Matt Ackermann is the chief content officer at Integrated Partners. Before joining the company three years ago, he built his reputation developing unique multimedia content at InvestmentNews and other trade publications for the wealth management industry.
Russ Alan Prince: What’s the biggest difference between good and great advisors?
Matt Ackermann: In a word: Branding. There is a monotonous sea of sameness in the financial advice industry. Your clients hear and see a litany of brands every day, and they all just get muddled together. When they are asking to envision a financial advisor, they are just as likely to think of you as they are Gordon Gekko. The advisors that stand out have created a distinctive brand that helps them stand out from the crowd.
Prince: How do they do that?
Ackermann: I always begin with helping advisors to identify their voice. What is it that makes them distinctive? What is their point of view? What is their perspective? How do they help? What is their expertise? Stop using the same tired jargon as the guy across the street, and be yourself. Be direct and be willing to be yourself. And frankly, be willing to turn the volume up.
Prince: Once they have the message, how do they get it out there?
Ackermann: The biggest mistake a lot of advisors make is they immediately begin paying a firm to help them. They hire a public relations firm or a marketing agency. You have to get the horse before you go buy a cart. Get your content and your story together first. Then, think about amplification. You’d never hire a band if they didn’t have a song. Don’t stand up in front of the microphone unless you have a song to sing first.
Prince: So where should they begin?
Ackermann: I always tell folks: Start at the end. What is your goal around marketing and branding? Do you want to become a thought leader? Do you want to gather clients? Typically, with the end in mind, you can find your way back to the beginning. Ironically, too many advisors begin with a tactic instead of a strategy. It’s so funny because this is exactly what you tell clients NOT to do. Develop a strategy for your marketing and then work backward from there.
Prince: What does success feel like?
Ackermann: A successful branding and marketing strategy should feel effortless. Too many advisors are playing a character in meetings, online and in their marketing. Successful advisors are delivering effortless honesty to their clients in their marketing.
Prince: What should they avoid?
Ackermann: Avoid all the jargon and hackneyed phrases. And please, eliminate the compass, the lighthouses and the stock photos of the happy retired couple on the sailboat! When you create marketing and content, ask yourself: Have I seen this before? If the answer is yes, start again.
Prince: What do you think about ChatGPT and AI’s impact on marketing?
Ackermann: AI is not going anywhere. You need to learn about it. But if your marketing and content begins and ends by prompting ChatGPT, you should give up right now. I like AI, but I think you deserve more sprinkles on your vanilla ice cream. ChatGPT is like being satisfied with a C+ grade in high school. Your marketing requires personalization and your twist. Take the extra time to take it to the next level.
Prince: So, what is the big takeaway here?
Ackermann: Marketing, branding and content can’t just be put on automatic pilot. These are the lifeblood of growth. They require your attention if you want to really shine.
Russ Alan Prince is the executive director of Private Wealth magazine and chief content officer for High-Net-Worth Genius. He is a strategist for family offices and the ultra-wealthy.