While many financial advisors acknowledge the need for an effective marketing plan, few actually understand fully how to create and implement one. To begin, ask yourself two important questions:
1) How much can I afford to spend on marketing?
2) What is my target market?
Marketing comes in all shapes and sizes… or should we say “all prices and demographics.” For example, if you want to advertise your services, but have 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 airtime on the radio. You can also save on your budget by doing more of the legwork yourself; hiring an independent marketing or PR firm can be costly
Before you start to spend your marketing money, it’s 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 retiree? 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.
Lots to Choose From
Now that you’ve decided how much you can spend and who you would like to reach, let’s look at various marketing methods you might use:
- Personal Marketing Pieces: The first thing you give to a new prospect is your personal marketing brochure. . Make sure your identity (logo or brand) stands out and that your message is strong and not full of industry jargon and buzzwords. This is your chance to differentiate yourself from your competitors.
- Direct Mail: is the Direct Mail Association reports that a 3% to 5% success rate with direct mailings is considered a good response. A creative, colorful and/or personalized piece can improve your response.
- Email Campaign: While obviously less costly than direct mail, the trick is to entice prospects to read your message. Make sure your subject line is intriguing, and that your message is short and to the point. Or try using one of the new HTML emails through services such as IntelliContact.
- Print Advertising: Costs can vary depending on the publication. Check out the demographics of the publication to make sure it will reach your target market. Call and ask for a media kit.
- Radio and Television: Costs for advertising are more reasonable on a local station. However, for the best exposure, offer to be a guest on one of the talk shows. Once you have some experience, you might consider doing your own financial advice show.
- PR: Wow! It’s free… almost. To reap the rewards of PR, be prepared to spend some time creating your media list, developing good relationships with editors and reporters, and writing press releases of interest to their readers/listeners/viewers and your target market.
- Seminars: Many successful advisors have built their businesses by giving seminars. You can too! The trick to success is to fill the chairs with quality prospects. A variety of marketing methods can be used to do just that.
View from the Top
Most top advisors have a marketing plan. You may hear about a few who don’t have a plan and who don’t market because they don’t want or need any more clients. Most of their new business comes to them by way of referrals. However, at some time during their careers they had to market themselves and their company in order to get to that point.
Having interviewed literally thousands of outstanding advisors, we’ve developed some tips to help you succeed in your marketing efforts:
1) Spread It Out! Don’t spend all of your marketing dollars on one mailing, or one seminar. Instead pick projects that will give you exposure to your target market for the whole year.
2) Be Creative! Make your marketing efforts stand out by being creative. For example, one advisor dressed in a suit and stood on a street corner holding a sign asking for donations for the local food bank. He drew attention and, of course, the local media was called and his picture appeared in the newspaper associating him with this worthwhile project.
3) Identify Your Value! Its important for you to identify the value you provide to clients. That value needs to differentiate you from your competition. This will take some introspection and real soul-searching on your part. Think about your business beliefs and your own values and how you can align them to those of your clients’.
4) Build Your Brand! Your branding, or logo, should appear on everything you do. If you donate a gift to a local charitable drawing, your branding should be apparent.
5) Combine Efforts! If you don’t have a large marketing budget, combine efforts with other professionals in your network—CPAs, attorneys, insurance agents, etc. Together you can plan a better seminar, or place a bigger ad. If you haven’t developed a network, do so now! If nothing else, the referrals you provide each other are work the effort.
6) Give back! Almost every successful advisor we talk to is, in some way, giving back to their community. Some are sponsoring college scholarships; others are donating time and money to a cause they believe in. To be successful, you need to understand that it’s not all about you.
One of the biggest mistakes we see advisors make when planning their marketing campaigns is failure to involve the media. PR is free. When sending out your information-packed newsletter, send a copy to the media. If you are holding a seminar, invite the media. If you’re involved with a charitable event, notify the media. If you attend an industry conference and learn something new that would be of interest to the public, send your media contacts a synopsis of the presentation.
Members of the media are always looking for new and interesting things to write about. They appreciate being informed about your educational events, or about a timely topic of interest to their audience. Also, keeping them informed will help build and maintain your relationship with them.
Let them know you are available for interviews, and can write articles for them. Don’t let these opportunities slip through your fingers. Get your prospects to call YOU for a change…starting now.
PR Savvy for Financial Professionals (available as an eBook or audiobook) is an excellent resource to help you develop your PR campaign and to identify opportunities to gain media exposure. To order your copy, go to http://www.ffbookstore.com.
Lyn Fisher and Sydney LeBlanc hav been involved with helping financial professionals build their business or more than 50-plus years, combined. They have helped numerous financial professionals develop effective marketing plans, and have worked with financial firms and professionals to publish books.