SAN ANTONIO -- After 30 years as CEO of Gateway Insurance and Financial Services, Shane Westhoelter has learned a thing or two about marketing across generations.
Through his focus on “dignity planning” over financial planning, Westhoelter has learned to listen more than talk, a tool that has served him well in his quest to understand what drives clients of all generations.
The emphasis on dignity over returns has helped grow Gateway Insurance and Financial Services from its humble St. Louis roots to 200 offices nationwide. "We have a phrase, if you focus on returns, you'll live and die by returns," Westhoelter said.
This philosophy at Gateway ensures advisors are focused on helping clients live the life they want to live, rather than the returns on their money.
Kicking off his 26th NAIFA conference appearance, on Saturday afternoon, Westhoelter will be speaking about Next Gen Marketing – Quality of Life Planning, Not Just Financial Planning to help advisors and firms reach younger clients.
Q: What made you settle on the topic of Next Gen Marketing?
A: I think right now we’re in a time in history where there are multiple generations that are living, which is not new, however, the makeup of those generations and their buying habits are significantly different.
You look at the silent generation, you look at the baby boomers, you look at the millennials, which would be generation X, Y and Z, and there are definable differences in how they shop, how they buy and how they interact with people, specifically within our industry.
We’re living in an information age now more than ever. Thirty years ago you could say something and people had to take you at your word and decide if what you said is true or not. Today, before they even leave the office, they are going to Google it and see if what you say is true.
I think it’s different. I can’t just get up and give a presentation and just give out a stat or a quote, I have to have the citations because everybody is going to verify whether it’s accurate or not. I’m not sure that people in our industry, especially those who have been around 20 or 30 years like myself are accustomed to that kind of critique and validation.
The other part of it is they’re not going to buy our products online. They’re going to educate themselves and research our products online. They’re going to check out online if what we’re telling them is true, educate themselves as much as possible because they don’t want to look ignorant; they want to come in as if they’re educated.
Q: What can we expect from your session?
A: In my presentation I’ll cite some companies who started as online-only and who all have offices and shops now because people like to have the shopping experience. What we have to do in our office, which is different than before is to make it a shopping experience.
Q: What do you hope attendees take away from your session?
Marketing ideas, I think we have to understand that we are in the marketing business more than we are in the product business. I think one of the mistakes a lot of advisors make today is that they want to become product experts and nothing has changed in our industry. People buy concepts, they don’t buy products. It’s still an emotional business.
Q: Does public speaking come easily to you or is it something that you’ve had to get accustomed to?
A: I’ve been doing it for many years. I started off as a youth pastor and then a senior pastor and then into business, radio, talk shows and to client workshops for many years.
Q: Is there anyone or any sessions that you are looking forward to hearing at the conference?
A: The brain date is something that I’ve always enjoyed that’s fairly new. I think it’s something unique and new and I’m looking forward to that.
Q: What have you learned from attending the NAIFA conference in previous years?
A: Let’s just put it this way: If it weren’t for NAIFA, I wouldn’t be a success in this business. After 30 years I still walk away with a notebook full of ideas. Whether those come from sessions or one-on-ones, I go there with the attitude that someone’s got ideas that I can use that I haven’t heard before and find a new way of doing something that was old.
I’m learning a lot from Millennials, from the YATs (Young Advisors Team) – the proper term with NAIFA would be YATs. I enjoy spending time with the YATs because I learn a lot by interacting with them on how they think.
AdvisorNews Managing Editor Cassie Miller may be reached at [email protected] Cassie has an extensive background in magazine writing, editing and design. Follow her on Twitter @ANCassieM.
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