197. How to put your advisory clients at the epicentre of your business
How to put clients at the
center of your business.
That's what we're going
to talk about today.
And when you think about it,
we are only in business for as
long as clients are paying us.
So it makes sense to put your
clients at the very, very, very
center of what you do and to build
a business around their needs.
So you're able to create value in
a mutually profitable way, in a
way that benefits both parties.
Now in order to be the most successful,
a great mindset to have is by starting
with the client, starting with
the customer and working backwards
from, from them, their needs and
building all of your services around.
And even your mindsets
around adding value to them
because when you add value to
They're going to add value to you.
That's how you're going to make a profit.
And so all this is intuitive, but
there's a few different ways that as
an advisor, you can add clients to
the center of your business model.
And it shows up in your business model
model that shows up in your marketing,
it shows up in your, your methodology.
And what you want to be thinking
about is a few different things.
So I'm going to get into the
five main ways to put clients
at the center of your business.
Because at the end of the day, that's
the thing that's going to help you
to be most successful and to grow
a sustainable profitable business.
This is number one.
This is true as an advisor.
It's also true if you're doing
freelance and agency work as well.
Is to be a fiduciary.
So I tell this story quite often, but
there's, I used to have my investments
at a bank and I had a, at a balanced
mutual fund as the, the thing that I,
that I started with and the bank put
me into asked what I should invest in.
I want to be balanced.
They gave me the know your customer.
And they basically put me in
what's called their balanced fund.
And long story short.
That was fine because I had no idea
what to, how to invest my money.
But eventually a few years
later I wanted to be, I wanted
to do self-directed investing.
And so they basically changed my account
from being sort of under their scope,
where I had to talk to an advisor
to make any changes, to being able
to make my own investment decisions.
And the first thing they said once they
converted my account was, Hey, by the
way, you can still keep that fund that
you were in the balanced mutual fund.
However you're going to get, you
would actually get one Mo 1% less in
management fees, which was like, I
think the fees were 3% or Regardless of
performance, that would take 3% of my
assets, um, as a management fee, which
is crazy to me, but it is what it is.
And so now I can have it for like 2%.
But the thing that's funny is that.
First of all To her is I never had, I
never asked them for advice after that
first purchase decision, if you will.
And I just kept dumping money into
this balanced mutual Which frankly
didn't really perform very well anyway.
And yet they were taking the 3% fees and
now I'm getting charged 2% and not three.
And you know, so the whole thing was
funny because I wasn't actually getting
advice, but they were taking that fee.
And so what it taught me was
that the bank is really there to
give you one of their products.
Not any product because there
were way better funds and options
out there with much lower fees.
So they were just, they were doing, what's
called a suitability standard of advice.
Which is to give you something
that's suitable for your risk
tolerance and is good enough.
Uh, unlike say a fiduciary standard of
advice, which is what I'm advocating
for you, which is the fiduciaries.
Uh, number one principle is
that they have to act in your
best interest above their own.
So any investments that they're
making, they need to disclose.
They can sell any product or
offer any products or suggest or
recommend any product under the sun.
They're not limited to whatever's
available for them to sell
under, within their own company.
And they take a fixed fee versus
a management So there's all these
differences, but the number one
thing is that they basically act in
your best interest for a fixed fee.
And that's a really interesting
dynamic, another quick example that
I'll talk to you about, and this
is just to kind of demonstrate.
Not the ethics of any of this,
but the experience for the client.
And that's really what we're trying
to get at is the client experience and
also the value that's being created.
So the second story I'll tell you is about
the nutritionist that I worked with in
the past, where there were a holistic,
uh, health person, something or other,
but part of what they did was nutrition.
And so then, you know, after working
together, they did some, what felt
like very much woo-hoo, you know,
checking my frequencies to see what
I was allergic to kind of stuff.
Anyway, um, He ended up recommending
a bunch of supplements that
would help various things.
And, but then he suggested that I
bother them through his online portal.
It was kind of like a drop shipping thing
from a reputable nutrition source or call
Uh, and then the question then came as
to like, okay, he's like, you can get
them anywhere, but mine are really good.
So you may as well just get them for me.
Which kind of felt like.
Kind of felt like neutral advice.
The only thing is that they, that
by, I kind of begged the question.
Do I really need.
All these supplements and when
do I not need them anymore?
Do I have to go back to the, back
to him and say, Hey, do I still
need these so-and-so supplements?
And are they working?
And, you know, it's very vague as
to what, you know, you can't always
see the impact of these things and.
And I wished I wished, and this is again
about the experience, not the ethics.
There's nothing wrong with the ethics.
And probably he did have an, a reputable
They were fairly priced, all that stuff.
So it was a service to me, but
it made me wonder whether I could
take his advice, whether I should
be taking all the supplements.
And or if that was really how he made
his money, because he had a pay, hit
a pay, what you want model, which is
a whole other discussion for another
day, I felt obligated All of his fees.
And I actually paid him a little bit
more than his fees the first time.
And he was really surprised.
And I guess I had made
a dumb mistake there.
Pay what you want meant.
You know, here's my fee recommendation.
Pay, pay, pay less of you.
If you have to.
Um, anyway, so.
My, my, my concern was is he, is that
where he really makes his money is the
ongoing supplements, almost like the
backend of, of his nutrition advice.
Uh, and so it kinda made me
wonder if he didn't sell those.
Those those supplements at all.
I think I would be in a
better place to trust that.
He's like, I don't make money here.
This is my recommendation.
I think you should do this.
Here's why here's for how long.
Et cetera, et cetera.
Whereas he kind of wrote an
open-ended recommendation and sort
of said, yeah, come back to me.
We can talk in the future.
And again, there's
nothing wrong with that.
And probably he was giving me great
advice, but because there was that.
Financial incentive for me to be
taking the supplements as well.
It did make me wonder as to how
important those supplements were
and from a marketing standpoint,
which is what most of you are.
Not all of you.
Is when you're selling advice
and execution in terms of
broad, holistic advice.
In his case, it was holistic health
with nutrition as a component.
Uh, but in your case it might be marketing
strategy and business strategy overall.
To then say, well, you can
get your website from anyone,
but if you get it from me,
It's really good.
And yes, it's convenient and you should
pay $30,000 for that new website.
Which is different than say a
web designer who's focused on
the web design aspect, right.
You go to a web presenter, they're
gonna recommend you services again.
There's nothing wrong with all And going
to a web designer is different than
going to someone, giving you holistic
business advice or marketing advice.
Where, uh, where there's many
parts and you're managing a budget
and that sort of thing, which
is what marketing advisors do.
So, it's not that there's a problem with
doing implementation and giving advice.
It's just that suddenly you run
into this issue where, okay.
Should I, you make the client decide
for themselves whether they're
making the right investment decision,
Yes, they trust you generally, and
to make a decision, but they also
know you're selling them something.
So you're no longer being
a neutral, trusted advisor.
You're kind of a sales person.
Uh, console date of salesperson.
And again, nothing wrong with that.
It just makes a different client
experience than if you don't make money.
Uh, from the implementation that you
charge a fixed fee for your advice
and don't take kickbacks referrals.
Affiliates, none of that
stuff while you're in, in an
advisory retainer with them.
That's to me the best form,
because then you're saying, look,
I don't care which way you choose.
I don't care whether you buy
the 20 or $30,000 website.
All you care about is getting a
business outcome based on your budget.
Here's who I recommend.
We work with.
I don't take fees.
There's no, backends is nothing
for me here other than my fees.
So the client can kind of relax from
the experience perspective, they know.
You know, th something about incentives
does change things, at least from the
perception of the client, but also
from how you act and recommend things.
It's really hard.
You know, that's my conflict of
interest, which is not what I'm talking
about here, but I am talking about
conflict of incentives, but that's
my conflict of interest is such a.
A really important thing for the
professional services for legal
professionals and financial professionals.
Uh, especially in
politicians and other things.
And because the incentives that
are operating underneath the
surface really do motivate us.
Even if we have the best intentions.
So, again, nothing wrong with selling,
you know, agency services or web
design services, that sort That's
the norm and there's N there's no
ethical problem with that whatsoever.
Just the experience.
Of if you're selling neutral advice
in this case, if you're selling
impartial, which is kind of what I
recommend neutral advice, then you
have to disconnect execution from.
From your own.
Uh, from your own.
Uh, so that you can provide fixed fee
for your best advice and your best
thinking and the oversight of that.
Uh, and that's The most aligned
with the fiduciary standard because
you're putting, you're actually
leaving money on the table.
Cause you could probably make mark
up and you could make more money from
all these other implementation pieces.
But, uh, but you're not,
you're keeping them separate.
And you're saying, I don't
care if we do this with that,
but here's what I recommend.
And that allows you to be the
most impartial and to operate in
their best interests at So, these
are just a couple of stories.
They kind of accentuate
this a little However.
It's totally fine.
If you want to sell execution
and advice at the same time, a
fractional CMO will often do.
Um, some, some light implementation,
some management and give general advice.
And that's fine.
As long as, you know, maybe there's
a fixed fee component to it where
there's a set number of hours.
Uh, it just gets a little bit
hairy when you're like, well,
should it be a 20 or $30,000 thing?
And you're the one who benefits from
a higher price versus a lower price.
That's where it gets a little bit
tricky and then the client has
to then advocate for themselves.
So you want to be a fiduciary because
it's the true form of advocacy for your
clients and the best way to do that.
Is by removing implementation
from your advisory work.
And, uh, and so we'll leave it at
that, but again, there's no challenge.
Ethically or morally or
anything with the traditional.
Um, agency style work.
It's just, when you want to create the
best experience where you're sitting
on the side of the table of your
client and really, truly feeling like
you're on their team and they feel like
you're on their team Because they know
you're aligned with their incentives.
Or at least that there's no incentives to.
To spend more than they should,
or, or less for that matter.
That's when you can work
the best as a fiduciary.
And you're taking a fixed fee
versus percent of execution.
So that's number one, be
a fiduciary number two is
having a low self-orientation.
So this is something that
if you're nervous during.
Whether it's a, anything from a
sales conversation to consulting
engagements to like in, during,
during your advisory work.
Uh, even to a podcast appearance,
or to writing a blog post, if
you're kind of nervous and you're
feeling that imposter syndrome.
If you take that feeling and
actually just say, you know what.
It's not about me.
This is about helping someone else.
You know, as Seth Godin says, if
someone were drowning in the water,
would you wait to save them to find.
You know, until you had a.
Uh, life, um, uh, like a life card.
No, you'd go in and you'd help them.
So by taking the orientation,
when your focus away from
And pointing it to your clients
and saying, how can I help?
I'm here to help.
I'm here to serve.
That's going to take a bunch of stress
off your shoulders and allow you to focus
on your clients and their needs first
and foremost, above everything else.
It also then allows you to say,
okay, Instead of saying, how
profitable will this be for me?
You get to say, okay, here's
what you're trying to accomplish.
Here's the value of what you're trying
to accomplish and I can help you.
Based on the value that we're going
to create together and how long you're
going to take to recuperate that value.
Uh, my fees need to be somewhere
in this particular range, for When
I coach advisors it's my fees are
significantly less on a per hour basis.
Then I, then it would be when
I work Larger businesses.
And that's just because the value
I create isn't in the millions.
I mean, it might be, but
that'll be over a few years.
Whereas when I'm helping
companies, the difference between.
You know, working with me or not might
be in the several hundred thousands
or millions in the first year or two.
And so the amount I can charge
is, is dramatically different.
But knowing that then I have to
sort of work backwards from that and
say, here's the scope of what, what
an engagement looks like together.
Here's how, you know,
here's how we, how we do it.
Here's the price of it.
And then, and like, you know, the
price kind of determines the scope.
So it's really focused on,
okay, who's your client?
What are they trying to achieve?
What's the value of that?
And then how do I create something
for a price that allows them to
capture a lot of value allows you
to capture commensurate value.
Um, and then therefore determined
the scope of it based on.
Based on the value.
And so that requires you thinking
about the client and having a client
orientation above your own so that
you can work backwards from that and
create your own scope and services.
So that's number two is
having a low self-orientation.
Number three is having
unlimited access to you.
And this is a big one.
I think all my, all my advisory
services, aside from a one-off
call has unlimited access to me.
The question then becomes.
Who has unlimited access to me.
So higher tiers, more people
have unlimited access Um, The
other one is like, you know, how
are they going to contact me?
So lower tier ticket?
I typically say it's on
our calls and in slack.
And maybe we do one or two calls
a month and then it's unlimited
slack access between costs.
So you're able to kind of decide, or
it's unlimited, you know, one big call
or two big calls and then unlimited
short calls with some slack in between.
Or there's email potentially, or you can
call my personal cell phone or text me.
These would all be different ways that
they can connect with you and who can
connect with you is the other thing,
is that limits some of the interaction
or at least keeps it consolidate.
It keeps it organized.
And therefore restricts the amount of
energy intensity that goes into it.
Other things might be like, well,
what are you going to advise on?
Or what do you what's within scope or not?
If the client has four businesses, are you
going to talk about all four businesses?
Or are you only going to focus
These would be other metrics, but,
but generally speaking within the
confines of what you've created
within the guardrails, there's
unlimited access to use the client.
Doesn't have to think.
Well, is this worth 500 bucks for me to
call this person to ask this question
or to our bucks, whatever the thing is.
And that's what you want to kind of avoid.
So I like having this unlimited
so that people know, I don't
have to think about it.
If I have a question related to this
problem that I get to, I get to call
Kevin or you had to call so-and-so.
And that really creates
a lot of peace of mind.
It's all about that client experience.
So they're not wondering.
Like four people showed up in
that last agency call them,
like, was that worth $600 to me?
Uh, based on the hourly
rate of all the individuals.
And so you don't want them
thinking like that at all?
You want, you want to be.
We want them to be okay with the fees.
Knowing the end result.
And then, um, and then having sculpt
that makes it really easy so that
they're not like really thinking about.
Uh, how to use you and when using what
not to do, ideally, it should feel very
flexible within the confines you create.
So that's, that's three is
having unlimited access to you.
So we've talked about being a
fiduciary, which is a form of advocacy.
In my mind, we've talked about
having a low self-orientation
being very client focused.
Number three is having
unlimited access to you.
Number four is trying to solve the
entire problem related to what you do.
So a lot of people.
Mistake advisers for being people who
kind of wave their hands, tell you what to
do, and But it's really your job to say,
okay, here's the right recommendation.
How are we going to solve this?
And maybe it's not me that goes Does
all these things, but at least we
break down the problem together.
And the best advisors bring templates.
They bring training, they bring resources,
they bring introductions, they bring.
You know, knowledge to the
table about how to do things.
And so they may not be the ones
to use their hands necessarily.
They may not write the job description,
but they might show you a sample
of a recent job description.
You know, or help find something
that resembles a job They may bring
in people to do execution work
based on their trusted network.
The Rolodex, if you will.
These are things that are going to
help the client solve the problem
and not make new problems for
the clients based on your advice.
And so that's the main thing
is, okay, you're not here to
kind of give, give advice.
You're here to help them
make the right decisions.
And then be able to see it through.
And if they're not able to see it through,
help them remove the roadblocks so that
it's easier and more To get the result.
So solving the entire problem
about why you do, if the client
is looking for more leads.
And you have all these ideas.
Uh, it's great to have ideas, but
it's like, how are you going to help
them actually get this thing done?
So that's the next part.
Solving the entire problem, uh, with
training templates introductions.
Resources, et cetera, et cetera.
That's going to really help.
Uh, To own the whole problem so that
you're not leaving them with half a
problem And that's the big deal here.
Uh, in terms of putting your clients at
the epicenter of your business to create
that experience that is so critical
is having a niche or a specialization.
So either you're, you're, you're
specialized on the target market or
you're specialized on the problem
that they have and you may solve.
A couple problems or you might help a
couple of markets, but the more focused
you are on either the problem or the
target market, or sometimes both.
The more, you're going
to be really focused
You know, in, in business terms of
something called vertical integration.
So they pick the target
market, for example, and then
they offer software hardware.
Services, they offer all the different
things that that would go towards
number four, solving the entire problem.
But they're able to stack all these
solutions up because they know
their target market, for example.
And so they're able to solve many,
many problems because they're
focused on a very clear target
And so if you're doing,
whether you're doing.
I focused on the vertical,
the type of clientele or the
type of problem you want to.
The more you specialize the more
effective you're going to be at
understanding and addressing the nuances.
That are involved in getting a
business resolved and that's the
biggest kind of challenge there.
So at the end of the day for focusing your
clients, one of the best ways you can do
that is through specialization and focus.
And obviously you can borrow examples
from other industries and other
examples, but then contextualizing it and
applying it to that industry is really
where your core skill comes into play.
And so the more you can
over time specialize on the
problem and or the audience.
The, the more client centric you're
going to be at the end of the day.
Because you're going to have all those
little sub varying answers ready, and
at your So just to summarize quickly,
uh, five ways to put clients at the
epicenter of your business to create
that remarkable client One be a fiduciary
to have a low self-orientation be very,
client-centric make it about them.
And it kind of removes all this
internal dialogue you have going on.
And a confidence challenges and whatnot.
Number three, I have unlimited access
to you and constrain that, or keep
guardrails on that in certain ways, but
then create, make it unlimited so that
people know within these highways, I'm
able to flow back and forth as much as
Now before solve the entire problem.
So if you're a content strategist,
well, how do you help them get writers?
How do you help them create topics?
How do you help them
create keywords and SEO?
How do you solve that entire
problem related to what you do?
Then number five is try to own
a, a niche or a specialization
in a vertical or a problem, and
that'll really help you solve it.
Abundantly well, versus trying to be
a generalist and then kind of helping
everybody just a little bit, which is
Which is still helpful, but obviously if
you want to be the most client centric,
create the best possible client experience
with, with them, for your clients.
Uh, these are some of the tips
that have worked best for me.
So hope this helps
And, uh, I'll leave it there for
As always, if you get value out of
this podcast, recommend it, share
it with a friend in the notes.
There'll be a link to the, to the blog
post I have related to this audio.
You could either just cop, uh, share
this, this link with them or, uh, or,
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Cause it was a really cool.
A crash course, right on the homepage
on selling your expertise on your hands.
So i'll leave it there my friends
and i look forward to chatting
with you next time bye for now