5 Advisor Growth Strategies for 2018

5 Advisor Growth Strategies for 2018

According to the Chinese zodiac, 2018 is the year of the dog. I have no idea what that means for you or if you even care. What I do know about 2018 is that growing your practice will take a big commitment. Here are five ideas that work well when done together and in sequence. 


Do it right

Stop silo-marketing initiatives that don’t create momentum and don’t last. Buy in to an integrated, long term marketing approach that will continue working for you for year. You can add or takeaway parts, but get focused on a strategy that will last.

Think long-term

Build for many years of success, not just the next 90 days or you’ll spend each 90 day segment starting something new with little momentum from last quarter. It’s no way to market and grow. 

No short cuts

There are no short cuts. Do it right. Stop paying silo-marketers for shortcut marketing. List buying doesn’t work alone. Seminars alone won’t do it. Search engine marketing only works as part of a much larger strategy. Stop lead generations tactics that aren’t built around an overarching marketing plan.


Nothing comes without hard work and smart investing. Find out what makes sense for you, not necessarily what worked for someone else. 10% of your gross revenue should be dedicated to marketing every year. It may be more if you need to build your foundation (brand, website, social profiles).

Understand your true ROI

ROI isn’t just objective. It’s subjective. Don’t ever forget the value of looking good, being intriguing and making it easy for people to engage you. Too many advisors look for clear and simple ROI guarantees. The greatest wins are the subjective ones. Confidence to close. Attracting more ideal prospects. Inspiring referrals from COIs and Clients you haven’t heard from in a while. Attracting opportunities to network, partner or contribute. 

In most cases, ROI is what you make of it, not what it does for you. Stop waiting for the leads to pile in, go get them with your brand, content, website, social network and more. Have a “go get ‘em” mentality, not a “when are they coming” mentality. 


Own your story

Nothing is more important in financial services than having a story that differentiates you. In the least, it should clearly articulate who you serve, what you do, and why it’s important to them. Your brand precedes you. Your prospects experience your brand before they ever meet you in person. What’s your story? Are you different? Are you better? Who should work with you? Why should they care?

Prove your expertise and commitment

It’s not enough to say you are good, different or better. It’s everything to prove it and your ideal audience expect it. Show you care. Show your personality. Share your expertise. Make a commitment to creating and sharing content that tells your story and more importantly, helps them understand theirs. Prove your brand. 

It’s not “build it and they will come”. Get exposed

Once you have a story, you need to get it out there in a meaningful way. Know where your audience is, find them and address them on their terms. Engage them in your story and your content. Get them to share your content with their networks. Expand. Find ways to target build your list. Use LinkedIn search. Find verticals and COIs who work with your ideal audience. Engage them too. Be everywhere you can be and as efficiently as possible. 


Stop “trial and error” marketing

Why try and fail when you can try and succeed. Find someone who’s had success with a strategy, not just a tactic. Will it work for you? Why did it work for them? Will your audience respond the same way? What hasn’t worked for them? Why? Do some research of find a firm that’s helped many different types of advisors find their way.

No more “old school” marketing

If “old school” only meant, build trust, that would be okay. What it means more often than not is trying the same things advisors did 15 years ago and expecting the same results. Old school thinks: referrals are just about asking, “free consultation” is a valid call-to-action, social media is a black hole, direct mail is personal, and seminars are purely educational. Marketing these days is about content, conversations and being everywhere. 

Stop “I Hope…” marketing

Every advisors needs a strategy, not just tactics. How does your marketing work together? How do you create momentum? What’s effective and efficient?

Avoid SUNK marketing

Sunk marketing dies after it’s been used. Irt has no long-term value. Some examples are ads (digital, print), seminars (if you don’t follow up), direct mail (if it doesn’t lead to something else), emails marketing (if it doesn’t lead to something else), date specific content, and webinars (if it doesn’t lead to something else. The key is, does it lead to something else and does it have value once it’s been used? Some examples of lasting marketing: evergreen podcasts, videos, blog posts, published articles (if evergreen), and social profiles. Ten podcasts are worth more than 2. They add credibility to your cause. Digital advertising is gone once it’s done. Unless of course it led to content engagement where you can now initiate other marketing: social, email nurture, email newsletter, RSS to your blog/podcast and so on. The key here is to use “Old school” tactics and advertising to engage people in digital marketing, then you have something to build on. 

Related: Brand Mastery: The 4 Real Benefits of a Strong Advisor Brand


Get sticky

Get people coming back for more. Share content that your audience will use over and over. Make your content so compelling people want to come back for more.  

Engage people

Use every opportunity you have to get people to engage in digital marketing then eventually face-to-face opportunities. 

Influence people

Once people are engaged, stay in touch with them often enough and with appropriate content to further ingrain your expertise and commitment. 


Focus on progress over perfection

If you’re waiting for the perfect website, the perfect paper, the perfect article, the perfect value proposition, you’’ll be missing out on more opportunities and the learning that comes from implementation. 

Do what you can and build from there

Start small and focus on building momentum versus only using attraction tactics. Build your brand first, then your website, then your content, then start attracting. 

Outsource when needed

You can’t do it all. You don’t have time and you won’t know how to maximize each strategy/tactic. Find help for what you don’t know or aren’t efficient at. 


Keep your marketing and relationships as simple as possible. Advisors often have 3-5 marketing vendors working for them at any given time. Start from square one, what’s your strategy? How can you simplify implementation? Can you find one or two vendors instead of 5?

Be accountable

Make sure someone on your team is holding you or others accountable. Too many advisors ignore what’s working or not and wait too long to address the inefficiencies and ineffectiveness. 

Clear obstacles

Be aware of obstacles that steal your focus and keep you from starting or implementing better marketing. One of the most common obstacles advisors face is the “I already invested in this” mindset. If you invested and it didn’t work, don’t stick with it just because you spent the  money. Fix it now. If you spend too much time writing blog posts that drain the energy out of you, find another way. Try podcasting for instance. It’s much easier. If you don’t have the right technology to be efficient, find a way to get it. If you have a marketing assistant who doesn’t have the right digital skills to help you, find someone who does or enroll them in our Marketing Assistant Course. 

Travel light

The bigger your marketing commitments are, the harder they become to manage and sustain; both financially and time-wise. It’s best to be really good at a few marketing tactics that work really well together than to be spread too thin.

Kirk Lowe
Advisor Marketing
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Kirk Lowe is a sought after expert on branding for financial services. He is the "Brand Guy" at Top Advisor Marketing. Kirk has dedicated 15+ years to demystifying and si ... Click for full bio

An Emerging Theme In Thematic Investing

An Emerging Theme In Thematic Investing

Exchange traded funds (ETFs) are popular vehicles for market participants looking to engage in thematic investing. Thematic investing looks to take advantage of future growth trends, including disruptive technologies. Given that forward-looking approach, stock-picking in the thematic universe is equally as hard, if not harder, than in traditional market segments.

Go back to the late 1990s, before the bursting of the Internet/technology bubble. Back then, investors stood an equal chance of selecting E-Toys over Amazon or some no longer in existence networking equipment maker over Cisco.

“History is littered with examples of prospering industries with no indication of which company will come to dominate the industry,” according to Nasdaq. “This suggests that successful thematic investing is more about selecting baskets of investments rather than single securities.”1

The ALPS Disruptive Technologies ETF (DTEC) provides basket exposure to a broad swath of thematic investments. DTEC features exposure to not just one or two emerging technologies, but 10 such themes on an equal-weight basis.

Disruptive Efficiency

The 10 themes represented in DTEC are as follows: 3D printing, clean energy, cloud computing, cybersecurity, data and analytics, fintech, healthcare innovation, Internet of Things (IoT), mobile payments and robotics and artificial intelligence (AI).

Generally speaking, fund issuers have been quick to respond to disruptive and transformative technologies, bringing products to market to tap these themes. Prior to DTEC coming to market late last year, there were ETFs devoted exclusively to cloud computing, cybersecurity, robotics and other themes featured in DTEC. However, few use the basket approach to themes employed by DTEC.

Related: Getting Paid to Play The Energy Patch

February, a rough month for U.S. stocks, highlighted the advantages of DTEC's multi-theme methodology. Seven of the 10 themes found in the fund finished the month lower, but DTEC was able to outperform the S&P 500 on a monthly basis.

Focusing on individual themes can be rewarding over the long-term, but not all investors have the risk tolerance for such a strategy. Consider this: the Indxx Global Robotics & Artificial Intelligence Thematic Index jumped more than 48% in 2017. That type of performance is enough to seduce many investors, but that same benchmark slipped 7.60% in February, generating monthly volatility of 34.10%.Said another way, that robotics and AI index's February slide was more than triple the loss experienced by DTEC during the month.

More Advantages

While it probably is not accurate to call the indexes devoted to individual disruptive themes “old,” many use old school weighting methodologies. For example, the two largest components in the ISE Cloud Computing Index are Netflix, Inc. (NFLX) and Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN). Only two members of the S&P 500 have larger market values than Amazon while Netflix currently has a larger market cap than Wal-Mart (WMT) and McDonald's (MCD).

Holdings subject ot change as of 12/31/17

For its part, DTEC not only equally weights its 10 disruptive themes, but its 100 components as well, potentially reducing single stock risk in the process. As the chart below confirms, equally weighting stocks is rewarding across sectors and market capitalization segments.

Past performance does not guarantee future results

Annualized returns for the past 10 years show seven of the 11 S&P 500 sectors, when equally weighted, outperform cap-weighted equivalents, according to S&P. Three of those seven sectors – financial services, healthcare and technology – are prominent parts of DTEC's roster.

1 Source: Nasdaq Dec. 28, 2015 https://www.nasdaq.com/article/what-thematic-investing-is-and-its-strengths-and-risks-cm559209

2 Source: ETF Replay data


An investor should consider the investment objectives, risks, charges and expenses carefully before investing. To obtain a prospectus which contain this and other information call 866.675.2639 or visit www.alpsfunds.com. Read the prospectus carefully before investing.

An investment in the ALPS Disruptive Technologies ETF (DTEC) may be subject to substantially greater risk and volatility than investments in larger and more mature technology companies.

There is no assurance that the market developments and sector growth based upon the themes discussed in the article will come to pass.

ALPS Disruptive Technologies ETF shares are not individually redeemable. Investors buy and sell shares of the ALPS Disruptive Technologies ETF on a secondary market. Only market makers or “authorized participants” may trade directly with the Fund, typically in blocks of 50,000 shares.

ALPS Advisors, Inc. (AAI) has engaged IRIS Werks, LLC (IRIS) to produce analysis and commentary on ALPS-advised ETFs. IRIS currently has a compensated business relationship with AAI. AAI is not affiliated with IRIS.

The content and opinions expressed in this article are that of the author and not the views and opinions of AAI.  In addition, AAI assumes no responsibility to ensure the accuracy of the content written by the author.

There are risks involved with investing in ETFs including the loss of money. Additional information regarding the risks of this investment is available in the prospectus. Past Performance is not indicative of future results.

The fund is new and has limited operating history.

ALPS Portfolio Solutions Distributor, Inc. is the distributor for the ALPS Disruptive Technologies ETF. AAI is affiliated with ALPS Portfolio Solutions Distributor, Inc.

The author is not an investment professional and this article should not be considered investment advice. While the information and statistical data contained herein are based on sources believed to be reliable, the author takes no responsibility to ensure the accuracy of the content. Additionally, this article should not be relied on or be the basis for an investment decision. Information that is historical is not indicative of future results, and subject to change.

S&P 500®: A capitalization-weighted index of 500 stocks designed to measure performance of the broad domestic economy through changes in the aggregate market value of 500 stocks representing all major industries.

S&P SmallCap 600®: A capitalization-weighted index that measures the small-cap segment of the U.S. equity market.

S&P MidCap 400®: A capitalization-weighted index that measures the mid-cap segment of the U.S. equity market.

Indxx Global Robotics & Artifical Intelligence Thematic Index: The Indxx Global Robotics & Artificial Intelligence Thematic Index is designed to track the performance of companies listed in developed markets that are expected to benefit from the increased adoption and utilization of robotics and Artificial Intelligence ("AI"), including companies involved in Industrial Robotics and Automation, Non-Industrial Robots, Artificial Intelligence and Unmanned Vehicles.

Tom Lydon
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IRIS Co-Founder and Editor and proprietor of ETFtrends.com. Tom is a frequent contributor to major print, radio and television media including Forbes, The Wall Street Jou ... Click for full bio