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How A False Assumption Bit Me in The Butt…Literally [TRUE STORY]

The hilariously true and highly embarrassing “ASS-umption” story that actually has something to do with websites for financial advisors…

I am about to tell you a really funny (and very embarrassing) story about myself.  My hope is that you not only get a laugh, but learn from my mistakes of making assumptions without further testing or investigation.  And I promise you that after you get a chance to laugh at my mistake, I will do my very best to show you some great value on how this incredibly funny story ties in with websites for financial advisors.

This true story begins last fall (2013) when I noticed that I was having some “getting older as a male” problems.  More specifically, I was to go to the bathroom 3-4 times each evening while sleeping (I told you this was going to be very embarrassing for me).   At first I thought it might just be a fluke thing because some days I do drink up to a gallon of water per day, and it has to go somewhere…but it kept happening for quite a few weeks so I decided that I finally needed to do something that I absolutely hate doing…going to see a doctor.

For those of you that don’t know me well, I despise going to the doctor for anything.  The entire process of waiting in a lobby with a bunch of other sick people all wondering why they showed up on time when the doctor never shows up to see you remotely close to your appointment time just doesn’t excite me.  Not to mention, I am all about time management, and going to the doctor is a complete time kill for me.  Probably why I ended up marrying a doctor so I could limit this unproductive, yet sometimes, mandatory and much needed event in life.

Anywho, after the evening urination phase didn’t slow down, I knew the next step was that I had to book an appointment with a doctor.  And since I never go to the doctor, I seriously had no earthly idea on what doctor to go see as I had not seen a doctor (other than a dermatologist) in well over 10 years.  So I asked my lovely physician wife Loren to do some research and to pick out a good internist for me.

And since I already knew that if I walked into a doctor’s office complaining about urinating too much, that some sort of prostate exam was in my future…

Being the strategic thinker that I am, I was wise enough to ask my wife to locate and book an appointment with a doctor that had the following qualifications:

  • Female
  • Preferably a female with small hands (I wanted to limit the pain of the potential rectal exam of course)
  • Board Certified
  • Been in business more than 15 years

The following day, my wife tells me that she booked me an appointment, and that she was able to find a physician that met 3 out of my 4 qualifications.  Good enough I thought…

  • Dr. Courtney Brooks  – Check
  • Female, hand size to be determined
  • Board Certified – Check
  • Been in business for over 25 years – Check

The day of my appointment, I show up right on time, go up the counter to sign in, and do the standard “Fill out 12 pages of new patient questions and your entire life history” routine.  Then I politely went back up to the counter to give the nurse my completely paperwork and you won’t believe what she told me…

She says, “Mr. Simonds, HE will be with you shortly.”

“Excuse me?” I politely said back.

The nurse looks at me confused and says, “He will be with you shortly…Dr. Brooks”

Still confused, my eyes dart down to a stack of business cards and a pad of paper up on the counter that looked precisely like this…

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Now I don’t know about you, but I have never met a female that had a “Jr” behind her name!

I didn’t know whether my wife had set me up or not, but I rushed over to a corner of the doctor’s waiting room and dialed her as fast as I could.  No answer.  Cripes!  So I send her a text that said the following:

“Loren, this is NOT funny.  I am here at Dr Brooks office.  The doctor is not only a guy, but he had big hands.  You are killing me!!!!”

After a few minutes, I get a brief reply from my wife saying that she had no idea.  That she ASSUMED it was a female physician named Courtney.

At this point, there wasn’t much I could do.  I had already filled out my entire life story, my day was already shot, and the thought of going up to the front desk and telling the nurse that I wanted to cancel my appointment because I found out Courtney was a dude didn’t seem practical either.

So I sucked it up and went through with my appointment.

Upon entering the examination room that the nice nurse led me in to, I did everything I could to not be mad at both myself and my wife for making a false assumption.  A false assumption that I knew was probably going to be painful to yours truly in the bum-bum…

While waiting for Dr. Brooks to come in the office, I examined the room hoping for any clues of small hands, or any clues to something positive…like an escape window.  Quickly, my eyes caught sight of the latex examination gloves dispenser on the wall (see picture below).  However, it appeared that NOT A SINGLE SMALL GLOVE HAD BEEN USED!!!  But there was still hope because someone had definitely been using the mediums.

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After waiting in anticipation of what would happen next, all the while kicking myself in the butt for making assumptions and not doing enough due diligence myself on such an important matter, Dr. Courtney Brooks, Jr finally walked in…and my fears all came to fruition…

  • Dr. Courtney Brooks was definitely a man
  • He definitely had large hands
  • He definitely ended up having to give me my first ever prostate exam (aka anal examination)
  • I tried to imagine pleasant things like beer, baseball, and sitting on the beach,  but all I could envision was my wife laughing out loud while I took it in the rear (it turned out that my wife really had no idea that Courtney was a man)

So what can you learn from this and how does it fit in with websites for financial advisors?

Well it turns out that most of us (including myself) make the same kind of painful mistakes when it comes to our websites.  What do I mean?  Let me explain in bullet points:

  • Most financial advisors put up a website and assume it doesn’t need any tweaking or changes
  • Most financial advisors just assume that because they have a website up that is all they need to do and leads will eventually come in

You see, most financial advisors never split-test any of the variables on their site and assume that everything on their site is just fine.  Variables on financial advisor website that rarely seem to be tested are things such as:

    • Headlines
    • Call to action
    • Text
    • Buttons
    • Free Widget (e-book, video, tutorial, etc)
    • Colors
    • Sales funnels
    • Links

Because of this lack of testing, most financial advisors convert less than 1/4 of 1% of the visitors that come to their site because of these false assumptions.  And even though this might not seem as painful as a rectal exam, it sure costs you a whole lot more.

But the good news is that you are not alone.  Even some of the best internet marketers in the world make this same mistake of making assumptions.  The difference is, it usually doesn’t last that long.  Meaning, they track everything and the second that the numbers don’t jive, they start making small changes that they can track and test.

So before you start saying that digital marketing doesn’t work and that you have a had a website up for a while but you never receive any leads from it, stop making assumptions that you have a good website.  For instance, when was the last time you changed and split-tested any variable on your site?  For most of you, the answer is probably never.

Luke and I were making the same mistakes as you were, and we left some of our sites up for over a year without a single change.  And we suffered dearly because of it.

But today we split test and track everything.  It is the only way to do digital marketing correctly. Without split testing and tracking which variables work best in certain situation, we would be marketing blind.  Not to mention, who knows how many leads (thus money) it would have cost us if we never made any changes or tested things out.

Let me give you a real life split-testing example that shocked the heck out of us earlier this year.

Here are 3 different pictures (below) that we tested out on a landing page aimed at retirees and baby boomer consumers looking for information on annuities and retirement income on our site   We kept all of the other website text, the free offer, and everything else on the site the same except the picture.  Take a guess which one performed the best out of our 3 test pictures for our target market of retirees and baby boomers.

Specimen #1

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Specimen #2

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Specimen #3

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If you guessed that Specimen #3 was the winner, then you would be correct!  Frankly, it shocked us as I thought that #2 would be the winner and Luke thought that #1 would do very well.

Here were the final percentage opt-in’s after a month of testing.

  • Specimen #1 – 18%
  • Specimen #2 – 22%
  • Specimen #3 – 28%

So had we just gone with our gut assumptions, it would have cost us somewhere between 10% and 6% of converted leads to our site!!!!  Talk about a rectal exam!

For those of you not familiar with what these percentages mean, it is the percentage of visitors that landed on the page and gave us their information (aka opted-in for the free offer).  So with Specimen #1, for every 100 people that landed on that page with that picture, we had 18 that would give us their information.  So had we just assumed that Specimen #1 was the best without ever split testing, it would be costing us an extra 10 consumer leads for every 100 visitors compared to the winner (Specimen #3).  So if we had 1,000 visitors to the site in a month it would cost us 100 total new consumer leads.  That is more than most sites get in a year!!!

Finally, let me tell you why I believe that Specimen #3 was the clear winner:

At first we thought that the young couple would turn off older seniors and boomers because these “bathing suit models” clearly aren’t retirees, boomers, or probably even remotely interested in retirement information.  However, marketing isn’t always intuitive.  As soon as you hit age 30, most people hate to admit we are getting older.  In fact, most of us even have false visions of ourselves in bathing suits, how strong we are, how good looking we are, etc as we all tend to fixate and reminisce on our past self at a younger age.  Even when I look at my non-existent abs in the mirror I can still envision the washboard stomach that I had when I was high school.

For instance, have you ever seen a picture of yourself where you look older, have wrinkles, receding hair line, cellulite, flab where abs used to be, or any other unpleasant feature that you hadn’t really noticed before?  I am betting that you have.  I am also betting that most of you got angry at the camera for capturing something that “shouldn’t be there”, as if it was the fault of the camera, the lighting, or some other random variable that made you look older.

This also falls under the same umbrella of “conveniently” not updating your profile pictures on sites like LinkedIn, Facebook, or dating sites because you like to imagine yourself as that charming and stunning face in that “perfect pic”.  I am willing to bet that the majority of the people reading this have a LinkedIn, business card, or Facebook profile picture that is more than 1 year old (Note – the author falls into this camp as well so don’t feel bad).

Well guess what, seniors do the exact same thing.  No one likes to admit that we are old.  This is especially true the older we get.  So what this picture proved to us was that most people (not all) became more nostalgic and excited to get the free information when presented with a younger resemblance of their past.  Probably another reason “TBT” Throwback Thursday where you post an older picture of yourself is so popular and just won’t seem to die…people love to reminisce about how great they used to look.

The reason we believe that Specimen #1 performed the worst (even with a younger couple) is because of the following two reasons:

  1. They are facing away from us so it isn’t as personal when you can’t see their face and they have their backs to the visitor.  Don’t ever underestimate the power of seeing someone’s facial expression.  With their faces turned away from us, the viewer is only left to their own imagination to wonder if they are smiling, yawning, or outright shocked at something in the distance.  This was proof that actually being able to see looks of contentment and smiles were quite important.
  2. They are looking towards the opt-in box.  Although we didn’t show the actual opt-in box where a visitor would put their information to get the free report, it was over on the right hand side.  Notice that in both Specimen #1 and #2 that the couples are both looking AND pointing toward the opt-in.  This is a cool trick that has proven to work time and time again so don’ forget to make your landing page model (if you use a person) look towards (never away) from the actual opt-in box.

Hope you got something out of this blog!  If so, PLEASE SHARE using the social share buttons on the left or bottom of this blog.  

Sharing is caring and my bum-bum could really use some support right now! 


Notes from the author Joe Simonds

* No animals were hurt in the process of this learning experience

* Dr. Courtney Brooks, Jr is a great doctor…with very gentle hands

* The pain was real in both the rectal exam and the split-test exam

* For those of your concerned with my active bladder, all tests came back okay and I am going to live to be able to blog about more embarrassing stories about myself…


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Fernando Godinez

Fernando Godinez is the CEO of Advisor Internet Marketing. He’s been the architect behind some of the top financial advisors online presence in the country and help them triple their practice through online lead generation. Over the past few years he has been responsible for generating over 500k leads through online marketing and lead generation campaigns for independent financial advisors.

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