The ‘rule of three’ is a writing principle that suggests that groups of three are very effective. I believe this is especially true when it comes to RIA marketing. From my experience, those RIAs that are most successful share three basic characteristics:
I believe this that is where the ‘rubber meets the road.’ Sharing your knowledge and insights with clients, prospects and centers of influence through content is one the most effective marketing strategies. Blogs, webinars, whitepapers, infographics, podcasts are a few ways you can share your thought-leadership and viewpoint. Before you start though, there are a few questions that need answers to get you there:
- What are you most passionate about and what makes your firm different than others?
- Is there a particular niche or unique client type that you best serve?
- Who within the firm is best to tell your story? It doesn’t have to be the firm’s principal, but they should be someone who will be fully committed to the role.
- Most importantly, be authentic and speak about what you know. Steer clear of the latest fads and avoid competing with or copying others.
How do you cut through the clutter? To start, make sure your message is clear, concise, and easy to understand for the reader. Always have a compelling call-to-action (CTA)which offers value to your reader. Think about what the next logical step in the process that may provide additional insight and engagement. For example, if you’re writing a blog article, you may want to reference a ‘Download a whitepaper…’ or ‘Attend a seminar to learn more…’ Try not to make it too sale-oriented, instead focus on the educational benefit to the reader.
In addition to your purpose is your plan. The old adage ‘plan your work and work your plan” may be cliché, but is often the difference between success and failure to execute your marketing goals. Begin by defining very specific and measurable goals. Try to set short and long-term goals that are both reasonable and achievable. Next, develop a strategy which details your tactics, resources, budget, and schedule.
There are two factors to your commitment – financial, determining a budget that aligns with your return on investment (ROI), and personal; who’s going to actually doing the work and how much time are they willing and able to put in.
As a small business, how much should you allocate to marketing? Although opinions vary, this fairly straightforward explanation from the U.S. Small Business Administration provides some guidance:
“Many businesses allocate a percentage of actual or projected gross revenues – usually between 2-3 percent for run-rate marketing and up to 3-5 percent for start-up marketing. But the allocation actually depends on several factors: the industry you’re in, the size of your business, and its growth stage. For example, during the early brand building years retail businesses spend much more than other businesses on marketing – up to 20 percent of sales. As a general rule, small businesses with revenues less than $5 million should allocate 7-8 percent of their revenues to marketing. This budget should be split between 1) brand development costs (which includes all the channels you use to promote your brand such as your website, blogs, sales collateral, etc.), and 2) the costs of promoting your business (campaigns, advertising, events, etc.)”
Once you’ve determined a budget, develop a process which closely measures both your cost and the return on investment (ROI). There are many ways to do this. Investopediagives this simple example, “take the sales growth, subtract the marketing cost, and then divide by the marketing cost: (Sales Growth – Marketing Cost) / Marketing Cost = ROI.” How you look at the ROI of any marketing campaign ultimately comes in the form of increased business growth. The main purpose is to track your efforts over the course of the year and beyond.
A few things to keep in mind in maximizing your return on investment:
- View all marketing initiatives as ‘works in progress’ — look for small ongoing adjustments which can often have great impact on the results.
- Conduct after-action assessments — take the time to review what worked, what didn’t, and what needs improvement. Analyze all aspects of your effort and set qualitative and quantitative goals for the future.
On a personal level, be sure that whoever is managing your firm’s marketing, be it a staff associate or outsourced consultant [for on this, read my IRIS article, 5 Advantages of Working with a Virtual Marketing Director], it can be wise to start with a smaller project to make the process less overwhelming. Select someone who has both strategic and tactical experience. 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. Since marketing is a long-term investment, it’s worth your while to find and develop someone with the right mix of talent, values, and work ethic to be a true resource and extension of your firm, and lead this effort.
As small and entrepreneurial businesses, RIAs need to approach marketing in the most efficient manner with constantly keeping an eye towards both short and long-term goals.
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