Financial Advisor Marketing: A Blueprint for Success

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Financial Advisor Marketing: A Blueprint for Success

This post was authored by Marie Swift and originally appeared here on GuideVine.

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Many financial advisors become so entrenched in daily routines and heavy workloads that they fail to adequately plan for the ongoing success of their business. As the New Year comes into view, smart financial advisors will take a “planning break”. They step back, get away from the office, turn off email, texts and social media for an hour (or two or three or even a day or a weekend), reflect on where they’ve been and where they’re headed, journal a bit, and create or refine their strategic plan for 2015.

Some financial advisors will want to include their management team, a partner, or their assistant in these reflection and planning efforts. They may even include a coach such as Ed Jacobson, Ph.D, who has years of experience working with financial planners and coaching advisors in the “appreciative process”, often asking, “What’s good here, and what do we want more of?” Motivational speaker Brian Tracy may have said it best: “Teamwork is so important that it is virtually impossible for you to reach the heights of your capabilities or make the money that you want without becoming very good at it.”

YOUR LASER-FOCUSED MARKETING PLAN FOR 2015

Loring Ward’s William Chettle, who oversees all the firm’s marketing and communications efforts, often quotes Antoine de Saint-Exupery saying, “A goal without a plan is just a wish.” In the age of robo-advisors and other competitive threats, financial advisors cannot afford to simply “wing it”. There is too much at stake. They must have a clear vision of what they want to do, why they want to do it, whom they best serve and why they are uniquely qualified to serve those select markets.

The most important element of a marketing plan is defining the specific markets to be served and then developing the messages and methodologies to reach those targeted markets. Steve Wershing, the “referral doctor” and author of the industry-specific book for financial advisors, “Stop Asking for Referrals: A Revolutionary New Strategy for Building a Financial Service Business that Sells Itself”, likes to say, ““the biggest mistake advisors make is not having a clearly defined niche or two. Without a clear and specific target market definition and a compelling value proposition, you’ll be diluting your message and wasting your time.”

To create a laser-focused marketing plan, take out a blank notebook or open a new document on your computer. On page one, the table of contents, write down the five essential steps:

  • Step 1: Target Market Definition
  • Step 2: Message Development
  • Step 3: Marketing Methods
  • Step 4: Time and Money Budget
  • Step 5: Timetable and Steps                                   

Now take one of those “planning breaks” (and not just 20-30 minutes) to flesh out each section of the five steps.

  1. Target Market Definition: Who is your ideal client and why? What unique needs and mindsets do they have that no other group has? Where do they congregate, what do they read, whom do they trust? What are their pain points?
  2. Message Development: To what key words and benefit statements will this group of people best respond? Why should they do business with you right now? Why should they trust you? What are your proof points?
  3. Marketing Methods: How will you reach this group or groups? There are a few methods to choose from. Which one resonates with them? Do you have the knowledge to effectively use that method?
  4. Time and Money Budget: How much time will you spend on “free” activities such as serving on boards, networking in the community, writing articles for your blog and/or the local newspaper, then amplifying any “earned” media occurrences through social media channels (where your content is actually “shared” with relevant others)? How much money will you spend on “paid” activities such as advertising, sponsorships, seminars, directory listings, radio shows, and the like? How much will you invest in “owned” channels such as your own website and blog?
  5. Timetable and Steps: Get out a calendar and pencil in key dates and events. Think about the seasons and recurring mindsets that are likely to occur throughout the year—New Year’s resolutions in January, last-minute tax strategies in March, graduations and weddings in May and June, summer vacations and back-to-school in July and August, year-end tax planning in October and November. Work backwards to ensure that key promotional dates and in place.

PLANNING PAYS OFF

Lewis K. Bendele said, “A man without a plan for the day is lost before he starts.” Creating a detailed marketing plan can provide the roadmap financial advisors need to reach their desired destination by helping them:

  • Understand the types of clients they are best suited to serve
  • Define the unique value they bring to these clients relative to their competitors
  • Identify specific barriers they may be facing
  • Identify the most appropriate tactics for their firms
  • Line up the right resources and execute effectively
  • Stop wasting valuable resources via uncoordinated marketing efforts

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