Still think that a financial advisor marketing plan is just for the big firms? Think again!
Running a financial advisory firm is hard. In the early years, it’s a hustle to find clients and pay the bills. Five to seven years into the practice, there are workflows to optimize, staff to hire and train, and a full book of business to manage. Life gets busy.
Which is why so few advisors go the extra mile and create a marketing strategy. According to Pershing, only 30% of all advisors have a formal marketing plan.
The remaining 70% must believe that “hustling” is their marketing plan.
That is a big mistake. Those who fail to invest in an advisor marketing plan might save some time on the front end — but they hurt their practices in the long run. There’s the stress of not knowing where your next client will come from. There are periods of “feast or famine”, when the office is either dead — or swamped with urgent work. Finally, without an overarching plan, it’s impossible to be sure that your professional practice will be intentional and ideal for you as the advisor.
Why don’t more advisors have a marketing strategy? Many of them find the task daunting. Some don’t know where to start.
Here’s a simple blueprint that will demystify the process and put you back in the driver’s seat.
Step 1: Define your ideal client!
An ideal client could be an actual client who you have in your practice today, someone you wish you could clone and have ten more of. Or perhaps you don’t have any “ideal clients” in your practice yet. Either way, it’s important to be clear on who you want to serve.
There’s a lot of talk in the industry about choosing a niche, yet many advisors get it wrong.
Their mistake is thinking about an ideal client as a mythical unicorn. They treat it as a theoretical exercise. As a result, their marketing messages fail to resonate with real people in the real world. Here are some suggestions for helping your ideal client take physical shape.
- What are their pain points, in their own words?
- What do they value the most about the service that you deliver?
- Where and how do they consume their information (FB, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, trade magazines, blogs, podcasts, direct mail, etc.)?
- Who do they trust (i.e. potential centers of influence)?
- What do they believe?
Step 2: Create your strategy
There is no one-size-fits-all financial advisor marketing plan. Whatever advice you find online or in a book must be tailored to fit your practice, your plan for growth, the type of clients you serve, etc. However, there are three ideas that will help any marketing plan.
- Include more than one channel. When people experience your brand in more than one place, your credibility soars. For example, someone might read your article in Entrepreneur, then click on a Google ad for your firm, then follow you on FB. Each channel will reinforce and amplify your message.
- Account for differences between channels. Don’t try to make channels do something that they aren’t made to do. For example, Twitter is best for creating awareness about your brand. Facebook is good for targeted outreach and building engagement. Instagram works with clever and compelling visuals. Create a unique approach for each channel that covers organic content type, formatting, timing, frequency of posts, etc.
- Make sure that your strategy combines digital outreach and in-person activities. Many advisors think that a strong online presence is enough to bring in clients. It isn’t! You must mix it up with showing up in person. Think networking, attending conferences, connecting with centers of influence, speaking, etc.
Finally, translate your marketing strategy into a concrete set of action steps. This is a critical step that many advisors miss!
- Build a marketing calendar with a timeline for decisions.
- List actions that must happen each month.
- Create a monthly or weekly calendar for tasks that must be done routinely, such as maintaining your Facebook presence.
- Assign task responsibilities and attach due dates to each one.
- Look for opportunities to automate, but don’t aim to remove yourself from the marketing process completely. A strategic personal touch makes a big difference.
Step 3: Craft your message
Everything you do in marketing should help you hit two goals. First, showcase your expertise. Second, compel those who need it to reach out to you — and take action.
Remember that only a small percentage of your audience (1-2%) has a sense of urgency about needing their services at any given time. Your marketing should speak to that small group in a way that drives action. At the same time, it shouldn’t alienate the vast majority of your audience just because they aren’t in “active solution-seeking mode” right now. Nurture them and keep the connection open for when their need becomes urgent.
Here’s some more bite-sized advice on crafting your marketing messages.
- Test, test, and test some more! Technology allows you to run A/B tests on so many things these days. Don’t feel like you must commit before you begin.
- Use the language that your ideal client/prospect would use to describe their challenge, past mistakes, or ideal future state. They should read your materials and think, “This is me.”
- Set up metrics to monitor and reinforce your success. The number of new clients is useful, but you will need intermittent checkpoints in addition to that.
Building a financial advisor marketing plan that works!
Here are three key takeaways from our experience of helping 200+ financial advisors figure out their marketing strategy.
- The most effective way to build a financial advisor marketing strategy (and implement it without spending a fortune) is by choosing a niche or affiliation. Remember that you can’t out-spend the big firms, but you can certainly out-target them.
Do your research, but don’t get stuck there for days and weeks and months. There’s no such thing as a “perfect marketing plan” — the world changes too quickly for that. Get it to 80%. Translate it into concrete steps with dates and assigned responsibilities. Then, run with it. You can always course-correct in flight.
PATRICK BREWER, CFA, CPA
Patrick Brewer is the Founder of SurePath Wealth, a NextGen ensemble practice with offices across the country. Patrick is also co-founder of Brewer Consulting, a marketing agency for financial advisors, and host of “The Model FA” podcast. Together, the three companies empower advisors to remove financial anxiety from the world by combining human-first investment advice with cutting-edge marketing and practice management strategies. Patrick is a CFA charter holder and a CPA. You can connect with Patrick on Facebook or LinkedIn.