We’ve talked about the importance of identifying your personas – specifically financial advisor personas – several times before.

If this is the first time you’ve heard of personas, here’s the short version: Personas are representations of your ideal clients used to direct marketing efforts. Most advisors have somewhere between three and five personas. Some have more, some have less. And then some have none.

These firms typically have websites, blogs and other marketing materials that speak in broad terms and appeal to very few people. Their unfocused marketing shows in the fact that their website and other digital efforts bring in few leads, if any.

At any marketing agency worth their price, the first thing they’ll do is guide you through the process of creating personas that represent your target audience (if you haven’t already done so). In short, the marketing world places a high value on personas.

I was formerly the Editorial Director at a marketing agency for advisors, and over the course of a few years, we created hundreds of them. Still, every client somehow managed to have new twists on familiar audiences. Yes, most advisors have a persona that is focused on retirement income planning, but the retirees differ in industry, goals, income, values, etc.

But there was still plenty of overlap between the personas of different firms, and rather than start from scratch every time we built new personas, we decided to create rough sketches of the eleven most common personas we ran into.

We’re excited to share a few of those personas today, but first, a couple notes. These personas are intended to be used as a starting point, not a finished product. If creating personas is like sculpting, these sample personas will help get you from a lump of clay to the vague form of a person – then it’s your job to form the finer details and make them look recognizable to you and your team.

Also, not all of these will apply to you, and you probably have at least a persona or two that isn’t covered here.

So without further ado, here is part one of our four-part series on the most widely used personas for financial advisors: You can either read the whole series to see all of the personas (here are parts two, three and four – or you can download them now in our “Ultimate Guide to Investor Personas.”)

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1. Up & Coming Ulysses & Camille

Ulysses and Camille are young professionals just starting out. They’re ready to settle down for the comfort and security that come with a career, house in the suburbs, two cars in the garage, and 2.5 kids.

What Does This Persona Need?

  • Establish a financial plan
  • Save up for a house and children’s education
  • Think beyond the next five years
  • Stay disciplined when market is volatile

How Can You Attract This Persona?

Share compelling visuals and engaging news through social media. Have a top-notch website that reflects the fact that you’re up on the latest technology. Provide a clean, simple client experience.

How Can You Repel This Persona?

Have an outdated website/no website and bad design. Pepper your homepage with lots of language talking about how great your firm is.

How Can You Exceed This Persona’s Expectations?

Help them sketch out a financial plan for their entire lives, including a timeline of how and when they’ll meet each goal. Explain difficult financial concepts in simple language, preferably with compelling visuals. Be casual in communications.

marketing carson group

2. Wanda the Widow

Wanda and her husband retired together, but he died recently. Now she is managing her own finances for the first time in her life. She is living off their assets and feels very vulnerable and uncertain about everything, especially finances. Wanda is especially at risk of letting emotions drive her financial decisions.

What Does This Persona Need?

  • Someone she can trust
  • Help making good financial decisions
  • Help with financial planning, especially with Social Security.
  • Confidence that her assets will last the rest of her life.
  • Help managing children’s advice.
  • Wants to maintain the lifestyle she and her husband had.
  • Doesn’t want to be a burden to her kids.

How Can You Attract This Persona?

Use an email service that allows you to insert customized names and other information in your emails so communications to Wanda feel personal. Communicate through email and Facebook.

How Can You Repel This Persona?

Use generic communications. Implement reporting software that is difficult to navigate. Send your emails as BCCs. BCC emails to long lists typically trigger inbox spam filters, and you should not expect Wanda to hunt down your latest email in her junk folder.

How Can You Exceed This Persona’s Expectations?

Include or don’t include her children in your communications and meetings to whatever level she wants. Offer  a personal relationship, including frequent communication. Give her your cell phone number. Help her organize all of her key documents. Meetings with Wanda should not be rushed.

marketing carson group

3. Retiring Soon Robert & Rebecca

Robert and Rebecca are empty-nesters who are ready to start focusing on retirement. They are looking forward to the freedom retirement will offer them as they transition from claiming dependents and commuting to and from work every day. Somewhat knowledgeable on financial matters, but they would rather just pay a pro to take care of it for them. They just need to find someone they can trust.

What Does This Persona Need?

  • A financial quarterback who will coordinate with their attorneys and CPAs for estate planning.
  • Advice on the best way to handle their 401k.
  • A customized financial plan to help make sure their assets last the rest of their lives.

How Can You Attract This Persona?

Keep your communications simple and straightforward. Email updates should be sent no more frequently than once per week with one or two articles per email. Align all these communications with retirement planning. They don’t need the latest market news or tips on college planning.

How Can You Repel This Persona?

Send out multiple emails every week with too much information and irrelevant articles. Robert and Rebecca don’t have the time or interest to keep up with every word you print, so tailor your communications to this persona to keep them streamlined.

How Can You Exceed This Persona’s Expectations?

  • Coordinate with attorneys, CPA
  • 401k →IRA rollover assistance
  • Social Security guidance
  • Provide easily digestible information about their portfolio each quarter with a personal note about items they specifically care about.

Not seeing all of your personas here? Download our full ebook, “Who’s Your Client” now.

Know your personas. Turbo-boost your marketing. Download "The Ultimate Guide to Investor Personas."

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