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Advice for Financial Advisors: Developing a Holistic Marketing Strategy

Independent financial advisors are often confronted with a host of questions as they build their business, such as:

  • Are my clients positioned to weather market volatility?
  • Are there other asset classes I should introduce to my client portfolios?
  • How will the DOL Fiduciary Rule affect my business?

These issues are critical for many advisors and demand time and attention, leaving wealth managers with less time to think about marketing and growing their businesses. In fact, the Investment News 2016 Financial Performance Study found that 54% of firms in the study failed to meet their growth goals. In today’s increasingly competitive landscape, a “set it and forget it” mentality may not produce the desired results when it comes to marketing goals.

Best practice suggests that those firms who take an active management approach across multiple channels will have the best chances of success1. Marketing is an ecosystem where all components perform better in totality than individually1. With that in mind, here are some guidelines to help financial advisors such as yourself to craft a marketing strategy and generate more leads:

Know Yourself

This may sound rudimentary, but when pressed to simply define what differentiates their firm from the competition, many wealth managers struggle to answer which suggests they have not taken the time to properly brand themselves. You should establish a clear value proposition that illustrates why clients should work with you. Perhaps your value proposition lies in specific subject matter expertise such as being an alternative investments specialist or that you focus on entrepreneurial clients. Once you have developed your value proposition, clearly and consistently communicate it across all of your messaging channels, whether that is your website, a press release or business cards.

Know Your Clients

Targeting high net worth clients simply isn’t enough – you should get to know each client in a personal and engaging manner as individuals. Is your client a business owner? Are you helping to preserve generational wealth? Does the client lead a flamboyantly affluent lifestyle or are they more understated? Does your client use a third party to manage introductions? These are the kinds of meaningful details that may be required to develop a successful relationship for the both of you.

You should also consider how you will find new clients, and that starts with understanding which customer segment you wish to serve. Are you targeting self-directed investors who may be working with a wealth manager for the first time, or are you targeting investors at large wire houses to help give them a more personalized experience? To help your prospecting efforts, build an Ideal Client Profile (ICP) – a complete persona of your best client beyond just a net worth number. This will guide you on who to target and help to increase your new client conversion rate.

Comprehensive Website

In today’s competitive landscape, a professional and robust website has become table stakes for any business. Fortunately, with the number of website platforms offering templated design and drag and drop editing, this has never been easier to achieve. A website should be comprehensive and designed to drive viewers deeper into information-rich internal pages rather than relying on a spartan home page with the bare essentials. A comprehensive website can afford you the opportunity to clearly communicate your mission statement and value proposition, define your services, and provide a forum for content and thought leadership. Most importantly, it serves as your “home base” to drive new prospects to in order to help build your credibility as well as serving as a mechanism to capture new prospect information.

Content is King

Engaging content can be used effectively to build brand awareness, strengthen loyalty and bolster client relationships. According to the Content Marketing Institute, 86% of brands outside of financial services are already employing a content marketing strategy, while 88% of financial services brands surveyed say that content marketing will become more important over the next 12 months. While the financial services industry has lagged behind in the content arena, even private equity firms are recognizing the importance of content marketing in their marketing strategy and ramping up their efforts, as reported by FUNDfire. Simply producing content is not enough, however. Firms should connect and build trust with prospects and clients. It can be helpful to concentrate on supporting the entire client journey with a range of content from educational material to added value content, rather than just sales oriented content. In a study conducted by The Financial Services Forum, only 13% of respondents specifically focus their content on sales while 71% focus on brand awareness and thought leadership.2 Remember, content can take different forms: blog posts, white papers, ebooks, podcasts, and video.

It’s Good to Be Social

Social media is another emerging channel in the wealth management industry. While Snapchat and Instagram may not prove to be valuable channels for your business, LinkedIn and Twitter can provide a platform to amplify your content and establish you and your firm as a thought leader. LinkedIn offers a range of free and paid services to help you reach your prospect generation goals. Posting content via LinkedIn Pulse can broaden the reach of your content beyond your current network. For a fee, you can directly target prospects that look exactly like your ICP. As with all forms of marketing, please remember to adhere to the regulatory and compliance guidelines appropriate to your business; the real time interaction that occurs on social media can sometimes make that easy to forget.

Events

Events can be a very effective way to network and initiate face to face conversations with potential prospects. It may not be necessary for your firm to go through the time and expense of hosting your own event, but you should be aware of relevant industry events and plan to attend and perhaps even be a featured speaker. Providing your expertise in a speaking engagement can help to solidify your thought leadership in the field. Always plan each event and have well-defined goals and strategies in place to make the most of each event and to facilitate calculating a return on your investment.

Referrals

While referrals are no longer the primary driver of AUM for wealth managers3 they can still have their place within a marketing strategy if applied with an innovative twist. Many high net worth individuals utilize a third-party professional, such as an attorney or CPA, to facilitate professional introductions. Forming a strategic partnership with other professionals in your area to recommend your services has proven to be effective; for example, if your ICP includes business owners, partnering with a CPA may be a beneficial relationship. It may take time to build the trust and credibility to secure these partnerships; speaking at industry events, maintaining a social presence and fostering your thought leadership through content will all aid in the process.

The Last Mile

Once you have begun to execute your marketing strategy, don’t forget to track and measure your success. 62% of firms studied do not track the leads they generate. They do not know how many leads they had last year, nor from where those leads came from.3 This lack of awareness results in a huge missed opportunity for any firm, and so you should have an inbound lead process with corresponding metrics established before you begin to implement your strategy. Many firms designate 1 person to qualify inbound leads; once qualified, a new lead can be forwarded to the appropriate wealth manager for follow up or nurtured with additional content. Qualified leads convert to new clients, and every advisor wants the opportunity to serve new clients.

 

1 Armstrong, Gary; Kotler, Philip, Principles of Marketing, 2016

2Financial Services Forum & Dianomi, The Financial Content Marketing Report, 2015

3Investment News, 2016 Financial Performance Study, September 2016