At the recent TD Ameritrade Institutional national conference I had a chance to meet Cathy Curtis, owner of Curtis Financial Planning, and also heard her speak on an expert panel on the topic of social media. In that session she humbly stated, "The last 10 clients have found me online." Something most advisors wish they could say, but many cannot even claim they have received one recent online lead.

For all those that do not believe social media works, I thought a follow-up interview with her would help open their minds to the new online potential at their fingertips. The following is some insight into how one advisor's business is taking off, because of her online branding and marketing activity. Here is what she shared.

Is It True?
Curtis reiterated that online leads are the main source of her business. She said, "Almost every recent client has come from finding me online. It used to be that I received personal referrals. More and more people are finding me via an internet search. Now new clients find me, not the other way around!" In fact, when asked how many leads have come from the internet, she could not recall the last time she had received new business the old fashioned way.

A Requirement To Succeed Online
In my online marketing presentation at TD Ameritrade's conference, I firmly stated that the advisor's Website will be the most important marketing tool, as it will be the hub for all marketing interactions. It is the key to a strong integrated marketing strategy and the foundation for a successful social media plan. Plus, as society does more research for complicated purchase decisions, they will use what comes up online to make their choices.

Curtis Financial Planning sees the importance of a good Website. "I find that people like my Website and then call me," shared Curtis. She then stated, "My Website is my best tool."

In a quick look at, you will find that Curtis brands herself very well and the site is well-suited for her target market.

Having A focus Is Key
For Curtis Financial Planning, the ideal client is clear. "I focus on women. My message and graphics are directed at a savvy, educated woman that wants help. And that's the type of client I am getting," said Curtis.

Just looking at her "About Us" page (in general, a Web page that most prospects will take a look at) shows a silhouette of a female running, with a tagline that states: "For savvy women, their families and their businesses."
Note: Each page has a varying image with an active woman.

Her Website branding and messages are probably a big part of why Curtis says, "75% of the time people contact me they fit in my ideal client profile. For example, the most recent one just cashed out stock options, wanted a financial plan and found me."

It Is Not Just The Website
Curtis stated, "They are also finding me on LinkedIn and calling me. I just signed another client that reached out to me via LinkedIn."

She also credited Napfa's Website for helping direct leads. She explained, "Prospective clients are looking for independent advice. They say 'fee-based,' and I am fee-only." Curtis sees that they understand the difference between a wirehouse advisor and one that is independent. Once they make the decision to find an independent advisor behind the scenes, then they are off to the internet to research the advisor in their area.

If you look at Curtis' Twitter account, you can see that she is very active, and all the content is not just about work-related topics. This allows her audience to get to know her as a person and helps brand her firm. It also creates more opportunities for viral retweets, adding more ways to be found.

She mentioned she was active on Facebook and after our conversation, she is interested to see how the new Timeline rollout shapes up for her to use with her brand page.

Being Found On Search
As a result of Curtis' activity, she comes up high on search engines, like Google, Bing and Yahoo!  "Because I rank high in search, if someone searches in the area, I pop up in the top ten on Google. If they like what they see, then I get contacted," shared Curtis.

She admitted that she had some people do some search engine optimization (SEO) work, but was not exactly sure of what that fully entails. "I know the titles (and descriptions) are right on my website," said Curtis.

Being Found By The Press
Detailing another benefit of having a great online presence, Curtis said, "Because I am active, I get quoted a lot in articles. The media finds me.  Because they like my story, they write about me." She added that all the press attention also creates more ways for her to be found. In other words, the online presence starts to snowball.

Advice For Advisors
Of these changes the Internet is bringing, Curtis said, "I am so excited. I can't tell you how much. Almost every day I get a great email from a prospective client or a journalist asking for an opinion on a topic."

My advice to Curtis and other advisors that get new business is to drill down and find out why they came to you. Ask what they reviewed online, what triggered them to reach out to you, etc. Also, use a tool like Google Analytics and see for yourself where website visitors are coming from, what search terms they are using and where they are going on your site.

Advisors should learn from Curtis that online marketing is more than worth the effort. 

Mike Byrnes founded Byrnes Consulting to provide consulting services to help advisors become even more successful. His expertise is in business planning, marketing strategy, business development, client service and management effectiveness, along with several other areas. Read more at