Skip to main content

You are here


Beer Signs and Advisory Marketing: Guinness Sold Here

At a recent conference, I had the rare moment to go outside and walk around the city – when I noticed something odd.

As I strolled through the streets, being the marketing enthusiast that I am, I couldn’t help but notice the awesome detail of each local establishment’s signage. This hip area of town had no shortage of great branding; every storefront was built to evoke one emotion or another with their own unique colors, fonts and images. However, when it came to the restaurant/bar scene, I did notice an odd reoccurrence: the Guinness sign, “Guinness Sold Here.” Now, I’ve been known to enjoy a pint from time to time, but it seems bizarre to stake a restaurant’s reputation on a singular beverage.

The overwhelming number of Guinness signs got me thinking about endorsements and product advertising, and made me realize how often advisors in our industry do this as well. As a retirement plan advisor, you aim to provide educated and informed recommendations using a wide variety of recordkeepers, investments, financial wellness programs and overall choices, right? Well, that independent, agnostic and provider-neutral menu is part of your value proposition.

So, what happens when an advisor touts this value proposition but has a recordkeeper or investment product placement on their website? It’s like putting a beer sign in your restaurant. Your offering is much more complex than a single, “Guinness Sold Here” sign… make sure that you articulate that clearly.

Did you know that 41% of plan sponsors said that it was important to see a clear mission statement on their advisor’s website?[1. “Opportunities for financial advisors to obtain referrals from retirement plan sponsors,” MassMutual Retirement Plan Referrals Study, August 2016.] Are you meeting plan sponsor expectations? Does your website clearly demonstrate your knowledge and articulate your values?

Read more commentary by Rebecca Hourihan here

If you are struggling to develop a strong mission statement, here are few questions to ask yourself:

  • Why did you get into the retirement plan business?

  • What is your favorite plan sponsor or participant story?

  • If you were talking to a 4-year-old, how would you describe what you do?

These questions will help to uncover your why, what and how. Be intentional about the words you use; they should paint a powerful and compelling picture that allows you to breathe new life into your website through vivid text and images.

Now, believe it or not, the restaurants that had the beer signs were relatively empty. However, the non-beer sign restaurants that looked cool – and which seem to be known for a combination of attributes like outstanding food, vibrant atmosphere, charming decoration and exceptional service – were packed with people. As a retirement plan advisor, it is your overall experience and expertise that you bring to the table that will wow your plan sponsor prospects, clients and centers of influence. So talk, write, and demonstrate the 5-star experience they will have by partnering with you.

Don’t let a placement sign define your value. Instead, own your value and promote your expertise.

Rebecca Hourihan, AIF, PPC, is the founder and CMO of 401(k) Marketing.