Financial advisors know they need marketing in order to successfully sustain and grow their businesses. But why is marketing so often looked at as a “necessary evil” instead of being fundamental to the business like portfolio management, compliance or client services? In too many cases, advisors shy away from marketing or if they do it, sometimes they do it grudgingly! Marketing should be a line item, and should have a plan associated with it, just like any other aspect of the business. In fact, marketing is foundational in many ways to business growth.
What are some keys to success in marketing for all advisors, no matter how small or how large the firm may be?
(1) Write a marketing plan. If a client asked you about a specific investment product, you wouldn’t say if it was right for their portfolio or not until you knew more about their situation, their plan and their objectives. It’s the same with marketing. You won’t know where to spend marketing dollars unless you have a written plan and know what you are trying to accomplish with your marketing activities.
(2) Think strategic first, tactical second. Don’t worry about whether you should do social media or hold a client event before you have established your overall strategic objective. What do you want marketing to do for you? Simply grow your business? Increase market awareness of your firm? Solidify your position as a provider of services to a certain target market? Increase client referrals? First establish your overall goals for marketing, then consider the tactics that are right for you.
(3) Ensure your story is solid. Your marketing “story” – the value proposition or positioning for your firm – underlies all marketing activities. Be sure you have a clear message, clearly differentiated from your competition. Think in terms of platform points – those three or four things that most clearly define what you do well and why they make you different.
(4) Define the target market or markets. Know who your best clients are and why. If you can create a scenario of the type of person, company or family that you serve best, write this down. What needs or problems do you solve? How do you solve them? Why are you a particular fit for this target market? Having a target market makes marketing much easier because you can “talk to” the market using their jargon and terminology.
(5) Before you choose one tactic, look at the overall menu of choices. There are many things an advisor can do – hold client events, update their website, create new marketing materials, write a blog, circulate a newsletter, send handwritten notes, network on LinkedIn, etc. Before you start implementing any one of these, look at the overall spectrum of what you can do. Review the menu of options and determine which ones best support your overall objectives.
In a future blog, we’ll talk about specific marketing tactics. Before you can choose your tactics, be sure you have the written plan, the strategic objectives identified, the story refined, and your target market or markets identified.