Our vision for EstatePlanning.com
It’s important to me to make sure that we clear up some possible misunderstandings among WealthCounsel members about some of our organizational priorities, with quite a bit of conversation about EstatePlanning.com and our short- and long-term objectives about this project. Some folks who have been around a long time have even guessed that we want to take on LegalZoom directly and start providing legal services directly to the masses.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
As far as EstatePlanning.com goes, we had the opportunity to buy the domain and the business assets in late 2011. Thinking that there is really no better domain to have for our industry, we snatched it up. We didn’t want the opportunity to go to waste so among the principals and leadership team at WealthCounsel we decided to use that domain to build out a consumer-facing information portal to educate the general public about estate planning and related issues, and work to use that portal to drive business to members of WealthCounsel and The Advisors Forum.
We spent a few hundred thousand dollars last year designing, building out, and populating the site with content, and created a feature to allow members of the public to “find an estate planner” near them. We then began to aggregate news content from other online news sources, as well as create original topical content to better attract consumers to that site, educate them, and motivate them to move forward with planning. Last year’s effort culminated in a public education session led by long-time member Pete Lennington that attracted several hundred members of the public. We invested significant marketing dollars in promoting that one event which also helped raise the profile of all WealthCounsel members. We also heard privately from some members that the event did indeed drive business to their doors, vindicating the decision for the site in the first place.
As we look ahead in 2013 and beyond, we indeed want to see EstatePlanning.com continue to grow, and ultimately to provide revenue for WealthCounsel. We believe this can occur in both direct and indirect ways, none of which entails selling anything that resembles professional services to the public.
We believe that traffic will continue to increase to EstatePlanning.com both organically by our SEO and content development efforts and directly through marketing efforts. That traffic will provide several opportunities for revenue to WealthCounsel.
First, increased traffic can be directly monetized. As traffic rates go up advertisers become interested in reaching the audience that visits a site. Being able to structure website advertising tastefully, modestly, and profitably is an art form, and is not as easy or as lucrative as it used to be. But companies who have things of value to an audience will find EstatePlanning.com increasingly attractive as it grows. We will carefully vet prospective advertisers to respect the nature of the website, but this is a legitimate opportunity we will take a hard look at.
Second, as popularity of EstatePlanning.com grows people will want to have more prominent placement in the “find a planner” directory as well as other placement on the website. In fact, many members – and even many nonmembers – have expressed this desire. The economics of website growth means that this will also be an opportunity for WealthCounsel to realize revenue from the site.
Finally, we believe that as EstatePlanning.com grows it will help to cast WealthCounsel and The Advisors Forum in a positive light for innovation and as industry leaders, making membership more attractive for attorneys and advisors. So we believe that our efforts at EstatePlanning.com can help us continue to grow our membership, which we certainly want to continue doing.
We bought and built EstatePlanning.com to increase the national dialogue about the importance of planning and to drive home the notion that planning requires a professional with a real relationship with the client. We do not seek that relationship with the client; we seek to help our members have more relationships with clients, and to help those relationships be more meaningful for the client and profitable for the member.
We have invested heavily – and will continue to invest heavily – to accomplish these objectives, and so we need to find ways to recoup our investment and grow EstatePlanning.com to be profitable and self-sustaining. But serving clients is not our mission. Our mission is to serve you, and to help you grow your practices and enjoy a rewarding and satisfying life through your business.