Financial advisors spend an average of 3% of their revenue on marketing. Yet 56% of advisors say they receive no clients from their marketing efforts, according to the latest Cerulli Report.
It’s time we fixed that.
There isn’t one financial advisor marketing solution that is going to work for everyone. Creating a marketing plan that fits your firm depends on how much time you’re willing to spend, how much of a financial investment you can make and what goals you’re hoping to accomplish.
According to the 2022 RIA Benchmarking Study by Fidelity, just 55% of advisors keep all marketing in-house, while 38% use a mix of in-house and external vendors, and 6% fully outsource. So the marketing solution for your firm likely falls somewhere in the middle.
Let’s discuss four different financial advisor marketing solutions and the pros and cons of each.
Financial Advisor Marketing Solutions
- Do it Yourself
- Hire an In-House Marketing Team
- Work with a Marketing Agency
- Find a Trusted Partner
- The Bottom Line
Do Your Own Marketing
It is possible to do marketing yourself, or alongside your team of advisors and administrative staff members, but this is rarely the best solution for larger firms or firms that aspire to grow rapidly. And the reason is simple: You aren’t a marketing expert, nor do you have the time to focus on building your brand.
That being said, for advisors new to the industry or just starting their firm, you can accomplish a lot without hiring a dedicated marketing professional or outsourcing. I’ll discuss a few key principles, but you can find much more on how to build your internal marketing program with our Essential Guide to Financial Advisor Marketing.
Create Valuable Content
One of the most effective ways to attract new clients is to create valuable content. This can include blog posts, social media content, downloadable guides or resources, webinars or videos.
Focus on educating your target audience and answering the common or difficult questions that your clients have asked you in the past. Don’t be afraid to try out AI tools, like ChatGPT, to help you create long-form content that you can edit easily.
Build an Audience
Creating content is only the first step. You then need to start engaging that audience regularly, so they know to turn to you when they are ready for an advisor or want to make a change.
You may have built a following on social media or you may be attracting a lot of organic SEO traffic on your blog. Next, find ways to capture that audience’s email address or phone number, so you can continue reaching out with new content, opportunities to work with you or invites to events.
Automate Your Outreach
You’ve created content, you’ve built an audience and now you must automate as much outreach as possible. At the end of the day, you’re a financial advisor and a business owner. The more time you spend having to send marketing emails or posting on social media, the less time you have to focus on your clients and business.
Start by creating an introductory email journey that is delivered to your leads when they fill out a form on your site. You’ll then want to automate other marketing communications like your newsletter, scheduled social posts, consultation offers and more.
Finally, if you’re intent on being your own marketing solution, you’ll want to educate yourself on what’s working – both in the industry and outside of it. Attending network events and asking how other advisors are handling their own marketing can provide key insights into what you should be focused on.
For example, we have dozens of roundtable-style events around the country for advisors to discuss what’s working and what isn’t at their firm, along with our Excell Conference. Further, read up on marketing practices from firms that you’re impressed with.
Hire an In-House Marketing Team
As opposed to doing marketing yourself, hiring a full-time marketing person can lend expertise to your brand-building efforts while freeing up your schedule. If you end up working with outside vendors, too, your marketing person will own those relationships and the outcomes.
While one person may not be able to accomplish as much as an agency or partner, they will be able to focus on what’s most important to you. And there are some inherent advantages to keeping your marketing in-house:
Control Over Your Brand Message
With an in-house marketing solution, your full-time marketing person will have a better grasp of your brand and the messaging that builds that brand. This is especially helpful if you operate in a niche market where the needs of your clients are more specialized, meaning your content should also be more specialized.
Better Understanding of the Business
You know your firm’s business analytics better than anyone, and keeping your marketing person in the loop on business performance will give them a leg up on outside vendors. If you know that you convert 20% of leads into clients, your marketing person will know how many leads they need to generate to help meet your growth goals.
Plus, if your marketing person is on staff, they should be able to tell you what’s working and what isn’t – where a vendor will often just do exactly what you ask them to do.
Though the idea of adding overhead salary to your team might not sound appealing, in the long run it costs less to have an in-house marketing person than paying vendors. External vendors often charge higher hourly rates than it would cost to have a full-time person.
You’re also often paying vendors for the work, not the outcome, so if your campaign isn’t working early on, you may not have the insights needed to make a change. An in-house person should catch that and adjust as needed.
One final reason an in-house marketing team could be best for your firm is adaptability. If the market drops or new legislation hits that impacts your clients, your marketing person can drop everything to create resources for your clients. A vendor will have a pre-determined contract and other clients, meaning they can’t be as nimble as your in-house team.
Work with a Marketing Agency
While there are advantages to hiring a dedicated team member as your financial advisor marketing solution, don’t rule out working with an agency.
Outsourced marketing has advantages that you won’t get with a small, in-house team. While you may pay more for an agency, you’re getting an entire team with a deep understanding of marketing – and often financial services.
When hiring a marketing agency, you’re paying for experience and expertise. They have a team of specialized individuals who are well-versed in what they do, such as SEO, PPC, social media, content marketing and more. You’ll discuss your goals, see their plan and let them go to work to drive results.
Marketing can be time-consuming, and financial advisors often have limited time to dedicate to marketing efforts or train an in-house marketing person. By working with an agency, you won’t be creating any of the content or spending time setting up campaigns. Instead, you’ll manage the relationship, check in throughout the process and carve out some time to review materials and provide feedback.
While a full-time team member needs to always stay busy, agencies are especially great for one-off campaigns or projects. Need a new website? Want to record a video? Need a brochure made? Agencies can step in and do a one-off project when you don’t have the need for full-time help.
Marketing agencies should be able to provide proof of results – and you’ll want to establish those metrics up front. They can track and analyze the performance of marketing campaigns and provide detailed reports. This can help you understand the effectiveness of your marketing efforts and make data-driven decisions to improve future marketing strategies.
Find a Trusted Partner
Many advisors hit a point in their firm where their growth plateaus and getting back on the upward trajectory will take a major investment – either hiring a bigger team, drastically changing your tech stack, increasing your marketing budget or expanding your service offering.
A partner can step in and help elevate your firm by providing a proven ecosystem for success. Carson Partners, for example, provides your tech stack, marketing, investment strategies, planning support, M&A team and speedy compliance reviews.
You gain time to focus on what matters most to you, while finding a new way to run, grow and love your business.
Where an agency can help you with one specific aspect of your business, partnership is more like bringing seven or eight agencies directly into your business. You receive far more support than you would with a broker-dealer, and you get a much more personalized relationship than you would with an agency.
As it relates to marketing, the benefits of partnership can be transformational to your firm.
How many hours a week do you spend thinking about marketing, whether it’s email sends, website updates, social media engagement, automation, blogging or even client communications? With Carson Partners, the foundation for your marketing is already done. You can be as involved as you’d like, or you can delegate all of it with the confidence that we’ll help you be an effective marketer.
When you grow, we grow – which is why we have devoted millions to our new client engine, designed to connect you with qualified prospects who are looking for advisors. We call them, qualify them and arrange a meeting with you. Add that to your SEO-driven website, lead-generating tools, weekly newsletter and dozens of blogs and downloadable resources produced annually, and you’re ready to make an impact with your marketing.
Agencies and even in-house marketers may not have a specialty in financial services. Marketing for financial advisors is different than a coffee shop or an HVAC company. It’s about building trust and building a brand that clients are willing to trust you with their financial future.
All we do is financial advisor marketing, and you can think of our RIA, Carson Wealth, as a testing ground for your firm. If something works for Carson Wealth, we’ll bring it to your brand, too.
One of the biggest headaches of marketing in financial services can be compliance. You spend hours working on content, then wait weeks on end to get it approved only to be told “no.” Carson’s compliance team prides itself on speedy reviews and clear guidance. We’re here to protect your firm and help you maintain efficiency.
Carson Partners grew on average 27.3% in 2021, and that’s not including market growth. We understand marketing, and we’re here to help support you with your growth efforts, whether it’s organic growth or through acquisitions. Schedule a call with our team today to learn how we can help your marketing efforts through partnership.
The Bottom Line
Often, finding a financial advisor marketing solution isn’t one-size-fits-all. It’s a mix of knowing what should stay in-house, what you can outsource and what you should stop doing altogether.
Using a hybrid approach is often the key to unlocking your unique marketing strategy. Many of our Carson Partner firms have a full-time marketing person on top of using all the materials Carson creates for them. Some also tap external agencies for added support.
Have your goals in mind, chat with Carson about what partnership would look like for your firm, see what it’d cost for an agency to do the work for you and find the right mix for your firm.