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Throw Your Marketing Plan out the Window. Ask These 3 Questions Instead


Throw Your Marketing Plan out the Window. Ask These 3 Questions Instead

I gave a presentation to the Financial Planning Association (FPA) Knowledge Circle on Authenticity – specifically how the most successful big brands use authentic marketing to grow naturally, and how financial advisors can employ similar strategies in their own practices. I’m planning to give a similar talk in January –you can sign up here if you’re interested.

In the meantime, I thought I’d share the 3 most important take-aways from the Knowledge Circle Discussion that I think will be helpful to many of you who are thinking about your own marketing strategy for 2017. Instead of spending hours finalizing how you’ll market your business online, what type of content you’ll share, and how you’ll get more eyes on your website, take an hour or two, quiet your mind, and walk yourself through these 3 questions instead. After all, the businesses that prosper are those that operate in the most authentic way possible, staying true to themselves and their purpose, and communicating their passion for that purpose.


1. What Is Your Purpose?

What is the PURPOSE of your business? Why do you do what you do? Who are you most passionate about helping?

Stop and really think about your answer to this question. Sadly, too many business owners never truly pinpoint their purpose. Everyday, I speak with advisors who have no idea who their target clients are, or what their purpose is.

They call us wanting to redesign their website or develop a social media campaign – yet when we ask them about their services, who their target audience is and what their unique value proposition is, they say things like “We work with all kinds of people”, or “Our clients are usually in their 50s, 60s and 70s”. If they could see through the phone, they’d see me cringing on the other end – because I know that if they continue on with such generic messaging, they will end up with a generic website and online presence, and then they’ll wonder what they are doing wrong.

This is a problem that plagues everyone – from brand new advisors just opening their doors to established businesses who have been around for years (but have always struggled to get new clients).

Happily, the answer to the problem is easier than you might think.

Remember, what people really want now is not just a product or a service, it’s an experience. This is why we so often hear that if you want to succeed – you need to define your niche. “Niche Marketing” is not just a term marketers use because it’s the next big trend. Niche marketing is talked about so often because it works.

The more specific you are, the more that those who fit into that niche will identify themselves as being a part of the community you serve. Think of it this way – we all have many choices when it comes to buying any product or service – why should someone choose your business?

People choose to work with businesses that:

  • understand their pain points.
  • have worked with others who are like them.
  • elevate their product or service to an “experience”

2. How do you communicate your Passion for your Purpose?

It is great to know your purpose – but can you quickly articulate your purpose to others? When I say “quickly” – I mean in one sentence.

For instance:

“Financial Planning & Life Coaching for Young Professionals who are ready to change their lives and start their own businesses.”


“We help busy working families in New York plan and pay for college without delaying retirement or reducing retirement funds.”

As you can see from both of these examples – anyone reading the message will quickly be able to learn whether they fit into the “community” of people the business serves.

3. Could a Stranger Identify Your Purpose in 5 Seconds?

Take a stranger (no, not a friend or family member – a true stranger) and pull up your website. The subject has 5 seconds to learn who you are, what you do, and who you do it for. Ask them to report back to you. What do they say? (Ideally it’s best to run this experiment 5-10 times – and you could do the same with your social media pages or other online pages).

I would argue your website is the most important place to pinpoint your message. Not just because of the work I do, but because I know that your website operates as your communications “hub”. It is the face of your business online. People may see your posts on social media, or find you elsewhere online, but ultimately they will click over to your website to learn (directly from you!) who you are and what you are all about. Don’t waste this opportunity on generic taglines and messaging that is “safe”. Get honest about who you are, who you work with, and why you are so passionate about it.

Because I promise you this – people visiting your website will either click on it and click off of it again within a few seconds (because they’ve either decided you are not what they are looking for or they need to call you for more information because your website tells them nothing), or they will give your site their full attention as they read your story and learn more about you and your business. The later rarely happens, because rarely do financial advisors write the content on their sites in a way that actually engages those they hope to work with.

Be different. Be the exception to the rule! Then watch in amazement as you start to get more inquiries.


If you run your business as though you are simply living your purpose – your authenticity will shine through. Everyone you meet will know immediately what you do and why you are passionate about it, and people will remember you the next time a friend or colleague brings up a topic that relates to what you do. You’ll start to get referrals and more business – and over time, you’ll become known as an “expert” within the particular community you serve – all because you are living your purpose – right there on your sleeve (and on your website).

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