I have no doubt that many financial advisers are struggling to understand what happened to their previously successful marketing methods. For years – decades perhaps – they have been able to keep a constant source of prospective future clients coming through the front doors, yet for most this is now a difficult thing to achieve.
There are a number of reasons why attracting future clients has become harder; including:
- Volatile market performance and rapidly rising prices of financial products in recent years
- Increasing purchasing options for consumers to go directly to institutions or products
- Inadequate positioning and marketing by advisers about their own value proposition for clients
- The rise of the militant consumer, and increasing distrust of marketing and traditional advertising
- Overwhelming choice and variety of solutions or providers for the average consumer.
The number 1 reason for the fairly dramatic change in marketing effectiveness in the last decade however is undoubtedly the rise of social media.
Social media has completely changed the traditional “sales funnel” concept in 2 fundamental ways.
1. HOW you initially attract sufficient potential clients to your brand requires the additional mediums provided by social media. They can be complementary to more traditional methods (e.g. running seminars, yellow pages advertising, etc), but for traditional marketing to be effective it must work in an integrated fashion with social media.
2. WHAT you do with your prospective customers once you have caught their attention to begin with.
Marketing still feeds the funnel, and Sales still converts the opportunities that Marketing created. Social media – or “social networking” – helps bring people into the funnel. Your content, and the different ways of delivering it to them (blog, video, newsletters, podcasts, web content, etc) engages them. This process of engagement is the second of the fundamental changes referred to above.
What you do with these people…the type of information and assistance you can provide….the style of your communication and the personality your brand represents in their minds….these are the things that happen AFTER you have attracted the initial attention. This is where you generate their interest.
Having generated the customers interest you have opportunities to generate their desire to use you and your services to solve their problems, and the process of individual engagement begins. This is the beginning of what might be referred to as “sales” part of the business process – though if done well there is no selling involved really. Consumers are choosing to do business with you because they are aware by this point of their general need, they are interested in having that need solved, they have decided that you are the most likely solution…..now you just have to get on with doing the job that the consumer expects you to do.
So, the 6 necessities of modern marketing for financial advisers are:
1. Having an effective and engaging presence in social media, by utilizing the basic platforms that your target market uses (e.g. Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter)
2. Feed content to your social media platforms regularly – emphasis upon CONTENT & REGULARLY. To begin with it doesn’t really matter that much whether you create all the content yourself, or “curate” – and source it from elsewhere (with full permissions where required, and credit to the authors)
3. Think about the potentially different audiences and purpose of each platform you use, and think about the tone and type of content that is appropriate for each. (e.g. LinkedIn is all business – keep it professional! Facebook on the other hand is where your real world friends and family hang out too – and they probably do not want to see your twitter stream about reinsurance issues, or negatively correlated asset classes)
4. Set up a Blog. If you wish to be known as an expert, then go out and claim your expert status. Don’t want to have it conferred it you by your industry peers..show your expertise and talk to your potential customers needs. For personal credibility and positioning, there is no better way to feed the content machine.
5. Use smart email systems to effectively engage with the prospective clients as they move from being generally engaged with your company/brand (the yellow section above), and begin moving towards being engaged with you as an adviser individually. This is the perfect transitional step between generalised content and individualised content – while doing so in a professional and compliant manner.
6. Make your website a rich source of good content that helps your target market. Use your social media and traditional advertising or marketing to drive traffic back to your website, where potential customers can find basic information and useful resources in a non-threatening environment.
The toughest part in getting to grips with the modern marketing methodology is thinking through at the outset what your objectives are, who it is you are trying to target and why, and then devising the strategy to get the right information and message to them. That is actually no different to how any marketing has ever been though is it?
The final tip for advisers needing to modernise their marketing is “don’t try and build it all at once, and then unleash the lot”. Work it at piece by piece, build a long term system incrementally, with each new component working in tandem with all the other elements. It is a system to attract and engage, not a series of separate marketing methods working in isolation.
This process will generally lengthen the marketing and engagement cycle with potential customers, as it essentially allows them the time they need to determine whether you are the right person to help them. By allowing potential customers to do that at their own speed, in a method that is cost effective for you (after all, the cost of delivering relevant content this way is essentially the same whether you are doing it for 50 prospects or 500), it will generally lead to a much shorter sales cycle. Gone are the days where countless hours needed to be spent convincing people of your credibility, knowledge and trustworthiness.
Professionals can build a bank of interested consumers who move ever closer to becoming clients at a speed they feel comfortable with in this manner, hence improving the advisers prospect-conversion rates and improving the customer loyalty & engagement levels.
You just have to get on with it really, one step at a time.
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