Your Marketing Claims Need To At Least Make Sense!



Forgive me a little rant.

I look at hundreds of advisor websites – of my clients, their competitors, and in doing research. Most say pretty much the same thing. It is frustrating, boring, but understandable. You are told to put certain things on your web page, or talk to other advisors and decide to do the same as they do. Not great marketing, but forgivable.

It is inexcusable, however, are the (often grandiose) claims presented proudly and prominently that just don’t make sense. That’s dumb.

Here are a few egregious examples. I will do my best to protect the identity of the advisors who have the following examples on their sites, but will present them as closely as possible to how they are actually worded.

“When [Principal Name] established [Principal Name] and Associates…”

Ok, first of all, Your Name and Associates just screams to me that it is a solo practitioner and an assistant. Definitely small time. Is that fair? No. But that’s the reaction I have, and I can’t be alone. Name a single serious firm with a name like You & Associates. OK, Charles Schwab. Actually, that’s Charles Schwab and Company, and you ain’t Chuck.

Sorry, back to our example…

“In 2004, [Principal] changed the name to [Principal’s initials] Financial Group to better reflect the  broader nature of the firm’s services.”

What? I get that maybe changing the name from [Principal Name] Investment Management to [Principal Name] Wealth Management might reflect a broader perspective. [Principal’s initials] Financial Group just tells me you are in financial services. The change tells me nothing about the breadth. And it still sounds small time to me.

How about this: “My practice is entirely referral driven, so I work with people just like you.” Dude, I found you on Google. Why is it that you know exactly what I need because your clients talk about you? And why on earth should I refer you to someone else? There may be a reason, but this isn’t it.

That example is silly, but this one is just a bad idea:

“My clients’ interests are my top priority, not the company’s bottom line.”

No they’re not. Either that’s a lie or you are a really bad business owner. If either of those is true, I don’t want you to be my advisor.  Maybe your target market is “the gullible.”  If your clients’ interests are your TOP priority and always trump the bottom line, you would not charge anything. So if you are serious about that commitment, you have only been in the business a few months and are about to run out of money.  In the real world, you have to balance the needs of the business with your clients’ interests. The value you deliver should be in excess of your cost so that on balance they are better off after paying you. But that’s different.

Maybe he meant what another site said: “We work on a fee basis. Because you pay us directly, we can offer you recommendations with only your interests in mind.” That’s different. And that’s fair. Maybe that’s actually what’s going on and I am reacting to clumsy wording. Could be, but there is a FINRA disclosure at the bottom of the page. You can decide what to make of that.

When you create a communication plan, get some advice. Have someone look at it. A practice like [Principal Name] and Associates probably can’t afford me, but at least show it to someone in your target market. Preferably someone who does not know you because your friends will give you an endorsement to protect your feelings. Maybe someone who owns a business. Maybe someone you know in marketing.

Your marketing message may not be ideal, and there may be some debate about what ideal is. At the very least, make sure what you put out there for people to see when evaluating whether to hire you don’t strain their credulity or leave them scratching their heads.

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