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Financial advisor Edwards is focused – keenly focused – on what his business is and whom he wants to reach. That focus, combined with the power of social media, is enabling him to compete with the goliaths.

Today, he manages $140 million through 90 families, up from $60 million in 2010. His goal is to grow to $250 million next year, doubling every two years.

Edwards offers this advice for smaller firms trying to reach their audience effectively:

■ Define your ideal prospects – “On the one side of the client spectrum are individual accounts, and on the other side, institutional accounts. We can't compete there.” $o Edwards targets clients with between $1 million and $10 million in assets – professionals who are busy, aren't working with an advisor, and may have faced a life event recently. How did he get to this client definition? Many in the industry know that answer: “Because it takes as much energy on a $200,000 portfolio as a $1 million portfolio.”

■ Reflect your marketing in all materials – Be sure all materials online and in paper reflect your audience. Be visual, clear, and concise – yet personable. Be sure every employee in your firm understands the marketing strategy.

■ Let your audience drive your marketing – Edwards points to a friend who focuses his advisory practice on medical professionals. “There's a huge hospital system nearby; they can focus just on that and do well hosting quarterly dinners where they ask a client to bring a friend. That won't work for me.” Edwards' clients are throughout Europe and the United States, and they're pressed for time.

He recalls the time he tried assembling a dinner with four couples in Connecticut. “Half couldn't come because their kids had lacrosse practice. So, I have a problem accessing clients through traditional means.” What does work for Edwards is meeting over wine or beer and leveraging social media. Before he meets a client, he'll review their LinkedIn profile, check for friends in common and their education, and access Fidelity's Referral-EDGE, which provides him free access to additional information on millions of individuals, foundations, and other potential clients. He's also made sure he can easily be found online – a topic discussed in detail in Chapter 22 on search engine optimization (SEO).

Given his growth goals over the next five years, it's no surprise that Edwards sees the need to manage his marketing needs in new ways. His clients have more complex lives and their investment needs are more sophisticated. His marketing, coupled with social media, needs to respond in kind.

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