Sometimes the best marketing doesn't feel like marketing

If you're a financial planner, the instant you mention money in your marketing, a little switch is unconsciously flicked in the minds’ of your audience. And an unwanted wall — sometimes thick, sometimes thin — magically appears between you and your potential ideal clients.

You see, most marketing slaps you in the face a little.

But some of the best marketing, is when you don’t know it’s marketing.

In 2013, a company called Crew, were just three months from bleeding their bank account dry. They had no marketing budget. And were virtually invisible to their ideal clients.

They needed to do something, fast.

At the time they were building a new home page, and had some left over photos they’d had shot professionally.

On a whim they put them online. Three hours and less than $20 for a Tumblr theme, and the 10 photos were made available for anyone to download.

They posted a link on Hacker News, and pretty soon they had 50,000 visits to the website they'd cobbled together.

The traffic to their own home page spiked. And they got new customers.

Three years later, photos from the site are used in Apple’s advertisements, and it gets 1 billion photo views every month.

At a surface level, the photo sharing project had little to do with Crew’s core business (matching developers and freelancers with businesses). But it was, in fact, immensely valuable to their audience.

The site, you may have heard of. It’s called Unsplash.

Unsplash - home page.png

Sometimes the best marketing doesn’t feel like marketing.

It doesn’t feel calculated and practiced, like the pitch at the end of a webinar.

It doesn’t require an email address to download something for "free".

It doesn’t tell you the perfect solution is the thing that the other person's trying to sell.

“Everyone needs financial advice!”

Hmmm… Do they?

It’s purpose is to help. To do good. To be good.

It doesn’t ask for anything.

It gives.


As a financial adviser, imagine if you didn't mention money in your marketing. No investments. No insurance. No super. Nothing.

Focus on your ideal client, and ask yourself, “What would help them? How can I make them feel good; solve a problem; succeed; smile?"

  • If your ideal clients are Noosa tourism workers that love a cheeky morning surf, then start a Boardriders Club that meets at First Point every Friday at 6am.

  • If your ideal clients are busy parents with kids in high school, open your office on Thursday afternoons around exam time, between 4pm and 6pm for free help with maths homework.

  • If your ideal clients are local small business owners that are thirsty for knowledge and a quick chat, then buy 50 business books and set up an informal library / book swap in your office reception area.

School lunch ideas; travel tips; charity days; running clubs; barista lessons; toy swaps; indoor cricket teams…

The intent here is crucial.

It can’t feel contrived. It should feel natural. Genuine.

With no expectations of getting new clients.

With no right hook.


Perhaps it sounds naive.

Perhaps it sounds like a, "build it and they will come" strategy.

I prefer to think of it as adding a little bit of "heart" to your marketing.

Helpful marketing. That doesn't feel like marketing.

But works.