When marketing consultant Peter Kaufman talks to financial advisors about what makes them different, he often gets this response: “I’m not like other advisors. I focus on pre-retirees, age 50 to 60, with $1.5 million in investable assets.” Etcetera.
Not exactly stop-the-presses material.
Fortunately, Kaufman says: “I love to talk and I love to listen and I love to solve problems. It’s like peeling an onion. Usually about the 23rd minute they’ll say something I can latch onto. You finally get them uncovering what they are good at and excited about. It’s all about finding that intersection.”
Kaufman, 49, should get plenty of opportunities to, as he puts it, “peel the onion” in coming months. His Richmond, Va.-based marketing firm, The Hoople Group, is one of a half-dozen or so agencies that Wachovia Securities endorsed recently to consult with its 18,000-plus financial advisors.
It probably won’t hurt that Kaufman and his partner, Heidi Workman, are themselves Wachovia alums. Until July when they formed The Hoople Group, Workman was the firm’s art director and Kaufman was an in-house marketing advisor. They decided to create their own agency after Wachovia Securities announced it was moving its headquarters from Richmond to St. Louis as part of its merger with A.G. Edwards.
While at Wachovia, Kaufman worked with several hundred financial advisors on marketing strategies. Then, as now, he has an overarching goal: to create messages that cut through the noise.
In one notable engagement, Kaufman helped a client market himself as “a veterinarian’s advisor” after learning that the advisor’s wife and her sister were both well-known vets in their region.
“A lot of advisors are sitting on something they don’t even realize they have. This was a guy who early in our first conversation said he didn’t really have a niche. Come to find out everyone within 100 miles knows both his wife and her sister,” says Kaufman. “All he needed to do was get in front of an audience and say: ‘I put my wife through vet school and you all know my sister-in-law. Nobody knows vets like I do.’ What you want is everyone in that audience to say: ‘You’re one of us.’ That’s the challenge.”