Positioning Secrets of a $70 Billion Company That Every Advisor Needs To Know

One of the biggest marketing challenges RIA firms have is creating a compelling marketing campaign that all the advisors can benefit from.

When it comes to positioning your advisory firm, it’s critical that you identify profitable niche markets and plan to dominate them. But… this can be a challenge when you have a firm with multiple advisors that have their own unique style and a unique clientele.A “one size fits all” marketing approach is likely going to do more harm than good.

The only way to solve this marketing dilemma is to take a different perspective on the problem.

The "Attracting Affluent Clients On Autopilot" System

Step 1) Identify — Uncover your most profitable opportunities

Step 2) Position — Establish authority in the niche market

Step 3) Attract — Get qualified prospects to come to you

Step 4) Engage — Educate and motivate prospects to take action

Step 5) Enroll — Selling conversations that convert prospects into customers

Step 6) Deliver — Designing and delivering an ideal customer experience

Step 7) Retain — Creating long term clients out of first time customers

Step 8) Refer — Getting high quality referrals to high value prospect

The majority of advisors I’ve worked with are woefully unaware of how real businesses use marketing and advertising to sell products and services. It’s much easier and much faster than the traditional direct sales methods we all grew up on… but only if you know what you’re doing.

In this article, you’re going to get a sneak peak behind the curtain of a multi-billion dollar company… and the strategy they’ve used to launch more than 20 billion dollar brands.​

The Company With 21 Billion-Dollar Brands

When it comes to identifying niche markets and launching category dominating brands, there is no one better than Proctor & Gamble. As a company, they are Jedi masters at the art and science of Positioning.

Four philosophies influence and color everything P&G does:

  1. Understanding what the consumer wants is critical to the business of P&G.
  2.  P&G’s corporate mission is to develop new products that deliver real value to the consumer.
  3. P&G creates unique brands for its products that consumers can form an emotional and trust-based relationship with.
  4. P&G maintains a long-term perspective on everything it does and is consistent and focused.​

Proctor & Gamble is a phenomenal company. Not only has it been in existence for 178 years… but 2015 marks the 125th year that P&G has paid a dividend with 59 years of consecutive increases.

P&G has thrived and survived for 178 years because they understand how this game is played better than any other company. While other companies try to widen their focus in an attempt to appeal to a broader audience… P&G knows that the secret to success is quite the opposite.

The only way to win is to narrow your focus and dominate niche markets.

A More Focused Business Portfolio

We conducted a comprehensive diagnosis to answer a fundamental strategic question: Which businesses should P&G be in? We chose 10 business categories where P&G understands consumers and has leading market positions, strong brands, differentiated products and business models proven to grow and create value. These 10 categories have been growing faster, and their operating margins are higher than those of the total Company. Their sales and profits are highly concentrated in the top consumer markets around the world. Yet they have significant growth opportunity in big, developed countries such as the U.S.,

After decades of category extension and geographic expansion to get bigger, we are narrowing our focus to these 10 categories to get better. Ultimately, a more focused P&G will lead to becoming the best-performing company in the consumer products industry— winning with consumers and delivering the most consistent and reliable performance in our chosen categories, countries, channels and customers.

More Innovative and More Productive

We have always believed that product innovation is the lifeblood of our business. We invent brands and products that create and transform categories, and that build consumer trial and create value in those categories for years— often for decades. Our brand and product innovations drive category market growth, which creates value for our retail customers and suppliers. We’re rededicating ourselves to product innovation that “wins from the top”— offering the best-performing products in the category, with the highest quality, at a modest price premium— yielding superior consumer value and growth.

Innovation is our lifeblood, but what has changed is the realization that we cannot deliver consistent and reliable growth and value creation without continuous improvement in productivity. We are implementing the biggest supply chain redesign in the Company’s history. We are moving to fewer categories, brands, initiatives, product lines and SKUs. We are consolidating to fewer plants, agencies, suppliers and organizations. We are focusing on fewer priorities and activities. This is leading to lower costs in overhead, cost-of-goods-sold, marketing and trade spending. In turn, this is driving more focus and more savings to reinvest in accelerating growth of the leading brands, the most significant product innovations, and the countries and customers with the highest potential for sales, profit and cash growth.

Source: Proctor and Gamble 2015 Annual Report  (emphasis added)

Clearly their strategy is working.

Of the 10 categories P&G competes in... they are the leader in seven of these categories and i#2 in the remaining three... with significant growth potential in all of them.

Across the 10 categories, P&G has 21 brands with annual sales of $1 billion to about $10 billion, and 11 brands with sales of $500 million to $1 billion – many of those with billion-dollar potential.

3 P&G Positioning Philosophies

Along with it’s main philosophies, there are three philosophies  that relate specifically to approaching positioning and branding:

#1) The only way to succeed is to find out exactly what the consumers want and how they want that benefit delivered. Every decision must be supported by research.

P&G is driven by research and development. Marketing isn't a guessing game. It's a research game. 

People think of P&G as a marketing company, but we are first and foremost a research-and-development company. R&D is the lifeblood of our business.

John Pepper 
Former CEO, Proctor & Gamble

When you are looking for niches to dominate, don't just pick something because you "like it'. Finding profitable niches is no different than finding lucrative investment opportunities. 

You already have the skill set to spot great opportunities. You've just never thought to use them in quite this way. 

#2) Consumers form an emotional bond with a brand — not a product or a company. Therefore, the brand has to have a personality and a character people trust and relate to— something distinct that no other competing brand offers.

Here is the reality every service based business has to come to terms with. Whomever the customer interacts with is the brand... for better or for worse. 

Keep in mind that the buying process is very emotional. Clients don't work with companies... they work with people. Your client facing advisors are who bring their personality and have a character people trust and relate to. 

Unfortunately, most advisory firms completely botch their marketing and wind up coming across as some bland corporate entity with a stick shoved up their ass... or some homogenous piece of "me too" copy that you could slap any company name on and no one would be the wiser.

Instead of trying to market a lifeless corporate entity, start putting your advisors in the spotlight.

#3) Manage each brand as if it were a separate business. Focus resources on whatever is required to build the business of each brand. Every brand must have a brand manager who oversees everything that affects that brand.​

Imagine for a moment that your firm operates like Proctor & Gamble. Each advisor is their own separate brand that has their own separate audience and need to be handled in their own separate way.

Once you start thinking of your advisors as “brand managers”… things will start to click into place very quickly.

Examples To Follow

​One of the major advantages you get by marketing your advisors separate from the advisory firm is that you can side step a lot of compliance and regulatory issues that can be otherwise tricky to navigate.

When it comes to utilizing marketing tricks and strategy... pretty much everything is fair game when financial advice is given through an individual as “entertainment” instead of from an RIA.

(Note: This doesn’t mean you have carte blanche to do say whatever you want as long as the communication is coming from a personal brand. Please run everything by your legal team and compliance officer).

When it comes to positioning an advisor, you have a few go-to moves:

  • Blog
  • Book
  • Guest Column
  • Podcast

​You’ll notice that the big names you’ve heard of in the wealth management industry use all of these positioning strategies to their advantage.

Ritholtz Wealth Management​

Quick. Name the two most well know financial bloggers who own a wealth management firm.

If you’ve been following financial anything, you know the names “Barry Ritholtz” and “Josh Brown”. When it comes to positioning themselves as true industry thought leaders, Ritholtz Wealth Management has done a spectacular job.​

Blogging is essential to my career. I no longer prospect for new customers, by phone or any other means. I prefer to spend my days getting smarter and to do so in such a way that the clients find their way to me.

Josh Brown
CEO, Ritholtz Wealth Management

Notice how each blog has it’s own brand... and each brand has it’s own voice. This is exactly the approach you should take when positioning your advisors.

Buckingham Wealth Management​

Buckingham has done an incredible job of recruiting heavy hitting thought leaders to bolster their brand.

Buckingham has been absolutely crushing it through M&A and organic growth over the past few years. Not only have they added billions in assets, but they have quickly become the destination for existing firms looking for an exit strategy.

Hire A Professional To Do This For You

As a word of caution... unless you have someone on your team that is a certified marketing ninja and already knows how to do all this stuff... don't try this at home.

I can tell you from experience of just running my personal blog... it takes no small effort to keep this ship sailing. The amount of hours I put into the research alone would make your head spin.

And I'm a professional copywriter and marketer. 

Unless you have an advisor with an inhuman work ethic and a strong marketing background... it's highly unlikely that you're going to be able to get this job done in house. 

Yes, Barry Ritholtz and Josh Brown aren't doing too bad of a job... but here is what you don't know about most major thought leaders.

They hire ghostwriters and copywriters to help them produce the huge amounts of content that gets produced.​

Let's get real. You don't have time to hone your copywriting skills, or learn how to manage your web properties, build landing pages, social media marketing, adwords, or the dozens of other things you need to run an effective marketing campaign.

You have better things to do (like serving your clients). 

If you're serious about implementing a killer marketing strategy to rapidly grow your advisory firm... do what everyone else does and hire a pro.

Want to work with me?  Click here now for a free 30-minute strategy session. 

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About the Author

Hello, I'm Jake Hoffberg and I'm the guy who runs this website. You can read more about me and my story here .

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