Remember the movie Field of Dreams?

Many financial advisors are guilty of what I call “Kevin Costner Syndrome”—a reference to the film’s leading actor. Costner played a farmer who responded to a mysterious voice’s admonition to build a baseball field among his crops. “If you build it, he will come” was sufficient motivation for Costner’s character.

And I’m convinced that lots of financial advisors behave the same way. Do you believe that merely being a skilled advisor is all it takes to be successful—that being smart and talented is enough to get clients to come?

If that’s what you believe, you’re wrong. I know lots of talented advisors who are struggling to make a living—for the simple reason that nobody knows they’re talented.

No matter how good your advising and planning skills are, you can’t get very far if nobody knows it. Simply being good isn’t good enough.
How, then, do you get the word out to ensure that plenty of people hear about you and your abilities?

The only way you can make that happen is to engage in marketing. I know, that’s a dirty word in our business. Many (most?) advisors regard marketing as distasteful.

Well, get over it. If you want people to hire you, you have to invite them to do so. That means marketing. The good news is that it’s worth it: Well-deployed marketing techniques will generate clients for you—more than you probably anticipate.

My firm has found that spreading the word involves four key steps: (1) identifying our target market, (2) choosing our approach, (3) deciding what platform to use, and (4) sending effective messages. Let’s explore each of these.

1. Finding Your Target Audience
You might think of your target audience demographically, using such data points as their education, income or investable assets. But I urge you to also consider “psychographics.” Are those who see your message the ones you really want to see it? They might meet your education, income or asset-level criteria, but what if they are primarily do-it-yourselfers? If you are an asset allocator, spending a lot of money on ads that reach market timers is a waste of everyone’s time.

Car makers work hard to make sure the people seeing their campaigns are potential buyers. You want to take the same approach.