There are two common ways people go to a financial advisor’s website: They are looking up an advisor their friend referred them to or querying a search engine for a local financial planner. It’s a digital hub where a prospect can see practically everything they need to know about an advisor, such as capabilities, expertise, a sense of the advisor’s personality and basic contact information.
It used to be difficult to stand out in the crowd of advisor websites. The need to archive any and all form of client communication narrowed the choices of website providers. Digital marketing firm Twenty Over Ten is one company trying to change that and help advisors diversify their designs while remaining compliant.
That’s where Samantha Russell, director of marketing and sales at the firm, comes in.
Her educational how-to blogs, social media posts, email newsletters and YouTube videos have been empowering advisors to take digital marketing by the horns. One important piece of the puzzle: She knows how to engage them.
“[Samantha] has been a wealth of knowledge of where to focus my energy and attention,” said Brett Koeppel, a wirehouse breakaway who founded Eudaimonia Wealth, a registered investment advisor in Buffalo, N.Y. “Like how we [advisors] talk to consumers, [Samantha] has a way of helping someone like me, putting it in layman’s terms and providing you with actionable steps.”
The 34-year-old’s journey into digital marketing started shortly after college. She graduated during the 2008 financial crisis and landed a job in alumni relations and development at Penn State University, where she met her future husband. Ryan Russell, a co-founder of Twenty Over Ten, had just become a tenured associate professor teaching graphic design.
As she traveled the country to meet with alumni and convince them to donate to the university, she sharpened her skills in messaging and client engagement.
Ryan and co-founder Nick DiMatteo launched Twenty Over Ten with a beta version in 2015. Samantha was their first hire. She oversaw sales and marketing and played an integral part in communicating the company’s vision into its rapidly evolving product site, said Ryan.
“I realized that rather than trying to sell them our services—we can help you with content, your website and social media—we really need to start all the way from the beginning and just educate [advisors],” she said. “If you really don’t understand what’s happening, why it’s important or how it’s going to impact your business, you’re not going to be interested in working with a company that solves any of those problems [because] you can’t identify the problem to begin with.”
Her ability to interpret advisor feedback and express the limitations of the firm’s human capital was instrumental in the creation of Lead Pilot, a stand-alone inbound marketing tool that allows advisors to compliantly utilize both custom and Twenty Over Ten–provided content.
“Growth is happening online and that’s what you really need to be invested in,” she said.