These days, every advisor is looking to buy a marketing tool. Which explains why every vendor is trying to sell one—whether they actually have anything to sell or not.

As I’ve written before, the whole industry now understands that the golden era of organic growth has come to an end. Advisors know they can’t sustain themselves on referrals alone. Any firm that sticks to its old formula of rainmaking, pressing the flesh and relying on word of mouth is going to find itself eating the dust of its faster, more modern competitors. Digital marketing is critical. This is why advisors are finally, finally investing in future growth and ramping up their marketing budgets.

Naturally, every vendor wants a piece of that action. Content creators, video resources, email services providers, web and app developers, and marketing agencies are all waving their hands in the air, eager to participate in the growth of advisor marketing. There’s nothing wrong with that. Growing demand leads to growing supply. Go, capitalism.

But something else is happening, too. Remember when I told you about all the cool tech at Joel Bruckenstein’s T3 (Technology Tools for Today) conference? The tools were indeed very cool. But there was just one problem. Many of them were being sold as marketing tools—even if they weren’t.

How is a portfolio accounting system a marketing tool? What is a software provider actually proposing to do about succession planning? What does an email vendor know about attracting women investors?

And most importantly, why do vendors think this bamboozle is really going to work?

Imagine you’re a fin tech software provider. Your marketing department or PR firm tells you that you’ve got to be more relevant. Write about the succession crisis, they tell you. That’s what’s trendy now. Give advisors some new ideas, fresh perspectives, or useful how-to information. So you do your homework and write an article yourself, or you have a copywriter bang out an article for you. You get a byline in the press, and maybe post it to your website.

Your article is a hit. Everyone tells you how great it is—so great, in fact, that an advisor calls your company out of the blue and asks to speak to you. He tells you all about his firm, and the challenges he’s facing trying to develop the next generation and attract more diverse talent. Then he asks you what you think he should do.
“How the flying freak do I know?” you think to yourself, although you don’t say it. “I’m a software provider. I just wrote an article to raise my visibility in the industry. You probably need to talk to somebody who actually knows what they’re talking about.”

Well, then why did you write the article in the first place, if you don’t have a solution for the people who read it? You just wasted time, money, and worst of all, a rare opportunity to connect with advisors on a deeper level.

Vendors are superb at recognizing topics that will catch advisors’ attention. Like marketing. Succession planning. NextGen talent development. But some vendors can’t always resist the temptation to make promises they can’t keep.

Be authentic to your product. Market it to advisors who really need it, not to advisors who really need something else.

It’s no wonder advisor confusion is so prevalent. They have no tools to sift actual marketing solutions from those that are just dressed up like one.

Why did you go originally into business with your partners? And as a follow up: how long did it take you to think of an answer to that question?

I’ve worked with some advisor teams that seem like a natural fit. They finish each other’s sentences. Complement each other’s expertise. And even use the same words to tell their story. It’s usually a clean, simple story, too. One was a quant head, the other a people person, but they both served the same kind of clients. Or maybe they both have a special interest in eldercare issues, SRI or some other specialty. It’s relatively easy to walk them through the process of developing their brand and honing their value proposition. They already believe in their purpose; they just need help articulating it.

Then there’s the other kind of team.

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If you want to build your business, become a Ghostbuster. I’m not referring to the movie, exactly (I didn’t even see the sequel.) I’m talking about the theme song.

If there’s somethin’ strange in your neighborhood 
Who ya gonna call? Ghostbusters!

If that song were a real advertising jingle as opposed to a fictional one, it would rank right up there as among the best of all time. Its message is simple. If you have this specific problem—say, a slimy green ball of ectoplasm living in your fridge—then you know exactly whom to call. The song builds an instant connection between a customer need and a brand. You couldn’t ask for better marketing.

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As I said in my earlier post, some advisors are running on empty—and don’t even know it yet. They might be cruising smoothly for now. But if they aren’t adding enough prospects to the top of their sales funnels, they won’t be able to fuel their businesses over the long run.

I don’t want that to happen to you. So I am going to share a few ideas for keeping your sales funnel filled—automatically.

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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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