This article (series) from FinancialAdvisorIQ on RIA client acquisition is interesting, and highlights why we spend so much time educating our clients on the importance of branding. Specifically, this article demonstrates the relationship and difference between branding, marketing and advertising. When we talk with RIA clients about marketing, they often visualize activities associated with advertising, which only accounts for 3% – 6% of client acquisition. Branding and marketing strategies should be on-going and focused on continually optimizing the types of user experiences that help make brands remarkable – or as Seth Godin put it, “worth remarking about.”

In an obvious oversimplification of investment advice, advisors might choose to evaluate a client’s near-, mid-, and long-term objectives along with the risk profile, and then develop a strategic plan to meet those objectives over time. Yet when it comes to advisors investing in their own brand development, marketing, and advertising efforts, the advisors tend to view it much more as a transactional endeavor rather than a strategic investment to meet brand objectives and growth over time.

It is also easy to look at an advisor’s low acquisition rates for social media, advertising, and events and dismiss them as unimportant. We emphasize the holistic approach, with a goal of understanding how branding, marketing and advertising should work together – not in isolation. Client acquisition is hardly ever attributable to just one aspect of your branding, marketing and advertising; it is almost always the collective experience, feeling and user-experience at every touchpoint that matters.

It is all the small decisions along the way that lead to the ultimate decision of moving forward.  Your prospects evaluate every experience and determine whether the experience aligns with their expectations. Part of branding and marketing is designing and delivering a message and experience that sets the right expectations for what your audience wants, then delivers on (or even better exceeds) those expectations.

Branding, marketing and advertising isn’t just about who you are, what you believe, and what clients should expect. To be effective, your branding, marketing, and advertising needs to reflect what clients believe and expect for themselves. And when the experience matches their expectations, they are more likely to refer others who believe and expect the same things.