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Top of Mind in the Financial Industry: What It Is and How to Stay There

I’ve been looking for a pair of black pants. I’ve checked out lots of websites, but one keeps coming up over and over again: Old Navy. I get emails from them. I get pop-up ads on my social media feed. And I’ve purchased from them before, so I know they can provide what I need.

I click on the email. Buy the pants. Sigh with relief. Problem solved.

The phrase “top of mind” is thrown around a lot when it comes to marketing – and there’s a good reason for that: It’s the most effective way to get new business.

Think about it. Whether you’re talking about a fresh new client or someone who comes to you through a referral, you have often achieved that by being top of mind in some way.

With a new client, it could be from consistent marketing. With a referral it could be through great service and/or regular marketing that made someone else think of you and mention your name. Either way, it didn’t come from out of the blue.

The problem is that, while staying top of mind is something that everyone wants, few people really think it out and create a strategy to make it happen.

First, let’s define what it is. Then let’s talk about creating a plan.

What is Top of Mind?

I personally like this definition from Channel Sight:

Top of mind awareness - or TOMA - is a key concept in market research. It is a measure of how high brands rank in the consciousness of consumers.
The first brand that comes to mind when consumers think of a certain niche product or industry has achieved top of mind awareness.

When it comes to most service providers – financial planners especially – potential clients have a trigger point.

  • It could be that they’re starting to worry they don’t have enough for retirement.

  • It could be that inflation is catching up with them and they need to rethink their overall plan.

  • It could be that college is coming up fast and they’re worried they’re not prepared.

No matter what the problem is, we don’t have a crystal ball that will tell us when it will happen. What we CAN control is staying top of mind for when it does.

Now, there are very complicated ways to measure how effective staying top of mind is that can take a lot of money that most solo advisors and small financial planning practices don’t have.

But the way I like to think of this is as a conversation between two people.

“Oh, you’re having problems with ______? You should call _______.”

This type of conversation likely happens because of one of two things:

1. The advisor has helped that person with the same problem, so they feel comfortable passing on their information.

2. The person has seen something through email, social media, or some type of networking and knows that that’s an issue they work with.

And sometimes it’s a combination of both. Either way, the advisor’s name has popped into the person’s head without much effort.

How Can I Stay Top of Mind?

Depending on your situation as an advisor – you might be operating independently, or you might be working with a broker-dealer – your options could be limited when it comes to getting yourself out there. But there are things that everyone can do that can make them the first person that comes to mind when their ideal client has an issue.


Think about the conversation above. No one contacts a financial advisor without a specific problem they’re trying to solve. It’s not like someone’s sitting around and suddenly thinks, “You know what? There’s nothing good on TV tonight. I think I’ll look for a financial advisor.”

A specific type of person has a specific problem that they need a solution for. And I mean specific.

  • Am I more likely to contact you because you have a general eBook about retirement?

  • Or am I more likely to contact you because you have an engaging blog about how to retire as a small business owner? Or how to fund my kids’ college education as a single parent?

Become the one solution I need to solve my specific problem. Believe me, I’ll tell everyone I know about you.


Are you putting yourself out there in a way that makes you pop up in a Google search? Will I see a post from you when I scroll through LinkedIn? Do you have a whitepaper or video on your website that addresses my issue and I can download?

And please don’t sell to me. Provide me with information I can use. This goes a long way in gaining my trust and tempting me to take that next step.

Maintaining your position in consumer’s minds can’t just be achieved with sales-oriented direct marketing. Even the most loyal consumers will be turned off by continued calls-to-action because consumers don’t just want to buy. You need to provide them value regardless of if you’re making a sale to entertain and inform them while making them a part of your brand community.
Fortunately, content marketing provides you the mechanisms to connect continuously with existing customers and prospective consumers without selling all the time. You can regularly produce and distribute engaging content on your website, newsletters and brochures, and social media. (Hubbard Chicago)

Make It Easy

As I mentioned above, we don’t know when a potential clients’ trigger point is going to happen just like Old Navy didn’t know what I’d need those black pants. The point is that they were in front of me when I needed them.

You might be thinking about the millions of ways people are telling you to connect with an audience and feeling overwhelmed.

  • I need to be on 50 social media channels!

  • I need to send daily emails!

  • I need to write blogs, record videos, make a TikTok, and pimp out my dog in funny pictures!

No, you don’t. Although I do like a good dog picture.

Connecting with your audience is a habit that you can create and for this, I’ll turn the to master of habits, James Clear of Atomic Habits fame. And I’m going to focus on one element of his philosophy: Make it EASY.

When I joined a gym earlier this year, I didn’t join the posh one that was 20 minutes away. I joined the one that opened up two minutes from my house, had an easy-to-use app, and classes that would make me accountable. I knew that if I had to add 40 minutes to my workout to get there and back I would never go. But two minutes I could do.

When it comes to marketing, make it easy on yourself.

1. Know what you enjoy doing. Do you like writing? Then don’t worry about video. Do you like Twitter (or X, I guess I should say)? Then don’t worry about being on Facebook. Go where you’re comfortable and where you’re most likely to naturally show up and create a network.

2. Make a schedule you can follow. Think you need to post on social media every day? Well, you don’t. In fact, if you’re posting just for the heck of it, it might be a turn off. If posting two days a week is all you can manage but it’s good stuff, then do that. Same thing with email marketing: don’t create an unrealistic schedule. Do something you know you can keep up with.

3. Outsource. I don’t trust myself to keep on a gym schedule on my own; there are several classes a week I go to because it keeps me accountable. Find someone who can help you stay on task and assist you with creating quality content. And find someone you enjoy working with! Don’t make this drudgery. You’re building your dream business – have fun with it.


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