This financial advisor went from idea to successful launch of its first membership site in 45 days

Featured in this Story of Awesome: Advisor Growth Community

Launched September 2019

Launched
September 2019

120+ Members

120+
Members

Paid <br>Membership

Paid
Membership

Advisor Growth Community is a paid membership community for licensed financial advisors with a growth mindset on Mighty Networks

Their Icebreaker Question: “What’s one thing about you that we wouldn’t be able to find out by Googling you?”

Taylor Schulte wondered what he was getting himself into.

Sure, he had a flourishing financial advisory practice in his hometown of San Diego, two successful podcasts, and a wealth of marketing skills and expertise.

But he didn’t know anything about running a membership website. Uncertainty was running through his mind:

“What if launch this and no one joins? Do people really want another community? What if people join and we fail to deliver what we’re promising? And how much work is this all going to be? I have a day job!”

What if we could bring financial advisors together in a different way?

Despite his fears, Taylor knew there was a need for a new kind of community for financial advisors like him. He believed there was demand for an exclusive professional network where financial advisors hungry to become even more successful in their careers could share knowledge, skills, and ideas they wouldn’t be able to find on their own. This community would be for the topics – professional and personal – that someone couldn’t just Google, or learn by reading a book or listening to a podcast.

This would be different. This would be valuable.

Taylor knew what he was talking about. Five years earlier, he had started to meet up with fellow financial advisors in San Diego. These small group and 1:1 conversations were critical to Taylor learning faster, taking new risks, and building his thriving business.

He saw the potential to make these relationships even more valuable by bringing these private conversations to more people:

“I learned so much from these conversations and meetups that I started to think, ‘What if we could have this one-on-one conversation with a hundred other advisors?’ Everybody could benefit and chime in and help each other.”

While social media seemed like the obvious fit for these bigger ambitions, Taylor knew that it wasn’t the right answer. He was already a part of a group of thousands of advisors on Twitter. While the articles shared and sense of camaraderie were fantastic, he also knew that the chaos, clutter, and character limits of Twitter or Facebook wouldn’t let him achieve the goals he had for this new community.

His solution looked different:

“I thought, ‘What if we could go deeper with with advisors who really want to have meaningful conversations, and aren't just trolling the internet, looking to cause trouble?’”

Today, Taylor Schulte and Justin Castelli host the Advisor Growth Community with 90 members paying an annual fee of $2,000.  

They took it from initial idea to launch in 45 days.

“I get chills just saying it now. It's really cool that we've given these people this sense of community and belonging to something.”

How did Taylor and Justin bring their vision to life so quickly and successfully?

Who are our ideal members?

They started with a simple question to find their ideal members:

“Are you a growth-minded advisor?”

By focusing on a “growth-minded” financial advisor, Taylor and Justin narrowed the profile of who represented their ideal advisor to sign up first. Then, they spread the word about their soon-to-launch membership community on Twitter and LinkedIn, at speaking engagements, and on their podcasts.

They set up a simple landing page website that invited folks to share their email address and get notified with updates. Within days, they had 300 financial advisors ready to learn more.

There was definitely interest! 🙌

Now they just needed to figure out what to offer in their new paid community.

This Community Design Masterclass looks helpful...

Taylor was introduced to Mighty Networks by his friend Roger Whitney of the Rock Retirement Podcast. Roger had just launched his own paid community on a Mighty Network and his members loved it.

Taylor and Justin signed up for the brand new Community Design Masterclass led by Mighty Networks CEO Gina Bianchini and Growth Lead Jessica Shambora.

This 5-part program gave Taylor and Justin the time, strategy, and support to craft a membership site that would be valuable to their first members, while also ensuring that they could efficiently manage a paid community alongside their podcast, their day job, and family life.

3...2...1...Launch

For their first launch, Taylor and Justin capped membership at 50 members paying $999 per year.

They sold out these spots in 72 hours.

And this was only the beginning. Since October 1st, the Advisor Growth Community has been making an enormous impact on its members.

Russ Ford was among that first group of growth-minded advisors to sign up. Having just launched his own advisory firm, he was seeking support and camaraderie, but what he’s gained has far surpassed his expectations:

“I’ve never experienced a community like this before. There have been countless new ideas and new processes I’ve already implemented in my first six months doing business. I feel like I’d be spinning my wheels without the Advisor Growth Community. And just mentally, I’m 1,000% better and more confident as well.”

Structuring the Advisor Growth Community for growth and transformation

What exactly does the Advisor Growth Community offer members? Here’s the breakdown:

  • A 90-minute Zoom webinar every Tuesday on a specific topic with a member or guest expert (Topics include making a one-page financial plan; Guests have included World Series of Poker champion Annie Duke)
  • An archive of all past webinar recordings and show notes using the events feature within a Mighty Network
  • A quarterly book club using the sub-groups feature within a Mighty Network
  • Curated discussions spanning topics from technology to marketing & branding, conferences, and time management
  • Freelancer marketplace featuring vetted contractors, agencies, and firms that provide discounts to members
  • An annual in-person meetup

This simple, consistent structure makes it easy for Taylor and Justin to manage their membership community while providing extraordinary value to members.

In fact, Taylor and Justin recently closed enrollment for their second group of members at a new annual membership price of $2,000.

Here’s how they thought about raising their prices:

“We wanted it to be perceived as quality and valuable. While $999 was a good starting price point, we got feedback that it felt a little cheap. I also want people to ask, ‘Is this really something that I want to do?’ People take it much more seriously when they have to pay. In turn, we've gotten much higher quality members.”

How do we get in front of more of the right advisors?

For their second launch, Taylor and Justin used a series of webinars to take people inside their community. They highlighted upcoming speakers, recorded events, and member benefits on their marketing landing page. They also emailed a 5-minute video tour of their Mighty Network to their mailing list.

Taylor is thrilled about what they’ve got lined up for 2020, especially given his members would otherwise have to travel to see many of the guest speakers he brings into the community:

“In our industry, we have a lot of in-person conferences. Increasingly, I'm hearing that advisors value their time and their family. What we've done is create a virtual conference. Instead of traveling across the country to go see Josh Brown speak, you can just log in from the comfort of your own home or office and have an engaging conversation with him right there.”

But it’s the power of bringing people together that gets Taylor most excited about what he’s building with the Advisor Growth Community.

“We've had people again come in and say, ‘I've had a really bad day, a really bad week. I don't know if anybody else has ever gone through this,’ and I think 15 people reached out individually to schedule phone calls with them. We've also created some T-shirts that I didn't think anybody would care about, but people love them. They want to wear these T-shirts because they're so proud just to be a part of something.”

3 key takeaways from Advisor Growth Community’s Story of Awesome

The story of the Advisor Growth Community is awesome because they took the plunge and created something that needed to exist in the world for financial advisors.

You may have a similar idea brewing after hearing Taylor and Justin’s story. Here are 3 key takeaways from the Advisor Growth Community for when you’re ready to get started:

  1. Acknowledge your doubts and move forward anyway. You’ve got this. 👊
  2. Start narrow with your ideal member. Even something as simple as narrowing the focus to “growth-minded” financial advisors makes a big difference.
  3. There’s no reason to go at this alone. The Mighty Networks Community Design Masterclass is one of the best ways to set yourself up for success when you’re starting from scratch. You’ll learn everything you need to know to launch a community so valuable you can charge for it, and so well-designed it essentially runs itself.

Taylor Schulte, CFP® is the founder and CEO of Define Financial, a San Diego-based wealth management firm dedicated to professionals over age 50 who want to make work optional in retirement. Taylor also hosts a retirement podcast called Stay Wealthy, a marketing podcast called Experiments in Advisor Marketing, and he has been recognized as a Top 40 Advisor Under 40 by InvestmentNews and a Young Advisor to Watch by Financial Advisor Magazine. 

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