How To Navigate A New Marketing Strategy – Financial Advisor Magazine

After a long period of pandemic uncertainty, financial advisors are getting back to the business of growing their practices. According to Broadridge’s annual financial advisor marketing benchmark survey, advisor marketing budgets are up 24% in 2021.  As budgets climb, however, results are wildly inconsistent. What many advisors are discovering is that when it comes to marketing, spending without strategy is a lot like trying to drive to a new destination without your GPS navigator.

Every good advisor starts the planning process with new clients by identifying goals and building a comprehensive plan to achieve them. Advisors should stick to the same formula when marketing their own businesses. Begin by pinpointing goals. These goals should be concrete and defined in measurable metrics like new clients and assets, or higher prospect conversion rates.

Next, advisors should create a strategy to achieve these goals. Although advisor marketing strategies don’t have to be complicated, they should include at least the following three components:

1. Defining the target audience

2. Mapping the prospect and client journey

3. Optimizing digital tactics to nurture and convert prospects into clients

Defining The Audience

Almost all financial advisors focus on a target client type, usually defined by level of affluence (net worth) and region. Net worth is a good, practical place to start defining target clientele, but it’s a poor place to stop. Using additional metrics like age, source of wealth and planning needs to narrow the client target further pays dividends in terms of enhanced marketing ROI.

Adopting a more granular segmentation strategy makes every aspect of marketing more effective and less wasteful. Take, for example, an advisor’s website and social media presence—two critical aspects of their digital persona. An advisor who targets a relatively narrowly defined universe of small business owners nearing retirement will have an advantage over rivals. She can more effectively utilize search engine optimization to become more visible online to in-bound prospect searches, and thus attract more of the right prospects. Because the content on her website and social media posts will be consistently targeted to the needs of this narrow audience, she stands a much better chance of engaging those prospects than competitors who take a more generic approach.

Mapping The Client Journey

Mapping the client journey means listing the steps prospects take from the starting point of zero-awareness (never heard of you or your business) to happy clients. Typical stages in that journey include: (1) becomes aware of your business brand, (2) engages to learn more, (3) considers working with you instead of their alternatives, and (4) chooses to become a client. Our research suggests that the average timespan for this conversion journey is between three and four months. (Unfortunately, it is rarely a straight path.) 

As you consider this process, recognize that control has shifted from sellers to buyers—especially in the early stages. Today, individuals have access to huge amounts of information to not only identify advisors, but to compare quality and results based on online ratings and reviews. For that reason, it’s imperative that advisors understand how individuals find, evaluate and hire advisors, and develop a deliberate process to move prospects along the continuum from awareness to consideration and finally, conversion. 

Employing The Right Tactics

Finally, advisors must identify the right tactics to move individuals from one phase to the next on the client journey. In almost every case, advisors will have to build a digital presence that starts the process by getting their name in front of individuals thinking about working with an advisor. Just a few years ago, advisors could create this awareness by posting high-quality organic content on popular social media platforms like Facebook. Today, Facebook minimizes the visibility of organic content to drive demand for paid advertising. Although that’s a challenging shift, advisors should not underestimate the power of the Facebook advertising engine. Facebook can deliver a specific paid post not just to individuals looking at information on financial advisors, but to people in that group who are parents in their 40s in the greater Boston area in a specific income bracket with kids approaching college age. That type of precision is a powerful weapon for breaking through the clutter and noise to reach prospects.

Despite that potential, ad dollars can be wasted if advisors don’t have the right techniques and tools to sustain the relationship. This process of “nurturing” prospects must be automated to at least some extent. The easiest way to do this is through email campaigns that deliver customized content to prospects in a scalable and efficient manner.