used. Look for marketing opportunities that hit more than one touch point. Ask yourself, does this strategy help with…

    • Client acquisition – helping you find new clients within your ideal profile
    • Client retention – creating “stickiness” to keep those clients
    • Thought leadership – reinforcing your reputation as a respected expert in your field
    • Community involvement – increasing visibility for your business through local engagement
    • Recruiting – building your talent pipeline for future growth of your practice
    • Branding – positioning your practice favorably within the community
    • Networking – connecting you with more ideal prospective clients
    • Philanthropy – enabling you to do well by doing good

When marketing initiatives hit on several of these points, you increase the efficiency of your marketing investment. Home run!

4.)  Can it provide both frequency and duration?

When investing in a sponsorship or partnership, consider those that provide opportunities for your firm and team members to engage multiple times throughout the year. This regular cadence is usually much more effective than a single large event. A longer timeline with multiple touchpoints enable you to build consistent visibility and strong relationships under the halo of the partnership. For instance, consider sponsoring a series of connected events so you’re able to grow name recognition through repetition and continuity.

Remember, it’s not effective to parachute in for one big event, then go dark, never to be seen or heard from again for the rest of the year.

5.)  Can it build off existing relationships?

Recall question 4? Consistency is king (or queen!) in building momentum. So, think of places and situations where you already have solid relationships. Nesting where you’re known and established can effectively save you time and resources.

A few examples come to mind. Working consistently with a local publication is not only a good practice for consistent coverage, they’ll also be more likely to offer you first right-of-refusal on new promotional opportunities. Perhaps you have a client who owns a catering service or restaurant; consider using their service or venue for an upcoming [socially-distanced] event. That’s a win/win situation in which you’re helping to fuel your client’s business. Or if you’re already a member of a country club or on the board of a non-profit organization, take this opportunity to deepen relationships with other members. You know you have at least one thing in common, there are bound to be others!

In short, deepening existing relationships to feed business momentum is a wise strategy.

6.)  Is it (too) available?

Two words: category exclusivity.

To stand out, select marketing opportunities that enable your business to “own” the space. We’re pretty sure you don’t want to be surrounded by a host of competitors. So, confirm you’ll be the only financial planner or wealth management firm engaged in the marketing opportunity, sponsorship, event, etc. During contract negotiation, ask for “category exclusivity.”

Also, make sure your business doesn’t get lost in the proverbial “logo soup.” Because Silver and Bronze level sponsorships tend to be more affordable, you’ll see more company sponsors in those tiers. If you’re able, we’d recommend considering one of the higher tiers like Platinum or Gold where it’s easier to stand out. The premium sponsorship tiers typically only have one or two major sponsors. That’s where you want to be…if it’s within your means.

7.)  Is it affordable?

Which brings us to our final point…don’t take on more of a financial investment than you can reasonably handle. In fact, you might want to start small, test a new initiative before making a larger commitment. This is especially true for marketing initiatives you’ve never done before and big-ticket financial commitments.

That’s not to say you should shy away from sizeable marketing investments, just do your due diligence. Significant discounts for a multi-year commitment may be attractive, but do the math. How does that break down per year, what are your anticipated returns on that investment, how many new clients do you believe you’ll be able to acquire from that investment. Most importantly, are you in a position to make a long-term, multi-year financial commitment?

We encourage you to enlist the help of your CFO to evaluate your resources before making a financial commitment.

Whole Growth Partners and Your Business

Are you confident you’re investing the right marketing strategies? Enlist the help of a strong marketing partner who focuses on the growth of your whole business. We’re here to help.