3 Signs You’re Barking Up the Wrong Tree with Your Marketing

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It’s been said that the definition of insanity doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

Are you going a little insane with your marketing efforts, trying the same things over and over but not getting anywhere (and have no idea why)? The problem might not be you—and I doubt you’re truly insane.

You just might be barking up the wrong tree. And in that case, the solution is simple: find a different tree!

If you’re finding yourself in any of these situations, it may be time to hit pause, return to the drawing board and consider another, more effective approach so your marketing gives you better results.

1.) You’re Trying to Convince Your Target Market They’re Wrong

Try this fun little experiment: get on a social media network, any social media network and espouse your political opinions to the world. See how many people who fundamentally disagree with you show up to argue about your opinions.

Then try to convince all those people they’re wrong.

You can also try this at your next family get-together or holiday. Or not, because you know how that ends.

So why are you trying the same thing in your marketing?

I’ve worked with financial planners who, when I ask them, “What does your target audience believe about money?” respond with, “Well, they don’t think they need a financial planner.”

Those firms used their marketing to try to convince that particular market segment that they were wrong. It didn’t work.

You need to understand your audience and meet them where they are and work with their beliefs, not against them. And if a client persona you want to market to fundamentally disagrees with your business or your services, you need to go back and redefine that target market. 

2.) You’re Focusing on Your Weaknesses

Most of us feel that to improve personally and professionally, we need to identify our weaknesses and strengthen them.

I’m not sure what the thinking behind this is, but it seems a little backward to me—especially if you’re just starting out. Why double down on what you know you’re bad at, when you could really use all the help you can get to gain traction and grow your practice?

I don’t mean to suggest you should never identify a weak spot and attempt to improve or correct it. But I do mean to say the time to do that is not when you’re trying to grow, you’re struggling to hit goals or you’re not on track to the kind of success you want.

Focus on your strengths instead so you can start making progress and seeing results.

How does this apply to marketing? Here’s a simple example: if you’re a terrible writer but a great speaker, don’t blog. Try video or podcasts, seek out phone interviews with journalists, or apply for speaking gigs as you primary marketing channels.

Or record yourself talking and hire someone to transcribe that into a blog post for you.

3.) You’re Appealing to Reason

Many planners make rational, reasonable appeals in their marketing messages and their content. They logically explain their services and why they’re objectively better than the next firm down the road.

The problem? People aren’t rational.

People don’t make rational decisions. People don’t choose a product or service because it’s objectively better. People make decisions based on their emotions and their feelings, on their worldviews and belief systems.

We all suffer from a number of cognitive biases that lead us to make irrational or illogical decisions. That doesn’t mean we always make bad decisions or choose the wrong thing.

But we tend to believe we’re making logical choices when in fact we’re highly influenced by a number of things at a subconscious level that have nothing to do with logic at all. We’ll do mental back flips to justify our decisions as perfectly reasonable and rational.

The solution? Stop appealing to reason and start appealing to emotion—or even to those cognitive biases themselves.

You can do that through storytelling. You can do it through great copywriting. You can do it by understanding some basics about human psychology and understanding how people—including yourself—think and make decisions the way they do.

You can get empathetic with your audience and really take the time to understand what they care about and respond to, and what does or doesn’t matter so much to them.

Only by doing that work first can you create compelling content that resonates with the group of people you seek to serve.

 Kali Roberge is the founder of Creative Advisor Marketing, an inbound marketing firm that helps financial advisers grow their businesses by creating compelling content to attract prospects and convert leads. She started CAM to give financial pros the right tools to build trust and connections with their audiences, and loves helping advisers find authentic ways to communicate in a way that resonates with the right people.

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