Marketing Lessons Are Everywhere. Learn From Them.

Woman smiling at laptop

I’m so deep into copywriting and marketing—for others as well as for my own business—I find lessons with almost every transaction. When I bought my car 12 years ago, a lesson in pricing. When my mobile phone carrier loaded me up with extra data during the pandemic without even asking, a lesson in customer service. The latest lesson came during the hunt for a financial planner.

I want to work with a fee-only financial planner: someone that works on an hourly rate, flat fee, or combination of both. My search not only led me to a couple strong prospects, it gave me insight into positioning and messaging for micro-small businesses.

So far, I’ve spoken with three advisors and one to come. Here’s what I experienced:

Advisor A: Unpretty website, but the information was there. Returned my call within an hour. He was personable and understood what I was looking for. He recommended an initial evaluation with suggestions, plus annual “checkups.” He charges a flat fee, with any extra stuff billed hourly. That’s what I want! After all that, he said he’s retiring in a few years, so he may not be the best fit. Oh. He referred me to Advisor B. He said he would trust Advisor B with his own money. I called advisor B.

Advisor B: No website, only a short profile on Garrett Planning Network. I called toward the end of the business day and he returned my call the next afternoon. He was personable enough, but more guarded (shy even) than Advisor A. He recommended an initial evaluation. He works on an hourly basis only. He said the initial analysis would take two hours total: one to analyze, one for the conversation with me to go over what he found and his recommendations. Advisor B would save me money, but I was not confident in his expertise. Could he really review my life savings in an hour?

Advisor C: Clean, modern website, with a contact form, contact info, and a calendar link to book a free initial consult. He also had info on his fees and a few package options posted on his website. As a test, I sent him an email as well as booked time for a consult. He returned my email within a few hours. Our call went well. He asked me a lot of questions and answered mine. We didn’t click like best friends, but that’s okay. He seemed smart and “human.” Advisor C sent his quote earlier than promised. His pricing isn’t cheap, but fair. And based on the quote, he offers a lot of advice for the initial flat fee.

Advisor D: Clean, modern website, with a contact form, contact info, and a calendar link to book a free initial consult. Information about his background, fees, and everything else were there. As a test, I left a voice mail first. No reply. I booked a consult and received an auto reply about what to expect. Fine. I sent an email after I booked the consult; to date, no reply. Two strikes from me so far because I have yet to communicate with him personally. Is he real? I will find out during our consult tomorrow. Right now, I’m less confident in Advisor D due to the lack of personal response. How available will he be to answer the periodic question through the year?

Marketing Lessons Learned

As I thought about these four prospective advisors, I thought about the image I portray to prospective clients. Does it reflect my level of experience and the value I bring? I hope so. Do I make working with me easy? I hope so. Do I turn off clients somehow? I sure hope not.

A few takeaways from the financial advisor experiment:

• If you are in business for yourself, by all means get a website! Wix, Squarespace, WordPress and other platforms make it easy to do it yourself for little to no money. Even better, hire a pro and get it done right.

• Make it easy for potential clients to reach you. That website should include a contact page with your email address at minimum.

• Return phone calls and emails within 24 hours.

• Be human. My goal is to be professional, polite, and personable. I’m not a stuffy person, so I don’t engage that way. And while I do spend an awful lot of time alone, I try to maintain good social skills. This year has given us much fodder for small talk!

• Ask questions. When you get those potential clients on the phone, ask them what they need. Ask about their business. Depending on the type of call, you’ll want to ask other qualifying questions too. That’s a topic for another day.

• Follow through. If you promise a proposal by Tuesday, send it by Tuesday. Morning. Or Friday.

What marketing lessons have you learned from “real life” experiences? Do tell!

If you need a hand with your marketing content or copy, get in touch to schedule a free phone consultation. Hjohnson at

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