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SourceMedia site targets financial advisors

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In January, SourceMedia launched its first Internet pure-play, AdvisorMax.com. The site is designed for financial planners, an audience SourceMedia also serves through magazines Financial Planning, On Wall Street and Bank Investment Consultant and their companion Web sites.

AdvisorMax.com's financial model blends paid subscriptions, priced at $299 per year, with a limited number of sponsorship packages. "We're offering sponsors an engaged relationship with our audience; it's not about CPM," said Thomas Falconer, director of Web publishing for SourceMedia's investment advisory group.

Each of the primary subject-related sections of the site—including practice management, clients and portfolios— will have one exclusive sponsor. "These sponsors have their own research. This is endemic content that is important for financial planners," Falconer said.

Senior management conducted extensive audience research in preparation for launching AdvisorMax.com, said Falconer, who joined SourceMedia in March 2006 and spent his first several months at the company largely focused on developing the new site.

The rigorous research prompted SourceMedia to make AdvisorMax.com extremely interactive and community oriented. "Although it has become a tired term, this is truly a Web 2.0 site," Falconer said.

One cutting-edge feature of AdvisorMax.com is executive coaching. Subscribers are entitled to 12 coaching sessions with an annual membership. The coaching is not one-on-one, but sessions are limited to 12 to 14 participants who must register in advance. Coaches send out e-mails before the session advising financial planners on how they should prepare—and participation is expected, Falconer said. Using the WebEx platform, parti-cipants are connected by phone and Internet in real time so they can interact during the webinar.

"Financial planners told us they would like to attend more conferences, but they are too busy," Falconer said. AdvisorMax.com's Expert Forums are designed to reach these busy professionals. "We recruit well-known experts, people who would speak at conferences, to present the Expert Forums, which are guided dialogues that are designed to last about two weeks," Falconer said.

To recreate the experience of peer-to-peer networking, AdvisorMax.com offers Moderated Forums. "These are dis-cussions that anyone within the community can start," he said. "We don't offer the opportunity for users to create an alias." When participants are required to identify themselves, "it creates a clean and well-lit neighborhood," he said, "and the level of discussion is raised."

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