Should Your Firm Write its Own Marketing Copy?

Beverly Flaxington

Beverly Flaxington is a practice management consultant. She answers questions from advisors facing human resource issues.  To submit yours, email us here.

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Dear Bev,

My new marketing person has ideas for client outreach and communication. He says we would have more impact if we wrote our own articles and emails instead of using the vendor we have utilized for many years. I have two issues with this. I don’t think our clients would recognize whether we are writing it or whether it is a packaged product, and we don’t have anyone in our firm who writes well enough to be compelling and engaging. Will we get more out of our communication if we write our own copy?

Dan F., Chicago area

Dear Dan,

My answer depends on a number of factors. I’m curious, for example, why your marketing person suggested this. Do clients complain about the information and want to hear more from your team directly? Is this a competitive move because other firms in your area are getting higher marks for the information they send? Are clients asking for more specific details about your process? Much depends on the type of clients you have and the type of packaged information you are already sending.

It also depends on the type of information you generate on your own. Do you have enough original insights that you could come up with something to write on a monthly or quarterly basis? Is there a way to carve out a portion of the packaged newsletter you are currently doing and add some firm-specific insights? Could you do a separate “cover letter” (even if it is an electronic newsletter) that could share some additional information?

I would want to explore more about what the potential upside is to bringing this in-house and if there are easier ways to achieve the same result. The experts in marketing are encouraging advisors to blog, write articles, etc., but the effectiveness of those efforts depends entirely on the advisor’s ability to write and convey their ideas! A poor outcome will result if it isn’t written well and thoughtfully. That said, there are also many outside resources you could use for this. Some writers will interview your advisors and then write from there, some will do research and come up with new ideas for each newsletter, and some will simply edit something your team has written to make it more compelling. Some perform all three functions! I suggest you confirm with your marketing person what the real problem is that you are trying to solve, and what the desired outcome would be of making this change, and then figure out your options from there.

Dear Bev,

I run a large office with a number of advisors. One of my most loyal and top-performing employees is going through a difficult year. He will end 2012 nowhere near the goals we had set. He had some personal issues this year and it set him back. When we had a brief conversation and I gave him feedback about missing his goals, and alluded to how it would impact his bonus, he threw a fit in my office, stormed out and has walked around in a foul mood since that time. I hate conflict and don’t want to confront him again. Can something like this work itself out? Did I handle this poorly?

Name withheld

Dear Advisor,

I have no idea whether he is reacting to your approach or just has a hard time with negative feedback, but the least of your problems is that he didn’t make his goals.

He storms out? Walks around in a bad mood? And this is a loyal team player? Something else is going on here that needs to be addressed. I’m truly sorry to hear that you received this kind of a response, but you have to address this behavior here and now. It’s possible that the way you delivered the feedback either wasn’t direct and clear enough, or was too harsh.  So you first want to self-reflect and think about your approach. Is there anything you could have done differently? Do you need to reach out and say, “I might not have handled this well, can we schedule time for another discussion?” Maybe once the information is out in the open, you might have a better opportunity to convey your thoughts.

Let’s look at his responsibilities, too. You don’t say how his behavior is being perceived in the office, but you say you have a number of advisors. I find it hard to believe that this situation is not impacting others around him. He could be struggling with personal issues and maybe is overwrought or depressed, but he needs to deal with these emotions outside of the office. If you don’t want to revisit how you approached him and reset the conversation, you at least have to bring him in to let him know this behavior is unacceptable at best and disruptive to the team at worst. Ask him to take some time off if he needs it, or to talk to someone outside the firm like a coach or counselor..  If you can’t clear the air together, encourage him to take action to shift his behavior. I know enough about human behavior to sense there is something pretty significant going on here. Letting this continue is not doing either of you any good. Good luck.

Beverly Flaxington co-founded The Collaborative, a consulting firm devoted to business building for the financial services industry in 1995; in 2008 she co-founded Advisors Trusted Advisor to offer dedicated practice management resources to advisors, planners and wealth managers.  She is currently an adjunct professor at Suffolk University teaching undergraduate students Leadership & Social Responsibility. Beverly is a Certified Professional Behavioral Analyst (CPBA) and Certified Professional Values Analyst (CPVA).

She has spent over 25 years in the investment industry and has been featured in Selling Power Magazine and quoted in hundreds of media outlets, including the Wall Street Journal,, Investment News and Solutions Magazine for the FPA. She speaks frequently at investment industry conferences and is a speaker for the CFA Institute.

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