Marketing your services as a financial advisor.
If financial services were a race, marketing would be the first giant hurdle you had to leap over, right after the rope ladder that is getting your licenses and certifications. Business marketing is the process of promoting your services to potential clients so you can move them through the lead pipeline. To market your services successfully, you need to get in front of the right people at the right time. This can feel like trying to hit a bull’s-eye blindfolded, but it needn’t be such a shot in the dark. With the right marketing strategy, financial advisors can attract and convert prospects and even re-engage existing clients, turning them into regular sources of referrals. These 15 financial advisor marketing ideas will help you grow your business from inside and out.
Ditch the general messaging.
The first rule of successful financial advisor marketing is to market to your audience, your whole audience and no one but your audience. “You can’t be everything to everyone,” says John Anderson, managing director of practice management solutions for Independent Advisor Solutions at SEI. “Prospects will seek out experts to solve their issues, so create personas that you can use to help focus on your ideal client’s needs and concerns.” He suggests starting with a content marketing campaign directed at your target clients through social media, such as blogs, podcasts or even videos. “By showing your expertise within that persona, you set yourself apart from a generalist advisor,” he says. Best of all: It has a low cost and can be leveraged across multiple platforms.
Optimize your website for your ideal client persona.
In addition to social media campaigns, financial advisors should optimize their websites with their target clients in mind. A generic website that speaks to an undefined target audience is sure to generate mediocre results in terms of inbound prospect traffic. A 2019 Broadridge Financial Solutions survey found that 76% of industry innovators generated leads from their website. “Optimize your firm’s site to educate, connect and capture leads” by making it a “one-stop shop for all information on your offerings as an advisor,” says Kevin Darlington, general manager of Broadridge Advisor Solutions. This way prospects can research on their own time. “Your website should also be a straightforward way for prospects to get in touch with you, with all contact information readily available,” he says. “It’s easy to do and can be as simple as adding blog content or an email capture form.”
Personalize your online presence.
Like your firm’s website, your own online presence should also be personalized for your target audience. According to Edward Jones’ research, clients and prospects spend 16% more time on a personalized website. Nearly 80% of the 18,500 Edward Jones financial advisors have said they benefited from tools allowing them to personalize their online presence. For instance, within weeks of reinforcing her personal brand online with some of her accomplishments and local community philanthropic involvement, Sarah Reznick, a financial advisor with Edward Jones in Newbury Park, California, saw an increase in prospects reaching out through the “contact us” form on her site. “When I asked them specifically what it was that brought them to me, they all mentioned my biography on my website,” she says.
Be a resource matchmaker.
The other side of not being everything to everyone is allowing for the fact that you cannot be the expert in every area of financial planning. With the future of advice “rapidly transitioning from holistic wealth management to longevity planning,” professionals need to “embrace the notion of connecting your clients to aging, transportation, health care and caregiving resources,” says Julie Genjac, managing director of applied insights at Hartford Funds. “Gather a group of longevity experts in your community and ask them to speak on a panel, which could easily translate into a virtual event, if appropriate.” These experts could be assisted living facility directors, elder law attorneys, certified aging-in-place specialists or geriatric care managers. “When your clients share what they learned with friends and family, you will be at the center of those conversations,” Genjac says. “They will appreciate your willingness to help them navigate these life phases, and you will undoubtedly deepen your relationship with them.”
Use a public relations approach.
“As a financial advisor, credibility is one of the most important characteristics to build. Utilizing an organic public relations approach can quickly build your credibility and brand,” says Nick Vecore, a public relations executive at M&O Marketing. “Opposite of advertising, organic public relations allows you to get your message and thoughts out to the public without paying to have it published.” Being quoted as an expert in the news or having your business featured in a large name media publication can act as a third-party endorsement. He says organic public relations can be the ticket to getting your prospects from asking “How can I trust you?” to “What do you recommend?”
Host your own ‘genius bar.’
Financial professionals can take a page from Apple’s (ticker: AAPL) playbook and engage clients and prospects by hosting an interactive, technology-based client event a la Apple’s concierge-style customer support genius bar, suggests Genjac. “Technology can seem overwhelming for people of all ages,” she says. So why not have a group of clients (and their guests) bring their tablets and smartphones for some free tech support? “At the beginning of the event, share a story of how technology has helped you or a family member in a positive way,” Genjac says. “Then ask clients to take out their devices, and help them download apps for ride-sharing, shopping, entertainment and budgeting.” Then, every time one of them uses an app they downloaded at the event, they’ll be reminded of you and how you helped them. And, as a bonus, consider hosting this event as a “virtual hands-on event” and your clients will learn new tech tips and tricks from start to finish.
“In an environment where face-to-face meetings aren’t always an option, financial advisors need to embrace technology to stay connected with their clients and build their practices,” says Don Aven, a St. Louis area-based principal at Edward Jones. “According to Million Dollar Round Table, 88% of Americans want tech to complement, not replace, human financial advisors.” He tells advisors to turn to tools that combine a personal touch with cutting-edge technology. “For example, Edward Jones financial advisors are doing more virtual seminars and using tools to understand what is most important to prospective clients, helping them feel understood by their financial advisor and in control of the planning process,” Aven says.
Write a book.
Speaking of teaching, nothing says “expert” like having your name on a book. Vercore says that “while writing and publishing your own book can be time-consuming and costly, it is something that can truly set you apart from your competition.” A book can help highlight your expertise and educate clients on your areas of specialty. “Clients will have a better understanding of your personality and approach to their finances when they read your book,” he says. Books also make great gifts or prizes for those seminar raffles. You could even use the book as an incentive for scheduling an appointment.
Send offseason’s greetings.
Nothing beats having your face adorn your client’s holiday mantel alongside dozens of other greeting cards except having your face adorn your client’s mantel all by itself. “Instead of sending clients a standard winter holiday greeting, consider picking a more obscure time of year when their mailboxes aren’t stuffed with cards,” Genjac says. For instance, send a “happy spring” card complete with a bulb of your favorite flower. Or a happy Fourth of July card with your favorite barbecue recipe. “When your client sees the flower sprouting from that bulb, or makes your favorite recipe, they will think of you,” she says. And when someone else comments on the flower or recipe, your client will say, “It’s from my financial professional,” which could segue into a referral opportunity.
Send a regular newsletter.
If you aren’t sending your clients and prospects regular newsletters, someone else is, Genjac says. A newsletter is essential to keeping your name in mind. By doing so, your clients and prospects will be more likely to think of you when they have a question or want to make a change with their investments. “The content of the newsletter is not as important as the activity,” Genjac says, “but be sure to include personal updates about your team,” such as marriages, births, recent travels or milestones. “Sharing those details shows the more human side of the business to clients and prospects and creates points of connection.” She suggests picking some timely educational articles to include with an update on the team. For example, what a great opportunity to educate clients on websites and apps that can make their socially distanced life easier, such as food delivery services, meal prep kits, and virtual entertainment options, to name a few things. Show them how you can help enhance their quality of life during all circumstances.
Work smarter, not harder.
So you’ve already got a newsletter and are all over social media: good job, you! Now start maximizing their impact. “It is important to fully leverage all of your marketing efforts in order to get your name and company in front of as many eyes as possible,” Vercore says. “If you use an email newsletter or social media to stay in contact with clients, make sure to post about or include all of your press features. If you hold seminars, print out copies of your press features and place them in your seminar folders for people to read.” Press features also make great lobby reading material, too.
Measure the right things.
Just as a financial advisor’s relationship with new clients typically begins by learning about the client’s goals and devising a plan to reach them, a financial advisor’s marketing plan should be based on concrete goals and driven by metrics as well, Darlington says. “Imagine an advisor showing up to a client review without data and details of progress and investment performance.” It would not go over well. Advisors should “take their own medicine” and measure their marketing efforts against a clear plan. “For example, a growth-oriented advisor might be highly focused on attracting and converting new clients,” Darlington says. In which case, he should be measuring the various parts of his sales and marketing funnel based on how many leads he identified and where they came from.
Whatever financial advisor marketing tactics you choose, the important thing is to be consistent. Just as you tell your clients to stick to their financial plans even if they aren’t seeing immediate results, you, too, need to stick to your plan even in the face of not receiving instant gratification. “You won’t see results overnight, but hopefully, if you remain consistent and track your efforts, you will start to see an increase in brand recognition and possibly new clients,” Vecore says. At M&O Marketing, they don’t “tout the public relations program as a lead generation source, but instead, a credibility builder that will increase trust and confidence with your prospects, both new and old.”
Don’t be afraid to invest more.
Financial advisor marketing is more than just a tool in your toolbox; it should be a part of your overall business strategy as a financial advisor, Darlington says. “This means not being afraid to invest smartly in any and all aspects of your marketing.” Broadridge’s survey found that financial advisors who were winning more clients were also the ones more frequently investing in more across marketing channels, from digital marketing to advertising to in-person events. “We found that the average advisor is spending 3.3% of annual revenue on marketing and that the average cost per new client acquisition is $929,” Darlington says. “When you consider the lifetime value of a client, these economics work very well.”
Hire a professional.
If all this marketing stuff sounds like a full-time job, it certainly can be. The best use of your marketing budget may be to hire a professional who can take care of it for you. “A public relations professional understands the type of content reporters, editors and producers are seeking,” Vecore says. “They also have the ability to fully focus on news and topic trends, as well as build rapport with journalists that can ultimately increase your chances of being featured as an expert in an article.” He suggests financial advisors consider hiring a public relations firm, full-time staff member or working with a field marketing organization that can provide these services.
Financial advisor marketing tips:
— Ditch the general messaging.
— Optimize your website for your ideal client persona.
— Personalize your online presence.
— Be a resource matchmaker.
— Use a public relations approach.
— Host your own “genius bar.”
— Embrace technology.
— Send offseason’s greetings.
— Write a book.
— Send a regular newsletter.
— Work smarter, not harder.
— Measure the right things.
— Be consistent.
— Don’t be afraid to invest more.
— Hire a professional.
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Update 08/31/20: This story was published at an earlier date and has been updated with new information.