As desktop publishing has become less and less expensive and more advisors are building brochures to advertise their practices, marketing organizations are encouraging teams to articulate their value proposition to the marketplace. There are a few guidelines advisors can follow to improve their marketing materials and there a few mistakes they should be sure to avoid.

Here are two glaring errors that many advisors make with practice brochures. These are best avoided if you want your material to work effectively.


First, when it comes to your mission statement, avoid describing what you do or how you do it. Instead, describe what your efforts are trying to accomplish. These are the benefitsyou are trying to deliver to your clients.

A mission statement doesn’t explain what a person or group does or the features of their approach; rather, it describes what the group sets out to do. It’s more a statement about what the team intends to accomplish for its clients than about how they accomplish it. For example, the mission of the U.S. Air Force is not to fly airplanes fast and shoot cannons and missiles accurately. Rather, the mission is to secure the airspace above the U.S. and to command the skies over any battlefield on which the U.S. is engaged.

We recommend that advisors revisit the purpose of their mission statement. Take the time to create a short message that describes—in compelling, emotional terms—what you work to achieve for all of your clients. For example, the idea “eliminating uncertainty and fear” is directionally correct, but not a meaningful or defensible statement; no advisor can fully accomplish this, so you should not suggest it. Think long and hard about what you are trying to accomplish for your clients—this is, in fact, is your mission.


The client experience is also a challenge to describe well and in a way that motivates action. This is an attempt to help a prospective client or referral advocate “pre-experience” working with the advisor or team. Unfortunately, many of the claims that advisors include in their brochures must be experienced to be believable:

  • “We instill confidence and trust.”
  • “We eliminate uncertainty and fear.”
  • “We conduct all aspects of our business with complete transparency.”
  • “We deliver superior results over time.”

Don’t try to describe or prove what the prospective client will discover if she ultimately decides to work with you. Words really don’t carry the meaning here meaning the advisor intends here.
Instead, advisors are better served by creating a list of their guiding principles or core beliefs or commitments. These are descriptions of what the professional believes and the principles that guide decisions that can be described and shared.

A good way to generate these kinds of descriptions is to look at your current materials and go through the statements you currently make about your practice. Isolate each sentence for what it is saying about a belief, conviction or guiding principle. Build a list of eight to 10 important descriptions that cover a variety of important ideas about what you and your team stand for as professionals. Then, rewrite each sentence to begin “We believe that…” so that it reveals a core conviction or guiding principle of the team that is designed to positively impact the clients you work with. Consider additional, important principles to be added to the list, and then pare the list down to only the most compelling and important beliefs of the team. Limit the list to no more than 10 statements, and publish in a brochure as “Our Guiding Principles” or “Our Core Commitments.”

By passing your current marketing materials through these filters, you will be well on your way to creating a truly “unique” and potentially motivating value proposition of your business.

Ken Haman is the managing director at the Alliance Bernstein Advisor Institute, visit

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