This Interview With Forrest Wallace Cato Provides Answers And “How-To” Tips!
Our industry’s best-known media advocate for financial professionals is Forrest Wallace Cato. Cato began promoting the acceptance of financial planning almost immediately after this new profession was invented by Loren Dunton. Before then Cato was a Wall Street PR man and a leading financial magazine editor. Cato is responsible for building a unique body of work since then. His now-famous accomplishments entail re-shaping proven sales promotional techniques and image-building practices, so they could be effectively used to advance the earnings of individual financial practitioners.
Cato was the first to do this and he was also the first to use celebrity endorsements for financial advisors. He was responsible for most of the “firsts” involved with skillfully promoting agents and planners in the media! Recently Cato was the first financial media advocate to ever receive a Hollywood Walk-of-Fame Star for his body of promotional work. He is a frequent speaker at the Insurance Pro Shop’s live events, revealing his secret ‘Image Branding’ techniques. The following interview concerns “famous name” endorsements for agents and planners.
Lew Nason:Why are commercial organizations willing to pay big bucks for “famous name” endorsements?
Forrest Wallace Cato:The answer is because ‘legitimate’ endorsements are well-proven to help cause sales to result! A recent New York Times headline proclaimed, “Nothing sells anything like celebrity!” Many actors, sports stars, coaches, and other celebrities from various fields, all earn more money providing endorsements than they do in their primary careers. Quite often long after their peak earning power has passed the fame and respect achieved by these individuals still remains.
Nason:How do you get legitimate “famous names” to endorse financial planners and insurance agents without having to pay any fees to those making the endorsements?
Cato:Consumers appreciate the reassurance that ‘people of note’ have endorsed a person, service, or product. This works in the financial products and services industry as well as in all other areas. This even works with persons that have “questionable” reputations or images, such as “The Donald” – Donald Trump whose activities, ego, and actions are considered to be far below par by many. But he keeps publishing books that he does not personally write, making appearances, and creating more TV shows. Paris Hilton has many fans but her talent is so obscure that her special skill cannot even be identified or defined. American culture today contains many people who were “made famous by preferential and excessive media attention – yet they received this for no logical and worthy reasons (other than paying for promotion). The influence of these and the more worthy “famous names” in our culture exemplifies The Power of Celebrity!
Nason:Again, I ask, how do you obtain these free endorsements and can financial professionals benefit by using them?
Cato:Any agent or planner can benefit from being endorsed by appropriate celebrities, and appropriate local persons of renown. Local market “names” are equally important. Getting endorsements most often requires a skilled effort to secure a celebrity endorsement. I’ve been doing this for thirty years so they know and trust me. I have also worked directly for and with many celebrities. So, of course, that helps a lot. You must also properly obtain appropriate photos as well as the written testimonials, comments, or statements. Your average prospect will latch on to you much more quickly if you have a good photo of the quoted celebrity to go with the text. Anyone’s eyes go to the photo first, then to the name, and finally to the text.
Nason:What kind of photo?
Cato:You must have photos in color and high resolution. A dull, fuzzy or monochrome picture presents the impression that your endorsement is weak, flimsy, and not very important. Or, this can suggest that you are being careless. In today’s digital world, proper color photos are not difficult to obtain, but the image absolutely must be high resolution.
At a recent Client Appreciation Dinner held at the Golden Lamb Inn, one of the oldest fine roadhouse dining facilities in America, IARFC Chairman, Ed Morrow, saw this work very effectively! The financial planning icon was invited to attend as a guest of his long-time friends Jerry and Nick Royer, both of whom are well-known and highly successful Registered Financial Consultants.
Morrow reported, “The Royer team practices in several states including Florida, Illinois, and Ohio. This client-appreciation event was in many ways similar to the client-appreciation event that was featured earlier this year in The IARFC Register magazine, when the Royer team took their Florida clients on a client-appreciation dinner cruise. Incidentally, that event has now, already produced over $ 2 million of new business. Each client in Southwest Ohio had been invited to bring a guest. Some did, and the guests were of a social and economic par with the clients. Royer clients tend to be either retired, or close to it, come from middle class families, worked hard for a living, and have raised children to be proud of.Good solid folks – but not wealthy or powerful persons.”
Nick Royer, Ed Morrow & Jerry Royer attendees at the Insurance Pro Shop’s… ‘Found Money Management’
Financial Advisor Boot Camp
in Dallas Georgia.
The Royers effectively use legitimate endorsements to make their client-appreciation events more successful. We are proud to say that the Royers studied at The Insurance Pro Shop. These client appreciation events are far more effective that the old and over-saturated “Free Dinner Annuity Workshops” promoted by packaged direct mail. There are always four objectives to the Royer’s client-appreciation events:
* To say “Thank You” to their clients
* To give clients an opportunity to schedule another appointment
* To meet their client’s friends and family
* To get even more referrals.
Nason:What does a Royer client-appreciation event actually entail?
Cato:Each person attending received an official dark blue IARFC folder, inside of which were copies of the Register magazine’s profile on the Royers and two other related articles, plus two very powerful pieces.
Nason:What were the two powerful pieces?
Cato:One page was prepared by their associate, Joyce Brown, RFC, and this was a simple piece of paper requesting three referrals. (Based on a form designed by the Insurance Pro Shop) Attendees were encouraged to fold these in half and turn them in for a drawing of door prizes. They could place three names on the page, or just sign their name at the bottom. All attendees completed the form with two or three names, and some were so “brazen” as to take the liberty to write extra names on the back.
But the handout that received even more attention than the Register magazine reprint was a one-page sheet of legitimate endorsements. We had carefully obtained these from famous and highly respected celebrities. Jerry and I also gathered current photos of the involved celebrities. Knowing that well-respected and established “names” had endorsed the Royers made it a “slam dunk” for their prospects to decide to talk with the Royers about how the Royers could help them with their financial objectives.
To further illustrate the power of legitimate endorsements, even the guests (referrals) filled-out the sheet and provided names (more referrals). And that was even before they had become clients!
Clowns Can Make This Difficult For You
Nason:Please tell us more about how to get these valuable free endorsements from famous people?
Cato:There is an art to getting endorsements, but the most critical factor is not necessarily “experience,” but the approach. Complete credibility must be provided, and trust must be established with the media advocate who represents the celebrity. Celebrities are very leery of the frequent requests they receive for free services. They are annoyed when strangers try to “use them” this way. Many people and some “financial clowns” approach them and rudely demand free endorsements.
They are especially leery of financial planners and insurance agents. This is because these financial professionals have faked endorsements and re-worded endorsements. That is why I kept saying “legitimate” endorsements. Faked and re-written endorsements, or misused endorsements, can quickly lead to serious legal troubles. Making misrepresentations (even exaggerations) when requesting endorsements can also lead to serious legal problems. Clowns who do this make it far more difficult for you to obtain legitimate endorsements for free.
Nason:What are some useful tips?
Cato:Never contact a celebrity or their media representative and say, “Send me an endorsement saying I am a great, fantastic, and wonderful agent or planner!” In the case of the Royer endorsements, there were no fees paid. And, as always, everything was accomplished and documents, with the full-understanding, complete agreement, and total approval of the celebrities involved.
One of the techniques, in some instances, after the relationship is well established, is to offer to write suggested copy for the endorser. But never dictate that this must be used! This is only to serve an example. If the “names” go with these, then you must (1) acknowledge receipt and say thank you and (2) you must prepare and retain a file of the authorizations in case you are challenged by a regulator or compliance auditor or anyone else.
There Are Use Restrictions That Must Be Honored
Restrictions are usually placed on how your endorsements can be used. These are never endorsements that say, “This planner made me tons of money!” or “Agent so-and-so is the greatest and most brilliant insurance agent on earth!” Their endorsements are more comparable to character recommendations. In the final evaluation, such reasonable comments are even more powerful.
This practice – of obtaining non-paid endorsements – is already so abused that you will often not receive the requested endorsement, but you should remain polite and still say “thank you.” Also the celebrity may be “currently touring in Europe,” or “on location making a movie,” or virtually unavailable to the outside world, thus this specific endorsement is not likely at this time.
When you need more clients, nothing works like the power of ‘legitimate’ celebrity endorsements.
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