Marketing in our business is about who you are and the experience you provide, not the fancy words you put on your website.
This article originally appeared in the June/July 2012 issue of MorningstarAdvisor magazine.
Setting yourself apart in our industry has always been hard. With so many pretend “advisors” running around using the same words and telling the same story as the “real” advisors, it’s almost impossible to help people understand the difference. Saying things like, “We put clients first,” or “We’re different,” results in rolled eyes, because everyone says that! The only way I know to help people understand that the experience they will have with you is indeed different is to actually be different. Marketing in our business is about who you are and the experience you provide, not the fancy words you put on your website. So let’s start with what does matter.
1. Be Remarkable, Meaning Worth Remarking About
This is about who we are. Not what we say or some marketing slogan, but who we actually are. The great thing about this is that it should come naturally. Instead of trying to convince people that they can trust us, start by being trustworthy. Instead of arguing about whether or not you’re a fiduciary, act like one regardless of how you’re regulated.
People have been so conditioned by our industry (speaking broadly) to have a bad experience (someone tries to sell them something in the first five minutes) that when they have a great experience, it’s remarkable. And guess what? They tell other people. I had a party at my house, and I watched two of my friends talk about how frustrated they were with their “brokers.” Then, a third chimed in and told a story of how frustrated he was until recently when he met with a new advisor, and he was different. He went on to tell the story of how this experience was different and why. He told the advisor’s story!
2. Tell Your Story
This is where “marketing” comes in, but I like to think of it more as “storytelling.” Now here’s where we have to be careful. In our business, great marketing is about making sure that the story you tell matches the experience someone has with you. Be careful of the words you use, and please get rid of the pictures of the happy couple on the beach. Everyone else is using that picture!
3. Make It Easy for That Story to Spread
People often don’t know how to tell people about you. Make it easier. This might involve using Twitter, Facebook, a blog, or a video on YouTube. It may also be as simple as setting up a monthly breakfast for clients and encouraging them to bring friends. Whatever you do, make it consistent, and give it time to work.
When we’re remarkable, provide a story that matches our experience, and make it easy to spread that story, then (and only then) we have a chance to make a small dent in the universe.