The most successful advisors I've worked with embrace a motto of never-ending improvement. My original boss and mentor in the financial services industry, who achieved some notoriety during his years as a top producer at one of the largest independent broker/dealers in the nation “back in the day“ some 23 years ago, used to motivate his support staff by saying that we needed to "be growing...or be going."

Anthony Robbins is well known for his “CANI” philosophy. "CANI" stands for Constant And Never-ending Improvement. It's an acronym that Tony developed more than a decade ago. He was influenced by Dr. W. Edwards Deming. Dr. Deming is credited as one of the leaders who brought one of the first quality movements to the Japanese.

His basic premise was that the secret to help the Japanese achieve world power and economic success was if every single person and organization commit to constant improvement.

The Japanese have a single word for "constant and never-ending improvement, “Kaizen,” derived from the Japanese words Kai and Zen where "kai" means change and "zen" means good. Yes folks. Change is good.

The point is that we can improve things (like our marriage, health or business) by making small changes over the course of time. If we make a 1% improvement each day, then, like interest in a savings account, the cumulative effect will be more than 365% a year. Wherever you are on the scale of success, it pays to revisit the marketing essentials.

Effective marketing builds share of mind and creates a positive impression within your target market so that yours are the services prospects seek when a triggering event occurs. Good marketing also seeks to create good "buzz" and get people talking about you.

You can do this through public relations, networking, sponsoring events, hosting seminars and strategically timed and targeted communications (sometimes referred to as "drip marketing"). Dusting off your materials gives you lots of reasons to be in touch and generate positive conversations.

Logo Logic

If your logo is more than a dozen years old, chances are it's time for a makeover. Tired, dated materials won't reassure prospective clients that you're progressive and will constantly update the knowledge and services you offer. Your branding essentials may not need a complete overhaul, just a simple facelift.

Freshening up your brand can pay off in improved perceptions and opportunities to increase your business communications. An advisory firm in Kansas City celebrated its 15th anniversary by unveiling a new logo and clear marketing message. Because it had moved upmarket over the years, the firm's original folksy image no longer fit. The new, more sophisticated logo and tagline reposition it for the next 15 years.

After scrubbing the wording on its Web site and applying the new brand identity, the firm had plenty of reasons to send colorful postcards and e-mail announcements to its mailing list.

After a few months, the company had created a new suite of marketing materials, including a client-centered brochure. Voila — another opportunity to communicate with friends, clients, the media and prospects.

The firm had also produced a good four-page newsletter for years. But while the content was apt, the layout was uninviting and dull. By applying the new brand, simplifying the layout and adding life through interesting photos and stylized illustrations, they created new buzz about the firm and its services. Clients called to comment on the quality and frequency of the improved communications.

Continued e-mail messages, postcards and updates in the newsletter kept clients informed about what was happening and why. A two-sentence P.S. at the end of routine correspondences sparked referrals and annual checkups.

It had been several years since the firm had held a client appreciation event, but with the 15th anniversary to celebrate and a new brand to promote, the principals found the energy to convince one of the city's best restaurants to shut its doors one night and become a private club for their clients. Clients took home two crystal goblets as a thank you for their past referrals and continued business. Guests received a rollerball pen in a classy gift box, both of which were branded with the new logo and Web address, plus a small gold-foiled box containing two perfect chocolate truffles.

Without the new logo and materials, none of this would have happened.


In the coming weeks, I’ll talk about creating an ideal client profile, a power bio and a complete set of marketing materials.

As the old saying goes, you never get a second chance to make a good first impression. If you are not sure that your marketing materials are all that they should be, contact my office and ask for a Marketing Muscle Check Up; I’d be happy to have one of my firm’s marketing consultants evaluate your materials, website, social media strategy, etc. and provide recommendations.

This fall, I’ll be speaking at a number of conferences. Look for me at the following events:

-- September 15-17: FPA National Convention in San Diego.  Presenting “Twitter Live with Industry Thought Leaders” in The Learning Center (12:20 – 12”50 in the exhibit hall “open air stage” on Friday 9/16/11) and hosting an open forum conversation on the “State of the Financial Planning Profession” in the Community Building (3:15 pm in Community Building Room 7A on Saturday 9/17/11). Learn more at:

-- September 24: Fairfield University in Fairfield CT. Presenting a full-day workshop on Building Your Online Presence for FPA-CT and FPA Hudson Valley. FPA members, non-members and business people in the community are all invited to attend (attendees to not need to be financial advisors). Details at and

-- October 13-14: Tiburon CEO Summit in San Francisco. Attending and providing conference services onsite. Find the invitation criteria at:

-- October 19: The Money Show in Chicago: Financial Advisor Day. Keynote presentation 4:00 – 4:50 pm: Marketing that Works for Financial Advisors Today. Info at:

-- October 24-27: NAPFA Practice Management and Investments Conference in Brooklyn. Conducting half-day Social Media Boot Camp as a pre-conference offering as well as a session on public relations and a round table discussion on marketing, PR and social media during the main conference.  Details at:

-- October 27 – 30:  Garrett Planning Network 11th annual retreat in Denver. Leading the annual Rapid Fire Marketing Ideas session right before the Saturday night celebration dinner. Garrett Members Only:


Marie Swift is a nationally recognized consultant who has for more than 20 years worked exclusively with some of the industry’s top financial institutions, training organizations, investment advisory and financial planning firms. Her “Best Practices in the Financial Services Industry” blog provides additional insights and advice. Find it at Get breaking news at or connect with her via Facebook or LinkedIn.