If You Build It, Will They Come?

According to Google, there are approximately 5,000 Ford dealers and 4,300 Chevrolet dealers in the U.S. You can get the exact car, truck or SUV at any one of those dealers (so long as you don’t try and buy an F-150 from a Chevy dealer).

So what makes the difference between one dealer from another?

Based on an equally precise study (also Google), there are approximately 300,000 financial advisors in the United States. There are approximately 325 million people in the U.S., so the math works out to approximately one financial advisor for every 1,100 people.

What makes the difference between one financial advisor or financial institution from another?

Location obviously plays a role for both dealerships and advisors, as people will not generally travel from Missoula, Montana, to Salt Lake City, Utah, for either a new car or financial advice — unless there is a compelling reason to do so. So let’s look at that.

In the eyes of the consumer, what makes a compelling reason?

That is perhaps the most pertinent question any financial advisor or car dealer can ask themselves. Or better yet, ask their clients and potential clients.

If an advisor doesn’t know that answer, why are they in business?

If a car dealer doesn’t know that answer, why are they in business?

If you and I as business owners don’t know that answer, then we had better find out or we will not be in business.

As a consumer, we (hopefully) know why we buy from those companies we give our dollars to.

So why does your customer buy from you?

You (hopefully) know why. And if you don’t, then it’s time to find that information.

Once you have data, you need to take a qualitative look at the information and apply a little wisdom. I was told once that knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit and wisdom is knowing not to put it in a smoothie.

Information and knowledge are not enough in and of themselves. Evidence of that is the AMC Pacer, which is possibly the ugliest car ever produced in a non-Communist-ruled country.

I saw no wisdom applied in the production of the AMC Pacer — or most other cars in the 1970s. Thankfully, that decade is over and shall never be repeated. Disco and bell-bottom pants should never have happened, either.

So is your marketing based on supposition, information or wisdom?

If your efforts are not directed to what your audience is interested in, they will know and will go elsewhere. We’ve already established that there are a few alternatives for them to turn to in the financial advice industry.

Get that information and then make sure that you are speaking to your clients and potential clients about what is important to them, and not what is important to you.

“Customers attach value to a product in proportion to its perceived ability to solve their problems or meet their needs.” — Theodore Leavitt in Harvard Business Review

Think and speak of their needs and wants (not yours) in your marketing, and you will be applying wisdom to knowledge.

Keep your tomatoes in your salad, not in your smoothie.