By Brian Hart
Over the weekend I listened to an amazing song I hadn’t heard in ages, and it got me thinking about a common struggle among many growth-minded financial advisors. The song “Everything to Everyone” was the first release from the rock band Everclear’s 1997 album So Much for the Afterglow. Here’s how lead singer Art Alexakis once described the song:
“It’s kind of an angry song. That person is within everybody, I think everybody has this ability to try and be everything to everyone, to try to please. I think there are 2 aspects of it – there’s the pleaser, who doesn’t always show his true self, always plays nice and as time goes on shows more and more of himself, but there’s also the people who are everything to everyone who are manipulators and users.”
Putting those words in the context of the advisory business, many firms and advisors out there are “pleasers” – they water down their brands and value propositions by trying to make them apply to the widest range of prospective clients. They inflate the regions they serve, are lax on minimum investable assets and refrain from being specific regarding other demographics.
While the motivation to take an overly inclusive approach stems from fear of turning away potential business, diluting your brand at a time when consumers want specialization and customization can be far more costly to your practice.
I recently chatted with Brittney Castro, founder of Finically Wise Women. Since launching her firm in 2012, Brittney has developed and implemented a powerfully effective niche marketing strategy geared towards women in their 30’s and 40’s. Her story is a great case study into how focusing your marketing efforts can enhance your brand and overall business success.
Based on our discussion, here are the measures advisors should take to avoid being seen as “everything to everyone”:
Clearly and Publicly Define Your Target Market
The first step to finding your niche is to narrow down exactly who you want to market to and how to reach them. When doing this, it’s important to avoid going for the obvious or most convenient choice. Play to your strengths by choosing demographics that you know well and can best serve.
Brittney, for example, wanted to work with women like herself. “When I first started in the industry I was told to go after the baby boomers, because they’re the ones with the money,” she explained. “But I found that, naturally, I wasn’t hanging out with this demographic in life and I wanted to work with clients more like me.”
Pursuing the demographics she knows best has brought Brittney to levels of success that she might have otherwise missed out on.
Determine Client Types You Don’t Wish to Serve
After clearly defining the clients profiles you wish to serve, you should take time to determine the types of clients you do not want to market to.
It’s common for advisors to feel that committing to a specific niche means losing out on all other demographics–– and therefore losing out on revenue. However, this isn’t necessarily the case. “I’ve found that the more I’ve niched and specialized in a specific area, the more successful I’ve been,” Brittney says. Establishing yourself as the expert, or the go-to financial advisor, for a specific group of people can create a powerful pipeline of new business.
“I do my best to operate in my ‘zone of genius’ all the time because I think I’m more successful with my clients when I’m in that zone,” Brittney said. When clients outside of her target demographic come Brittney’s way, she often refers them to other advisors. “I find I’m more fulfilled and happier, because I’m not trying to be everything to everybody,” she added.
Don’t try to be a ‘pleaser’ – keep the clients you know you can serve best and refer others to peers who are better suited to meet their planning needs.
Create and Commit to a Targeted Marketing Plan
Now that you’ve defined your niche market, how do you best engage them?
Brittney has found massive success with her marketing strategy, and she says that consistency is key. “My marketing plan is very specific,” Brittney says, “and it’s something that I’m aware of on the daily.” According to her, a good niche marketing plan takes a lot of planning, focus and constantly testing out strategies. “It’s consistency that has really paid off for me,” she said.
Find the demographic that you’re passionate about and advisory services that best tap into your talent and expertise. The results might not always be immediate, but keeping a long-term mentality when it comes to your marketing plan will enable the biggest payoffs and help to establish your thought leadership and industry credibility.
In the end, finding your niche as an advisor comes down to three things: 1) Defining your target audience; 2) Referring out potential clients outside of your focus; and 3) Committing to your marketing plan.
Clients demand personalization in the advice they receive now more than ever before, and they will seek out the few advisors who truly understand how to serve them best. So don’t try to be everything to everyone; niche marketing has helped rising advisors like Brittney reach new levels of success, and it can do the same for you.
Listen to my full interview with Brittney Castro here.