Marketing your practice to women is different than pitching it to men, and advisors must know the differences if they are to succeed, a panel of women said at the Invest In Women conference.

Women are not a niche market—they are not a small, specialized audience to be courted by advisors, according to the panel members who spoke yesterday at the conference being held by Financial Advisor magazine in Atlanta this week.

Instead, the women’s market for financial advisors is divided into a number of niche markets, such as breadwinners, women in transition, executives and LGBTQ, according to Diane Bourdo, president of the Hunphreys Group, which focuses on the women’s market.

Each market has to be thought of separately, she said. “You can be a sounding board for each of these groups and come up with a value proposition” that fits each of their needs and hones in on their specific desires, she said.

In order to do that, advisors need to think of the “pain point” for each group, Cammie Doder, chief marketing officer and partner at Aspiriant, said. “These women are used to having experts in their lives,” and advisors need to address them in that manner, she said.

The team at Beyond AUM taught me that a good rule of thumb for marketing experts should be to "COPE": create once, publish everywhere, she said. Marketers do not have to recreate topics for each group, but the approaches need to be different. The same themes can be used more than once throughout the firms various types of advertising, she said.

The messages should be honed with the idea in mind that widows will live 15 years longer after their husbands die and most women feel misunderstood, Gretchen Halpin, co-founder of Beyond AUM, who moderated the panel discussion, said.

Also, keep in mind that 44% of women use social media, so the advisor who ignores social media outlets is sacrificing business, Halpin said. "Women are more likely to use social media in decision making, so having your female client base engaged on your social channels is important," she said.

When developing marketing directed at women, advisory firms should keep in mind that women want to explore their options, as opposed to men, who are more goal oriented, she added. Knowing this can help secure your firm in the clients’ minds.

If you have millennials or younger clients in your practice, you have to supply this information over social media, she said.

“Women want to know the process you went through,” Bourdo agreed, not just the conclusion you reached.

And all of the information has to be conveyed in a nonintimidating manner, added Doder. “We all want to educate the clients,” she said, not talk down to them.

At the same time, with women clients, there has to be a connection, which is achieved by sharing personal details of your lives to create a common point of reference, explained Ashley Ilardo, regional director and vice president at Dimensional Fund Advisors.

Clients, especially women, may think they are not good at finances, but they should be shown how far they have come in financial knowledge or in other areas of their lives in order to know what they can accomplish in finances, Bourdo said. 

“You have to show them equal measures of expertise and empathy, which will be process oriented but specific to their situations,” she added.

“If the woman client is at the center of your discussion, you will drive growth for your firm,” Halpin concluded.