Written by: Marissa Foy
The last five years have proven that small to mid-sized financial industry firms are ready to make marketing a larger priority. Just take a look at the number of CMOs and marketing director positions that have been created at RIA firms, ETF issuers and other growing companies. The right strategy can be a difference-maker when your firm is looking to create separation from the pack. But designing the right marketing and PR campaign — never mind getting it off the ground — can feel like an overwhelming undertaking, especially when growth mode corresponds with taking on additional client work, administrative duties and compliance tasks.
The truth is the tools you need to launch a successful marketing campaign are within reach if you know where to look.
The following five steps are essential to turning your vision into reality.
- Set the right goals. Goal setting is a common business practice, but setting the right goals — and knowing how to measure them — can make or break your marketing plan. Most businesses quickly recognize their overarching marketing goal is to add to the bottom line, but clearly defining what that success looks like is key. Are you looking to solidify your thought leadership through owned content, like a blog? Build your brand on social media? Create a team of media superstars? Or all of the above? Having a clear objective in mind will determine how you proceed.
- Determine what makes you unique. The foundation of your marketing story rests upon your firm’s ability to stand out from the crowd. However, what you view as unique might not strike your clients and colleagues as such. Check in with clients, employees and others in the industry to take the pulse on your firm and provide honest feedback on where they see value in your offering. Chances are you will see your business in a whole new light, while gaining a clear understanding of where you need to amp up your efforts to communicate what you are bringing to the table for your customers.
- Pursue visibility, credibility and trust. Financial services firms maximize the chance of marketing success when they embrace the idea that they are trading on the notion of trust. Take advantage of the opportunities that today’s media environment offer to support your firm’s credibility and positioning with target audiences. A difference-making PR campaign is rooted in your firm’s ability to provide a steady drip of trustworthy thought leadership on topics that can move the needle. To find such depth, you need to look for subject-matter experts at all levels. These individuals should have compelling opinions and experiences and be able to offer a fresh perspective on common issues in their industries. For the best results, look beyond the C-suite to build this group. The young millennial hustling in the corner cubicle may be the best resource for advice to first-time investors, and your product developers will know what your market wants as well as anyone.
- Learn from the success (or failures) of others. As you gain a clearer understanding of what you want to share with your audience, start looking outside of your organization. That is, create a list of peers or competitors you believe are doing a good job with their marketing and study their approach. As companies grow and new competitors enter the marketplace, more and more firms will be looking to stand out from the noise by using PR and marketing. Look at what other companies are doing “right” so you can emulate their approach, and see what missteps they’re making so you know what to avoid.
- Tap outside experts to optimize your efforts. The initial PR and marketing foundation can be laid in-house with necessary tasks like building an email list, launching social media pages and organizing owned content. However, to design a dedicated, multifaceted campaign, you need to find a team of experts. Much like the due diligence performed on investments, you should do the same when vetting vendors. Ask to see their prior work, successes and track record. You can make or break your firm’s success by aligning with the right partners, and finding them starts with a simple LinkedIn search and a phone call.
A comprehensive communications plan takes some effort, but the results can have a significant and positive impact on your brand and business. The financial services industry is a crowded one; how will you stand out?
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