At the heart of great marketing is a simple equation: Right Message + Right Audience + Right Time = Great Leads Crafting the right message is about speaking your audience’s language and identifying with the challenges they’re facing. Getting your message in front of them at the right time depends on knowing when your audience is looking for someone to help with the problems your business can solve. Notice that both the right message and right time depend on knowing one factor: the right audience. If you don’t start with a clear understanding of exactly who you’re trying to reach, then you won’t know what problems your target audience is facing, or when they’ll be looking for an advisor. One of the main problems advisors face in marketing today can be traced back to their attempts to be everything to everyone.

As long as someone has X amount of assets and a heartbeat, you want to work with them. If they reach your asset minimum, why wouldn’t you? It just makes sense. Aside from the massive practice management headaches that come from working with anyone with a pulse, this approach can severely handicap your marketing efforts. The problem arises when you go to put together a website, email series, ad campaign or any other piece of marketing. If each of those pieces appeals to everyone, then they will appeal to no one. Take Nike, for instance. When you hit their homepage, it’s pretty clear they’re targeting people who are young, athletic and hip (also, early 90s fashion is back in a big way and I just don’t get it).

nike webpage persona marketing carson

Nike knows who they are targeting, and they do it well. But imagine their homepage featured a crowd of people – old, young, large, small, blue collar, white collar.

persona marketing advisors carson

Do you think that would appeal to anyone? Probably not. It’d be unclear who they’re targeting and what image they’re selling. If you don’t fall within Nike’s demographics, chances are you’re not buying many of their products. And guess what? Nike doesn’t care. They understand the power of the right audience (commonly known as “personas” in the marketing world).

The Power of Personas

Don’t believe in persona-driven marketing? Let’s look at some numbers:

Clearly, defining your personas should be a starting point, not an afterthought. So how can you determine the right personas for your business?

Defining Your Audience

The easiest way to start building your personas is to think about the best clients you currently have. I don’t just mean the nicest or most profitable clients, I mean your best clients. What does that mean to you? Sure, the Jones family brings in the most money for your firm, but they’re also high maintenance and kind of unpleasant to work with. If every client was like the Joneses, you’d be overworked and underappreciated – the perfect formula for burnout within a few years. On the other hand, you love the Martinez family – they’re pleasant, have similar interests as you and clearly appreciate what you do – but they don’t even meet your minimum AUM requirement, you just took them on as clients because you like them so much.

If every client was like the Martinez family, you’d be underpaid and stretched thin from having to have more clients to make up for the lack of income. What clients hit your sweet spot of maintenance level, profit and relationship? In other words, which clients would you clone if you could? Try to pick at least three. Once you have your favorite clients in mind, you can get started building out your personas. Break down each client into a profile that includes items such as income, number of kids, challenges, goals, and more. You don’t have to write a novel on them, just cover who they are, what they need and what drives them. Here’s a sample persona to help you get started. (Feel free to steal this one if it sounds like one of your personas. Also, we have a collection of the most common personas for advisors that you can download here.)

Cedric the CEO

Cedric is an executive who doesn’t have time for much outside of work.

Self Description

Business executive needing to delegate as much of my life as possible so I can find time for the things I want to focus on.

Interests

His business comes first. When Cedric reads, it’s for the betterment of his company – trade publications, marketing materials, management books, etc. The little free time he does have is devoted to his family.

Status

Late 40s/early 50s. Three kids in high school through college. Wife doesn’t work. Lives in the suburbs. $750k salary.

Persona Needs:

  • Delegate oversight of his family’s financial future
  • Optimize tax efficiency at home and work
  • Hasn’t thought much about retirement and needs to start planning ASAP
  • No time to shop around for the right advisor

How To Exceed Their Expectations

  • Position yourself as a trustworthy advocate who he can trust without having to give it much time or thought
  • Lose the mystery of investing. Provide a simpler, straightforward way to work with an advisor that provides clarity
  • Prove you can handle his finances better than he can
  • Stress importance of planning for retirement, introduce retirement income plans
  • Offer tax expertise centered around efficiency

Typical Quotes

“I need someone I can hand this off to so I don’t have to think about it.” “I know I need to start planning for retirement, but I don’t have any time to even think about it, and I can’t really imagine not working anyway.” “I could handle our finances just fine on my own.”

Advisors Who Are Doing Personas Right

Taylor Financial Group in New Jersey has made it their business to serve women’s financial needs, that’s obvious from the very moment you pull up their website.

taylor financial advisor marketing carson group
Notice how many times they appeal to women before you even scroll down on their homepage. First you notice the picture. Then their subhead talks about educating and empowering women. Lastly, their heading has a bright pink dropdown menu labeled “For Women.” It certainly doesn’t leave you wondering who their target audience is. While Taylor focuses their personas based first and foremost on gender, Foster Group out of Iowa does a great job focusing theirs on profession – namely people in healthcare, finance and law.
foster group persona marketing advisors
Then you’ve got Baird Retirement Management out of Wisconsin.
financial advisor persona marketing carson
These guys have narrowed their persona down to a single industry. At the top of the page, “Your Company” reveals a dropdown menu of several companies within the industry that they specialize in retirement planning for. You might think that’s too specific, but they have a team of 14 advisors, so they must stay pretty busy. How do your personas break down? Industry? Gender? Something else, like age or net worth? Once you have the right audience in place, you’ll be ready to hit them with the right message at the right time, and you’ll be amazed by how much more the needle moves on your marketing ROI. Click here to download “Who’s Your Client?” – a collection of the 11 most common personas for advisors today. 
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