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What Makes Your Advisory Business Marketable?

This post originally appeared in Advisor Perspectives on February 27, 2023, and can be found here

Advisor Perspectives welcomes guest contributions. The views presented here do not necessarily represent those of Advisor Perspectives.

As we begin 2023 and you think about how you want to market your financial advisory business, my number one tip is this: Stop asking yourself, “What marketing tactic will work?”

Start asking, “What makes my business marketable in the first place?”

Everyone always wants to know what marketing tactic will work best or what trend they should embrace along with other advisors. “Should we start making TikTok videos?” or “Would it be better to invest in a YouTube channel?”

While these questions are valid, they make the mistake of focusing on tactics instead of getting to the root of why some marketing works and others don’t. The best marketing strategies:

  • First, look at what consumers want.
  • Then, look at what the business offers that align with those wants.
  • Finally, build a campaign that highlights those areas that overlap – choosing the platforms and mediums only after answering the first two questions.

To apply this process to your own marketing, here are a few examples of this shift in action.

First: Discover what makes your business marketable

For example, can you guess the number one thing affluent investors who do not currently work with a financial advisor say they need help with?

Edelman Financial Engine’s recent "Everyday Wealth in America 2022" report surveyed over 2,000 Americans (including an "oversample" of 1,003 affluent respondents (defined as having household assets between $500,000 - $3 million) who either currently work with an advisor or don't but are open to doing so).

For those who do not currently work with a financial advisor, they asked, "If you were to work with an advisor, what would be most appealing to you to get help with/guidance on?"

The answers in order were:

  1. Tax guidance. Number one for the wealthy (and number four for all Americans in general)
  2. Retirement income planning
  3. Social Security/Medicare advice
  4. Creating a financial plan

Another report from the Spectrem Group found a major gap between client expectations and services rendered:

  • 96% of clients expected to receive wealth transfer advice. Only 24% reported they do.
  • 94% of clients expected trust services. Only 10% reported they do.
  • 92% of clients expected tax planning advice. Only 22% reported they do.

There is a major opportunity here.

gap in financial advisor services

These gaps between expectations and reality represent major opportunities for advisory firms. The number of opportunities available will depend on your firm. Identify what’s available to you, then focus your marketing on it.

Next - Home in on these differentiators in your marketing

I’ve done a lot of talking about how to find out what makes you marketable but not exactly how to apply it to your marketing. To help us better understand how we can apply this info, let's look at a few examples from advisors doing it well.

Social media example

Dave Zoller, a CPA and financial planner who specializes in tax-reduction strategies, shows off how this works by sharing how people were talking about writing off taxes on the golf course. He took a real-life moment and combined it with his specialty and made a social media post that stops the scroll by asking a question (“Can I deduct golfing if I discuss business?”) that those in his target audience (affluent pre-retirees) would want to know the answer to.

Also, he mentions how the weather in his local area recently got warmer after a long winter, which is why he is bringing the question up; people are ready to hit the golf course.

Dave Zoller Social Media

Being timely with what you post is key. You first capture attention by connecting what other people are already doing/thinking about (golf); then, you share the content you actually want to talk about (taxes).

When we are creating content, remember that the consumer is going about their day thinking, “What’s in it for me?” If this post had started with, “Here’s a short video on what tax deductions you can and can’t take,” no one would have clicked.

Website example

A well-known marketing rule is that your website has just five seconds to make an impression and “pass the test.” What I mean by this is that consumers will decide what their first impression of your firm is within five seconds of landing on your site’s homepage.

Additionally, people do not read websites the way they read a book. Instead, they scroll and scan the page until something catches their eye.

Therefore, it is crucial that your website homepage is set up to be incredibly explicit about:

  • Who you are;
  • What you do; and
  • Who you do it for.

Now let’s take what we know above about how important certain services are to prospective clients (like tax planning) and think about ways we can highlight them on the website.

For example, Tenon Financial knows what’s marketable about their firm and uses their website homepage to directly name their differentiating service on the hero image.

Tenon Financial Website Example

As you scroll further down the page, you’ll next find a “Why we’re different section,” which is laid out in an “easy to scan” fashion and uses icons to make it easy for website visitors to quickly understand the main areas of their value proposition.

tenon financial why we're different page

Email example

Email is a great way to spotlight your most marketable services to both new subscribers (those who maybe got on your list after signing up for a webinar or downloading an e-book) as well as current subscribers that you want to remind of new planning opportunities.

For example, Laura Rotter, a CFA and CFP with True Abundance Advisors, sent this email at the very beginning of this year, summarizing what changes from the SECURE Act 2.0 might affect investors.

laura rotter email example

I love this example because:

  • It starts with a video message, making it friendly and reinforcing Laura as the “face” behind the business.
  • It also is highly personal (not like a “newsletter,” but an advisor checking in on you and giving you a heads-up).
  • If you prefer to just skim the email and see if the changes apply to you, she lists the top five changes in a bold-numbered list at the bottom of the email.

Leading with your expertise

These examples showcase how to lead with your expertise – with what makes you marketable – rather than with a marketing tactic. Once you’ve identified the opportunities you can capitalize on, the next step is to decide on which channels your audience is most likely to engage with you. Spend your time creating content there.

Samantha Russell is the chief evangelist at FMG Suite. She helps financial advisors create digital marketing strategies that produce explosive growth through website development, content marketing, SEO, social media and video. A prolific speaker and content contributor, she often appears on stage at financial conferences in the pages of well-known industry publications. She is an Investment News 40 Under 40 award winner and was named on the "10 to Watch" list by WealthManagement.com in 2020.