Podding Along

How do you create and market your own podcast?  And why would you want to?

Brian Preston, founder and CEO of Abound Wealth in Nashville, TN, has heard repeatedly that digital marketing is an important component of advisor marketing.  But he isn’t seeing much actual implementation in the profession.

“I’ll see a speaker talk about digital marketing,” he says, “but when he says: who in the room is actually getting assets or managing money off of digital marketing, usually only four or five hands will go up.  Then you find out,” Preston continues, “that two of them got a client from LinkedIn because they reconnected with somebody they knew in college.”

Preston is one of a small handful of advisors who can say that he is actually bringing in clients using digital media—specifically a bi-monthly podcast called The Money Guide Show—with the associated website: MoneyGuy.com, that asks for people to subscribe to the podcast by giving their names and email addresses. 

In the first six months of this year, enough Money Guy Show listeners reached out to become clients that Abound Wealth raised its AUM by $25 million.  Since then, another $30 million has walked in the door, from listeners all around the country. 

“The marketing impact is accelerating,” Preston says.

Podcasting tools

How did this happen?  “I started doing podcasting in 2006 as a hobby,” Preston explains, “primarily because I felt guilty that my minimum at the time was $75,000.  I would think to myself, man, what if somebody with $25,000 needs my help?  I wanted everyone to be able to get access to objective advice, but we weren’t set up to do that one-on-one.”

Podcasting in 2006 was an expensive proposition.  “Back then, you’d have to spend $2,000 to $3,000 to get yourself set up,” says Preston.  “Now the cost barrier is much lower,” he adds.  “Today, you can buy the Audio Technica ATR 2100 dynamic USB microphone voice microphone for $60 on Amazon.  It sits on your desk in front of you and plugs right into your computer through the USB port, and sounds as good as any professional system like what Ryan Seacrest uses.”

When you read your material, your voice feeds into an audio editing program on the computer.  Preston likes a free program called Audacity (http://www.downloadix.com/Audacity/), which lets you cut and trim your audio files, and control the quality of the voice recording.

Projecting personality

But why would an audio version of your blog or newsletter work any better than, well, your blog and newsletter?  “I think audio lends itself much more to getting prospects to feel like they know you,” Preston says, “because you can sense personality in audio.”  He adds that, these days, audio is more likely to be accessed than a print version of your shared expertise.  “There are a lot of monotonous activities that occur on a daily basis,” Preston says, “like driving, or working out on the treadmill, or cutting the grass.  These are the things my listeners tell me they do when they listen to our podcasts.  When they’re driving to work or working out or walking the neighborhood, we are a part of that routine.”

He adds that, for many people, it is much easier to digest something they hear than it is to go find and read a blog.

“I think people are hungry for objective advice in a world where they are typically sold,” Preston explains.  “With a podcast, you can give true heartfelt advice.  Your passion seeps through, and people appreciate it.”

Content creation

But where do you get your content?  Preston says that the content can be the same as your blog.  When I interviewed him, he was working on an explanation of the different ways that people under age 59 1/2 could access the money in their retirement accounts if they experienced a financial emergency.  “Of course, it comes with a heavy disclaimer on why you shouldn’t do that unless it’s a real emergency,” he explains.

Another popular podcast explains cash flow management issues.  Another talked about how to avoid zombie debt on credit cards.  “Sometimes a client will ask me a question, and my answer becomes my next podcast,” says Preston.

Is there a topic he finds himself coming back to over and over again?  “The basics are always popular,” he says: “how to fund your savings versus your investment accounts, or paying down debt, or the importance of having a will, and what kind of life insurance you should consider buying—and not buying.”

Podcasts typically run 30 minutes, and Preston has managed to fit in the creation of a financial plan in that time frame.  “It starts with why you need a financial plan, and then dives right in,” he says.

The goal is to have the audience perceive you as an unbiased source of good information, and ultimately as an expert on financial planning topics.  Since the audience for podcasts tends to be upper-income people who are looking for advice—you’re reaching qualified prospects. 

Preston also recommends that you let listeners know you’re open for business in a direct way.

“In the beginning I was worried that I would come off like I was doing an infomercial,” Preston says. “But now I let them know that I’m a financial advisor at the beginning and at the end I let them know that we’re looking for new clients, so if you like what you hear, take the next step and reach out to us.  If you give tons of free advice in the middle,” he adds, “nobody seems to care.”

Podcast Posting

Okay, once you’ve recorded your podcasts, how do you make them accessible to the world of potential clients?  Preston registered his podcast with iTunes back in 2006, and Apple made it featured content.  “We stayed featured for at least ten years,” he adds.  “But now they have the Wall Street Journal and NPR and all the big corporations and institutions with their own podcasts.”

Still, you start by getting on the platforms.  “You sign up with FeedBurner, which is part of Google now,” says Preston.  “You will be assigned a feed.  You upload your audio file to the connected feed.”   If your blog post contains a link (<a href=””></a>) to an audio/video file, Feedburner will convert it to an RSS enclosure — a special link found only in your feed — that programs like iTunes, iHeart Radio and NetNewsWire recognize.  [Here’s a tutorial on publishing a podcast with FeedBurner: https://sites.google.com/a/godfrey-lee.org/google-sites/elements-design/feedburner.]

“Then,” Preston continues, “you sign up at iTunes, and there is a link where you can submit your feed.  “You have to go let Stitcher, iTunes, iHeart Radio distribute your audio content, and then a lot of others will pick up off of those.”  [Here’s a quick tutorial on signing up a podcast in iTunes: https://itunespartner.apple.com/en/podcasts/overview.  iHeartRadio asks you to sign up your podcast with Spreaker: https://www.spreaker.com/, and here’s the iHeartRadio tutorial: https://podcastplaces.com/podcast-apps-and-directories/iheartradio/)

“You set it up, and you hope that you get popular,” says Preston.

Marketing your podcast

Actually, getting popular is a trick in itself.  “You start with your client base,” says Preston.  “Tell your clients, friends and family about the social media work you’re doing, and ask them to share the news with THEIR friends.”

Preston insists that you don’t actually need to have a huge universe of followers in order to get clients in the door.  “We are considered a bigger show; we do 31,000 downloads a month,” he says.  “Since we do two shows a month; that means that we have 15,000 to 16,000 people downloading each episode.  That sounds like a lot, but in the grand scheme of broadcasting, that’s actually teeny tiny.”

Initially, he says, your goal could be to reach 1,000 people with each show.  “When you think about it, that’s like filling up a huge room of people who are listening to your thoughts,” says Preston.

Better yet, encourage feedback.  “iTunes lets its listeners place reviews, so you could encourage your friends and family, if they like what we’re doing, to leave a positive review,” Preston explains.  “That’s what drives where you rank within iTunes, and it gets you in front of more people.”

Preston thinks that podcasting is a way for the great but obscure advisors in the marketplace to market the way the huge firms do.  “Most of the advisors I talk to are very analytical, they are very caring about their clients, but they are not the slickest marketers,” he says.  “I feel that marketing is stacked against us analytical people.  “This is a tool that levels the playing field.”

Later, Preston asks, rhetorically: “Why is Ric Edelman attracting so much in assets?  These radio guys are no better than the typical NAPFA advisor,” says Preston; “the difference is that they have a megaphone.  But with technology,” Preston adds, “you don’t have to pay a radio station $100,000 a year or more to let you get on their airwaves.  You can do it for free.”