Frequently we hear from financial advisors that they are more comfortable on the “left brain” numbers side of the business than on the “right brain” more subjective-feeling marketing and sales side. However, without a solid, implementable marketing plan, you may feel like you’re spinning in a perpetual hamster wheel to figure out how to get more clients and grow your $AUM.
Why Create a Financial Advisor Marketing Plan?
Even if your business isn’t scrambling for clients today, if you have business growth goals (of at least 15%, I hope) you’d be better off with a defined marketing plan. Marketing is what helps establish your position in the market, gain prospect attention, build demand for your services and ultimately win customers. Without a plan, you may be using a shotgun marketing approach of doing a little of this and a little of that, with none of it directly targeted for your most important goals. Your marketing plan—yes, it should be a defined, written document—should be a key part of your overall annual business plan. And for those of you who aren’t doing any annual business planning? Well, I’ll address all of you in a future post, but suffice it to say you should be!
Why do you need a marketing plan at all? Well, it’s there in my definition of marketing above.
1) To define how you will establish your position in the market.
Completing your marketing plan will take you through the step of defining your target market and ideal client profile, and what is it about your firm that differentiates you or makes you better suited to serve them. Always ask—and continue to ask and answer—So what? Why does my ideal client care? If you can get to the core answer to, “so what?” you can effectively create your identity, messaging, and plan to reach those ideal prospects & clients.
Sections of a typical marketing plan that address positioning include:
- Target Market – Who is your ideal client? What niche do you serve? Who are your A+ and A clients?
- Strategic Objectives/Goals – What you want to accomplish through your marketing program
- Value Proposition/Competitive Advantages – what do you offer clients that is uniquely yours, and that differentiates you from your competitors?
2) To outline what you will do to gain prospect attention.
You will identify strategies that will increase your firm’s exposure to those ideal prospects (and existing clients). Take a look at what your competition is doing—both good and bad.
Sections of a typical marketing plan that address attention include:
- Competitive Analysis / SWOT Analysis – what is your top competition doing? What is their value proposition/competitive advantage(s)?
- Marketing Strategies & Initiatives – plan or broad approach for achieving what you want to accomplish in your objectives/goals
3) To determine which actions will build demand for your services to turn prospects into customers.
Your plan will determine tactics that will ultimately win you customers. You can do all the positioning under the sun to gain prospects, but if you don’t specify actions to move prospects along the sales process, your marketing is not working for you. The ultimate goal of all marketing is to gather the most purchase-ready prospects who are the best fit for your services, and make it easy for them to choose you.
Sections of a typical marketing plan that address demand and conversion:
- Budget – how much will you spend on your marketing program?
- Tactics & Activities – the actions you’ll take to implement the strategies & initiatives identified
- Marketing Calendar – Schedule your entire year up front and stick to your dates
4) To make sure your marketing actually gets done and is working for you.
Many of the advisors we talk to at Carson Institutional Alliance say that marketing is an item that easily gets pushed to the bottom of the list when time is short and there are competing priorities. In order to prevent this, you need a defined, written marketing plan with hard-scheduled deliverables. Once the schedule for the year is set, stick to it. Marketing only works if it is done and done consistently. You can’t run one ad, host one event or write one blog post and determine it doesn’t work; on average, a consistent marketing program can take at least 3-6 months to show results. While immediate results are wonderful—and by all means, if you have immediate success with your activities then count yourself lucky—the real value of marketing comes through establishing goals and completing consistent actions day after day, over a long period of time to reach those goals. Check in after quarterly and annually to assess what’s working and if you need to make adjustments to your plan and activities. Does this sound familiar, financial planners?!
Having a written marketing plan can keep you focused on the right things, but it can also keep you from spending time, money, and energy on activities that don’t move the needle or help you achieve your goals. Do you have a written marketing plan today? If not, do you have a scalable resource to help you develop and implement your own personalized marketing plan and deliverables? How will you get started or improve your marketing game?
Now is the time to begin thinking about your marketing plan for 2016.
Need help getting started? Download this action-focused marketing plan template:
For advisor use only. Not intended for client distribution.