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Pro Tip #7: Misdiagnosing Marketing Problems In Your Client Acquisition Process

Roy Furr, FMP Copywriting Team


This may not seem like a story about lead generation and client acquisition, but it is…


When I was in my mid-20s, I had an unbearably itchy stomach, building for days.


I’m not one to rush off to the doctor, so I tried to self-diagnose. And after looking up the symptoms, I was sure I had shingles.


This was an unlikely diagnosis for at least two reasons:


  1. It’s rare to get shingles before your 40th birthday. And I’ll remind you I was in my mid-20s at the time.

  2. I’m one of those rare people who never got chickenpox… At least, not that I know of. And you don’t get shingles without getting chickenpox first.


So, that’s two strikes against my self-diagnosis, but I was still certain…


And when the itchiness wouldn’t go away, I went to the doctor… Who I told, with confidence, that I had shingles.


She asked the important questions.


“How old are you?” 25.  


“And when did you have chickenpox?” Never.


“You don’t have shingles. You have allergies.” Oh.


I was living in the Willamette Valley in Oregon at the time. The world’s second-most prolific production region for grass seed.  


And it was grass pollen season.


Grass pollen can give you a stuffy nose, but that’s not the only symptom.


The doctor had expertise that I didn’t, and she asked the right questions…


So the doctor got the diagnosis right…


And with some antihistamines, I was able to quickly get the itch-relief results I was looking for.


It’s incredibly easy to misdiagnose ourselves… We don’t know what we don’t know…


So once we land on a misdiagnosis that we like, that seems to fit, we become overconfident in it.


And importantly…  


The misdiagnosis we’re so confident about will never get us the cure or result we want.


A while back, we were helping a client with a new email campaign.


The goal was to get readers on their email list to book a first appointment.


We had a proven offer and a proven message. We’d done plenty of successful email campaigns together.


There was no reason to believe our emails should stop working.


But they did.


Not just one campaign, but twice in a row.


Zero leads once. Zero leads twice.


Embarrassing, but nobody seemed to know why.


I’m not a doctor, but when it comes to marketing and advertising results, I’ve spent upwards of two decades figuring out how to accurately diagnose when things aren’t working — and prescribe an effective solution.


Sometimes the problem is the message. And that was the first diagnosis everyone went to.


“How can we change this message to get the kind of results we’re used to seeing?”


In fact, that’s the assumption we were working on between the first and second campaign. But when the second campaign fell flat again, I considered that message problems may have been a misdiagnosis.


And so I went digging.


This particular campaign included a link to book an appointment. But somewhere along the way, that link had been changed.  


The leads were still able to book the right appointment. But they were being directed to a webpage that didn’t attribute leads to our campaign.


Any leads generated were indistinguishable from general web leads.


We couldn’t tell if we actually got zero leads or if leads were tracked to the wrong source.


We just didn’t know.


What was abundantly clear though was that our original diagnosis was wrong.


We could’ve tested new campaigns until we gave up and never gotten any results — if we didn’t fix the tracking link.


Easy to miss. Critical to find, if you want to actually fix the issue.


It’s a good reminder that next time you run into a scenario where you’re not getting the results you want, you need to make sure you’re accurately diagnosing the problem.


The financial advisory business has a long and complex funnel or sales process to move someone from stranger to lead to client.


If you realize a new campaign or ad is not generating tracked clients, there are actually countless problems throughout the funnel that can lead to the same end symptom.


It’s dangerous to automatically assume one cause without accurate data to prove it.


On one hand, there could actually be no clients or no good leads coming from the ad. In which case the best thing to do is to stop running that ad. Change it, replace it, take a different approach.


On another hand, you could be getting a ton of leads and clients from the ad, but failing to track them. In which case, turning off the ad would be a terrible decision. You’d need to fix your tracking and attribution to find the real source of the problem.


Two drastically different diagnoses from the same symptom — and the wrong diagnosis could be damaging to your lead flow and business as a whole.


Another example to demonstrate how easy (and dangerous) misdiagnosis can be…


You generate leads for a seminar event. But your client conversion process is very leaky.


  • A certain percentage of those leads attend the event.  

  • Some don’t attend and are not followed up with (leak).  

  • Some attend but don’t book an appointment at the event (leak).  

  • Some book an appointment but don’t show up (leak). 

  • Some book an appointment but don’t become clients (leak).  

  • And finally, some become clients.

  • But in the process, the attribution back to the original ad is dropped or forgotten (leak).


In which case you don’t have accurate results tracked to the original ad, even if it was the source of all your new clients this month. And a lot more leads that could’ve converted into clients if you’d plugged some of the other leaks.


And what happens if you turn off the ad because you didn’t accurately track the fact that it was actually working, but other parts of your process weren’t?  


No results next month.


We could give you a thousand scenarios where leaky processes lead to embarrassing mistakes…


And some have the potential to be extremely costly (or could already be costing you a fortune) in terms of lost revenue and lost market share.


Yes, it’s possible a particular ad doesn’t work, or doesn’t work as well as you want it to. That certainly does happen, and it’s part of why we emphasize proving ads with short, inexpensive tests before significant roll-outs.


But when you’re starting from proven messaging and proven offers, it becomes far less likely.


Absolutely approach every step of the process with skepticism, including the ad. Ask yourself, “Is this getting us the desired result? How can we tell if it is or isn’t?”


If the ad isn’t driving qualified leads, a bad ad is a correct diagnosis.


If certain team members consistently convert leads from one source into clients but other team members don’t, the correct diagnosis is team members in need of better sales skills or processes.


If a traffic source is driving ample leads but you can’t find clients in your attribution, the correct diagnosis could easily be a faulty attribution process.


The key is to get the diagnosis right — before attempting to treat the symptoms.


If an ad is generating bad leads, better attribution won’t fix lead quality.


But likewise, if your team is not following the correct lead attribution or conversion process, you’ll assume all leads are bad leads.


Or perhaps the problem is somewhere in the middle of the process… Including but not limited to follow-up, advisor sales skills, communications systems, overall sales process, or something else entirely.


Again, it’s a long and complex process to move someone from stranger to lead to client.


It’s important and worth it to correctly identify (and not misdiagnose) any problems and the symptoms they cause. So that you can implement the fix that will get you the outcome you want.


And in the end, it’s worth getting right — because the result can be extremely profitable.


Want more qualified leads and clients for your financial advisory business?  


Our FMP Lead Generation Analysis is a quick call that can help you identify your best opportunities to generate more leads. We’ve had clients increase leads by as much as 16X with our methods versus internal or FMO-created marketing efforts. Email Jody@FinancialMarketingPros.com and request your free Lead Generation Analysis.

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