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How Advisers Can Make Marketing Work for Them

Adviser Jeremy Keil talks about how financial advisers can market themselves and their practice by focusing on their brand, message and market.

By Jeremy Keil

Talk to any financial adviser for any length of time and the topic will quickly turn to marketing.

  • Should I do Facebook  (FB)  or Google Ads?  (GOOGL)
  • Should I buy leads?
  • Does seminar marketing work anymore?

Most of these conversations we have with ourselves are a complete waste until we discover some basic fundamentals about our business and goals.

Focusing on your marketing is putting the cart before the horse, it’s putting brand new tires on the car with no engine, or any other analogy that could fit right in with Alanis Morissette’s “Ironic” song.

Before you spend another dollar on marketing keep these three words in mind: Brand/Message/Market.

Brand: Who you are and who you serve

Message: How you speak with who you serve

Market: How you find who you serve


Start with your brand first before anything else. Think about who you are – how do your clients describe you? Think about who you want to serve – what types of clients give you the most energy?

Lauryn Williams is a millennial who was a professional athlete. Is it any wonder that she focuses her business on millennial young professionals, whether they are athletes or succeeding in other fields?

Remember that CFP Board TV commercial where the DJ duped people into becoming his client? Nothing wrong with a DJ becoming a financial planner – but if that’s who he is perhaps he would do better working with people who have a shared background in the music or nightlife industry – he could probably add a lot of insight into their financial situation.

Can you think of a few clients whose names you don’t enjoy seeing on the calendar, or others that you can’t wait to see again? What are their common characteristics? I bet each of those sets of people have similarities to where you can say “I enjoy working with this type of client” or “I don’t get energy from this type of client.”

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For me, it was people under 40 that drained me. I get it – starting a career, starting a family and then getting busy with kids’ activities can leave little time for financial matters. They might insist on a 7:30 p.m. appointment and then not show up.

And then I’d meet with a couple facing retirement and they were asking all kinds of questions about issues they’ve never faced before, issues that I could help them solve – and I loved it.

Finally I had enough. I was going to work exclusively with people preparing for and enjoying their retirement. My clients are better off because they have an adviser who dives deep into their issues, and my under-40 non-clients are better off because they can find someone who specializes in their issues.


Now that you know your brand, focus on your message: how you speak with who you serve.

Bill Keen focuses on engineers and wrote a book subtitled, “Engineering the second half of your life.” His website talks about “process” and ESOPs because his clients apply a process to their professional work and many of them work for a few local firms that have ESOPs.

Are you focusing on divorced clients? Speak their language! Talk about QDROs, equitable distributions, spousal support and child placement.

Do you focus on young professionals? Talk about career guidance, student loans and offer subscription services. Don’t talk about comprehensive wealth management or put a picture of old people sailing on a boat on your website.


After you’ve settled on your brand and your message, now you can finally focus on how to market. Your marketing will go a lot further because you know who you are targeting and how to speak with them. Only now can you focus on how to find them.

Marketing isn’t a matter of “which tactic works best?” it’s a matter of "where do my clients hang out?"

New moms hang out in mom’s groups and on Instagram. Busy professionals hang out on LinkedIn. Pre-retirees hang out on Facebook, checking up on their old classmates and watching videos of their young grandkids.

Take it one step further and go beyond the stereotyping that I just did – ask your clients what they enjoy and where they hang out. If it turns out that your clients like gardening and none of them golf, maybe your next sponsorship should be the local garden tour and not the next charity golf outing.

Your marketing will be far more effective and your potential new clients will see you in a much better light when you take the time to determine your brand and your message before you start to market.

About the author: Jeremy Keil, CFP, CFA is a retirement focused financial planner with Keil Financial Partners, and host of the Retirement Revealed blog and podcast.