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Cabot Wealth Still ‘Connecting the Dots’ for its Customers 50 Years Later

What makes good marketing? It’s a simple question but a crucial one, especially in the unique times we’ve all been trying to navigate the last four-plus months. Do we send more email or less email? Do we strive for clever copywriting and catchy phrases or caring and straight talk? Do we look to do more campaigns, tell more stories or both?
When a news release arrived a few weeks ago titled 7 Launches in 9 Months for Cabot Wealth, it presented a good opportunity for some answers.
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“Being clever is way down on the list,” said Ed Coburn, president of Cabot Wealth Network, which in September will mark its 50th year of advising individual investors. “It’s not about clever copywriting or catchy phrases. A big part of it is understanding who we’re selling to and what they’re going through and what they’re trying to accomplish, and writing copy that appeals to that need. Connecting the dots between what they want and what we can do for them.”

Coburn is not a fan of the recent trend of short bulleted marketing copy. “We’re in the consumer marketing field, where it’s never become fashionable to use short copy. People who are not going to buy from you don’t have time, but the people who want to buy, they want to read. Selling subscription products requires long copy that tells a story and makes an emotional connection.”
He said that one strategy change has been the implementation of more campaigns—three, five, seven days in a row on one topic, “in different bites but building that case over a number of emails. It’s worked well for us. We were concerned about emailing too much but people seem happy to engage. And the campaigns seem to give us a much better chance at selling. We’re very systematic in that we track the results, what worked and what didn’t. And if it works, we’ll use that campaign again. We don’t feel the need to recreate the wheel, but we are constantly refreshing.”
That “refresh-ment” also shows in the product success. Those seven launches included: a limited membership options trading advisory service called Jacob’s Private Circle with a price tag of $10,000 per year that sold out in just 10 hours; Financial Freedom, a digital magazine on financial wellness, that, along with an extensive library of reports and investor briefings, is part of a Gold Membership (though an annual Financial Freedom Federation membership costs just $10.); the Cabot Income Advisor; and the Cabot Retirement Club.
Talk about not resting on your laurels.
“These new services will generate substantial growth for us this year, on top of growing our existing services, and bring the total number of subscription products to 18 from 11,” Coburn said.
“We’re rooted in editorial. Carlton Lutts [father of current CEO Tim Lutts], was a subject matter expert in investing, as is Tim. So we always had products that came from real systems and were validated in their use. That was critically important. But now, the battle is much more about marketing.”
And this is also where a winning history comes in. Coburn spoke about the customers who have been with them for “10, 15, 20, 30 years at a time—not a lot of people can say that.” And even though that loyalty is “rooted in product,” it was clear that they had to step up the marketing. “We weren’t marketing in a way the products deserved. That’s part of why Tim was attracted to me as a buyer.” (Coburn joined Cabot in 2018.)
It’s all quite astounding for an internal staff of just 14. “We’re a small team so this has been a lot,” Coburn said. “It’s forced us to figure out where we best add value and how to leverage the resources of outside firms and freelancers. That will really help us continue our growth in the future. We plan to take a little bit of a breather while we work on our annual investor conference, the Cabot Wealth Summit, which will be held entirely online Aug 18-20.”
Cabot staff tries to have dialogues with its audience whenever possible, through surveys with their subscription products and tracking the webchats or phone calls that editors partake in so they can identify trends. Of course, in olden times, they would have talked to them at their conferences, “spending time with our existing customers and asking people like them who aren’t yet customers what they’re looking for and what do they want to see,” Coburn said.
“We’re not the most aggressive publisher in the investment space when it comes to marketing and making outlandish claims. Our focus is providing investors with excellent investment advice using proven systems we have developed over years and decades. So it’s nice to know that almost 50 years and hundreds of thousands of customers later, our reputation and excellent team of investment analysts are still producing the results for our subscribers and reaping benefits for Cabot as well.”
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The Importance of Our Andy McLaughlin Rising Star Award

I had the wonderful experience of interviewing our four Andy McLaughlin Rising Star Award finalists last year. Simone Bunsen, marketing manager, Chief Executive Group, told me about the time they made a small mistake in a personalized email. Did they fret? No. Instead, they sent out a corrected version, apologized and offered $100 off registration to an upcoming event. “And surprisingly,” she said, “we did really well on that email! I think the lesson is to own up to any automation or marketing mistakes. It gives your brand an opportunity to show its human side.”

Justin Scace, associate content manager, Simplify Compliance, told me about hosting their podcast (EHS on Tap), relying more on analytics, writing stories and being on Jeopardy, where he lost in the last round. “…the final question was a real tough one, and while I can’t remember the exact phrasing, I remember the answer (and will never forget it!): Namibia.”

And Jenn Ocampo, marketing director, Cynopsis (Access Intelligence), corresponded with me proudly yet modestly about all her accomplishments, including their Television Upfront/Digital NewFronts season. It’s an online resource and destination for agencies and brands. And it won first place in the SIPAwards for Best Product Launch/Relaunch.

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All of these young people (the fourth was the winner, Kirstina Colvin) were incredibly impressive, and we hope you submit more great people to us this year. As I did those interviews, I thought back to the person that the Rising Star Award is named for—Andy McLaughlin, who passed away suddenly just over two years ago at age 47. I recall maybe in my first year with SIPA, how calmly and expertly Andy helped to steady an annual conference that, a few days before, had veered off after a couple sudden departures. I remember my colleague Julie getting off the phone with Andy so relieved, saying—because of Andy—”we got this.” And we did.

But let me turn the column over to someone who knew Andy best, Ed Coburn, president of Cabot Wealth Network, to say exactly why this most prestigious award is named for Andy.

“Andy McLaughlin caught the SIPA bug from his college professor who published the very successful Communications Briefing,” Ed recalls. “Inspired he went and started PaperClip communications which is now the pre-eminent publisher in the higher-education residential life and safety market, among the various education-related markets it serves. Andy was a shining example of a rising star, starting with little and growing his knowledge and his business into an industry leader. Along the way, Andy also personally developed into an industry leader where he served SIPA as a director, president and frequent speaker, and earned SIPA’s Volunteer of the Year honors. Andy also spent time, through the SIPA Foundation, working with university publishing and journalism programs to give students exposure to our industry.

“I had the good fortune of knowing Andy as both a dear friend and colleague. In addition to being a smart entrepreneur who gave freely of his time to help SIPA and its members, Andy was a truly delightful person who was a friend to all who knew him.”

“The SIPA board had been discussing creating a rising star award to recognize up-and-coming leaders in our industry, and when Andy died unexpectedly in 2017 we realized he was the perfect embodiment of a young, energetic person whose hard work, knowledge and enthusiasm carried him to success in our industry. The board unanimously voted to name the award in his honor.

“I have so many personal memories of times spent with Andy that were equal parts business lesson, therapy session and a lot of fun,” Ed concludes. “If I could do anything to bring him back, I’d do it in a second. Since I can’t, the Andy McLaughlin Rising Star Award is one of the best ways I can think of to honor the legacy and the spirit of a wonderful person who did so much for SIPA and our industry.”

Click here to check out the entry process.