Don’t be too clever in your marketing

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The quest to make your marketing witty may cost you opportunities.

Wayne and his partner needed to describe their process. We all agreed that the way they describe their services came across like every other advisor. In reality, the services they provide business owners are distinct from most other advisors in their area and the way they describe it on their website failed to communicate what all their clients agreed was unique and valuable.

They got the idea to create a word, related to the name of their firm, that served as an acronym for the steps of the process. We came up with several approaches. When we were happy with a couple of the choices, we took it to their client advisory board. The feedback we received was wise, common sense, and I have passed along to many advisors since. Don’t be too clever. In their case the recommendation was to just call it the name of their firm’s process.

The temptation is strong. We believe clever or cute will make a good impression – smart, funny. And maybe that’s true. Or maybe, like Wayne’s board told him, maybe it comes across like we are trying too hard.

What’s more important than clever is that it is clear and distinct.

When it comes to marketing, clear beats clever. Be clear about the value. When most advisors talk about value it is either hard to interpret or focuses on the advisor and not the client. I have written before about a value proposition based on providing clients “peace of mind.” What does that mean? It is much more powerful to talk about tangible outcomes like choosing the right college, having enough money in retirement, saving money on taxes. You can be more elegant and interesting than saying only those benefits, just don’t try to stretch it too far by being creative.

Be clear about the outcome. Rather than talking about what you do (we listen to you, we create comprehensive financial plans, we deliver solid advice, we believe a fiduciary approach is best) talk about what they get, what they experience, how they are different because they worked with you.

Being clear and to the point also helps people find you. When she was writing a book about advising couples, Kathleen Burns Kingsbury was advised by her publisher on several creative titles. She said no, we are going to call it How To Give Financial Advice To Couples. So if you are a financial advisor and want to focus on couples as a target market and search for how to do that better, what will you search for? You can see the results in the image that accompanies this blog post.

So when you create marketing, be clear and make it about the client. That’s about as clever as you need to be.

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