Marketing & Sales

The Power of Podcasts: Building Influence by Being Your Own Loud

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We talked with Matt about:

  • Why advisors should be more proud of who they are, what they do, and what makes them unique and different 
  • How all great marketing is slow and is momentum marketing
  • Why podcasting will not work if you don’t have a niche

About Matt Halloran
Matt Halloran shares creative and thought-provoking insight about the power of podcasts to help financial advisors build influence and rise above the noise. Now co-founder and chief relationship officer at ProudMouth, Matt broke into the podcasting world in an unlikely way. After earning a degree in applied ethics and landing a highly competitive internship, he found himself in Omaha, Nebraska. He later served in a role at Boys Town, which sparked his interest in becoming a therapist. He earned a degree in therapy and a master’s as a life coach, and landed his first coaching role at Peak Advisor Coaching, which ushered him into financial services. Matt met Kirk Lowe at a small conference in 2015. That meeting sparked a collaboration that ended up solving one of the biggest obstacles professionals and companies face: the ability to consistently produce authentic and valuable content to power their content marketing strategy. It led to the creation of ProudMouth, an influence accelerator that uses podcasts to help advisors “be their own loud” by sharing who they are, what they do, and what makes them different to become the most sought-after provider in their niche market. Today, ProudMouth is the largest podcasting company for financial advisors in North America, so far producing 7,000 episodes and a quarter-million social media posts, with much more on the horizon.


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Full Audio Transcript

Lauren (00:02):
Matt, welcome.

Matt (00:04):
Hi. Hello.

Lauren (00:05):
So good to have you. I feel like we were just chatting and I'm like, how have we not talked more? Like our worlds are colliding.

Matt (00:13):
There are so many overlaps too. You know this person really well, and I know that person really well and how we never met. I don't know how that's possible but I'm very grateful to be here. Thank you for having me.

Lauren (00:25):
Of course. We're so glad you're here. Thank you for your time. So we have both ended up in this financial services world. How the heck did you get here? What's your story? I can't wait to hear about the climb to where you are but how did you land where you are?

Matt (00:39):
Well, from quite an unlikely place actually. I'll give you the truncated version. I graduated from college with a degree in applied ethics and got one of four paid internships in the United States doing biomedical ethics at a hospital system in Omaha, Nebraska. So that landed me in Omaha, Nebraska; I had a bunch of jobs there. That first one was a really difficult job, and that could be a podcast in itself, what I had to do as an ethicist. Not a lot of fun. Everybody died is kind of the way I couch all of that. And then my wife and I worked at a place called Boys Town, and that got me wanting to become a therapist. So I went to graduate school and I got my degree as a therapist and a master's degree as a life coach.

I found out I was not a great therapist, which would've been great if they would've told me that in grad school. Like, hey, dude, you suck at this. You should probably go in a different path. So after I had hung my own shingle, I just cried every day, because all they do is people just dump stuff on you. And I'm not opposed to that. I don't think it's any less manly to sit and sob. Actually, I think it's very manly actually to be in touch with your emotions. But then I applied to a place called Carson, which actually was called Peak. It was Peak something, some Peak Advisor coaching, and then it became Peak. So I worked with a guy named Ron Carson in his coaching program. I did that for about four or five years. And that's how I got into financial services.

Lauren (02:05):
Oh my gosh. So a whole path. So were you with Carson for some time then?

Matt (02:11):
I was, so I was there from 2006 to 2012 or2011, right around there. 

Lauren (02:18):
Okay. So how about ProudMouth? How did it get started? Why the name? It just makes you smile when you say it. So it sounds like the next turning point in your career was getting to what you've got going today. So tell us a little bit about that.

Matt (02:34):
Yeah. I met this crazy Canadian guy at a conference, right? He was speaking about branding and I was speaking about PR because I'd just gotten off the second season of Practice Makeover for Investment News, which was a reality show for financial advisors where we basically deconstructed their practices. So much fun. Me and Matt Ackerman, we had such a great time doing it.

Lauren (02:54):
That sounds really fun.

Matt (02:55):
In fact, I don't even know if it's out there still but it's really good. I mean, not because I was there but because how Matt produced the whole thing. He's a genius. If you don't know who Matt Ackerman is, whoever’s listening to this, you need to follow this guy because he is the bee's knees. So we were at a conference and Kirk came over and said I'd like to find a way for us to work together. And I had heard of him. I was like, okay. So we hung out. We had dinner and all that sort of stuff. And so then I went home and he went home. I started googling him and then he was like a dog on a bone.

He was like, hey dude, I'd like to meet. I was like, hey, there's something here. So we decided to fold both of our companies into one company, which at the time was Top Advisor Marketing, what we started with. And we started that in about 2016. I’d say 2017 was our start. We had no clients, no product. In fact, Kirk floated our business with his branding clients until we had enough stuff to get started. And then about two and a half, three years ago now, we rebranded to ProudMouth after my partner had gone to the largest marketing meeting, a private invite-only marketing meeting where the marketers from Apple and Land Rover and Nike are there, people speaking on stage called The Gathering. He met the guy who wrote the book called Fix, which is how to build a cult brand. He came back and he said, we're going to rebrand with this guy. We need to budget for it. Much like you, we bootstrapped everything from the beginning and that's how ProudMouth was born. We just really think advisors should be a lot more proud of who they are, what they do, and what makes them unique and different. And we also know they talk for a living. And so that was just kind of the mashup that ended up happening. They had a great graphic design team and it was freaking cool.

Lauren (04:49):
Oh my gosh. So tell us about what you're doing today, how you're working with firms and getting them going. And your team is huge too. I mean it's grown like wildfire.

Matt (05:03):
So we're the largest podcasting company in North America for financial advisors. We've done 7,000 episodes and about a quarter of a million social media posts for financial advisors. So what we do is we help advisors rise above the noise and be their own loud and stop being the best kept secret in their area. And we do that by podcasting. So we also offer video services and things like that because you have to do all of that, right? But basically what happens is advisors talk for a living. We have professional co-hosts who help the advisors. It's an interview format. And most of our clients do two podcasts a month, and then we create anywhere from 14 to 20 pieces of customer and social media assets based on that thought leadership. And we actually post for them, because advisors don't do that. And we've got a secure way to do that. The other thing about us is we are a hundred percent compliant. And so we have had zero compliance issues since inception. I am the person who is basically the chief compliance officer. I meet with every broker dealer, every RIA, so that's our day job. And we're producing anywhere from 100 to 150 episodes a month right now. 

Lauren (06:14):
Holy smokes. That is a lot. You guys are keeping busy. You're doing editing, you got social content, you probably got a million different tabs open. I think we all do to some degree. So tell us just about podcasting; what's the process like? We could probably both speak to what the process is like but I mean on your end. I was talking with an advisor the other day and he's like, I'm thinking about getting this podcast going, blah, blah, blah. And then I started going to the volume of time and just the energy it takes and it's not everybody's jam and some people think they can DIY, which they can, but it's like your time tradeoff, yada yada. So how would you kind of frame this from a cost benefit or maybe even just a cost time or however you want to kind of frame it, for someone who's entertaining it?

Matt (07:08):
Well, we offer absolutely 100% free ability to start your own podcast. If you go to, we have a podcasting 101 course that will tell you every single solitary thing you need to do to start a podcast, a compliant podcast, including graphic design, the whole nine yards. But if you're going to do it yourself, the calculation is first off, it's very difficult to do it yourself. So you're going to have to hire graphic designers and generally you're gonna have to hire an audio producer, right? Because you have to do post-production, take out the sneezes, coughs, intro, outro. If you're going to do all those things, you're looking at about 12 to 20 hours of your time a month to create your own podcast that will be successful.

Lauren (07:55):
That sounds about fair. And who’s got 20 hours, right?

Matt (08:00):
Lauren, who does, nobody does. They should be doing other stuff. I know. And so if you use our MI, what we refer to as our managed influence services, we do it for you. So we actually kind of force you to show up. You have to be prepared. All you have to do is the outline of the show. Then you get behind the mic, we interview you, you drop the mic, we do the rest. You have to deal with the compliance component of it but it’s only two to four hours a month, depending on the frequency of podcasts.

Lauren (08:26):
Right. Okay. So taking a step back, right? You got podcasts as a content drip platform, right? So what are your thoughts around using that platform for more lead generation efforts? Like creating drip campaigns, throwing these into a part of a regular drip newsletter, those sorts of things. What kind of conversations are you having with firms to then be able to go, yeah, we got this drip feature, but how are we going to capture those leads? How are we going to be able to measure success? 

Matt (08:56):
So that is a very, very deep question because I know I am going to throw a curveball at you.

Lauren (09:01):
That’s all right.

Matt (09:03):
Here's the deal—we have to change the conversation because marketing should not equal leads. That is actually not the appropriate question or the appropriate calculation. So the first thing you have to understand is marketing should be any kind of marketing, whether it's podcasting, blogs, video newsletters, or anything that should be a client communication tool. So you actually need to allocate time and budget as a client retention, client communication component. That's vitally important. Now when it comes to generating leads, we are slow marketing; all great marketing is slow. If anybody comes in and tells you that we're going to be able to get you leads in 30 to 45 days, first off, they're not going to be qualified. They're not going to be the right people. And you're going to be selling to skeptics, not to fans. Our process takes 18 to 24 months. So ours is momentum marketing. All great marketing is momentum.

Lauren (09:56):
Okay. So to back it up though, you got the momentum marketing going over 18 to 24 months. Is there any other kind of additional flows the team is working on to be able to support that? And maybe talk a little bit more about that. Is it access to special VIP podcasts? Is it a side group? Is it a drip piece? Tell us more about that so we can hear a little bit more about how it goes into the kind of the at-large ecosystem just to help folks think about beyond just having the slow and steady, but also when someone's ready to engage at a deeper level. 

Matt (10:33):
So the crazy thing is, we call it pull marketing, not push marketing. And so people actually end up calling you saying, I'm ready to work with you. How does that get into the nurture sequence? Well, we have nine podcast growth tactics we take all our clients through. And one of the most, well, two that are really fantastic is one, driving them to an event, whether that's an educational workshop or a client-focused or prospecting event. And then the other one would be white papers. Man, I can't tell you that is still such a magnificent lead magnet. People love the top 10 things you have to know about claiming Social Security, right? The top 10 mistakes business owners make when they sell their companies, honey, people click on that stuff and they will gladly put their email in. Because what you've done is you've put enough wisdom into the karmic pool of knowledge that it's okay for you to ask them to do something. We have something called a perfect podcasting formula. It's storytelling, education, entertainment, call to action. You have to have those four things and everything you do, newsletters, vlogs, video, whatever you want to do. And that call to action needs to be successively more pointed.

Lauren (11:43):
Stronger, yep.

Matt (11:44):
Yeah. And so at some point you're going to say, listen, we're 79 episodes into this podcast. For those of you who are listening who haven't picked up the phone yet, you have to ask yourself, what are you waiting for? Is it really just not the right time? Or are you afraid to have the conversation? If you're afraid to have the conversation, just give us a call. Listen, it's no pressure. You see what I'm saying? I mean, there are ways to be able to do that because here's the thing, and people don't like hearing this. Podcasting sucks all that other stuff because for instance, I can’t get rough demographic and psychographic information on listeners. Because of the way podcasting works in the world, it's hard to glean that information. And you also have to have a very specific technique in the show notes, the summary of each PO, in order to drive people so there are things they can click on and then I can start tracking 'em.

Lauren (12:33):
I know it's so complex, right? Because there's this idea of the actual podcast but then there's the outpour of all the steps that happen next and then tapping into SEO and pushing content and leveraging channels and the whole thing. It's the whole kit and caboodle, if you will. So what kind of trends are you seeing in the podcasting world? Is there anything in particular from a trend perspective that people are leaning into or doing maybe the length of a podcast or maybe if it is a style of how they're interviewing folks or not even an interview. Maybe it's talking. Tell us a little bit more about that.

Matt (13:12):
Yeah. We're not a huge fan of solo casts. Unless you are a professionally trained actress, it's very difficult to hold somebody's attention. And the numbers are still numbers—27 minutes is the ideal podcast length. It's because that's the commute. It's about how long people take to get ready in the morning. It's about how long it takes people to cook dinner. It's about how long people can exercise before they have a heart attack. And so we know that is the right length. What are the trends? The trends really are all about the interview format. Most of our clients, their first six episodes are really about them. So it's our people interviewing them to pull out their brilliance and what makes them unique and different. And then the podcast really switches and then the interviews are brought to the listener by the financial planning firm.

But it's generally not about Roth conversions and 401(k)s. It's about interviewing people who are like their ideal client or centers of influence because—so I'll tell you a very quick story. So there's a woman named Misty Lynch, and she's somebody everybody needs to be paying attention to because she is probably going to be, if she isn't already, on the top 100 people to watch in financial services; she will be within the next probably 12 months. So she has a podcast, she's an unbelievable marketer. She uses her podcast to prospect. She only works with successful female business owners in the greater Boston area. So all she does is she calls up female business owners—hey, would you like to be on our podcast? She talks to them about what the podcast is about. She interviews them within that 30 minutes. She deepens that relationship with them so much because podcasting is so intimate. She closes, and she just spoke at Jolt and I'm probably going to get this number wrong, but I think she said she gets 50% of the people making an appointment to actually talk to her about being their planner.

Lauren (15:00):

Matt (15:01):
That's what marketing does. I mean, that's insane. But she's very hyper-focused and she's really good at what she does.

Lauren (15:09):
She knows her target well. So she's got a platform that is an opportunity to engage them and like you said, bring out their brilliance. So fun. Okay. So when you're talking about the profiles earlier of the 27 minutes, I don’t know if you looked at Entrepreneur on Fire, I don’t know if it's still on his website, but he's got this awesome profile of who his target is and the things you're saying. It's on the way to work, the length of time or dropping off the kids to school or whatever. And it gives this idea, right? It goes back to this idea of knowing your target—why you would record something for as long as you would the whole thing. So very cool. So any advice you have for advisors? I know your team's totally leaned into this podcasting platform. If someone's even thinking about it are there any tips you have for folks? You've got I'm sure a number of case studies.

Matt (16:03):
We do. And actually we have some really great case studies on our website. So there's really three things. The first thing is—and you'll love this as a fellow marketer—you can't market to everybody.. So the first mental hurdle you have to get over is you have to have a niche. Podcasting will not work otherwise. So if you don't have a niche, don't podcast. Just don't do it. It's not worth your time. That's great. It's not worth the expense. So there's number one; number two, you have to know what you're talking about. So before we ever want you to hit record, we take people through how to come up with your first 12 podcast topics. And it's rather long, so I'm not going to go through it today.

But we've already got all sorts of content out there about that. So you guys can just hook me up and they can find that. So that's number two. Please know what you're talking about. And then three, hit record. Okay. Hit record. We were talking before that you have all of this equipment. Yeah. I'm literally a professional podcaster but you can just use your phone. Just use your phone. Use your AirPods. In fact, what's really great, and I don't have 'em right next to me, the old Apple corded things. There's a magic fairy in that microphone. It's unbelievable.

Lauren (17:20):

Matt (17:21):
But that's it. Just hit record. Practice. So one of the things people don't really understand about podcasting, it's a show. So Lauren, I have a whole pregame by the way. So I did this in preparation for you, and I do it for all the episodes I do because I want to make sure that it's show time. You hit record. Lights, camera, action, let's go.

Lauren (17:43):
So you have to ramp up.

Matt (17:45):
You do. You have to get ready. If you look at anybody who's a professional, right? And I love to challenge advisors with this all the time. When's the last time you warmed up before a client meeting?

Lauren (17:54):
Oh, you have to.

Matt (17:56):
But they don't. Because it's like, oh, well I do this all the time.  So let's look at somebody like Candace Parker. So Candace Parker's one of the greatest basketball players of our time. She is unfreaking believable. Now she's doing more play-by-play stuff and analyst stuff. But she was really one of the greatest basketball players we've ever had. In the world of basketball, she warmed up for 45 minutes taking shots. She's taking thousands of shots. She's stretching. She's meeting with her coach, they're going over plays. How come advisors don't realize they need to be that level of professional when they show up to work? And I love challenging them with that because I think you just can't phone content in.

Lauren (18:33):
Yes. It's so true. I love it. I mean, we like prepping for client meetings; we've got one individual on our team—she's amazing. She's like gone through it, she's rehearsed it, she's ready to go, and she's like, I'm ready for the questions. I've got all my tabs open, yada yada. And it's part of that, right? It's being able to just be like you said, an athlete. It's following the same formula. So the tip is basically get revved up. Practice. Know what you're talking about. All those things. I found when folks identify with a topic that is really their jam, it's just so natural and just that passion, being able to see that is really, really cool. So shout out act actually to Kristen Luke. She's got a new book that's coming out. We actually just interviewed her recently about a whole platform to be able to really find who your niche is. I have it right there. She just sent me my advance copy. She quoted me about podcasting so I'm actually in the book. Amazing. I have it sitting right over there. It's called Uncomparable. Everybody needs to buy the book.

Matt (19:31):
There are a couple of books like that just, I'm sorry, you just went on a tangent. I'm gonna chase this rabbit real quick. Kristin Shea has a book too. It's basically about social media for financial advisors. I'll try to get you that link so maybe you can put that with something. It is probably the best, most frank look at content marketing I've ever seen in a book. She's another one of those rising stars. You might not want me to say this out loud on your vlog here, but she's probably going to be one of the people who is the most sought after marketer in financial services very soon.

Lauren (20:26):
Oh my goodness. Well, to be able to have pieces that are so valuable and to be able to take the time to put them together is a great opportunity regardless. It takes a village, right? We're all sharing knowledge and that's part of why we're here too. So, okay. We're getting close to 27 minutes. So any final thoughts? 

Matt (20:47):
So there's two things I want your audience to hear from me. Number one, content marketing is the only marketing left that really works, right?  I mean, do you have to have all the lead magnets? Yes. But everything has to be done infusing your own personality and what makes you unique and different. If you're not communicating that, if you're using other people's content, if you're just repurposing stuff that's approved from a compliance standpoint, you're really not doing yourself a lot of favors because what people want is you, they want to know, like, and trust you. And you can do that through great content marketing. And the last thing I want to talk about is just very quickly about podcasting. When is the last time you were introduced and actually invited into your clients’ and ideal prospects’ centers of influences?

Quite some time, right? Because it's creepy, right? You're not just going to show up and start talking to them through the window while they're cooking dinner but they opt into listening to your podcast. And people listen to podcasts when they're doing things in their private time. What an amazing way to build a very intimate relationship with people at scale, right? Talking about the things you're passionate about, which is why we think the power of podcasting is so strong. Video is amazing. We offer video services but here's the deal. Video's not as portable. Can't watch a video when I'm driving down the road. Well, let me rephrase that. I shouldn't watch the video while I'm driving down the road, right? I should be listening to a podcast. And we also firmly believe in the whole Gary Vaynerchuk model of do it once and then cut it and do a million pieces, right?

So we record all of our episodes with video. We have a video component, we strip out the audio, then we take that audio and we transcribe it because you have to do that for compliance. Then we take that transcription, we scrub it to make sure you didn't say anything stupid. And then what we do is we turn that into social media assets and then put it out for the world to hear. And so that's who we are and that's what we do. And marketers like you, we don't do what you do. And so this is why stuff like this is so fun. And I honestly believe Lauren, that the world of financial services is really changing. I think more of us realize we should really play nice in the sandbox with each other because man, we can change the industry or just your company and my company and you know what, it needs to change.

Lauren (23:03):
There's so much opportunity and that's part of these conversations. It's being able to identify the undercurrent. And that's what we're talking about here is that it's part of the change. It's part of helping folks to think differently about how to go about marketing and about how to go about their business model, their service model, whatever it is. So yeah, that's the fun stuff. So it's trying to look ahead for the next gen too. Awesome. Well thank you so much for your time today. Thanks for sharing your wisdom and giving us some insights. I feel like there were so many awesome shout-outs. So we'll make sure to show those in the notes below and we'll be talking soon.

Matt (23:37):
Thank you so much. Thank you.


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