Show Don’t Tell. Use Content to Distinguish Yourself from the Crowd

Oct 12, 2017


No doubt about it, advisor marketing has changed. When I started my career as a wholesaler in the early 90’s, I spent almost every weeknight at client seminars. The advisor would invite a group of clients and prospects to a hotel ballroom or restaurant and talk to them about the benefits of planning. I would usually speak for 15 to 30 minutes as a product sponsor (before SEI), while showing slides  – this was pre-PowerPoint days. The rooms were typically full and most advisors thought it was a great use of their marketing budget and time. But not anymore; most public seminars do not draw well and advisors are looking elsewhere for growth ideas.

We’ve written a lot about referrals. They continue to be the number one source of new business for advisors mainly because that is all they have and all they try to do.  I want to talk about putting some effort into advisor marketing. I truly believe the marketing has changed and what helped advisors grow their businesses in the past will not work in the future.  Today I want to talk about content marketing.

Show me don’t tell me

Last week I was talking to one of my good college friends (not an advisor). My friend was discussing the challenges he was having getting a business off the ground. He attended numerous networking meetings over the years and had little luck. He made some connections, but they have not yet yielded any fruit . Our discussion reminded me of many similar conversation I have with advisors. My side of it went something like this,  “I know you have told people what you do…. but have you showed them?” I was asking him to show his expertise, his knowledge and specialties instead of just his job title.

What do you do?

We are in a business that confuses our job titles with what we do. We introduce ourselves as wealth managers, financial planners, financial advisors etc., but to the rest of the world that title means nothing. More importantly, as the larger firms move toward the fiduciary movement (fee based) – and planning is becoming more the norm – there is less and less separating the independent advisor from his/her competitors. With all that noise out there it is no wonder that prospects are confused and don’t know who can help them.  So why aren’t we showing prospects exactly what we do instead of just introducing ourselves by our job titles?

When I think about using content as marketing, I mean start a blog, write a whitepaper, make sure your website targets your ideal prospects. For me, content marketing means making sure that your audience knows exactly who you are, who you help, but more importantly, how.  It means creating a presence or a brand that differentiates from the generalists.

“But what should I say?” I can just hear you asking now.   Frankly, the content should be the easy part.  You are constantly surrounded by your ideal targets, so start with them.  What are their concerns and obstacles?  Start with conversation you have had with clients, workshops or webinars you have attended or something you have read. It doesn’t have to be long or complicated when you are getting started.   But you do have to get started.

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Get started

Think about the next time your best client refers you. Let’s be honest, the prospect is not going to call you right away just because your client gives them your name. The prospect is going to Google you. Think about what they will see that can set you apart.

  • What does your website look like? Do you have a generic site that shows a grey-haired couple walking on the beach holding hands or is it targeted to your ideal clients?  Is it static or updated regularly? Does it say who you work best with and how you define success with your clients?  Is the content fresh and relevant?
  • Have you created whitepapers or research reports? What do you do for those ideal clients; can you explain it or your process of working with people just like them?  Before a prospect is going to come see you, they are going to want to know why they should care. Have you given them a reason to think you are an expert? Can you show them?
  • Have you started a blog, podcast or commentary? The more prospects hear from you the better. Can they see your updates either on a blog or with commentaries updated on your website? Are you discussing topics targeted to that ideal client? Are you showing your expertise?
  • Are you using other social media tools? Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn are all great tools to share ideas, articles and your personality. They can get your name and message out and show your work. Use social media to re-purpose your content and drive people your website.

It all comes down to proving you do what you say you do. Proving that you are who you say you are.   I’m sure most of you have a great close rate when a client comes in the door, but creating that content and putting it out there will get people to walk in the door.

Think about my college friend, is his time better spent in networking meetings or creating content that will speak to his target audience? Where is your time best spent? Create the content; spread it around and your target clients will find you.

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John Anderson

John Anderson

John Anderson is the creator and lead author of Practically Speaking blog and Managing Director of Practice Management Solutions for the SEI Advisor Network.

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