Five Marketing Truths You Don't Want to Hear
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Marketing occurs in the advisory profession in the absence of common sense. Here are five brazen misunderstandings shared by the readers of my articles.
1. Most advisors cannot actively market their businesses
Far fewer of you should be trying to market yourself. You shouldn’t be attempting to market your practice if you are:
- extremely time-constrained; or
- too self-conscious to make public representations on a consistent basis.
If any of the above apply, you are not meant for marketing. I’ve dealt with all these types. It never went well.
Figure out if you need to market.
Financial advice is a highly personal business and if your client base is willing to refer you to their friends enough for you to grow your practice, you will require minimal, if any, marketing. For those of you with established practices, it’s a 50/50 shot that you’d be better off spending your budget deepening relationships with your 10 best clients.
If your business model limits your services to a select group of clients (such as the 70-deep model), after the initial ramp-up period you don’t need to market your business.
However, even if you aren’t going to actively market, there are still some minimal elements you should put in place. I discuss them in this ebook.
2. You’re only good at one form of marketing
I get these weird messages from you advisors all the time, asking me, “What do you think of Facebook? Is it better than LinkedIn? Or should I be doing blogs?”
This is like the unanswerable questions that you get from your clients who have a friend at the golf club who doubled his life savings buying crypto.
You waste a great deal of time and money carrying out marketing activity that does not suit your personality. Examples:
- Some people are great at talking but not listening. They should blog and stay away from messenger apps.
- Some people are great conversationalists, but don’t have an original idea to save their life. They should focus on social media messaging and stay away from blogs.
The marketing consultants and service providers will sell you the full package, though!
Nah. You can try everything, but once you find what works you should focus on that and ignore most else.
3. At the end of the day, this is all about feelings
Go to any marketing blog, and they’re talking about how you need to make the screen and your hair look perfect, or your podcast’s sound quality needs to be better.
As if we aren’t deaf to everything except our own emotions.
Real communication isn’t about any of that. If that were true, then the best communicators would be the ones with the best form. But it’s all about how what you say makes the other person feel.
Feelings? What are those? I thought feelings had no place in business.
There is a very bad habit in our society to ignore feelings, emails, text messages, and our inexorable right to be human beings.
Cancel culture is alive and well, though, and while it makes for a jolly good time on Facebook, there are a number of negative consequences to that. The most damaging is the loss of ability to relate.
The lighting in your YouTube videos doesn’t need an upgrade, and neither does the microphone for your podcast. What you can always stand to improve, though, is your ability to handle the emotions of yourself and other people.
Understand the emotion, use logic to find the words. You’ll see behaviors change.
Now that’s marketing.
4. Scalability is a shortcut, but its virtues are limited
If you’re too busy to market in a highly thoughtful way, then don’t do it. I don’t care what automated sales technology you use. It comes at the price of thoughtlessness.
Have you ever been “scaled?” How did that feel?
You’re not going to get anywhere with other people unless you show them that you can think deeply about factors impacting their lives. Most of you don’t. There’s too much competition and unless you’re saying something other than the typical story, you’ll be ignored.
If you don’t have the time, then instead of throwing your money at the latest shiny object, invest it in deepening relationships with your 10 best clients.
5. Superiority is a well-perpetuated myth
Competitive advantage is rare in the advisory profession, unlike what the cheerleaders (the media, other than Advisor Perspectives) portray. By the way, did you get the top 100 lists this year?
The more I talk to advisors, the clearer it becomes that most of the time there are no real differences among them. Whatever variance exists is so minuscule that it is indistinguishable to prospects. You say it’s B flat and they say it’s A sharp, but it’s the same key you are singing in.
For the overwhelming majority of you, there will never, ever be significant differences between you and the next advisor. That is because most of you are too financially comfortable to take the risk.
The difference is in how you communicate, and as I said in #3, communication is about feelings.
There’s no shortcut to marketing. To succeed, go somewhere that most of you aren’t willing to go. To go there, here are some resources that speak to the points I made in this blog:
Sara Grillo, CFA, is a marketing consultant who helps investment management, financial planning, and RIA firms fight the tendency to scatter meaningless clichés on their prospects and bore them as a result. Prior to launching her own firm, she was a financial advisor.