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Prospecting vs. Marketing – Which is Right for You?

by Bill Cates
Prospecting vs. Marketing

I just listened to a podcast where the two hosts debated the merits of prospecting versus marketing, and which was most relevant for financial professionals? They each took a side and argued accordingly.

Knowing I wanted to write a blog about this topic, I did some light Google searching and came up with this absurd statement.

The only difference between marketing and prospecting is that prospecting is ACTIVE rather than PASSIVE. With marketing, you have a message, you put it out there and you wait for someone to bite. With prospecting, the actions are very ACTIVE: You are talking to people, picking up the phone, meeting people, and stepping out of your comfort zone. Prospecting requires your constant attention.

Finding myself on the verge of going on a rant, I will simply say what my high school basketball coach used to yell at us when we did something wrong, “Horse manure!”

While I certainly agree that prospecting is ACTIVE. So too must be your marketing. A good marketer is always testing and refining the message, the medium, the timing, and all of the other key ingredients in marketing. PASSIVE marketing is a recipe for poor results.

Prospecting = Active Pursuit         Marketing = Active Attraction

As represented by the rough graphic below (yes – I did this myself in Power Point), I believe that most financial advisors should aspire to become increasingly less dependent on prospecting and more skilled at marketing, drawing Right-Fit Clients™ to them with the right strategies and tactics.

Most financial professionals receive at least some training in prospecting, such as cold calling, working their natural market, pursuing mail or internet leads, and even asking for referrals/introductions. Yes – I view asking for introductions as a form of prospecting (the best form).

However, over my 30 years in this industry, I’ve observed that most financial advisors know very little about marketing. 

Prospecting will always be a part of your client acquisition process. Even with the most interested prospects, there often remains the dance of mutual qualification – determining the right fit. And even highly interested prospects often need a nudge from time to time to keep the process moving. There is absolutely nothing wrong with prospecting.

The main advantage good marketing has over prospecting is that it is less time consuming and usually yields more qualified prospects who have held up their hand to say, “I’m interested. You have my permission to tell me more.”

The 8 Critical Elements of an Effective Marketing Campaign

Planning a marketing campaign?  Make sure to following these eight critical elements of effective marketing.

Is it narrow enough? Do they have the financial capacity to maximize your value?

Your Right-Fit Clients are the bullseye, your perfect match, and usually most profitable.

Aim at problems that are blatant and critical, so prospects will allocate time and dollars.

Your product or service is the perfect match for your client’s problems.

The perfect combination of price, time frame, and effort needed to bring a solution.

The right vehicle(s) to carry your message – social media, print, online, radio, TV, email, text, podcast, etc.

What are the trigger points in your prospects’ world that dictate the ideal timing?

Does it resonate with your prospects and clients and then compel them to take action?

Use the above list as a planning guide for any marketing that you do. And… do all of these items apply to prospecting too?  Yup!  These elements are universal principles of prospecting, marketing, and selling.


Download my free guide that reviews some of the strategies I view as important to your success:

Review one or more of your past marketing campaigns that didn’t perform as well as you would have hoped to see where it may have fallen short of the eight critical elements above.  What can you do better next time?

Forward this article to a friend or colleague.

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