In having spent time in my career marketing financial services, I know that there are some really effective ways financial advisors can market their brands that doesn’t require a large budget or support. Marketing resources are often limited within the financial services industry and this can be a real pain point for advisors who are responsible for bringing in new business for their practice or the firm they work for. That is why the six tips I am about to share with you can be executed on by you alone, so if you don’t have a huge budget or human support – no problem.
As a personal brand whose business is based on forming strong, lasting relationships with your clients, pay attention to these six critical ways you can improve your marketing through the efforts you are likely already doing.
1. Set Specific Goals
Don’t confuse asset or sales responsibility with marketing goals. Too often, the overwhelming pressure to bring in new assets under management prevents financial advisors from setting incremental marketing goals that help you towards achieving your overall growth responsibility. Instead, use your growth number to work backwards and set very specific marketing goals. As a simple example, if you are responsible for bringing in $4mm of new assets under management per year, that’s roughly $333k a month. Let’s just say your average account is around $100k or 3.3 clients per month, 40 clients per year. Now that you have your hard growth numbers clearly understood, switch your mindset from numbers of accounts and assets to marketing efforts that will help you most effectively reach, attract, convert and close your ideal relationship.
An example of a great, specific goal a financial advisor might have is: Build personal brand credibility with corporate lawyers specializing in mergers & acquisitions.
When your goals point back to your target audience, you are that much more likely to succeed because you are able to focus your efforts rather than dilute them across general audiences and channels. And side note: saying your target market is anyone with investible assets of $100k is NOT identifying a target market. “People who have money” is not clear enough.
2. Have a Plan
Financial planners and advisors, this should be second nature to you. You know that your clients can’t achieve their financial goals without a well-documented strategy and neither can you. So why are you still operating without one? A well-developed marketing plan will cover the very important: Who, What, When, Why, Where and How questions. If you can answer who your client is, what value your product or service adds to their life, when they give attention and make a decision, why they should choose your product or service over anyone else’s, where they will encounter your brand and where they will commit and howyou are going to deliver your message and measure success… I think you have a pretty darn clear start. Don’t overthink it. These questions should be easy to answer and should point back to your marketing goal.
Go here to read my blog post Uncomplicated Marketing Strategy for additional insight into this area.
In the example, the financial advisor’s marketing goal was to: Build personal brand credibility with corporate lawyers specializing in mergers & acquisitions. What is your plan to build that credibility? What efforts should you focus on to reach that very specific goal with that very clear audience? This financial advisor would be better served to spend as much time as possible with these attorneys to understand what they care about and need the most that way the advisor can make sure he is providing the most value to this audience and in turn, building his own credibility in the process. Don’t waste your time, efforts or budget on any activity that doesn’t support your goal with your target audience. Be a resource to your audience, not a financial mouth-piece trying to tell them all about you and your practice. When you do, you are – but not before then.
A good plan must be actionable not theoretical. A great plan measures and keeps track of actions and their effect. Decide what you will do, how you will measure effectiveness, and then do it.
3. Get Online and Be Social
It’s long overdue for financial advisors to stop hiding behind the curtain of compliance as their excuse for not using social media to connect with your target audience. Don’t make any promises. Don’t make any claims about returns. Don’t post anything that could be misleading from the truth. And don’t share client testimonials. If you have a compliance approval process for your firm’s social media policy, follow it and you should be good to go.
It is also time stop saying that your audience isn’t online. Yes they are, in increasing numbers. Here are the facts you should know (Source: Pew Research Center):
- 71% of adult internet users / 58% of entire adult population are using Facebook.
- 73% of adult internet users on Facebook are between the ages of 30 and 49.
- Some 56% of internet users ages 65 and older now use Facebook, up from 45% who did so in late 2013 and 35% who did so in late 2012.
- Some 23% of online adults currently use Twitter, a statistically significant increase compared with the 18% who did so in August 2013.
- 25% of adult Twitter users are between the ages of 30 and 49.
- 26% of adult internet users / 21% of entire adult population uses Instagram.
- 28% of online adults use Pinterest.
- 28% of online adults are LinkedIn users, up from 22% in August 2013. The site continues to be particularly popular among college graduates, those in higher-income households and the employed
If you work for a Registered Investment Advisory or a Broker Dealer, you are still a personal brand and online social channels are perfectly designed to help you effectively share value to your audience through your personal social media accounts. I suggest starting with the social platform that your target audience is using the most and master that channel first before adopting another one. Better to be successful at one than paltry at many. Each platform has certain etiquette you should be aware of and follow. I also recommend you trust the 30/60/10 Golden Rule of social sharing: 30% of what you share should be Owned (valuable content created by you) / 60% Curated (other people’s content) / 10% should be promotional. Too often, financial services is promotional-heavy, which does not encourage trust or add that much value to your audience.
Lastly, if you have time to check your emails and go out for coffee – you have time for social media. Schedule time for it on your calendar so that it becomes part of your routine and you’ll be just fine. With purpose, it doesn’t need to be a time-suck.
No excuses. Seriously. Everybody Writes by Ann Handley is a great book you might consider reading to be convinced and guided. Having a voice and sharing your messages through writing is more important now than ever before. As a financial advisor, you have knowledge you can share to add value with your target audience and build your credibility. Instead of telling people what you know, you are able to demonstrate your knowledge and value through what you write. Writing can seem like a daunting task, especially if you don’t consider yourself a particularly good writer. But don’t hold yourself back and make excuses. You can always consider investing in a content marketer or writer to help you through this process. Collaboration between the marketer/writer and advisor will make for the most effective content that represents your expertise and unique brand voice. The financial advisors who take the time to invest in their personal brand and write will be setting themselves up for success. They will be the ones with the greatest credibility. They will be the ones who can easily attract the ideal market. And they will be the ones who are pursued for speaking opportunities and other PR opportunties that are highly sought after within the financial services industry.
5. Qualify BEFORE
Marketing time management is important. Financial advisors are very busy people. Most often you are responsible for serving your clients and business development. Therefore, there is a premium on your time that you should be very protective of when it comes to marketing activities. Face-to-face is extremely important in financial services. You are in a relationship-based industry and you need that one-on-one time to really establish and cultivate a meaningful relationship that will hopefully lead to a client. That being said, run your networking like a business so that you don’t waste precious time with people who are not a good fit with your business right off the bat. Do you have a process for qualifying leads? If not, I highly recommend you create one. A friendly 30-minute pre-meet phone call to learn more about the person and their needs is all it should take to find out if they meet your practice’s requirements or if you can/want to serve them. Most firms operate with a minimum investable assets under management requirement or portfolio size. And most often, these minimums exist because the firm’s products and services best serve portfolios of a certain size. The bottom line is that the time you spend with unqualified prospects does affect your bottom line. What is your time worth and how can you get to a point where your sit-downs are more profitable? Qualifying beforehand can go a long way to help you and can keep you very focused in your efforts.
For as much time as you spend planning an event, schmoozing at an event, creating a campaign, participating in networking groups, and all the other activities that require a lot of time and energy… you should be spending as much time, if not more, on following-up. This is probably one of the biggest challenges for financial advisors. You are great at building the momentum and throwing your energy into filling a room with prospects or getting involved in a board or an association, but then there is too often a failure to follow-up after you’ve made great connections. All following-up should mean to you is relationship building. Now that you have made a connection with potential clients, how do you stay in touch with them and try to earn their consideration? If you thought getting their attention was a lot of work, you need to work even harder to keep their attention. Part of your plan should have very clear actions you will take to help your ideal customer know who you are, consider your service, and make a decision. It is on you to create an experience for your ideal customer to easily choose you as their advisor.
If your firm hosts an event and 25% of attendees are qualified prospects, you should have a clear follow-up protocol in place for yourself for your prospects with calls to action. What do you want them to do? Your efforts should be personalized, but you should have a fairly systematized follow-up procedure so that you stay in touch with qualified leads and also make it easy for them to decide yes!
- Day after an event, send personalized follow-up email thanking them for attending and schedule a one-on-one lunch.
- After one-on-one lunch, send email thanking them with another invitation (if more consideration is needed) OR with promotional information and proposal (if in decision stage).
You can align your marketing efforts with your growth responsibility and your ideal customer in a really meaningful way by giving special attention to these six critical activities. Consistency and sustainability will be your marketing effort’s best friend. You don’t need to do everything and you don’t need a fortune. But you do need to have a plan and follow a process to reach your goals and sustain your efforts. You are in an industry that is highly relevant and always current. Set yourself up for marketing success so you can spend less time stressing about the marketing and business development and more time doing what you love most: serving your very special clients.
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