Marketing is used in every industry, and it differs depending on the product being sold. Selling lemons is different from selling massages is different from selling financial advice. But marketing your financial services is an especially difficult egg to crack (or sell). And it’s not just SEC regulations against testimonials that make it so tough. What’s the deal?
1. Advisor Marketing Is a Harder Sell
Financial advisors sell services, which are often a harder sell than products because you’re not giving clients a tangible item to take home in exchange for their money. And you don’t even sell services with immediate benefits, like a guided tour or a shoe shine. You’re selling long-term, non-guaranteed benefits that might not be noticeable for the first year (or sometimes longer). You’re selling a financial planning philosophy that says, “If you work with me, you have a pretty good shot at living the life you want…eventually.” When you get down to it, advisor marketing is less about selling the promise of financial success and more about selling the long-term value add of you, the financial advisor. If you can show prospective clients that you’re capable and trustworthy and understand what they want out of their money, they’ll buy. But how do you do that?
2. Advisor Marketing Relies on the Unreliable
The best way to sell anything (in any industry) is word of mouth. But while referrals can be one of the most effective routes for advisors, you shouldn’t count on them.
Related Content: The 4 Hows of Effective Referrals
Your clients only know so many people, and only a few of your clients will take the time to tell a couple people about you, and only a handful of those people will be interested in what you do, and even fewer will be ready to take on a new advisor, and some of those people won’t like your haircut, and others will get cold feet when it comes time to jump into the markets (no matter how many times you tell them about dollar cost averaging). Basically, it’s like the opposite of those old shampoo commercials with Heather Locklear: “And they don’t tell two friends, and they don’t tell two friends, and so on, and so on.” So how do you make the most of advisor marketing without putting all your eggs in such an unreliable basket?
3. Advisor Marketing Is Not a Sure Thing
To be blunt, getting people to pay tens of thousands of dollars for an intangible, non-guaranteed non-promise that many people either don’t understand, don’t think they need or don’t think they can handle on their own is hard. It requires a long-term commitment to building relationships and truly understanding the wants and needs of your clients. But so much of marketing today is about the short-term. Everybody wants their next marketing campaign to go viral overnight.
4. Advisor Marketing Requires People to Get Their Mind Out of the Immediate
Most marketing is about immediate gratification. Buy an iPhone and feel connected. Buy a house and feel secure. Buy a beer and feel cool. Just spend a hard and fast amount of money and you will immediately be and feel different in some way. But for advisors, the services you sell are not immediate, nor are they especially gratifying – at least not in the way we think of that word. Instead of immediate gratification, I like to think of advisors as selling “eventual satisfaction.” Advisor marketing is about getting people to understand the importance of confronting their future now (something most people are not very good at). You have to convince people that it’s in their best interest to look decades down the line, and that you’re the person to help them figure out where they want to go and how they want to get there. The best way to do that? Show them how smart you are in the most relatable way possible. Write blogs and ebooks, create diagrams and infographics, record videos and webinars that show people that you’re two things: relatable and smart.
5. Advisor Marketing Is About the Long Game
It’s a process, to be sure. Advisor marketing – especially inbound advisor marketing – is done with the long game in mind. Advisor marketing requires a commitment similar to how you tell your clients they should think about investing. You may or may not get returns on your money in the short-term, but over time a strong savings and investing rate can build upon itself and grow. Compounding and a long time horizon ultimately produce results that yield growth. In the same way, you shouldn’t worry about the number of click-throughs on a single blog post. Try to keep your mind focused on the overall impact of a library of intelligent blog posts that can ultimately be used as collateral for prospect contact info for years to come. Yet so many advisors kill their marketing outreach before it even has a chance to spread its wings and try to fly, simply because it doesn’t immediately yield the results they think it should. Mark Schlipman, Senior Financial Advisor at Schlipman Wealth Advisors, said it best: “A lot of advisors wouldn’t make great farmers. They plant their seeds, and then go back just a week later looking for growth. When they don’t see it, they plow it all under. I believe consistency wins.”
So yes, advisor inbound marketing is a whole different ball game than other forms of marketing that focus more on products or immediate gratification. But it’s not impossible. It’s actually quite possible with the right attitude towards long-term thinking and a necessary approach of being smart and relatable.