There’s one thing I’ve noticed almost all financial advisers have in common: they don’t like marketing. They don’t enjoy it. They don’t think it’s fun. Some tell me they just don’t get it.
I’d argue that last point, because marketing is simply communication. If you communicate your value to the audience you want to serve, congratulations—you “get” marketing and should be able to do it successfully.
But still, I understand the first two points: if you don’t like marketing, or don’t enjoy it, it’s tough to make yourself sit down and do it (or even think about it).
And unfortunately, most of us need to do some marketing tasks—especially if we’re trying to build and grow businesses. Choosing not to think about it isn’t really an option, either, even if you outsource. You’re likely responsible for setting the vision and the strategy for your team or your contractors so they can execute on your ideas.
So what can you do if you hate thinking about marketing and you definitely don’t want to do it—but recognize that it’s a necessary evil?
Here’s what I’d suggest: Don’t try to market yourself. Focus on building an audience and a community instead.
Build a Community Instead of a Marketing Machine
If the idea of marketing leaves you feeling less than enthusiastic, consider how you can build up an audience, a network or a community.
If you can build these connections and nurture those relationships, you could leverage a very powerful way to build your business: word of mouth. Word of mouth takes some of the burden off you because your customers or clients begin doing the work of marketing for you.
Community could be anything, from online groups or followings centered on a particular brand or product, to in-person meet-ups, events or organizations’ events. There is no one right way to go about it—you just want to bring people with shared interests, needs or problems together.
The best community for you to focus on building will largely depend on who you want to serve. What kind of format best meets their needs? What kind of community are they most likely to show up to and participate in?
Your Community Doesn’t Need to Be All About You
As you think through questions like these, remember that you don’t necessarily need to build a community that’s based specifically on your brand. Your community doesn’t have to be brought together by your services or your industry, either.
Perhaps there’s something you’re passionate about or a problem you know you could solve instead. This might make a great starting point to think about how you can put yourself at the center of the solution.
For example, when I moved to Boston from Atlanta, I found it very hard to make new friends. I knew one person—my significant other—and that was it.
Boston is a hard city. People tend to be very transient, moving frequently for work (which means people may live in Boston one year and be gone the next). And the people who are native to the area have very established social circles that date back to their grade school days.
Those factors, among others, make it very difficult to make friends (especially when you don’t have an office full of coworkers, which I didn’t because I work for myself!). As I tried networking and slowly met a few people, I realized we all had the same problem: It was hard to move to Boston from outside the state and make friends as an adult.
So I started a community for these like-minded women who faced the same struggle. I organized happy hour events once a month, and the group grew from our first gathering of 10 women at a local restaurant to nearly 50 women at the last event I hosted.
I also started a Facebook group that grew to hundreds of members—and every single member was a woman in her 20s or 30s, most of whom were self-employed or did some kind of freelance work on the side of their day jobs.
In other words, they were a niche. They were a ready-made target audience. They became a tribe who knew me as the founder, the heart of this community, and every single one of them understood who I was, what I did and the type of client my business could serve.
Give to Your Community, and They Just Might Give to You
Through that group, I expanded my professional circles and gained influence in my local area. It was a powerful way to give my career and business a boost—and it didn’t require me to market in the traditional sense.
That’s what the community did for me, on my behalf. This is just one example of how your community can benefit you; you could easily take this and replicate the model in your local area and make it specific to a niche you want to connect with.
Can you serve a group of people in your town? Could you create an online community to bring together people of specific interests or needs from various locations around the U.S.? Could you build a brand that seeks to give rather than constantly sell?
Marketing might not be your thing, and that’s okay. You don’t necessarily need to build out a powerful marketing machine if you can instead focus your efforts on connecting directly with people and fostering a community that offers mutual benefits for everyone involved.
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.