Do you have all the clients you need… and never want any more? If so, then don’t waste your time reading this article. However, if you are continually growing your financial advisory practice, and realize there is a need to consistently “replenish” your client base, then you probably understand the importance of marketing.
While many financial advisors acknowledge the need for an effective marketing plan, few actually know how to create and implement one. To begin, we suggest you ask yourself two important questions:
- How much money can I afford to spend on marketing?
- What is my target market?
Marketing comes in all shapes and sizes … or should we say “all prices and demographics.” For example, if you have a little or no budget, you can try and get “free” PR exposure from your local media. However, if you have a larger budget, you can purchase ad space in your local newspapers, or air time on the radio. Remember, the more you can do yourself, without hiring an outside marketing/PR firm, the lower your cost.
Before you start to spend your marketing money, it’s extremely important to identify how to get the most “bang for your buck.” Who are you trying to reach? Is your target market the affluent investor, small business owner, or retirees? By identifying the audience you want to reach, you will better be able to spend your dollars on marketing efforts that will actually reach your desired audience.
Now that you’ve decided how much you can spend and who you would like to reach, let’s talk about the various types of marketing and the benefits (or non-benefits) of each:
Direct Mail Campaign: Most of us associate “junk” mail with marketing. After all, during the year we recieve hundreds of advertising pieces from various companies, i.e. postcards, letters, flyers, etc.
So, how effective is direct mail? Do people throw it into the trashcan without even looking at it? The answer to both questions is yes. Many direct mail pieces will never be looked at; however, to better ensure your marketing piece is going to be read, you should:
1) Personalize your mailing. Postcards are more cost effective, and they don’t have to be opened. Make sure your cards are colorful and cleanly designed—don’t clutter them with too much information that no one will read it.
If you have more information than can be included on a postcard, then a letter might be better. Remember, the more personalized your mailing looks, the more likely it is that your prospect will open it and read it. Hire someone to handwrite the labels, and adhere 1st class stamps, rather than using a postage meter.
2) Develop your identity. Make sure that each mailing you send out will leverage your company’s logo or branding. After all, it is important for clients and prospects to easily identify you with your message.
3) Multiple Mailings. While you may get a certain percentage of recipients who will respond to the first mailing. Many won’t until they receive two or more pieces. Therefore, to gain the most benefit from your direct mail campaign, you should plan on doing two to three repeat mailings for each promotion.
The response rate of a mail campaigns often is only 3% to 4%. To increase the effectiveness of yours, think creatively.
Email Campaign: The Internet has become the marketing choice for many businesses. The reason is, it’s inexpensive and it reaches a vast number of people. However, keep in mind that you are only trying to reach your target market and, probably, they will reside in a certain geographic area. Therefore, make sure your email list fits that criteria. Also, as with a direct mail campaign, email boxes are overloaded with “junk” mail. To avoid being trashed, you should:
1) Pay special attention to the “subject” line. This is the first think the recipient will read, and will determine whether or not they open your mail. Make it intriguing, without asking for a commitment from the reader (example: “Shop for Insurance,” “Buy XYZ Mutual Fund.”
2) Create a short, powerful message. To make the recipient want to read the email, provide key information at the top of your email that will make them want to scroll down to learn more. Make it uncluttered, with lots of white space.
3) Include a “call to action” link. This is how you will know whether your email message has been successful. Perhaps the link can be for a free a newsletter subscription, article, or consultation.
Radio and Television: Radio and TV are heard and watched by almost everyone. CRN International reports that 94% of consumers are tuned in every week, at one time or another. Most stations can provide demographics of their listening/viewing audience. You’ll find that radio time is fairly inexpensive, compared to television, However, local stations often invite guests to participate on talk shows or to even host a show at no cost. If an opportunity avails itself, make sure you:
1) Prepare, prepare, prepare. Remember, once spoken your words cannot be taken back. Don’t provide investment advice on the air. More appropriate are topics on industry trends, or issues faced by retirees, investors, etc.
2) Include a “call to action” in your broadcast. Offer listeners/viewers as free book, booklet, or free consultation and make sure you include a phone number.
Display Advertising: Newspapers, magazines are filled with advertisements. You’ll also find print advertisements in playbills at your local theatre, newsletters, coupon books, and phone directories. Again, make sure your brand or logo are placed where they are easily viewed. Also, to make sure your advertising dollars are well spent, pay particular attention to the following:
1) Is your copy persuasive? Whether you are trying to educate, sell your service, or entertain, you should always include a “call to action.”
2) Location, location, location. Make sure you check out the demographics of the medium you will be using. Will it reach your target market?
3) Does your ad reflect who you are? If you are advertising, you are selling or promoting “something.” But usually that “something” comes back to being you and your firm. Make sure the advertisement appropriately promotes you as an outstanding professional from a high-quality firm.
Media Advertising: Radio and television stations blare them out to listeners/viewers. They are the lifeblood of the media world. However, it is often difficult for the advertisers to gauge the successfulness of their media advertising campaign. To ensure your advertising dollars are well spent, you should:
1) Make sure your branding or logo stands out and is easy to identify.
2) Provide a message that your audience will prompt your audience to respond; i.e. solves a problem, promotes education, provides benefits.
3) Always include contact information.
PR (Public Relations): The good thing about PR is that it is free. However, to implement an effective PR campaign, it’s vital you put the time and effort into doing it right. For example, you should:
1) Develop a media mailing list that will reach your target market
2) Send a media kit the provides information about you and your firm
3) Write press releases that intrigue and will be of interest to them
4) Develop relationships with your contacts to encourage them to use you as a quotable resource, or to write article for them.
Learn more about how to do PR in our new book PR Savvy for the Financial Professional.
Seminars: Many successful financial advisors have built their businesses by giving seminars. Seminars fall into two distinct categories: 1) educational events, and 2) client appreciation events. Both can be extremely effective depending on how well you promote, prepare for, and implement them.
1) Educational Events:
a. Make sure the speaker is well prepared and can effectively deliver the promised information to attendees.
b. Mail out invitations to clients and prospects, and make sure a follow-up call is made to personally invite them to attend.
c. Encourage them to invite a friend, relative or business associate.
d. Offer refreshments. While dinners are nice, many advisors have found that attendees are there only for the dinner and not for the information.
e. Ask attendees to fill out an evaluation so you can better gauge the success of your event.
f. Offer to schedule a free consultation with attendees. Do follow-up calls with those that don’t schedule at the event.
2) Client Appreciation Events:
a. No selling! These events should be enjoyable for everyone… even you. There should be no “talking shop.” If a client asks you about one of their investments, tell them you will be happy to set up a time to meet with them next week.
b. Be creative. Some advisors do annual or bi-annual events. A few ideas include: outdoor picnic/concert at a private spot; tickets to a sports event with hotdogs and drink included; dinner at an upscale restaurant.
c. Remember to invite one or two members of the media to each of your events. It will serve to develop those relationship as well.
As you can see, there are numerous ways you can market you and your services to your target market. Once you identify what you think will, or has worked for you, create a marketing calendar to make sure your message is reaching out to clients throughout the year. As each segment of your campaign is implemented, it’s important to keep track of expenses, and to gauge the success of each. Armed with this information, at the end of the year you will better able to develop your next year’s plan.