How successful has your marketing plan been this year? Have you hit your marketing goals? Did you set your marketing goals? If your marketing strategy is clumsy, disjointed, and frustrating, you’re not alone. Financial advisors face a rapidly changing marketing and technology landscape, limited time to devote to their marketing plans, and compliance constraints.
If you are discouraged by your marketing results, take heart in knowing that financial planning is a relatively difficult service to market in the first place. Advisory practices provide many classic marketing challenges addressed in business school courses including:
- A Crowded Market (advisors seem to be a dime a dozen)
- Little Differentiation (prospects do not understand what makes you different)
- Unclear Pricing (most clients are unsure what fees they pay)
- Hard to Quantify Value (difficult to prove ROI)
- Lack of Trust (industry credibility has been damaged)
- Emotional Decision Making (prospects act with their heart, not their head)
For these reasons, a financial advisory firm is a challenging businesses to successfully and consistently market. Despite the complexity, many advisors attempt to market their firm on their own, without the resources, time, and tools they need to be successful.
What Are Your Other Options?
Research shows that advisors who consistently grow their businesses invest 3-7% of revenue towards marketing. For larger firms, the ideal marketing effort is led by a marketing professional with their MBA in Marketing, as well as an undergraduate degree in finance, with experience both in our industry and with compliance. How much would it cost to hire someone like that? The average salary for a MBA with 3-5 years of work experience is about $95,000. If your firm is large enough that 3-7% of your revenue will cover this expense, you should invest in hiring a dedicated marketing expert to grow your business.
But what if your firm is smaller? And what if you’re uncomfortable with the risks of hiring a full-time employee? Many advisors don’t want to incur the cost of employee benefits, office equipment, and training a new employee. Mid-sized firms that would like to dedicate a marketing resource without the cost and risk of hiring an employee can meet their challenge by hiring an independent marketing consultant.
How Can an Independent Marketing Consultant Help You?
Marketing consultants are educated professionals who are up-to-date on the latest trends, best practices, and technologies. Because they typically work with many advisors and track metrics closely, they can tell you what is working for advisors like you and offer fresh ideas for your marketing strategy.
A good marketing consultant will deploy the ideas and materials you may already have, as well as recommend new strategies, channels, and ideas to move the needle. By working with an experienced team, you may save time and money by avoiding mistakes and put your resources towards campaigns that will deliver the most impact.
The independent consultant model allows you to set your budget, scale efforts up or down over time, and get the most effective output for your money. Most importantly, outsourcing your marketing ensures that it will get done according to a consistent schedule.
What Does a Marketing Consultant Do?
A good marketing consultant will get to know your business and work with you to set concrete and quantifiable goals. Are you trying to get more traffic to your website? Generate more referrals? Increase event attendance? I work together with clients to set three goals that matter the most to them. Then, I track and provide reporting on those goals each month.
Once we set concrete goals, I develop a plan to reach those goals including the following tasks:
Create original content.
Marketing is moving away from canned content towards specialized, original content. If prospects want to learn about a financial topic, they will Google it. But research shows that they want to hear your opinion on a topic. Creating original content illustrates what makes your firm unique, positions you as an expert, and keeps you on top of mind.
Deploy original content.
To maximize your reach, content should be deployed on your website, by email, on your blog, and through social media. My clients see about 70% of their leads from email, 20% from social media, and 10% through organic website traffic. Using all of these channels is critical to helping prospects find you.
Run your email marketing campaigns.
Creating the perfect marketing email isn’t as simple as it seems. Each email should include compelling and relevant content, an impactful graphic, a strong call to action, links to related content, and social media buttons. I create emails for my clients to be sure they meet these criteria and go out on schedule.
Create and optimize your social media profiles.
Because Google is just as likely to return your LinkedIn profile as your website in search results, it’s important that all of your social media profiles are as strong as your website. Your profiles should be optimized for SEO and keyword searches.
Run your social media marketing.
Most advisors do not have the time to log on to their social media profiles on a regular basis to share content, respond to messages, and connect with prospects. It’s critical to have a consistent presence on social media to grow your network and generate referrals.
Track your website traffic using Google Analytics.
How much traffic did your website get last month? Which pages received the most traffic? Which of your blog posts were the most popular with clients and prospects? How much of your traffic came from social media? Without knowing exactly how your website and social media visitors behave, it’s impossible to improve your marketing strategy over time. By closely tracking website traffic, we can learn what works and improve our strategy each month.
Answer Your Marketing Questions.
Many of my clients value the unlimited email and phone access they have to ask questions, verify assumptions, and learn more about marketing. Often, advisors have excellent marketing ideas that become clear as a result of collaboration. By working with a dedicated marketing resource, you can brainstorm, avoid costly mistakes, and have your best ideas implemented.
Provide ongoing education.
I offer monthly webinars to my clients to help them understand technology, social media, and new marketing trends. By staying on top of developments in the industry, my clients are better suited to take advantage of new opportunities and feel more confident in their marketing plans.
What is the Cost?
I charge my clients $400 per month for a package that includes the activities listed above. Some efforts, such as designing presentations, writing a book, or promoting events have additional charges. I strive to deliver more in value than I take in compensation, so that I keep clients for the long term.
What’s the ROI?
Most of my clients have seen a 50% increase in website traffic in the first 30 days. The average email open rate is 25% and the average LinkedIn publication received over 70 views. But how does that translate to new accounts?
All of my clients have closed at least one new account in the first year we’ve worked together as a result of our marketing efforts. A majority of my clients have closed two or more new accounts in the same term. Let’s assume that the new account is an average 50-year-old couple with investable assets of $500,000. If the advisor charges a 1.00% advisory fee, their annual revenue is $5,000 per new account. The average of two new accounts provides a revenue increase of $10,000. The ROI on their $400 per month marketing investment turns out to be 108%.
But beyond a positive ROI, my clients value the time they get to put back towards serving their clients once their marketing has been delegated. They enjoy being able to focus on their core business while enjoying the benefit of a consistent, professional marketing strategy.
Ready to Get Started?
For more access to our exclusive marketing expertise for Financial Advisors click here to learn more about our Monthly Marketing Package and stay in touch by signing up for my weekly marketing newsletter. If you have any questions about how I can help you boost your online marketing, schedule a phone call with me here!
Claire Akin is a marketing consultant and former Investment Advisor Representative. She helps financial advisors market themselves to prospects using the latest technologies and communication channels. Claire holds her MBA from the Rady School of Management at UC San Diego as well as a BA in Economics from UC Davis. She lives in San Diego with her toxicologist husband (Josh), their dog (Wally), and their two American Paint Horses (Harley and Brandy). She has climbed Mt. Whitney three times and won a blue ribbon at the Del Mar Fair for her “Happy Hiker” trail mix.