Why Successful Advisors Embrace Both Referrals and Marketing

A satisfied professional advisor oversees her work.

One of my friends in marketing once told me–and this was very well-meaning–“I think if you do good work and you’re a nice person, business will come.” 

Well…that’s not the case for me. I do good work. I’m a nice person. And yet, I put an extraordinary amount of effort into marketing. 

I don’t fault my friend. And I think people are generally well-meaning with advice, basing it on what worked for them. My friend came from a huge digital marketing agency in the industry of financial advisors and worked with their massive marketing contact list of over 25K prospects. She started her business on the “be nice, do good work” philosophy at a different starting line than me–with relationships she gained from that list of 25K, standing on the shoulders of a large company. 

I didn’t start that way. I started knowing no one in this industry. So, I market. 

I used to feel shame about that. But I realize now that I’m just starting my entrepreneurial journey from a different place–I didn’t have those relationships that will travel with me from a big company or referred business to me when I struck out on my own. 

What I do have is bootstraps. And the boots gotta first walk the marketing road. That includes publishing articles in the Journal of Financial Planning, NAPFA, and Advisorpedia; developing my network with other awesome marketers in the industry and even the oft-avoided: cold outreach. There’s no shame in any of that. 

For financial advisors, referrals have long been considered the gold standard for attracting new business. But who refers you when you’re looking for your first client? Or when you realize all your referrals are past the age of clients who will help you build longevity for your firm? Or when you want to expand to a new niche but none of your current clients represent that market?

By combining effective marketing techniques with referral strategies, financial advisors can expand their client base and unlock new growth opportunities. Let’sl explore the reasons why financial advisors should embrace a comprehensive marketing strategy alongside referrals to elevate their business potential.

1. Expanding Reach and Targeting New Audiences – With Greater Control 

While referrals are undoubtedly valuable, they often rely on an advisor’s existing network. By incorporating a robust marketing strategy for financial advisors, they can expand their reach and target new audiences beyond their immediate circle.

I used to belong to a local professional networking group in Los Angeles and was told that it can take one to two years to get your first referral. I was patient. I was nice. I showcased good work. No referrals came. Then I woke up to the fact that my business is not local it is international and I was severely limiting my reach by staying small. By expanding my marketing and engaging in new marketing strategies, I started serving clients in the UK, Australia, Canada, and all over the US — some in person, some completely remotely! 

By leveraging authentic video content in various marketing channels and strategies, advisors can connect with individuals who they may not have been reached through referrals alone. This proactive approach enables them to attract new clients and diversify their client base effectively.

One go my clients, Kayvan at CAPE Analytics, is a great example of widening my reach and the power of global engagement through video. We’ve never met in person but he can still attest that we do good work and are nice…his testimonial referral video gives us the option to share widely with our network rather than relying on him to share with his network like a traditional referral model.

Check out Kayvan’s testimonial referral video for us below: 

2. Building and Enhancing Brand Awareness – With Strategic Messaging

A well-crafted marketing strategy is instrumental in establishing and enhancing a financial advisor’s brand awareness. While referrals rely on personal relationships, marketing allows advisors to create a consistent and compelling brand presence that sets them apart from competitors. By showcasing their expertise, sharing valuable content, and engaging with their target audience, financial advisors can position themselves as trusted authorities. This strengthens their brand, attracting potential clients who may not have considered their services solely based on referrals.

Additionally, client referrals don’t always know what makes your firm’s brand so great. They might know (and say to their friends) “they’re nice, they do good work.” But can they articulate what makes your brand unique? How your approach stands out from the competition?

A great example of how marketing content and referrals can work together for advisors is arming your clients with content they can share with their friends. Be proactive about sharing your brand and put your strategically crafted marketing messaging into the hands of clients to make it easy for them to refer you. 

Here’s an example of video content we created for our client Global Wealth Advisors detailing their brand’s approach to wealth management.

Any advisory firm could, for example, add a link to a video like the one above in a client newsletter. Even simply reminding existing clients why they trust your brand helps them articulate more about you to potential referrals rather than “nice people, good work.” And once again, gives you greater control over messaging. 

3. Establishing Credibility and Trust

Marketing strategy plays a crucial role in establishing credibility with a wider audience of potential clients. And a very effective way of establishing credibility and trust is by leading with vulnerability with relatable storytelling.

Increasingly, people are tuning into empathy as a necessary quality for business leaders. People trust people who understand them who are demonstrated to be like them. 

There’s a fine line in marketing to talk about yourself and how great you are (not recommended) versus sharing your personal experience for the purpose of relating empathetically and authentically with potential clients. The latter requires great storytelling skill and builds brand and personal trust. 

Check out the video below, again for Global Wealth Advisors and notice how Kris begins his story. Even if it’s not relatable to you directly, it’s relatable to the clients he wants to reach.

This increased visibility and relatability instill confidence in potential clients who may be hesitant to rely solely on referrals. A well-executed digital marketing strategy allows advisors to showcase their authenticity, further building trust and credibility with their target audience.

By the way, Kris’ story didn’t happen by accident or through a script, it emerged as part of a marketing strategy. That strategy included a compliance-coordinated interview process with strategically developed questions and was included in the video through a lengthy professional editing process. Curious about what video can do for your firm? Contact us at Authentic Advisor Video

4. Adapting to Evolving Client Behaviors

It’s no secret that clients are actively seeking financial advisors through online platforms, search engines, and social media.So why does anyone feel shame about not following advice that isn’t as relevant to today’s reality? Why did I limit myself to a small geography when my potential clients are everywhere?

A comprehensive marketing strategy ensures that advisors remain visible and accessible to these potential clients. By neglecting marketing–especially video marketing–financial advisors risk missing out on valuable opportunities to connect with prospects who are actively searching for their services. That would be be like an advisor who recommended investment portfolios to clients that only included companies that launched by 1978 because that’s when the firm was founded! You update your investment strategies for your clients, right? You also need to update the strategies you use to invest in your own business. 

A proactive marketing approach allows advisors to leverage various digital channels and powerful mediums such as video, optimizing their chances of being discovered and engaging with potential clients who may not have access to referral networks.

Certainly my team at Authentic Advisor Video, isn’t for everyone. In fact, we select our clients carefully. Our services are for advisors who want to grow beyond outdated, stiff, formal ways of doing business. If your firm can relate to our brand and wants a new and scaleable yet authentic way of connecting with clients, let’s explore that. How do we know if we’re a match? Well, check out our own brand video and that will give you some clues about us–we’d love to help you make a video like this one to help you screen prospects and share your brand in an ever-changing market. 

5. Video Exponentially Expands Organic Referral Reach

It’s true: you do good work and you’re nice. And you don’t want to veer away from that basic recipe for generating stellar referrals. The ultimate way referrals and marketing can go hand in hand is by using video referral testimonials. Put them on your website. Include them in your newsletters. Post them on social media. Ask your clients to spread the word (and equip them with videos to do so)!

Now that the SEC allows advisors to create testimonial videos, leading financial advisors are making use of this powerful medium. Successful advisors understand that video exponentially expands organic referral reach. 

Below is one more example video from our case study client GWA. This one is a client testimonial.

Do you have clients like Amber and Robert who would speak on your behalf? Not sure how to ask your clients to appear in a video? Read this next.  


Is your business primarily driven by referrals? Great! Keep that going. And add marketing strategy. 

The sale isn’t made when you get a referral. Prospects are still shopping and when they go to your website, they’re still looking for proof that it’s a good idea to choose you.

While referrals remain an essential aspect of attracting new business, to be successful, financial advisors must recognize the transformative power of a comprehensive marketing strategy. By embracing marketing alongside referrals, advisors can expand their reach, enhance brand awareness, establish credibility, adapt to evolving client behaviors and leverage video to expand referral reach.


Integrating a well-planned marketing strategy into their business approach enables financial advisors to unlock new growth opportunities and attract clients who may have previously been out of reach.



Portions of this article were written with some assistance from an AI language model.