The Most Powerful Marketing Tools for Today’s Advisors

The 5 proven marketing strategies most likely to help you generate new business in 2018

By Maribeth Kuzmeski, PhD

Most likely you already have many marketing ideas – but are they working in today’s environment for financial advisors? Here are five easy-to-implement strategies that are working right now to attract new clients and fans, expose your brand, get people talking, and differentiate yourself.

1. Yes, it’s true, Referrals are still #1. With all of the digital innovations in marketing and the countless ways we can reach prospects, most new business for financial advisors continues to come from referrals. Research backs this up1 and likely many of your best clients found their way to your firm through referrals as well.

But do you have a system or process for generating the best new clients into your firm? If you don’t, you’re not alone. But instead of thinking you need to uncomfortably ask for referrals, consider why most people get referrals in the first place and how you can focus on upgrading those traits.

Are you and your team truly listening to your clients? In the book, Blink, by Malcolm Gladwell, a study is referenced that was done to find out why some medical surgeons never get sued. When looking at surgeons and their practices, they found that the surgeons that didn’t get sued spent on average 3 MINUTES LONGER with each patient. And, during those 3 minutes, the surgeons reportedly just listened. Interestingly, if something went wrong, the patient still sued, but it was the Internist, Radiologist or someone else that would get sued, not the surgeon. The patient actually liked the surgeon. When the surgeon listened, he/she was silently yet clearly telling the client, ‘I think you’re important enough for me to take a few minutes to hear what you have to say.’

The fact is, we don’t sue people we like. We also will do business quicker with people we like. And, we refer others to those we like. Can we deduct then that if we are good listeners we will gather more referrals? When we look at top performing practices, it’s probably not a coincidence that more than 50% of every meeting is spent listening!

There is no doubt you have been and will continue to listen to your clients. But perhaps a little extra focus in this area with your team will bring some much-desired results.

2. A Strong Value Proposition Closes More New Business. Your ability to clarify your value proposition feeds directly into your ability to get your prospects to say yes.

Describing your value clearly should be something that you can do anytime. It should be direct, simple, and understandable to grab the attention of your prospects.

The key to standing out cannot be a blanket statement that targets, for instance, everyone within the United States who needs investment services. You could of course focus on everyone, but it would require an incredible marketing budget to get the kind of exposure and name recognition that would lead to becoming a nationally known entity for investing.

Here is a proven Messaging Your Value Formula for differentiation that will help you truly stand out.

  1. Focus your message on a target. Focusing on everyone with more than $1 million to invest is not a target.
  2. Describe what they want that you offer. What does your target market truly desire?
  3. Share how you are different than most. You don’t have to be uniquely different from everyone, just offer a key differentiation.
  4. Have a story that proves it! Give an example of what you do.

Below is a statement from a financial advisor. He works with many different types of target markets and people. However, when he is talking with a business owner, this is what he shares:

We are a financial advisory firm that specializes in working with business owners. In fact, to date, we have helped more than 60 business owners successfully sell their business and move on to the next phase of their lives. 

It is targeted, and attention-getting for a target market. It works because he is stating something that they truly WANT. Marketing to the masses is fine for some, but ineffective for most. Focus on grabbing the attention of the person right in front of you.

3. Your Online Reputation should be as good as you are in real life. If you knew that your best prospect was going to look at your LinkedIn profile next Thursday and make a decision on whether or not to come in to see you based on what they see – would you change it?

Today, 9 out of 10 people will search for you online before coming in to meet with you – including your referrals. Why? Because they can (and should) conduct some due diligence to find out about you and your firm before coming in to share anything with you. Think about it – people go online when they are considering a new refrigerator, so of course, they will go online for even more significant things.

The problem begins if they can’t locate you online or if what they find is not up to date, clearly stated, or does not share the benefits of you and your firm. Even worse, what if the information they find out about you online doesn’t come close to matching the perception that they had in their mind of you after being referred?

Don’t give your prospects a reason to pause. That pause may just result in you not converting that hard-earned referral into an appointment and sale. Ask yourself, does my online presence match who I really am? Does it tell my story? Google yourself today and find out what others see.

4. Events are still working! Here are some successful (and odd-sounding) events that have been attracting new business over the past 12 months.

  1. A Tesla showroom for a reception and viewing of the newest electric cars.
  2. Cooking Class and Dinner: Learning how to cook Paleo
  3. Private tour of a Professional Sports Team facilities
  4. An evening at an Auto Mechanics Shop for women: Learning what you need to know to not get taken advantage of by auto service and oil change shops.
  5. A Workshop on how to find and collect Antiques
  6. French Wine Tasting event
  7. Whiskey Tasting event
  8. Casino Night (using “funny money” so no gambling)
  9. Grandparents Workshop: An overview of the top trips, games and electronics that can be enjoyed with your grandkids (of all ages).
  10. Vacation Night: An overview from a travel agent on the top 10 trips for those over age 65.

The key is to make the event popular enough so your clients will bring their friends, you can meet new prospects, and you will have reasons to follow up and begin forging new, profitable relationships.

5. Posting relevant content to attract your target markets. Engaging people through social media, your blog, and your website are important ways to stay in front of your prospects and drive them to your firm. However, it is critical to consider everything you post on social media. It is not about the fact that you have posted something, but rather how interesting your posts are to your target audience. When in doubt, evaluate whether or not your posts are generating interest and interaction by looking at your analytics.

Here is a quick checklist you can go through before posting any new content:

If you cannot answer “yes” or “I believe so” to most of these questions below, it probably will be better to skip the post.

  • Will people be interested in this post?
  • Does it provide value to the reader?
  • Will they hit the “like” button?
  • Will they comment on the post?
  • Will they want to click and read?
  • Will they share it?

Content is relevant if it is timely, and/or of particular interest to a group of people or niche audience. For instance, your content could include…

  • A topic oriented to a particular segment, for example:
    • Getting ready to retire
    • Saving for college for child or grandchild
    • Widows
    • Divorcees
  • A video on a timely market-related or niche-focused topic.
  • Charitable or philanthropic oriented
  • Event oriented – either a local event in your community or something you are hosting
  • Relating to people in your office


I think you will agree that the five above ideas are not necessarily surprising and mostly doable. The key is – they really work! The question is – what will you upgrade in 2018 to change the results of your marketing?

1 “Top Producer Consistent Growth Study: 2003-2017,” Red Zone Marketing, 2018.

Maribeth Kuzmeski, Ph.D., is the President of Red Zone Marketing, a consulting firm specializing in strategies for achieving measurable new business growth for financial services firms. She has personally consulted with some of the nation’s top advisers and teams and has guided firms through significant net new business growth. Maribeth is the author of 7 books including The Connectors and teaches a course on marketing at Columbia University. She is an international keynote speaker and has appeared in numerous media outlets including FoxNews, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and Forbes discussing innovative marketing strategies.

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