Ameriprise guys

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Feb 12, 2010 1:29 pm

I've heard of your fishbowl marketing plan offering free lunches at different restaraunts. How does it work? What verbage do you use on the fishbowl marketing pieces? What have you found to be the best restaurants to cater to? How long do u teach vs eat? Quick thank you and intro or what? Do you use product partners? Just wondering how its done and if its something I should think of incorporating in my own business.

Feb 12, 2010 1:37 pm

Oh my God.

Feb 12, 2010 1:51 pm

Full disclosure:  After doing this for the first 2.5 yrs as an advisor I came to despise doing this.  With that being said, I would not be here today if it weren't for the success that I had doing the fishbowls. 

 
I would say for someone that has not done this before, it would work best in this day and age if you live in a small town.  Mainly because us P1 advisors fed every single human being within a 20 mile radius of our city from 2005-2008.  Some half a dozen times.  There are only P1 offices in big cities though, so more rural areas will not have this kind of saturation.
 
The best restaurants to cater to, if you want a sit-down place, would be a place that does not get a lot of traffic during lunch hours.  Find a place that has a nice big table in a quiet corner and set up shop.  If you want a place where you can pick up subs and drive them over to the peoples office then put one anywhere, like Subway or Jerrys Subs and Pizza, anywhere that will cater subs and sandwiches.  I preferred this because you didn't have to worry about half the group being late to the restaurant while you sit there making awkward idle conversation with the entry-level admin staff for 20 minutes waiting.  Also the bill is much less if you get sandwiches vs. a $12-$15 per head restaurant.
 
Never feed them until you're done talking.  If you are at a sit-down place, demand the server wait until you have said your last word, and that he will be well taken care of if he obliges.  If you take the food to their office, obviously keep the food in the bags until you've done your thing.  This keeps you from answering questions about why someone got a pickle on their ham and swiss when they asked for no pickle.  Trust me, I felt like turning into a mad assassin when I would be talking and get interrupted by the fat receptionist within some menial question that had nothing to do with anything. 
 
I'd talk for about a minute each on 5 topics:  Taxes, cash reserves, retirement, estate planning and general wealth accumulation.  Take a few questions at the end, usually never giving them the whole pizza, but a little slice and if they want the rest of the pie then they can come sit down with me and I'll give them a more thorough answer once I know specific details about them.  You'll always get the ignorant dullard that asks "So how much will I really need to save up to retire?  I heard somewhere that we need at least $1 million to retire comfortably."  "Well, toots, depends on if you want to buy a beachhouse or just live in a hammock.  How about we talk about it some time and I'll figure out your number."  Once I'm done taking questions then I thank them for their time and get outta dodge once they get their food. 
 
When I was doing these we had a $1,500/month marketing budget.  We don't have that anymore and Ameriprise stopped allowing us to do the lunches.  Probably because they saw the same names and numbers appearing on the expense reports after a few years.  If you chose to do this I'd guess you'll either be out of pocket completely or you can ask some wholesalers to drop you a few bucks. 
Feb 12, 2010 1:58 pm
3rdyrp2:

Full disclosure:  After doing this for the first 2.5 yrs as an advisor I came to despise doing this.  With that being said, I would not be here today if it weren't for the success that I had doing the fishbowls. 

 
I would say for someone that has not done this before, it would work best in this day and age if you live in a small town.  Mainly because us P1 advisors fed every single human being within a 20 mile radius of our city from 2005-2008.  Some half a dozen times.  There are only P1 offices in big cities though, so more rural areas will not have this kind of saturation.
 
The best restaurants to cater to, if you want a sit-down place, would be a place that does not get a lot of traffic during lunch hours.  Find a place that has a nice big table in a quiet corner and set up shop.  If you want a place where you can pick up subs and drive them over to the peoples office then put one anywhere, like Subway or Jerrys Subs and Pizza, anywhere that will cater subs and sandwiches.  I preferred this because you didn't have to worry about half the group being late to the restaurant while you sit there making awkward idle conversation with the entry-level admin staff for 20 minutes waiting.  Also the bill is much less if you get sandwiches vs. a $12-$15 per head restaurant.
 
Never feed them until you're done talking.  If you are at a sit-down place, demand the server wait until you have said your last word, and that he will be well taken care of if he obliges.  If you take the food to their office, obviously keep the food in the bags until you've done your thing.  This keeps you from answering questions about why someone got a pickle on their ham and swiss when they asked for no pickle.  Trust me, I felt like turning into a mad assassin when I would be talking and get interrupted by the fat receptionist within some menial question that had nothing to do with anything. 
 
I'd talk for about a minute each on 5 topics:  Taxes, cash reserves, retirement, estate planning and general wealth accumulation.  Take a few questions at the end, usually never giving them the whole pizza, but a little slice and if they want the rest of the pie then they can come sit down with me and I'll give them a more thorough answer once I know specific details about them.  You'll always get the ignorant dullard that asks "So how much will I really need to save up to retire?  I heard somewhere that we need at least $1 million to retire comfortably."  "Well, toots, depends on if you want to buy a beachhouse or just live in a hammock.  How about we talk about it some time and I'll figure out your number."  Once I'm done taking questions then I thank them for their time and get outta dodge once they get their food. 
 
When I was doing these we had a $1,500/month marketing budget.  We don't have that anymore and Ameriprise stopped allowing us to do the lunches.  Probably because they saw the same names and numbers appearing on the expense reports after a few years.  If you chose to do this I'd guess you'll either be out of pocket completely or you can ask some wholesalers to drop you a few bucks. 
 
Can you walk us through the back end of the process?  How did you approach the  business owner to capture the cards?  What did you say to the "lucky" winner to get them in for lunch with their friends.  Etc.
Feb 12, 2010 2:19 pm

I was thinking about trying to sell annuities that have an enhanced life insurance rider at Hospis.

Feb 12, 2010 2:23 pm
SometimesNowhere:

Oh my God.

Feb 12, 2010 2:37 pm

SN - +1

Feb 12, 2010 3:40 pm

Soooo......does that mean I'm the a$$hole for giving the only response that didn't make the OP sound like a moron???  Hangs head in shame

Feb 12, 2010 4:00 pm

Hahahah

Feb 12, 2010 4:06 pm
3rdyrp2:

Soooo......does that mean I'm the a$$hole for giving the only response that didn't make the OP sound like a moron???  Hangs head in shame



No, I think its admirable. You're the guy helped that kid in the cafeteria that just got his coke bottle glasses knocked off his stupid face.

The only thing funnier/sadder than the fishbowl thing is the door to door thing. At least you are man enough to:

A) Admit that you did it
B) Have built your business that way to begin with

Feb 12, 2010 6:11 pm

Thank you 3rd for your insight. I was merely thinking of ideas that may work for me. Obviously they have worked for some if 3rd is willing to say it helped him be where he is today. The doorknocking thing works too. So do seminars and coldcalling but I knew all of the above other than the fishbowl stuff. As for the rest of you guys thanks for the slams the idea of anyone wanting to be at anywhere else other than an indy or wire is truly disgusting but its where I am and it works for me pretty well so far. What about the fishbowl thing do you all despise so much? Jones will reimburse me the majority of the expense from these lunches and a wholesaler will pick up the rest. Seems like a pretty passive way to gather prospects and talk in front of a decent group about what I do.

Feb 12, 2010 11:32 pm

FA, the only prospecting method that is embarrassing is the one your don't do.



Fishbowls, door knocking, referrals, cold calls, networking, etc. etc. - as long as it puts some jingle in your pocket it's all good.

Feb 13, 2010 7:29 am
fa09:

Thank you 3rd for your insight. I was merely thinking of ideas that may work for me. Obviously they have worked for some if 3rd is willing to say it helped him be where he is today. The doorknocking thing works too. So do seminars and coldcalling but I knew all of the above other than the fishbowl stuff. As for the rest of you guys thanks for the slams the idea of anyone wanting to be at anywhere else other than an indy or wire is truly disgusting but its where I am and it works for me pretty well so far. What about the fishbowl thing do you all despise so much? Jones will reimburse me the majority of the expense from these lunches and a wholesaler will pick up the rest. Seems like a pretty passive way to gather prospects and talk in front of a decent group about what I do.



I'm a Jonesie too, so quit trying to be an apologist for the every man.

There is a reason that Ameriprise stopped doing it, keep that in mind. Ultimately how you build your business is your business. Just think about the kind of person that drops their name in a fishbowl. Are they going to be someone with a few hundred thousand in investible assets? Maybe. More likely it's a bunch of 30-40 somethings who are still in the stage in their life where they are heavy in debt, and may never get out of it. Or, worse yet, the 'fat receptionist' that 3rd was talking about.

The bottom line, prospect for the clients that you want. As for me, I don't think that the kind of client I want is going to drop their business card in a fishbowl.

Feb 13, 2010 10:16 am
mlgone:

The move is to walk into a diner where they already have a fishbowl filled with cards and then when the cashier turns around, you steal the fishbowl!


 
That's funny because it's true.  When I started, I know guys who did that.  When they talked about fishbowling, they didn't bother putting out fishbowls, they just took them.
Feb 15, 2010 1:39 pm

3rd, what did the sign on your fishbowl say? I'm sure it had to be pretty generic from a compliance standpoint...



FYI I am going to give it a try. I ordered a few lock box donation type small lead boxes and already found some nice restaraunts willing to give me counter space. Ill let you all know how it goes once implemented.

Feb 15, 2010 5:16 pm
fa09:

3rd, what did the sign on your fishbowl say? I'm sure it had to be pretty generic from a compliance standpoint...

 
Technically we couldn't put anything that insinuated that the person would "win" anything.  I think it was something like "Be selected for a complimentary lunch for up to 10".  I guess there would be some kind of legal ramifications if someone thought they won a lunch and then later found out that we called every person who dropped their card in there.  At the bottom we had to put that line that FINRA requires we all put on our e-mail footers.  Then in like 4 point font somewhere in the middle there was the disclosure that we would be talking for 5 minutes or so about some financial topic. 
Feb 19, 2010 12:46 am

lfmao

Mar 2, 2010 8:35 pm

So basically Jones compliance shut this one down hardcore. No mention of the word FREE OR COMPLIMENTARY can be anywhere on the sign other than if it were to say FREE FINANCIAL PLANNING SEMINAR and then in tiny print... Meal Included. Basically the exact opposite of the Ameriprise signs.. when I complained to compliance about this fact they stated "we can't speak for other firms but what we can say is that we register all marketing material with FINRA and this would be considered coersion" or some other bs argument... whatever. I did however "find" a handful of cards from "near" an ameriprise fishbowl and am doing my first lunch and learn at a manufacturing plant for 2 sets of 20 employees in 2 weeks... so that may be a MUCH better way of prospecting. I made no mention of the raffle whatever, just introduced myself and stated I offered lunch and learns and would stay after for free 401k reviews. Should be a stellar few hours.

Mar 2, 2010 8:56 pm

Wow - EJ files EVERYTHING with FINRA???  That can get expensive.  No wonder they take soo much out of your Gross.
You should have called their bluff and told them to send the FINRA letter to you concerning your original submission.
EDIT: Great job on the new prospecting angle.  I once "found" a car that was "abandoned."

Mar 2, 2010 9:09 pm

How do you plan on getting phone numbers?  Got a comment card drawn up?  FYI, those need to be approved by compliance/FINRA as well.