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Marketing to Women

Advisors Are Rubbing Women the Wrong Way

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Before an advisor can make a significant impact on attracting and retaining more women clients he/she must make an internal shift from “promoting “the traditional approach to “inspiring” a more meaningful approach. The industry has spent a great deal of time and money teaching advisors how to promote themselves, emphasizing their years of experience, their firm, their degrees, certifications and licenses, all in an attempt to prove their value and worth. This is an approach that has been ingrained in most of us and hard to shift away from but with the rise of women and their influence, without making this shift you will quickly become a dinosaur in a very large graveyard.

This traditional approach which emphasizes status rubs women the wrong way, and comes off as self-motivating and braggadocios.  This model worked in a more testosterone driven environment but it won’t work today for women or the men who love them.  What clients today (especially women) want to know is who you are and why you care, those are the important questions that most advisors struggle to answer. But when you dig deep enough and unearth your true purpose as an advisor, when you peel the onion far enough and uncover your story the impact on clients and prospects will be immediate and your relationship will rise to a whole new level.

Related: How Women Give RIA’s an Advantage

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I spent three years as a National Training Officer for Smith Barney helping to train all the new advisors that joined the firm.  I often felt in conflict, we were required to train the advisors based on the traditional model and what had worked in the past, but I knew the future would require something different. With the increase in women advisors I wanted to present a different approach that was more personal and more meaningful for both the advisor and the client. With permission I created a class that was optional. I was pleasantly surprised by its popularity and the impact it had on the participants, I hope you will be impressed as well.

As a National Training Officer at Smith Barney, I developed a class for financial advisors who had returned to training after successfully completing six months of production. The class was called “Defining Your Business.” the real objective was to help them shed the industry training and uncover their true purpose as a financial advisor. At the beginning of the class, I let every student know that their participation was purely voluntary; no one would be forced to go through the exercise with me unless they volunteered.

“The objective of the exercise is to uncover your personal story. This story will create a new focus for your marketing efforts, greater clarity about your passions and true source of motivation. This story will become a tremendous tool to help you generate new clients and referrals.”

The first volunteer came up to the front of the room and sat down with me. I asked this advisor, “Who is your target market?” He told me it was business owners.

“Okay, I’m a business owner and you have just completed a presentation to me, trying to convince me to become your client. My final question for you is, “Why should I do business with you?”

The advisor launched into a litany of reasons: “I’m honest and ethical, my team has 25 years of experience, I have my CFP designation and work hard and put your interest first..” but none of it really satisfied me.

I kept saying “not good enough” and asking again, “Why do you really care about me?”

The advisor was stumped; he had shared all the typical (safe) answers and was growing frustrated. I continued to push, making the audience uncomfortable, and the advisor’s anxiety grew worse.

And then it happened: the advisor cracked. He became quite emotional, telling us, “My parents were business owners and I watched them practically work themselves to death, making sure everyone else was taken care of but neglecting themselves. Then they were unable to sell the business and now they live on Social Security! I swore this would never happen to any of my clients.”

You could hear a pin drop in that room. The audience was mesmerized, and after a few moments of stunned silence, they started to speak. “Wow! That was really powerful!”

“What made it so powerful?” I asked.

“It was the emotion he showed as he told us about his experience.”

“That’s right! When we speak about what we do and who we do it for, and we really connect with our purpose and WHY we do this work, we can’t help but speak from the heart. When people speak from the heart, it’s extremely powerful. They get heard. So when it comes to marketing your business, this is the only way to communicate.”

When I asked for my next volunteer, every hand went up.

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