Financial advisors provide a much-needed service. Everyone needs guidance on how to build and manage their wealth-only it’s not easy to find that guidance.
Financial advisors can’t just rely on the fact that many investors need their expert advice; they need to get the word out that they have the answers investors are looking for. Unfortunately, most financial advisors have been trained on how to provide financial services, not on how to market financial services.
In this guide, we’ll provide crucial information to help advisors get the word out about their services. We’ll cover the why behind marketing, the common challenges advisors face, prevalent myths about marketing, how to get started, key strategies to consider, and more. Let’s dive in.
Why Is Financial Advisor Marketing important?
Research shows that more than three quarters of financial advisors have no defined marketing strategy.
There are a lot of potential reasons behind that figure. Some advisors might not have the time, while others might not see the point of marketing. For advisors that fall in the latter category, there are some important points they should keep in mind.
First, it’s important to remember that while marketing isn’t necessarily an essential aspect of being a financial advisor, it is an essential aspect of being a business owner. Solo advisors, RIAs, and other financial advisors that run their own practice are business owners, whether they want to be or not. And with that categorization comes a host of responsibilities, requiring skills that may not fall within a financial advisor’s traditional sphere.
Second, marketing is essential if you want to grow your financial advisory business. Just consider the fact that when financial advisors gain additional capital from business growth, two thirds report that they intend to re-invest that capital into marketing efforts. Successful advisors recognize that at least part of their success is due to marketing; they choose to double down on marketing to achieve future growth.
Third, marketing makes your financial advisory practice more valuable. If part of your goals for your practice include eventually selling it to another entity and retiring, then a robust and well-structured marketing operation is essential to maximizing the value of your business. Potential buyers want to know that they are purchasing something capable of future growth. Unfortunately, a truly valuable marketing operation takes time to build, so it’s essential that advisors get started early-even if their exit date is far off in the future.
What Are the Biggest Challenges Associated with Financial Advisor Marketing?
While some advisors may not realize the benefits of marketing, others might feel highly motivated to start attracting new clients to their practice. Too frequently, these advisors find that they’ve bitten off more than they can chew-they weren’t prepared for the sorts of challenges that a marketing campaign can pose to a financial advisor. Here’s what a financial advisor trying their hand at marketing for the first time can expect to run into.
1. Feeling Like It’s All Work and No Play
- Why It Happens: If financial advisors generally liked marketing and were curious about it, then they would have become marketers. Advisors may find that successful marketing takes a very different approach and skill set when compared to financial advising.
- How to Overcome It: Advisors either need to find a way to enjoy marketing, or buckle down and get through it, all while cultivating knowledge in the strategies and perspectives that capable marketers cultivate. (While we can’t make you enjoy marketing, we can certainly help you learn the right strategies and perspectives. Just keep reading this guide!)
2. Struggling to Translate Goals into Actions
- Why It Happens: You might know that you want to grow AUM. Maybe you’ve gotten even more specific than that and know that you want to drive referrals, grow your client base, and gain more AUM as a result. But what’s the best way to do that? You could do anything-but what’s the perfect strategy for your given goal?
- How to Overcome It: As before, the only way to mitigate this challenge is to educate yourself on the various marketing strategies that are available to you. Alternatively, you can hire a professional marketer or outsource to a third party.
3. Struggling to Translate Actions into Goals
- Why It Happens: Where some advisors know what they want but not how to get it, others become hyper-focused on some trendy marketing tactic and fail to justify its execution. You might want to start a podcast, for instance, or begin blogging. But why? What are the precise steps you’ll take to translate that into your business goals?
- How to Overcome It: Here’s where a robust business and marketing plan comes into play. Some advisors get so excited about getting started that they don’t adequately plan out the metrics they’ll track, the follow-up actions they’ll take, and the outcomes they want to achieve. Fortunately, as a financial advisor, planning is very much a skill in your wheelhouse. We’ll go into more detail about how to leverage that skill later in the article.
4. Failing to Find the Time
- Why It Happens: You have a lot of responsibilities. Your clients take priority, of course, so you need to spend your time focusing on their needs, financial plans, investment portfolios, and more. But you also have to run your business. Part of why you’re reading this article at all is to find a way to meet your business responsibilities without adding another 10 or 20 hours to your work week.
- How to Overcome It: There are as many ways to get more time in your day as there are tasks that take away time. For one, learning how to efficiently perform tasks that you haven’t been trained on before (like marketing) will help you cut down on wasted time spent researching, tinkering, and seeking assistance. And as a business owner, it’s important to remember that part of your responsibilities include effective delegation as well. You don’t have to do everything. As an example, research shows that advisors who outsource investment management save 8 hours a week, with 80 percent of advisors reporting that outsourcing enabled them to build stronger client relationships.
5. Failing to Follow Up and Follow Through
- Why It Happens: Often, advisors run into this challenge when they don’t have a plan in place. Sometimes, advisors will execute a given marketing activity and then do… nothing. They’ll assume that the webinar they hosted, the blog they wrote, or the emails they sent out are the end-all of marketing.
- How to Overcome It: In reality, financial advisor marketing is so much more than a single activity. Advisors need to ask themselves what they intend to do with the emails they collect from their webinar registrants, who they want to read their blog post, or what desired action they want to elicit from their email recipients. What’s more, they need to determine how they’ll measure all of this, and what constitutes success.
The Fundamentals of a Financial Advisor Marketing Plan
Simply put, advisors should start with a marketing plan-or rather, a business plan that comprises a marketing plan.
Most of the challenges we described above (such as struggling to translate goals into actions or vice versa) result due to a lack of initial planning. We go into detail about what makes for a good business plan in our blog post, Gaining an Edge: 5 Key Elements to a Financial Advisor’s Business Plan, but broadly, you’ll want to build a plan that captures these elements:
- Your Vision: What’s your desired end state? This doesn’t have to be precise. For many advisors, their future vision might simply be one where their practice has a greater AUM in five years.
- Your Objectives and Goals: Here you’ll take your vision and break it down into more specific pieces, such as attracting five new clients a year from now, 10 in the next year, and so on.
- A Lead Generation Plan: This is where your marketing plan comes in. Now that you know what your target objectives are, define the activities you’ll use to achieve them. This could be, for instance, advertising upcoming webinars on LinkedIn, gathering email addresses from attendees, and then sending those attendees educational marketing emails every month or so to keep your practice top of mind.
- Scheduled Reviews: Every month or quarter, take a look at your plan. Now that you’re executing on it, has anything changed in light of your experiences thus far?
- Defined Metrics: Record what metrics you’ll use to measure success. This could be AUM, of course, or the number of new clients you’ve onboarded. But it could also be things like new email addresses from prospects, more traffic to your website, and so on.
To put it all together, let’s consider a hypothetical.
Your vision is a more lucrative practice with more AUM in the next 10 years. Because your clientbase is predominantly elderly, you decide that the best approach to growing AUM is by focusing on generational wealth. Thus, your objective is to convince more of your clients’ family members to become clients themselves.
What’s the best way to get in front of your clients’ family members? As your plan of action, you decide that you’re going to host family events. Remember, the goal is to get younger members of your clients’ family, so an overly formal event probably won’t be too attractive. Maybe you decide to host quarterly events for your longest standing clients, such as a beer tasting at your local brewery during the summer, free family photos around the holidays, and so on.
Every first quarter, your scheduled review will involve looking back on the past year and assessing how effective you were. You’ll be able to tell because you’ll have defined metrics to help you measure success, such as the number of event attendees, client family members who have become clients themselves, the number of new names and faces you’ve met, and so on.
Of course, you don’t have to host events, and you don’t have to focus on your clients’ family members. You could focus on attracting net new prospects by regularly blogging, or redesigning your website to increase the odds that anybody stumbling across it will become a client. You could (and should) include multiple fronts in your marketing strategy-maybe you redesign your website for an updated look and feel, so your clients’ younger family members feel that you’re a modern kind of financial advisor.
There are any number of strategies you can deploy in your marketing activities. Let’s explore a few of them.
Financial Advisor Marketing Strategies
If you’ve decided to build out your marketing plan, it can be tough to know exactly what to plan for-especially if you’re new to marketing as a financial advisor. We can talk through some of the activities you can put into place as part of your overall marketing plan.
Note that there is some overlap within these activities. Additionally, we recommend implementing more than one. An email marketing strategy, for instance, won’t have much substance to it unless accompanied by content marketing.
And lastly, this is by no means an exhaustive list. There are as many different marketing strategies as there are different financial practices. This list should, however, enable you to become familiar with some of the general practices and approaches to financial advisor marketing strategies.
Any modern business, including financial advisory practices, needs to prioritize digital marketing.
Simply put, digital marketing for financial advisors is the promotion of your brand and practice across digital channels. The most noteworthy and important example of this is your website.
“Design is the silent ambassador of your brand.” – Paul Rand
No matter what, your website needs to look and feel modern, be accessible on mobile, and be well designed. Even if you and your clients value in-person interaction, the first place that any prospective customer will evaluate your practice is through your website. Just consider these statistics:
- It takes a first-time visitor just 50 milliseconds to decide whether they like your website or not and whether to stay or leave.
- Fifty-seven percent of website visitors won’t recommend a business if its website is poorly designed.
- Roughly 39 percent of prospects judge a business based on its website design.
Most of the other strategies, tactics, and ideas listed here fall under the umbrella of digital marketing. None of them, however, will be as impactful as they can be if your website makes a poor impression.
Financial advising is a great fit for content marketing. The knowledge required to achieve financial wellbeing is something that everybody needs, but few possess. As a financial advisor, you have a considerable amount of information to share with the world. By creating content that educates and demonstrates your own expertise, you’ll attract individuals most in need of answers and-by extension-your services.
Roughly half of all investors are interested in learning more about investing. If you create content that provides that education, you’ll have created a magnet that brings in leads through search engines, a resource to send out to your email contacts, relevant collateral to show potential clients as they evaluate you, and so much more.
What form should this content take? Types of content vary, but plenty of advisors find success with blogging. Others prefer podcasts, or participating in web seminars or virtual summits. Still others create videos to host on Youtube. Others deploy a mix of all of these mediums. The important thing is to create something that educates, promotes your brand, and is highly shareable and discoverable.
Premium Content: Trading Value for New Leads
As we will explore below, email marketing is still an effective strategy for advisor marketing. But what happens when your list inevitably shrinks with each send? You have to have a strategy for bringing in fresh subscribers.
- White papers
You don’t have to reinvent the wheel; you can repurpose content from old blogs or webinars and craft them into a downloadable asset, such as a pdf.
Whatever you do here, the key is to “gate” your premium content by asking for a contact (email address) in exchange.
Tell Us What You Know, and Get Found With SEO
The best part of content marketing is that it is one of the most effective strategies for SEO (search engine optimization). SEO can sound scary to some, but really it just boils down to getting found on search engines like Google or Bing. Your helpful and authentic content, if done on a regular basis, can do just that.
The takeaway? With content marketing, you can be yourself and share your knowledge, all while:
- Building trust
- Educating potential clients
- Bringing in new leads
- Prospecting to ideal clients
- Ranking higher on search engines (and getting found easier)
Now that you have this content, what do you do with it? If it’s genuinely helpful, you’ll want to share it.
You can drive traffic to your new content, and give your target audience a reason to keep you top-of-mind with email marketing and paid advertising.
“Email marketing” might conjure the image on inboxes filled to the brim with hyperbolic, hokey spam messages, but the reality is very different.
For one, you probably conflate email marketing with spam because spam sticks out. If a business sends you a genuinely useful and relevant email, you might follow a link to their website, consider the service, and forget all about the email. If a fishy website you’ve never heard of sends you an email with an all-caps subject line, you’ll likely feel annoyed that it got past your spam filter and flag it as an unwanted presence in your inbox.
“For every dollar spent on email marketing campaigns, businesses earn another $42 backon average.”
When performed in a respectful and professional manner, email marketing is actually one of the most effective marketing tools available to you. In fact, for every dollar spent on email marketing campaigns, businesses earn another $42 back on average.
“How Often Should I Email?”
When it comes to email marketing, do not leave it to chance. Successful email marketing programs create an editorial calendar, and stick to it.
Whether it’s once a month or once a week, we can’t really answer the question of what is best for you, but we do know that consistency is key.
In order to email on a consistent basis, you will need a “reason to approach” your subscribers, aka: content. This will keep you on your toes to make sure you are always proactively creating value and getting in front of your current and prospective clients.
“What could be included in an editorial calendar?”
To keep things fresh, you can mix and match your reasons to approach.
- News – Current events and updates on your practice
- Upcoming Events – Drive turnout and raise awareness
- Education – Insert your premium content, videos, and blogs here.
- Entertainment – Not every aspect of the email has to be dry or academic. If it fits your personality, feel free to include a comic or inspiring quote.
- Share-of-Wallet / Expansion Opportunities – If you’re wondering where revenue comes into play, this is it. Email is the ideal place to showcase the breadth of your offerings to remind clients of your value-add.
- Calls-To-Action – It’s crucial to tell your email readers what you’d like them to do; if you don’t ask, you can be sure that they won’t do it.
One of the most surefire ways to get clients as a financial advisor is through relationship marketing.
Rather than focus on completely cold prospects who have never heard of your practice before, relationship marketing focuses on generating referrals from your clients and your network.
Every advisor understands that satisfied clients are more likely to recommend their services to a friend. But fewer advisors understand that building relationships with centers of influence in your clients’ networks can yield referrals as well. When we talk about centers of influence, we’re talking about people like attorneys, CPAs, small business owners, or any professional who might drop your name when one of their clients mentions their financial situation.
In PPC, or pay-per-click, you pay a certain fee every time an internet user clicks on your ad. You can host ads on search engines like Google or social media sites like LinkedIn.
Similar to email marketing, you might think that paid advertisements are just an annoyance-something that can’t really generate results. In reality, setting up a PPC campaign is a great way to attract cold leads to your website. The important thing to remember is that advertisements don’t have to be intrusive and annoying. If you, for example, write a compelling eBook with vital investing information and then advertise free access to that eBook via Google, LinkedIn, or other platforms, people will click.
They’ll be happy to provide you with their contact information, browse other resources on your site, or sign up with you on the spot. The end result is that more people will be aware of your brand after a PPC campaign than before.
The Right Knowledge and Tools Are Essential to Success
Reading through this article has probably already sparked a lot of ideas about the kind of marketing strategy you want to implement at your practice. Now, it’s just a matter of formalizing and executing that strategy.
Only it’s not as simple as that. The content we’ve covered here is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to financial advisor marketing. To actually identify the right approach for your practice and the tools you’ll need to carry it out, you can work with marketing professionals that have worked with financial advisory practices before. That way, you don’t have to worry about neglecting your current clients when you try to attract new ones.
AssetMark can offer two powerful services to financial advisors investigating how best to implement a marketing strategy at their practice: 1) Dedicated business consultants and 2) our Marketing Advantage platform.
When you work with AssetMark gain access to a dedicated business consultant team focused on understanding the unique nature of your practice. Your business consulting team will assess your practice, identify the areas where the biggest impact can be made, define goals, support your marketing plan, and clarify the exact steps that need to be taken along the way. This way, you’ll never find yourself floundering for the next step to take; we’ll walk you through a successful marketing strategy from end to end.
When it comes to the actual execution, advisors working with AssetMark gain access to our Marketing Advantage platform for free. Marketing Advantage provides advisors with:
- White-label content designed for financial advisors to use in their campaigns-this way, you can focus on your clients rather than slave away designing infographics or writing blogs.
- Email tools to manage your email marketing strategy.
- Social media management to schedule ready-made or custom posts.
- Event tools that enable you to create customized landing pages, capture online RSVPs, and promotions in email, social media, and print.
- Personalized greeting cards to help you stay in touch with your clients.
- And so much more.
There are a lot of ways that we can manage your financial advisor marketing strategy. If you’d like to learn more, we recommend exploring our page on Marketing Advantage. Or, if you’re curious about what our business consultants can do for your practice, why not request a consultation?