Member Profile: Eric Roberge, CFP®
Primary Role: Founder of the virtual fee-only financial _planning firm Beyond Your Hammock in Salem, Mass.
Business Model: Fee only RIA
Financial Planning Philosophy: Roberge considers himself a personal trainer for his clients' finances, providing both financial planning and coaching services. Through a comprehensive approach to financial planning, Eric covers cash flow management, goal setting, investment management, company benefits optimization, risk management and more to help clients build wealth from the ground up.
What kinds of challenges have you faced in promoting and generating awareness of your business?
My ideal clients are professionals in their 30's, so it has always been a challenge to reach them effectively. They typically live online, but paid advertising and search engine optimization (SEO) is not part of my strategy to generate new clients. Seminars aren't as effective with younger generations and cold calling is neither enjoyable nor productive.
Inbound marketing, however, gives me an opportunity to build authority, make real connections with potential clients, and offer them something of value before they even set up a call with me. The catch with inbound marketing is that you need a large online platform to work from, and I didn't necessarily have that when I started.
I've always thought that tapping into the media is a great way to gain exposure for my company, but it takes a lot of relationship-building to gain credibility with journalists as a source in their stories. That posed a problem, as it took valuable time away from forging relationships with my clients. I needed to learn how to effectively work with reporters so I could increase my exposure and authority, without pushing current clients' needs to the back burner.
How has membership in the Financial Planning Association helped you address these challenges and position yourself as a "go to" expert in the national media?
When I saw that my membership in FPA allowed me to participate in media training, I figured this was my chance. Not only would I be able to respond to media requests through FPA as a result of the training, I would also be trained on how to effectively approach reporters. I learned quickly that FPA media training provides a solid foundation from which you can build a media platform.
The FPA media training program helped me see the many avenues to gain exposure and taught me how to determine which path was right for me. It opened my eyes to specific media strategies and allowed me to hone my approach. I now know what to say to journalists and how to say it.
My mission is to empower and guide professionals to understand their finances and use money as a tool to live a life they love. I've now experienced how one properly placed article in a national publication can put my message in front of hundreds of thousands of people who, in turn, may be ideal clients. It also provides an additional source of credibility, which helps distinguish me from the many other financial planners out there.
Since the media training, I have received a ton of press in major publications because I crafted this unique and succinct message. In the last month alone, I appeared in three USA Today articles (one of which I was featured on the front page of the money section, complete with my picture!) and various articles in CNBC, Entrepreneur Magazine, InvestmentNews and Wealth Management Magazine. As a one-man, fee-only RIA, I would never have received that kind of exposure if it wasn't for the help of FPA.
How is getting media exposure helping you grow your business?
I'm really into social media, so I post the articles whenever they come out. Those in my network see these updates and posts. After the USA Today article came out, I received a Facebook message from a guy who went to high school with me. He told me he has been following me on social media and that it was time for us to talk about him becoming a client. I hadn't spoken to him in almost 20 years, but my media exposure opened the door to a prospective client who may not have reached out otherwise.
Additionally, I received the following message through my website just recently: "I am in the process of moving for a recent promotion at work as well as running a startup clothing line. I saw an article on the USA Today website where it discussed Millennials and financial planning and saw your name pop up as an adviser who caters to the demographic. How can you help me?" This is my target market – a young professional making great money who wants to transition into running her own business - and she found me via an article in which I was featured. I couldn't have drawn it up any better if I tried.
The FPA media training and media queries are an incredible way to help me expand my platform to people across the country. My hope is that I can continue to grow my media presence and generate more inbound calls from my ideal clients while leveraging my media work to open more doors for my business, including speaking opportunities.
Do you have any advice to your fellow FPA members on how use the media to generate greater visibility in their business?
My advice to my fellow FPA members is to get media training and take advantage of the media attention FPA can offer you as soon as possible. If you don't, you'll leave valuable exposure for your business on the table. After your training, set aside time each day or week to review the FPA media queries in your inbox and reply quickly. My best opportunities came from me responding within minutes of receiving the inquiry with a unique viewpoint on the reporter's topic. Spending five minutes per day responding to FPA media inquiries that fit my specialty saves me money and can produce terrific results.
Sometimes it's the simple things that have the most impact on our businesses. Marketing success is about being in the right place at the right time. FPA can help put you there.
Do you want to benefit from FPA media training and media queries just like Eric? If so, sign up today for one of the All-Member Virtual Media Trainings that will be held this year or talk with your chapter about when they plan to host a media training for chapter members.