Business Model – help needed for financial planning website

True, I think everyone needs a financial plan. In fact, I may be a bit zealous about this. I am passionate about helping people find optimal solutions for financial issues, where they use all of their resources in the best way possible.

Two years ago, we began building a website targeting Millennials, hoping to engage them in planning now so they can avoid pitfalls many of their parents now face. The website has financial calculators for retirement, college and life insurance, How To Steps to guide you in improving your finances and a Learning Center to explain it all.

We were about to launch but then we got feedback that the site is overwhelming. We may be trying to do too much. Also, our value proposition is not clear.   Finally, some were turned off by the name “Millennials-Money.”

We have delayed our launch and I enlisted more help. We could use your help too!

My goal is to transform my three decades of financial planning experience into a resource. That resource need not be limited to Millennials … good planning applies to everyone.

Despite my belief that everyone needs a plan, and despite the fact that many recognize this, people don’t want to be reminded … at least not until something, other than my blog posts, prompts them to act.

So, how do we structure our website with all its financial calculators, How To Steps and Learning Center, into a site people will use?

  • We can offer solutions to immediate problems, for a fee.
  • We can use the CoachUp model, which pairs athletes with coaches, to pair users who are ready to do a financial plan with financial planners.
  • We could offer some other reward for planning.
  • We can act as a resource for improving financial literacy, starting at the college level, or perhaps even high school level.
  • We can make our calculators and strategic advice available to new financial planners who are trying to establish new financial planning businesses.

Anyway, all of this is what keeps me up at night …. Any reaction, comments or input would be greatly appreciated!

Thank you,

Steven


Steven A. Branson, Esq., is the founder of wokemoney.com, a website devoted to empowering people as their own money manager launching later this year.  For nearly 30 years, Branson has been creating financial plans for individuals and families of all ages, coaching them on a personalized path to achieve their financial goals.  Branson has a law degree from Harvard Law School and is known for his financial articles geared toward young people.  In his spare time, he is a musician, a graduate of Berklee College of Music who leads his own jazz band, playing tenor sax, and a photographer, who contributes to 500PX.  Branson’s writing and financial tips can be seen at our blog at www.millennials-money.com and IRIS.xyz.

 

14 Responses to “Business Model – help needed for financial planning website

  • @Steven

    I had visited your site before and remember I wondered why it was publicly accessible when it’s obviously still under development (placeholder text, etc). It looked like you had developed a SaaS software application as well, unless the visuals there were just mockups. If they are just mockups, you shouldn’t launch the site with them there if the software hasn’t been developed or isn’t close to being available.

    How do you structure your website?

    I have a few thoughts.

    Before you focus on the website itself, focus on the value a Millennial needs to obtain, not the value you think you should provide, which seems to be access to calculators and the opportunity to spend more of their modest money supply on a money management subscription that may or may not work for them.

    If you do that, you will come to realize that what you are pushing on the site right now is not likely to be “arresting” or attractive” to a Millennial who needs to manage their money better. While they do need assistance, they’re not likely sure where to start, so I would suggest focusing your early site content on one key /specific challenges they face, like

    finding/saving money to pay down student loan debt before it gets out of control

    Visually, the site does not currently connect with millennials to draw them in… consider using an image or two showing millennials, and make sure they are not the stereotypical images of millennials looking idle, just staring intently at a smartphone or taking selfies. Show a mature, thoughtful and interesting reflection of Millennials.

    Create a little guide ebook that doesn’t delve into hardcore financial management and 401ks and tax strategies etc. Meet them where they are and speak “conversationally” to the challenge of student loan debt in an empathetic way and lay the foundation for a thought process and attitude adjustment, that could help them start to look at things differently in their everyday life, and how it impacts their financial state going forward. In other words, demonstrate and deliver meaningful, non-threatening value that is not linked to the stress of a financial commitment.

    Sit with pen and paper and try to think of other businesses you know that could link up with you to create an enhanced value proposition that would not be possible if you just depend on what you personally have and control. Yes, your knowledge is valuable, but there are many financial planners who are competent to provide sound advice to Millennials. Your goal, therefore, must always be to go beyond the offering and delivery of “ordinary” value, which is “intrinsic” to your product or service, and seek to add additional “extrinsic” value from third party strategic alliances etc, thereby creating an ‘xtraordinary’ value proposition for your target audience.

    Millennials’ attention span is short, so, when they land on your site, they must be IMMEDIATELY arrested by the visual presentation and immediately thereafter, intrigued by the first and early message you present. Most importantly, you need to have a strong psychologically resonant “mission” embedded into your entire presentation and purpose, that strongly resonates with Millennials.

    Those are some of my initial thoughts… but a sound and well thought out business model is key.

    Cheers,
    @Vizionari

  • Thanks for the input!
    We do have work to do …..

  • Further update: We are taking these comments seriously and plan to change the name, restructure the website and then, finally, launch

    Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts

  • Hey Steven, I like your idea of providing financial planning services and visualizing the experience for millennials. Your website looks very simple and professional. However, I do believe that there’s room for improvement when it comes to interacting with the “product” you’re providing through the site.

    These are some of my initial thoughts and suggestions…

    A. Do you really need to ask people extensive personal info, upfront? If you don’t, can you allow users to provide minimal info to start with, and then gradually request more info relevant to the service/product they want to explore?

    You might find this a negligible issue, but I’ve been heavily involved in usage analytics throughout my experience and I can tell you that there WILL BE a drop in enrollment/registration/interest at every box of additional info you request. Now if the info is absolutely necessary for your algorithm to produce fruitful result, I’d suggest you look into tackling this need in a more user friendly manner e.g. break it down in logical sections (separate form views with easy transition from one to another), gamify the experience, grow engagement by providing reasoning behind your ask, pre-populate some of the fields with common value/range wherever possible etc.

    B. Provide an option for social login e.g. Facebook, Twitter, Google+. Millennials love that! Also, this way you can probably explore the option of obtaining social insights for greater customer understanding.

    C. Once users register… provide them with the suggestion on the next action they can take – e.g. a simple walkthrough for first-timers, highlighting the commonly used (or simple to use) tool the site provides

    D. Also, there’s too much reading to be done on the site, any possibility that you can do few videos and upload them? In fact I highly recommend you to add a video on the landing page to explain your product. This is know to improve the retention rate by over 60%
    Here’s couple of examples: https://www.lightbend.com/lagom (introduction video), http://www.investopedia.com/terms/o/option.asp (explanation through animation)

    E. Have you explored an option to provide custom products, at least during the inception stage? A goal driven financial planning tool can also be very engaging for mass population (even beyond millennials). When and How plan to “make it happen” e.g. A trip to London, buying an investment property, buying a car, even planning a child or taking a career break

    Hope this helps!

  • Excellent input. We are already working on changing the home page and asking a few questions up front to make the website respond directly to a user when they land on the site …. Thank you!

  • Hi Steven,

    I really like the concept of your site because lately I have been thinking about investing for my future but am very lost on where to start.

    I think you were describing me when you said “Despite my belief that everyone needs a plan, and despite the fact that many recognize this, people don’t want to be reminded … at least not until something, other than my blog posts, prompts them to act.”

    I think you should go with that statement about something that promotes people to act. Those things in at least my life were finishing college, getting my first pay check, and switching jobs. These were the times i thought about forming a plan for the future but then didn’t find any easy solutions and soon forgot about it. A friend of mine got himself disability insurance after he found out that they were expecting to have their first baby. So if you can provide easy to complete financial plans based on some of these milestones in people’s lives, it may help people like me get started. Best of luck!!

    • Thanks so much for the comments, Ravi

      We are working on some “instant plans” for the milestone you describe, along with other ways to make access to advice more direct

      We hope to have a redesign of the home page done by mid-June and launch as soon after that as we can implement the design

      Thanks again for your time, thought and input!

      Steven

  • Hi Steven,

    I think the site you want to create is an amazing idea. I work in marketing in the financial services industry and think I may be of some assistance if you are still looking for help with this.

    Best regards,

    Jo

  • Jo, We would welcome your help! Thanks, Steven

  • Sill working on everything:

    We have a new name, new approach, and are now working on the new web design with a focus on financial literacy. We will offer eBooks …. more soon

    Thanks again to everyone who commented

    Steven

  • I truly love your blog.. Very nice colors & theme. Did you build this amazing
    site yourself? Please reply back as I’m looking to create
    my own personal site and want to learn where you got this
    from or exactly what the theme is called. Many thanks!

    • Hey,

      Happy to hear that you love the blog! I created the site on WordPress using the Asteria theme. I thought this style would work the best based on the content we’re delivering.

      Hope that helps! Would love to hear about your personal site…don’t be shy to create a napkin about it!

      Thanks,
      Sima

  • Thank you for your forum topic.Really thank you! Keep writing. Varron

    • Thanks Varron! Be sure to follow us on Facebook (search @napkinspace), Twitter @sima_patel, and Instagram @simap314!

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