As a former CMO with a dedicated 20-year marketing career, I want to reach out to my fellow marketers to help you make the right business and financial decisions during this unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic. This also means making more than just a “get-a-job or career decision.”

I currently serve pre-retirees, retirees and business owners as the Founder & CEO of Active Wealth Management, a private wealth management firm headquartered in Atlanta, GA. We help marketing professionals protect and grow their wealth throughout the United States.

Momentum is one of the most powerful forces in the universe, it is important for you to generate momentum for your career or newly formed business. You as a marketer are better equipped to generate demand for your services than any other professional you know. I promise.

Also, if you have not been laid off by the COVID-19 pandemic, then I encourage you to try to generate top line revenue for your firm. The closest you are aligned with generating profitable revenue, the more job security you will have during this unprecedented time.

Here are SEVEN important tips to thrive vs. simply surviving during and after this COVID-19 pandemic:

Take Control of Your 401K, NOW!

If you have recently separated from your previous employer, then I urge you to take control of your hard-earned assets. With your old 401K, you will no longer be able to contribute additional funds to that 401k with your previous employer and you will have limited investment options. Also, many 401Ks carry a higher expense ratio that removes money from your portfolio in the form of 12b-1 fees, A-Share or C-Share fees. All of these fees come with mutual funds that are likely in your 401K investment options that you selected from when you first started working with your previous employer and your current 401K investment allocation. You can do better.

    1. Here’s what you need to know about your current 401k or IRA
      1. What’s my Expense Ratio? The expense ratio of a stock or asset fund is the total percentage of fund assets used for administrative, management, advertising, and all other expenses. An expense ratio of 1% per annum means that each year 1% of the fund’s total assets will be used to cover expenses.  (How much am I paying in fees that are not reported on my financial statement?) Also, I implore you to avoid investing in Variable Annuities, those investments carry 2-6% in annual fees and you can lose your principal. We will share the exact expense ratio with your current portfolio when you meet with us. You can email me directly at Ford@ActiveWealth.com to book your complimentary appointment with me.
      2. How much am I paying in advisory, portfolio or administrative fees? An advisor fee is a fee paid for professional advisory services on matters related to money, finances, and investments. It can be charged as a percentage of total assets or it may be associated with a broker-dealer transaction in the form of a commission. In the investment advisory industry, a management fee is a periodic payment that is paid by an investment fund to the fund’s investment adviser for investment and portfolio management services. Often, the fee covers not only investment advisory services, but administrative services as well. Administrative fees cover the costs of maintaining the plan. They pay for account statements and educational materials, and often cover the costs of running Web sites and offering access to customer service reps and investment advice. Administrative fees often run about $100 to $200 per participant per year. It is important to add up all of the fees you are paying.
      3. What is the standard deviation of my portfolio including the sharp decline in March and part of April from the COVID-19 pandemic? Standard deviationis a measure of risk that an investment will not meet the expected return in a given period. The smaller an investment’s standard deviation, the less volatile (and hence risky) it is. The larger the standard deviation, the more dispersed those returns are and thus the riskier the investment is. (Believe it or not, the standard deviation of the performance on your portfolio can be more important than the average annual rate of return of your portfolio in overall portfolio performance.) We will be able to give you the exact standard deviation of your portfolio in your free financial consultation with our firm, just call (770) 685-1777.
      4. How correlated are the assets within my portfolio? Asset correlationis a measure of how investments move in relation to one another and when those movements happen. When assets move in the same direction at the same time, they are considered to be highly correlated. You can get a clear understanding of the asset correlation with a detailed MorningStar report. We will run this analysis for you for free during your two-appointment financial consultation.

I encourage you to call our private wealth management firm for your complimentary financial consultation to get a FREE portfolio analysis, financial plan and career counseling session with me. We are offering these services at no cost to you. We want to help marketers succeed. Click this link to book your FREE FINANCIAL CONSULTATION directly into my calendar: https://activewealth.agilecrm.com/calendar/ford_stokes. You can also visit our website: https://activewealth.com/ or check out our radio show: https://activewealthshow.com/.

Update your resume with the key metrics and core marketing initiatives that you led or contributed to.

Resume analysis software used by HR Executives and hiring managers will filter to exactly what they are looking for in experience, skills and education. If you don’t include almost everything you have done and all certifications you have achieved, you might get ignored. I recommend working with a resume writing service. Some examples of these, via careercloud.com, are listed below.

  1. TopResume
  2. ZipJobs
  3. Resumes Planet
  4. Resumewritinggroup.com
  5. Resumesguaranteed.com
  6. Resume Writing Service
  7. MyPerfectResume

Also, be sure to get your resume to as many recruiters who specialize in marketing as possible and post your resume on marketing specific job sites like https://www.marketingjobs.com/ or marketproinc.com.

Other job sites to get your resume posted:

  1. https://www.linkedin.com/
  2. https://www.indeed.com/
  3. https://www.monster.com/
  4. https://www.careerbuilder.com/

Top Retained Search Firms:

  1. https://kornferry.com/
  2. https://www.heidrick.com/
  3. https://www.topexecutivesearchfirms.com/

Learn important new skills like WordPress website coding or Mail Chimp HTML email development or Adobe Creative Suite graphic design software like Illustrator/Photo Shop or video editing or digital media buying, etc.

  1. https://www.adobe.com/
  2. https://www.wpbeaverbuilder.com/wordpress-training-course/
  3. https://chimpessentials.com/
  4. https://www.apple.com/final-cut-pro/resources/

Get additional marketing-focused certifications that will set you apart from other candidates when we get the all-clear signs from the COVID-19 pandemic.

  1. https://www.ama.org/certifications/ – Professional Certified Marketer – prove you have the right skills with certifications from the American Marketing Association. They have a series of certifications in all aspects of marketing that will enable you to show specialization to future interviewers.
  2. https://www.iab.com/certification-programs/iab-digital-media-buying-planning-certification/ – Getting an IAB digital media buying planning certification could be an important certification to get. Post COVID-19 pandemic, digital and social media advertising will be a major part of the marketing mix for a majority of all companies.
  3. https://www.business.com/articles/guide-to-marketing-certifications/ – These are the most important marketing certifications according to business.com. Hubspot, Google Adword, and inbound marketing certifications will help you rise above other candidates.

Get essential sales training and develop your own sales process. Getting focused sales training from Ray Leone really helped me to seek to understand before seeking to be understood. I also learned how to get the buying criteria for every prospect I spoke with in the beginning of our relationship and not later in the partnership. Proper sales training will help you become more self-aware of your strengths and weaknesses, it will also help you communicate in a powerful and concise way.

  1. https://www.slideshare.net/salesmagazine/ray-leone
  2. https://www.amazon.com/Success-Secrets-Sales-Funnel-Scientific/dp/1881196259
  3. https://www.linkedin.com/in/rayleone1/
  4. https://www.clientlook.com/10-sales-gurus-to-follow-on-social-media-for-ultimate-inspiration

Start a Consulting Business, NOW! You can help all kinds of business owners right now who don’t know how to market digitally. They need to figure out how to reach prospects to keep their business moving. Chances are, their core way of acquiring customers has been blocked by the COVID-19 pandemic and sheltering in place. One positive about starting a consulting business now is you can simply eliminate the cost of leasing an office and travel.

  1. Develop a business name
  2. Register a domain name – godaddy.com or bluehost.com or porkbun.com
  3. Build an inexpensive website – this is your digital storefront and it’s very important. You can easily set-up your own website using a service like
  4. WordPress.com
  5. Wix.com
  6. Develop a logo
  7. Work with a graphic designer you know
  8. Consider working with a graphic designer from fiverr.com or one of their competitors listed here: https://www.owler.com/company/fiverr
  9. Develop your email signature and digital letterhead
  10. Set-up a Facebook page, Instagram account , LinkedIN company page, and a Twitter account – consider also getting accounts with Reddit.com, Pinterest.com, etc.
  11. Publish one informative post daily across all of your social media platforms that provides real value in your core area of expertise
  12. Develop a strategic process. I use a Future State Consulting Strategy or “Results in Advance Planning.” I use the same process that NASA used to fly two Americans to the moon in under 8 years during the 1960s in our country’s “Space Race” versus the Russians.
  13. Also, any client is a positive development in your new consulting business.
  14. Put a list of 100 people you can contact to seek to provide marketing or strategic consulting services.
  15. https://www.fundera.com/blog/how-to-start-a-consulting-business This article is helpful from Fundera.com

Research small businesses you can potentially buy and grow when the COVID-19 pandemic is all over and we go back to gathering, traveling and attending events together. As a marketer, you can be a fantastic business owner in a normal business environment. Now is likely not the perfect time to buy a business because it is tough for all businesses to acquire customers and serve them right now. You can move your 401K into a self-directed rollover to buy a business and likely avoid paying the 10% early withdrawal penalty. This is what you need to do to open a Business Owners Retirement Savings Account

  1. Find a CPA that administers Business Owners Retirement Savings Account rollovers to Individual Retirement Accounts. This is a specialized IRA that allows the IRA to buy stock in a personal corporation. The CPA will not only set up the account, but must become the plan administrator.
  2. Open a rollover IRA with the CPA designated as the Business Owners Retirement Savings Account.
  3. Call your 401k plan administrator and request direct rollover paperwork. Direct rollovers go from the administrator to the new IRA custodian directly, preventing confusion with the automatic 20 percent federal withholding issues on indirect rollovers where a check is sent to you. Fill out the direct rollover paperwork so the 401k assets go directly to the rollover IRA.
  4. Open a corporation in the state you reside in through the Secretary of State. File articles of incorporation and pay any registration fees.
  5. Instruct the CPA rollover administrator to buy stock in the new corporation. The money goes into the company operating accounts and the corporation sends the stock certificates of ownership to the CPA to hold in the IRA. Use the assets in the general operating account to purchase the new business.
  6. Once you start generating profits, you can set up a SEP IRA with our firm and our custodian, TD Ameritrade, to begin saving up to 25% of the income you generate into your SEP IRA. You can establish a SEP IRA that lets you contribute up to 25% of your salary, with a maximum overall contribution limit of $57,000 in 2020. That’s higher by $1,000 from 2019 levels, marking the latest in a string of similar increases over the past several years. If you’re self-employed, SEP IRAs are also available.
  7. https://www.bizbuysell.com/ – This site is the TOP business brokering website in the US with over 45,000 businesses listed for sale. Most of these are small businesses.
  8. https://www.sba.gov/funding-programs/investment-capital – Getting an SBA loan for a new business is more streamlined than ever before. It is also different than the stimulus loans. Many SBA loans are handled by SBA loan officers at national and local banks. If you have equity in your home, you can use that equity to serve as collateral. Your credit score is extremely important these days to get loans. Most banks are not loaning money to applicants unless they have a FICO score over 700. Be sure to stay current on your mortgage and credit card payments if possible.
  9. Also remember, try to shut down cash outflows for anything that is not essential. The money you have now may be the only financial resources you will have for months. Be sure to shelter in place at least 14 days before moving back in with your parents or grandparents to not endanger them.
  10. It has been reported by BizBuySell.com that businesses generate an additional 17% on average during the first year that a new owner first acquires a business. If you are an experienced marketer, I am confident you will be able to grow any business you are able to acquire well beyond 17% in a normal economic business environment.

I hope you found this report helpful to you during this unprecedented and difficult time with the COVID-19 pandemic. If you have recently been laid off, please realize that this is not your fault. It is a virus that started in China that caused you to lose your marketing position where you worked so hard to deliver metric success and to be a great teammate. I am on your side. Please use this time to generate positive momentum for your career and life. If you execute in the above seven areas, you will likely be successful in growing your career, business and portfolio from here.

Disclaimer: Information provided is not intended as tax or legal advice, and should not be relied on as such. You are encouraged to seek tax or legal advice from an independent professional. Investment advisory services offered through Brookstone Capital Management, LLC (BCM), a registered investment advisor. BCM and Active Wealth Management are independent of each other. Insurance products and services are not offered through BCM but are offered and sold through individually licensed and appointed agents.”

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Ford Stokes is the Founder and CEO of Active Wealth Management Inc. He exponentially grew 12 businesses as the Chief Marketing Officer with those companies. He is driven to help marketing professionals during this unprecedented and difficult time that has been brought upon us by the COVID-19 pandemic. He is committed to helping pre-retirees, retirees and business owners protect and grow their hard-earned wealth. Ford serves as an Investment Advisor Representative with Brookstone Capital Management. If you would like to schedule an appointment with Ford, you can reach him at ford@activewealth.com or you can call our office at (770) 685-1777. You can schedule directly into his calendar here: https://activewealth.agilecrm.com/calendar/ford_stokes.