Three Elements Financial Advisors Should Consider When Making A Marketing Plan

Christopher P. Wendt, founder of Midstream Marketing has been a thought leader for digital marketing for financial advisors since 2010.

I talk to a lot of financial advisors every week on sales calls, and nine out of 10 times, they list a litany of marketing strategies and programs they tried that did not work. That does not mean those programs or services don’t work in general, but it does mean these advisors probably don’t have a comprehensive marketing plan of action to achieve their business growth goals.

It also means they most likely have approached marketing like a buffet, and they have grazed here and there trying different things that sound or feel “right.” As a result, they have not developed a marketing plan that can get real results.

Admittedly, there are a lot of digital marketing services available to financial advisors, but in my experience, most advisors can’t make heads or tails of them and don’t know what will really make the difference. Today, I am making the case to stop using various programs in isolation and to start considering how they would fit into a solid digital marketing plan.

So, how do you get a custom marketing plan for your firm? As the president of a marketing firm for financial advisors, I’ve found there are a few elements a custom marketing plan should have in order to actually drive growth.

Keep it simple.

First, a successful marketing plan should be a simple one. It must be so simple that the action items and their deadlines are truly actionable and realistic. Then, break your marketing plan into quarters for the year, and assign those action items to each quarter. List the people responsible for executing those items next to each one.

Set goals, and determine what’s needed to achieve them.

Second, a marketing plan should list the goals your advisory firm wants to achieve during the year. These goals should be the result of internal discussions in the firm and any discussions you might have had with your marketing consultant. Your consultant can tell you what is likely to work well in the financial advisor space. If you aren’t working with a consultant, however, you would need to find benchmark marketing data for each tactic you’re considering.

For example, let’s say you want to add five million to 10 million assets under management for the coming year. To do this, you could focus on a tactic like webinars and conduct some research on your own for getting started. For instance, you could listen to podcasts where marketers or advisors share their expert tips, outline costs of advertising, conversion rates and things of that nature. Then, you need to look at boots-on-the-ground marketing data to make your goals a reality.

Let’s walk through a tactical calculation using webinars as an example. If your goal is to add five million in AUM through digital marketing, you would need to first look at what your average client portfolio size is. For the purposes of this example, we’ll say it is one million. To get five new clients this year from webinars, how many booked appointments would you need? If your closing ratio is around 33%, you may need about 15 booked appointments. From there, you need to know how much you should invest in ads to get enough people to attend your webinars and book those 15 appointments. This depends on a lot of factors, including how many webinars you plan to hold, how good your social media ad management is, how often you follow up with prospects to get them to attend the webinar, etc. There is a predictable pattern to all of these factors that you can pull from various resources or, again, your marketing consultant.

If you do choose to hire a marketing agency to help with this, there are a few questions you should ask: Do you specialize in or have experience with serving financial advisors? What digital marketing techniques seem to be getting your clients more AUM? In other words, what is working? Can you show me some examples? What is the typical cost for client acquisition? How long will it take before we will see some results? Questions like these help you see if they will be a good fit for your firm and will be able to help you achieve your goals.

Align your plan with your business model.

While your marketing plan should use tactics that get results, remember that your plan should still align with your business model and preferences. For example, you might hate webinars altogether and want to avoid them for various reasons; maybe you want to have quality time with the family or you hate technology and don’t want your microphone or webcam to fail, for instance. That’s totally fine. But what does your digital marketing plan look like then? Consider some of the other tactics you can try to help you get that five million in AUM growth. To help with this, you can use a comprehensive visual my team calls the “multichannel marketing platform” as a jumping-off point. It’s not perfect but offers a good glimpse of what you should be thinking about.

Armed with this knowledge, you can start to evaluate different digital agencies to see if they can get you a custom plan for your firm, or you can roll one out yourself so you can get the growth you deserve.

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