What Makes a Compelling Marketing Hook?

Beverly Flaxington

Beverly Flaxington is a practice management consultant. She answers questions from advisors facing human resource issues. To submit yours, email us here.

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Dear Bev,

How do we improve our image in the market? We are not well known for what we do, although we believe we do it better than the competitors. We talk about being fiduciaries and having an objective voice, but I don’t know if our message is powerful enough. What else could we do?

Ronald G.


Dear Ronald,

Standing out in a crowded market is not easy. Think of all of the different types of people – insurance brokers, financial brokers, financial planners, bankers and so on – who call themselves “financial advisors.” Unless one is in this business, it’s hard to discern who does what and how it is different from another.

That said, I suggest staying away from differentiators like being a fiduciary or offering objective advice. Most investors would not understand the importance of this, and you’ll spend too much time trying to educate and explain it. Whenever you are sharing what makes you different, you need to ask yourself the “so what?” question. Why does this matter to the prospect or client? What’s in it for them? What will it do for their life or their situation? Take the differentiators you think important and bring a value into them – “We are fiduciaries and this is important to you because…”

It’s also important to be consistent if you want to stand out. We recommend having no more than three messaging points, and each should be clearly distinct. Use the same three in all of your marketing materials, sales approaches and website. Reinforce over and over why you are different and bring value to your clients.

Lastly, make sure you have a presence in the market and on social media. Connect on LinkedIn with all of your clients and centers of influence, blog if you have something to say, write articles and talk to the local paper about publishing them, publish a newsletter that contains your firm’s perspective on things and send email updates periodically to clients reminding them about what you do and why it’s important.
Don’t assume clients know what you do well enough to talk about it to others. Make it your job to teach them, and reinforce every chance you get!

Dear Bev,

We had an advisor who was a smooth salesperson. He left to start his own firm and took some of our clients with him. Unfortunately, we haven’t done as well building our business since he left. Any ideas on how people who are not salesy can increase sales?

Richard A.


Dear Richard,

Most of the best salespeople are not “salesy!” It would be helpful to know what you are doing now that’s working and what isn’t. I suggest you start with an assessment. The practice of selling for financial advisors is more than just overcoming objections and learning to close. It includes ongoing client communication, telling a solid story, creating a brand in your market and knowing how to qualify opportunities.

As a starting point, spend some time diagnosing your situation and setting goals. Answer the following questions as a team to get the dialogue going. You may also need skill development along the way, but it’s best to start with a clear view of where you are and where you want to go.

Where are we now?

  1. Number of clients:
  2. Number of accounts:
  3. AUM:
  4. % share of wallet of top 10 clients:
  5. Number of A-rated (ready-to-close) prospects tracked in our client-relationship management (CRM) software:

Where do we want to be, YTD?

  1. Number of clients:
  2. Number of accounts:
  3. AUM:
  4. % share of wallet of top 10 clients:
  5. Number of A-rated (ready-to-close) prospects tracked in our CRM:

What are our target markets?

How are we positioned against the competition?

What steps are in our sales process?

What sales tools do we have that align with each step?

How do we track prospects and move them through the pipeline?

These questions will hopefully offer some insight into where you need to focus for sales success and give you a starting point to have strategic dialogue. Good luck.

Beverly Flaxington co-founded The Collaborative, a consulting firm devoted to business building for the financial services industry in 1995; in 2008 she co-founded Advisors Trusted Advisor to offer dedicated practice management resources to advisors, planners and wealth managers. She is currently an adjunct professor at Suffolk University teaching undergraduate students Leadership & Social Responsibility. Beverly is a Certified Professional Behavioral Analyst (CPBA) and Certified Professional Values Analyst (CPVA).

She has spent over 25 years in the investment industry and has been featured in Selling Power Magazine and quoted in hundreds of media outlets, including the Wall Street Journal, MSNBC.com, Investment News and Solutions Magazine for the FPA. She speaks frequently at investment industry conferences and is a speaker for the CFA Institute.

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