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,

Do you think it’s best to start from scratch when rewriting or reinventing our brand, or work with what we have and edit so that we keep a lot of our good work and add to it?

Simon R.

Dear Simon,

Is this a “loaded question?” It appears you have a bias here toward preserving some of your “good work” that has been done to date. Perhaps there is a discussion going on inside your firm about the best approach and you are asking for an arbitrator to make a decision?

There isn’t a clear-cut answer. I believe in keeping the good things you have developed and building off of these if these messages resonate, are differentiated, are being used in the market today and are embraced by your team. That might be a tall order. Many times certain people in a firm, typically the leader(s), become attached to a message that they tell effectively and they want everyone to embrace it.

You have to make sure what you are saying meets the “so what?” test. For example, if you are proud of the fact you are an independent, unbiased firm – ask yourself what does this mean to your audience? And what does it mean vis-à-vis your competition. You might believe that being an independent firm makes you more objective, but many of my advisor clients who are affiliated with larger firms say they are independent thinkers when it comes to working with their clients and investing on their behalf.

Whatever you are saying has to mean something. It has to be important and recognized by your audience.

Take this opportunity to be sure you are talking to an audience that cares about what you do and that recognizes that you care about them. What does this mean? Identify a niche market(s) so that your copywriting can “speak” to this audience. Many times when I ask advisors about their niche market they will say something like, “investors with $1-5 million in investable assets.” But how does an investor define themselves this way? And how do you speak to them? You can’t craft a message around a dollar amount – especially an investable one. Instead find a market, or markets, you serve well and develop a message around their needs. The more someone believes you are speaking directly to them, the more they will sit up and take notice. It’s human nature.

Maybe it is time to renew your entire message, or maybe you just need a refresh and enhancement to what you are already saying – either approach can be highly effective. Just make sure the foundational message is solid, differentiated, resonates with your firm and your audience, and is embraced by the team members who need to tell it!

Dear Bev,

We made a mistake and put someone in a role that was over their head. A very talented employee is now failing. I believe we should give this person the option of having their old role back. My partner thinks if we can’t promote people in our advisory firm and have them continue to thrive, they don’t belong here. We are truly at an impasse and I’m not sure how to move forward. I believe this individual would be devastated and feel taken advantage of if we terminated him or her, but I am open to being told I’m wrong.