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“We Do What They Do” Should Be A Real Wake-up Call

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Aug 7 • Strategies • 5309 Views • No Comments

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Around the time Facebook was becoming popular with college students, I was working with a group of veteran Schwab advisors as part of a marketing bootcamp. These men and women were the best of the best. They were fast growing in 2007, managing between $450 million to $5 billion for high net worth clients.

In building such fast-growing businesses, one would think they spent a lot of time and money on sales and marketing – but most agreed that wasn’t part of their strategy. Most of the advisors admitted their websites were stale and didn’t tell the best story. For example, they were slow to update the sites with press coverage or announcements about being named to top advisor lists. In fact, they offered very little timely content for their clients and prospects. Of course, social media didn’t exist and often their corporate brochures had been developed by nieces or nephews.
Significant growth was coming through word-of-mouth from happy clients and relationships they had fostered with centers-of-influence.

So, how did they do when we went around the room introducing themselves, sharing a bit about their practices?

The third person around the table pointed to the two advisors who had already spoken and said, “We do what they do”. Realizing most of the advisors around the room were essentially describing themselves in the same way was a real wake-up call.

So how can you differentiate yourself from the advisor down the street or across the table?

Below are four ways to differentiate your story that you may want to consider:

  1. Avoid labels: Don’t use stock descriptive phrases, like “financial planning”. Instead talk about how you help investors sleep at night because you help with discerning their needs, goals and fears, then designing a strategy to lead to their financial success. Even better, include two or three typical pains a prospect may be feeling. For instance, a prospect who just inherited serious money may fear making a mistake or was scared by recent volatility got out of stocks and missed the rally. If you connect, you’ve got the basis for a heartfelt discussion.
  2. Be specific: Sure, your ideal client is a high net worth investor. But be specific in what that means. While $2 million in investable assets is enough for one advisor, to another that’s chump change since she targets accounts in excess of $10 million.
  3. Tell stories: You may add value with private equity placements. But don’t say you scour the world for “deals”. Instead, say you looked at three-hundred opportunities from China to France to Israel last year and selected just four.
  4. Use data: Don’t say most of your business comes from referrals. Instead say 85% of your business comes from referrals. Or we received more than 10 referrals that converted to clients this month.

You can also enhance other messages such as your investment process, client communication process, and any niches you serve by using these techniques.

How does all this apply to digital marketing?

If you say you are a disciplined, long-term investor that is always diversified across twelve or more asset classes, be sure your blogs, Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook posts aren’t focused on what the market did today or why you believe water stocks are a screaming buy.

Dan Sondhelm

Dan Sondhelm is the CEO of Sondhelm Partners, a firm designed to help financial companies attract investors, strengthen distribution and build brands.

Dan was nominated by MutualFundWire in 2009 as one of the Most Influential People in Fund Distribution for his guidance and perspective to help companies grow. Dan frequently contributes to the financial news media and presents or moderates at industry conferences and webinars.

Prior to establishing Sondhelm Partners, Dan was a senior partner and senior vice president at SunStar Strategic for more than 20 years. In this role, he was instrumental in helping boutique and larger firms develop strong distribution and marketing programs.

Dan earned an MBA from the Kogod College of Business Administration at American University in Washington, DC.
Dan lives in Alexandria, VA with his wife Jenna, twin children Madeleine and Gabriel, and cat Remy.

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The above article is for educational purposes only. Investment professionals should consult their compliance departments before accessing or implementing any of the marketing ideas, practices or advice found in the DigitalFA. Your use of the DigitalFA website tells us you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service.

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