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How to Get Ahead of 99% of Financial Advisors – Get a Big Brand

No doubt, financial advisor marketing is one of the toughest games around. Unfortunately with the pressures of running your practice, the brand is something most financial advisors put last. The reality is that 99% of financial advisors (RIA firms, insurance agents, wealth managers, financial planners) are saying the same exact thing. If you want to make it in this business, the only choice, the only way to go, is to lay a solid foundation with a nice, big brand. This article is going to discuss why relying on your referral sources (as most financial advisors do) for leads is not viable, what exactly a big brand is, examples of good and bad financial advisor branding, and how to go about letting that fierce brand roar.

This is a No-BS Article about financial advisor branding

Sara Grillo, CFA is a highly fun and slightly crazy marketing consultant based in NYC.

I am an insightful and fun marketing consultant for financial advisors.

By the way, thanks for joining me.

For those of you who are new to my blog/podcast, my name is Sara. I am a CFA® charterholder and I used to be a financial advisor. I have a weekly newsletter in which I talk about financial advisor lead generation topics and it is best described as “fun and irreverent.” So please subscribe!

So if you’re looking for some straight up talk then you’ve come to the right place!

Cold vs. Warm Market

Time and time again, financial advisors struggle to find a solid sustainable source of leads for their practice. And that’s perfectly understandable; marketing by any means other than referrals is hard to do in this business. The industry is notorious for its high turnover and the heinous crimes that some financial professionals have committed against their innocent clients, so you’ve got a reputational strike against you before you even open your mouth.

The result?

Most financial advisors do not even attempt to actively market themselves into “cold markets.”

The unfortunate reality is that you’re going to have some skinny kids  and a low financial advisor salary if the only leads you get come from client referrals or introductions from people in your network such as accountants and attorneys. Here’s why.

  • It’s the most market sensitive, cyclical source of leads. In a down market, very few clients are going to refer anyone to a financial advisor who they resent because they have to pay your fee while you’re losing their money. Sometimes losing the client’s money is unavoidable, but in the eyes of the client you are still to blame. Every client has that one friend who loves shooting their mouth off every cocktail party about how they’re getting 35% a month while the market is in a down spiral. You’d be better off marketing to someone who knows nothing about you than a current client in a down market.
  • Referrals are a myth anyways. They can never be relied upon. They should be considered a bonus for hard work. Would you rely on your annual bonus to pay your daily bills? No. They are a way of saying “thank you.” Would you ever try to force someone to say thank you? No. You can ask all you want, but at the end of the day there is no way to guarantee referrals.
  • Attorney, prop/cas insurance, and accountant leads are the most competitive market you could possibly participate in. They’re also intrinsically not aligned with growing your practice for the following reasons.
  • Many accountants already provide wealth management services as an ancillary offering. They also tend to be very risk averse and every dollar counts! Every single one! They love counting dollars which is why they are accountants. They are hesitant to trust any financial advisor who is going to potentially sour their relationship with their client by losing a dollar of their money.
  • Property/casualty agents. Just as in the case of accountants, most prop cas agents are already licensed to sell life and disability insurance.
  • Attorneys are the worst referral sources you could possibly have. Expect zero reciprocity. They get all their business from financial advisors and other attorneys. It never goes your way. They may have one financial advisor that they refer business to once in a blue moon but if you’re not that person then you can probably forget it. They’d love to take your estate planning leads, though!

Having an empty pipeline stinks.

The Cold Market Isn’t That Cold If You Have a Big Financial Advisor Brand

So the warm market isn’t reliable. The only market you can really control is the cold market. Financial advisors hate the cold market, though. Now, when most financial advisors hear the word “cold market”, they think of cold calling. You don’t have to go out there and start dialing for dollars like this is 1976. Nowadays there are many strategies to use, including:

I wrote an e-book called, “47 Financial Advisor LinkedIn Messages and Sequences that will NOT make you look Stupid. “ If you are a financial advisor trying to meet new clients over LinkedIn or other social media sites and you need some scripts, you can download it here.

Since the cold market gives most of us the shivers, you can’t cold market all the time. Don’t get me wrong; it’s demoralizing, embittering, and humbling all the time, even for the best of us. But that’s no reason for you to have to suffer through living in what I call the Small RIA Firm Poverty Trap.

Here’s my golden rule of cold marketing based upon over a decade of financial experience. Don’t go there unless you have a big brand. The next section will discuss what a big brand is and how to get one.

What is a Financial Advisor Big Brand?

A financial advisor big brand can be defined as a big bold line that allows you to be seen as different from all the other financial advisors out there, you have to draw the line somewhere. Many financial advisors hesitate to do this because they don’t want to leave money on the table by going into a niche and excluding prospects.

In reality you are too busy to serve all prospects. Remember, everyone has a brother in law who works at Morgan Stanley.

Better to go deep than wide because they are so many advisors out there with ties to the people you want to reach. Unless you really hit them over the head with a reason to work with you instead of their uncle or sister in law who just so happens to work at Merrill Lynch, you’ll end up with excuses like, “I’m really busy at work which is why I can’t roll over my IRA right now” but the reality is their uncle got to them at last week’s family Fourth of July party.

You have to draw the line somewhere to separate yourself. The most common branding mistakes I see financial advisors making are:

1) Not drawing a bold enough line that really differentiates you

2) Presenting a brand with too many ideas which subconsciously distracts and confuses the audience or

3) Inconsistently presenting the brand. For example, referring to yourself as “Chairman of XY Company” in some places rather than “CEO of XY Company.” Consistency matters because the audience doesn’t have time to sit there and figure you out. Make it so easy a three year old could understand it.

Moreover, a brand isn’t just about the logo and tagline looking good. It should clearly and quickly speak to the fundamental purpose of what you’re doing and why somebody should work with you rather than the next one.

Examples of Bad Financial Advisor Branding

The following examples typify financial advisor branding and are considered weak brands. These do not represent any one brand in particular but rather a compilation. Does this sound like your marketing copy at all?

We are independent fee-based advisors who fall under the fiduciary standard and always put our clients’ needs before our own. We do not accept commissions.

First of all, every single financial advisor who is a registered investment advisor representative uses this line. It’s the most tired pick up line in the history of the industry. There are some RIA firms that are ripping people off just as much as broker-dealers supposedly do, and with DOL changes most brokers are going to be fiduciaries soon anyways.

Second of all, it’s a negative marketing pitch to throw every commission based broker dealer under the bus. Do you realize that most financial advisors nowadays aren’t just broker dealers anymore? Seeking to avoid this scrutiny, most of them became “hybrid” RIA and broker dealer.

Third of all, the problem isn’t the commission it’s the churning. Do you think the client really cares that much as long as you do a good job? I mean, at the end of the day the client wants their money cared for prudently. They want to be treated right, but at the end of the day if you are doing right by them, does it really matter how you are getting paid? People don’t want their portfolios churned or to suffer wrongdoing. But paying a commission once in a while instead of a regular fee could be very attractive for a passive investor, for example.

We are dedicated to maximizing return while minimizing risk and have a 99% retention rate over our tenure. We do this by focusing on your unique needs, and our advice is customized to your goals and preferences.

This is so generic and it’s BS. It’s not a unique aspect of your brand, it’s the definition of what an investment advisor does and the clients are tired of hearing about it. Even the ones who don’t customize say that they customize. There’s no empirical evidence that customized portfolios or actively managed portfolios outperform the index, by the way. The customized portfolios go down in bad market just like the cookie cutter ones do.

We empower our clients with financial education and knowledge and help them make the right decisions to maximize wealth, reduce taxes, and improve savings for their families.

I’m so sweet. See my halo?

Finance is known for being the most ethically flawed and arrogant industry on the planet. You realize that that’s how people see you, right? It is seen as the least altruistic business in the world. That is always in the back of every client’s mind when they think of you. This warm and fuzzy approach can’t help but come off as disingenuous, yet every single financial advisor uses it as their motto.

The truth is that no financial advisor is in the game to educate the people who truly need the financial education. That would mean serving the broke people who don’t have a penny and need  debt counseling, giving them the rigorous attention and care to help them save $100. Those are the people with real financial problems. It’s so pandering to say that we care so much about people’s financial education when in reality we only care about educating them so that they do what we want them to do with their $500k of investable assets or more.

Let’s be real. You’re really not there to improve their knowledge of how the markets work, because if you had that as your life goal you would have been a college professor earning $25k per year. Most of the time the financial advisor’s definition of “educating the client” means telling the client what strategy you recommend and helping them understand it well enough to agree to it. You’re there to make them believe that it’s okay to invest their large sums of money for a fee in the vehicles that financially reward you, so you can pay your own mortgage.

The other thing is that I’m not sure people want to be educated. Finance is the only industry that does this. When I go to the dentist, he doesn’t whip out a dental school book and try to teach me about how he’s going to x-ray my teeth. I’ve found that anyone who doesn’t have his or her head in the sand is just looking for you to validate the hair-brained ideas they got from their friends or from CNBC. Most people with $500k or more know a thing or two about stocks, and if they don’t they are surrounded by wealthy people who do. Plus if they’re that wealthy they probably earned it somehow by being really successful at their jobs and don’t have time to sit around and learn about finance as a hobby. They’re not chomping at the bit to become students anytime soon.

Here’s one for a financial advisor who is in charge of recruiting other advisors.

Are you an experienced advisor whose needs have been neglected by broker-dealer? If so, then let’s discuss opportunities on our team to see if we may be the right fit for each other. We have over 70 years in the business.

This is the recruiting language used by every recruiting financial advisor in the world. Here’s why it fails. There’s no real “why” given here. The only compelling thing is that I know you’re not a fly by night organization because you mentioned you’ve been in business for 70 years. What benefit does that create for me? Does that give me access to the best mentors? Training? Facilities? Products? Better payouts? Why why why?

The callout is also very weak here. It doesn’t “agitate” enough. It mentions that your needs might be neglected, but what does that mean? Broker dealers might neglect you by not getting your proposals generated quickly enough, not passing your advertising through compliance quickly enough, not subsidizing your licenses, etc. None of those are mentioned here and I’m not agitated at my boss enough as a result of reading your copy to feel motivated to reach out to you.

Example of Good Financial Advisor Branding

Here’s a financial advisor that I think has done branding right.

Jeff Landers is an advisor who focuses sheerly on divorced women. It’s a great niche to focus on, as the problems someone encounters after divorce can be quite stressing and lead them to seek advice. He’s got a great tagline “think financially, not emotionally” that ties right into the idea of him being a beacon of light during a confusing time. The “why” of why work with Jeff is very clear. His copy centers around the subject of women, money, and divorce and it’s so clear from visiting his website that if you are a divorced woman than there is no better source of counsel.

And there are countless other examples. I discuss some of them on my podcast that you can subscribe to here.

Create Your Own Financial Advisor Big Brand

Thanks for reading!

And if you like my ideas there’s more of them where they came from – consider joining my membership here. It will teach you the basics of financial advisor online marketing.

Or, you could also subscribe to my podcast which goes into the subject of financial advisor LinkedIn messages and sequences in fuller detail.

You could sign up for my weekly newsletter about financial advisor lead generation.

Or you could dive in and start trying to meet new clients using social media. I wrote an e-book called, “47 Financial Advisor LinkedIn Messages and Sequences that will NOT make you look Stupid. “ If you are a financial advisor trying to meet new clients over LinkedIn or other social media sites and you need some scripts, you can download it here.

Thanks for reading and please stay with me for the next one!


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Should Financial Advisors Buy Leads; are Lead Generation Services Worth It?

Ask any financial advisor and they’ll say the biggest challenge for their practice is getting a reliable stream of high quality, qualified prospects in the door. Should financial advisors buy leads? This article provides an analysis of the major financial advisor  lead generation companies as well as the pros and cons of outsourcing lead generation for financial advisors, RIA firms, CFPs, and wealth managers.

By the way, thanks for joining me.

For those of you who are new to my blog/podcast, my name is Sara. I am a CFA® charterholder and I used to be a financial advisor. I have a weekly newsletter in which I talk about financial advisor lead generation topics  and it is best described as “fun and irreverent.” So please subscribe!

Sara Grillo, CFA is a highly fun and slightly crazy marketing consultant based in NYC.
I am an irreverent and fun marketing consultant for financial advisors.

Are Financial Advisor Lead Generation Services worth it?

We’ve all heard the incredulous statement, “Nobody looks for a financial advisor on the Internet.” The biggest question that most financial advisors have about lead generation services is about their legitimacy. The logical assumption is that if finding qualified high net worth individuals with money to manage is so hard for a highly credentialed financial expert, how could it be possible for some third party firm?

Let’s start with the question of what a financial advisor lead generation service is, shall we? A financial advisor lead generation service is a company that seeks to capture leads for financial advisors through the Internet. Many lead of them target individuals seeking financial advice through what is called pay-per-click advertisements.

How do these financial advisor lead generation services work? When somebody types in, for example, “financial advisor in Milwaukee, Wisconsin” or “how to get 401k advice in Tucson, Arizona”, ads come up which refer the person to a lead generation website where they can search for a financial advisor.

Once the lead is gathered, usually it is qualified and verified before being passed on to the financial advisor subscribing to the lead generation service. But do verify that before you sign up for the service.

Do people really seek financial advice through the Internet?  The times they are a’changin.

Can a financial advisor get leads through the Internet? Yes! With the digital boom, this is a huge opportunity for financial advisors serving the Internet-friendly Generations X and Y. They trust the Internet so much that they’ll go so far as to work with a Roboadvisor, for goodness sake.

If are a financial advisor looking to get leads online but does not want to buy them, you’ll need to put a repeatable process in place that you can execute inhouse. The video below talks about financial advisor prospecting on social media and gives some ideas of the approach to take.

Do Financial Advisor Lead Generation Services Work?

Are financial advisor lead generation services worth it?

There are three important things for financial advisors who are using a lead generation service to consider:

  • Competition
  • Degree of vettedness
  • Distance

#1 Financial advisor lead generation services increase competition among the financial advisors

One important thing to keep in mind about a lead generation service is the highly competitive entry point. Think about the online buyer’s mindset. By the time somebody has launched a financial advisor search, and especially if they’re doing this through the Internet search engines, they are “in the market.” The competition level has increased dramatically and it’s likely they’re already talking to a few other advisors, both online and through their own personal network. Everyone has that one uncle who thinks he knows how to trade stocks!

Then, the lead generation service itself sends the prospect multiple financial advisor profiles, not just one. You’ve got competitors coming at you from all angles. The analogy I would make is it’s like applying for a job on Once the job opening is posted, word is out and you’re competing with every qualified candidate on the street.

Now, that’s not to presume that you can’t successfully close the lead. It means that you’re not the only player in the game at that point. You’ll probably have to work harder to earn the sale than if you had come up with the lead organically.

#2 Not a financial advisor lead generation services sell truly high quality leads

My experience working with these companies has been that some leads are true financial advisor leads, while others are not legit. Some companies don’t bother to actually vet the leads and then you end up with a lead that’s not qualified, verified, or worth following up on. Check for the refund policy before you sign up for the service.

#3 There can be considerable distance from the prospect

The other aspect to consider is population density. If you live in a rural area, you might end up having to travel far to meet these leads if the conversation progresses.

Are Lead Generation Services for Financial Advisors Worth the Cost?

Most of these services render a subscription fee and some have an additional charge per lead. While many financial advisors cringe at the cost of a lead, consider this point.

If you had to create your own lead capture functionality on your own website, it would cost way more than a few couple hundred dollars a month. Consider the cost of an SEO consultant probably starts at about $500 per month at minimum, and that’s not even taking into account the amount of time your marketing person would have to spend producing content to place onto your website, as well as the thousands for your Google Adwords budget. And SEO isn’t immediate, either. It takes a few months before you typically see results. We’re talking about thousands upon thousands of dollars here. If a lead gen service is willing to do the work for you, you’re probably not overpaying.

However, on the other hand, there are several ways that financial advisors can get leads other than buying them. These include:

  • SEO keyword optimized blogs and YouTube videos
  • Social media platforms (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram)
  • Creating podcasts about retirement, college planning, and other wealth management related topics
  • Writing email newsletters
  • Attending in person networking events
  • Getting new leads through referrals/word of mouth

I’ve gone into more detail about ways for financial advisors to find new clients in this video below.

If you are caught up in what I call the small RIA firm poverty trap, for example, then the marketing budget may not be huge. But look at it this way.  The cost advantage of creating an inhouse lead generation system, instead of outsourcing it, is that once you establish a repeatable process that works, the return on investment can be quite favorable. In other words, the cost of a financial advisor lead can become lower once you establish your own way to find new leads.

Remember that for a small financial advisor firm, the internet is the great equalizer. You have to create what I called a financial advisor “big brand” but once you do that the return on investment can potentially be huge. There are affordable ways for financial advisors to market themselves using the internet without consuming a huge chunk of your salary. I offer a program that teaches financial advisors how to use LinkedIn messaging for example.

Analysis of Financial Advisor Lead Generation Companies

Let me start off by saying that I am not officially endorsing any of these companies; this rudimentary analysis is meant to inform and educate only. If you are interested, you should do your own research and contact the company directly. In the analysis below, I identify what I perceive to be what makes each financial advisor lead generation company different from one to the next. This is based upon my experience which is anecdotal and can not be presumed to apply universally to every person to participates with these companies.

What are the major lead generation companies for financial advisors? If you are a financial advisor who wants to buy leads, you may want to look at:

  • SmartAsset
  • Paladin
  • WiserAdvisor
  • GuideVine
  • Right Financial Advisor

I’ve analyzed each of these financial advisor lead companies below.


SmartAsset attracts high net worth investors to their site by writing informative articles and offering other online resources to them. They then compel the investors to exchange their email address for these resources.

In my experience, I have found mixed results. I have seen that many financial advisors who buy leads from SmartAsset haven’t been exactly satisfied, however I have also heard from a few advisors that did have some amount of success in getting a few new clients. In my view this probably has to do with the way the leads are collected. If you are curious to learn more about this company then please contact me directly.


Paladin provides not only lead generation services but also turnkey digital marketing services for companies without the marketing resources to set up a website, create a branding campaign, etc. They even offer compliance support. Paladin has been in business since 2003. I like that the company offers several different levels of lead gen service (Platinum, Gold, Silver) depending on what the advisor needs.


Note that since the publishing of this blog, WiserAdvisor and Paladin are now one company.

WiserAdvisor has been in the business almost 20 years, and from what I can see this is the longest track record in the game. WiserAdvisor is strictly in the business of lead generation.

What strikes me about Wiser Advisor is that there seems to be much more third party commentary on this company than all their competitors. Perhaps this is a result of the company’s long track record. You can read what investors and even other financial advisors are saying in the 50+ reviews on TrustPilot and several other Internet sites.


Started a little over five years ago, GuideVine is the new baby on the block of financial advisor lead generation providers. While it maybe doesn’t have the longest track record, it does come with a few more bells and whistles than the other options. For example, advisors can make a video to introduce themselves to prospects and include it as part of their profile. GuideVine even has a team that will assist you with creating this video. The video feature is pretty significant, considering that seeing is believing and being able to experience the financial advisor on video is helpful to building trust.

Right Financial Advisor

Right Financial Advisor has a unique video chat feature that enables investors to connect with an advisor before meeting. It’s a great way to ease the pressure and make the investor feel more comfortable with the advisor.  From the LinkedIn company page it appears the company been in existence since 2013.

Financial advisor outsourced lead generation vs. financial advisor organic lead generation

Should financial advisors outsource their lead generation, or should they find leads themselves? The point I’ve made earlier in this blog can be summarized as this:

While outsourced financial advisor leads services may work sometimes, they can be very hit or miss.

So where does this leave us? Instead of buying financial advisor leads, you may want to consider organic, inhouse marketing done by the financial advisor him or herself.

The cold market gives most financial advisors the shivers. The way to warm it up? Branding. While brand is something that most financial advisors put last, taking the time to create a truly unique message will allow you to tap into underserved markets and drive leads to the sales funnel. Most financial advisors, however, lack the time and resources to dedicate in order to achieve effective branding.

Sara’s Upshot

If you found this blog helpful, please subscribe to my podcast below which goes into the subject of financial advisor LinkedIn messages and sequences in fuller detail.

Or, you could download my e-book.

I wrote an e-book called, “47 Financial Advisor LinkedIn Messages and Sequences that will NOT make you look Stupid. “ If you are a financial advisor trying to meet new clients over LinkedIn or other social media sites and you need some scripts, you can download it here.

I wrote this e-book for financial advisors who want to be perceived as high quality people on social media. The e-book contains 47 messages you can use on LinkedIn or Facebook messenger to reach prospects, COIs, and other useful connections that would benefit your practice.

I also have a membership program, helping people to be able to develop business with these more sophisticated clients. This program talks about content creating (blogs, podcasts, newsletters, etc) as well as financial advisor strategies for using LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter for getting new leads. I also talk about how to relate your marketing and lead generation to certain financial advisor practice management topics. For example, the profitability worksheet I discussed in this blog is a tool that I provide to everyone on my membership.

Thanks for reading and please stay with me for the next one.


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Is Your Online Brand Breaking the Walls Down? Take this Survey.

Sara Grillo - Brand Survey Breaking Down Walls

As old-fashioned as certain industries may be (e.g. finance), there’s no stopping the digital revolution.  Financial advisors should take this quick 8 question Sara Purple Survey to get a good honest look at whether or not your online financial advisor brand is strong enough to break down walls that are preventing you from reaching your customers online.

Sara’s Purple Online Brand Survey

1. What % of your employees, strategic partners, and clients could recite your company tagline from memory? (Move the decimal point over to the left by one, for example 33.0% means 3.3 points)

2. Is the exact same logo, font, and color scheme applied to each of the following: 1) website 2) email footer 3) social media 4) email newsletter 5) marketing brochures. (award 2 points for each element that was a “yes”).

3. What was the last time you were made aware of the results of your Google Analytics traffic?

  • Last week (10 points)
  • Last month (5 points)
  • Longer than 3 months ago (2 points)
  • Can’t remember or have no idea what Google Analytics does (0 points)

4. Has you ever used a video on your social media or website? (Yes, 10 points. No, 0 points)

5. What % of content is canned and generic (e.g. news articles) versus customized and uniquely created for your brand? (Move the decimal point over to the left by one, for example 33.0% means 3.3 points)

6. Do you know your NPS (Net Promoter Score)? If so, when was the last time you assessed it?

  • Last month (10 points)
  • Last 6 months (5 points)
  • Last year (2 points)
  • Can’t remember or have no idea what an NPS is (0 points)

7. Number of times your brand was featured on another brand’s social media (in an article they wrote, tagged in a post that they made, etc) over last 6 months.

  1. 10 or more (10 points)
  2. 5 to 10 (5 points)
  3. 1 to 5 (2 points)
  4. Zero (0 points)

8. Number of times you have gotten a qualified lead from your website, social media, or newsletter in the last 6 months.

  • 10 or more (10 points)
  • 5 to 10 (5 points)
  • 1 to 5 (2 points)
  • Zero (0 points)

First, Let’s Look at the Survey Questions

Before we tally the results, here are some key concepts you may have noticed interwoven in the survey questions. Behind each question was a strength driver for your brand equity. Read below to learn how the following branding elements break the walls down before moving on to the scoring section.

Question #1

Employees are the #1 source of company branding, way more than anything on a piece of paper or on a website. If your employees (or for a solopreneur, your strategic partners or even clients who are referring you business) don’t know your brand, how can they deliver the sense of anything being unique about you? Remember word of mouth marketing always breaks walls down best.

Question #2

The human mind doesn’t handle inconsistency well. If you’ve got last month’s promotions on the website, last year’s font, and are using three different logos then chances are you’re causing some chaos in the mind of the buyer — not what you want if you’re looking to make an impression in the quick moving world of online media.

>>Read Chaotic Picasso to learn how to streamline the various elements of your brand to break down, not build up, walls in the mind of the buyer.

Question #3

The reason that Google Analytics, which tracks your website traffic for FREE — let me repeat that the basic application COSTS NOTHING — is important because it gives you a sense of how well your website is guiding and controlling the buyer’s experience. If you don’t know what content on your website is attracting attention and provoking action, you have no sense of what the emotional response is to your online brand. Without this knowledge it’s impossible to build brand equity and break down walls.

The other thing you have to realize is that even if you get a qualified lead from your digital marketing, there’s no guarantee you’ll close it right away. I would say I close on maybe 20% of my digital leads within a month and the rest go into my sales funnel. From there, I have to constantly hit these prospects with my branded content and get them to go back to my website, over and over again. It takes sometimes up to 10 attempts before I can close some leads. So needless to say, my ability to understand my web traffic is critical to moving my prospects through my sales funnel. The better branding on the website, the stronger the message and the shorter the sales cycle.

>>Read my Online Branding Conversions blog for more info.

Question #4

Online video is the best way to convey a personalized message that breaks down walls. It can be done inexpensively.

Question #5

As I’ve said before in other blogs, if you use the same content that any of your competitors could use, there’s no way you’re going to stand out from your competitors. This is the problem with 99% of brands. Custom content takes longer but it’s the only way to break down walls.

>Read my blog about truly valuable differences in business branding.

Question #6

A Net Promoter Score (NPS) is essentially a measure of how likely your clients are to refer you leads. You assess an NPS through a survey that you administer to all clients, past and present. If you don’t know the NPS then you have no idea how much customer loyalty your brand is creating. More loyalty in the eyes of the consumer signals higher emotional attachment which leads to more walls breaking down.

Question #7 and #8

Results never lie. It’s this simple: strong brands get attention, online leads, and conversions.  Higher attention, higher conversions as long as you’re getting the right attention. You may be getting attention and getting nowhere and this is because you might be focusing on the wrong customer niche for your brand, or you may be failing to motivate your audience to take action.

Don’t forget to give the visitor a friendly nudge once you get their attention. I can’t tell you how many times I see so many companies messing up the completion once they get the attention. You already did the hard work! It’s not being pushy to clearly articulate what the next steps are to result in the customer being helped by your service. Brands that do not understand that get nowhere online. They are essentially what I call “order takers” who fail to actively create new business and must resort to either referrals, lead generation services (highly competitive – read my blog to find out why), or the 2% of deals that just close on their own with no sales work needed.

For those of you who debate that it’s the right thing to do to ask the customer for the sale, yes, in fact, you do need to lead the horse to water! You have to spell out exactly what you want the customer to do in a targeted call to action. People don’t just seek you out and ask you where to send the check because they think you’re great. When it comes time to shell out the cash and make the decision, 99% of consumers need a little push. It doesn’t mean you bulldoze them. There are ways to apply pressure that go over well with customers. Skilled marketing consultants know how to do this.

Make it easy for the customer to contact you, for example, by including your phone number or email on every page of your website. Have your social media buttons prominently displayed on the top of bottom banners of your site if you want them to follow you. Make it hard and in the fast paced world of the Internet people will move on in a matter of seconds and there goes your lead out the window!

Now, Let’s Tally the Results and Go Purple!

So how does your brand stack up? Tally the points according to the prompts included with each questions, and read on to find out how your brand stacks up.

0 to 2 points: You’ve made a great start by reading this blog – now let’s color that brand in Purple! Please refer to my blogs on the fundamentals of branding. O

3 to 6 points: You’re medium Purple. You’ve paid attention to your brand, but it’s not the Picasso that it could be. In fact, it may be a Chaotic Picasso,which is probably the biggest mistake I see small to medium sized businesses making. Most of the time, a few simple tweaks can realign and strength the brand.

6 to 8 points: Nice job, you’re in the Purple as they say. Are you getting three new leads a day yet? If you’ve got a strong brand, lead generation should be happening. If not, it’s likely there are some brand issues getting in your way. These aren’t the easy ones to fix– most likely they are not those rookie type issues that will be obvious to fix. You may need to make an investment in some intellectual capital to get that brand the Purplest it could be. Whether it’s serving up some highly customized content, revamping the website copy or social media, or even running some online ads, a qualified marketing consultant is a great resource to add to the roster.

Sara’s Upshot

Authenticity is what matters most in any financial advisor who wants to get new clients. Learn the no BS way to use social media to get new clients by joining my membership here.

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From Chaotic Picasso to Marketing Masterpiece

Sara Grillo - Messy Paint - Marketing Strategy

While Picasso didn’t attend marketing conferences with titles such as “Brand Ambassador” on his name tag, financial advisors can all take a lesson from his success in marketing his product.

Marketing as an Art Form

As business owners, and especially those with emerging brands, we’re all Picasso figures in some way. We’re all striving for the same goal as he was: to bring to life a business product or service and have it ultimately change the world. The great question is how Picasso and other monumental successes in history were able to gain the power that they did, while others just don’t quite get there.

What for many of separates us from Picasso is the way the collage comes together. For many firms, and especially those without resources dedicated to this, marketing presentation resembles more a thrown together sundry tools rather than a beautifully arranged assortment of symbolic ideas that represent the company’s brand.

This analogy is best served by an example. While the following refers to no one company in particular, to many it may sound familiar.

What is a Chaotic Picasso?

The Facebook page was created by an intern two summers ago, and you can’t find the password anywhere although updates are happening on a regular basis. LinkedIn hasn’t been touched in months, the website was created by a marketing consultant who has long since departed, and the logo and tagline are from your brother-in-law who is a graphic designer. Now your buddy from college whom you saw at last week’s reunion wants to come in and do some pay per click advertising but you’re not sure how effective it will be since you haven’t checked Google Analytics in over a year.

Or maybe you’re making some business card mistakes such as information overload, overly fancy font, or no space for notes. For more information on how to avoid this, check out this blog post by Heike Heemann of IdeaShare Business Coaching.

Recognize this picture? I call it a Chaotic Picasso.

The inevitable result of a Chaotic Picasso is that after some time of flustered sales and marketing success, management decides to execute what is called a “rebrand.” You’ve seen this before: redo the logo, upgrade the website, maybe add a blog or two every month. Most of the time this just adds weight to the pile. It seems that the organization has sorted its Picasso out, but it doesn’t stay that way for long and a few years later the company is in the same position.

So if you’re a Chaotic Picasso, how do you become a Picasso?

Said differently, how can a Chaotic Picasso be transformed into a marketing masterpiece? As one of my branding colors is purple, I’ve created an analogy called a “Sara’s Purple Book of Branding” to explain the solution to this problem.

Here are the parts of a Sara’s Purple Book.

Marketing Assets (Dark Purple)

Just like an asset, the marketing tools your company uses are expected to yield more value than what you paid. Treat these assets like cash in your bank account. Create an inventory of every single marketing asset, from logo to newsletters to sales people, and then rank them in order of potency. You’ll be surprised at how much you have to work with. This list changes as your marketing evolves.

Marketing Strategy (Pale Purple)

It’s in the background, but it’s always there. In essence, the marketing assets come alive through the brand. View my blog about business branding to learn how. It’s one of the hardest things for companies to develop when the Picasso is chaotic. That’s why a strategic approach to branding is key.

Marketing Execution Plan (Bright Purple)

This actually should be green, because that’s what brings the money in; but as this is a Sara’s Purple Book, green is excluded. Executing the brand is where you gain the value in the marketplace that you deserve. What many companies forget about marketing is that it’s supposed to create revenue. Most organizations assign that responsibility to the sales force. While it’s true that the salesperson is the one who ultimately gets the buyer to sign the paper, marketing is the language of sales. The greatest problem for most sales operations is a smaller than needed pipeline.

Solid branding and messaging are a powerful signal to the buyer that can make or break a sales effort. If something is wrong with them, the salesperson has to work that much harder to get to where your competition already is.

Here’s an example.

You meet a colleague at a networking event who tells you that she is in the market for your product. You exchange business cards and have a great intro call. She wants to move to the next step, but curiously your phone calls and emails for the next two weeks are ignored. Maybe she’s all of a sudden got a family emergency, or maybe she has taken up with one of your competitors. You’ll never know the truth so now you have to rely upon your brand to save the deal.

What’s critical in this situation to avoid being perceived as a valueless stalker is to have marketing assets to deploy in a way that drive home your value. That’s the difference between stalking and value added follow up. You won’t get much of her attention now that the communication has been broken. You need marketing assets that get her attention the right way and convey the value you are worth in the marketplace or else it’s phone tag and voicemail for the rest of your days.

Sara’s Upshot

Authenticity is what matters most in any financial advisor who wants to get new clients. Learn the no BS way to use social media to get new clients by joining my membership here.