Auditing your firm's marketing for 2019

January 11, 2019 by Kelton Corcoran

about the author:

Kelton Corcoran

Content marketing specialist

Kelton Corcoran is a content marketing specialist at Advicent, the financial planning technology provider of choice for nearly 100,000 financial professionals.

With the new year underway, many advisors are honing in on their goals for the next 12 months. This is an excellent time to perform an audit of your firm’s current marketing strategy to determine if some adjustments can be made to help achieve these new objectives. Here are a few areas to focus on.

Is your marketing aligned with upcoming goals?

Before diving into the specific aspects of your marketing strategy, take a step back and think about the overall message your brand is sending to consumers. If your firm is shifting focus to new market segments, a change may be needed to more effectively appeal to this new customer persona. For example, messages meant to appeal to new parents likely need a much different tone than ones that appeal to high-net-worth business owners. Each type of consumer will value your firm’s services differently and your marketing should account for this.

Develop or refine your referral strategy

As stated in our post on the importance of client outreach, research continues to show the value of referrals, which will remain a crucial element to growing and maintaining a successful book of business. In Capgemini’s 2018 World Wealth Report, it was found that 44.4 percent of high-net-worth clients find their wealth manager or financial advisor through a referral from a friend, family member, or colleague. Additionally, an InvestmentNews study found that each year, up to 50 percent of a typical advisory firm’s new revenue is brought in from referrals alone.

When developing or refining your firm’s referral strategy, you need to think through the mind of the referrer. While asking for referrals is a frequent practice, it can often carry a negative connotation. As explained by Michael Kitces, “even once advisors have expertise and can truly add value as a financial advisor, it can still be hard to have confidence to ask for referrals, when telling people “I’m a financial advisor” risks making you a social pariah because so many consumers have had bad prior experiences with advisors.”

While Kitces points out that this lack of trust in the financial services industry makes it difficult to ask for referrals, this is also part of the reason why referrals can work so well for advisors. When a client or other professional is genuinely willing to recommend your services to someone they are close with, the trust factor increases and so do the chances of that prospect converting into a client - a staggering 400 percent more according to theadvisorcoach.com.

To gain referrals from current clients, advisors should place their primary focus on the client experience they provide. During each client interaction, no matter how small, advisors are building a relationship. The stronger this becomes over time, the more likely your clients will be to recommend your services. Once you feel confident you have this level of trust with a client, it does not hurt to lightly broach the topic of referrals. This can be as simple as giving your trusted clients an extra business card or two to pass along after a meeting.

Obtaining referrals from other professionals is a bit more straightforward since the SEC allows advisors to pay referral fees to non-clients. Perhaps you are close with a realtor who consistently sells homes to newly expanding families, which would be a great opportunity for your education planning services. You can pay a fee in exchange for their referral becoming a client. In these cases, there needs to be a written agreement detailing the nature of the relationship and the referral fee structure. The regulations on paying referral fees can vary depending on a number of factors and may change over time, so be sure you are in compliance before getting started. This article from ThinkAdvisor is a good starting point.

Is your outbound marketing paying off?

Outbound marketing is your firm’s outward-facing marketing efforts in which you initiate the conversation or convey a message to consumers. This typically includes activities such as direct mail, print and outdoor advertising, or commercials.

While outbound marketing still has value in reaching large sets of audiences, its weaknesses of being un-trackable and less actionable are glaring. Also, a study from HubSpot found that compared to inbound marketing, outbound leads are 61 percent more expensive to generate.

Though getting eyeballs on your firm’s name and offerings seems incredibly valuable, consider what action is happening after a consumer sees that piece of marketing. Are new clients consistently contacting your firm saying they found you through these outbound efforts, or are you just continuing to do them because you historically have?

Dive into the possibilities of inbound marketing

On the flip side of outbound is inbound marketing, in which consumers are drawn in towards your firm via activities like your website, blog, emails, social media, or search engine optimization (SEO).

The biggest reason inbound marketing has become so popular is that it offers much more value and convenience to the consumer, which leads to better results for you, the marketer. Using mediums such as a blog, social media, or website, advisors can provide valuable insights and information. Also, inbound marketing can target audiences that are already looking for this information, which is much more conducive to action than someone seeing a message randomly.

There are a number of inbound marketing activities that can bring benefits to a financial advisor’s firm, some of which you may already be doing. Before performing an audit of your firm’s current website, blog, email, SEO, or social media marketing, check out our free eBook: 5 simple digital marketing tips for advisors. Inside you will find dozens of tips for improving digital marketing specifically for advisors. And if you have not yet incorporated these into your firm’s marketing strategy, it serves as a great guide to get started.

No matter what your firm’s goals are heading into 2019, performing an audit of your current marketing strategy will go a long way in attracting and securing more clients.

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