Right this minute, we are watching the collision of two forces that are shaking advisor firms to their foundations.

The first is the commoditization of advice, driven in part by technology. Face it: investment performance is no longer a credible differentiator. Between the popularity of passive investing and the convenience of robo-advisors, few prospects are likely to be persuaded that your firm is really, truly, reliably a better stock-picker than your competitors. Most advisors recognize this fact, even if they aren’t sure what to do about it.

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This is the story of how we lost an account. It was a painful lesson, but one that’s worth reading whether you’re an agency, vendor or advisor—really, anyone who’s invested in the growth of advisor firms.

Of course, I’ve changed the story to the point where it’s now completely fictional and no longer resembles anything that happened in real life. Only the lesson remains the same.

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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.

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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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