Simple or complex?
I can’t think of many scenarios where I’d opt for a complex option over a simple one. And I think this applies perfectly to how financial advisors should approach marketing strategy.
We find ourselves in one of the least simple times in history. The pandemic has delivered unprecedented challenges, from the cessation of traditional in-person meetings to a surge in do-it-yourselfer investors with an “Us vs. Wall Street” mentality.
But there is one, simple takeaway from the last year. Advisors have been faced with the need to re-envision their growth strategies. And more times than not that’s meant the adoption of a more marketing-centric model.
Seeing this trend (which I’m thrilled about as a person with a passion for marketing and financial advice), I want to provide tips on how to use SIMPLE marketing strategies to grow your advisory business.
The Key to Marketing Success is all About Mindset – Avoiding Three Fallacies
Successful marketing is all about mindset, and there are three widespread fallacies that can get in the way of your results.
Fallacy One – Equating marketing to advertising. Too often I see marketing used as a synonym for advertising. That’s like using financial advice as a synonym for stock picking. That may be a piece of the puzzle, but there’s a much bigger picture!
Fallacy Two – Believing that the most effective marketing tactics are complex and expensive. While robust marketing programs do exist (and can deliver great results), great marketing is often super simple.
Fallacy Three – Marketing must replace traditional sales strategies. That’s simply not true. Marketing, particularly in our industry, should be a support agent to sales / product specialists (I say this humbly, as a marketer).
The Productive Marketing Mindset
As I just mentioned, marketing should enhance sales, not replace it. A great way to think about this dynamic is in time frames. In general, marketing supports long-term growth while sales supports immediate growth.
How does that work? I’m glad you asked!
In its simplest form, marketing is communicating your value to a specific audience that could benefit from your services. That can take many shapes and forms, but I think it’s important to distill marketing down to frame your strategy.
It’s not about securing a transaction. Rather, good marketing should provide value to your target audience (via education and insight), help you build relationships with people that might not be ready to purchase your products/services (again, through education and insight), and help people clearly understand the values around which your business is built.
Simple Ways to Kickstart Your Marketing Efforts and Grow Your Advisory Business
Alright enough philosophy! How can you implement simple marketing practices in your business that will lead to growth? Here are a few starting points I’d recommend to most financial advisors:
1) Define Your Story
This sounds a bit soft, but it’s really important. Your story is your brand. And your brand is the perception investors conjure when they think of your business. This is where differentiation is born.
To make this really simple, I’ll link the word document I like to use when defining a brand. Click here to download it. This doesn’t have to be the end-all-be-all of your brand, but it should help guide you along the way.
The key to success here is to be honest. If there’s one thing we know about consumers, it’s that they can smell BS from a mile away. When defining your tone, think about YOUR tone. How do you speak to people? Embrace it. When outlining the values you want to emphasize in your communications, ensure they match up with the real-world client experience. Doing these things will create more authentic marketing, which not only resonates better with clients, but also creates more sustainable business growth (just like investing, aligning expectations with reality is crucial). This is also how you can effectively look and feel different from the advisor down the street, and it serves as a guiding light for your marketing activity.
2) Make Your Story Accessible
Once you have your value proposition outlined, make it easy to find and understand. First and foremost, I advocate looking at your website presence.
Your website is critical for a couple of reasons. First, it’s where a lot of people will validate the legitimacy of your business. We live in a digital first world, and if you’re website looks like it saw the Dot Com Bubble investors are going to draw associations between the quality of your website and the quality of your services (as unfair as that may be).
Additionally, your website is where people can educate themselves on the services you offer. Here’s my shortlist for a good website:
- Quickly and clearly communicate what you do, and why you do it. Too often I see websites that have an ambiguous headline and vague copy that leaves me wondering, “what do you do?”. Answer that question immediately to validate that your website visitors have come to the right place.
- Comprehensively overview your service set. Odds are visitors to your website have a goal to accomplish or challenge to solve. That’s why I advocate thinking backward when crafting your messaging. Think about your clients’ challenges and goals, and work backward to draw associations with your services. For example, if you offer financial planning, the target audience for that service isn’t seeking a plan. They are seeking peace of mind and greater assurance that they’ll realize their goals.
- Ensure your website design is relatively attractive, compatible across device types, and fast. With modern website templates available through services such as WordPress, Wix, and countless other platforms, implementing a well-designed and well-performing website shouldn’t be too difficult for an in-house marketing specialist. If you don’t have the internal resources there are a number of outsourcing opportunities available today as well.
- Bonus: Use specific language to associate yourself with the area in which you serve. Do a simple test. Google “Financial Advisor in [Insert Your City / Area]. Are you one of the top results? Are any real advisors? This alone is a huge opportunity.
3) Distribute Your Story
Your website the foundation of your marketing strategy, but how do you get people there? And how do you fill your sales funnel with quality prospects that you may not have met in person?
The short answer is: CREATE CONTENT!
Content marketing isn’t a new idea, but often it’s approached with hesitation. That’s because people tend to over-engineer and over-scrutinize their content. You have a unique perspective on the markets. You have real-world experience guiding clients through their financial journey. You have a deep knowledge of the financial system that many don’t. All you have to do is spread the message.
The key to success with content marketing is twofold. First (I’m a broken record on this) start with your clients. What are their goals, fears, interests, and challenges? Start there and use your unique skillset to provide value—whether through a blog, a simple video recording, or a podcast. The media is less important than the message. And the message should be relevant to your clients’ interest, not necessarily your product.
Second, continually reference your brand positioning document. If your content supports your value proposition, you’re doing it right.
Post that content on your website, distribute it through social media (where are your clients? Are they on LinkedIn? Facebook? Twitter? That’s where you need to be). Remember that this is a long-term strategy, and won’t boost your sales figures overnight. But with consistent, authentic, and valuable content you can build a strong reputation, quality relationships, and a sustainable growth funnel for your business.
Keep It Simple
At the end of the day, marketing is simply activity that’s designed to spread awareness of your business to a subset of the population that should be interested in your services. I think the best way to do that is to provide value. And from what I’ve seen, most financial advisors have a ton of value to give—which makes marketing super simple. You just need to build a framework to support the sharing of that information. If you do, I think you’ll enjoy much stronger relationships and a much healthier sales funnel.
The information and opinions in this report have been prepared by the investment staff of Advanced Asset Management Advisors (AAMA). This report is based upon information available to the public. The information herein is believed to be reliable and has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but AAMA makes no representation as to the accuracy or completeness of such information. Opinions, estimates and projections in this report constitute AAMA’s judgment and are subject to change without notice. This report is provided for informational purposes only. It is not to be construed as a recommendation to buy or sell or a solicitation of an offer to buy or sell any financial instruments or to participate in any particular trading strategy in any jurisdiction in which such an offer or solicitation would violate applicable laws or regulations.
Stay Up to Date
Want to stay up to date with fundamentally-driven market insight, economic analysis, and practice management advice?
Sign up to receive regular roundups of our content, delivered conveniently to your inbox.