The Essential Starting Point for a Financial Adviser’s Marketing Efforts

Next Generation Planner: July 2021


Angel D. Gonzalez, CMO of Snappy Kraken

What pops into your mind when you think of marketing? Maybe it’s clever writing, modern design, funny TV commercials, eblasts, social media, or memorable logos.

All of those are aspects of marketing—each important in its own right—but in order to make any one of those items effective, they all have to start at the same point: the hopes, fears, and desires of the target audience.

You could be the best writer, illustrator, director, financial adviser, consultant, or whatever in the entire world, but if you don’t understand your audience, your marketing efforts will never amount to much.

The audience you serve consists of real people with hopes and dreams, and you need to understand where they’re coming from in order to successfully connect with them—and ultimately turn them into clients.

Start with Your Market, Not Your Product

No matter how amazing or helpful your services and products are, it’s always better to avoid leading with what you offer.

In order to connect with your audience, you first have to show that you understand the problems they face day in and day out, and how they would like to improve their lives.

Who is your audience? It shouldn’t just be “anyone with enough money.” Maybe it’s business executives who are so busy they haven’t had time to put together a proper retirement plan, or small business owners who need help with their exit plan. Maybe it’s retirees who are worried about making their money last. Regardless of who you’re speaking to, if you don’t understand their hopes, fears, and desires, you’re going to miss the mark as you try to reach them.

You could walk up to a random person on the street and tell them that you offer financial planning and maybe they’d be interested. Perhaps they’d even put your business card in their purse or wallet. But if you specifically sought out a government employee and started the conversation by asking if they’re contributing enough to their Thrift Savings Plan, then you’re starting off by making an immediate connection and demonstrating that you know their situation.

By understanding the world of government employees—and that their TSP is a huge chunk of most federal employees’ retirement plans—you’re able to get their attention right away, ask the right questions, and provide help, along with creating an organic opportunity to discuss what you do.

Don’t Try to Manufacture Demand

A lot of people speak derisively about marketers by saying they exploit people’s fears to drive demand. Yes, that does happen sometimes. The history of Listerine is a fascinating study in how a company created a problem and then turned it into a multi-million dollar product.1

But as an adviser, you don’t have a brand-new problem to discover and capitalize on. If you act like you’re offering something new when in reality you’re “just another financial planner,” you could end up going the way of the Edsel.

In the 1950s, Ford launched the Edsel, a new brand that no one was asking for and that was created solely to claim more market share.2 There really wasn’t much different about an Edsel, but Ford marketed it as the “car of the future” and poured hundreds of millions of dollars into driving demand. Sure enough, no one cared, and Ford folded the “futuristic” brand just two years after it debuted.

The lesson learned? Desire cannot be created out of thin air.

I can almost hear you saying, “If that’s true, then why do people buy thousands of Gucci purses every time Kim Kardashian posts a photo of herself with one on Instagram?”

When people buy purses as a result of influencer marketing, it speaks more to their intrinsic desires—whether it’s luxury or status or to keep up with the Kardashians—than it does demand for the purse itself.

The needs you meet as a financial adviser have existed for thousands of years. You don’t need to manufacture demand—you need to speak to those intrinsic desires.

Security, confidence, predictability—these are the desires you fulfill. Retiring near grandchildren, starting a business, buying a house, sending kids to college, finding peace of mind, building a secure financial future—these are the basic building blocks of how a financial adviser helps people live better lives.

The Motivation Is the Message

The world of 21st-century marketing moves fast. Fads come and go, each one promising to finally solve your communication problems.

The one constant in the trends that last in the financial industry is that they help advisers speak directly, genuinely, and honestly to the desires of their audience.

Whether you’re writing a post on Twitter, creating a graphic for your website, laying out a fact sheet for download, or drafting an article for your blog, your job is to build a pathway between your target market and your services.

Just remember: the success of the content that you spend hours creating to communicate your value won’t be determined by your writing or graphic design skills; it begins with how well you understand your audience. 


  1. See “How Halitosis Became a Medical Condition With a Cure,” at
  2. See “What Happened to the Car Industry’s Most Famous Flop,” at

Angel D. Gonzalez is one of three founders and currently serves as chief marketing officer for Snappy Kraken (, an award-winning marketing platform that is revolutionizing the way financial professionals connect with current and prospective clients.

Professional role
Marketing & Communications