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The Words To Avoid In Marketing Your Firm

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The Words To Avoid In Marketing Your Firm

April 14, 2015

by Beverly Flaxington

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Beverly Flaxington is a practice management consultant. She answers questions from advisors facing human resource issues. To submit yours, email us here.

Advisor Perspectives welcomes guest contributions. The views presented here do not necessarily represent those of Advisor Perspectives.

Dear Bev,

Are there key phrases and terms we should stay away from in our firm’s marketing message? I’ve read what you have written on the subject and know that you frown upon the common language advisors use. What specifically should we avoid?

Sean P.


Dear Sean,

It’s hard to say what to avoid when I’m not sure what you are doing now. I think you are referring to the wisdom I share about how many advisors say the same things when trying to stand out in a crowded market. It’s not that any of it is “bad” per se; it’s just not powerful when it’s the same old story every time. We review marketing messages and websites, and interview advisors in many different firms all of the time. We often see and hear the same words and phrases used as if they are differentiators when, quite unfortunately, their competitors are all saying the exact same thing.

Examples include “client service,” “we listen,” “we have a unique investment process” and “we have long tenured staff.” These phrases are important but they aren’t unique. Most importantly you have to take the statements and turn them into value. What’s important about offering good client service? What does it look like to the client? How do you give evidence for it?

Making these statements is easy; it’s explaining why it matters and then backing them up with examples, stories and facts that can be more difficult.

I suggest you have your team do an exercise we call “So what?” List all of the statements you currently use to explain why you are different on one side of a piece of paper. Draw a line down the middle and then on the other side, write “So what?” at the top. So what about the fact? Why does it matter to anyone? Force yourselves to really think about value statements. What does it do for your clients or for those considering working with you?

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