One Common Marketing Mistake Financial Advisors Make & How to Fix It

One Common Marketing Mistake Financial Advisors Make and How to Fix It

Here’s the common marketing mistake: emphasizing features instead of benefits.  How common is it?  Fact is, most financial advisors are making it right now.  On their website, in their sales pitch, you name it.

Why is this so important?  Well, think of it this way.  When you buy a new car, you don’t make your decision based off how many cupholders it has or whether it comes with XM radio.  You buy a car based on gas mileage, safety rating, or even how stylish you think it will make you look. 

In other words, you buy a car based on the benefits it confers, not the features it contains. 

Always emphasize benefits over features 

If you’ve ever read a book, blog, or even a tweet on marketing, you’ve probably come acroscommon marketing mistakes this concept.  The rule is, people ask questions about features, but they buy for the benefits. 

That’s obvious, right? 

But here’s the thing: obvious ain’t the same as easy

In my experience, it’s particularly difficult for financial advisors to emphasize the benefits of what they offer.  Often times they may think they’re emphasizing benefits when they’re only quoting features.  I’ll give you some examples. 

Our Services

We aim to give clients unparalleled investment advice across the following list of services:

Discretionary portfolio management

Fixed income

Retirement planning

Risk management

Charitable giving

Wealth transfer

Long-term Care


This was taken from a specific advisor’s website, but the fact is, there are hundreds of websites proudly displaying lists just like this.  Like I said, it’s a common marketing mistake.   

You can probably spot the problem here: the list conveys no benefits!  In real life, I’m sure offering “discretionary portfolio management” confers major benefits – but there’s no way for the average prospect to know, because the advisor didn’t tell them. 

In truth, this is a list of features.  The advisor offers “discretionary portfolio management” the way a new car offers hands-free parallel parking.  Cool?  Sure.  Benefit?  No. 

The benefit comes not from what the thing is, but from what it does for you. 

Here’s a counter-example:

Late for that important meeting downtown?  The 2017 Toyota Whatever saves you time and stress when parking through its hands-free parallel parking system.

Hands-free parallel parking is the feature.  More time and less stress are the benefits.  Similarly:

Through our discretionary portfolio management service, you can spend less time worrying about what the markets are doing and more time focusing on the things you truly care about. 

Again, less worry, more time.  You can undoubtedly think of other benefits, but this illustrates the point. 

Let’s look at one more example from another website:

We focus on creating a financial plan that’s all about you: your dreams, your needs.  We factor in your risk tolerance to craft a strong portfolio based on the principles of diversification and asset allocation.  Then, we manage your portfolio using our special “Circle of Success” process.  When it comes to investing, you’re never alone. 

On the surface, this looks promising.  The tone, at least, is warm and friendly, and the repeated use of the word “you” is strong. 

But look closely and you’ll see that it still emphasizes features over benefits. 

Let’s break it down, line by line:

Creating a financial plan that’s all about you: your dreams, your needs. 

While the benefit of a plan may be obvious to you, the plan itself is a feature.  Remember, the benefit comes from what the plan does or enables the client to do…which is never mentioned. 

(You may think that the words “all about you, etc. etc.” are benefits, but they aren’t.  So what if the plan is all about me?  That tells me what it’s about, not what I’m going to get out of it.) 

We factor in your risk tolerance to craft a strong portfolio based on the principles of diversification and asset allocation. 

There’s a lot of mustard here, but no hot dog.  All this technical language can’t mask the absence of real benefits.  What can I do with a strong portfolio?  How does diversification make my life better?  That’s what your prospect wants to know. 

Then, we manage your portfolio using our special “Circle of Success” process.  When it comes to investing, you’re never alone. 

If I suffered from crippling loneliness, then I suppose the last line would be a benefit.  But since I don’t, it’s not.  And don’t get me started on the whole “Circle of Success” thing…

Here’s how I would rewrite this to be more benefit-oriented, with the benefits themselves in red.

We help you reach your goals faster by creating a financial plan that shows every step you need to take and when to take it, removing any uncertainty you may feel about your financial future.  Then, we’ll work with you to create a diversified investment portfolio to reduce the risk of major losses.  Finally, we’ll manage your portfolio around the clock so you can spend less time worrying about your money and more time enjoying it.  

Does this result in a few more words?  Sure.

But it also results in more benefits. 

Why it’s so important to avoid this common marketing mistake

Frank Bettger, author of How I Raised Myself from Failure to Success in Selling, once wrote: “Show a man what he wants and he will move heaven and earth to get it.” 

In your case, the question you must ask yourself is: “What do my prospects want?  What immediate, tangible benefit will they get from working with me?  How will their life improve once they hire me?” 

More time?  More money?  A better night’s sleep?  A new car or home?  Bragging rights? 

You know the answer better than anyone.  But whatever the answer is, that’s what you must emphasize.  If you do, your prospect will move heaven and earth to get it…to get to you!  If you don’t, they’ll look elsewhere.  It really is that simple. 

What you should do now

I mentioned above that emphasizing benefits instead of features is harder than it sounds.  In fact, I myself will often look at an old piece of copy I wrote and think, “You know what?  I can do better.” 

The good news is that a little legwork now makes the process a lot easier.  Here’s what I would do to avoid this common marketing mistake in the future:

  1. Take a piece of paper and divide it into two columns
  2. In the first column, write a list of every service you provide
  3. Next, ask yourself, “How does my client’s life immediately improve because of this?”

TIP: If you find yourself using any financial terminology here, you’re probably doing it wrong. 

  1. Write your answers in the second column. If possible, try to limit your answers to 3-5 words.

TIP: An easy way to come up with a benefit is to frame it in terms of MORE or LESS.  More time, less stress.  More money, less risk.  You get the idea. 

  1. Finally, incorporate the benefits into the following:
    1. Your website
    2. Your elevator speech
    3. Your sales pitch
    4. Any other marketing or sales materials you have

The result?  More hot prospects and more clients…so you can double your production and afford your own dream lifestyle.  

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