How to Get Out Of Your Own Way
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The field of behavioral finance – getting into the minds of investors to probe their limiting beliefs – has become a popular topic. Just as investors have beliefs that limit their ability to grow their portfolio, advisors have beliefs that limit their ability to grow their practices. Those who overcome resistance get the most business. Here’s how the cycle of resistance works and what you can do about it.
The cycle of resistance
Nobody likes feeling vulnerable.
Human beings are emotional and even the most rational and logical among us can substantiate beliefs that don’t work in our favor.
But I’m an advisor! We’re the most logical and rational as they get!
Beliefs arise from experiences that every human being has. Maybe you’ve never worked with a marketing consultant and the uncertainty scares you. Maybe you’ve tried, not gotten great results, and now you think it’s impossible to succeed. Or maybe you’ve succeeded, and now feel that this is the only thing that works.
These beliefs may even be subconscious. You may not even realize that you believe them.
But there’s no stopping them. Our beliefs are who we are.
Sometimes they translate into fears and uncertainties that show up as business-limiting behaviors. These behaviors limit the success of your marketing, contributing to more deteriorating beliefs. And the resistance cycle continues.
Here are some beliefs that I have found advisors have specifically related to their marketing. I’m not making these up; all of the following I have heard advisors say:
- Nobody gets leads from social media. These marketing people are full of baloney.
- Affluent people don’t use the internet to find advisors.
- I’m not a big enough brand to do this. I’m not Fidelity. I’ll never beat Fidelity.
- My brand doesn’t have anything that unique or special to market. I don’t have that much to say.
- I’m not good looking enough to appear on social media.
- Social media is just for young people. Older people don’t understand or use social media.
- Marketing has to cost a lot to be effective.
- I’m doing just fine without this, I’ve been in business 20 years.
- Actively promoting myself makes me look desperate.
- Once I make up my mind to do something, I do it!
- The compliance in this place never lets me say or do anything.
These beliefs lead to fears and uncertainties:
- What if I hire someone and they don’t understand my message?
- What if I hire someone and I can’t articulate my message well enough to them?
- What if I can’t understand the technical aspects of what they are saying to me?
- What if they do something to get me into legal trouble?
- What if they make me take pictures and I look bad?
- What if they embarrass me to my friends and network?
- If this doesn’t work, how am I going to tell this person they’re fired?
- If this doesn’t work, how am I going to tell my boss/wife/husband/friends I spent all this money?
- What if this ends up requiring way more time than I am willing to commit?
- What if I run out of money to pay for this because it ends up costing way more than I thought?
- It’s useless to even attempt marketing because compliance will just shoot it down.
Here are the behaviors that these fears and uncertainties create. All of these contribute to the advisor not getting what they want. Again, I’m not making these up; all of these are behaviors I have seen demonstrated by advisors:
- Not following up – making excuses about being too busy while putting everything else first
- Repeatedly Ignoring the marketing person’s emails
- Not doing what you’re supposed to – not listening to the marketing person’s recommendations
- Being overly focused on results over unreasonably short time periods
- Stalling when signing the contract, e.g., “My pen ran out of ink every day for three months so I haven’t been able to sign. I’ll sign when I have the money to buy a new pen.”
- Questioning every single thing the marketing person says to the extent that it prohibits any progress
- Getting other people from your company involved when they aren’t necessarily as qualified, e.g., “I’m going to ask my intern to edit this blog you just wrote.”
- Thinking the grass is greener – firing your marketing person and then hiring another one who makes the same mistake
- Failing to try to market yourself in the first place
Breaking the resistance cycle
I’m not saying it’s all the advisor’s fault and not that of the marketing person. We marketing people play our part in perpetuating these behaviors, some more than others.
Whatever your marketing person does, you have a higher chance of success if you decrease any resistance you may be bringing to the table rather than focusing on them. Get into your psyche and figure out what beliefs you are bringing to the table that may be creating resistance.
Here’s how to break the cycle:
- Understand that you are resisting, even passively, without blaming someone or something else for making you resist.
- Think about why you are resisting. Write this down.
- Determine the beliefs that are causing you to resist. Write them down.
- Blend the destructive beliefs with more constructive beliefs.
The final step shows that you can’t invalidate the belief behind the resistance. Take it along for the ride, but just give it a little bit less control.
Has anyone ever shamed you for having a certain fear or belief? “Oh, get over it! That’s silly!” they say.
Your beliefs are part of you. You can’t destroy your belief system without losing awareness, and anyone who has raised a child knows that awareness is what allows us to be independent. We need our beliefs like we need air. Likewise, fear is naturally a part of all of us. Fear is what allows us to protect ourselves; you can’t take away fear without introducing massive vulnerability.
So here’s how to make beliefs and fear work in your favor.
Instead of allowing destructive beliefs to prevail, introduce others that counterbalance them. This feels more natural to us as human beings. It is the best way to decrease resistance because it holds our fears in check.
Here’s an example of how I was able to overcome resistance in my own business and it has made a huge difference. In fact, it’s the reason that I’m talking to you today -- because without overcoming this belief, I wouldn’t be where I am, and you wouldn’t be reading this article, which you are hopefully benefitting from.
I was raised with the belief that spending a lot of money was a bad thing and that money is scarce and there’s never enough of it so you have to save every penny. I’m sure many of you know what I mean first hand, or know someone who has this belief.
When I got older, this belief impeded my progress as a business owner. I resisted spending money to the point where it was holding me back. One day I was looking at a competitor’s website and I saw she had several features that I had been too cheap to pay for. It became obvious in that moment that she was getting attention I wasn’t because she had the courage to pony up her money whereas I didn’t.
It was then natural for me to understand how if I didn’t believe in myself enough to invest in myself, then nobody else was going to believe in me. My business would never get to where I wanted it to be. I replaced my money-scarcity belief with the idea that money is abundant. There’s plenty of money on this planet but I’ll only be able to get it if I stop resisting it.
Since then I’ve made selective business investments, taking a long time to find the right person, and it’s paid off. So far I’ve made good choices that have led to positive results and were very much worth the money.
You see, I didn’t throw out the idea that spending money is bad, I simply allowed it to blend with a stronger belief in my ability to earn a return on money spent. This blended belief system led me to make wise decisions that have held my fears in check.
That’s how I stopped being my own worst enemy in my business!
What are you resisting? Take a minute to write it down.
If you want to stay with me on my journey as I cover these and other financial advisor marketing topics lead the industry to a new age of better communication, you can subscribe to my podcast here.
Sara Grillo, CFA, is a top financial writer with a focus on marketing and branding for investment management, financial planning, and RIA firms. Prior to launching her own firm, she was a financial advisor and worked at Lehman Brothers. Sara graduated from Harvard with a degree in English literature and has an MBA from NYU Stern in quantitative finance.