Once upon a time, marketing meant taking actions like passing out business cards and making connections through social circles. While those techniques still have their place in business, they don’t tend to attract the next generation of clients. The proliferation of online shopping, not only by consumers looking to purchase entertainment but also goods and services, means that the idea of marketing a company or service has been constantly changing over the past decade.
An advisor’s brand is no longer about establishing a comfortable and professional workspace for client meetings; now more than ever, the way forward for advisor marketing rests in crafting the investor’s digital experience.
Creating a lasting and impressive digital experience for investors means more than showing up in search results with a shiny new website. Just as advisors need to operate as their client’s fiduciaries when managing portfolios and financial plans, they also need to consider the needs of the prospective client first and at all times when marketing their firms. In practice, this means advisors need to provide valuable content—not boilerplate from some third party content library, but information you create with investors in mind—give clients easy and informative online access, and know how to execute on their brand goals.
The benefits of content marketing for businesses have been talked about at large and at length, so there’s little need to rehash them here. However, what is important for advisors to recognize is that delivering content to investors that helps them and doesn’t just further the advisor’s own agenda to win a new client, will benefit them the most in the long-term.
Content marketing can mean a great many things, but for the purposes of advisors, it will usually involve creating resources that deal with questions and concerns of the average investor they are trying to reach. Your types of content don’t have to be all encompassing or large; what’s important is that they are available, unique and constructive.
Content marketing allows advisors to build credit with investors by displaying their knowledge, without ending the presentation with a hard sell.
Creating a Digital Experience
Advisors, like any business, win online when they deliver valuable and original content. While content marketing is one piece of the strategy, creating a digital experience for investors goes beyond print materials displayed on a screen.
A digital experience fundamentally changes the way in which advisors can interact with investors and prospective clients. The new normal for advisors is to offer their clients online, 24/7 access to their financial accounts and information through a client portal and often times even a mobile app. Again, though, online access does not equal an engaging digital experience. So what does?
Reaching clients with a digital experience means offering the tools for online interaction with the advisory firm. A typical advisor website’s “Contact Us” option shows a client a form that they can fill out, or gives them an email and a phone. Even if you’ve created a website with video, downloadable content and crossed off each of the checkboxes for presenting an interesting online brand, the contact form is straight out of the age when AOL ruled the Internet.
Instead, bring your communication tactics up to date and embed live chat into your website. It’s typically simple to set up and many solutions even make it possible for conversations to be stored for your compliance staff. If a prospect visiting your website is interested, they can engage you right then and there, allowing you to create a digital moment that they truly experience, instead of passively receive.
The Devil is in the Execution
It should be a challenging yet fun experience to plan and create all the points that need to go together for an advisory firm to start marketing themselves with an eye towards the digital present. But as with anything else, the devil is in the details - and the execution.
Have a set plan that includes scheduled times for when things must happen, and use an app like Basecamp to track your progress, or communicate with your team using a site like Slack or Facebook for Work.
Advisory firms need to have an eye on creating the whole digital experience for clients and prospects alike, whether that means creating meaningful content that will display their worth as experts in their field, or making sure their clients can access real-time information whenever and wherever they want.
Crafting the digital experience means giving clients the means and tools to educate themselves and interact with an advisory firm online.
Jud Mackrill is Creative Director at Orion Advisor Services