Are you dedicating enough resources to the marketing of your firm?
A recent FA Insight Study of Advisory Firms found “only 50 percent of surveyed firms developed an annual marketing plan and just 32 percent of these firms had a position dedicated to marketing or new client growth”.
All too often, firms view marketing as an all-or-nothing proposition that has to be completely managed in-house by a full time marketing professional, and they just don’t have the need or budget. What these firms don’t realize is that there are other options available. One such option is a Virtual Marketing Director (VMD). Different than a full service marketing agency, a VMD is usually an independent marketing professional who assists in guiding your marketing efforts and acts as a point person to manage ‘all things marketing’ by coordinating both internal marketing activities and external vendor relationships.
If you’re considering engaging a VMD, here are 5 advantages should know:
#1: Industry Expertise
A VMD or freelance marketer is usually someone with a very specific and significant background. In initially meetings with a VMD, learn who they’ve worked with and have them share examples of how they’ve helped firms in similar situations as yours. Make sure he or she has both strategic and tactical expertise. It’s great to have someone who’s able to tell you what you’ll need to do. It’s another thing to have the hands-on skills to get the job done.
#2: Objective Advice
As many who understand the benefits of independent counsel know, there’s a unique perspective of someone who can look at your firm from the outside and present unbiased recommendations. By not being in the throes of the firm’s daily activities, a VMD can more objective identify a problem and come back with best practice solutions from other firms who they’ve successfully helped with similar needs.
#3: Tailored Approach
It’s very important to determine your marketing needs upfront; content development, lead generation, thought leadership, media relations or all of the above. This will help you align with the VMD whose background and skills will achieve your unique goals. You may find that you even need to include other members on your virtual team, such as a business coach or media relations specialist. Much like hiring an employee, find partners with the right mix of talent, values, and work ethic necessary to be a true resource and extension of your firm.
#4: Focused Direction
While the best approach to marketing is an integrated effort, choosing a particular project or area to get started can make the process less overwhelming. This is also a good way to see if the VMD approach is a fit for you. Start small with a project that requires the least amount of cost and time and determine some metrics to evaluate the results. Over time, you can then formalize the relationship. Most VMD’s work on a retainer based on specific range of work and hours each month.
#5 : Return on Investment
This may be the most important advantage. Working with a VMD, allows you customize the marketing investment to your specific needs. Begin by determining a well define scope of services to achieve your goals. Your priorities should provide both tangible and measureable results. Keep in mind that good marketing takes time and cannot be randomly turned on and off, so it’s important to focus on the long road ahead and include regular update meetings to review your progress and adjust as necessary.
As we move into the 4th quarter, this is a perfect time to be working your 2017 marketing plan. Start by defining very specific and measurable goals that are both reasonable and achievable. Then, leverage the very best marketing resources and partners that fit both your need and budget.
Thanks to Doug Heikkinen, publisher of IRIS, for inspiring me to write this article. When we recently met in NYC, and Doug said ”I always remind contributors to write specifically about what they do” As always, I hope this article has provided you with useful information, insight, and ideas to take action.