Joel Garris, President & CEO of Nelson Financial Planning

It’s always great when we can take some time to talk with local business owners to understand what’s going on in their world.

We had the opportunity to sit down (virtually!) with Nelson Financial Planning President & CEO Joel Garris to talk about his experience working with our team, the innovative way they’re continuing to serve their clients right now, and his take on marketing.

Hi, Joel. We’re so excited to talk with you today! To get started, tell us a little bit about your business.

One of the things that makes Nelson Financial Planning unique is that we’re really focused on helping folks change their life through a successful financial plan that provides them with peace of mind for the future.

So what that means is that we’re not just asking about how much money you’ve got or those kinds of things, but we’re really digging more into that whole picture to put people in as good as possible shape as they can be for the road ahead.

I’m sure that that’s been especially helpful right now for people.

This is very, very true. The importance of an emergency savings account is certainly underscored in the current environment, that’s for sure.

Yeah, definitely. So, let’s dive into marketing! What would you say is your business’s top goal for marketing?

So ultimately, we’re looking for folks that are in a transitional phase – whether that be folks that have changed their jobs, or that are maybe new to the area, or folks that are about ready to retire. So ideally, our new clients would be in that place and looking for help. And that’s where we are able to come in to give them that help by looking at the overall picture. So we need a way to reach them.

And aside from targeting that type of consumer, what has been a big challenge for you when it comes to marketing?

Historically, the challenges we’ve had with marketing are really being able to see where that money is actually being spent and the result that comes from it. And what you guys are able to do in terms of being able to track our marketing and show us exactly where our calls and contacts are coming from has been a benefit.

That’s great! So how did you get started working with our LOCALiQ team in the first place?

We started by kind of getting our feet wet with digital marketing with the team about three years ago and then growing into it. The first thing we talked about was the website and the need to improve it.

And it’s funny – as with anything, once you start to focus on it, you realize there’s more that I could certainly be doing here.

And I think that’s what this partnership has allowed us to do is it’s given us that constant contact from Dawn [Bishop, our LOCALiQ representative,] and her team to be able to say, ‘Okay, well, what’s the next thing that we can do to build on this overall piece?’

So, you started with the website and now you’ve grown into additional marketing solutions. What’s that been like?

Yes, we’ve grown into the social media side of things now, too, which I think has certainly been very successful because people that may have heard about us before are getting that reminder when they’re using their devices. So that allows us to really expand the reach of our advertising and the presence in the community that we’ve had.

I mean, we’ve been around for 35 years, so it’s not like we’re new to the community, but it certainly helps to be very top of mind with people seeing the ads that are popping up on their social media platforms.

For sure. It sounds like a lot of your marketing is focused on getting the word out about your business. How do you feel that your strategy with us has helped achieve that?

You know, it’s really amazing to me how beneficial that’s been. We have people calling us really from all over that would not have called because now they’re able to find us. And not just through social media but also from Google search.

We have really seen a noticeable increase, particularly over the past year, where folks are finding us just by searching for firms generally, and they hadn’t heard about us before. So that’s one of those interesting things where you realize the traditional way of doing things is perhaps not as effective as it used to be. That’s for sure.

Right. There are so many places now that consumers can find businesses, you kind of have to be present in all of them. How would you say the LOCALiQ team has helped you get the word out about your business in those places?

Having folks that are working with the social media and then having folks that are doing search engine optimization and having others that are doing the website design really gives us the feeling that we’ve got an expert on each aspect of our marketing.

That’s awesome. So, to switch gears a little bit, I want to hear how your business has been doing during the coronavirus pandemic. How has COVID-19 impacted Nelson Financial Planning, and have you had to make any changes because of it?

From our perspective, we’ve certainly seen an opportunity to continue to advertise and to continue to be out there – particularly on the social media side of things – because more and more people are really focusing on staying at home with nothing to do except look at their phones.

So, we’ve used it as a little bit more of an opportunity, if you will, because we did have that online presence. We did have that footprint.

A lot of national firms that have massive advertising budgets aren’t where we are because they have gone into more of a retraction mode rather than being out there to seize upon these types of opportunities. So, we’ve embraced it, actually, and sort of expanded our footprint.

I love what you said about embracing the opportunity to reach people while they’re spending so much more time on their phones at home. That’s definitely a trend we’ve been seeing, which is why it’s so important to keep your marketing running as much as you can.

Definitely. I think the important concept with advertising is that it does have to grow with itself. And I think, oftentimes, people throw dollars at advertising, and they do it for a short period of time, and then they wonder where the results are. And you have to understand that advertising is really more of an ongoing process that you have to keep top of mind for your business. You can’t just say let’s try for three months and see what happens.

That’s so true. So, I know you guys have still been serving your clients during this time. What’s that been like?

We actually set up an outside office every morning. We have a high-speed ethernet cable outside with a couple of fans and a portable A/C unit. We have a table with the chairs set up six feet apart, and everyone wears masks. We have masks to give people if they don’t have them. We wipe down the table after every meeting and, of course, have hand sanitizer.

So, we’re trying to be as safe as possible and still give people that opportunity to meet in person. Because, obviously, in our business dealing with people’s finances, you might want to have that more intimate face to face conversation that you’re just not able to get over the phone.

Thanks to Joel Garris for sharing how his business is innovating during the pandemic and his approach to marketing. To learn more about partnering with us for your marketing, reach out today.

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