You’ve likely heard it before – either from your manager or if you’re the boss after looking hard in the mirror: “you need a plan”.
When the tire hits the pavement, the excuse most bring up regarding a financial advisor-marketing plan is that it’s time consuming, requires consistency and can often be frustrating. We think of cold calling, uncomfortable networking events, or dreaded public speaking. It doesn’t have to be that way.
The key really is to follow some simple steps and try hard not to go too far out of your comfort zone. What do I mean? In reality we all have unique talents and your business should be built around the areas you feel most comfortable with and bring out your best. A colleague once told me after decade of trying to wake with the birds… “I’ve come to realize I’m just not a morning person, simple as that”, so he runs meetings starting later in the day.
How does this relate to marketing your financial services practice? There exists means of marketing today that was never thought of prior to just a few years ago. However, does that mean all of them are going to work for you? Should you run out there and tap into all means of marketing and expect instant success?
The answer in short is NO. Some of us like to sit behind a desk and write rather than talk to anyone. Should this individual be out there creating videos or conducting financial seminars? A better solution likely for this personality type may be to write blogs, spend time with online social networking sites or even [gasp!] make the dreaded cold calls. The individual that loves to get up in front of crowds, see himself on you-tube…it builds confidence and makes him or her feel like everyone sees a celebrity in the field of finance. Without a doubt this person should feel comfortable conducting financial seminars or putting together video blogs or pod casts.
First things first
The steps needed in a solid marketing plan is to begin by avoiding the destructive path of making too many mistakes, such as mentioned in the aforementioned comments regarding your strengths. A successful plan begins by identifying a target market. Who is your defined audience? If you think you can just market to anyone that will talk, you’ve just made your first big mistake. Does the dentist that sells dentures market to teenagers? Define who you wish to become your “A” client first. The financial services practice can be honed down to a narrow market. Could your background be more accustomed to dealing with the blue collar type worker because your family owned a plumbing business? If you want to achieve the maximum results possible, market to who or what you know best.
If you were starting a business from scratch, needed capital in order to get things off the ground, one of the very first items of interest to a lending institution would be a business plan. Should the recipe for success be any different for financial advisor? A marketing plan is also imperative for the advisor to be successful. Saying you’re going to do two seminars in the spring and one in the fall is not a marketing plan. What is the granddaddy of all marketing that attracts more viewers in one day than many sitcoms in a year? The super bowl without a doubt gathers more views and more advertising dollars than most. Do you think they sit on their hands until the playoffs are over? They start likely the day after the previous super bowl game is in the books. A solid marketing plan, one that is consistent, should plan things out at least a year in advance. Get a large wall calendar and begin planning right away. What will make up your best marketing plan?
How will you market?
The avenues of marketing today as mentioned previously are beyond ones imagination and the likely continuation of ideas via the internet remain endless. Don’t forget your personality when choosing these methods and be careful not to fall victim to organizations that promote the “one shoe fits all” -“best thing since power steering” methods. If you choose one of the methods listed below, try to partner it with one or two additional for testing and diversity. Remember, all marketing takes time so don’t give up in just a week or two, give it time to work and you’ll likely be happy with the results…
While they’ve been around for many decades – an aging population and high commission products seemed to be the two ingredients necessary to blow up the seminar circuit in the 90’s. Senior lunch or dinner seminars began to emerge as a way to sell these products and generate large commissions, which virtually every annuity marketing organization has exploited to this day. About the only frontier that hasn’t been completely saturated from a seminar standpoint – is seminars from fee only advisors.
Seminars are a great way to market and build a financial services practice if done correctly and with no hidden agenda. To gather assets under management for instance, it would be unproductive to discuss insurance type products. When conducting seminars for you financial services practice, have specific topics in mind to benefit the audience as if you were instructing them with no potential monetary benefit in mind. If you plan on doing a seminar for the first time, keep in mind that you don’t want to throw it together last minute. There are many details involved in conducting seminars for the optimum result. Important items of interest include the location, the list of who to invite, the topic and just how to convert the attendees to potential clients.
Posting a blog can drive clients and potential clients to your website easier than almost any other form of marketing. Consistency and fluency are main components to a successful blog campaign. The Internet is full of material to use in the financial services industry, however be sure the content on your blog is original and not just copy and paste content. That could not only be illegal, but also a sure way to turn off search engines and potential readers. Blogging tools that enable you to write such as WordPress make it easy to a add custom look as well as useful advisor related features, such as a stock ticker or automatically updating financial news headlines. Keep your compliance in mind and remember a lot of folks could see your writing – so try to be at least a halfway decent writer and get a proofreader for grammar, syntax, etc.
Podcasts and Webinars
Like the blogs this method of marketing does not require the advisor to be confident in front of a crowd. If you’re the type that finds it difficult to find the right words or you break the flow of speaking with a lot of word whiskers than this might be the perfect avenue for you. Gather the notes you will use for the presentation, find the right website and away you go. The really nice part of this form of marketing is once you schedule them on your calendar you’re able to do them at any time that’s convenient for you, rather than having to worry about getting to a specific location for an event.
In addition to podcasts and webinars, for the slightly more ambitious advisors – give a radio show a try. I’ve know several advisors that used this form of marketing, and while time consuming it can pay off huge over time while making you an instant star.
Social media has exploded on the internet in recent years. Sites that are devoted to this such as FaceBook, LinkedIn and Twitter have all shown significant ability to build a social network marketing campaign. Once again though, the target market or niche should be carefully thought out to ensure the greatest possibility of success. These sites allow an advisor to join a group or create his or her personal group.
Should you decide to create a group remember to allocate enough time to make your group worth the time and effort for others to want to visit. What’s interesting about some of the networking sites is once you’ve established yourself in a group, emailing the group and inviting them to your group is easy.
Centers of Influence
There are few referrals better than those that come from a CPA or Attorney. These centers of influence carry a lot of weight, especially for high net worth individuals. Most advisors know it can be difficult to develop and nurture a COI marketing strategy, but when it pay off – it pays off big.
Keep in mind there is a time to contact these professionals and a time to let them do their work. Would you contact a CPA from February to April? One such strategy can be nurtured as an example is the 2010 changes to the ROTH IRA. Would it be a possible strategy to do a client appreciation seminar and partnering with a CPA concerning the new tax law change? Always keeping in mind any compliance regulations, the opportunity exists for each of you to invite your top clients and speak briefly about the changes in tax law and the economy. The same could be true of the COI Attorney relationship.
Client Appreciation Events
The only referral that likely trumps a center of influence referral – is a direct referral from a satisfied client. Rather than conducting your client review meeting one on one in person, why not invite your clients to a client appreciation event? If you schedule an event once every 6 months, you’ve not only touched base in person with your clients twice per year, but you’ve allowed free time during the rest of the year for other marketing.
In addition, allow let them know that if they have a friend that qualifies for your services they are welcome to bring them along as a guest. If you’ve ever put on a client seminar than it’s easy to talk in front of a group about the economy, changes in the industry, taxes, income and what the future may look like for the financial markets.
Remember, marketing yourself as a trusted financial advisor is a process that involves time, effort, and consistency. Take the necessary time to do research on your method and begin with a budget that you can afford. In time your efforts should reap a good return on your investment.