Marketing inbreeding

Last week I attended FPA Denver 2010. I attended as many practice management workshops as I could that covered topics of financial advisor marketing, value propositions, and client communications. I reviewed the presentation notes of the ones I could not attend. These were all workshops presented by people recognized as national experts in marketing and client relations for financial advisors. And there was a lot of good solid advice in those programs.

Most of them pointed out the importance of defining your value proposition and understanding your strategic differentiation. What I found alarming was the most also made a fundamental and classic mistake. They recommended developing all these on your own!

The biggest single problem with financial advisor marketing is the inbreeding of ideas. We come up with our marketing plans and campaigns on our own, based on anecdotal and subjective information gathered casually from clients in meetings over the years, we rarely test them with clients and prospects, have no system for objectively gathering client perceptions. The people we want most to communicate with, the people we are counting on to have an emotional reaction to what we have to say, are generally left totally out of the process.

Our marketing messages need to be compelling, and must resonate with our target clients and prospects. That requires the guidance and feedback from members of that tribe. Only they can educate you on what is really important to them and how they describe it. In the advisor marketing that I see, anything that may be important to clients is almost always described in our terms. It is no surprise that so many prospects fail to connect with it.

If you do your own marketing, engage your clients. Ask them, in a systematic and objective way, what they value most about their relationship with you and about the services you provide – in their words. If you hire marketing consultants, challenge any strategy that is not based on client feedback. Give your clients a leadership role in marketing your practice, and you will find that it is much more effective.

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