Editor’s Note: What’s the old adage? We’re our own worst enemy. When it comes to digital marketing, that remains a truth. We need to be engaged and aware of what our capabilities are when it comes to marketing. More importantly, we also have to be open to where we need help. Of course in our industry we also have to proceed with our eyes wide open to navigate regulatory boundaries. Avoiding the marketing sins Ms. Rudin outlines below can be accomplished through planning, consistency and asking for professional help when you need it. This approach allows you to look put together in your marketing initiatives while staying compliant. Ms. Rudin’s original slideshow edition on the seven marketing sins ran on WealthManagement.com.
We are all sinners. And though some sins are worse than others, most sins can be forgiven. As long as you know you’ve “sinned,” you can do better next time. The point is, don’t fret if you recognize yourself on this list of the seven deadly sins of wealth management marketing. And you will. Because the seven deadly sins discussed here are about as common among wealth managers as hair on a donkey. Now, REPENT!
Seven Marketing Sins
Aiming at Everyone?
You can’t possibly be everything to everyone. You will end up appealing to no one. This is especially a problem for financial advisors who have just established themselves, have a humming business with an eclectic client list and are beginning to accumulate more clients than they can properly serve.
The challenge is figuring out which clients are not just a good fit for you but with whom you have an edge: which ones will be your happily ever after. It is likely a group with whom you have some life or work expertise in common (perhaps you have many friends who are doctors or you were once pre-med) or with whom you share a passion (wine? Climate change? NASCAR?)
Figuring out that sweet spot is essential, because once you understand what your ideal client cares about, what they need, how they communicate, learn, spend and invest, you will be able to speak directly to them with your marketing and branding. If you don’t have a clear target, it will be impossible to create a clear message.
Do It Yourself
So many wealth managers work for themselves, in one- or two-man shops. They do everything. They lick stamps, they go out and drum up new business, they answer the phone, they plan investment portfolios, they vet and invest in new technology. But one person cannot be an expert in all things.
This is especially true for those skills that you do not count as strengths, that require some experience, and where mistakes could be costly. Your brand is like your reputation, very difficult to build, very easy to destroy—especially today, when all it takes is a single click of the mouse for word to get around.
Do you know how to write a successful email blast that hooks prospective clients without overwhelming them with information? Do you know how to create a clean, succinct message that will resonate with your target audience without offending or embarrassing them? If so, great. If not, try a professional.
Copy the Competition
Maybe your competition is making promises you feel you need to match. Maybe you think their marketing puts out exactly the message you have been wanting to get across to your own clients. Maybe they offer a service or perk you’ve always wanted to provide. Avoid the temptation to try to copy or one-up them. Instead, do what you already do better. Make yourself stand out by offering something different, something the competition can’t provide.
Money is mathematical. And wealth needs to be managed without emotion. But when it comes to marketing, your clients need to trust you and that means they are looking for a connection. Bombarding them with numbers, charts and complex arguments will only alienate them.
When they meet you, see your website, receive a message from you, they need to feel like they’ve just had a light bulb moment, that you will take care of their families and their financial fortunes, because you get them, profoundly. This is about speaking their language, appealing to their sensibility, without faking it.
Take Advice from Non Professionals
Listen, we all appreciate the approval of those closest to us, our family members. They guide us in so many areas of our life. And you may think that the people closest to you are precisely the kinds of people you would want as your clients—if they like your marketing materials then you must be doing something right, right?
While their approval is certainly better than disapproval, your spouse is not a good gauge of your marketing campaign’s success. Not only do you have to worry about the obvious: they may be biased. The only way you can really know if you are achieving what you set out to achieve with you campaign is to measure the results. Are you getting the clients you wanted and are they coming to you because of the marketing materials? Ask them directly or create a survey.
Marketing is not Advertising
Yes, wealth managers and financial advisors are saddled with some pretty restrictive rules when it comes to advertising. And advertising has changed in the age of the Internet. It’s no longer just a spot on television or a discrete corner of space in a newspaper or magazine that touts your firm and the services it provides. It can now be a spot in a google search or on a Facebook page, or an online “advertorial.”
But whether you pay for a “media” spot or not, you still have to get your message out. And your message is your marketing: it refers to every single act or piece of material that defines your brand for a client, and that includes your website, your brochures, your events, your social media pages, your google search presence, your youtube videos.
In many ways, it is more important than advertising because it is far broader: it may shape the responses of potential customers long before and after they have seen any advertisement.
Every wealth manager would like to be able to offer Ritz Carlton Services, the latest mobile technology, concierge service, a monthly checkup and quarterly rollover, a thought-provoking and inspiring newsletter, etc. etc. etc. But if you aren’t absolutely positive you can give your client all these things, haven’t already ensured that you have the infrastructure to follow through and the time and the resources, don’t promise.
It is always better to exceed expectations by a little than to fall short. You may win clients with your promises but you will lose them when you fail to deliver and they may even discourage others from seeking you out. Exceeding expectations, on the other hand, can win you loyalty for life and endless referrals.