Mass marketing is an effective, important part of an overall marketing plan, but there is an appropriate time and place for it.

Television commercials, radio ads, print ads—all of these approaches can be successful in conveying certain impressions of a company. Associating it in a consumer’s mind with something happy, trustworthy, and valuable and quickly conveying a broad overview of the products and services it offers.

But mass marketing isn’t always the right approach to take when trying to obtain new customers or communicate with existing customers. If sales professionals conveyed only mass-market messages when clients came to them, there would be no sale—because consumers expect more personalized attention before parting with their money. The same is true of financial planning. Imagine a financial advisor speaking to a client in broad generalities—the kinds of things you see in a television commercial. Imagine a client asking how the advisor can help with her retirement planning, and having the advisor respond with just one sentence: “We can open an IRA for you.” This is not just generic, it’s dangerous and consumers want more than that.

Robo-Advisors: Mass Advice

Sadly, when people work with firms offering the service of robo-advisors, they think they’re getting more, but really they’re getting a mass-market approach to non-personalized service. Robo-advisors do narrow the target down a bit—like advertisers do when they choose the television station, time slot and show for their ads. But is that level of “narrowing down” options personalized enough for something as intricate and important as financial planning?