Over the past year, we've spoken to over 50 financial advisors about their business goals and how they plan to accomplish them. I can't tell you how many times (over 95% of conversations) Advisors' key goals include expanding their book of business and attracting more prospects. Time after time, the discussion is rooted in expansion - both locally and nationally - and while the goals remain similar from Advisor-to-Advisor, so do the hurdles. Advisors are facing an uphill battle - clients are passing on, referrals aren't popping up anymore, investors are gathering information by different means, and technology is rapidly evolving. And while the industry is actually expanding (the number of financial advisors is up over the last 5 years), one thing is clear - the Advisor landscape is in a period of change and disruption.
So, why should Advisors embrace marketing now more than ever?
The modern client wants more control and transparency. And it shows in the numbers - 86% of potential investors spend more than an hour researching online (BCG: Online to Offline Investor Journey). Investors have more tools at their disposal, they can find the right person or information with a quick search or a few clicks. The historical buying journey used to be linear - make someone aware - schedule a meeting - lock them in as a client. It consisted of the Advisor pushing information to the investor. Now, the buyer journey consists of a linear direction but includes cyclical points throughout. Investors could spend more time in the awareness phase doing research on different elements of a product, person, or service, across digital channels before deciding whether the next phase is right for them or not. The discussion has transitioned to being investor-led.
One of the biggest Advisor acquisitions of the last few years was Goldman's acquisition of United Capital. After some quick research on United Capital, what stood out to me the most was that they had an extremely differentiated brand. This included everything from the imagery on their website, to the content they put out (original, interactive, valuable), to the modern marketing tactics they deploy (immediately retargeted me with Facebook and Instagram Ads). All signs point to the fact that differentiated brands are winning in 2019 and will continue to win. It's not just about the book of clients or AUM, but a brand's story and what intellectual capital you have (processes, people, brand, or content).
Even though the 2008 financial crisis is 10 years old, the effects stay with investors like a bad hangover after a big night out. Almost two-thirds of investors don't trust that Advisors will act in their best interest, but the fact of the matter is Investors still need and want a trustworthy source - 58% of savers with 401(k) plans said they'd like more help choosing investments. This presents an opportunity for Advisors to provide prospects and clients alike content and information as the market changes and they navigate life events. Owned content (meaning you create it yourself) that's timely, valuable, and shared on the right channels can not only keep minds at ease, it can build trust with those you're trying to do business with.
If you're an Advisor and reading this, chances are you're used to using the standard channels - direct mail, events, ads in your local paper, and seminars. These channels, while can still be massively ROI positive are expensive relative to social media. To put it in perspective - if I'm an Advisor in Philadelphia, for $20 a day on Facebook, I can reach around 5,000 people a day who live in the Philadelphia area, are 45-60 years old, and love the Philadelphia eagles. Couple this with an article on "Why Your Money Needs to Act More Like Carson Weintz" you've now paired the right article with the right audience. You can swap this concept with any other digital channel (email, paid search, etc.) and compare it to a direct mailer campaign (which can cost you thousands of dollars for the creative and list), you're money is going to be better spent digitally.
Knowing the why is only half of the battle. Advisors we speak to fall into 1 or 2 categories - they either have a strategy and need help executing or they have no strategy and don't know where to start. No matter how you cut it, the general consensus is: help. So, what can you do as an Advisor, or a small business owner for that matter, to get your marketing up and running? A few steps to take.
Interview the top 10-25 clients to understand needs, tendencies, etc..
Create a 1-6-month content calendar with topics, type of content, frequency
Identify a home for the content
Identify primary distribution channels for content (LinkedIn, Email, Facebook)
Identify resources & budget for writing, reviewing, developing, and distributing content prior to starting
Ensure compliance, technology, and sales are in the loop with the plan and can help where needed
Ensure the measurement system is in place before starting
Create and deploy consistently, 1-5 times per week per piece depending on the distribution platform
When building any marketing strategy, it's important to note that this type of strategy takes time. There's no short term formula to convert people to your webinar or book a meeting. The right marketing to build an impactful brand takes years, especially in our saturated digital world. Stay the course.