Marketing Mistakes Advisors Stumble On

Advisors may not realize they’re making marketing mistakes trying to promote their firm. So it’s wise to know what these pitfalls are.


Some financial planners inherit a book of business from a retiring advisor. Others set out to run a boutique practice with only a handful of clients. But for everyone else, success hinges on their marketing prowess.

Marketing doesn’t come naturally to many advisors, though. They need to become adept at networking, self-promotion and website design.

Perhaps the biggest marketing mistakes new advisors make involve branding. They focus on their background, expertise and passion for helping people.

Yet what potential clients really want is someone who understands them and solves their problems. Advisors who brand themselves as problem-solvers are a step ahead.

Wrong Messages Are Marketing Mistakes

Building a brand that’s all about “peace of mind” or “helping you live your dreams” can ring hollow. And it won’t differentiate you from other advisors.

On the other hand, identifying an underserved niche makes marketing much easier. It directs your efforts and enables you to connect with a well-defined group of people that you’re uniquely qualified to serve.

Some advisors confuse a target market with a niche. They are actually two different things.

“A target market might be pre-retirees or retirees,” said Crystal Lee Butler, a marketing consultant who runs Crystal Marketing Solutions in Franklin, Va. “A niche might be pre-retirees who are attorneys. It’s narrower than a target market.”

The right niche drives your marketing outreach. Address the specific needs of a particular group — and make it easy for that group to find you in an online search — and you’re off and running.

If you want to work with municipal employees such as law enforcement officers or school administrators, for instance, create marketing pieces that educate them about pensions and related benefits. Raise your digital profile so they know about you. And network within their ranks.

Avoid Marketing Mistakes: Stick With The Plan

Defining your niche enhances your credibility and heads off some marketing mistakes. Prospects can quickly determine if they’re the right fit for your practice.

“Your marketing content, including your website, should identify exactly who you will help and how you will help them,” Butler said. She suggests using case studies or avatars — composite profiles that represent the type of individual you serve — to illustrate the value of your expertise.

Many advisors produce informative or educational content on financial topics relevant to their niche. They may lace the content with keywords to optimize their ranking in search engines.

But lack of follow-through can stymie their efforts, Butler says. Advisors often fall into the trap of creating content for a few months — and then abandoning it.

“You need to consistently put out content,” she said. “You won’t see ROI (return on investment) in the first year. You’ve got to give it two to three years to see the value in it. I’ve seen clients switch gears one year in, just as they were starting to see some success.

Networking blunders can also prove costly marketing mistakes. If you’re going to attend virtual or in-person events, research the attendees in advance. Confirm that you’re likely to meet centers of influence who are well positioned to connect you to your desired prospects.

Some advisors treat networking as a task to check off. They set a goal of showing up at one or two gatherings per month without prequalifying these events to ensure they’re worth attending.

Avoid Marketing Mistakes By Polishing Your Elevator Pitch

Advisors need an elevator pitch to describe what they do in a succinct, compelling manner. Summarizing what sets them apart in a pithy, memorable way requires finesse.

They may refer to their role as a fiduciary, emphasize how they’re paid (“I’m fee-only”) or explain the value of holistic financial planning. These are all important points. But they may sail over someone’s head.

To deliver a better elevator pitch, tell a story. Place your client at the center of it and end with a triumph.

Kristen Luke runs Kaleido Creative Studio, a San Diego-based marketing consulting firm. She suggests that advisors read “Building A StoryBrand” by Donald Miller.

“Make the client the hero of your story,” she said. “All messaging should be about the client.”

Another error: A website that lacks authenticity. Advisors may come across as overly formal, describing their firm’s business practices in cold, sterile language.

Instead, strike a conversational tone. Address the reader as “you” as if chatting with a friend. Use lots of bullets, record short videos and design eye-catching visuals that enliven the content.

Draft a bio that captures your personality. A dry summation of your accomplishments that reads like a resume may seem impressive, but it probably won’t end you to prospects.


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