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How Is Marketing Similar to Investing?

I received another call from a financial advisor this week who saw us in the July cover story of Journal of Financial Planning . He owns a nice sized practice and has been in the advisory business and financial planning profession for almost three decades. Smart guy. He has a law degree from a top institution and other crown jewels he has earned along the way.

Like most financial advisors, I’ll call him “Roger," he is trying to stay digitally relevant and top-of-mind. Roger may not be a millennial but he is bright. He understands the importance of taking a somewhat bullish approach to marketing as he was all too happy to talk to me about his website, blog, and Twitter account, with a kind of pride one uses to describe their own children.

And like most advisors in their late 50’s, Roger’s life is pretty darn good and he loves going to work. It shows. Roger has grown his practice and six-figure AUM organically by way of referrals—a majority from raving fan clients and a smaller percentage from CPA and attorney referrals.

But those were the good ole' days.

Roger’s pipeline is quickly drying up and he’s scurrying to reinvigorate the business with the magical marketing trifecta – website, blog, and social media – designed to push him to the top of the sales funnel faster than you can say ABRACADABRA!

The only problem is it’s not working. And he can’t understand why???

“I blog.”

“I tweet.”

“I even send my clients and centers a personalized email video right to their inbox!”

Gee whiz I thought…In that case, there should be a line of clients waiting outside your door like you’re giving away fidget spinners!


When I begin to go down the digital rabbit hole and dig for evidence, patterns or lack of thereof tell a different kind of story.

  • In the entire month of July, Roger has tweeted once.
  • In the last 30 days, Roger has sent out 1 email.
  • In the last 7 months, Roger has written 5 blog posts.
  • In the last 9 months, Roger has recorded 3 videos.
  • And in the last week, Roger has made 0 touches to his CPA and attorney BFFs.
  • No matter what I say to Roger, his response is always the same.

    I already tried that. It didn’t work.

    The Scorpio in me pushes back.

    “Roger, have you ever thought of creating a multi-touch marketing initiative for your centers, beginning with a case study outlining who you help, how you work with clients, and a story about taking a client from point a to point b? We can begin to evaluate the merits of the campaign / ROI based on downloads of this case study and even track visits to a dedicated web page (aka landing page) that links directly to our case study. And guess what…we can measure email opens rates, new email sign-ups and growth of our newsletter distribution list to see whether we’re on track.”

    And since I was on a roll, “Roger, how about a little personal touch such as a handwritten personal note thanking them for prior referrals or an invitation to play golf. It’s summer. No one wants to go to lunch and just sit there.”

    Related: The Financially Fearless Woman

    Marketing and Investing are Similar

    Roger and I continue to talk about marketing strategy and begin to focus on the similarities between marketing and investing. It’s important for Roger to keep his expectations in check when it comes to his marketing goals and I offer him the following advice.

    Recognize that marketing is a lot like investing and requires the same type of mindset we expect from our clients. We encourage them to take a long-term perspective and evaluate progress based upon their goals and objectives. In the same way we can’t expect an investment portfolio to jump 10% in 1 month or even 1 year, the truth can be said about marketing. You need to be patient. You need to be prudent.

    A good marketing portfolio needs to be blended and allocated across online and offline asset classes. Keep in mind that digital assets need to be rebalanced regularly and marketers have tools at our disposal to do this. For example, marketing analytics and data within our email and social media accounts will tell us when we need to:

  • Tweak a headline or subject line,
  • Add a personalization field,
  • Try different lengths of articles,
  • Embed a video,
  • Fix broken links,
  • Move a CTA above the fold,
  • Or do an AB Test with a variation of our website.
  • When it comes to marketing, there are a gazillion variations and we can measure most of them.

    But here’s the bottom line.

    Marketing requires cadence and daily deposits. Even the best marketing in the world can’t help an advisor , even a good one like Roger, who is not realistic about putting in the right amount of work to make it work. Today’s digital tools aren’t fidget spinners. There’s just no other way around it.