This week I have a great call with someone who just joined the program about their thought process in deciding to write a book and the customers they aim to attract.
Julia Carlson is a Wealth Management expert with 20 years experience. As her own company has grown, she's found herself spending more time running the business and less face to face time with clients. She was looking for a way to leverage her knowledge and still help the people she's passionate about helping in a way that's more scalable than one on one.
A book is the perfect way to initiate those conversations and help people get started.
This is a great call for anyone thinking about writing a book to engage clients. There are insights into the way you can resonate with people, the mindset of helping them in a way that makes it easy to get started and how to think about the next step, developing the relationship with your potential customers.
Transcript: Book More Show 024
Stuart: Hey everybody. Welcome to another Book More show. A great show lined up today. Today we're talking to Julia Carlson. Julia's just joined the program. I was talking to Betsy earlier in the week and we were mentioning that we've got a quite a few episodes of people at the end of the book process talk about how they're using it, but we haven't had an episode with someone who's just starting the process so Julia's just come on board.
We thought it would be a great opportunity to grab her, talk about her background and what's brought her to this place of writing a book, go through a couple of the questions or concerns, or elements to think about as starting the process see if we can come up with some evil schemes, to steal one of Dean's terms, evil schemes to create the book in a really engaging piece of content for her audience. Julia, thanks for your time today. How are you doing?
Julia: You're welcome. I'm doing great.
Stuart: Fantastic. Great to have you here.
Julia: I am excited to take part in this just so it can help me get started as well.
Stuart: Fantastic. Well, thanks for agreeing to it. It's going to be a bit of a ... It's a strange place to be a little bit going into it with so many questions. It's almost asking people to talk about the unknown unknowns, rather getting to the back of the process and talking about some specific experience. I think it's going to be really valuable for people just to hear the experience of someone else coming on board. I'm sure there's a lot of common questions or mindsets to maybe get into thinking about how to use the book as the best possible tool.
I guess the best place to start is just to give everyone a little bit of context, maybe talk about the business that you own and operate and what brought you to the point of being on the call and thinking about writing the book.
Julia: Okay, well, let's see. I started as a financial advisor in a bank probably almost 20 years ago when I was 20 and I just turned 40 and I just fell in love with helping people with their money. I just really enjoyed the coaching, the learning, the investments, all of that. At the bank, I kind of worked my way up to where I was kind of at the glass ceiling pretty quickly.
Stuart: That disappointed you quickly I can imagine.
Julia: Yes. I went out independent and started my own business and I've been doing that ever since leaving the bank. I owned Financial Freedom Wealth Management Group and we've grown to now a staff of 12 and the last couple years I have ... My role has changed from financial advisor, or we like to say wealth advisors, because we do so much more than help with finances. It's really like, when you think of wealth-
Stuart: Much more holistic approach.
Julia: Right. Yeah. The wealth encompasses so much more than financial. Anyhow, my role has changed to where I am running the company and doing more tasks at that level and I realize that I want to make a greater impact. I want to be able to help so much more people than just the people that end up in my office.
Stuart: It's almost like the example of the person starting a business because they've got a real passion for it and we can certainly hear that in your voice. The organization grows and grows and you eventually find yourself away from the thing that gave you the passion and the drive in the first place and with all your experience I can imagine there is definitely a desire to kind of share that with people.
Julia: Yes and I would say that I'm a true entrepreneur at heart. I really enjoy and love building of the business, but I also love coaching and inspiring people to make better decisions and really use money as a tool and not take away the ... People are so intimidated by it, I think, that they just kind of leave it alone and they go through their whole life without really paying attention to money.
Stuart: We have a similar background in certain ways. I've worked in financial services for number of years. We're a similar age and being interested in the subject, working in the industry, enjoying talking about it, it was never something that was ... There was no apprehension talking about the subject, but even on the most basic level, I think the language that's used in financial circles is, to a certain degree, exclusionary because it's so specific there's consequences to using words incorrectly so there's a very strong appropriateness around certain words. That seems exclusionary.
People, with products that are really relatively basic in, maybe not in the specific implementation, in what they're trying to achieve, even relatively basic products can just seem overwhelming to people and the fear of making the wrong choice, the consequence of making the wrong choice, I can completely see where you talk about people just step away from it and go through their life not wanting to face those decisions.
Julia: Exactly. Exactly. It's almost like demystifying it maybe or also chunking it down to where, okay, we're going to go through ... The idea for my book is to guide them through these steps to help them get on the path to ... Another part of my passion is health and fitness and so I'm going to weave that into this book as well. Kind of the idea is I want them to walk away with steps to get their financial life in shape, right? To play on the fit money.
Stuart: Yeah, I think that's such a great idea. For people listening thinking about their own industries, their own little worlds or spheres of influence, being able to brand your knowledge, your understanding into a framework or an analogy or a series of-
Julia: Exactly, story.
Stuart: Exactly, yeah. The story that makes the slightly more intimidating thing seem less intimidating because they've got a framework that they can link it to.
Stuart: Do you have a particular, your ideal customers, do they fall into a particular category or group that this story that you're looking at overlaying would also resonate with? Are they ...
Julia: Yeah, I think, honestly who I'm writing this book for is myself. Right? I'm a generation X. I think millennials will get a lot out of this book as well. It's for busy people that have young children that are usually, probably in a good place in their careers where they're making money, but there's also a lot going on. I wanted to be set up where it's simple and convenient for the steps to be implemented where it's not going to take a lot of their time.
I don't want to, my goal is not a 700-page book to help people all the ends and outs of the stock market and all of that. Not at all. The idea is like a handbook to walk people through the process and then hopefully get them to the place where they can start investing for their future.
Stuart: That starting, that making the first step I think is such a great point. Because no matter how big the book is, it's never, you're not looking at writing an educational textbook, because that would drive people away, if nothing else, and would take a very long time and there's lots of other ones out there, but that starting the conversation, giving people a few examples, a few actionable steps they can take so they can feel like they're turning the ship around or making the start of the journey is a great way of beginning a conversation that will ultimately lead somewhere else.
Do you find that's often the case with people that you talk to, there's a couple of, I don't want to use the word basic in the sense of unimportant, but basic as in first steps that almost everyone can make? Is there a commonality to those onboarding conversations?
Julia: Well, I think ultimately it's a decision to say, "Hey, I'm going to do things differently." There are so many times that clients are in my office saying, "I wish we met with you 10 years ago," or, "I wish I could get my kids to come in and talk to you." It's all about beginning. It's never too late, but the first step is always to begin and take action and make a decision to say, all right.
I'd say a lot of that is the awareness to face it. When you're going to go on a diet, you have to know where you're starting at. You have to get on the scale, you have to look at the numbers, you have to face where you're at and set a goal and just commit.
Stuart: That, in and of itself, is intimidating for people because they're scared of the ... Or there's a concern about the numbers being black and white in front of you. It's very difficult to avoid the reality.
Stuart: There's definitely a step that people need to take.
Julia: It's easier to not open the mail or shove it all in the envelope or not open the email. Right?
Stuart: That bridging the conversation, as the expert, you know the types of conversations that people need to be having either with yourself or with themselves at least. Bridging that into a book that has a title, something that will resonate with that audience, is that something that you thought about what's the thing that will grab someone's attention?
Julia: Well, so I already know the book title. The book tittle is Fit Money and so I've kind of like referred to myself as the Fit Money Doctor just as a fun little nickname because I've done fitness competitions. All of my clients know that it's health and wealth. You can't have wealth if you don't have your health. That is just something that, I like that concept. What I've found is when I've done my fitness competitions, you become very focused and very aware of what you're doing. You just get very aligned with what you want in life. I'm hoping to take the story from that and apply that to getting on track with your finances. Getting in shape with your money is kind of the play that I want to weave throughout the story.
Stuart: I think it's very, even for people who haven't been in fitness competitions, everyone has an understanding of the journey that you just described going from starting and not necessarily knowing what your weight or fitness levels are through to taking the first steps of benchmarking where you are, some easy steps to start making some changes. The fact that small steps can have a bigger outcome. I think that story, the analogies that flow through, will help demystify the subject and really encourage people to at least take some steps that they've maybe been thinking about for a long time.
Stuart: I think the title is a nice title as well because Fit Money delivers a message outside of the words in the sense that the word fit has a successful connotation to it. I think it describes ... We had a [inaudible 00:12:54] show a few weeks ago now and Dean did a workshop and we were actually talking about I think in that workshop Dean was looking at Dave's book So You're a SmartVestor Pro, part of the Dave Ramsey network.
Julia: Yes. SmartVestor Pro. Yeah.
Stuart: We were talking about financial peace and the similar message that's communicated in the title. It's the outcome, the success, the end result communicated in the title.
Julia: Yes, I want that. Yes.
Stuart: Exactly. I think it's very easy, as we sort of see people coming through with book titles, there's definitely a trend at the moment of going for all single word titles which is a bit of a difficult, or can be difficult to communicate the outcome of the message and sometimes there's a bit too much focus on I just need a single word rather the message that I'm trying to communicate is such and such. The focus can be the wrong way round. I think picking a title that has the outcome in mind is, by far, the better way of doing it, rather than just focusing on another or particular set of words or one that you find clever or you're drawn to.
The word fit, I think really communicates that element. In terms of the audience and where you've got access to the audience, is that something that you've got in mind at the moment? Is there a particular group of people that you're aiming to engage this book with?
Julia: Yeah, so ultimately, kind of my dream, is I want this book to be out there and get the awareness out to it and then I also want to set up an online course or an online academy that is aligned with the seven steps and then run the course. In a seven-week period, let's say, they can go and be on this course and I will help them, be the coach, through these seven weeks where they attack each of the steps so they can actually have my support in a format where I can scale it and actually do the work altogether in a group where we can support each other and help and accountability and win at the end.
Ultimately, my hope is that that will guide them onto my platform for investing, like a digital platform. I don't want to say ... In the industry we refer to it as a robo advisor, but it's not really a true automatic program because they are getting a financial coach as part of investing on that platform.
Stuart: All right fantastic. The best of both worlds to a certain degree. There's the economies of the robo platform, but guided slightly by a real-life advisor.
Julia: Exactly and I have my own account with this platform and it's so amazing and so convenient and so easy and so it really appeals to people, busy 40-somethings and 30-somethings, just getting started. They know that they need to be doing something, but they don't really kind of know what to do or how to start. This is perfect for them.
Stuart: The accessibility of an online platform rather than relying on having to deal with an individual if you want to check in on portfolio evaluations or look at portfolio splits or, I think the target of the audience that you're looking at, that age group the end goal guiding people toward this as a solution is, again, very coherent. The funnel kind of leads consistently from the start to the finish.
Julia: Yeah, that's kind of what I think that that's what this book is. I would love to meet with all these people one on one, but ultimately there's only one of me. This is my message to the world, how I can inspire people to make wise decisions and then interact with them somewhat if they want to take step two within that course and then step three would be working with us and actually moving towards investing for their future.
Stuart: We talk a lot about not letting kind of bronze prospects get in the way of gold star prospects and sometimes that's miscommunicated when we share it because people think that we're talking about ignoring the ones that aren't immediately gold star prospects, but so often, particularly with the scale of electronic program delivery or content that is fed to people in a way that doesn't mean that you have to do it individually, what we're talking about is treating everyone like a gold start prospect until they evidence that they're not.
The ability to share that program with everyone at exactly the same level as if every one of them was a gold star prospect, as long as the cost of delivery isn't excessive, which it usually isn't, you can usually scale it pretty easily, then it just really brings everyone along under the assumption that they would be a gold star prospect until they stepped away. Were you thinking ... The seven week program that you talked about, were you thinking of offering that as a free option or a paid option?
Julia: I would like to do it as a paid option so they would pay for that, although I am in a compliant world and I have to be compliant with the company I work with and so that's yet to be determined.
Stuart: Well, I know compliance. We should talk about that in a second because we run into compliance challenges a number of times with particularly some of the financial books. I wonder if one option is to get the program signed off of compliance as if it was a free program, but then add the live element, the coaching element, as the paid additional part.
Julia: Yeah and that's probably what we'll end up doing because we charge, we have hourly consulting that we charge for, but when I told them my idea and said, "This is what it's going to be," I think they were like, "Oh dear, what do we do with this one." I don't think they've seen this idea before so we're just taking, we're taking it one step at a time. The book is step one.
Stuart: Just to give you kind of our experience on the compliance side, again from the outside, as I mentioned, like you I'm from a financial services background so I've previously dealt with compliance departments. We very often see people who run into the problem of compliance particularly when there's a centralized outsource compliance. If they're an agent of a larger organization and compliance is done centrally rather than if they've got their own compliance team it's usually a little bit better, but having to have the number of iterations that go back and forth sometimes when compliance needs to sign off on every last period or exclamation point in a book without necessarily ...
It's very much the final step in the process unless there's an absolute comfort level so we really see the people who talk about it to their compliance guys in a confident way going in with case, well, not so much case studies, but examples of why this is fine and really it's just a variation on something that's already being done far more success than someone going in perhaps with a less confident standpoint of, "Well, I'm not sure about this. What do you think?" Then almost as soon as you say what do you think, everyone's got an opinion and it comes the next six months.
Julia: Well, I've talked to, we have a great compliance person so I've talked to them about this and they're on board and ready to help along the way. I'm going to keep them involved and I'm hoping that we won't have any issues.
Stuart: The good thing about going down this route, rather than, I mean, just looking at the book particularly, going down this route rather than a traditional publishing group, is it's so flexible to make changes either up to the point that you call it version one or even at subsequent version one, it's not like you're having to order 5000 copies for a manufacturer and then they'd be sat on the shelf if you run into some compliance issues. It's such a dynamic way of doing things and that's a feature of the technology these days and how easy it is to make changes and update things, the whole print-on-demand environment.
The fact that realistically the majority of people probably deal more with the electronic version of the book than the physical version of the book. It's almost like the physical version of the book just gives the electronic version the authority, but really everyone's dealing in a more email-driven, online-driven world.
Julia: Yes, I agree with all of that. When I was talking to Betsy I think I was overthinking it like, "Am I ready to do this? I don't have an outline. I don't have all my words." I've had friends that have written books and it's taken them years and so I'm like, can I just go forward with it? When I was, I'm part of Strategic Coach, and I was talking to Dan about it and he's like, "This is what you do." He's like, "90minutebooks.com go there and order your ..." It was like, "Is it really that simple?" Okay.
Stuart: Exactly and it's so easy to overthink it. I mean, I guess, to a certain degree, it's exactly the same as the customers that you're trying to engage with. There's, I know I need to do something and this is probably the thing I need to do, but I'll think about it later and then hopefully come back to it and then six months goes down the track.
Julia: I did put it off. That conversation with Dan was in March and this is now, right? I thought, like, okay-
Stuart: You'll be going back in, when will be the next one? July?
Julia: August, yeah.
Stuart: June? August. Yeah. Is the plan to have it done by then?
Julia: My goal is to get it done by then, yes.
Julia: I think it'll come down to compliance.
Julia: I'm hoping that will be most of the way done by then. Yes.
Stuart: Looking at your case particularly, the process generally is that the aim is to get the first version of the book based on the outline and then the interview recording that we do, then we get that transcribed and we kind of coach people as best as possible to bring their A games to the call so that they really, what's recorded is the best possible version. Get that printed first version in your hands, not in anyone else's hands, but in your hands so you can kind of flick through it, you can give it to compliance and actually flip through and point to the pages. You can take it to Coach as the current working version.
We get that in your hands certainly within six to eight weeks, should be able to do it, depending on scheduling and everything, but that's certainly not a problem. Then at least you've got the working version there to run with because what we originally started doing about three years ago when we started was that first thing that you would receive was the electronic Word version of the transcript because what we'll often find is that people will receive the first version of the book and they'll look through it and there'll be things that they might want to tweak or change or maybe sometimes people will forget things or leave them out of the outline or afterwards will think about adding something in.
What we originally doing was sending the transcript version, the Word document version to make changes and then when they returned that would send that off to print, but it's so underwhelming to receive homework, effectively. It's almost like you kind of take a sigh of relief that the hard work has been done and then a document lands on your desk and someone's expecting you to do something with it. Switching that around so that we actually print that first version, ship that to you so you've actually got something in your hand that you can look at and really get the feel for how the content flows in the actual book itself and then, of course, you can make exactly the same changes if you want to make any changes or add pieces or take pieces out.
Just the difference of doing it that other way round has been hugely successful because people get it in their hands and you'll see the seven steps of the program. You'll see that laid out and think about how people are receiving it, think about how it will be for them to go through it, look at it from almost- It almost gives you the outsider's view on the words that you're already very familiar with as the insider to seeing it in that printed form that kind of switches the model in which you're looking at it.
Julia: Yeah, cool. I'm excited. Yeah.
Stuart: Yeah, I think it's going to be really good. These are some of the things that we talked about today. The fact that you've got a clear audience in mind. There's a nice story that will carry the narrative through and give people the examples. Again, for anyone that's listening into this, that's a great example to think about yourself, we often talk about people undervaluing their own internal experience or thinking things are too basic to share with people, but there's also the flip side of that where it's very easy to fall into industry-based language, so really have that narrative that follows through and then you've got a program that leads to something, a next step, so it's not so much that you're just dropping a book on someone and saying to them, "Okay, well, now give me a call and come into the office for a meeting." You've got a very clear next step in line and even if that program isn't ready on day one, there's almost certainly going to be something that you can lead people to.
I'm conscious that I said I'd only, I know that it's towards the end of the week when we're recording this so you need to get on. We're almost at time, but just before we go, I just wanted to talk about that next step. The seven step program, as that full program comes together, is there anything that you've got today that you would usually onboard people with or give them as a worksheet to kind of bridge that gap from an outside customer to an inside customer?
Julia: Well, I think if they just read the book that will inspire them to take action whether it be with one of my advisors here at my company or online through the online platform. Is that what you mean?
Stuart: Yeah, kind of. That intermediate step, I'll often talk to people, coincidentally enough the guys in the financial world particularly, I think because so much of it, being compliance driven and the fact that you've got to go through fact finds and all that type of thing, very much the outcome, the ideal outcome, is someone comes into the office for a meeting, that step is quite a big step for someone to take.
Julia: Yeah, I don't want them to take that.
Stuart: Yeah, exactly. It's quite- Particularly if you've got a cold audience. It does vary depending on whether you- I was talking to someone a few weeks ago and they were looking at delivering a book to using it within a funnel of people that they're already quite familiar with so they've got the opportunity to write a regular column for a community newsletter. Here's the audience, they've got a relationship there already. Particularly as their traffic gets colder and colder, people have got less and less of a relationship. Taking that big step is a pretty big jump.
Whilst in the future the back cover call to action might be, okay, sign up for the program and there might be a free way to onboard on that, but in the interim before that exists, I'd maybe suggest looking at something like- Do you have a, I know you mentioned that you were a coach member, do you have the scorecard?
Julia: We do, but it's not out there yet. That scorecard is for a client that is appropriate for us in our office which is a totally different audience than this book.
Stuart: The other thing that you could do then is maybe the step-by-step guidance that's in the book, the bit that forms the seven steps, take that and turn it into not a scorecard, but something like an action step or a checklist or something that you can offer to people that's easy for them to opt into.
Julia: Oh, okay, so I can capture their email. Is that what you mean?
Stuart: Yeah, yeah exactly. It does two things. One, for people who have already opted in, you've got their email address, you've delivered them the digital version of the book, it gives them something else to opt in for so that you can identify the hotter prospects from the colder prospects and, all things being equal, give attention there. Then for the other people who get a copy of the book who haven't opted in, either a physical copy of the book or they've been passed a copy by someone else, it gives you an opportunity to easily, at a relatively low barrier to entry, capture their details because they've opted in for this follow on thing.
I think the great thing about your book is a very obvious follow on. It's something that talks about or gives them the action steps or the checklist or the additional video content or the walk through or the mind map or anything relevant.
Julia: I'm planning to have tools throughout the book.
Julia: The videos would be, those will be done by the time the book's done, too.
Stuart: Oh, that's fantastic.
Julia: Those will be supportive, just where it's engaging them to interact with me.
Stuart: Will compliance have an issue if you gave people free access to that, but they had to log into a system so creating like a basic membership site where all of this information was just provided for free, but they just had to log in so that it wasn't freely available to everyone?
Julia: Yeah, let me ask.
Stuart: That would just be lead capture. There's no ... You're just giving away the free advice, you're putting it behind the sign in. We do a lot of realtor, we've got quite a big realtor community as well, we encourage those guys to do daily or weekly reviews of the property that's come on the market, perhaps on the MLS which isn't publicly available yet. Some realtors, some MLS providers will have an issue with that if they do it and make it freely available to everyone so those guys often do the same. They say, "Hey, this is some private, special information. More than happy to give it to you for free. You just need to log in because we can't make it publicly available." Again that way you've got, it's just an opportunity to take people to the next step. Almost like a staged process towards the conversion rather than trying to get them to convert straight away off the book.
Julia: Yeah, great idea. I will look into that.
Stuart: Fantastic. We've just blasted past 30 minutes so I promise not to keep you much longer than that. I'll cut you loose. I think you'll be great to check back in certainly after the book is done and we can talk about how you've been using it. I think people who are listening now would be interested to see how it's going. I think offline from the recording, I'm more than happy for us to check in a couple of times alongside the main book process if you want to talk about any strategies or marketing ideas as the book comes closer to completion. We can always do that as well.
Julia: Okay, thank you very much.
Stuart: No problem at all. This is an exciting journey. I'm really glad we did this. As I say, it was just a conversation with Betsy the other week saying we have had a lot of people at the end of the process, but no one at the beginning so hopefully everyone listening into this has kind of been able to overlay their own ideas and, as you were saying, it's easy for it to go a couple of months down the track and not make any progress, but really it's a very straightforward process to get started.
Julia: They make it very easy.
Julia: I have to say, I got the email two days ago and it said, "Please fill out this questionnaire to schedule your first 30-minute call," and I found myself not even opening it because I thought it was going to be a really long questionnaire. I opened it and I'm like, "Are you kidding me? This is so easy. I can do this." I'm like, "This is going to be amazing."
Stuart: Well, yes, that's some great feedback. For anyone that's not on board yet, to begin with we've got the 30-minute outlining call and really just so Susan joins that call with a bit of ... We don't spend 15 minutes just base lining what's going on, we just ask four or five simple questions to kind of get the kind of gist of the book. That's great feedback. I'll tweak that email slightly so we make the point that you don't need to carve out half an hour to answer it.
Julia: Yeah, say don't worry. Just keep going.
Stuart: It's simple. Well, the whole rest of the process is really aimed to be simple and really gets something that's out there and engaging potential customers as quick as possible. I'm really looking forward to this coming together. If people want to learn more about what you guys do over there at Financial Freedom, where's the best place for people to check out?
Julia: Yes, our website at financialfreedomwmg.com, like wealth management group. We have a great Facebook page. They can find us there as well.
Stuart: Oh, that's perfect. Well, you've got my email address, if you shoot me a link to the Facebook page I'll put a link to the website and the Facebook page in the show notes. Everyone listening, dive over to 90minutebooks.com/podcast/024, this is episode 24, for the transcript of the show and a couple of links that we'll put in.
Julia, just wanted to say thanks again for your time. I know it's getting late on a Friday now so hopefully not too much more time for the weekend. Looking forward to checking back in as this progresses.
Julia: Okay, thank you very much.
Stuart: Fantastic. Thanks. Have a great weekend.
Julia: Okay. Bye.