It’s easy to be equal parts dazzled and overwhelmed by the fast-evolving world of marketing and the many ways to get the word out about your financial advisory business. Videos, podcasts, social media and webinars are all on the radar of financial advisors who appreciate the power of marketing to grow their business.
In reality, an effective financial advisor marketing plan doesn’t have to be complex or feature the latest shiny objects. It just has to exist – which is not the case for many Registered Investment Advisor offices.
Research from SmartAsset, a lead-generation platform, reveals that almost 68% of financial advisors view marketing as very important to growing their client base, and more than 9 in 10 say marketing is a top priority. However, according to a survey for FA Insights by Design Study, only 17% of financial advisors have a strategic plan for their business.
At Carson Group, we build marketing plans for our partners, and we see this disconnect firsthand. The overwhelming majority are marketing enthusiasts who simply don’t have the time to develop an effective plan and instead rely on word-of-mouth referrals to grow their business.
Another key challenge: With so many avenues to pursue, many financial advisors don’t know how or where to start.
Table of Contents
- Create a formal marketing plan
- Determine your marketing goals
- Establish a budget
- Evaluate how you have grown historically
- Identify the path to achieving your marketing goals
- Analyze and adapt
Create a Formal Marketing Plan
The first step in proactively marketing your financial advisory firm is having a marketing plan. Without a marketing plan that spells out what you want to achieve, how you’ve been successful in the past and metrics to evaluate marketing initiatives, it’s easy to get caught up in “shiny object syndrome” and switch from one new marketing trend to the next without seeing any results.
Instead, make time in your calendar to sit down with your team and create a marketing plan. Decide what you want to focus on for the upcoming year. Are you looking to accumulate $10 million in assets? What are one to two marketing strategies you can implement to make that happen?
Once you achieve your first goal, move on to another. You don’t have to go from zero to 100. You just have to go from nothing to something.
Determine Your Marketing Goals
Generate leads, increase assets under management, build brand awareness, grow client referrals, build relationships with other professionals in your community who are also targeting high net worth individuals, enhance digital presence – these are all common marketing goals for financial advisors.
Your goals will determine the marketing initiatives you build into your marketing plan. For example, if your objective is to grow your client base and generate more revenue, you may consider hosting educational workshops on topics of interest to investors (i.e., retirement and estate planning, changes to the SECURE Act, how to navigate high interest and inflation rates).
If your objective is to boost your net promoter score or customer satisfaction benchmark from your existing client base, you may want to consider hosting a client appreciation event.
Establish a Budget
It can be $0, $10,000, $100,000 or whatever works for your firm. Either way, it’s important to set the number, because your budget will also play a role in the types of marketing initiatives you undertake and how you approach them.
A zero-dollar marketing budget can still be effective – you just have to set realistic objectives. For example, it doesn’t cost anything to be more proactive with your referral strategy and ask clients for introductions.
Evaluate How You Have Grown Historically
This is about understanding the marketing efforts that have and haven’t worked to help you achieve business objectives. There is no silver bullet in marketing.
In our experience at Carson, the advisors who grow the fastest are not the early adopters of the latest trends and technologies. It’s the advisors who focus on their strengths and what has been successful in the past.
For many advisors, one of the most effective strategies to grow their business is consistently reaching out to clients to generate referrals. Once you know what works, you can focus on how to enhance that strategy further.
For example, if your centers of influence network – other professionals you work with to help support your clients, such as chartered professional accountants, tax specialists, estate planning lawyers, insurance specialists, etc. – hasn’t been a fruitful source of referrals, is there something you can do differently to encourage them to recommend you to people in their networks?
The goal here is to ensure you do more of what works and less of what hasn’t.
Identify the Path to Achieving Your Marketing Goals
Once you are clear on your objectives, budget and what has worked in the past, it becomes easier to pinpoint the initiatives that will be most effective in achieving your marketing goals.
For example, if the goal is to grow your business, a proactive referral strategy is a foundational starting point. Let your existing clients know how much you like working with them and that you’d like to be able to help others they may know in the same way. And don’t stop there – also ask them to make an introduction. This will help you transition from waiting for client referrals to proactively seeking them.
If your goal is lead generation, a good event strategy can be effective. Co-host educational workshops with your centers of influence. This will help you gain immediate introductions to one another’s guests. And be sure to follow up with attendees – ideally, you’d try to schedule a time to reconnect while you’re all still at the event.
At Carson Group, we also recommend passion prospecting. This is about connecting with clients, leads, contacts and centers of influence around a shared passion. Start with your ideal clients and find out what interests them. Then organize an event around that interest. Maybe it’s a wine tasting or a golf game, for example. The event represents an opportunity to build relationships and generate referrals in a more informal way.
Another good prospecting tool: LinkedIn’s search feature lets you find people based on titles and companies, and can help you build professional connections with individuals you may want to work with.
When it comes to boosting brand awareness, start by making sure you have a complete Google My Business directory listing. This will help high-intent users find you – though note that you cannot promote your listing to prospective clients or link directly to it.
You could also create a monthly blog answering client questions and promote it on your social channels and via email. Or contact your local paper and see if there are ways you can contribute to articles about financial planning.
This type of outreach is an opportunity to let people know who you are and what you do while establishing yourself as a subject matter expert.
Analyze and Adapt
In all cases, ensure the initiatives you implement are measurable. Assess the return on investment of the events you host and the website traffic and page views blog posts generate. The data you collect will help you understand what’s working, what needs to change and how you can best use your time and resources.
Don’t shy away from the tried-and-true marketing initiatives that have helped you get where you are today. They worked in the past for a reason, and they will continue to work, especially if you have a more formalized marketing strategy in place.
There is a lot of noise when it comes to marketing and the things you “should” be doing. Whenever you feel yourself falling for the next shiny object, refer back to your plan.
Carson Group builds marketing plans for our financial advisor partners, and we offer marketing support to help them execute those plans and get across the finish line. Download The Financial Advisor’s Guide to Effective Marketing to get started.