When you think of your clients, is there a picture, a trait or a word that comes to mind? If so, you have already started to think in personas, but my guess is that you are not using them for marketing, planning or servicing. A majority of today’s advisors are still generalists, fighting a battle of commoditized investments and general planning.

In today’s contributor post, Jerry Lezynski, head of Marketing at Independent Advisor Solutions, shows how one industry–craft beer–is using persona marketing to attract and maintain their hard-core fans. Unique names, events with pairings and social media are all ways to speak to the “Chrises” of the world (I can actually picture him now after reading this). 

Jerry gives some great tips to creating your ideal profile clients, but remember to ask when they are completed, what are the implications for marketing, planning and servicing for each – are you meeting the needs of your “Chris”? Please enjoy Jerry’s post. --- JDA 

Over the past few years, I have been intrigued by the increasing popularity of the craft beer phenomenon, especially given the health and calorie conscious society we currently live in. 
As a typical Heineken and Corona Lite fan, I originally did not see the attraction of these heavier, higher calorie and higher alcohol IPAs that are now all the rage. I guess that may not a big surprise since I am not in their typical (age 50+) target beer consuming demographic.

Yet, my son Christopher is the perfect “persona” for the craft beer industry to target. By “persona,” I am referring to the representation of an ideal customer based upon information from a range of sources. Each persona is based upon different customer demographics, behavioral patterns, goals and motivations. Chris, for example, is a 28-year old single male (soon to be married to his fiancée, Carly), lives in Philadelphia, works as a criminal investigator, is an avid Philly sports fan (go Eagles!) and loves the music concert scene. He enjoys many of the local brewery events and “releases” that Imprint (Hatfield, PA) and Tired Hands (Ardmore, PA) regularly schedule. In addition, he and his buddies are adventurous enough to travel as far as Pittsburgh to Dancing Gnome Beer and the ever-popular Tree House Brewing in MA to try the latest juicy and hazy IPA recipe with other like-minded individuals who have a passion for craft beer. To some extent, I would call them “Pre-30 Craft Bearded Groupies.”

As a marketer, I admire what some of these craft brewers have done to appeal to a unique set of target personas. They are inventing new styles and brewing different concoctions just about every hour while also effectively marketing uniquely to their segments. This includes developing a crisp and clear value proposition, designing their website with the target clients in mind, implementing social media and digital initiatives – blogs, podcast, videos – and staging inventive events that blend the luscious IPAs with satisfying food. In addition to the Friday 5 p.m. “New Release” events, our local brewer, Imprint Beer Company, schedules a few sell-out events each month, such as the recent Valentine’s Day Schmoojee Fest, Chili Cook-off and the Beer Zombie’s Fest in March. 

graphic of profilesThese artisans, like many entrepreneurial financial advisors, are bold. They take chances blending the most unexpected ingredients. Now I can appreciate how different hops and yeasts can change the way a beer tastes to appeal to different consumer segments – making beer drinking a unique experience. It is no wonder that retail sales of craft beers increased 7% up to $27.6 billion of the $114.2 billion market, even while overall beer volume was down 1% in 2018 according to The Brewers Association. And, yes, I admit I have become a convert. First the IPAs, now the Double IPAs and even some of the sours (the Schmoojee Mango Elderberry by Imprint has become a favorite of my daughter, Kathryn). I am not a fan of the stouts or sparkling variety (at least not yet). 

More and more successful financial advisors are building out targeted “personas” within their prospect base into their proactive marketing outreach. Developing investor personas are actually not that difficult, and much of the demographic and psychographic information can be obtained through your CRM. There are five key categories/areas to use when identifying what your ideal client looks like.

  1. Start with the basics – Demographics
    • Age, gender, marital status and education level
    • Profession, employer, investable assets, etc.
  2. Motivations
    • What are primary challenges and what does financials security look like?
    • Is it easy for them to make decisions? Are they interested in basic facts or the details?
  3. Financial knowledge and attitude
    • What is their level of knowledge around investments? What is their attitude toward investing (e.g. long- or short-term, etc.)?
    • Where do they get their financial information (e.g. media, family, friends, etc..)?
    • What is their general demeanor toward their advisors
  4. Community and personal commitments
    • How do they spend their free time and with whom?
    • What are their hobbies and what affinity groups do they belong?
  5. Communication preferences
    • What is their preferred communication method (how often, in person, etc.)?
    • How do they want to be marketed to?
    • How technology savvy are they and do they view technology as a help or hindrance?

Adopting a persona-based approach also involves actually naming the segment and adding a photograph or visual to represent it. It can almost be as fun and creative as coming up with beer names such as Red Blooded Zombie, Gang Green (special series honoring former Philadelphia Eagles’ players, Reggie White, Jerome Brown and Seth Joyner) or–one of my favorite holiday varietals–Egg Nog Milkshake IPA.

Persona marketing can help advisors focus on personalization and their ideal client needs. It is a key ingredient to determine the right communication and marketing mix and should lead to the right service model.

In SEI’s new white paper, done in conjunction with the FPA (Financial Planning Association) – Advisor Firms in 2030: Growth by Specialization, a number of advisors are using innovative strategies to succeed in a changing client market. One of the advisors interviewed, Hannah Moore, CFP, of Texas manages two brands based upon different personas. 

  • Guiding Wealth Management, is built upon a more traditional marketing approach targeted to pre-retirees and successful professionals. The messaging and imagery are tailored to specific personas that she has named “Retiring Ricardos” and “Successful Sams/Sallies,” as she calls them. 
  • Her latest venture is a consumer-direct approach that focuses exclusively – presumably, until they become clients – upon education. Fueled by targeted paid advertising primarily on Facebook, her “Live Wealthy Now” mantra is aligning money with values. Hannah offers a range of free resources, including a monthly budget planner and budgeting system.

In summary, we can all learn something from today’s craft brew masters and apply what they are doing to uniquely satisfy the taste buds of today’s target customers while keeping them coming back for more. Developing personas and marketing to these segments is what can help both financial advisors and brew masters fuel continued growth and success for years to come. 

Legal Note

FPA, Hannah Moore, Guiding Wealth Management and Live Wealthy Now are not affiliated with SEI or its subsidiaries. Investing involves risk including possible loss of principal.

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Legal Note

Information provided by Independent Advisor Solutions by SEI, a strategic business unit of SEI Investments Company. The content is for educational purposes only and is not meant to provide investment advice or as a guarantee of any specific outcome. While SEI welcomes comments, SEI is not responsible for, and does not endorse, the opinions, advice, or recommendations posted by third parties. The opinions expressed in comments are the view(s) of the commenter(s), and do not represent the views of SEI or its affiliates. SEI reserves the right to remove any content posted by users of this site in its sole discretion.

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