There’s a looming marketing crisis the industry isn’t acknowledging. I encourage you to pay attention to it so that you can maintain sustainable growth for years to come.

In February, I attended the 2017 T3 Advisor Conference. As you would expect, the floor was chockfull of vendors promoting the latest advisor technology tools. To be honest, I was blown away by some of the tool’s available today to help advisors engage with clients. The client video resources alone were amazing; I suggest you check out the vendor presentations and follow the T3 TechHub for highlights.

The question is, who is going to watch the videos, or interact with these cool new tools?

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Simple Sells

The financial industry overcomplicates things.

Marketers across the industry will sympathize with me, we’ve all seen firms take more than a year to approve one 12-page brochure. It is not unusual for firms to appoint committees who meet to go over every single word of marketing copy with a fine-toothed comb. Of course, every part of the firm has to be involved, each contributing its own two cents. Every competing vision of the firm goes to war with every other—debating whom it serves, what its unique value proposition is, and even how it works. The brochure turns into a battleground where good ideas wind up dead and buried.

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In my last post, I urged you to think carefully before launching a book or a podcast—not to discourage you from pursuing your dream to market this way, but to make sure your dream is grounded in reality.

If you’ve decided that it still makes sense as part of your well thought out marketing plan, how do you introduce your new book or podcast to the world? Here are 9 marketing tips based on lessons learned from all the book and podcast launches we’ve managed at FiComm.

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Have you ever pictured your name on the cover of a book—or your podcast at the top of the iTunes charts? If so, this two-part post is for you.

Years ago, it felt like pulling teeth just to get advisors to write a simple personal finance article in the local newspaper. But that was before Youtube, iTunes and Kindle Direct Publishing gave everybody a shot at stardom. Today, advisors see The Reformed Broker Josh Brown everywhere—on blogs, in top tier publications, speaking at events, on broadcast television—and acknowledge what his notoriety has done for his career. They think, “I can do that, too.”

Maybe you can. But should you?

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Do you know how to take a compliment? More importantly, do you know how to use a compliment?

Most businesspeople love positive client testimonials. Imagine restaurants without 5-star Yelp reviews, movies without 95% fresh ratings, weight loss clinics without before-and-after pictures. Amazon has architected its entire business around soliciting reviews for every product in its inventory, from books to electronics to spackle. They’re a critical success driver for its business.

When it comes to the financial industry, though, advisors are gun-shy about testimonials. Obviously, advisors face significant regulatory restraints to using client statements in their marketing. At times, the rules can go beyond prohibiting testimonials in marketing materials to severely cramping your social media presence, forcing you to turn off comments and limit engagement.

But just because you can’t publish testimonials doesn’t mean you shouldn’t pay attention to them. They have significant utility in opening your eyes to the real reasons why your clients love you—and they may not be the reasons you expect.

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You’ve seen the stats. Women already control most of the wealth in America, and our share is only going up (1). Boomer women have started inheriting their husbands’ assets. Millennial women are outpacing men in academic achievement (2). So, if you’re an advisor looking to ramp up growth, it makes sense to target women as clients, right?

Wrong.

If you’re a guy, turn this around for a moment. Imagine you get a phone call from some other kind of professional advisor you might consider hiring—say, an attorney, or a CPA, or a small business IT consultant. The voice on the phone explains the offering, and then tells you, “I think you’ll definitely like our tech support, because we specialize in serving male advisors.” What does that even mean? Sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it?

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Do you plan to spend more on marketing this year? Apparently, your peers do. According to the latest TD Ameritrade Institutional RIA Sentiment Survey, RIAs expect to increase their 2017 marketing budgets by 27%.

I wonder where all that money is going. In the survey, nearly 6 in 10 advisors say they’ll spend more on social media, and 37% plan to change up their marketing and networking to appeal to younger clients. Those trends make sense if organic growth really is slowing down, as some advisors are reporting.

Some of that cash may be going to fight the robo “threat.” As you may have read, Michael Kitces declared that independent B2C robo advisors are dying. Whether that’s true or not, the fact is that robos did disrupt the industry. They commoditized investment management, raised client expectations and catalyzed a new wave of innovation in response. Maybe a higher marketing spend is part of that trend.

But frankly, I’m worried. All those extra dollars could go to waste if advisors make one critical mistake: trying to find a silver bullet. There is no such thing.

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Right now, you should be running. At top speed. With a flag in your hand, ready to plant it in the ground.

Get the reference? It’s from Far and Away, that ‘90s movie where Tom Cruise plays an Irish immigrant on a land run in the Old West. He’s running across the open prairie with a flag in his hand, looking for a little plot of land to claim. Then, just in the nick of time, right as a posse of competing land rushers comes riding up over the hill, he and Nicole Kidman plant their flag and stake their claim. It’s very dramatic.

It’s also an apt metaphor for RIAs. You occupy extremely desirable territory in the market. But a herd of new claimants is coming to take it from you, if you don’t plant your flag and stake your claim right now.

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If you’ve ever been to an industry conference or read an advisor trade pub, you’ve heard an expert telling you the “best” way to define a target market is by profession. But is that notion true?

Let’s think this through. Suppose you decide to target endodontists—the nice people who give you root canals. They’re affluent, busy professionals, and many own their own practices. Although they’re smart and educated, most probably still need help with financial matters. In other words, ideal client material.

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The Fire Next Time

What’s your plan for the next stock market crash?

I bet that question took you by surprise. Judging by some of the conversations I’ve had recently, it’s probably not something you’ve been thinking about very much. As of this writing, the Dow is dancing around its all-time highs. Financial institutions are salivating at the prospect of deregulation. Economic indices are looking good. Nobody is worried about another crash.

But you know one is coming.

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